Category Archives: A & B WRITINGS

Book Notes – To Shoot Hard Labour

to shoot hard labour

“The first murder I witness at North Sound was when Hary Bab get killed. Back then the planters use to call the names of the workers each day before the start of work. Our money would be stopped or the bakkra could take us to the magistrate if was was not present to answer to our names. When our names was called we have to answer, ‘Yes, Massa.’ Now, the names was not called at any set time, like 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. No, mass would just call the names in his own sweet time and we just have to make sure we were there to answer. Sometimes we would be feeling we were early, but then we were late. Other times we’d be thinking we late and then we early.

One morning after the roll call, we have to wait for orders from the planter in charge of the gang. While we were there waiting, Massa Hinds youngest boy, Ralph, starts to imitate his father and goes calling our names. Everybody answer like usual until he gets to Harty Bab. At least she didn’t answer, ‘Yes, Massa.’ Now Massa Hinds was close by, and he hell her that she was marked absent for not answering. He say she disrespect his son and she was not going to get pay for that day. Then he further accuse her of grumbling bad words at him. In the end he so annoyed he decide to lash her with a cart whip. When he try this, she resist him, but that didn’t last for too long for she was over-powered and he beat her mercilessly. Then he forced her in to the estate cellar where he leave her locked up for some days.

When he give the order to release her, she was dead. Rats had bitten off her lips and nose.

Remember that whatever we have in mind to say to mass about this, we have to keep it to ourselves.” (p. 73-74, To Shoot Hard Labour: The Life and Times of Samuel Smith, an Antiguan Workingman 1877-1982

I was inspired to share this excerpt after attending the annual Watch Night ceremonies in recognition of our Emancipation as people of African descent whose ancestors endured the British Empire Atlantic Slave Trade (the BEAST, as the Reparations Support Commission in Antigua and Barbuda, organizers of Watch Night, termed it). Emancipation Day was August 1st 1834 but as the excerpt in this post-Emancipation narrative illustrates, that date did not mark the end of the atrocities. You can read about Watch Night in my series CREATIVE SPACE; you can keep up (if you wish) with the Reparations Support Commission of Antigua and Barbuda via their facebook page; and you can discover more Antiguan and Barbudan books here.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). 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.

 

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Register for the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project Pre/Teen Creative Writing Workshop

As with all of my workshops, the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project is demand-driven. This means that as long as there’s interest, I will proceed. Signal your interest and commitment by registering – register by August 13th 2018 to receive a discount. Sessions have been re-scheduled – in light of late start, and low and slow registration – to August 20th – 24th 2018. If you wish to see this go forward, register today.

Read about previous installments of the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project here and here.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). 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.

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Writer to Writer (and Reader too)

This post piggybacks on a post over at Southern Writers Magazine about how writers can support other writers. Really, though, if you’re a reader who’s active online, some of it can apply to you too.

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When I attempted the low-to-no response book of the year readers’ choice poll on this blog last year, a poll which allowed writer and writer associate votes by the way, the idea was to boost the books. Why boost the books? Because a boost can mean, more sales, more readers finding the books, and more of the books that you like; if you’re not just a reader but also a writer of your own books now or in the future, it’s also about paying it forward.

dancing granny

Publishing is a buyer’s market. Sure, we, writers, are out here trying to tell the stories dear to our hearts but self-published or traditionally published (i.e. with the resources of an established publishing house behind you), market matters.  It matters to getting signed, to not getting dropped, to making money off of your books, to being in a position to write other books.

In the Black cover
So, if we want more stories from the pen of whatever author we’ve ‘discovered’, and to be in a position to continue telling our own stories, this  W. Terry Whalin article has some of the bare minimum things that we can do.

