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Book Lovers’ Parade brings children into focus

Alliouagana Festival highlights: Part 3

By Cathy Buffonge

Book Lovers Parade

This will be the last in a series of three articles on Montserrat’s third Alliouagana Literary Festival, held at the Cultural Centre and organized by the UWI Open Campus headed by Gracelyn Cassell.

The last day of the Festival was Sunday, November 13, and several interesting and exciting events took place, starting with a ‘treasure hunt’, or more accurately quite a challenging quiz on information related to Festival. Groups of two children with an adult were asked to answer a sheet of questions, which required them to look around the Centre, search the Festival’s souvenir booklet, ask questions, and check some of the featured authors’ books for information.

Following this was the Book Lovers’ Parade. Around 70 children took part, dressed in costumes depicting an amazing assortment of characters from books. This was truly a highlight, bringing children into the heart of the Festival. The idea was conceived by Open Campus head Gracelyn Cassell, and made possible by the energy and enthusiasm of Clover Lea, who together with Sonia Bramble, made sample costumes and held workshops at the Public Library to assist children with ideas and the actual making of their costumes. Principal of St Augustine School, Anne Marie Dewar, was also instrumental in organizing and assisting a large number of her pupils to take part, and of course parents were also on board.

They made the costumes from everyday materials that might otherwise have been discarded. There were prizes for the best use of recyclables, best home-made costume, and the least expensive costume in each age group. There were a host of other prizes, including cutest, funniest, most creative and most realistic.

Kian Christopher with Sponge Bob (made by Sonia Bramble) and Nikeisha Scotland with Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter won the prizes for overall best costume. The group prize was won by Lookout Primary School with Farmer and Family with their gigantic carrot. The creativity and imagination that went into the costumes was impressive, with face painting by Jenny as a final touch

The next event was a parenting workshop by Predencia Dixon, who also read several of her poems during the Speakers’ Corner on Saturday. Predencia was born in Jamaica but has lived and worked in Britain for many years, working with disturbed children, their parents and child care workers, as a teacher, psychologist and staff trainer. She has also written training manuals for staff dealing with children in the British system and in the Cayman Islands. In addition Predencia has just published her first novel, Dare to Love, which along with her books of poems was available at the Festival.

During the Parenting workshop, which was entitled ‘Can you fix my child?’  (a question she sometimes gets asked!) Predencia had groups of participants put together a job description for parents, including qualifications, desirable qualities, duties, remuneration and retirement age. This exercise brought out what an enormous and difficult job it is to be a parent. Styles of parenting and discipline were examined, and the advantages of giving children praise when it’s due, rather than constant criticism.

Kyoko Mori, a Japanese writer who lives and works in the US, read from her books, which were an eye opener on Japanese culture, with the importance of arranged marriages in the middle class setting, a completely different experience. She has won awards for her writing, which includes novels for young adults, non-fiction, poetry, as well as essays and short stories. She has taught at several US Universities.

To wrap up the Festival, the last event was an interactive session, Obeah in Old Story Time, with Montserratian dramatist David Edgecombe, who teaches theatre at the University of the Virgin Islands. David has been a strong promoter of arts and culture in the US Virgin Islands, finding innovative ways to encourage the creativity of Caribbean youth.

Librarian Sonia receives a complied copy of the poems

During his session he dissected the play Old Story Time by Jamaican dramatist Trevor Rhone, a play that he has directed both in Montserrat and the USVI, focusing this time on the incidence of obeah (Caribbean folk magic or witchcraft) in the play. Using Merle Roache, who has previously acted in the play, and radio personality Basil Chambers as play readers, he took us through various sections of the play, picking out the parts that deal with obeah, and involving the audience in what they thought about changes he had made to the slant of the story.

The Festival would not have been possible without the commitment and sheer hard work of Open Campus head Gracelyn Cassell together with her steering committee and dedicated team of volunteers and staff, as well as the generous donors who provided funding. Mention must be made of Kathryn Duncan, who laid out the souvenir booklet for all three years of the Festival and did the all the graphics for the promotional material. Let us hope that the Festival continues for many years to come.

