Calabash’s Lit Up!

The Calabash International Literary Festival was founded in 2001 by three Jamaicans the novelist Colin Channer, the poet Kwame Dawes and the producer Justine Henzell. Their aim was simple—to create a world-class literary festival with roots in Jamaica and branches reaching out into the wider world.
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Photo: PHILIP VOLKERS, Conde Naste Traveller

A three-day festival of readings and music with other forms of storytelling folded in the mix, Calabash is earthy, inspirational, daring and diverse.

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Photo: PHILIP VOLKERS, Conde Naste Traveller

After 10 successive years Calabash is now staged on a biennial basis on even years. All festival events are free and open to the public. Passion is the only price of entry. But voluntary contributions are welcomed.

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Zadie Smith | Photo: PHILIP VOLKERS, Conde Naste Traveller

The festival is produced by the Calabash International Literary Festival Trust (the Trust), which also produces publishing seminars and writing workshops.

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Photo: PHILIP VOLKERS, Conde Naste Traveller

The Trust is affiliated with the Friends of the Calabash International Literary Festival, a registered 501(c)(3) corporation in the United States.

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Photo: PHILIP VOLKERS, Conde Naste Traveller

The Calabash International Literary Festival Trust
2a Bamboo Avenue #4
Kingston 6
Jamaica, W.I.
876.965.3000
calabashfestival@hotmail.com

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Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick of starts by reminding us she was here for the very 1st staging of Calabash and that Treasure Beach is one of her favorite places in the world

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We’re happy to support the 14th staging of Calabash! One of the greatest international literary festivals!

“In keeping with the town’s anything-goes vibe, Calabash is free and open to the public. At each event, as many as 3,000 people ranging from local fishermen to New York literati gather at Jake’s, on a lawn by the sea, to listen and learn.”

– New York Times T Magazine May 2014

“ It’s the Calabash International Literary Festival, Jamaica’s unique, spirited take on the world of literary gatherings,….”

“(Salman) Rushdie said it’s no wonder that Calabash has steadily earned a name as a festival of choice for some of the world’s most gifted authors “It is an extraordinary event. The audience is big, extremely appreciative, very focused. And the setting is spectacular,” he told The Associated Press on Sunday, a day after he took to the stage to discuss his writings and career in front of an eager, diverse crowd of a few thousand people.”

Associated Press June 2014

“Treasure Beach is untouched and almost defiant in its beauty, which is why every two years numbers of authors and lovers of words travel to this stretch of land for Calabash Literary Festival. Founded in 2001, the festival draws in top literary figures from all over the world to Jakes Hotel, and this year was no exception.”

– Ebony June 2014

“Calabash is the sort of literary festival to whom the label “literary festival” applies only because there’s no neat phrase for “reggae-fied, rootsy-intellectual, interdisciplinary extravaganza for those who worship words, abhor pretension and believe that ‘smart’ and ‘fun’ need not be mutually exclusive.”

“Calabash is, in a nutshell, all that’s right with Jamaica”

– Wall Street Journal June 2010

“Why go to Hay-on-Wye and get your feet wet when you can head to Jamaica for rum punch and reggae at the world’s most frisky literary festival?”

– Conde Nast Traveller Oct 2014

“In its 10th triumphal year, Calabash is one of the most improbable, beloved, literary-musical-human -gatherings in the world.”

– Boston Globe, Dec 2010

“The island is a literary hotbed. Look up Calabash Literary Festival and Jakes and you’ll uncover what is becoming a world-class celebration of books, with a funky fusion of music and spoken word.”

Toronto Star, June 2012

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“Jamaican literature competes on the world stage just like our athletes do” – . And mash it up too.

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Launch event of Calabash 2018

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For 2018 authors, schedule, purpose, accommodations, information and publications see

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The mission of the Calabash International Literary Festival Trust is to transform the literary arts in the Caribbean by being the region’s best-managed producer of workshops, seminars and performances. We will achieve these goals by focusing on our audiences, managing our budget, creating a community of supporters in the media, government, business, the performing arts, philanthropic organizations and publishing, and by becoming the festival of choice for the world’s most gifted authors.

Photos Below: PHILIP VOLKERS, Conde Naste Traveller

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