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Like “write reviews of any book you read or hear”. I do this for most books that I read (see my blogger on books series). Maybe some find the words ‘write’ and ‘review’ scary. I get that. Sometimes someone will tell me face to face, or in an email, what they think (good and bad) about one of my books, but will balk at posting the very thing they just told me in a public forum (where, if it’s good, it can actually help me attract readers). Sometimes, someone honestly doesn’t think about it; well, I’m saying, think about it. It doesn’t have to be a review-review, just what you think. The internet makes it really easy (with all of those online book platforms or whatever social media you use) to just drop a word. Yes, even a word will do.

she wanted a love poem
Like “as you read the blog posts from others, make a short yet relevant comment”. If you’re blogging, it’s important to remember that communication works both ways – drop by other blogs and say a word, and chances are they’ll return the favour. I will say that part of modern book marketing, a feature of the internet age, is finding community. But don’t use the community like a billboard, to which you pin your notice/ad and bounce; participate.

Wadi Halfa
Like “use social media retweets”.  The buttons are right there! I’m not on twitter but I’m quite a few other social media platforms, most actively on facebook, and sharing articles and other interesting finds, often by other writers is something I enjoy doing. In fact, the same urge birthed the Reading Room and Gallery series here on this blog. On my facebook, one of my favourite things to do is to share an excerpt  from whatever book I’m reading on my social media with a #whatimreading which (sometimes) sparks curiosity and conversation.

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Like “Introduce writers to each other” which simply means where possible being the conduit from one writer to another, from writer to opportunity that you’d like others to be for you. Don’t force it, let it happen organically but don’t shut down a connection you could be facilitating just because you can. Blocking someone else’s blessings won’t open up ours. This one may be the hardest of all but it’s a mindset that’s worth having.

Time to Talk

I feel it’s important to add that I understand (and live) some of the hindrances – what if you don’t like the book? what if I don’t have time for all of that blog engagement? etc. To which I would say don’t put pressure on yourself to do everything – to write about every book, to gas up every book you do write about (honest reviews are always preferable), to engage with every blog, not to mention all of social media etc. I’m saying be conscious and if you can, do one thing one time and let whatever happens happen naturally. In the way that you would naturally tell someone about something you liked anyway, do that and realize that in a crowded publishing marketplace, it can make a world of difference.

Hall

The images in this post are all books by Antiguans and Barbudans, and all linked to the reviews thoughts I shared about them. The last one is an example of another reason why: the book being out of print and sales not being a factor, it’s about owning and/or reclaiming a literary legacy (especially in a place where before things like the bibliography of Antiguan and Barbudan books built on this site) so much of it was unknown and/or ungathered.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, 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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At the Half Year

I usually do a year-end top posts of the year post on my blogs. But I’m in the mood for a half-year assessment just now so here’s the top ten so far for 2018.

Seat of Power

#1 – the most viewed post of the year so far – Art ‘Revelations’ (Antigua-Barbuda) – This art show, located at the Antigua Girls High School, featured the work of a handful of local art teachers and was an opportunity to check a pulse point of local visual arts evolution. The success of this post is also, to my mind, an indicator of interest in this type of content, and is one of the drivers behind launching/reviving the CREATIVE SPACE series on my author/writer services blog. – The post actually ties for second most shared on the blog so far this year and though it’s only received one comment, it’s a good one “Enjoyed the exhibit, and appreciate the writing of (it) … Gives a feel of the busyness and buzz in the room. As an artist it was quite refreshing to see the heavy weights of the industry within our 268 take front stage.” (pictured is one of the images from the show, Seat of Power by Bernard Peters)

