Category Archives: A & B Lit News Plus

News of what’s happening literally in Antigua and Barbuda

Calypso Battle

Update: According to the Daily Observer newspaper, Saturday 15tth July 2017, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne has followed through on his threat to sue former Calypso Monarch Queen Ivena. “Queen Ivena was served on Thursday with a copy of the claim filed by Rika Bird & Associates on behalf of the Prime Minister,” according to the Paper. He reportedly claims severe injury to his character and reputation. The singer, based on the report, remains resolved not to change her lyrics (per his demand) as the song makes its way through the elimination rounds in the singer’s 2017 Calypso Monarch competition run.

At this writing, this posting of the song, ‘Nasty‘, is at over 7500 views and counting with majority up-votes/likes and user comments: e.g. “this is real calypso”.


A bit of context: There’s a calypso, by Antiguan and Barbudan Scorpion, which declares ‘Calypso go call Your Name’, and that has always been a hallmark of the art form, a folk music tradition that gained prominence as the voice of the people in a time when other platforms for free expression were not available. If you check our lyrics data base, you’ll see that speaking truth to power (via social and political commentary) is something calypso prides itself on. It does so via lyrical masking (symbolism, metaphor, pun, double entendre etc.). Just as often, though, names are called, and the cut is sharp and pointed. Ivena, who became, in 2003, the first female Monarch (as calypso is still a male dominated field), is the self-declared Razor Lady and has landed some cuts in the past. Usually politicians, often the villains of calypso, take it in stride, an alleged radio ban here or there, not to mention allegations of rigged calypso competitions; the chatter gets loud (to understand how loud you’d have to understand how topical Carnival is in season, across the Caribbean, summer in Antigua, and how intrinsic the voice of the calypsonian is to Carnival even with the popularity of soca), but lawsuits are rare. However, rare is not the same as never, and here we are. We try to stay out of politics here at Wadadli Pen, but we’ve covered calypso, an oral literary art form, on this site, including posting song lyrics, song writer credits, and artiste profiles, including this one on Ivena. It seems only right to share this local calypso battle, especially as it’s specifically over lyrics, and has now gained regional attention.

Antigua and Barbuda’s The Daily Observer reports on the possible legal battle between Prime Minister Gaston Browne and calypsonian Lena “Queen Ivena” Phillip if she does not change a line from her song, “Nastiness” [also known as “Nasty”]. The article does not quote the critical content, but you may check it out on YouTube. Queen […]

via “Queen Ivena” gets ready for battle — Repeating Islands

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Culture Must be Free – Latumba

*lyrics incomplete. Help fill in the blanks if you can.*

Writer: Shelly Tobitt

`“They tell me they don’t want no politics at all this year
So when I come to sing, I must sing about love
They tell me is only Uncle Toms that they want this year
So if the crown I’m thinking of
I must sell my soul
for a circle of tainted gold
But my heart cannot buy it
my conscience reject it
for they lock teachers up in prison
and they beat them up without reason
innocently keep them in jail
and like slaves they refuse them bail
I say to hell with your competition
I want no part under those conditions
They don’t even bound to play my songs
on none ah dem two radio station

But I go sing what I see
I go mirror society
Culture must be free
They cyaan muzzle me

They tell me they don’t want no politics at all this year
They change up everything
new criteria, new judging
They say they only want songs that lie and say pretty things
So if I could sing just a little lie
Certainly I would be king
They have the power to make me king
Sing how the island progressing and a new day is dawning
But don’t sing bout the corporation
… (?)
a device they leave in Barbuda
nearly kill three men from Antigua
I say to hell with your competition
I want no part under those conditions
They don’t even bound to play my song
on none ah dem two radio station


They tell me they don’t want no politics at all this year
Everybody here believes not in a fairytale
They say they don’t want no revolutionary or socialist
But the man that they brand a communist
???…chaku waka…???
???…is my prison
I must sing bout all them policeman
that they have right up there in station
…??? tear gas …
they oppress, harass, and oppress me
I say to hell with your competition
They don’t even bound to play my song
on none ah dem two radio station


Jah is my keeper
So whom shall I fear
Freedom to the brothers in the ghetto

This is part of the song lyrics data base and an extension of the listing of songwriter credits, both Wadadli Pen projects to capture the Antigua and Barbuda song book for educational purposes. No profit is being made. – blogger, JCH

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All the Books

As I may have mentioned here before, my latest book, the children’s picture book With Grace, was selected for the U. S. Virgin Islands’ Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge. I thought it’d be cool to post all the selected books – no reason you can’t add them to your or your kids’ summer reading list wherever you are.


Here’s the full 2017 Title Information

Title: Spider in the Rain
Author: Phillis Gershator
Grades: K – 1
Specs: 32 pages, paperback
A small spider happily looks out from a rooftop gutter, admiring the fluffy clouds passing overhead, but the clouds he sees are RAIN clouds.

What should a little creature like him do in the rain? Iguanas, bats, birds, mongooses, butterflies, and bees all give the spider good advice. But it’s too late.

