Aunty Tek Spice Word Literary Festival

Last updated: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 2:40 PM


The first annual Spice Word Literary Festival was held in 2010.  Fully supported by a visionary private sector it was voted a timely intervention and a resounding success by all Grenadians.

It was the culmination of lengthy discussions and debates by authors, policy makers and other stakeholders. Persons in the like of Jacob Ross, author of Pynter Bender, impressed upon Senator Arley Gill, Minister with responsibility for Culture, on the urgent need for Grenada to host its own festival.”

 The name and tagline, Spice Word Festival - Feel the Rhythm in the Word, was decided on by Senator Gill and an exploratory planning committee from the St. George’s University which included Dr. Antonia McDonald and Mr. Colin Dowe,

In 2008, at a meeting with the Board of the Grenada Cultural Foundation, Senator Arley Gill, shared the vision and expressed the strong desire of both himself and Prime Minister Tillman Thomas to see Grenada stage its own Literary Festival. Understanding the magnitude of the undertaking, he exhorted the GCF to assist the Ministry of Culture to make it a reality.

Two years later, October 2010, this dream became an unforgettable reality.   At the launch of the festival, one of the gurus’ of storytelling in the Caribbean region, Grenada’s own Aunty Tek – Thelma Ermintude Knight-Philip, was honoured and awarded as the “High Priestess of Storytelling.” Three Grenadian Authors were featured at the Spice Word Festival: Dr. Merle Collins, Clyde Belfon and David Oomawalee Franklyn. These authors were selected not only for the brilliance and range of their works, but because their writings predominantly make use of the “Grenadian Voice, the vernacular” - the Creole or Patois that adds the rich flavour to our everyday speech.

The festival was successfully staged over a five day period, October 19th to 23rd, perhaps one of the most gruesome and poignant times in Grenada’s history: the fall of the Grenada Revolution and the subsequent invasion of Grenada by American troops.

It realised most of its fundamental aims: to highlight and showcase the work of Grenadian Author’s and to undertake developmental activities that would support and encourage the work of published and emerging authors. In particular, it demonstrated how the vernacular could be employed to enhance our literary works to reflect a true Grenadian experience

Daily books fairs were hosted by the local library; authors from all walks of life shared their works and were broadcast live on local television. At a “Poetry Slam” in Heroes’ Square, Victoria in St. Marks, poets got the opportunity to perform their works and show-off their talents. Storytelling was held in St. Patricks on the famous Bathway beach under the ambience of a blazing bonfire. Eighty-four year old Aunty Tek mesmerized the audience with performance of the Zien and ‘Nancy stories and inspired a new generation of storytellers.

Perhaps it would be true to say that the boundless and unflagging enthusiasm of Senator Arley Gill, his drive and single-minded focus, has ensured that, The Aunty Tek Spice Word Festival – Spicelitfest, is now an annual event in Grenada’s cultural calendar as we continue to ‘Feel the Rhythm in the Word’. 

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