Books & Beaches: Inside Anguilla’s Literary Festival

Before I  heard distinguished author Nikki Giovanni read her poetry,

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni Credit: Jim Stephens at Cheryl Andrews PR

Before I watched the moon rise above the palm trees at my villa in CuisinArt Resort,

CuisinArt resort overlooks Rendezvous Bay in Anguilla

CuisinArt resort overlooks Rendezvous Bay in Anguilla

Before I dived into a platter of crayfish bathed in fragrant coconut curry butter,

Crayfish at Sandy Island

Crayfish at Sandy Island

And even before I walked on a beach of crushed seashells and swam in the cool ocean at dawn,

Swimming at Shoal Bay East

First time I ever went swimming before morning coffee!

I knew I’d love Anguilla LitFest 2013

For me, books and beaches are a perfect match.

Enjoy books and beaches at Anguilla's LitFest

Books meet beaches at Anguilla’s LitFest

The five-day event is a celebration of literature, arts and culture that takes place the third week of May (mark your calendar for May 22-25, 2014) and its theme  a “Literary Jollification” is a heady mix of Caribbean sunshine, music, food and everything literary.  In addition to Headline speakers such as activist-author Nikki Giovanni, TV personality-author Touré, Haitian author Edwidge Danticot and Judith Carr President of Atria Publishing Group, the days were filled with panel discussions and opportunities to mingle with agents, authors, dignitaries,  publishers and other media such as the inspiring Tracey Friley of One Brown Girl, crazy-crazy elegant Donna Chin Lee of MACO Caribbean Living and glamazon  Tymarra Lewis from L A.

Touré, novelist and pop culture commentator

Touré speaks at 2013 Anguilla LitFest Credit: Jim Stephens  CAM-PR

Given the Anguilla LitFest is only in its second year,  its intimate size made it easy to talk to everyone. In one evening, I chatted with Alistair Harrison, His Excellency the Governor of Anguilla, Candis A. Niles the Director of Anguilla Tourism and then enjoyed dinner  seated beside the super-sassy pair Nikki Giovanni and Virginia Fowler at Viceroy Anguilla’s Cobà. I even met legendary Reggae artist Bankie Banx not once but twice.

During the sessions held at pretty Paradise Cove Resort,  I chatted with literary agents and talked to many, many authors about the joys and challenges of writing. I’ve been to a lot of Writers Conferences and Workshops and know that such access is a rare opportunity indeed. At many other conferences the focus is on marketing, building your brand, polishing your pitch or mastering social media.

Ultimacy Villa

Ultimacy Villa Retreat was the setting for an evening cocktail party

So, although I’ll never forget the endless beaches, the incredible cuisine and  the warm Anguilla hospitality, what I really took home was a renewed commitment to the craft of writing. And, there’s no better outcome from a writer’s conference than that.

 “Your writing is not a commodity, it is your soul.”

Nikki Giovanni

IF YOU GO 

2016 Update:

Dates: May 19-22, 2016

Cost: Lit Fest packages start at $900 for two persons in a studio suite for 4 nights in 2016

The conference offers a selection of writer-friendly Host Hotels. I was a media guest at two unforgettable properties:

CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa Phone 264.498.2000 or email concierge@cuisinart.ai

Shoal Bay Villas:  Phone 264-497-2051 or email sbvillas@anguillanet.com

Anguilla Tourist Board:  Phone 800-553-4939

Subscribe to my newsletter and check my Portfolio page for upcoming stories on the hotels, beaches, cuisine and more of my experiences in Anguilla.

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Showing 9 comments
  • Colleen Friesen
    Reply

    Love love love that end quote.
    Ah Michele, I swear I was diving into that dawn ocean along with you. Beautiful post, fab photos and only one problem!!! Now I have to add Angiuilla to an already much too long list.

    • Michele Peterson
      Reply

      Thanks Colleen…you do absolutely have to go next year! We’re dreaming up a Yoga/Writing workshop to happen at the same time on this truly magical island.

  • Lesley Peterson
    Reply

    Inspiring post and pics, Michele. I’d love to read a pile of books on a gorgeous Anguilla beach! I’ll be looking up a few of the writers you mentioned. Sounds like a marvelous literary festival.

  • Sherel Purcell
    Reply

    Beautiful spot:-)

  • Carol Perehudoff
    Reply

    I knew you’d love CuisineArt. I knew it! Did you see Cap Jaluca? Also amazing.

    • Michele Peterson
      Reply

      Yes, we enjoyed dinner one evening at Pimms at Cap Jaluca. Elegant settingand the chocolate sampler for the dessert was the bomb!

  • esperanza
    Reply

    Beautiful ocean sights!Rendervous Bay, crayfish at Sandy Island, lounging on the beach with a good book, listening to fascinating writers and finishing theday with cocktails at Ultimacy Villa retreat. Could anything be more fun?

  • J. Swartz
    Reply

    What it is about Anguilla that makes it so special? I have been there twice and I will return. The conference seemed to echo the authenticity of the place.

  • Jemma
    Reply

    The beach is really stunning. I’m sure your vacation at the beach will help you become better at writing. Sometimes, artists need to visit places like Anguilla in order to become more creative. 🙂

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