THE SAVANNA, St. Martin (April 18, 2017)—The 15th edition of the annual St. Martin Book Fair will take place at new venues throughout the island from June 1 – 3, 2017, said Shujah Reiph, director of the literary festival.
The opening ceremony at Cité Scolaire Robert Weinum in The Savanna—the area between Rambaud and Grand Case—will reflect the “art” theme of the anniversary year. The auditorium of the new high school/jr. high school complex will be turned into a giant art studio and gallery, said Reiph.
The main exhibition by international artist/author Bruce Clarke is in the works, said Reiph, who is also president of Conscious Lyrics Foundation. Art students and aspiring artists will also be invited to set up their easels and draw the live scene of book fair guests arriving, socializing, buying books, getting autographs, and meeting authors from around the world. The Book Fair Committee coordinates the festival.
St. Martin writers that have published books will be the mantra of the book fair’s 15th birthday bash, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers. “From 1988 to when the first St. Martin Book Fair was organized in 2003, barely 10 book authors from St. Martin could be found,” said Sample.
Fifteen years later, from first-time authors like Joselyne Arnell to senior authors like Gerard van Veen, over 30 St. Martin writers that have been published in one or more books can be identified, said Sample. At the 2017 book fair a larger than usual number of the island’s authors will conduct workshops, participate in roundtable discussions and public readings, and visit schools, said Sample.
The opening ceremony of the St. Martin Book Fair alternates each year between both parts of the island as a celebration of the historical and cultural unity of the island’s people. The main book fair day takes place at the University of St. Martin, the festival’s campus home since 2003. The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau has been the dedicated and strategic partner of the literary festival since 2004, said Sample.
There are a number of other key activities that take the book fair to different districts every year, said Reiph: the visits by authors to schools, homes for the elderly, and the prison; the popular literary evening of writers from around the world reading from their newest books; and the closing ceremony, highlighted with the “main book launch” and presentation of the presidents award.
Conscious Lyrics Foundation and House of Nehesi Publishers organize the annual St. Martin Book Fair in collaboration with the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, University of St. Martin, and LC Fleming Foundation.
Peridot Foundation and SOS radio are leading sponsors of visits by a selected author and media promotions; and Mr. K Cigar Lounge has become a unique book fair discussion venue for business, social, and political leaders of the island, said Reiph.
Shujah Reiph (3rd L), director of the 15th annual St. Martin Book Fair, with Book Fair Committee (BFC) members at Cité Scolaire Robert Weinum — following the weekly BFC planning meeting at the University of St. Martin (4.15.17). (CLF photo)