Category Archives: A & B WRITINGS

Tell the People the Truth (lyrics)

words and music by Fd

People think being prime minister of a country
Is an easy task
Check the credentials of those who threaten to dethrone me
One night they couldn’t last
They criticize me.. ostracise me
In every rum shop.. & every bar
Try to embarrass me.. most unfairly
On front page of them newspaper
Calypsonian you could help me out
That’s why ‘A’ come to you
What you think I should do

chorus 1
Prime minister tell the people the truth
Let honesty be your guide
Tell the people the truth
And let them decide
Don’t pretend you could walk on water  / No no no
Don’t expect you to build a bridge to Barbuda / No no no
You are the prime minister
You must be seen
To be incorruptible & squeaky clean
I strongly advise
Always look before you leap
And don’t make promises you cant keep

verse 2
Did you forget to mention your intention to raise taxes
Goin’ back a year or two
Is it crisis in the treasury or de threat of bankruptcy
Force you so to do
People need assurance.. private health insurance
Is it paid for with John Public money?
I’m a calypsonian.. & in my opinion
Present the facts on radio & tv
All rumour should be denied
Or guilt might be implied
Take friendly advice from me

chorus 2
Prime minister tell the people the truth
Let honesty be your guide always
Tell the people the truth
And let them decide
Share no chalice with them dictator / No no no
Don’t want this country to end up like Cuba / No no no
You are the prime minister
A messenger of hope
People under pressure unable to cope
Don’t give in to temptation
When you open your mouth to speak
Don’t make promises you cant keep

verse 3
When workers go on strike..  my dear boy it upset’ me
‘A’ cant sleep at night
Lie down & ponder how history will record me
What them historian’ will write
Will the compare me.. favourably
To men with insight wisdom & virtue
Will they compare me.. to my daddy
On Michael’s Mount erect my statue
Minister if you follow instruction
I will challenge any man
To point their finger at you

 

chorus 3
As long as you tell the people the truth
Let honesty be your guide always
Tell the people the truth
And let them decide
Don’t pretend you have every answer/ No no no
Don’t expect you to drive out foreign investor / No no no
You are the prime minister
Introduce legislation
To protect the right of workers  all across this land
Don’t have to swallow a bible
Or sacrifice a sheep
Just don’t make promises you cant keep

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Musical Youth Reflection after Release of the Second Edition

The thing they don’t tell you about your book coming out is how busy you’ll be, too busy sometimes to take it in – and depending on what else is going on in your life not necessarily anything close to the high the moment demands. It’s not ingratitude that has you thinking, when another person says “congrats”, “what for?” – you’re just too tired, maybe even too stressed to remember that there’s even something to celebrate. And there is, there is. This book, your first or your 15th, is the culmination of so many hours of dreaming and working, is the fulfillment of so much possibility and improbability, it’s ingratitude not to be grateful for it. And that feeling can add to the stress as well. But hang in there, a time will come, maybe on a random Wednesday afternoon about a week or so late too late when the feeling will hit you. Feel it. You did that.

And with that, I’m here to say that I’m about a week late on posting here about the release of the 2nd edition of Musical Youth.

(cover art by Antiguan and Barbudan artist Glenroy Aaron)

Let me tell you about this book. It’s about creative teens doing creative ish like me and my pals did in our teens, all the while learning and growing. You know already (maybe) that I wrote it in a fortnight and took a shot at submitting this very rough thing (unedited and beta read only by my teenage niece which made sense to me at the time since she was the target audience) to the CODE Burt Award inaugural competition for teen/young adult literature with a little gentle prodding from my sister and the guy at the first book binding place I tried. Yes, I had to get it printed, bound and Fed Ex’d to Trinidad – talk about investing in yourself.  I was checking my email about 3 a m or so one morning months later when I received the news that I had made the short list and immediately called Alstyne (the person who always made sure I stopped to celebrate but who has since passed over but) who was still very much alive then and joined me in screaming and can you believing over the phone. I travelled to Trinidad and came home to no fan fair (which a friend of mine still gripes about) though, honestly it didn’t occur to me then to expect anything. It seemed to me that I had won more than I had dared hope when I submitted the manuscript. Did part of me wish I had won? Of course but the winning book AdZiko  Gegele’s All Over Again is delightful and I am happy to be in company with it and Colleen Smith-Dennis’ Inner City Girl as the first in a series of award winning Caribbean books targeted at contemporary teen readers in the region, with appeal for lovers of good literature everywhere. This book has taken me places (and through CODE, Burt, and Bocas – the entities funding and/or administering the prize – I’ve had opportunities to judge, organize and run a workshop, mentor, and more) and these characters are among my favourites that I’ve written – so much so that I’m working on a sequel (I have been pretty much since the beginning but this past week have legit done some work on it).

