Books + Beaches: Anguilla Lit Fest

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It could be argued that if you’re a lover of literature, there’s nothing better than meeting Alice Walker. But if you’re also a lover of the Caribbean, there is: And that’s meeting Alice Walker in Anguilla.

Look who’s sharing billing on a poster with Alice Walker!

Look who’s sharing billing on a poster with Alice Walker!

I had the pleasure of chatting with the author, poet and activist at the annual Anguilla Lit Fest last May, when readers and writers gathered for a weekend of “literary jollification” at Paradise Cove Resort on the tiny island best known for its 33 idyllic beaches (and Anguilla crawfish – but that’s a story for another time ...)

Hanging with Anguilla Lit Fest chair Sherille Hughes

Hanging with Anguilla Lit Fest chair Sherille Hughes

One of MANY selfies that happened, this time with teacher and writer Vanessa Croft Thompson

One of MANY selfies that happened, this time with teacher and writer Vanessa Croft Thompson

Cheesin’ with poet Alexis S. Ryan

Cheesin’ with poet Alexis S. Ryan

Lit Fest coordinator  Trudy Nixon  (L) and poet Fiona Wilkinson

Lit Fest coordinator Trudy Nixon (L) and poet Fiona Wilkinson

In its eighth year, the festival is a celebration of the island’s own literary and poetic talent and best-selling international authors, as well as publishers and digital content creators. This year’s lineup included author Jason Reynolds; motivational speaker Tony Gaskins; poet Kane Smego; Glory Edim, creator of WellReadBlackGirl; writer and publisher Denene Millner; and blogger Sheri Gaskins.

Bloggers, Book Clubs and Branding panelists (L-R) Glory Edim, Denene Millner and Sheri Gaskins

Bloggers, Book Clubs and Branding panelists (L-R) Glory Edim, Denene Millner and Sheri Gaskins

Glory, Denene and Sheri were part of a panel I moderated – Bloggers, Book Clubs and Building Your Brand – and shared take on all three subjects to a crowd of aspiring writers. The presentation was well received  – and I was well relieved!

 But the highlight of the weekend was definitely the conversation between Ms. Walker and her editor, Dawn Davis. Speaking to an intimate audience of about 70 people, she was as candid I expected, but also surprisingly funny and warm. Sitting cross-legged on stage with her bare feet tucked underneath her, she discussed not just the creative process behind her work (her latest is the poetry collection Taking The Arrow Out of the Heart) but also shared her opinions on subjects as disparate as impatience, criticism, financial security and the antidote to pain (spoiler: it’s dancing!)

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But Anguilla’s Lit Fest isn’t only about books; it’s about beaches, too. And the festival includes plenty of social events – on the sand and off – that offer visitors the chance to explore the idyllic isle and its shores.

We talked about books. Then we hit the beach!

We talked about books. Then we hit the beach!

Watch my video for the lowdown on the book-related events. And then watch this space for my next video, in which I explore the island and show you why it’s one of my favorites.