A book fair for the entire family …
2003 – 2017
Organized by Conscious Lyrics Foundation and House of Nehesi Publishers Foundation
in collaboration with St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, University of St. Martin, LC Fleming Foundation
St. Martin Book Fair | Gallery of Posters, Presidents Award recipients, and Book Fair Committee | 2003 – 2017
|“The Presidents Award is presented to persons and institutions, in some instances pioneers, whose work is noted for its excellence and for combining literary, cultural, and liberation components in the service of progress, of their people or nation, and of humanity.” – Lasana M. Sekou||
A book fair for the entire family …
The Caribbean Beat magazine once described the St. Martin Book Fair as “international and multilingual to the core.” (bit.ly/1RgH7D5) And indeed, between its founding in 2003 and its 15th anniversary in 2017, the book and literary festival has been offering to the St. Martin people and our visitors three exciting days of books, free literary recitals, cultural performances, multilingual workshops, and exhibitions of educational and multimedia tools with upcoming and famous guest authors, expert workshop presenters, and panelists from St. Martin and around the world. (bit.ly/1Ugz63H)
The St. Martin Book Fair was founded by Shujah Alex Reiph, president of Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF) and co-founded by Lasana M. Sekou, projects director of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). Inspired by the HNP Creative Writing Program (CWP), in which Reiph was a participant, the book fair
was organized and launched on June 20, 2003, by CLF and HNP—well before the six-month CWP was completed. The CLF members and officers spearheaded the organization of the first three-day fair in less than two months.
During the launch reception, Josianne Fleming-Artsen, president of the University of St. Martin (USM), suggested to Reiph the participation of USM in future book fairs. From 2004 to 2017, USM collaborated with the St. Martin Book Fair, generously providing the use of its campus as home to the main book fair day of workshops, general sessions, book sales, and book signings by guest authors. Also since 2004, the literary fest would take place each year from the first Thursday to the first Saturday of June (“the first weekend of June”).
The idea of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) as the strategic partner of the St. Martin Book Fair since 2004, came from STB head Regina LaBega during a conversation with Sekou. Through the STB, the government of the Territory of St. Maarten maintained its cornerstone sponsorship of the St. Martin Book Fair. Between 2010 and 2016, the government of the Collectivity of St. Martin contributed to the book fair as a partner. In 2014, the L.C. Fleming Foundation (LCF) became an exemplary private sector “legacy” patron of the arts. GEBE, Peridot Foundation, and BK Martin Book Fund (through its contribution to selected HNP titles to be launched at the fair) have been among the most dedicated literary arts sponsors and contributors over the years. Fabian Adekunle Badejo of ADE Consulting, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell of the Institute for Language Research & Development, and Jacqueline Sample, president of HNP, have been core to book fair ideas, planning, or programs over the years. The opening ceremony of the book fair has been alternated each year between the island’s South and North in general or specifically between Great Bay (Philipsburg) and Marigot, both capitals of St. Martin respectively—in keeping with the traditional unity between the one people of both parts of our island nation. The venues of the eagerly anticipated literary evening have been selected in such a way that this feature actually toured the island and cruised the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The symposium of the St. Martin Book Fair is the Presidents’ Forum, hosted by USM. The first “President’s Award” was presented in 2007 to the distinguished poet Kamau Brathwaite, a book fair guest author that year from Barbados. The forum and award were initially named for the university president and as CLF and HNP got more involved in selecting symposia topics and awardees, the “Presidents Forum” and “Presidents Award” came to be named for the presidents of USM, CLF, and HNP. For the first 15 years of the St. Martin Book Fair, the closing ceremony was highlighted with the “main” or “feature” book launch of a new HNP title, normally published the same year in which the fair takes place. Since 2005, with the installation of, and as a result of the organization and execution by the energetic Book Fair Committee (BFC), the widening activities to schools, senior citizens homes, the prison, and different districts, novel workshop ideas, and media appearances involved at least 1,000 people directly and indirectly each year in the St. Martin Book Fair. Public and private sponsorship and volunteerism make it possible for all book fair workshops, general sessions, and the opening and closing ceremonies to be free for all of the St. Martin people and visitors to “The Friendly Island.”
CLF and HNP, the foundations that have been organizing the St. Martin Book Fair, are non-profit NGOs. The advertising sponsors and financial gifts and grants from friends, contributors and patrons of the arts have been most important in the development of the St. Martin Book Fair since its inception; and the volunteer, material, and financial support, gifts, and grants are encouraged, always welcomed and greatly appreciated.
In September 2017, following the 15th anniversary of the St. Martin Book Fair, June 1 – 3, 2017, the House of Nehesi Publishers Foundation resigned as the co-organizer of the literary festival—due to the limitations of the HNP foundation’s resources. The 16th annual St. Martin Book Fair, June 1 – 2, 2018, was organized by Conscious Lyrics Foundation and the Book Fair Committee.
We welcome one and all to have a “Sweet St. Martin” time at our Charismatically Caribbean book fair.
(© Lasana M. Sekou/House of Nehesi Publishers.)
|House of Nehesi Publishers
P.O. Box 460
Philipsburg, St. Martin
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St. Martin Book Fair in the New York Daily News with Jared McCallister and in Writers Digest among “5 Great Caribbean Literary Festivals,” in the magazine’s travel feature by Antiguan author Joanne C. Hillhouse.
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St. Martin Book Fair 2003
Our own voices
St. Martin Book Fair 2004
The history we make
St. Martin Book Fair 2005
The national book, a universal offering
St. Martin Book Fair 2006
Migration: Movement of the People
St. Martin Book Fair 2007
St. Martin Book Fair 2008
St. Martin Book Fair 2009
St. Martin Book Fair 2010
St. Martin Book Fair 2011
Freedom of Expression
St. Martin Book Fair 2012
St. Martin Book Fair 2013
St. Martin Book Fair 2014
Crime & Punishment
St. Martin Book Fair 2015
St. Martin Book Fair 2016
The Science of It
St. Martin Book Fair 2017
|House of Nehesi Studio|
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