Writing hasn’t made me rich in a way that the world recognizes (the opposite probably) but I love being able to write and tell stories that reach people in some way, and I love that one of those books has seamlessly rolled in to a second edition. Yes, I have had second editions of my books before (notably The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight) but usually it’s more bumpy (involving a book underperforming and/or going out of print, the legalities of reclaiming rights, the challenges of finding a new publisher); the publisher reaching out to say that the book has performed well enough for them to justify investing more in it, is a different corner turned in the winding road I’ve taken as a writer, journeying. The closest comparison is, again, The Boy from Willow Bend which has had longevity as my first book.

It is a week or so after Caribbean Reads, an independent press with roots in St. Kitts, announced that they have released a second edition of Musical Youth, and I am grateful (whatever else is going on in my life now, and there is a lot that’s not perfect, but I am grateful, this #gyalfromOttosAntigua is grateful).  Shout out to the friend who made me stop to toast the moment. As for my journey with Caribbean Reads (one of four publishers with which I have books currently contracted – the others being Hansib -The Boy from Willow Bend, Insomniac – Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Little Bell Caribbean – With Grace), when faced in 2014 for the first time really with the opportunity to choose from among several regional publishers interested in publishing the Burt winning titles, I was uncertain which way to go – which was positioned to do the most for the book, which would be most invested in working with me like I wasn’t an afterthought (which can happen with big publishers), which would be fairest; so many uncertainties in my mind as I narrowed my options to the three or so I was giving serious condition.  I honestly don’t remember  what tipped it in Caribbean Reads’ favour (and, no, it wasn’t just that of all the options it was, as an imprint with Eastern Caribbean roots, closer to home) but I haven’t regretted it yet – and, in fact, I was able to sell them on  a re-issue of another book I had reclaimed from a publisher I felt wasn’t doing anything for it (those uncertainties I spoke about) and re-issue that book as Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which now has a Spanish language edition with an activity book pending.

I believe in Musical Youth and I am delighted that readers both at home and abroad continue to discover and embrace it, and I hope for much much more (and bigger and bigger sales – let’s keep it real) as the book moves in to its second life. Thank you to everyone who has been there in whatever way you have been there. I am grateful.

Here is Caribbean Reads announcement re the re-issue (excerpt):

“Musical Youth is the first of two Burt Award winners published by CaribbeanReads, the second being The Protectors’ Pledge by Danielle Y. C. McClean. The success of these titles speaks to the fact that we need Caribbean books and, more generally, #weneeddiversebooks.”

And here is a gallery of Musical Youth moments so far – captions in order pictured (Musical Youth on the bookstagram, Musical Youth part of a middle school chef competition in NYC, gifting Musical Youth to my alma mater after serving as narrator at the annual carol service, my niece and beta reader taking a book selfie, me taking a book selfie on holding the book for the first time, me with co-panelists at the Brooklyn Book Fair after presenting Musical Youth, me with co-presenters and education officials during a schools tour in St. Croix where I was presenting Musical Youth during the USVI Lit Fest, me presenting copies of Musical Youth to the Public Library during the launch at the Best of Books, me accepting the Burt award from the late founder Canadian philanthropist William Burt, and me presenting Musical Youth to students in St. Maarten as part of a schools’ tour during the St. Martin lit fest):

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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A & B Arts Round up – August 9th 2019 —>

December 14th 2019 – also Wesley.jpg

By the end of Summer – Cushion Club Summer Reading Challenge 2019

Before the end of August 2019 – Do you want another Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project before the end of summer? If so, email jhohadli@gmail.com for a registration form – nothing confirmed; assessing interest.

August 31st 2019 –

August 21st 2019 – @ the Best of Books bookstore – email bestofbooks@yahoo.com for more information at best of books.png

August 17th 2019 – 59775614_329036067810776_4410562896208068608_n

August 17th – 18th 2019 – Pineapple Mango Festival – quick search didn’t turn up any specific details but I believe it’s being held at the Pineapple farm at Cades Bay. Will update if more or corrective information comes to hand.

