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Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes
Congratulations to the Chair, the Steering Committee and to all who invested time and resources to ensure the success of the 2013 Alliouagana Festival of the Word. It was an inspiration to visit Montserrat, be welcomed with such warmth as a participating author, meet with students, and present at the festival. This year’s theme, “Words in Action: Cuisine, Cures and Conservation,” provided a unique lens through which to highlight areas critical to Montserrat and the Region. As a writer, it was energizing and affirming to present my poetry through this lens to such an attentive, insightful and engaged festival audience. May the festival long continue to engage audiences and stimulate creativity in areas of significance to both Montserrat and the wider Caribbean Region.
Returned on Sunday from the stunning island of Montserrat. My presentation on “Time For Us To Shine: Food, Health & Herbs – a pictorial roller-coaster ride through the cuisine of the islands” as well as my two interviews with the local radio station, went extremely well. It is indeed always not just a pleasure but totally heart-rendering to feel respected for one’s creative process…and I thank all the people on the island for extending such a welcome and opening their arms to me, giving me renewed spirit.
Called Alliouagana by the first settlers, the Amerindians, and meaning Land of the Prickly Bush…Montserrat, having been through an epic volcanic explosion that literally buried their capital city, is re-birthing on the north of the island. I was beautifully received by a wonderful community of people, good local food, fresh delightful air given by the stunning mountains and had the opportunity to scour the whole island. The trip to the volcano region has left me humbled and grateful to have seen the aftermath of such a horror for it has made me most thankful for the gift of safety so many of us take for granted on other islands.