Reading Room and Gallery 29

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. To read the full story or see all the images, or other content, you will need to go to the source. No copyright infringement is intended. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 29th one which means there are 28 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one. – JCH


“The thing about friends, I thought to myself, is that it’s hard to know when to let go.” – Ben Loory, The Friend with the Knife in His Back


“Long after the laugh track, it seemed
only rational, practical: this new thing.
Not because we were too stupid to know
what was sad, but because, as in the logic
of the canned guffaw, the producers
knew something about us we did not…” – The Invention of the Cry Track by Bruce Bond


“This fall I want to start a Short Story Club. I want to read them and then write them with students. Since I’m all about mentor texts stories, writing them is right along with my teaching style.” – Tammy L. Breitweiser


“It’s a matter of feeling and it’s also a matter of sound.” – Aretha Franklin (on creating)


“WARNING: I know amazing writers who struggle to progress because they don’t know their novel’s essence. Maybe something in us resists summing up our complex book in simple terms because we’re DEEP, don’tchaknow. Yeah, yeah. Find out. Say it. Commit.” – Leone Ross


A video dissecting the artistry of Aretha Franklin



“Black women are the beginning and the end. 
Black women are the law.
 Black women are the ground and the sky, the horizon. Black women are the lucky number seven.

Black women are all the books in the Ancient Library of Alexandria, Egypt. Black women are Hammurabi’s code and the Rosetta stone: vexation and answer, secret and revelation.

Black women are surpassingly beautiful, and that is why you cannot stop looking at Lorna Simpson’s pictures.” – Elizabeth Alexander on Lorna Simpson’s Collages (at Lit Hub)


‘Her (Roxane Gay’s) advice to writers? “You have to be relentless and you have to find a way to grit your way through all that rejection. … It’s OK to feel dejected and hopeless, as long as you don’t let that keep you from continuing to write and continuing to try and put yourself out there.”’ – 10 Writers and Editors who have changed the National Conversation


“That was the beginning of the end of Jacob’s poetry writing, but the poet himself never disappeared, animating each novel and short story he was to write. Jacob himself has been astounded by people talking of the ‘amazing lyricism’ even in the noir whodunnit (The Bone Readers)- amidst all its raw grittiness. This semi poetic mode of his style is an unconscious part of him, stemming from his eye for the metaphor, the sharp, clearly defined and unusual image, and an unusual way of seeing things and saying things.” – The Sunday Times on UK based Grenadian writer Jacob Ross


“The memory of music goes down very deep, deeper even than language, maybe even to the very bedrock of personality.” – Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Peter Trachtenberg


‘And now? The practical value of the prize he’s just won is significant. “There’s not many publishing opportunities in the Caribbean”, and name recognition is vital to attract foreign publishers. Would he go live in London, though, as VS Naipaul did? Would he quit the teaching job, and abandon small, problematic Trinidad? Kevin pauses: “Yeah, people ask me this”. He pauses again: “Yes and no, right?”.’ – Prize-winning Trinidadian Writer (Kevin Jared Hosein) Leads Double Life in Cyprus Mail Online


‘I explained to him (Austin Clarke) that I wanted Brother to be about the generation after the one he was the first to chronicle, about children growing up in a land their immigrant parents needed to imagine as one of clear promise, but which the children knew also posed often unacknowledged dangers. I wanted my novel to be about youth shadowed by poverty, by the racist gaze, by the threatened violence of those in authority. But I also needed my book to reveal beauty, and to show how toughened youths and young men could brave great acts of tenderness and love. I wanted it to be a novel of painstaking attention to both language and narrative form. And as Austin drew inspiration from the music of his generation, from the legacies of jazz, soul, and reggae, I wished to honor the music that was closest to me as a youth—the hip hop of the late 80s and early 90s, including the advent of turntablism, all set within a Toronto that had rocked and found its own voice years before the “breakthrough” emergences of artists like Drake and the Weeknd. I dreamt of celebrating the completion of this novel with Austin, but he died before it was published. I ended up dedicating it posthumously to him.’ – David Chariandy


“I had posted some stories just on my Tumblr, and she read them, and shared them, and Jacques who runs The White Review asked me to send in some stories for consideration, accepted “Agata’s Machine” for his website then signed me for a collection based off “Agata’s Machine” and “Waxy” with his publishing house.

