Open Letter from Wadadli Pen

Two thousand and fourteen (2014) will make it 10 years since the launch of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize (   That means 10 years, give or take the couple of years we were on hiatus, of providing opportunity for young Antiguan and Barbudan writers to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be) to create and express their very own Caribbean-centric but wholly imaginative stories. I can’t overstate how important this would have been to me as a teenage writer with a tentative dream, and that’s why I do it; so that our young people realize that they have a voice, they have stories of their own to tell, and that their dream, whatever it is, is not as farfetched as it seems. Through the programme we (me and the Wadadli Pen project partners) try not only to reward promising talent with the help of our many patrons over the years, but to create encouragement and feedback to help nurture that talent.

This is usually the time of year when I, as founder and coordinator of Wadadli Pen, would start reaching out to prospective patrons and partners (the sometimes dispiriting cap in hand approach). This time around, for various reasons, I want to try something different. So, I decided to write an open letter inviting those who genuinely want to support this project, and through it support youth development and arts development to contact the programme at .  Wadadli Pen welcomes pledges of any size; prizes in cash or kind, and the gift of time. Already, going into year 10, we have pledges from two time winner of the Guyana Literary Prize for fiction, Ruel Browne; Juneth Webson; and another long time donor for whom we are very grateful.

This is a project that has proven that it has staying power. Going forward I’d like to attract resources to build a foundation that will ensure that Wadadli Pen outlives even my ability to do it, and to do even more with it than we’ve been able to do so far. If moved to help, contact the programme at Thank you in advance.

Joanne C. Hillhouse

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