Writers, poets and playwrights will converge on Blacktip Island’s Heritage House Saturday for what organizers hope will be a violence-free second annual Blacktip Island Literary Festival.
“We’ve doubled our presence and are confident there’ll be none of the mayhem of last year’s litfest,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “If the narrative does go off course, the two of us will step in and edit the event.”
Festival participants say outside influences caused the ruckus at last year’s event, sponsored by the Tiperon Writers’ Interdisciplinary Trust and Flor de Caña rum.
“It was the free rum the sponsors doled out that caused the problems,” playwright Jerrod Ephesians said. “People blamed Antonio Fletcher and his pornographic alexandrines, but ‘Tonio was just the catalyst. Well, him and the Baptist Women’s League.
“Between the overturned scooters, the flung hardbound books and the dozen people in the medical clinic, though, it gave the local literary scene a black eye,” Ephesians said. “We’re asking participants and spectators to be on their best behavior this weekend.”
Some auteurs, however, scoffed at that request.
“Can’t no one promise restraint,” poet Antonio Fletcher said. “We’re artists, you know. We’re spontaneous, howling that eternal ‘yes’ at the moon. That’s creativity.”
Festival officials are confident new safeguards will ensure a peaceful festival.
“We’ve a more-structured agenda to emphasize love of literature, writing and reading over hooliganism,” event organizer Doris Blenny said. “We’ll administer breathalyzer tests before each writing workshop, panel discussion and author reading to maintain the festival’s intellectual focus. We’re only allowing paperback books in the venue, as well.
“We’ll have workshops on ‘Using Verbs in Every Sentence’ and ‘How To Write As Concisely As Humanly Possible to Avoid Any Unnecessarily-Wordy Verbiage In Your Prose and Poetry,’” Blenny said. “Panel discussions will include ‘Was Shakespeare Really Jane Austen?’ and ‘Plot: What Is It Good For?’
“To keep order, we’ve also moved the readings to first thing Saturday so people won’t be so sauced,” Blenny said. “Dermott Bottoms’ll kick things off performing his one-act play, Letters From Heineken.”
The festival’s high point will be Saturday evening’s cocktail mixer, featuring a free drink to any attendees who can recite the first paragraph of Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand Of Darkness. There will also be a belching Derek Walcott’s Omeros contest, with the winner receiving a mini-keg of Guinness stout.
All-writer air band The Smirking Metaphors will provide live music.
“We invited a bunch of literary agents and publishers, too,” Blenny said, “but none of them responded. I think they just want to attend incognito, in case things get hairy again.”
Participants are cautiously optimistic.
“It’s an artistic community,” Ephesians said. “Blacktippers love their literature. But we enjoy drinking rum and fighting, too. It’s a delicate balance.”