GREAT BAY, St. Martin —With His Excellency drs. Eugene Holiday, Governor of St. Maarten and his wife in attendance, the closing ceremony of the 12th Annual St. Martin Book Fair will long be remembered for the standing room only audience which rose to its feet to give Dr. Rhoda Arrindell a warm ovation following her reading excerpts from her book, Language, Culture and Identity in St. Martin, published by House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).
The book was launched Saturday evening at the Chamber of Commerce building in Concordia, Marigot, to round off this year’s edition of the Book Fair. The eager audience of over 200 people quickly snapped up the available copies of the book.
It would be the second standing ovation of the day, following a similar one accorded exiled West Papua freedom fighter and independence movement leader, Chief Benny Wenda at the President’s Forum held earlier in the day at the University of St. Martin.
Two young St. Martiners opened the book launch evening by reading the poems they had composed at a writing workshop conducted earlier by visiting author, Nicole Cage. This was followed by “grassroots poet” Raymond Helligar giving a recital that had the audience in stitches for his colorful use of the St. Martin vernacular. This set the stage for the presentation of Dr. Arrindell’s seminal work based on her doctoral thesis that earned her a summa cum laude from the University of Puerto Rico.
At the end of her presentation, Pulitzer Prize finalist, US Professor Garrett Hongo gave a concise, thought-provoking review of Dr. Arrindell’s book, praising her research and analysis of the language situation of St. Martin.
Preview copies of Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin are already at Van Dorp, SPDbooks.org, and Amazon.com, said Jacqueline Sample of HNP.
While giving the “thank you” address, Coordinator of the Book Fair, Conscious Lyrics Foundation president, Shujah Reiph, recalled his earlier visit to the Point Blanche house of detention where a visiting author had gone to speak to the inmates. Reiph implored the audience to do everything possible to prevent their children from ending up behind bars.
“Prison is no place for our young men,” he stressed, as he called for the public to work with the Book Fair Committee to ensure that this situation is reversed.
Highlights of the Book Fair also included a sunset cruise, complete with jazz music by Fred York and his group, on the Simpson Bay Lagoon, which most of the visiting writers, who read from their works during the cruise, found innovative, unique, inspiring, and creative.
The St. Martin Book Fair is organized by the Conscious Lyrics Foundation and the House of Nehesi Publishers in collaboration with St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, University of St. Martin, LCF Foundation, and St. Martin Tourist Office. The SXM Airport, SOS Radio, and SDL Heavy Equipment are major sponsors of the St. Martin Book Fair 2014.