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Alliouagana Festival highlights: Part 3

By Cathy Buffonge

Book Lovers Parade

This will be the last in a series of three articles on Montserrat’s third Alliouagana Literary Festival, held at the Cultural Centre and organized by the UWI Open Campus headed by Gracelyn Cassell.

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The last day of the Festival was Sunday, November 13, and several interesting and exciting events took place, starting with a ‘treasure hunt’, or more accurately quite a challenging quiz on information related to Festival. Groups of two children with an adult were asked to answer a sheet of questions, which required them to look around the Centre, search the Festival’s souvenir booklet, ask questions, and check some of the featured authors’ books for information.

Following this was the Book Lovers’ Parade. Around 70 children took part, dressed in costumes depicting an amazing assortment of characters from books. This was truly a highlight, bringing children into the heart of the Festival. The idea was conceived by Open Campus head Gracelyn Cassell, and made possible by the energy and enthusiasm of Clover Lea, who together with Sonia Bramble, made sample costumes and held workshops at the Public Library to assist children with ideas and the actual making of their costumes. Principal of St Augustine School, Anne Marie Dewar, was also instrumental in organizing and assisting a large number of her pupils to take part, and of course parents were also on board.

They made the costumes from everyday materials that might otherwise have been discarded. There were prizes for the best use of recyclables, best home-made costume, and the least expensive costume in each age group. There were a host of other prizes, including cutest, funniest, most creative and most realistic.

Kian Christopher with Sponge Bob (made by Sonia Bramble) and Nikeisha Scotland with Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter won the prizes for overall best costume. The group prize was won by Lookout Primary School with Farmer and Family with their gigantic carrot. The creativity and imagination that went into the costumes was impressive, with face painting by Jenny as a final touch

The next event was a parenting workshop by Predencia Dixon, who also read several of her poems during the Speakers’ Corner on Saturday. Predencia was born in Jamaica but has lived and worked in Britain for many years, working with disturbed children, their parents and child care workers, as a teacher, psychologist and staff trainer. She has also written training manuals for staff dealing with children in the British system and in the Cayman Islands. In addition Predencia has just published her first novel, Dare to Love, which along with her books of poems was available at the Festival.

During the Parenting workshop, which was entitled ‘Can you fix my child?’  (a question she sometimes gets asked!) Predencia had groups of participants put together a job description for parents, including qualifications, desirable qualities, duties, remuneration and retirement age. This exercise brought out what an enormous and difficult job it is to be a parent. Styles of parenting and discipline were examined, and the advantages of giving children praise when it’s due, rather than constant criticism.

Kyoko Mori, a Japanese writer who lives and works in the US, read from her books, which were an eye opener on Japanese culture, with the importance of arranged marriages in the middle class setting, a completely different experience. She has won awards for her writing, which includes novels for young adults, non-fiction, poetry, as well as essays and short stories. She has taught at several US Universities.

To wrap up the Festival, the last event was an interactive session, Obeah in Old Story Time, with Montserratian dramatist David Edgecombe, who teaches theatre at the University of the Virgin Islands. David has been a strong promoter of arts and culture in the US Virgin Islands, finding innovative ways to encourage the creativity of Caribbean youth.

Librarian Sonia receives a complied copy of the poems

During his session he dissected the play Old Story Time by Jamaican dramatist Trevor Rhone, a play that he has directed both in Montserrat and the USVI, focusing this time on the incidence of obeah (Caribbean folk magic or witchcraft) in the play. Using Merle Roache, who has previously acted in the play, and radio personality Basil Chambers as play readers, he took us through various sections of the play, picking out the parts that deal with obeah, and involving the audience in what they thought about changes he had made to the slant of the story.

The Festival would not have been possible without the commitment and sheer hard work of Open Campus head Gracelyn Cassell together with her steering committee and dedicated team of volunteers and staff, as well as the generous donors who provided funding. Mention must be made of Kathryn Duncan, who laid out the souvenir booklet for all three years of the Festival and did the all the graphics for the promotional material. Let us hope that the Festival continues for many years to come.