August 15th – 16th 2019 – The 14th Annual Conference and Distinguished Lecture – After the Ecological and Political Storms: Whither Barbuda’s Development? – contact paget_henry@brown.edu or janetlofgren@gmail.com

August 13th 2019 – 67543874_10102401753942904_8346986627280666624_n

August 8th – 12th 2019 –

August 11th 2019 –

August 8th 2019 –

In progress to August 30th 2019 – 66784053_3438730469486327_1069002722725855232_n

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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Caribbean Writers (including Antigua and Barbuda’s Joanne C. Hillhouse and Althea Romeo-Mark) Share Their Summer Reads

 

 

 

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Antiguan and Barbudan Writers Talking CARIFESTA Inclusion (or Lack Thereof)

This post started with this

It was shared to social media by a member of the Antigua and Barbuda literary community (tagging the local cultural gatekeepers and local authors like me) with the following question: “any of our writers have been invited to be part of the official Carifesta delegation sent by the Government and People of Antigua & Barbuada Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission. These 14 sessions of Carifesta outside of Antigua & Barbuda … which writers have formed part of the delegation? Is writing considered to be art? Is it an expression of who we are?”

Naturally, I assumed the poser of the question knew the answer to the question posed and was posing the question with purpose and I didn’t want to be drawn in.

Also, I don’t typically respond to everything I’m tagged in but I guess I had time ‘today’. I responded for the same reason I’m sharing the conversation here (without identifying the speakers, since I have not sought their permission to do so) because I am a writer and literary arts advocate who has made more than clear where I see gaps in the boosting of arts, including literary arts, by the powers that be. The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize was launched in 2004 because of a developmental gap I perceived as relates to local lit arts.  Disclaimer alert! Disclaimer alert! I am not saying nothing has been done. To do so would be disingenuous at best, a lie at worst. But there are gaps re lit arts (arts, really) support and inclusion generally, and (very important) consistently; and the process by which the CARIFESTA delegation is selected has never been particularly clear to me (with no intended shade at the artists who have represented us, this is something I queried in an article some years ago – not the selectees but the process by which selection is made). So, I think it’s fair that the question is being asked, reluctant as I am to be drawn in because criticism of any kind is too often interpreted as hateration and grudgefulness etc. But, and this brings me to the other reason I’m sharing this conversation (near verbatim), Antigua and Barbuda is reportedly next in the line-up (after Trinidad and Tobago this year) to host CARIFESTA, making this conversation about literary arts inclusion even more pertinent.

My response in that thread was: No, I have never been invited to be part of the official Carifesta delegation sent by the Government and People of Antigua & Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission (responding because I was tagged and speaking only for myself). I can’t say which writers from Wadadli have formed part of the past 14 sessions of Carifesta (nor how decisions re the composition of the delegation are made). Yes, writing is an art and, yes, an expression of who we are.

Other writers’ response in that thread:

Other writer 1 –
Never been invited, however was asked to supply 50 books to be taken…when explained that they had to contact the publishers…and publisher willing to ship, however, needs specific details…told to contact secretariat…now what is the number? Who will pay for the books and if sold at Carifesta, what is my percentage…not a meeting or formal letter/email… I was contacted by [name redacted] by phone with follow up WhatsApp messages…

Other writer 2 –
[Name redacted] same with me concerning WhatsApp messages. In the end, I explained that I couldn’t send any books due to financial constraints. From what I understand, books would have been on display, but [redacted] never mentioned a delegation or anything along those lines. Plus by delegation, who would be covering flight and board? *Le sigh*

Other writer 3 –
I’m so clueless, this is the first I’m hearing of it. *goes and stands in the corner*

Other writer 2 –
[Name redacted] *joins you as it feels like writers in Antigua are not taken seriously*

Other writer 4 –
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm

 

That, to the best of my knowledge, was the end of that conversation. And since I have no connected image, I’ll share this vid from a few years ago which begins Ah Write!

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 which has a Spanish language edition). 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.

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CALYPSO ALL-ROUNDER, DESTROYER … and Rising Star, Young Destroyer

This is a throwback to an article I did for the Calypso Association 50th anniversary magazine in 2007. In the interest of increasing awareness of the accomplishments of some of our iconic calypsonians and increasing appreciation for the art form, I figured I would share some of that issue with you. I’ve previously posted the issue’s articles on Calypso Jim, Calypso Joe, Franco, Swallow, King Onyan, Ivena, the Mighty Bottle, the King Zacari, and Scorpion. This particular article focused on father and son duo Destroyer and Young Destroyer. DO NOT repost without permission or credit.

oldalbumcover

One is The Man Who Might Have Been King; the other a royal contender or The Man Who Could Be King. Of course, for Leston ‘Young Destroyer’ Jacobs – former Junior Monarch and, via the CARIFESTA Calypso competition, reigning World Calypso King – Someday can’t come soon enough. His father, Oglivier ‘Destroyer’ Jacobs, meanwhile, seems pretty resigned to the fact that perhaps he’s peaked as far as competition goes. The closest he’s come is first runner-up spots in 1971 and 1989. If you ask both of them, though, they’ve already earned the crown a time or two, notwithstanding the final decision of the powers-that-be.

