UWI Open Campus Literary Fair: A Cultural Callaloo
After a break in 2015, the Annual Literary Fair hosted by the University of the West Indies Open Campus’ and the Vincentian Association of Artists Writers and Producers, in collaboration with the National Public Library, was held from Thursday October 13th to Saturday 15th, 2016. The three day event was the organizations’ contribution to the cultural calendar for the 2016 Independence celebrations.
From October 13th to 15th, the grounds of the Open Campus were transformed into a cultural callaloo of Art, Books, Poetry, Song, Dance and Pan. While the primary focus was to encourage more Vincentians, at home and abroad, at all strata of our society, to read and write as this year’s theme suggested, “Vincy: Read and Write”; the Literary Fair was also an opportunity to showcase new and emerging Vincentian talent in the visual and performing arts. The patrons, no doubt, had the opportunity to immerse themselves and relish the sweet artistic songs, voices and moves of the more experienced artists such as Rodney Small on pan, Naked Roots Cultural Organisation with their drums and poetry, Cecil Blazer Williams, the master poet; and La Gracia Dancers and Arabesque Dance Companies.
The Literary Fair opened on Thursday October 13th with a ceremony that saw excellent performances from the La Gracia Dancers, the St. Vincent Girls’ High School Junior Steel Orchestra, and the Performing Arts Society of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College; but that evening belonged to the New Kingstown Chorale and Mr. Alfred ‘Hezekiah’ Hepburn (posthumously) who were presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their contributions to music and Carnival Art by the Vincentian Association of Artists, Writers and Producers Inc. This was followed by a short reception.
Thursday’s ceremony was definitely a foretaste of what took place on Friday October 14th dubbed, ‘An Evening of Pan, Poetry, and Dance’ hosted by the Vincentian Association of Artists Writers and Producers. The small but appreciative audience was treated to outstanding performances on pan and piano by Saed Bowman and Geran Maule; while Nerissa King had the audience spell bounded with her deep, passionate poetry pieces. The master poets did not disappoint at all: Leroy Providence and Cecil ‘Blazer’ Williams had their audiences in a reflective mood and at other times, laughing their soul case out with their renditions. However, it was Rodney Small on pan, who made sections of the audience stand on their feet to dance, and those who didn’t stand, rocked in their chairs. In fact, after his first rendition, one person remarked that, “he made that pan talked”.
The Fair climaxed on Saturday October 15th with a Children’s Village and a Film Night. The Children’s Village included story telling, riddles, ‘old time’ games and the reading of pieces by participants in this year’s national reading competitions. The curtains came down at 6:00 pm with the screening of a short film courtesy the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and a documentary on the history of the Breadfruit entitled, “From Swine to Fine” narrated by Dr. Lennox Honeychurch.
Contributed by: UWI Open Campus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; October 2016.
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