Bye bye, Bim Lit Fest

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Writer, reviewer, blogger and generally an awesome person, Shivanee Ramlochan, reading at the Bim Lit Fest.

Something magical happens when writers, book lovers and book sellers gather into a single space. There is a kind of electricity in the air. Either that, or I’ve been drinking way too much coffee over the last couple of days. All jokes aside, it really sucks that I have to wait till 2016 for another Bim Lit Fest.

For me the festival really kicked off at about 10:00 am Friday morning, on the second floor of the National Library. It was a fiction workshop hosted by Robert Sandiford and Karen Lord. I’d always heard that Sandiford is a good creative writing tutor, but it was Karen Lord I was excited about.

A couple years ago Lisa and I sauntered into Cloister Bookstore at Sheraton and I was looking at the popular fiction section on the rack near the door when a book that didn’t seem to belong caught my eye. It was Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord. The fact that it was fantasy was even better. Until then, the only Caribbean speculative fiction author that I was aware of was Nalo Hopkinson.

The theme of the workshop was Transformative Fictions. It was only two hours long but, both Sandiford and Lord doled out some good advice and gave out free signed copies of some of their books. Lord’s The Best of All possible Worlds and Sandiford’s And Sometimes They Fly.

While I know the theme for the festival was ‘breaking borders’, I think that the fiction workshop’s theme of transformation was also relevant to the entire festival. Like how it transformed Independence Square into a bibliophiles paradise for two days. Like someone somewhere had muttered the words ‘Krick, Krack’ and the words of prose and poems became something more.

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Trickster God Anansi being carefully followed by some children across Independence Square.

Friday was a busy day so I didn’t have much time to investigate, so I left right after the workshop, but yesterday Lisa had some time to poke around and I ended buying a creepy looking graphic novel written and illustrated by Matthew Clarke called Heart Man: The Bayker’s Ridge Horror and a Wild Flower Studio colouring book…don’t you judge me.

Lisa and I headed home and then popped back out later that evening to catch some of the readings in front of the Waterfront Cafe, not too far from Independence Square, that would bring the festival to a close for two years. Now Danielle Boodoo-Fortune and Shivanee Ramlochan are now the newest entrants to my imaginary favourite writers list, along with Vladimir Lucien.

On the theme of breaking borders, it was really exciting to get to know some of the people I’ve been talking to online like Shivanee and Tammi Bannister.

Thinking about it now, that electricity must be more than a caffeine buzz. However, that buzz is tinged with a bit of sadness, because of the two long years that have to pass by before the next Bim Lit Fest.

Kwame

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