Still, beyond all the competition talk, there’s a clear passion for Calypso. Destroyer, the man who – as entertainer, songwriter, tent manager, and association executive member – can be called an All Rounder in the Calypso game, declared, “up to now, I don’t listen no other music but Calypso.” It took his son only seven years of this kind of exposure before he first took to the stage. “Coming from a Calypso family, I’ve always wanted to become a Calypsonian professionally,” Young Destroyer said. “Even before 1990, I was kind of pressuring my father to put me in the competition.” It’s somewhat ironic that with his own seven-year old-daughter now chomping at the bit, Young Destroyer has decreed that she’s too young.

Both remember vividly, their first tent outing. “The first time I performed was at Kensington Court in a Calypso tent run by the carnival committee,” Destroyer reflected. “I had a song called ‘Bring back the Cat-o-Nine’. At the time, the big gun was Short Shirt and a guy named Skeech; the first runner up the year before. When he heard me sing, he came and said: “Youngster, you have a good song there, but good for the tent not for competition.” But at the end of the 1967 semifinals, it was Destroyer who made the cut – alongside the likes of Creole, Lord Lee, Mighty Dove, Smarty, and Brain; not Skeech.

Young Destroyer was, similarly, a hit, right out the gate. He went straight to the University, Swallow’s Calypso Pepperpot, where the crowd showered him with money as a token of their appreciation; the year was 1990. He won his first of four junior monarch crowns that year; the other years being ’93, ’96, and ’97. Added to this was a junior title claimed in Trinidad and, of course, last year the World Calypso King title.

Destroyer Sr. reflected, jokingly, that his young son used to taunt, “you know why you don’t want to give me no song, because you ‘fraid I goin’ win before you.” But while these words may have had the tint of prophecy, the son having claimed several crowns since his father relented and let him into the arena, both insist that there’s no rivalry. “We both share victories together,” said Young Destroyer. “I can’t be victorious without my father.”

True, he’s turned to other writers now and again and has received encouragement from others in the fraternity along the way, but his one true mentor, Young Destroyer declared, has been his father. His father, in fact, penned the two tunes – one of which includes the Best Social Commentary winner in local competition ‘Back of de Bus’ – that shook Trinidad at CARIFESTA in 2006.

Both admit having felt discouraged in local competition. There was the virtual shut-out of top positions during the Short Shirt and Swallow days. But even the decline or retreat from competition of the Big Three – King Obstinate being the third of this triad – the crown has eluded Destroyer. For him, a bitter memory is his loss in 1989 to King Fiah. His selections that year were ‘Discrimination’ and ‘Message from Gorkie’; and, he said, “I know I won that year.” What’s more, he claims that the judges knew it, too. “If is five judges,” he said, “nearly all of them come and say, ‘Destroyer, you know ah you win the crown; but how arwe go walk outa dis park wid all dem noise for Fiah.’”

As for Young Destroyer, he’s come close; 2002, for instance, when he was second runner up with ‘Don’t Write me Off’ and ‘W’ine Back’ or 2003 when he placed first with ‘Queen of My Heart’ and ‘Antigua Means Everything to Me’. Some contend that, like Jim a few years ago, he sang the wrong song when he didn’t pair ‘Popeshead Street’ with ‘Back o’ De Bus’ in 2006; but given how low he placed, Young Destroyer is not convinced it would’ve made a difference.

These disappointments made the victory in Trinidad that much sweeter. “I had this gut feeling that I would go down there and come home victorious just to prove to them that I have good talent and I have good songs to win the crown here any time,” Young Destroyer said. “I don’t know why I keep getting low marks, but I just wanted to prove to them that my father is still one of the best writers in the world.”

High praise indeed! Still, it’s not the first time Destroyer’s songwriting ability has been praised. Dorbrene O’Marde’s Calypso Talk, at one time the Antiguan Calypso bible, in 1988 praised his storytelling ability; its relevance and specificity. That relevance and specificity can be found, for instance, in lyrics like

“They move de surcharge from we light bill
but fuel variation killing we;
is All Fools Day,
is fool they fooling we.”

