2015 FEATURED PRESENTERS
Oonya Kempadoo, grew up in Guyana and has worked and lived in various Caribbean islands and resides in Grenada for the last 15 years. Her first novel, Buxton Spice (1998), was long-listed for the Orange Prize and translated into six languages. Her second novel Tide Running won a Casa De Las Americas 2002 prize, was also well received on both sides of the Atlantic and Kempadoo was named a “Great Talent for the 21st Century” by the Orange Prize judges.
Oonya’s latest novel, All Decent Animals, published by Farrar Strauss & Giroux, USA May 2013, was listed #6 on Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine summer reads. She is currently completing a narrative of local perspectives of sexual abuse and developing a speculative fiction, multi-media, eco-social project. She has worked in the Caribbean region as a consultant and social development researcher and was a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence and Creative Writing instructor for academic year 2013-2014, with two community colleges in Connecticut, USA. Oonya is the director and a co-founder of a community library and literacy center in St George’s, Grenada.
Vladimir Lucien is a writer, actor and critic from St. Lucia. His poetry has been published in The Caribbean Review of Books, Wasafiri, Small Axe journal, the PN Review, BIM magazine, Caribbean Beat and other journals, as well as an anthology of poetry entitled, Beyond Sangre Grande edited by Cyril Dabydeen.
He was also awarded the first prize in the poetry category of the Small Axe prize 2013 and is the winner of the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize in the poetry category for his debut collection Sounding Ground, published by Peepal Tree Press in May, 2014.
Some of Lucien’s poems have been translated into Dutch and published in the literary journal, Tortuca.He is also the co-editor of the anthology, Sent Lisi: Poems and Art of St. Lucia which was published in November 2014 and the screenwriter of the documentary The Merikins which premiered at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival in 2013.
Christopher DeRiggs, founder and artistic director of the Heritage Theatre Company of Grenada has written twenty theatrical plays; including The Camerhognne Boat (1995), Pan in Meh Blood, Choices (1996), and Sweet in Goat Mouth, two published Anthologies of Poetry, Jukootoo I and Who Remembers, and one fictional novel; Shadow of the Leader. Mr. DeRiggs did his main scriptwriter Coconut Bay; a regional radio soap opera consisting of 104 episodes and running for one year on radio stations in Antigua, Dominica, St. Vincent and Grenada in 2000/2001. Later on, he went on to do another scriptwriter The Charlotte Region a regional radio soap opera on environmental protection issues to be aired in 13 CARIFORUM territories in 2006.
Mr. Christopher Deriggs was the head of the Heritage Theatre Company Touring Party to the Caribbean Festival of the Arts (Carifesta, Trinidad) in 1995, the Tenth International Theatre Festival of Aruba (FITA) in 1996, the Eleventh International Theatre Festival of Aruba (FITA) in 1998, the Caribbean Theatre Festival, (Trinidad) in 2001, the Caribbean & Latin American Theatre Festival, (Cuba) in 2006 and the Fourteenth International Theatre Festival of Aruba (FITA) in 2008. In all, Mr. DeRiggs’ theatre company has taken twelve overseas tours to Antigua, Barbados, St. Kitts, Trinidad, Brooklyn, Montreal, Aruba, Cuba, St. Vincent, Miami, Washington, and Toronto, Canada.
Jean “Baba” Barfleur is from the Northern Grande-Terre region of Guadeloupe. He is a researcher and consultant in Caribbean coastline area history and maritime culture. Barfleur is also President of the “K’nawa” Association and founder father of the ” Lékol a Nou Sé” ( People’s University of Yo Té Pou Nou Sé). His recent book of poetry, with poems in Kwéyol, French and English, is called La Crete de l’Iguane/ The Iguana’s Crest.
A native of the US, Kristine Simelda has been a citizen of Dominica for the past 20 years. While living on the island, she has written three novels, three novellas, a novel and collection of stories for Young Adults, as well as numerous pieces of short fiction. Her debut novel, A Face in the River, has recently been published by her imprint River Ridge Press. It will be followed by its sequel, River of Fire. Her short stories have appeared in regional and international publications including St Somewhere Journal, ProudFlesh, Jewels of the Caribbean, WomanSpeak, Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing, and The Caribbean American Heritage Literary Magazine, 2015.
Travis Weekes is an award winning Saint Lucian actor, poet, playwright, director and cultural critic. He studied Literature at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Jamaica, theatre at the Jamaica School of Drama and is currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies with UWI, Cave Hill, Barbados.
As a critic/researcher/dramatist, Weekes focuses on the creole traditions/discourse in the theatre of Nobel Prize winning playwright, Derek Walcott. He also uses this research to develop innovative dramaturgical approaches to his own theatre practice and to train teachers and students in Theatre Arts. Indeed Weekes pioneered the implementation of the CXC Theatre Arts syllabus in Saint Lucia. Weekes has also written several plays including Jazz Country which was staged at Carifesta 2013 in Suriname and The Field of Power staged during activities to mark Nobel Laureate Week 2015 in Saint Lucia.
Currently a lecturer in Caribbean Studies and Theatre Arts at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in Saint Lucia, Weekes has also worked as the Cultural Education Officer at the Folk Research Centre in Saint Lucia and as Lecturer in French Lexicon Creole at the UWI, Cave Hill Campus in Barbados.
Faizah Tabasamu (Rochelle Ward), is a St. Martin poet, teacher, blogger. Faizah started writing poetry while attending the St. Maarten Academy. She now teaches English literature and language at the same high school. Faizah holds a BA in English and communication from Pace University, where she received the Hilary Becker Poetry Award. She has taken MFA-level creative writing courses at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago. Considered a leading new generation poetic voice—with her unique interpretations of traditional culture and recording of contemporary St. Martin life—Faizah is an active poet and organizer of sociocultural events. She is the co-founder of the island’s first natural hair care group, Don’t Break The Comb, and is the coordinator of the foundation’s mega-workshops and panel discussions on hair and organic beauty care products. Faizah is the founder and editor of the blogs rochelleward.com and saltfishandlace.com where she regularly writes about hair and beauty care, Caribbean lifestyle and fashion, and the environment, and reviews books. Her writings have appeared in The Daily Herald, trulycaribbean.net, mnialive.com, bajanreporter.com, and repeatingislands.com. Faizah has recited her poetry at a number of programs and events, including Axum and Summer Speaks slams, the anniversary of the Marigot “Revolt and Massacre of 1830,” and the Freedom Fighters Foundation’s annual tribute to Marcus Garvey. She has been a guest writer and recited her poetry at the St. Martin Book Fair and the Anguilla Literary Festival. The poetry of Faizah Tabasamu has been published in the anthology Where I See The Sun – Contemporary Poetry in St. Martin (HNP, 2013). According to Faizah, “Poetry is my way of seeing.” (Courtesy: House of Nehisi Publishers).