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Saturday, 26 May 2007

Friday night at Calabash

joe meno reading at calabash

Joe Meno reading in the main tent at Calabash tonight

Calabash 2007 began with a sort of "meet and eat"--a pre-performance crowd eating seafood, drinking Red Stripe, and schmoozing on the lawn near Jack Sprat, the official Calabash restaurant. I stumbled upon Marlon James chatting up a Canadian film crew--tomorrow Marlon will be running the two open mike sessions. A white-haired Michael Ondaatje was sitting at a table nearby, apparently enjoying his rice-and-peas.

The evening's first performance was by the American actor Roger Guenveur Smith. His Who Killed Bob Marley? was a multimedia autobiographical exploration of his relationship with his father and with Jamaica--and a fascinating example of a black American's attempt to negotiate with the often different ideas and realities of blackness in the Caribbean. It could have done with some judicious cuts, but it was a fairly gripping performance, despite the best efforts of the Treasure Beach mongrels to interrupt.

Next up were three writers from the Akashic Books stable. I missed Felicia Luna Lemus's reading, but I caught most of Joe Meno and all of Aaron Petrovitch. I thought the last two were a little too clever and McSweeneyesque for their own good, but the audience enjoyed their spirited performances. Petrovitch had his entire piece by heart--a dialogue between two men who, he explained, confusingly have the same name. An impressive feat of memorisation.

And then everyone was meant to drift towards the beach, where a bonfire was in preparation and the party was supposed to go on till three. I decided to drift towards bed instead. But not before I post this update, dear readers.... Check in tomorrow for more Calabash reports.

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