After a quick drink poolside, overlooking a rocky cliff that leads to the mesmerizing ocean we reach Paradise Cove Resort, the site of the first annual literary festival. There, under brightly burning stars that can only be seen any longer in mystic places like this, a host of American actors/writers, Caribbean authors/artists – including Terry McMillan, Hill Harper, Marie-Elena John, and Sheryl Lee Ralph - circulate the poolside bar at the center of Paradise Cove’s beautiful grounds. The energy is nervous and excited as the guests of the conference anticipate the weekend’s events.
The following day begins with a light breakfast on the spectacular terrace of Ultimacy Villa, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the shallow waters lapping gently, sheerly over the sharp rock and coral lined shores.
The day opens with an address by distinguished Caribbean poet and publisher, Lasana Sekou, American actor and author Hill Harper, and the indefatigable Sheryl Lee Ralph. All of the presenters read from their respective works, touting inspirational messages interested in everything from the formation of national identity (Sekou) to what it means to be a true D.I.V.A (Divinely Inspired and Victoriously Anointed), compliments of Sheryl Lee Ralph.
Afterward, chatting with Hill Harper (author ofLetters to a Young Brother and fixture on CSI: NY), he crystallizes the importance of the conference and literature to the lives of specifically young black men and women, elaborating on the importance of “cultivating your own personal Board of Directors,” essentially using literature and reading as a means of identifying and drawing on resources in communities and environments where they do not otherwise locally exist. He also references his upcoming publication on the fractured criminal justice system in the United States and the role exceedingly high rates of recidivism have wrought on already struggling communities.