Rilzy 2Yohan book

#2 – this was an interesting one – Vote for Your Favourite Antiguan and Barbudan Book of the Year – posted in December 2017,  and inspired by a similar poll in Trindad and Tobago, it got a lot of looks and tied with the #1 post for second most shares but had next to no response, not enough even to hit the minimum number of votes to select a winner; hell, not even the writers voted. Maybe it’s not a thing anyone wants, maybe they hadn’t read even one of the books yet, maybe I just launched it too late, maybe it didn’t run long enough, maybe all of these maybes but because I think it’s a good way to push not just an author but the literary culture in Antigua and Barbuda, I’m inclined to do it again (maybe in sync with the Wadadli Pen Challenge season) – but then I’ve been wrong before. In case we do try this again, and if you want to get a jump on the 2018 poll, the A & B releases (limited to books/literary CDs where Antiguans and Barbudans are the main or primary author and/or editor) for 2018 so far, according to the blog’s records are: The Plantations of Antigua, the Sweet Success of Sugar, Volume I (w/Donald Dery). AuthorHouse. USA.(Agnes Meeker); Learning Bible Verses: the Bow, the Wow, the Now. (Elloy DeFreitas); Milo’s First Winter (Milo’s Adventures). Amazon Digital Services. (Juneth Webson); The Nakedness of New. CreateSpace Independent Publish Platform North/South Carolina, USA. (Althea Romeo Mark); Fu You Tongue Heavy Lakka 56. USA. (Iyaba Ibo Mandingo); The Royal Wedding. Antigua. (Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau). (pictured are the 2017 books by Antiguan and Barbudan authors that tied for most votes)

kyle

#3 – Creak by Kyle Christian (Wadadli Pen Winning Story, 2018) – the winning story in the 2018 Wadadli Pen Challenge got a lot of views and a lot of shares  – it’s typical for one of the winning stories (if not always the winning story, as in 2017 for example) to make the top 10. The reviews for Creak have been positive if few: “Excellent!”; “Brilliant, bold and witty, delivered with passion; drawing attention to (a) hidden history”. (pictured, Kyle Christian)

Rosie Pickering

#4 – Damarae by Rosie Pickering – this was an honourable mention in the estimation of the judge of the Wadadli Pen Challenge. It was a win for the readers as the fourth most viewed and first most shared post so far of the half-year. (pictured, Rosie Pickering)

BP

#5 – Shout out to Caribbean Actors in Black Panther – well, duh. (pictured, Wakanda forever!)

Burt-Award-winners-book-covers

#6 – Barbados, Guyana, Bermuda Finalists for the Burt Award – this post title is actually something of a misnomer as it begins with news of the 2018 finalists but gives the full listing of all the books that either exist or have had a bigger reach because of this prize – as a reminder, submissions are invited for the 2019 prize – and you (and your teen) are encouraged to read all the books. (pictured are some of the winning books through the years)

winners2b#7 – Who Won What in 2018? – another regular in the top 10 because there’s always a high level of interest in the outcome of the annual Challenge which is good for both our patrons and participating writers/artists, both of which we always need more. (pictured are winners from 2018 and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse, holding the Alstyne Allen Memorial Challenge plaque, sponsored by the Best of Books, at the awards ceremony)

Aye Write April 2014

#8 – Literary Arts in Antigua and Barbuda: a Reflection – I have been recently reminded that when you share the journey (the good and the bad), people read and sometimes mis-read the full accounting of your life. Rest assured that my full life will never be shared on social media (so be careful how deeply you read) but my journey in writing and my frustrations with and love for Antigua and Barbuda, and Antigua and Barbuda in relation to the arts, and the literary arts in particular, that I have shared to a fair degree. In order to vent sometimes, yes, but also in order to inform understanding about the journey and about the challenges artists face, celebrate the victories, and underscore that they are often hard-won. I try to pass on what knowledge I can – resources, to opportunities, to my own hard-earned lessons, stumbles, breakthroughs, and triumphs. What an upside down world we live in when the people who create are pitied for doing what they were put here to do, for continuing to work against the odds to explore, interrogate, and affirm our existence for a time in this space called life. Well, this post is about what some of our literary artists (not just me, have been doing in our space and time). (this picture is actually from 2014, a Commonwealth panel in Scotland which I was invited to be a part of after my story Amelia at Devil’s Bridge, submitted to the Commonwealth short story competition and losing, was selected for inclusion in the collection Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean – which included the winning Commonwealth short story and the best of the also-rans to the best of my understanding. Amelia is now one of my most travelled stories and is a reminder to me that on the writing journey the road may be potholed but keep moving, you never know where you might end up…and, if you’re lucky, your art will travel further than you do and sometimes take you along for the ride)

