Calabash Literary Festival

Calabash co-founders Kwame Dawes and Justine Henzell speak at the 2018 launch for the festival.

Brief History

In 2001, the Calabash International Literary Festival was founded by three Jamaicans: Colin Channer, Kwame Dawes and Justine Henzell. Their aim was to create a world-class Jamaican literary festival with an international reach. What has resulted is a three-day festival that literary icons and lovers the world over flock to every two years, to get their fill of words – presented mainly in literary style, but also mixed into music and with other forms of storytelling. After its first 10 years of being staged annually, Calabash is now held biennially. All festival events are free and open to the public. They say, 'Passion is the only price of entry. But voluntary contributions are welcomed.'


According to their website, their mission is:

"to transform the literary arts in the Caribbean by being the region's best-managed producer of workshops, seminars and performances. We will achieve these goals by focusing on our audiences, managing our budget, creating a community of supporters in the media, government, business, the performing arts, philanthropic organizations and publishing, and by becoming the festival of choice for the world's most gifted authors."

Themes to Date

2018 – Calabash 'Lit Up'

2016 – Fruu-ish-aan

2014 – Glo-bal-ish-us

2012 – Jamaica Jubilation

2010 – So Much Things To Say

2009 – Peace. Love.

2008 – Imagine

2007 – Great Minds Think A Lot

2006 – Mix But Don't Blend

2005 – The Fire Is Lit

2004 – Life is An Open Book


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