Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Calabash festival bear nuff fruit

Published:Sunday | April 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Tuesday gone, Calabash festival have big launch a Redbones Blues Cafe fi promote di literature stage show weh a go keep up inna Treasure Beach di first weekend a June. Di festival start up inna 2001. So a long time it a gwaan. Whole a 15 year. Colin Channer did come up wid di idea an two a im friend dem, Kwame Dawes an Justine Henzell, join up wid im fi divel it up.

When mi see di invitation fi di launch, it sweet mi so til. Every year, di festival have a different pet name: Globalishus. Life is an open book. Jubilation. Mix, but don't blend. Great minds think a lot. The fire is lit. So much things to say. Dis ya year, it name 'fruition' - all fruits ripe. But guess how 'fruition' spell? Fruu-ish-aan.

Yes, papa! 'Fruition' a English; a no Jamaican. So mi no know how it a brandish wid fi wi prapa-prapa Jamaican spelling. Mi had was to aks Kwame Dawes. Aim run di show. Im pick di writer dem an a im an Justine come up wid di festival pet name dem. Im never want di ordinary English spelling. An im tell mi seh it tek im one length a time fi come up wid dat deh spelling. Mi laugh an seh to miself, im kuda did aks mi.

Friday morning, mi mind tell mi fi email Kwame an aks im weh mek dem call dis ya festival fruu-ish-aan. See weh im write back seh: "I believe it was the second Calabash or the third. It was Sunday evening and we were feeling giddy in ourselves. Colin and I were chatting with Freddy Hickling who, in the way that only he can, was glowing with avuncular delight at the chatting, the music, the smells of food, and the bodies moving around.

"This thing is beautiful," he said to us. "Fruu-ish-aan, man," he said, "Fruu-ish-aan!" We all nodded. That phrase became a kind of mantra between the three of us, Justine, Colin and me, ever since, for all kinds of things. Which is why it makes sense that it would come back like this. So give thanks, really, to the great Freddy Hickling."




Di fruu-ish-aan festival program a shock out. Whole heap a big-time writer a come from all over di world. See some a dem ya. Yu can go look fi di rest a dem pon di Calabash website: Nikki Giovanni from America; Chris Abani - im born inna Nigeria an im live a Chicago now; Tishani Doshi from India. She still live deh; Ilya Kaminski - im come from Odessa. Im an im family run weh from politics problem. Dem get asylum inna Merica. Dat no mean she Merica a mad house. But when mi see some a di candidate dem fi president, mi ha fi wonder.

An some a fi wi Jamaican writer deh pon di programme: Kei Miller - im win big poetry prize; Pamela Mordecai; an Diana McCaulay. Of course, Marlon James a go di deh. After im win Man Booker prize fi im novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. Den hear di best joke. Marlon buss pon Calabash open mic. A so im find publisher fi im first book. Lickle most im did tear it up an dash it weh. All a di publisher dem im send it to run im.

An a when im go pon di open mic, one publisher weh did di deh, Akashic Books, hear im an decide fi tek on di book: John Crow's Devil. An Marlon gwaan an gwaan so til im finish one next one, The Book of Night Women. So guess wa? Calabash a set up one Marlon James Open Mic prize fi big up all a di writer dem weh step up to di mic every festival. Wi no know who a di next writer a go buss!

Novelty Trading, di official bookseller fi di festival, a go sponsor di prize. Di festival have three open mic session. One prize a go gi out fi every session. Anbi best writer fi di whole a di three session a go get one next prize. Big respects to Mrs Suzzanne Lee! She a di managing director fi Novelty. She ketch di vision. A no no whole heap a money. A book cerfiticket fi di winner dem.




Den at di Calabash party last week, Colin Channer launch im book a poetry, Providential. Colin usual write novel an short story. Yu see im first novel, Waiting in Vain. Mi couldn't put it down. It hold mi! Mi read it whole day. Anyhow, after Colin write bout five more book a fiction, im decide fi try im hand pon poetry.

An a so im write Providential. Dat word mean something weh happen at the right time. Or as old time people seh, nutten no happen before di time. So it look like a dis ya time fi Colin start write poetry. Mi no get fi read none a di poem dem yet. But mi listen some a dem. Dahlia Harris an Alwyn Scott an Colin himself did read out some a dem at di launch.

An Dr Sonjah Stanley Niiah did talk bout di book an read some more a di poem dem. She a di director a di Institute of Caribbean Studies up at University of the West Indies. She call herself di culture doctor. Dat no mean seh culture can tek sick an she ha fi go look after it. Dr Stanley Niiah study culture an she write book bout it. She tell wi seh fi her father a police an fi Colin father a police to. So she know weh him a talk bout inna di poem dem weh deal wid police.

Life funny eeh! Colin start Calabash. An im gwaan build it up wid Kwame an Justine. Den im resign from di festival. An dis year, im come back as guest fi launch im book. Maybe im mighta un-resign. Time mek people change dem mind. Providential fi true!

- Carolyn Cooper is a cultural consultant. Visit her bilingual blog at Email feedback to