READING ROOM VI

Like the title says, this is the sixth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Five came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.

BLOG

Diane Browne blogs on support for and potential of the arts.

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“Painting technique can be learned, but finding one’s own unique artistic voice/style has no predictable timeline, no guarantee. Some artists are lucky to discover it right away, but I personally think that that is the case when they already have strong opinions, and a clear idea of who they are – OR, they have someone nurturing  and mentoring their progress.” Read more.

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Article by Island Series editor Joanne Gail Johnson on some publishing realities.

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“Truth is not reality. Truth can be a griffin smoking opium. Truth can be a work-shy robot in 3000 AD. Truth means emotional truth, it means the ability to see that much of the time as humans we are acting, we are presenting ourselves to the world, and tiring ourselves making a good impression. The job of the writer is to surpass the falsity of the real world, and burrow towards buried truth.” There is much more truth in this entire essay by Booktrust Writer in Residence Matt Haig for the would-be writer. Check it out: http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/writing/online-writer-in-residence/blog/553/

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Caitlyn Levin explores whether how a character looks really matters in this post (How do I look?) at Shewrites.com. Reader comments offer interesting insights as well.

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Jewell Parker Rhodes didn’t know me or Wadadli Pen from Eve when I emailed her asking her to contribute a copy of her book Ninth Ward to the 2011 Wadadli Pen prize package. She donated two…one of which was read by many more children during many a Cushion Club session. They loved it. This post is about her new book Sugar. But really it’s about what happens after the book is written, after it’s been accepted, before it gets to market. If you care about the quality of what you put out, this posting is a good reminder of what it takes.

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I remember seeing Kenny Rogers The Gambler as a kid and how that lyric stuck in my head. You know the one, “you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run”. That song comes to mind on reading this blog. As a freelancer, it’s a struggle to get paid what you’re worth and tempting to bid yourself down just to land the job…but I continue to learn that sometimes it’s better to let that one get away because getting it would have been more of a headache than it’s worth….and the people prepared to invest in quality will invest in you. In a small marketplace, and in general really, it’s not so cut and dry…but Kenny had this much right, you’ve got to know when to walk away and indeed know when to run. Here’s the blog on knowing your worth and sticking to your guns as a freelancer.

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I don’t generally discuss or repost articles related to reparations; there are one of three knee jerk responses – defensiveness, dismissiveness, or digging in at which point meaningful dialogue becomes challenging to impossible. So I know what I believe and why, and I hold my side. Generally. Which isn’t the best way to advance anything, really.  But I couldn’t not share this well reasoned pro-reparations discourse by Nicolette Bethel. She quickly addresses and rebuts s some of the more dismissive and disingenuous arguments; if we can get past those, can honest dialogue be far behind. Give it a read.

FICTION

Sharon Leach is a Jamaican writer. This is her reading from her collection at the 2014 PEN World Voices Festival.

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I like a few things about Karin Lin-Greenberg’s Care. I like the effective use of the tricky second voice. I like how it moves. I like the character insights. The external details. The reflection and introspection. It’s a tight read. So, read it here. And read what the Kenyon review editors said about why it was chosen.

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I’m adding this here as a fiction post because I just updated the fiction listing on my other blog. This is a listing of my published stories and poems. The new addition at this writing is my first noir piece, which I blog about here. I hope you’ll check out all the stories though.

INTERVIEWS

“Certainly the new technology has already dissolved borders for everyone including artists from smaller communities. Social media with its facebooks and blogs and online magazines and accompanying hardware, has meant that writers and artists can send their work to any part of the world, at any time. More writers in St. Lucia and the Caribbean are using non-traditional publishing sources to get their work out. Of course this means that there needs to be good valid criticism to separate the good from the indifferent. So we need to see the development of good online critics who gain wide respect. They probably are already there, but there is so much, you can miss a lot of significant work. And yes, the new does not automatically mean ‘progress’, since there is also a lot of negative and bad stuff happening through social media and the internet. But today’s writers and artists must be aware of and use the positive advantages of the new media.” – John Robert Lee who you might remember has made perhaps the most notable contribution to the page with this. I couldn’t agree with his assessment more. Read the full interview here and congratulations to him for being the December 2013 Poet of the Month at the Missing Slate.

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Ghanian and American author of Powder Necklace Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is a past Wadadli Pen donor. I found a number of relatable things in this interview from how writing inspired to the stops and starts of getting published to the way a career in writing is perceived in her community…perhaps you might too. Read the whole thing here.

