Mon | May 20, 2019

Independent VoYces gives a chance to the self-published

Published:Sunday | October 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Randy McLaren, Jamaica Cultutal Festival Comission (JCDC)) 2006 speech festival winner, thrills the audience as he dramatises. - Contributed
Randy McLaren makes his debut as the 'Cultural Activist' on Sunday night at Seh Sup'm's Kingston on the Edge edition, hosted at the Village Blues Bar, Barbican Road, St Andrew. - Photo by Mel Cooke
Dr Sonjah Stanley-Niaah

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Judith Falloon-Reid had intended to put on the 'Independent VoYces' literary festival a few years ago, but "the recession knocked that out." The second time around, November 7, at Strawberry Fields, Robin's Bay, St Mary, she is determined that the 'voyces' of the independent and emerging writers will not be denied.

Already signed up to deliver poetry are Kavel the Psalmist, the Soulistic Poet, the Hon. Lyle Armstrong and Kriativ Aktivis (Randy McLaren). Dr Sonja Stanley-Niaah, author of Dancehall: From Slave Ship to Ghetto, is the sole prose writer listed so far on the event's website.

Dr Jennifer Keane-Dawes and Melita Samuels, OD, will be honoured at 'Independent VoYces'. Saxophonist Joe Tapper is a special guest.

Falloon-Reid knows the struggles of getting an independent voice heard. "I am a self-published author. I have two books. I realise how difficult it is for people who self-publish, or who publish outside of the big guys, to get recognition and into the book stores," she said.


However, she emphasises the independence that comes with self-publishing, saying "we are speaking what we want to speak, as opposed to what the publisher wants you to speak".

She said while there has to be editing, "when you self-publish you are publishing what is your thought, your idea".

"What we are looking for are authors who are not very well-known, people who are self-published or who have a first book," she said. The authors will be supported by a saxophonist and drummer.

Falloon-Reid said there are different purposes for writing and publishing a book. "Some books are cathartic - it has to come out. My first book was like that," she said.

Written after her father died, "it was more about me, what I wanted to get out of me." She pointed out, though, that, "fortunately, it did well."

Featured authors will have an opportunity for their books to do well in an established bookstore, Bookophilia, on Hope Road, St Andrew. The book will be sold by Bookophilia at Strawberry Fields during 'Independent VoYces' and stocked in the store for a month after the festival.

'Independent VoYces' joins the decade-old Calabash International Literary Festival, which is held annually in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, in having a coastal base.

Location choice

Falloon-Reid said Robin's Bay was chosen because "it is just amazingly beautiful. For an independent mind, a free spirit, it is simply a wonderful place."

Independence, however, does not mean no control and Falloon-Reid pointed out that "it is a family event".

We will not allow any profanity from the stage and we will not allow any sexually explicit material from the stage." So even if it is in the book, what is read on stage should not include that section.

"There are going to be lots of children running around," Falloon-Reid said, emphasising that the organisers were maintaining the same standards for other people's children as they would for theirs.

The November 7 debut is intended to be the first of many stagings originally intended to be two days.

When Independent VoYces expands, the expectation is that the first day will have workshops and seminars.

Just as the intention is to expose emerging authors, the festival is also geared towards nurturing a love for literature, as Falloon-Reid said "we are looking for sponsors to bring in high school students."

"It has to be about more than exposing authors. It has to be about encouraging readers," she said.