Fu Arwe Ting is/was a new lit/arts event for Independence 2018 – a positive addition in my view. The ladies behind it – in collaboration with the Festival Commission are Linisa George and her Black Exhibit Project and Angelica O’Donoghue who you might remember as the winner of the 2006 Wadadli Pen Challenge (when she was 16!…well she’s grown now, a near 30 year old mommy of two with her own book in the works…as I told her backstage tonight, way to make me feel old…also delighted that she’s grown in to one of the sparks of Antigua-Barbuda lit arts). Delighted to be a part of the event and even more delighted to sit in the audience and enjoy.
My personal favourites –
Joy Lawrence’s reading from her book Barbuda and Betty’s Hope: the Codrington Connection, specifically the first person accounts of two survivors of a boating disaster between Antigua and Barbuda back in 2003. The vivid accounts were riveting and I had an emotional moment when one of the testimonials described the 17 year old boy seeing his mother jumping around on the shore as he was being pulled from the sea after fighting the water overnight for his life.
Honey Bee Theatre – all their performances but especially their first number which was about the contradictions and burdens of being a girl in a world that places so many labels and limitations …so many labels and limitations…labels and limitations that both boys and girls are confined within; the piece was both well written – rife with irony and humor – and well executed – with exuberance and maturity. It’s fair to say that gender issues were an unofficial theme as – from Shiva School of Dance’s opening number to Angelica’s entreaty that you are not your father to young boys and Marseille Jardine’s reflection on dem little girls – this wasn’t the only performance tackling it.
Other things I enjoyed – Jervon Tittle’s second poem especially was inspirational. “Start where you are/use what you have/do what you can”. How’s that for a kick in the ass?
Annia Matthew’s vocal performance had backstage (where I was during her performance) bouncing and, though I disagreed with how she summed up Caribbean literature (as I’ve found on my reading journey much more diversity of genres, topics, and styles than is credited), I am interested in reading Kimolisa Mings’ Into the Black Widow’s Web after the excerpt she shared – the detective character sounds about as hard-bitten and cynical as we’ve come to expect of the detective mystery sub-genre and the humor seems just dry enough to be salty. Olsfred James’ take on writers’ block rang true. Zahra Airall’s end piece about black magic is worth thinking about – and, as ever, powerfully presented; though I did think to have people dancing out of the theatre the producers might have flipped it in the presentation order with the previous number – a rousing calypso-ish medley by Police Kings Bartimus and Singing Sudden. I say calypso-ish because it was those national songs we grew up being drilled in come Independence time when in school – Antigua Land to God Bless Antigua – set to a an uptempo and infectious calypso riddim. They’re much more fun that way.
The programme was rounded out with performances by Jojo Intsiful, Kadeem Joseph, and yours truly. I read from Musical Youth and also shared my poem Ode to the Pan Man.
Thanks to the organizers for the invite. And in light of conversations and criticisms last year, it’s nice to see such a prominent role for local literary arts in the Independence programme; continued growth.
As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.