Margaret Irish, winner of the 2014 Teachers Lead by Example Prize, takes it all in 2015 with ‘Justice’, a story in which the bitterness felt by a Jamaican facing deportation from Antigua emerges as a searing inner narrative:
“The laugh erupts before I can stop it.
Now-I can talk?
Just before I’m deported to Jamaica for stealing an iPhone?”
‘Justice’ is only 199 words, just one short of the 200 limit of 2015’s Wadadli Pen Flash Fiction Challenge; but, typical of the sub-genre, it is a story fully told.
“The author of ‘Justice’ successfully completed a story,” said Floree Whyte. “You got to know the character, the reasons for their behavior and felt a connection, all in 200 words.”
Whyte (author of Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses) was part of the judging pool consisting of Monica Matthew (Journeycakes), Linisa George (When a Woman Moans), Carol Mitchell (founder of Caribbean Reads publishing) and Danielle Boodoo Fortune (longlisted for the 2015 Hollick Arvon Prize) which selected Irish’s ‘Justice’ for the win from 31 entries.
Wadadli Pen took a different turn this year with its winner-take-all format. Irish’s prizes are sponsored by Flow, Raw Island Products, Art at the Ridge, CODE – sponsors of the Burt Award for Teen/Young Adult Caribbean Fiction, Bocas – administrators of the Burt Award, the Best of Books, and an anonymous donor.
But thanks to Best of Books, longtime Wadadli Pen patron and partner, some of the other promising writers were also recognized. Best of Books’ picks were Olsfred James, author of ‘Get Set, Go…’, Judah Christian, 9, author of ‘Judah and his Friends save the Day’, Ondrej Austin-McDonald, 16, who submitted an untitled entry, Avriel Walters, 10, author of Teenagers, and Melicia McCalmon, 17, author of The First Time I went to St. John’s. [CLICK HERE FOR A RUNDOWN OF WHO WON IN 2015 WITH STORY LINKS]
Antiguan and Barbudan author Joanne C. Hillhouse (Musical Youth) launched the first Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge in 2004 with the goal of nurturing and showcasing the literary arts. This is the programme’s 11th year.
To keep up with developments related to Wadadli Pen and literary life in Antigua and Barbuda, and the wider Caribbean, follow the blog – https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com
Photos courtesy of Glen Toussaint of the Best of Books.