Wadadli Pen once again proves that when it comes to talent, age is nothing but a number. The top three in the 2013 Challenge are writers from each age category. The overall winner is 15-year-old Antigua Girls High School student Asha Graham with her tale of quiet yearning ‘Revelations Tonight’ which also won the 13 to 17 age category. Graham was, also, third in her age category with her poem ‘Remembrance’. Second overall is 27-year-old Daryl George; also winner in the 18 to 35 age category, with the haunting ‘Ceramic Blues’; he also claimed the runner up spot in his age category with ‘Julie Drops’. Third overall and winner in the 12 and younger category is Antigua Grammar School student 12-year-old Zuri Holder with his sports themed story ‘The Big Event’.
The Awards ceremony at which these writers and all finalists were recognized was held Sunday afternoon at the St. Mary’s Street store of long time Wadadli Pen partner The Best of Books.
The other big announcement of the day was the US$500 worth of books each to be gifted by Hands across the Sea to Antigua Girls High School and St John’s Catholic Primary for most submissions.
Wadadli Pen’s organizers are also pleased to recognize and express gratitude for the support of regular patrons like Conrad Luke, Stephen B. Shoul, and the Cushion Club. Shout outs are also due to Art at the Ridge, Barbuda Express, Jane Seagull, Pamela Arthurton, Bayhouse Restaurant, Keyonna Beach, Heavenly Java 2 Go, Raw Island Products, Silver Lining supermarket, and Koren Norton. Several writers contributed copies of their books: namely Antiguan and Barbudan writers Dorbrene O’Marde, Althea Prince, Claudia Elizabeth Ruth Francis, and Marie Elena John; Jamaican writers Diana McCaulay and Diane Browne; Trinidadian writer Kris Rampersad; Kittitian-Nevisian writer Carol Mitchell; and British writer Elaine Spires. There is one other major patron who wishes to remain anonymous. Gratitude also to Wadadli Pen’s media partners, especially Antiguanice.com and 365Antigua.com both of which maintain Wadadli Pen pages on their popular online hubs.
Wadadli Pen partners and writers in their own right Brenda Lee Browne, Barbara Arrindell, Floree Williams, and Joanne C. Hillhouse, who founded the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize back in 2004, have added to the prize pool: two spots in Browne’s Just Write Writers Retreat, and copies of Arrindell’s Legend of Batman’s Cave and Other Stories, Williams’ Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses, and Hillhouse’s Oh Gad!
Taking their portion of these prizes are writers Jamila Salankey, Vega Armstrong, Chammaiah Ambrose, and Michaela Harris; and art winners Avecia James, Dennika Bascom, Jamika Nedd, and Gavin Jeffrey Benjamin. Other shortlisted writers were Juliet Browne, Rhea Watkins, Isheba Simon, Danielle M. Benjamin, Latoya Aretha Honoré, Arati Jagdeo, and Latisha Walker-Jacobs.
Hillhouse reminds that Wadadli Pen’s purpose is to nurture and showcase Antiguan and Barbudan youthful literary talent. As such the top stories are returned to the writers with the editors’ notes for revision. In time, she hopes with funding and support to conduct workshops in schools and community.