Down comes the rain and washes the poor spider out––down the waterspout and into a pond. What will happen to our spider? Will he survive? If he does, will he return to his old ways, or will he try something new?

Title: When I Grow Up
Author: Rick Grant
Grades: K – 2
Specs: 32 pages, paperback
This poetic and colorful book speaks to the dreamer in all of us
and serves as a reminder that when searching for the best job in
the world, the heart is the first place where we should look.

Title: When the Trees Come Alive
Author: Zayd Saleem
Grades: 2 – 3
Specs: 32 pages, paperback
Malik’s mother asks him to take a bag of fruit to his
grandmother’s house. On his journey, Malik recalls all that his
grandmother has taught him about magnificent trees that can be
found in the Virgin Islands.

Title: Close to Nature: Sea Turtles of the Virgin Islands
Grades: 3-6
Specs: 48 pages, paperback
Meet the amazing sea turtles of the Virgin Islands.
Some can dive two thousand feet underwater, some travel
thousands of miles every year, and others love to eat jellyfish. A
fun and educational book filled with information about one of our
favorite animals.

The book contains beautiful photos by Virgin Islands photographers.

Title: With Grace
Author: Joanne C. Hillhouse
Grades: 4-5
Specs: 48 pages, paperback
Grace, of Grace’s Peak, loves her home above the village, above
the whole island. All her trees are lush and full of ripe fruits,
except for the one at the far end of her land. She hates that tree.
So when the smiling, barefoot girl from the village asks Grace if
she can pick fruits to sell at the market, it is from that sad, bare
tree that Grace “generously” allows her to pick. Little does Grace know that the young girl’s kind, loving heart and her sweet special song will make the impossible happen, and change life at Grace’s Peak forever.

Title: B is for Benye: A Virgin Islands Historical and Cultural
A-Z Book
Author: Charlene Blake-Pemberton
Grades: 6
Specs: 48 pages, paperback
Clarice and Vincent, who live on the island of St. Croix, send a
special package to their grandchildren in Florida. Can you guess
what is in the box? Through the eyes of a Virgin Islands family,
the author describes the culture and cuisine of the US Virgin
Islands. Roots and culture are the underlying themes in B is for
Benye: A Virgin Islands Historical and Cultural A-Z Book


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A & B Arts Round-up – July 7th 2017—>

August 3rd 2017 –


July 23rd 2017 – Fashion Formation at the Copper & Lumber Store Hotel, English Harbour at 4:00 pm

July 15th, 22nd, 29th 2017 – 19424264_1522692104420942_6997321948305736302_n

Ongoing – 19275224_10154665639196188_6204595557820645346_n

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#TBT Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival


The date stamp on this picture is November 5th 2010. The occasion is the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival which launched in 2006 as the Caribbean International Literary Festival before re-branding the following year. It was a post-Independence annual event, one of the first of its kind in the region; since eclipsed. The ABILF puttered to a quiet end – the last installment that I’m aware of was 2013 after a big start and uneven run (and while there were subsequent whispers of its return, they seem to have been just that, whispers).

Not the first (or last) time our little island has executed ambitious ideas (speaking specifically of arts initiatives) only to then run behind. Should we count it as a miracle then that Antigua’s Carnival is this year celebrating its 60th anniversary? Or maybe a template given the clear commitment across all sectors?

From the beginning, the ABILF attracted marquee Caribbean and international writers, so the line-up wasn’t the issue. In 2010, I remember Eric Jerome Dickey was there, Althea Prince, Lorna Goodison, Anthony Winkler, Elizabeth Nunez, Zee Edgell (I may be mixing up years but these are some of the names that come immediately to mind from that year). Pictured are renowned Guyanese poet and children’s author John Agard (at the mic), and seated at the head table (right to left) one of my favourites Guyanese poet Grace Nichols, and Barbadian poet Esther Phillips – who went on to launch the BIM Literary Festival and Book Fair in 2014. The location is the grounds of the Anchorage Inn, one of three locations the festival had during its run – beginning at Jolly Beach and ending at Jolly Harbour, with some events also taking place, I believe, at Halcyon Resort.

I don’t know the ins and outs of why this didn’t last, but from what I do know I’m going to say – money (with a side of lack of vision to see the potential). As with many things art in Antigua and Barbuda, private citizens led the way on this – specifically travel and media entrepreneurs, sisters Pamela Arthurton (a Wadadli Pen patron) and Joy Bramble. I can’t speak to what level of state support they received; I just wish someone with access to state resources had had the vision to keep this going before we got left behind.

It’s something that a group of private citizens launched a new literary national event, the Wadadli Stories Book Fair this year (2017). But this throwback photo reminds me of what once was and, if we hadn’t lost momentum, when you consider the spread of literary festivals as not only arts but tourism events across the Caribbean region (something I wrote about in Writer’s Digest), what could have been all now.