Then I wrote him a bunch of new stories over a period of several months in 2016. I sent them off to him as I finished them, and he edited them as I wrote more and sent them back to me with notes, which is perhaps an unorthodox way for a short story collection to be written. I imagine most writers have a polished collection to present to an editor at the beginning. Jacques chose which ones he wanted to include in a collection and I insisted on the title. It was an intense seven months, at least for me. It was all through email, I’ve never met Jacques. I guess he is some sort of 21st-century European James Laughlin. Now I have a box of blue books in my bedroom, that’s about it. It doesn’t feel any different to be published. It’s all happened in Britain which is quite far away. You have to just focus on the next writing project if you are to keep your sanity.” – Camila Grudova interviewed by the Culture Trip


“Philip Levine advised his students: don’t be in a rush to find your ‘voice’. I am in my mid-fifties, and I try to not bore myself by writing poems that are always in the same voice, form and style. I want continually to be learning and surprising myself as I write. Still, something of a recognisable voice emerges in my first book, The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman. The second book, Ricantations, is different in approach: there are more marvellous and speculative elements: mythic creatures, animals and anomalous beings, such as a flying gargoyle, a man who wears a Green Lantern suit at his wake, a Spanish Baroque girl with hyperphagia and a circus family of high-wire walkers. However, in both books the voice combines the quotidian and the luminous, the beautiful and the atrocious, grim humour and what Vidyan Ravinthiran, remarking on Ricantations, has called the ‘exact, terrible word’ to portray the realities of a colonised society ransacked by debt, mass migrations, narcoculture, gender violence and hurricanes.” – Loretta Collins Klobah


“The poem presents, word for true word, what different men said to me when I was walking on the street, riding a bus or taking a taxi. I could have included so many other instances that got left out of the poem; for example, once I was walking on Hope Road when a man driving past leaned out of the window to say some kind of sweetness to me (while a woman was in the passenger seat of his car!). I truly felt bad when he mashed up his car, hitting the back bumper of the car in front of him.” – Loretta Collins Klobah in an interview with Jacqueline Bishop for the Bookends series in the Jamaica Gleaner Loretta Collins Klobah interview – the first part
Part 2 of the interview is below in two parts:
Jacqueline Bishop interviews Loretta Collins Klobah 1
Jacqueline Bishop interviews Loretta Collins Klobah 2


“The majority of people on this earth work a job they hate all their lives and life is precious…how many lives have been ruined because their parents told them you can’t make any money being a musician, you can’t make any money being a writer, you can’t make any money dancing, and we know the sacrifices that our parents have made so we bend in to parental pressure and we end up choosing a  major, choosing a direction in life, choosing a job that is now what we want to and we end up miserable and hating our parents…and that’s why I thank my parents who from a very early age, they didn’t know I was going to be a filmmaker, but they wanted to give us exposure to the arts, so everything I’m doing today is because my mother was dragging me to the movies.” –Spike Lee with Pharrell Williams


“The Caribbean population is small but it is teeming with writers – has been for a long time.” – Pamela Mordecai


“TC: On the plus side, I think it’s made it easier to connect with other critics—and, in many cases, link up with editors, which is useful for a host of reasons. On the negative side, I worry that social media has changed the perception of book reviews in some unhelpful ways as well. I have no issues with GoodReads (I’ve had an account there for years) and I understand why a lot of people review books on Amazon, but I am more than a little alarmed at the idea that those can or should be viewed as a replacement for a good book review.” – Tobias Carroll on Geek Love, Goodreads, and the Books that Haunt Him


