During the week of Mar. 04-11, 2018, Jamaican bibliophiles will converge in Kingston for the sixth biannual staging of the Kingston Book Fest (KBF). The brainchild of author and publisher Kelly Mangus during her tenure as chair of the Book Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ) in 2012, KBF was supported by her then team at the BIA, and provides a feast for the island’s literary community.
The KBF operated as an annual event with the mandate of proving a fun, literary space for writers, publishers and readers until 2016. Following which, the decision was made to repackage the event as a biennial festival due to a lack of adequate sponsorship. Magnus has since turned over the reins to Latoya West-Blackwood who is the founder of iPublishJA, Chairman of the BIAJ, and was a 2016 Barack Obama Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Fellow.
Although details on the 2018 event are still trickling in, the organisers of the event have partnered with a number of literary heavyweights including Carlong Publishers, Rebel Women Lit, African American Literature Book Club, and winner of the 2017 Lambada Literary Award for Fiction, Nicole Dennis-Benn, who will headline the event. Additional support for the event comes from the Mayor of Kingston, Delroy Williams, who has partnered with the BIAJ to promote the KBF as a Kingston 145 marquee event.
The format for past KBF festivals involved multiple venues across Kingston, book launches, and a book fair on the lawns of Devon House. In 2015, the KBF staged 24 events over eight days, including a digital publishing boot camp, featured tours to schools in the Greater Kingston and Metropolitan Area, Late Night Lit (an adult oriented poetry session), as well as gave poets the opportunity to have a sit-down chat with former Poet Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris. Most notably, bibliophiles within the island’s correctional facilities were also involved via readings organized by Pelican Publishers. More recently, in 2016, the KBF included among its list of events lunchtime poetry readings, a Pecha Kucha night which focused on the work of animators and illustrators, as well as facilitated the launch of Olive Senior’s Pain Tree.
While we wait on more details on KBF 2018, we encourage you to save the date as the festival makes its long awaited return home.