A couple of Caribbean writers have been named among the Hurston Wright Award nominees for 2020. I spot among the Fiction nominees Jamaican writers Nicole Dennis-Benn (Patsy) and Curdella Forbes (A Tall History of Sugar). Read the full list here.
Not book news but screenplays are the books of the film world and the last CREATIVE SPACE focused on Antiguan and Barbudan films available online. The series runs every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer and on my blog.
Caribbean Literary Heritage used the inaugural Caribbean Literature Day as an opportunity to kick off its Caribbean A – Z of lesser known books series. A is for Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie, Gwen, Lilly, Pam, and Tulip (1983) is presented by Keja Valens @kvalens, who writes, “Kincaid’s story narrates a moment of first contact between Caribbean natives and conquistadors, from the point of view of the Caribbean natives who are also constituted by the history that will result from that meeting. It features the stylistics, themes, and even characters for which Kincaid is well known: a deceptive simplicity, a deep concern with the colonial and post-colonial experience of Caribbean girls and women, and Annie and Gwen.” They’ll be doing the whole alphabet – including an F entry by me, so check them out by clicking on the page name above.
Myriad Publishing in the UK has lots of news re the global anthology New Daughters of Africa, featuring more than 200 Black women writers from around the world, and edited by Margaret Busby. First, the recipient of the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa award, made possible because all participating authors waived their fee, went to Iza Luhumyo of Mombasa. Additionally, 500 copies of New Daughters have been donated to schools in the United Kingdom via The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise that campaigns for black British histories to be taught from reception through to A Levels. Myriad’s publishing director Candida Lacey said, “It feels more urgent now than ever to improve the way we educate our children and young adults and to share with them the richness, range and diversity of African women’s voices and across a wealth of genres.” The paperback edition of New Daughters will be out in September.
Caribbean Reads Publishing has announced that it is actively seeking #ownvoices manuscripts for middle grade readers, roughly 8 to 13 years, with a Caribbean setting. There’s no published cut off date but don’t sleep on it. Go here for submission details. Caribbean Reads has also recently released a reading guide for its Burt Award winning title Musical Youth. Download it for free here.
A reminder that Caribbean Reads publishing is accepting middle grade manuscripts. “What’s a middle-grade novel? These are books for readers in the last years of primary school and early years of high school. These readers are beyond picture books and early chapter books but not ready for the themes in YA novels. Age range of readers: 8-13 years. This is a large range and will include simpler, shorter books for the 8-10 range and slightly longer, more involved ones for the 11-13 year olds. Length: 15,000 – 50,000 words. This is a guide. There are longer middle-grade books. Character ages: 10-14 years old. Generally children like to read up, so the protagonists should be slightly older than the children in your target age range. They can’t be too old or the concerns that are most realistic for your characters will be too advanced for your readers. General features: The story must have a compelling plot line and at least one sub-plot (this is one of the features that distinguishes the middle-grade novel from the earlier books).
Adults should have minor roles. They should never step in to solve the children’s problem. The book should show a clear understanding of the protagonist’s point-of-view and concerns as a child. The books may be one of a variety of sub-genres: realistic, fantasy, historical, humorous, etc.” For more, go here.
The Voice of the People’s reading of Keithlyn and Fernando Smith’s To Shoot Hard Labour continues all July (July 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st). Don’t forget the youth tie-ins.
And the live trivia, prizes for which include copies of books by local authors
ETA: I’ve uploaded week 1 of the reading club discussion to my AntiguanWriter youtube channel
What’s there to say? Carnival is cancelled. Or is it? As we settle in to this new normal the news that Carnival has been cancelled has morphed in to some aspects of Carnival is going online. There will be a t-shirt mas via zoom and a party monarch with a $15,000 purse. Registration is ongoing at this writing. I’m going to link the Antigua Carnival page though I was not able to find, with a little digging around, info on these announced events – it is a (too) busy page though so I maybe missed it; either that or it’s not updated yet which would be confounding considering it’s already been in the news. But here’s the page– otherwise, google.