“Gowdy: I return to the childhoods of one or two of my main characters in most of my books, I think. It’s nothing I plan on doing ahead of time, but I guess it’s as if I need to establish certain propensities in the child before I can fully create the adult. And then there’s the joy of writing about children because they haven’t yet formed a shell sturdy enough to hold in their souls. Children are so expressive and hilarious. They’re all poets in that they’re trying to get a fix on the world, so they’re comparing everything to everything else, sounding out words, taking what you say too literally, even as they believe in magic. I hope the young Rose is recognizably the grown Rose, but neither is quite the other, and that’s where I live as a writer, in the place between the living, personal self and the remembered self. Or in the place between the living self and the different self.” – The Impossible is Now Possible: A Conversation by Barbara Gowdy and Helen Phillips


“(Danielle) Boodoo-Fortuné is a fresh new voice on the poetry scene. This collection creates vivid images of the rural Trinidadian world, where the real and the mythical rub along together.” – Esther Phillips, Barbados’ Poet Laureate speaking with Zing on her new role and 5 Great Works by Caribbean Poets


 – Juleus Ghunta


pahe_life_0208_2– from “Life of Pahé” by Pahé Translated by Edward Gauvin


“Maria has a big ass. My grandmother tells Maria this regularly. She has reached that age where she lacks tact. Despite my grandmother’s concern about the size of Maria’s ass and her unwillingness to call Maria by her given name, they get along quite well. Maria treats my grandmother like her own. She brushes my grandmother’s thin, silver hair each night before bed. They love to argue about the shows they watch. They talk about the islands where they were born, the warmth of suns they once knew.” – Sweet on the Tongue by Roxane Gay


“But this is a good book, he said. And he explained the plot to me: the story of a young Muslim, polygamous, with four wives, a revolutionary and a terrorist, but who one day finds himself calling into question the Koran and its teachings and ends up converting to Christianity and casting off three of his wives. Except that some time later he’s assassinated by a conspiracy of the abandoned women who subsequently roll dice to decide which of them should keep his penis that they’d severed at the base . . .” – The Bestseller by Germando Almeida translated by Daniel Hahn


‘“Sorry, no one’s allowed through,” he said in a rough manner, while raising the window to keep the conditioned air from reaching me.’ – Cat’s Eyes by Ahmed Alrahbi


“As soon as I locked myself inside, I smoked everything I could reach. But the pain is still here. And I’m still here.” –Eve Out Of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, trans. by Jeffrey Zuckerman


“It’s 4 a.m. in Zagreb, Croatia, and you’re wide-awake. You and your husband are on your honeymoon. While he sleeps, you admire his black curly hair and thin nose, envious of his ability to rest. As he rotates to his side, you wonder what images are crossing his unconscious and whether he’s ferried a phantom of you into his dreams.” – Last Chapter on Hotel Stationery: A Short Story by Ursula Villarreal-Moura


“Bills gather in heaps at my feet. I watch them beat about on the paint encrusted tiles, in the slight breeze seeping in under my door through a space big enough to let in the lizards, centipedes and mice which use my house for shelter when the rains come.  But the rains have not come. A week to Easter, and still no rain. Not even back to back cricket matches, usually enough to entice the rains to douse the field just when our team is winning, can sweeten the rain to fall. Young fruit die sunburnt under confused mango trees that flower and bear at the same time. The plants look like when you drink something sour and your face falls into itself. The cow itch vine, whose windblown fibres make me want to scratch skin off my bones, head in the ground. Even the weeds are seeing trouble.” – A Whiff of Bleach by Suelin Low Chew Tung


“In those days, it was the custom to roll out a lemon from the delivery room. The midwife in charge always had a lemon at hand. As soon as the baby arrived she would roll it out of the room. The exact moment that the fruit exited the room would be registered and used to cast the horoscope. Ayya did not have much faith in this fruit-rolling practice. He would wait for the baby’s first cries. He contended that the wail was enough to give him the time of birth. Amma’s vote was for the fruit. The accident that followed my birth made Ayya change his stand.” – Horoscopes by Appadurai Muttulingam, translated from Tamil by Padma Narayanan

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, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page Jhohadli or like me on Facebook. Help me 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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