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“Art should never be restricted. All I simply ask is that the stories be ours. If we don’t tell them, who will? It is important for Caribbean people to have characters that reflect their identity and their culture.” – Shakirah Bourne. Read More.

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This Geoffrey Philp interview is a few years old but still relevant when you consider commentary like this:

You see, New York has one idea about the Caribbean  and we have our own. Sometimes, the ideas meet. But sometimes they don’t.Pirates of the  Caribbean is a good example of an idea that doesn’t match our vision of ourselves, but one  that New York and Hollywood continue to perpetrate. The sad thing is that we  support these films while all the while singing Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery…”

Read more.

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A very candid interview about the angst and ambitions of emerging Caribbean writer Kevin Hosein whose Littletown Secrets (as K. Jared Hosein) is on my to read list. Interview excerpt –

Q. Tell us what needs to be done to support aspiring, unpublished writers in the Caribbean.

A. More reading events for the youths and more visits by the proper spokespeople to schools and youth events. Many young people love to write and aspire to publish. Looking for some sound guidance or advice shouldn’t feel like scouring for Atlantis. If they know that the proper avenues are out there, more of them will keep that dream ignited. If they can see or hear someone speak from that industry, it won’t feel like they’re chasing an apparition. This is an elusive dream, yes, but it shouldn’t feel impossible. That just kills everything. – See more here.

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“Start telling the stories that only you can tell” and other bits of writing wisdom from Neil Gaiman.

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Fascinating (when is she not right?) Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie interview on race, gender, writing, and more.

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This Jamaica Kincaid interview had me nodding in agreement at several points, gave me pause at other points, and challenged my thinking on certain issues…kind of like all of her writing…and kind of like all of her writing, I marveled at her flow and profundity.  And, of course, I relate to this:

“More immediately, I’m trying to earn a living in the way that is most enjoyable to me. I love the world of literature, and I hope to support myself in it. I come from the small island of Antigua and I always wanted to write; I just didn’t know that it was possible.

Everything I do is because of writing. If I go for a walk, it’s because I’m thinking of writing. I go look at flowers, I go look at the garden, I go look at a museum, but it’s all coming back to writing. I don’t really do anything that isn’t about writing, and I don’t really know who I am if I’m not thinking about writing.”

Read the full interview at Guernica here.

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Writing advice from Sabra Zoo author Mischa Hiller in this Commonwealth Writers interview. Sabra Zoo…like that name…this might be another one for the book wish list.

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Some solid…and unexpected…advice from author, one of my favourites, Maeve Binchy.

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Two giants of modern literature Toni Morrison and Junot Diaz in conversation. Watch the video.

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I actually met Roger Bonair-Agard at the Nature Island Literary Festival in Dominica. I remember really liking his poetry. Now wishing we’d spoken more because I’m right there with him on how poetry, the arts, can save a young person…been there, lived that. See his interview here.

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Interview with Jane Bryce at African Writing Online: Many Literatures, One Voice. Excerpt:

“All I can really say in the end is that I’m driven by a feeling stronger than I can control to describe myself as ‘African’, and I justify this to myself by the fact that I’ve maintained my relationship with the continent and built my entire life and career around it. I have actively sought to experience ‘Africa’ as an adult, free of colonial privilege and to engage with African modernity. A long answer shows what a complex question this is!”

Read more.

NON FICTION

Diana Macaulay is the winner of the Hollick Arvon prize and the current Commonwealthwriters writer-in-residence. She’s also an ardent activist. In this post, her writer and activist self intersect.

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Ru Freeman on writing.

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I enjoyed reading both of these perspectives on how real life worms its way into fiction and the ethics of that. Interesting reading for any writer…and quite possibly their families.

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“We need to write the way we speak,” Magnus says. “We are naturally funny and playful with language.” – See more at Susumba.

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“Why do you write? Because you like to read. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? You were a reader before you were a writer. Nonetheless, I’m sometimes dismayed to hear how little other writers read. Don’t be that person. Reading is a simple reminder of why we do this in the first place. Grab a book and sink into your couch for a few hours. That’s always a good decision.” – This is my favourite bit of advice from this list by Michael Nye, managing editor of the Missouri Review. Writers read, no getting around it…and why would you want to.

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The ever intriguing Jean Rhys.