Wadadli Pen Logo

#9 – Kyle Christian Wins Wadadli Pen – This was the announcement press release re the Challenge – so no surprises about this being in the top 10 – the Challenge is our main project; it attracts submissions from young writers in Antigua and Barbuda who are typically eager to hear how things turned out for them and in the Challenge as a whole. (pictured, the Wadadli Pen logo which was created by Ken Shipley)

author books#10 – Writers Shoutout, Diversity Discussion – you know I had someone hit me up on social media recently to push back on all this diversity talk and all I’ve got is a hit dog will holler. Diversity isn’t about taking anyone’s place (it’s about making space for other voices) nor is it about tokenism (funny how people go there as if the hushed voices are inherently inferior), it is about all the interesting landscapes, voices, stories, perspectives that the world is missing out on (it is about making the world a richer place). This popular piece is just one part of the discussion. (pictured, books by Yolanda T. Marshall which were the jump-off for the most recent diversity post)

With thanks to anyone who engages with any thing I write or share in this space – keep reading and sharing; like and comment more (what’s up), and let’s see if these favourites hold up to the end of the year.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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Mailbox – New Peekash

Peekash Press began in 2014 as a partnership between Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom and Akashic Books in the United States; it was a CaribLit initiative coming out of the Bocas Lit Fest in partnership with Commonwealth Writers and the British Council.

Peekash’s first publication was Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean followed by Coming up Hot: 8 New Poets from the Caribbean, New Worlds Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean, and So Many Islands: Stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Antiguans and Barbudans in these collections, to date, have been Tammi Browne-Bannister, from Antigua and Barbuda/based in Babados, who has been in So Many Islands and New Worlds Old Ways; and Joanne C. Hillhouse in Pepperpot – as listed in Antiguan and Barbudan Writings.

Peekash’s new publication is Thicker than Water: New Writing from the Caribbean. Here are the details:

Difficult parents and lost children, unfaithful spouses and spectral lovers, mysterious ancestors and fierce bloodlines — the stories, poems, and memoirs in this new anthology tackle everything that’s most complicated and thrilling about family and history in the Caribbean. Collecting new writing by finalists for the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, a groundbreaking award administered by the Bocas Lit Fest, Thicker Than Water shows us how a new generation of Caribbean authors address perennial questions of love, betrayal, and memory in small places where personal and collective histories are often troublingly intertwined.

Thicker than Water

Contributing writers are:

Lisa Allen-Agostini • Trinidad and Tobago
Nicolette Bethel • The Bahamas
Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné • Trinidad and Tobago
Vashti Bowlah • Trinidad and Tobago
Richard Georges • British Virgin Islands
Zahra Gordon • Trinidad and Tobago
Barbara Jenkins • Trinidad and Tobago
Lelawatee Manoo-Rahming • Trinidad and Tobago/The Bahamas
Ira Mathur • Trinidad and Tobago
Diana McCaulay • Jamaica
Sharon Millar • Trinidad and Tobago
Monica Minott • Jamaica
Philip Nanton • St Vincent and the Grenadines
Xavier Navarro Aquino • Puerto Rico
Shivanee Ramlochan • Trinidad and Tobago
Judy Raymond • Trinidad and Tobago
Hazel Simmons-McDonald • St Lucia
Lynn Sweeting • The Bahamas
Peta-Gaye V. Williams • Jamaica

Details here.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, 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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Writer Shoutout, Diversity Discussion

author books

Passing on this new book announcement from Guyanese-Canadian author Yolanda T. Marshall which I came across in the Caribbean Writers Facebook Group (N.B. new book shares, especially of non-Antiguan-Barbudan books, is not a regular service as this site is completely voluntary and subject to blogger’s time and the blog’s purpose, but, as with everything, there are exceptions). The book is Sweet Sorrell Stand. I’m not a big sorrel drinker but it is a quintessentially Caribbean drink and the eye-catching image of Caribbean children with a sorrel stand – not a lemonade stand – up North delighted me, and when I visited her page, the image of black Santa with the Caribbean black cake (not cookies) also tickled me. Sorrel typically being a Christmas drink, she takes a bit of creative license marketing it as a summertime beat-the-heat option. But, hey, why not.