His favourite of his tunes, however, is ‘Woodpecker Sarah’, one of the best examples of the double meaning he likes to give to his lyrics. In the song, a single mom is forced to go in search of “wood” (wink wink) to burn coal to support her children.

Among his favourite songs by other Antiguan Calypsonians, meanwhile, are Latumba’s ‘The Love I Lost’, Short Shirt’s ‘Inspite of All’, and Calypso Joe’s ‘Poor Little Negro Boy’. Young Destroyer’s favourites include King Obstinate’s ‘Wet You Han’ and ‘Always Come Back to You’, Short Shirt’s Tourist Leggo’, Swallow’s ‘Fire in de Backseat’, and his dad’s ‘Woodpecker Sarah’. In fact, he added, “I like all my father songs.”

Talk of his father’s songs must inevitably lead to his father’s politics and its influence on his music. Destroyer wears his red proudly, joking when picking up his 2007 National Vibes Star Project Award for producer of the year for ‘Back of de Bus’ “bury me with this and red.” But he’s of the view that he’s held true to the Calypsonian’s mandate to sing it as he or she sees it. “When Labour was in power, I sing ‘Jail Cart’, ‘Country Running Good’, and ‘All Fools Day’ and all them things there,” he said. “Even Labour Party supporters, even ministers come and say, ‘if you’re a labour supporter, why sing these songs? You not doing the party no good’. I tell them ‘is Calypso, you sing what you see’.” His son’s ‘Greedy Horses’ and his own ‘Beg Georgie Pardon’ were also anti-establishment. It could be argued, however, that he was showing his colours when he came down harder on current Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer than he did on former PM Lester Bird when singing of the injustices done to late activist, analyst, and newspaper editor Leonard ‘Tim’ Hector. But as Destroyer sees it, he was merely looking at it from Tim’s perspective. “When I was writing that song, I did some research with some people close to Tim,” he said.

Of course, if we touch on Destroyer’s politics, it’s only fair that we touch on Young Destroyer’s widely reported brushes with the law and the potential impact this has had on his Calypso career. “Well, look where I am now,” he replied when quizzed about this. “I’m now the Calypso King of the world. Sometimes in life there are obstacles in people’s way. It can make you better or make you worse. It’s how you plan to come back from these obstacles. Young Destroyer is a person that lets nothing bring him down, regardless of what people think. I know what I’m headed for.” What he confidently asserted, during the interview, that he is headed for in 2007 is all the crowns – party and Calypso – and more. “This album, the world is looking forward for this album,” he said, “so we can’t politicize this album. This album is to market Antigua, to market the product, and reach even further than CARIFESTA King.”

Destroyer, meanwhile, wouldn’t be competing, at least, not up to press time; but he remained on track with his work with the Masters Calypso tent, where Young Destroyer was scheduled to make his latest run for local Calypso glory.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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A & B Arts Round up – July 25th 2019 —>

December 14th 2019 – also Wesley.jpg

August 21st 2019 – @ the Best of Books bookstore – email bestofbooks@yahoo.com for more information at best of books.png

August 17th 2019 – 59775614_329036067810776_4410562896208068608_n

August 17th – 18th 2019 – Pineapple Mango Festival – quick search didn’t turn up any specific details but I believe it’s being held at the Pineapple farm at Cades Bay. Will update if more or corrective information comes to hand.

August 15th – 16th 2019 – The 14th Annual Conference and Distinguished Lecture – After the Ecological and Political Storms: Whither Barbuda’s Development? – contact paget_henry@brown.edu or janetlofgren@gmail.com

August 13th 2019 – 67543874_10102401753942904_8346986627280666624_n

July 31st 2019 – 64851874_353543768693339_5104058999066591232_n

July to August 2019 – Carnival

61860178_10156281615407031_1367073191075250176_n.jpg

July 31st 2019 (registration deadline) – workshop promo 6.jpgAugust 12th – 16th 2019 (writing camp) – Here’s the registration form: JSYWP Registration Form 2019 – this is a paid workshop but with sponsorship will offer scholarship – contact Joanne C. Hillhouse at jhohadli at gmail dot com if you need more information or wish to sponsor.

July 31st 2019 – 66859748_2308909032549787_108969668261183488_n

In progress to August 30th 2019 – 66784053_3438730469486327_1069002722725855232_n

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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