March 31st 2012
The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize wrapped this Saturday 31st March with Antigua State College student Rosalie A. Richards, capturing three categories including the main prize. The win is a first for a poetry entry in Wadadli Pen which began as a fiction writing competition expanding to include other genres over the years. Richards’ poem Smitten also tied for top spot in the 18 to 35 age category with Tiffany Smith’s The Untitled, and was also best under the Liberate Love sub-theme. Among other things Richards received $500 from ABI Insurance and a ball point pen which retails at $215 from Stephen B. Shoul – both companies now regular patrons of Wadadli Pen.
Second overall was Antigua Girls High School student Ariel Dunnah with Every Rose has its Thorn, while Aarati Jagdeo placed third with The Yard. Together, they received cash prizes totaling $500 from Frank B. Armstrong, another repeat patron. Dunnah, also, won the top spot in the 13 to 17 age category with Every Rose and earned second place in the same category with Angela’s Baby ahead of third placed Jordee Josiah’s Let’s Dance. Jagdeo won the second and third spot in the 18 to 35 age category with The Yard and Thirty Six Hundred.
It was noted earlier that Richards tied with Smith to win the 18 to 35 age category; well, another Smith story, The Colour Red, earned an honourable mention in this age category as did Darryl George’s Snowcone Melancholia.
In the youngest category, 12 and younger, the top three spots went to students from Antigua Wesleyan Junior Academy –the school which won a $500 gift certificate sponsored by Conrad Luke and redeemable at the Best of Books for having the most submissions. They are, in descending order, Karenna Nicholson with her poem The Caribbean Flavour, which also won the prize for the entry with the best Origins sub-theme, Akeile Benjamin with her story The Adventures of Mr. Coconut, and Naleka Beckford with her story Origin. St. Nicholas student Vega Armstrong is an honourable mention in that junior category with her story The Legend of the Sea Lords.
Other short listed writers were Michaela Harris, Tammi Browne-Bannister, Melisa Desir, and Ashton Hewlett Williams. Other educational institutions recognized for strong participation with prizes totaling $500 from the International Women’s Club of Antigua and Barbuda, another regular patron, were Villa Primary, Antigua State College, and the Antigua Girls High School. For the full prize breakdown in this year’s Wadadli Pen Challenge visit the Who Won in 2012 page.
Overall organizers are reporting increased numbers and increased quality in this year’s entries making for a tight race, particularly in the 18 to 35 age category. In fact, chief judge Brenda Lee Browne dubbed it, “one of the best crop of competition stories/poems I have read for ages… nice ideas, stories that flow” and another of the judges Floree Williams said, “I saw a lot of promise and that makes me excited for the future”.
Of course, in that future, they’re hoping for even more entries, one of the reasons for encouraging the schools with the most submissions.
Wadadli Pen was co-founded in 2004 and is still co-ordinated by author Joanne C. Hillhouse, whose new book Oh Gad! goes on sale during a midnight launch at the Best of Books’ Friars Hill Road branch, on April 16th into 17th, the date of its worldwide release.
This year’s Wadadli Pen partners are the Best of Books and in particular Barbara Arrindell and Glen Toussaint, Claytine Nisbett, Brenda Lee Browne, Floree Williams, 2011 winner Devra Thomas, and Megan Samuel Fields, with special thanks to Mali Olatunji who assisted during the awards ceremony. This year’s sponsors were ABI Insurance, ACT, Frank B. Armstrong, Blue Waters, Nana Ekua Brew Hammond, Elaine Spires, Brenda Lee Browne, Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour, Jolly Beach Resort, the Best of Books, Jabberwocky, Caribbean Helicopters, D. Gisele Isaac, Floree Williams, Adventure Antigua, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Ondeck, Barbara Arrindell, Claytine Nisbett, Little Antigua Island Tour, the Cushion Club, Australian Homemade, Keyonna Beach Hotel, Marie Elena John, C + C Winehouse, and the International Women’s Club of Antigua and Barbuda.