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Mailbox – Belize Writers’ Conference

Belize is the latest country to add a literary gathering (as I’ve written about for Writers’ Digest and as catalogued here, this is a growing event in the Caribbean region). Here’s all you need to know (from our mailbox). – JCH

BWC 2017

First-ever Belize Writers’ Conference Launching April 2018
Six-day conference offers workshops by New York literary agents

Sacramento, Calif.—The first-ever Belize Writers’ Conference for fiction, creative non-fiction and memoir writers will be held from April 23 to 28, 2018, at the Ak’bol Yoga Retreat on Ambergris Caye, Belize. The international conference is limited to 30 writers who will be selected through a juried application process. Two New York literary agents—Carrie Howland of Empire Literary and Kate Johnson of Wolf Literary Services—and author and writing coach Jane Anne Staw comprise the faculty. The conference includes five days of workshops, including critique sessions and master classes on nourishing a writing practice and building a fulfilling career as an author. Daily opportunities are offered for yoga and meditation, free time for writing, and opportunities to explore the island and snorkel the waters. Event details—including the online application and daily schedule—are available at This is the first such event in Belize and the first produced by a Belizean.

The Belize Writers’ Conference attendees will also learn about the unique history and diverse culture of Belize through presentations by local experts. The Belize Writers’ Conference is proud to give back to the community through a donation of three percent of its profits for academic scholarships to Belizean youth.

Conference founder Joey Garcia was born in Belize and now lives in Northern California. For more than 20 years she has written “Ask Joey” a relationship advice column hat reaches over 300,000 weekly readers. She is also an award-winning author and poet. In 2004, she founded “Rise Up Belize!” a non-profit that serves children and teens in California and Belize. She is passionate about elevating and celebrating the literary arts in the Caribbean.

Go here for more details.

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What do You do When Your Review is Reprinted Without Proper Permission? — Happymeerkatreviews

I’m reblogging this because use of content (images or lists or posts) without explicit request and permission, and without credit, is something we’ve experienced here at Wadadli Pen (and though we try to stay on top of it, still experience; it’s exhausting keeping up with it all…and, honestly, some of the culprits know better or should). It sucks because a lot of time and research, and sourcing, goes in to pulling together the content found on this site, and whenever anyone flies in the face of your copyright you feel violated and frustrated. Any small victory regaining your recognition is a victory we applaud (and in the case of this share, it seems it was an honest mistake). So that’s why we’re sharing…and also to reinforce the point, that while reblogging and social media sharing is cool, as far as lifting content (be they images, lists, or text) and publishing elsewhere, ask for permission, credit, respect copyright.

Hello everyone! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here and I didn’t think I’d be posting again but something happened with one of my reviews and I thought I should let everyone know. In case anyone thinks I’m back blogging on this site, I’m not although I’m am back in the blogosphere…somewhere…(might find […]

via What do You do When Your Review is Reprinted Without Proper Permission? — Happymeerkatreviews

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#WeNeedDiverseBooks Author Re-Writes the Fairytale

That’s the headline of a piece published to Wandering Educators (thanks, Dr. Jessica Voigts) about my last picture book With Grace. It begins…

Once I realized that With Grace was turning out to be a fairytale, I did not resist it…but I did do my best to subvert the tropes of the genre.

Why didn’t I resist, though not strictly speaking a children’s writer (I had only one previous children’s book among five to my credit)? Because as a writer, I enjoy wrestling with genres I’ve never attempted before – even if that cage match is to be within the deceptively simple and straightforward world of ‘once upon a time’ where they ‘all lived happily ever after’. Also, as a long time dreamer and reader, it was joyful to revisit the genre that helped me fall in love with stories in the first place.

IP2 cropped

So, why subvert? Because for all the ways it helped open up my imaginative pathways, the fairytales of my childhood did their share of inadvertent damage, as well. While every race and culture has its own fairytales, as a black girl coming of age in the Caribbean, in the retellings that were popular in my part of the world, I was never a part of the story nor was anyone who looked like me. Also, unlike the women I saw in real life, the girls in the fairytales were invariably in need of rescuing, usually by a Prince (or the Prince was in some way the pathway to happiness). I’m not going to do a deep dive in to feminist and racial and cultural and problematic in many other ways readings of Western fairytales, but I will say that as With Grace, my own Caribbean faerie tale, revealed itself to me, I wanted to tell a different story. I say revealed because, let me be clear, it was never my intention to be heavy-handed; whatever rebellion was to happen had to happen naturally. My primary goal was to tell a good and engaging children’s story. I hope I’ve done that. But a writer can have secondary goals.

READ the full thing here.

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One for the Caribbean

I posted here before about the Caribbean writers long listed for the Commonwealth short story prize. So, it’s only fitting that I come back to let you know that one of those four has won the prize. She is Ingrid Persaud of Trinidad & Tobago, and her story is The Sweet Sop.

Here’s a link to the announcement.

Here’s a link to Persaud’s winning story.

Here are the finalists all gathered with one of the judges. That’s Ingrid to the far left of the image. (Photo borrowed from



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Calypso Battle

Update again (July 25th 2017): This story has been fast moving so this update may already be dated. But last I read, Queen Ivena was being told she had to either remove the ‘offensive’ lyrics or lose her spot in the semi-finals (which went by last weekend), and last I heard she opted for door number 2. This may be the last update as I don’t want to get too deeply in to this as this space belongs to Wadadli Pen (maybe at some point, I’ll write about it on my own blog), but the writer and journalist and free thinker in me is disturbed. It’s one thing for the PM to follow through on his threat to sue for defamation (though honestly I’ve heard calypsoes more scandalous than this one e.g. – this calypso did call names and I was a child but I remember adults lapping up each line). It’s quite another thing, if the reports are true, for the body responsible for staging the calypso show to deny a calypsonian access to the platform given to calypsonians to sing their song (in a matter that has not yet been ruled on in the courts, to the best of my knowledge). This seems to be a harder line than the Carnival Development Committee took in 2010 when, in response to legal action involving objectionable lyrics by another artist, it reportedly said, that it can only advise an artist not to sing the song, not compel them to. Banning an artist from the stage feels unprecedented (stand to be corrected on that but I remember, through the years, even artists banned from the radio got to have their say on the stage). If the court rules that libel or slander has been committed, that’s one thing (it’s a risk). But this precedent (i.e. the Festival Commission’s change your lyrics or else you won’t get to perform), once set, can potentially affect not only the single artist but the art form as a whole (the internal pressure calypsonians and writers in general then feel to not offend and how that then re-shapes what they produce and dilutes the role of the calypsonian and the artist in our society). This concerns me as a writer and as someone who through Wadadli Pen pushes the literary arts (among which this site has consistently counted calypso) as an avenue for expression.

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

As with all content on, 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, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved.

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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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Mailbox – Children, Teen/YA Caribbean Books Rec’d

Summer Edward, a specialist in the area of children’s books specific to the Caribbean region, recently did a list for Caribbean American Heritage Month in Horn magazine. She shared the link and I thought I’d share with you for your kids’ summer reading adventures, Caribbean or not.

Here it is.


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