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, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Fish Outta Water, and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. Also find me at:


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Gold Rush by King Obstinate


Disclaimer: We don’t own this. We’re not profiting from it. This is a lyric share. Also, as the saying goes, calypso go call your name, and we try to capture the song in its fullness (keeping in mind that it’s transcription from an audio recording so we might not have heard right), but no slander is intended. This is simply part of an ongoing part of our project to document Antiguan and Barbudan literary arts for educational purposes as we have with the bibliography of publications by Antiguans and Barbudans, the song writers and playwriting projects, and our still wan lyrics data base. Please help us to correct any errors and complete these records, and appreciate in the intended spirit the work that has gone in to the research, preparation, writing, and sharing of all content on this site. Props to our artists who continue to produce outstanding works, like this Caribbean calypso classic. – JCH

Years ago
When Antigua was down
And no whole ton ah money was around
Mi grandfather does say
Water more than flour
Tuppence ha’penny had plenty power
Them days
We suck sal’ to survive
It’s by the grace of God we were kept alive
But things has changed
In this state today
But the chosen few
Getting the big pay

Antigua today has a gold rush (x2)
Henry Beckett get fu he
Wexelman get fu he
Dick Bartone get fu he
You could ask the Deputy
So get what you can, get what you can, get (x2)
Jacobs get fu he
In New York City
Controlling the laundry mat
But Reagan didn’t like that
So get what you can, get what you can, get (x2)

People flocking
From everywhere
And just dropping their anchor here
Some with blueprints and ideas alone
To suck the marrow and leave the bone
And while the politicians playing games with we
They grapping up all the land by the sea
So young people, that’s the reason why
Is not motor car, is house and land you must buy

Antigua today has a gold rush (x2)
Jeff Harley get fu he
Stan Brown get fu he
Now they bringing in JB with four hundred TV
So get what you can, get what you can, get (2)
Ivor get fu he
Fort James property
To practice what he preach
Right on Fort James beach
So get what you can, get what you can, get (x2)

Mi grandfather say
You mus’ hold your groun’
Be aware of all that’s happening around
Try and avoid all them dirty thugs
They’ll paralyze your minds with filth and drugs
And while they put you to sleep and rest
All of them will reap the harvest
So get a slice o’ the apple
While the apple’s ripe
Before dog eat your supper
And crapaud smoke your pipe

Antigua today has a gold rush (x2)
DC get fu he
And garn way lef arwe
He live up Marble Hill
And Neaga sufferin’ still
So get what you can, get what you can, get (x2)
Marshall get fu he, Humphreys get fu he, Dr. Willie get fu he
You could ask Cutie
So get what you can, get what you can, get (x2)

Kendall get fu he
But he’s an attorney
So anything he squeeze is just his lawyer fees
So get what you can, get what you can, get (x2)
The Italian get fu he
Now he want more money
And if they can’t pay he bill
He demanding Goat Hill
So you get what you can, get what you can, get
You gotta get what you can, get what you can, get
TMC get fu he, Patrick Dinay get fu he
Antigua Mason-ary ah way Mr. Smith get fu he
So get what you can, get what you can, get (x2)
Yearwood get fu he
Four hundred thousand EC
Four hundred acres of land
Ah what they put in he hand


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Reading Room and Gallery 24

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. 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 24th one which means there are 23 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


Kenwyn Murray on lessons he learned from other Trinidadian artists – in two parts – really interesting read and visually stunning. Go to Part One.


“I’m always most interested in any version of the question, what am I most scared to write about? I try to answer it as honestly as I can every single time, and I often discover it’s something I did not know about myself, which is thrilling. I think that’s the direction I need to run to.” – Shivanee Ramlochan in Caribbean Beat


“I find it invigorating to constantly work in new forms and genres.” Alyse Knorr at Grab Life by the Lapels


“This secret chocolate handover was our special sin. Everybody know that a little secret-sinning sweet too bad. If you don’t agree I know you lying through your teeth. In them sinning moments Reggie softened, forgot his constant pain and forgot to fight the big C. He even forgot to fight me.” – Sweet Sop by Ingrid Persaud is the winning story from the Caribbean Region of the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize


‘Granddaddy start to look uncomfortable. “Go and start getting ready for school. I gine mek you some breakfast.”

“It is Saturday.”

“Stop giving me back chat!!” Granddaddy yell. He turn and stomp back into he bedroom.’ – from Shakirah Bourne’s Corn Curls and the Red Bicycle in Adda


“Arnav’s palms are cool and moist; I know he is frightened. He quickens his pace and I am afraid he will break into a run. I tell him it’s alright; they didn’t hear the asphalt hit the hut. I push him in front of me and clutch his shirt from behind. They will shoot him if he runs. They are shooting a lot of young boys these days. In the villages that flank our town, they are making boys run in the open fields, then shoot them down as if they were balloons at a hit-the-target game in funfairs. There is a name for it which escapes me now.” – Greetings from a Violent Hometown by Ritu Monjori Kalita Deka


“Before he died, my father, who loved words, told me that the Chinese language has no past tense—that therefore all events recur and nothing ends. Similarly, he said, the Japanese language has no future tense and so, in order to imagine the days to come, all we have within our vocabulary is the present.” – The Second Waltz by Madeleine Thien


– Maya Angelou


“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size” – An audio of May Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman at Poem Hunter

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