One of the most amazing trips I have taken to speak has been to Montserrat for the Alliouagana Festival of the Word. In November 2016, the world was still reeling from the 2016 election, and ! definitely needed to be in a place where there wouldn’t be constant reminders of what had just happened.
I was a few months away from graduating from Howard University School of Law, and to say I was stressed out was an understatement. The invitation to speak at the AFW Litfest was a highlight of a pretty tough year. From the minute I got on the plane, knowing I was going to meet some really amazing people and get to talk about literature, art, and storytelling, I felt at peace.
Then I got on the tiny plane that would take me to Montserrat, and the anxiety came rushing in… it was raining, and the plane felt like it was about the size of a minivan inside. But when the clouds parted, it was sunset and I could see the beauty that was Montserrat. I figured if I was gonna die up there – this would be the way to go.
Fast forward to 2020, and we are once again faced with the prospect of four more years of leadership from the same person who had people asking me when I arrived in Montserrat, “are you okay?” We are in the middle of a rapidly worsening pandemic, and guess who would do just about anything to be flying to Montserrat in a plane the size of a minivan… me.
So here we are – making it work, as Caribbean people are known to do. The AFW Litfest is ON! This year it is virtual and has a fascinating lineup of speakers. I’m not in the lineup, but I am proud to say that my daughter Eden is. While I would have loved for her to be packing her bags to share her story with festival-goers in Montserrat, I am pleased that with the new virtual format. She can share her message globally, not just with those blessed few that are able to attend in person.
The event is sponsored by Discover Montserrat, a publication of which Nerissa Golden, CEO of Goldenmedia, is the editor. Other sponsors and partners include Montserrat Arts Council and the Government Information Unit.
The official dates are November 20-22. The pre-festival activities include a ten book/reader virtual storytime series called Goodnight Montserrat beginning November 15th and The Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell Memorial Lecture Series on November 19. No registration is required. For updates, visit the AFW Litfest Facebook Page.