Since I started writing my own picture books – actually before that, since I’ve been reading to children – I have become keenly aware of the diversity deficit in children’s publishing. I was aware of it before, of course, but it became more of a conscious concern as I read to my nieces and nephews, to children of the Cushion Club, to children in schools to which I was invited; this awareness, and the need to have something of my own to read, prompted me to try my hand at adding writing for children to my oeuvre. There are many shades to this problem but Marshall’s books address two of them at least – the need for black children to see themselves (racial) and the need for Caribbean children to see themselves (cultural), and of course in terms of larger western (let’s stick with western) culture, it also has the potential to push back on assumptions, like of course, Santa is white, duh, or the right of little black kids to be as entrepreneurial as little white kids with their lemonade stands, even if they’re selling bottled water to help out their mom and go to Disney, without having the police called on them or the threat of same for lack of a permit (i.e. white neighbor is inconvenienced).

I mention the need for openness because I’m still reflecting on a post I saw recently in an online book group I belong to in which this group member declared that she was giving up on a particular book not because it was badly written but because African books by African authors were too African for her; and it hit me funny as a Caribbean author writing Caribbean books and as a Caribbean reader who grew up reading primarily American and British books because for most of us growing up in the Caribbean that’s what was available and accessible, without the benefit of the “dictionary” she said was lacking with this African book that had committed the crime of being African (note: the book is clearly written in English otherwise she wouldn’t have bought it so it’s not a matter, I don’t think, of trying to read a foreign language book so much as a book with elements that are foreign to you – as I and others like me had to because it’s a privilege to have such ready access to yourself on the page). Commenters seemed to agree with her but I can’t help thinking that it would do us all better to challenge ourselves to step in to the world of whatever we see as other, even if we stumble a bit more over unfamiliar places, things, and here and there words we don’t know. It would make us more empathetic, I think, in the long run, less likely to call police or threaten to call police on a little black girl selling water.

About the book: Miss Marshall’s latest release is “Sweet Sorrel Stand”. In this children’s book, Rose and Nicolas loved their favourite Caribbean sorrel drink so much, the siblings decided to create a sorrel stand with the assistance of their parents. Their Sweet Sorrel Stand was a success in the neighbourhood. The main ingredient of the drink is the Roselle plant (Sorrel), a species of hibiscus which is native to West Africa. The red flower buds are boiled, strained, sweetened with sugar, with a touch of ginger, cinnamon, orange peel and cloves. Once cooled for a couple of hours or overnight, it is served with ice. It is known to be very rich in antioxidants. Traditionally, this drink is served during Christmas holidays. On a hot summer day, it is a refreshing alternative to lemonade.

To read more about Marshall’s books, visit her page – I’ve also added her to the Caribbean Writers online page here on the blog.

To check out children’s picture books by authors right here in Antigua and Barbuda, here’s where you go.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). 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.

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Nonna’s Corner Likes Lost!

Lost Cover Front 4

“Lost: A Caribbean Sea Adventure by Joanne C. Hillhouse is a children’s book read by Carol Mitchell. The audio is around fourteen minutes long and meant to be listened along with the novel. You can hear the pages turning making it perfect for little ones to follow along.

Dolphin an Arctic seal finds himself in the Caribbean sea. Disoriented he will have to rely on his new Caribbean friends before humans show up to  rescue him. This was a charming, honest narrative about friendship and adventure. The writer touches on ocean pollution as well which I appreciated. It opens the door for discussions on preserving our earth and wildlife.

Carol Mitchell was entertaining to listen to from her Island accent to voices for the various sea creatures. I think the book, combined with the audio would be perfect for a classroom either to be read as a group or with headphones.” Full review here

Read reviews from Kirkus, Feathered Quill, and more, here.

 

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