Bim Lit Fesitval Shows Words Love
“Words need love too,” a phrase coined by Kamau Brathwaite, was the tagline of the inaugural Bim Literary Festival and Book Fair and the main focus of the first five day festival dedicated to showcasing the literary contributions of Barbadian writers and others in the Caribbean.
The official opening ceremony was conducted in the presence of the Prime Minister, signalling the significance of this lit festival. The Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth among others addressed the word lovers in attendance. The night’s MC was Harclyde Walcott who lightly reminded us “No Derek is not my father!” He was referring to the St. Lucian writer Derek Walcott, the Nobel Laureate who conducted a Master class and a few readings in the festival.
The Bim Lit Festival is the brainchild of Writers Ink Incorporated founder Esther Phillips. The word ‘Bim’ affectionately describes this little rock we live on. The utterance of that word impressively conjures up Red Plastic Bag’s lyrics ‘Bim I love you, Bim I am prod of you’. This is indeed the sentiments of those who have attended the lyrical festivities to witness the honouring of the Lifetime Achievement Awardees, George Lamming, Kamau Brathwaite and Austin Clarke. These three Barbadians are known for their writings ‘In the Castle of my Skin’, ‘Odale’s Choice’ and ‘The Polished Hoe’ respectively. These Bajan gentlemen are versed in the lyrical mastery of stringing the right words to accurately convey their thoughts to the reader.
The Walcott Warner Theatre staged the opening night. This theatre was named after two literary legends – Derek Walcott and the charismatic Barbadian playwright Earl Warner. The building directly outside the theatre which housed the Master class with Walcott is the George Lamming Pedagogical Centre. The Toussaint L’ouverture Walkway is the path that connects these two spaces to the Rex Nettleford Performance Studio.
At the opening I finally got to meet Glenville Lovell another Barbadian writer who launched his latest book ‘Going Home in Chains’ at the Book Fair. I first heard of Glenville when I had the opportunity two years ago to be cast in his two-handler play ‘Going For Love’ as the wife of Anderson ‘Blood’ Armstrong for the Toronto performance.
Another Barbadian weaver of words whom I got to meet was Icil Pillips, a phenomenal dramatist who conducted a drama workshop for the festival. Icil, along with Tony Thompson, Cicely Spencer-Cross, Mighty Gabby, my friend Adrian Green and the adult dance company of Dancin’ Africa delivered a quintessential dramatic presentation. The words featured in the presentation were those of the newly honoured Lifetime Achievement Awardees. Gabby continually sang a phrase which I am sure most people in attendance still jovially chant, “Ah Boy”.
The Bim Literary Festival and Book Fair fulfilled their mission of extending the words of the Caribbean’s writers to the peoples of Barbados, both old and young. There were many little ones who got a chance to see Anansi live and direct in the Bim Litfest Children’s Fair.
Congrats to the Bim Literary Festival and Book Fair who sparked their first flame of promoting the literary arts in Barbados because they continue to believe ‘words need love too’.