Black Lives Matter
Yes, here in the Caribbean too. A recent addition to the conversation – the part of it having to do with the dismantling of racist iconography – is an op-ed by writer-publisher Mario Picayo, who resides in the VI and in the US.
Entitled Healing the Present by Owning the Past, it was published in the St. Thomas Source and took shots at things in public spaces named for slaver-pirate Francis Drake, colonialist ruler King Christian IX of Denmark, and other things European (and American).
‘Francis Drake was a pirate for the English Crown, and an early slave trader. Together with merchant John Hawkins, a relative, Drake made several trips to Africa between 1561 and 1567 and participated in the triangular trade. During their first trip they reported capturing “at the least” 300 Africans in Sierra Leone through a campaign of destruction and violence. As late as the 1580’s Drake enslaved people during his trips through the Caribbean. In one instance he took “300 Indians from Cartagena, mostly women” as well as “200 negroes.” In Marin County, California, Drake’s statue will be removed and the name Francis Drake Boulevard will be changed.’
Antigua and Barbuda actually has some experience with this – the changeover of European names to one of more local significance, more generally, but the changeover of things named for Drake and Hawkins specifically as well. When I was a child there were streets named for them. Post-Independence, King Obstinate did a song, ‘Sons of the Soil/True Heroes’ that as a child and still I believe changed attitudes and policy regarding some of the things named for European colonists and enslavers. There are still many things named for them, of course, but gone were Drake and Hawkins streets, and two other parallel streets in St. John’s City, and in their place were streets named for legendary cricketers Sirs Vivian Richards and Andy Roberts, and future national heroes King Court and Nellie Robinson. Still no Short Shirt Village nor Swallow Town though.
Read Mario’s full article here.
Dame Edris Bird (born 1929), former resident tutor of the University of the West Indies Open Campus (Antigua and Barbuda)/University Centre, has died. She has been offered an official funeral “in celebration of (her) selfless contribution to nation building”. In an obit I recommend reading in full, the Daily Observer newspaper speaks of her considerable (and little known to those of us who came after) arts advocacy (for example for the details of the time she stood up to then Prime Minister and Father of the Nation and her brother in law Papa Bird in defense of free expression on the nation’s station). “The University of the West Indies under her leadership was a mecca for education, the arts, cultural expression, and exploration of self-awareness and self-fulfillment. She encouraged theatrical performances (see RULER IN HIROONA and CEREMONIES IN DARK OLD MEN), and nurtured great playwrights and actors like Dorbrene O’Marde, Edson Buntin, Eugene ‘Rats’ Edwards, Irving Lee, Dr. Glen Edwards, and the cast of Harambee Open Air Theatre. Pan blossomed and flourished, as did African drumming and creative and contemporary dancing. Public speaking and debating thrived; poetry and prose performances all found room for expression at the University Centre. It is without fear of contradiction that we declare that the University Centre under Dame Edris Bird was the cultural and educational hub in Antigua and Barbuda.”
ETA The read2Me_TT bedtime readings are ongoing. Happy to have been included sure to check out their channel.
Intersect is a Caribbean gender justice advocacy group out of Antigua and Barbuda which recently invited me to participate in a discussion on colourism and more in my Burt award winning teen/young adult novel Musical Youth. Here’s the full instagram live video.
ETA: Weekes is part of the faculty of the new Faculty of Culture, Creative and Performing Arts on the UWI Cave Hill campus. It launches online August 1st 2020 at 6 p.m. our time with performances and speaches. Here’s a link.
ETA – this event has come and gone; here’s a report. ETA: And here now is the uploaded video of day one of the event – subscribe to the page for notifications re day 2 and more going forward. View my reading during the event on my page AntiguanWriter which you are invited to subscribe to as well
As with all content on Wadadli Pen, 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/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.