Mon | Apr 6, 2020

Conversations continue at Calabash

Published:Sunday | May 27, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Kwame Dawes, artistic director of the Calabash International Literary Festival, who will conduct one of the two on-stage interviews at this year's staging next weekend.
Jonathan Galassi
Kevin Young

'Reasoning' sessions have been a Calabash International Literary Festival mainstay since its inception in 2001, and the trend will continue at this year's 14th staging. The first conversation, set for Saturday, June 2, will see Jonathan Galassi, president of the prestigious publishing house Farrar, Strauss & Giroux (FSG), sharing with Paul Holdengraber insights into his decades at the centre of the literary world. The next day poet, professor, editor, author, and recently appointed director of the Schomburg Centre, Kevin Young, will talk with Calabash co-founder Kwame Dawes about how he manages life as a multihyphenate.

"It is no exaggeration to say that these two men hold places of influence and importance in American letters, and our conversation will indeed capture their brilliant ideas and rich and varied experiences as writers and cultural figures," said Kwame Dawes, artistic director of Calabash.

Galassi and Young join a list of literary luminaries to be interviewed on the Calabash stage that includes Jamaica Kincaid, Salman Rushdie, Orlando Patterson, and the late Nobel laureate Sir Derek Walcott.

Young joined the New York Public Library as director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in 2016, succeeding Khalil Gibran Muhammad. He also serves as the poetry editor of the New Yorker magazine. He is the author of 12 books of poetry and prose, most recently Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015 (Knopf, 2016). His nonfiction includes Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News (Graywolf, 2017) and The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf, 2012). He is the editor of eight other collections, most recently The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965-2010 (BOA, 2012) and The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (Bloomsbury, 2012). Named University Distinguished Professor at Emory University, Young was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.

Galassi joined Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1986 as executive editor and hasn't looked back. Two years later, he was named editor-in-chief and is now president and publisher at FSG, which is based in New York. The company has published a number of Pulitzer Prize and National Book Awards winners and more than 20 Nobel laureates, including Sir Derek Walcott. Other Caribbean writers Galassi has worked with are Jamaica Kincaid, Caryl Phillips, and Ishion Hutchinson. He is the author of the poetry collections Morning Run (1998), North Street (2000) and Left-handed (2013), as well as the novel Muse (2015). He is also an eminent translator and publisher of Italian poetry, including works by Giacomo Leopardi, Primo Levi and Eugenio Montale. In 2008, Galassi received the Maxwell E. Perkins Award, which recognises an editor, publisher, or agent who "has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction in the US". He is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is an honorary chairman of the Academy of American Poets.

The Calabash Literary Festival will be held at Jakes in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, from June 1 - 3, 2018, under the theme 'Lit Up.' The event is free and open to the public.