Thank You…and maybe you, too?

Thank you

This Wadadli Pen project leans heavily on the kindness of patrons and partners. It hasn’t always been smooth (quite the opposite), still I am thankful to them all. And happy to report that 2014 is off to a good start with patrons coming forward before I’ve even had the chance to approach them, two three so far.

One pledged since the end of last year is by choice Anonymous.

More recently, I have Junie Webson , an Antiguan based in the U.S. who reached out to me via wanting to support the literary arts in Antigua. After some discussion, she pledged to give, in cash and kind, gifts to the winners.

To the growing list, I can now add Guyanese writer Ruel Johnson who I met in 2003 at the Caribbean Canadian Literary Expo, where as a featured speaker (and youngest winner of the Guyana Literary Prize for Best First Book of Fiction), he spoke of the lack of nurseries for young writers in the region, something I’d recognized as a lack on my own path to becoming a writer. Though still very young in my own career, his speech inspired me to do something; and the Wadadli Youth Pen prize was launched in 2004. I am thankful to him therefore as we come up on our 10th anniversary for offering to contribute at least two copies each of Ariadne and Other Stories and his latest release, Fictions, which this year won him another Guyana Prize for Literature.

Latest addition is D. Gisele Isaac. Gisele, an Antiguan author (Considering Venus), was one of the original Wadadli Pen partners and the Challenge’s main judge. She opted out of the judging process in 2010 but continues to make annual contributions to the project; 2014 is no different. Though I still hope to lure her back as a judge, I am grateful for this gift.

Barbuda Express was one of our major patrons last year, offering three tickets for two to the sister island and they’re doing so again this year. With a possible bonus package – stay tuned. I’m surprised to learn that not all winners have yet cashed in their 2013 vouchers; get on that! The trip is well worth it as this person related in her review. Thanks, Barbuda Express for stepping up yet again.

Best of Books and its manager Barbara Arrindell (who will once again give copies of her books Antigua My Antigua and The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories) have been rocks to this programme. They are on board as partners and patrons. They do so much it seems impossible to try to itemize it – highlights include hosting the annual awards ceremony, emblazoning the winners name on the Challenge plaque, certificates, additional gifts and prizes, books, and providing advice and calm when things get chaotic. Thanks, guys.

Floree Williams a regular patron and partner is donating, once again, as well, copies of her first book Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses. Thanks, Flo.

I must mention here which from Wadadli Pen’s earliest years and even through the hiatus years maintained a page for the programme; and always readily help us get the word out by adding our content to their news pages. As one of the main online portals for Antigua and Barbuda, we can’t put a figure on this type of publicity. With this and which has been similiarly gracious to us (hosting a page on their site, adding updates etc) in recent years, we’ve got the internet covered. Thanks to them both.

Joy Lawrence, profiled earlier on this site, has volunteered to assist with school outreach for the 2014 season, making her one of Wadadli Pen’s 2014 partners. Welcome, Joy, and Thank You. She’s gotten the Government Printery and Staff to assist with flyers as part of her efforts to promote the 2014 season in the schools.

Frank B. Armstrong has been very generous with us before and we’re happy to have them back. Thanks, Margo.

I can add returning patron Map Shop, a cornerstone of the Antigua and Barbuda literary scene and one of the foundation donors in our early years. Happy to have them back for the 2014 season.

Devra Thomas is the 2011 winner of Wadadli Pen. She aged out of the competition that same year but volunteered the following year; she was an enormous help…and she’s back again this year. Gratitude, Devra.

Latisha Walker-Jacobs was a top three finalist in the 18 to 35 age category in 2011 and a short listed writer in 2013. Like Devra she is no longer eligible to compete but is still eligible to participate as a volunteer. She has offered to do so and we are happy to have her on board.

Carol Mitchell is a St. Kitts-Nevis author, a past and future Wadadli Pen donor, and now also a volunteer as part of the 2014 judging team. How thrilled am I to have on board the author of the popular Caribbean Adventure series and 2013 nominee for the Astrid Lindgren Award, the world’s largest children’s award – named for the author of the Pippi Longstocking series, on our team? Too thrilled for words, that’s how. I had the opportunity to meet Carol when she came out last summer to conduct a session during the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project. She was generous with her time then and is preparing to be so again; for that, I say, thank you.

Lia Nicholson was a finalist in the first year of Wadadli Pen. She’s now off doing other things in other places but she reached out recently to say some very positive things about Wadadli Pen recently and I repaid her by roping her into assisting with the promotion (as part of our campaign to attract an increased number of entries) by doing some media rounds next time she’s on island. She was very gracious in acceptance. Thanks, Lia.

Linisa George well known to the local literary community for her work with Women of Antigua (When a Woman Moans and local stagings of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues) and August Rush (Expressions Open Mic and Young Poets Society of Antigua and Barbuda; as well as a writer in her own right and publisher of the online magazine Black Girl in the Ring was part of last year’s voluteer team; happy and thankful to have her back.

CaribbeanReads Publishing, Publisher of the Caribbean Adventure Series and now sponsor of our first ever Lead by Example Teachers’ Prize for Writing (teachers, have you started writing?)

Brenda Lee Browne has been our main judge since 2010. In 2012 and 2013, she’s also contributed spots in her Just Write Writers Retreat. We are thankful for her service. This year in lieu of time she’ll be contributing a cash prize to our prize package.We are most grateful.

The Cushion Club is a kids’ reading club I’ve volunteered with for several years (albeit less actively these days). The Cushion Club chief who doesn’t like me to call his name finds ways for the Club which is already a voluntary initiative to give back. So he sponsors a school prize and he sponsors a gift for the Wadadli Pen prize package. He’s confirmed that he will continue to do so and we’re thrilled to have him and a little less thrilled that we can’t call his name because he deserves plenty props.

We have another Joy onboard…oh happy day! This Joy is the owner of Art at the Ridge. She’ll be one of our art judges and will also be contributing prizes. Whoot! Whoot!

Elaine Spires has given copies of her books to Wadadli Pen over the past couple of years; this year she’s giving something even more important to a budding writer – her time and the benefit of her experience – she’ll be a mentor to one of our finalists. As Wadadli Pen aspires to be developmental, this is the kind of prize we’d like to have been able to offer since year one; so, thanks for that, Elaine.

Pearson is the publisher of my picture book Fish Outta Water and lots of other reading material. There’ll be sharing stuff from their stacks with our winners. We’re thankful for their contribution.

Thanks to them both all and I look forward to more.

If you would like to give to Wadadli Pen, supporting both the literary arts and youth development in Antigua and Barbuda, please contact me at For more about the programme read this. Also visit the individual project years, read the stories of the past winners, and hopefully you’ll become as excited about this project as I have been even with the ups and down. Looking forward to your support.

As with all content on, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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