Organizers of the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge are reporting that phase one of the annual competition has been completed.
According to founder and coordinator of the Challenge Joanne C. Hillhouse, 78 pieces were submitted from 62 individuals. This represents an increase when compared to data available for the last three years. In 2011, there were 40 submissions and 31 participating writers; in 2012, there were 57 entries and 39 participating writers; and in 2013, there were 55 entries and 34 participating writers. For the complete picture, the number of participating artists from each year would need to be added, but there’s a clear upward trend since the annual Wadadli Pen Challenge’s revival, after a three year hiatus, in 2010.
The coordinator credits this increase in participation to the efforts of her team of promoters, who visited schools, and created awareness via the media. Special thanks goes to Glen Toussaint and Barbara Arrindell of the Best of Books for engagement with teachers, Floree Williams who created the online promotional video, Joy Lawrence who visited the schools, and, for media promotino, past finalists – Angelica O’Donoghue, Lia Nicholson, Latisha Walker Jacobs and Liscia Lawrence – the latter penning an open letter in which she acknowledged being a confused teenager when she first entered in 2004, the Challenge’s first year, and said, “The Wadadli pen competition gave me the opportunity to use my words, and, in so doing, built my confidence, eliminated my fears, it gave me a voice.”
When asked if she was happy with the number of entries, Hillhouse – now a published author of several books including Oh Gad! who remembers being a confused teenager finding her voice through writing – said, “I am happy with the initiative shown by several teachers in the primary division in prepping and sending entries from their students. A number of schools that have never participated before did so this year. Would I like more? Of course, but the truth is that I’m less concerned with having lots of entries than in having really promising entries and participation from people who are genuinely interested.”
The majority of writers submitting, 30, falls into the 12 and younger category; and between student and teacher submissions, 2014 marking the introduction of the Lead by Example Teachers Prize, there were submissions from 20 educational institutions.
As Hillhouse and her small team complete the task of sorting the entries, the judges begin their work. The Wadadli Pen challenge is unique as some writers will be given a second chance to edit/improve their script. Specifically, the top entries in the various categories will be identified and the judges will provide these writers with editing tips which they are asked to consider before resubmitting. It is at this point that registered artists will be called upon to submit their work; their Challenge to create cover designs for short listed stories.
Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in March.
Business places and individuals have committed their contribution through pledges of cash and gifts. They are, to date, Art at the Ridge; Pam Arthurton; the Cushion Club; Caribbean Reads Publishing; Danielle George-John; Ruel Johnson; Pearson Caribbean; Raw Island Products; Juneth Webson; Elaine Spires; Jane Seagull; Photogenesis; the Map Shop; D. Gisele Isaac; Frank B. Armstrong; Brenda Lee Browne; Barbuda Express; as well as Floree Williams, Joy Lawrence, Carol Mitchell, Joy James, Barbara Arrindell, the Best of Books – also programme partners. Other partners are Linisa George and the past finalists named plus Devra Thomas. Hillhouse noted that patronage is still welcomed and no gift is too small, or for that matter too big.
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