Nostalgic affection for the glory days of the Jersey tourism industry will bring back memories at this year’s Jersey Festival of Words.
The five-day programme will be launched with an affectionate tribute by the Island-based Plays Rough writers to Ile d’Amour, cabaret star Bob Anthony’s 1975 album of songs about Jersey which has since become an iconic kitsch treasure, evoking simpler times when hordes of holidaymakers made tourism the No.1 industry.
Plays Rough will write and perform a series of pieces inspired by such unforgettable song lyrics as ‘Let’s go down, down, down to St Helier’ and ‘Castle at Gorey, tell me your story’. The event, which has the blessing of the late Mr Anthony’s family, will be staged at the Maritime Museum in association with Jersey Heritage, whose nearby Bergerac’s Island exhibition also recalls a time when the Island was packed with glitzy showbiz venues.
The heyday of tourism is also the inspiration for Italy’s Other Island: The Italians and the making of Modern Jersey, the new book by another of this year’s home-grown festival writers, journalist and broadcaster Hamish Marett-Crosby. Hamish will tell the story of the men and women who came to work in our hotels and restaurants from the 1950s onwards, becoming the mainstay of the industry for over a quarter of a century and contributing to Jersey’s distinctively cosmopolitan community.
That unique character is rooted in the Island’s Norman heritage, the basis of a major local literary event later this year when the first translation into English of Les Chroniques de Jersey, a key history of the Island written in Old French in the 16th century, will by published by the Société Jersiaise. Its translator, Lord Coutanche Library curator Brownyn Matthews, will talk about the challenges of the project, the anonymous Chronicler and some of the ripping yarns he recorded.
More nostalgia, this time from the revolutionary 1960s, inspires another event featuring Jersey writers. Fifty years on from the first publication of The Mersey Sound, the best-selling anthology which made literary rock stars of Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri, Jersey’s own poets will present an evening of readings from it as well as new work of their own written in tribute to a book, now reissued to celebrate the anniversary, which demonstrated that poetry should be accessible to everyone. The event, titled From Mersey to Jersey, will also explore the poetry of song lyrics, including those of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, for whom 1967 was also a triumphant artistic year.
Launched in 2015, the Jersey Festival of Words is dedicated to encouraging and showcasing local creative writing, as well as giving Islanders and visitors of all ages the opportunity to see and hear book-based presentations by big international names.
Other events involving Jersey writers in this year’s festival, which runs from Wednesday 27 September to Sunday 1 October, are:
A Conversation with the Blonde Plotters (Novelists Gwyn GB, Georgina Troy and Kelly Clayton, above); Reflections of D-Day with poet Juliette Hart; Jèrriais: Coronation Street before TV, with Geraint Jennings and Tony Scott Warren; Thriller writer Glover Wright on his latest book, Hard Act; Star Wars, space opera and French sci-fi art, with Stefan Rousseau of the Alliance Francaise; Occupation Reconciliation, a new biography of the late historian Michael Ginns MBE by Juanita Shield-Laignel; and a panel discussion featuring Jersey Evening Post picture editor Peter Mourant, with visiting writers Miranda Doyle and Felicia Yap, will examine fake news, social media and self-curating.
There will also be workshops on calligraphy and short story writing, as well as storytelling for children in French, Portuguese and Polish.
Jersey Festival of Words 2017 events will be staged at the Jersey Opera House, Jersey Arts Centre, Jersey Library, Maritime Museum, Bean Around The World, Chordz Coffee House, St James Wine Bar and Jersey Hospice.