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About early relationships and one long literary career…Michael Anthony and V. S. Naipaul.

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Is writing art or craft…like me, this article concludes that it’s a bit of both. Hey, is it true, though, that many visual artists have difficulty accepting writing as art?

POETRY

A quiet afternoon.
An elderly man and woman
in separate queues, he, balding,
wearing three-quarter sleeves,
suspenders hooked to trousers;
she, dressed in simple blouse
and skirt, hair in a tidy bun;
nothing remarkable,
part of the deadening wait
on comatose bank-tellers.
READ THE REST OF FOR ELLYCE COLLYMORE BY ESTHER PHILLIPS

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Wet Season by Summer Edward

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“Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.”

Read the rest of Alone by Maya Angelou.

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“Toss flowers in my grave
If I could still smell taste
Feel hear and see then I
Would be pleased but
They’re not to comfort me” read the whole of Nick Hutchings’ Untitled (Bury me under a cedar tree…)

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“The pair, however, only shines eyes for dinner and each other” … if you were thinking the lady and the tramp, you’d be close, only with feline strays. It’s a line from Alan Smith’s Fine Dining. I’m not a cat lover, still I quite like this piece.

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I don’t know what to call this…poetry, creative essay, declaration…whatever it is, it’s beautifully written and speaks to every bit of me that celebrates many of these women and the rebel and writer in me as well. It begins, I want to be a Woman Writer, and name checks some of the best women writers you’ll have the pleasure of reading; and it’s by Trinidadian writer, Ayanna Lloyd.

VISUAL

What does dance have to do with storytelling, you ask…everything. Nina Simone’s Four Women as told in dance by Ballet Afrique:

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Anansesem’s pinterest board of Caribbean Children’s book creators.

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Interesting discussion on what constitutes national literature and if we even need to define it…couple of excerpts:
“If you start second guessing either what should go in terms of a kind of a an over cooked and crafted sort of cultural sandwich that’s going to appease certain people or that’s looking to have a market appeal, I think you’ve kind of really lost the whole point of being a writer…the freedom of the blank page and the freedom of the imagination are your real tools; that’s the starting point.” – Irvine Welsh

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“It is important that literature has this space to grow independent of this sort of government control and this sort of forced definition of what Caribbean literature is…writers need space, but writers also need money, and writers need funding, and writers need grants, I think governments should just get a little more sophisticated about what exactly is the literature they’re promoting….you have to sort of get kind of mature about it, that you’re supporting art…maybe they should read a little bit more…we need the money, and the support, and the infrastructures, and they have to get to the point where they are sophisticated enough to respond to that and play a more constructive role; I’d rather you just close your eyes and give me the money and leave artists to make art.” – Marlon James

Now the whole video…

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You know what I saw when I first looked at these images a sort of urban Caribbean decay…on reading this note “Florine Demosthene’s artwork examines how black culture is commodified and fetishised. Through paintings and drawings, she seeks to magnify the subtlety of racial constructs and how viewers have become comfortable with derogatory images”, I looked again…and saw deeper. Moving Forward, Disappear into Myself, and Guardian…Guardian especially…I find particularly compelling. See images from The Capture in Moko here.

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The 30 Days slide show at St. Lucian artist Donna Grandin’s website was my happy place today. Not only were the images beautiful, calming, and spirit lifting, the idea of an artist taking on the challenge of painting 30 paintings in 30 days was motivational.

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“A mindful educator does the necessary self reflection to know where she fits in the world and in the classroom” – from a TEDx talk by Dena Simmons, a New Yorker with Antiguan roots.

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Leone Ross, met her in Guadeloupe, follow her on facebook, find so much of what she says in her Tedx Talk here so relatable. #theflow

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Shakirah Bourne, a Bajan Creative doing big things, hit in 2013 with her film PayDay but those of us who stay plugged in to the literary journals and such have been aware of her talent for a while. In her TEDx talk she discusses re-defining success. Her talk is entitled The Curse of the Starving Artist.

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Margaret Atwood talks writing; for the record, there’s no such thing as normal.

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Mark Brown review originally posted to ARC and reposted to The Culture Trip. Love his work.

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A post I did right here on the site about Black Midas and Quarkoo.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, 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 WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

5 Comments

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Workshop

5 responses to “READING ROOM VI

  1. george imhoff

    Congratulations on your 2nd Place achievement (even though it is like 1st to me).

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