Kingston Book Festival 2018 has officially begun, and we diG what is happening 100%! The eight-day celebration of Jamaica’s literary industry with a strategic focus on promoting literacy and reading in a festive environment, runs from March 4-11, 2018. It includes events for all students, teachers, librarians, writers, publishers, booksellers, literary tourists, socially aware corporations and non-profit organisations. Here are 10 reasons why you should diG it!
1. Reading (still) maketh the man (and woman)
KBF is all about books and reading, and developing Jamaicans’ appreciation for knowledge and literacy. This push for literacy is a push for national development. In 2016, The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) reported that the country had an 87% adult literacy rate, leaving illiteracy at 13%. But even though 87% of the nation can read, Jamaica does not have an actively reading population. That is to say, a casual glance at the nation’s cultural habits reveals that reading is not necessarily the preferred passtime of the people. That’s why events like KBF are welcome, because they are part of a concerted effort to encourage more reading in Jamaica. Why is this a good thing? Because scientists have repeatedly extolled the many benefits of reading: an expanded vocabulary, improved language skills, broadened perspectives, improved concentration, greater knowledge and tolerance of the world around us … and an overall better brain.
2. Important conversations on the literary aspect of Jamaica’s creative industry
When people hear the term ‘creative industries’ in relation to Jamaica, they tend to think of the music, the dancing, the art and crafts. Very rarely do they include the written and spoken word. KBF turns the spotlight on Jamaica’s literary industry and allows the public to engage key players in the industry in important conversations about its development and growth. The conversation not only builds awareness and fosters dialogue engendering understanding, but also symbolises a partnership being forged between industry workers and the public.
3. Gender issues coming out
Two of the events have our attention precisely because they speak to the oft-ignored social issue of gender awareness. March 8’s Girls Night Out, tagged ‘A Celebration of Jamaica’s Writing Women’ and March 10’s Yes Ah Suh Mi Like It! Women’s Rights: Reflections in Popular Culture Featuring Author, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Ebony Patterson and Tanya Stephens both promise to bring women and women’s perspectives and issues to the fore. In a country where one in every five girls is a victim of child sexual abuse and where sexual harassment and domestic violence are still cultural problems, this spotlight is both timely and necessary.
4. Diversity issues stepping forward
Speaking of important conversations that engage the public, the focus on diversity – diverse voices, perspectives and ways of being – is also timely. On Thursday, March 8, an entire day will be devoted to this effort, dubbed EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) DAY, and presented by the British Council of Jamaica.
5. Crayons count .. and every age matters
Jamaica can’t have too many high-profile, well-planned family-friendly events, and KBF provides all of that, and then some! With pop-up readings at school across the island, and events tailored to meet the needs of varying members of the family, it meets the meaning of the term ‘holistic’ in a very ‘holistic’ way.
6. BIAJ, please stand up
How many persons are aware of the Book Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ)? It is more than an organisation, because, with an event like this, it extends itself to function as the vanguard of a literary revolution in the island. They are also actually the oldest established literary trade group in the Caribbean region – representing writers, publishers, booksellers and related entities in Jamaica’s book industry since 1989.
7. The literary synergy
#KBF2018 has sponsors, endorsers and participants from every conceivable walk of literary life. The variety of events it offers pulls in stakeholders from every level of the literary ladder. There’s an entire workshop focusing on creating creative capital in Jamaica, there are readings and recitals, book swaps, story pitching opportunities, a deaf poetry slam, a workshop on how to tell the story of abuse survivors, mixers for people working in the industry, book launches, kid’s tents and pop-up readings … the sheer magnitude of these activities cuts across such a remarkable cross-section of the population that it is pretty safe to say that there is, literally, something for everyone.
8. Kingston is a UNESCO Creative City.
Kingston was one of 47 locales added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network in December 2015. The city’s designation was for music, but events like KBF help to bolster the city’s reputation as a place of interest for more than just music. It helps to put Kingston on the map yet again, and, if you look far enough down the road, the pull that can come from KBF can redound internationally to Jamaica’s benefit, especially in the area of tourism. Who knows, as things develop, Kingston might even become a UNESCO City of Literature …
9. Kingston is 145 years old
#KBF2018 falls beautifully into the celebrations of Kingston as a 145-year-old historical gem. On Tuesday, March 6, the festival features “a curated look at the history of Kingston through books, rare photographs, maps and other archived materials” at the launch of the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) Exhibition – Kingston 145.
10. That fair is fun, fun, FUN!
Truth is, people like to have fun, be educated, be entertained, and also be informed. All of the above happens at KBF, which gives persons in the literary and publishing industry an opportunity to sell their wares, and gives the public the opportunity to engage these players on a different platform. It’s terrific. And we highly recommend that you get involved.