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Jonathan Demme – Filmmaker – Deceased

The death of an artist is as a sad a moment (sometimes too fleeting a moment) as the death of any human being. The death of an artist also prompts reflection on the artist’s oeuvre – it’s one of the reasons we say that someone who creates never really dies, not as long as the work they’ve created remains alive.

I am a lover of film – just another form of storytelling, really.

So having come across this post on the life and death of Jonathan Demme, I thought I’d pass it on here and share (in order of favourites, from among the ones I’ve seen) my favourite (favourite being subjected and not always a reflection of best by cine-finicky standards but often because of your personal relationship with and response to the film, at the time in your life that you saw it) Demme flicks. Hey, I mentioned I was a lover of film.

1. Married to the Mob
2. Swing Shift
3. The Silence of the Lambs
4. Philadelphia
5. Something Wild
6. The Manchurian Candidate

Yes, the farcical Married to the Mob is my favourite Demme film – don’t judge me; and, yes, my fond childhood memories of Swing Shift eclipse the uni-years chills of Silence of the Lambs in my visceral memory – go ahead, judge me, I deserve it.

That he worked with my literary idol of idols Haitian-American author Edwidge Dandicat, producing content on Haiti is another one for the plus column in my book, and reason enough for me to reeeaach and include him on a Caribbean literary blog. For the record, well, assuming my research is right, their collaborations include the film The Agronomist (film), Island on Fire (book), Haiti: Three Visions (book) – in fact, she was a production assistant and researcher at his Clinica Estetico, according to her, her first job out of graduate school, and, in fact, it was while working with Demme on Beloved that she met Oprah who went on to select Dandicat’s Breath Eyes Memory for her highly influential book club.

So, there’s your Caribbean connection, although great art doesn’t need to have a blood link to be appreciated. And come on, Married to the Mob (with Alec Baldwin, Matthew Modine, Oliver Platt, Dean Stockwell, Mercedes Ruehl, Joan Cusak, so many actors I like, including  the great Michelle Pfeiffer) is delightfully over the top, absurdist, farcical, entertaining, great art. So great, and so different from some of his more sober work (Philadelphia), it’s hard to believe that this is the same guy.

Our deepest condolences to Jonathan’s family–Joanne, Brooklyn, Ramona and Jos–neighbors and friends from Nyack. Jonathan’s generosity and support for my work on Haitian Art was unparalleled and I will be forever grateful. In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations be made to the Miami-based group Americans For Immigrant Justice, which specializes in […]

via ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ director and steadfast friend of Haiti Jonathan Demme dead at 73 — Repeating Islands

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A & B Arts Round-up April 25th 2017 —->

Saturday 13th May, 2017 –Wadadli Stories flyer Wadadli Stories Book Fair – 10am to 8pm, St. John’s City. N.B. the results of the 2017 Wadadli Pen Challenge will be announced at this event and the winners awarded.

May 4th – May 7th 2017 – Emile Hill Solo Art Exhibition, South Point Restaurant and Lounge – New artwork from Emile Hill, Antiguan Artist; also featuring the work of another talented local artist! This exhibition features new paintings, found art and sculptures inspired by Nature, or re-purposing materials found in Nature. All pieces will be available for sale.

April 26th 2017 – World Intellectual Property Day Open House and Mini Fair at the Antigua and Barbuda Intellectual Property and Commerce Office, Hewlett House, St. John’s, Antigua; 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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More Wadadli Pen Challenge 2017 Trivia

This year we recorded the most single year submissions with 93 (give or take) eligible entries

The youngest writer submitting was five (5) years old

The oldest writer submitting was thirty-four (34) years old

Winners are awarded in the 12 and younger, 13 to 17, and 18 to 35 age category, and the top three can and have come from any of these age categories.

Find out who won in 2017, May 13th 5 p.m. at the Wadadli Stories Book Fair. See you there.

Wadadli Stories flyer



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Shout out to St. Andrew’s (almost the school with the most submissions)

We want to shout out St. Andrew’s. No, St. Andrew’s won’t be winning the prize for the school with the most submissions. That prize will go to Island Academy which put in a hell of a strong numerical showing in this year’s Wadadli Pen Challenge, with one of its students making the long list.  Together, they account for roughly one-third of this year’s entries.

To be clear, we prefer when young people submit of their own volition, because they love to write, because they have something to say, because they want to challenge themselves, not because they’re pressed to do so by a teacher. But we do reach out to teachers because they have access that we don’t have to young people, and can help us not only spread the word but identify and encourage young writers in their orbit of influence to write. And so, we appreciate the teachers who help us access and motivate these young people. We appreciate even more the teachers who go the extra mile and assist young people with getting their submissions in – because maybe not everyone has a computer, or maybe some don’t understand the submission requirements, or maybe, more troubling still, that one young person lacks the confidence to even try.

Given that the Challenge’s age range is 35 years and younger, not all entrants are attached to educational institutions. But, for those who are, this year, we had submissions from students at Antigua Girls High, Antigua Grammar, Baptist Academy, Christ the King High, Five Islands Primary, Glanvilles Secondary, Island Academy, Ottos Comprehensive, St. Andrew’s, St. Anthony’s Secondary, St. Nicholas, Sunnyside, and Vibrant Faith Ministries schools; and Antigua State College and the University of the West Indies. Clearly, we need to figure out ways to attract more public school participation – one way we try to do so is with the prize for the school with the most submissions, a prize which has been won by public schools like Buckley’s Primary and T N Kirnon in the past, but which hasn’t seemed to translate to continuity on the part of those schools nor served to inspire other public schools at the levels of consistency we would like.

The work continues.

But, in the meantime, we big up those where teacher influence clearly helped boost the numbers – notably St. Andrew’s and Island Academy. Island Academy will, of course, be getting its props and prizes at the May 13th awards, 5:30 p.m., during the Wadadli Stories Book Fair.17854813_10154497215021188_8497364273538347535_oBut we want to give some you-go-you (!) to St. Andrew’s in this platform for collecting and submitting more than 10 entries on behalf of its students. Yes, and yet, that the entries were collected, scanned, and submitted, put them at risk of elimination since entries were to be typed and submitted in Word so that they could be easily formatted for blind submission to judges (the judges can’t know who wrote what story). We never want to eliminate an entry if we can help it. Still, and this is why we emphasize submitting per guidelines, we won’t always have the time and resources to assist entries that don’t follow said guidelines (and we shouldn’t, because there’s a lesson to be learned there). That said, we should be tougher on this point than we are. But as a development programme, we have, in the past, rather than  discard incomplete or incorrectly formatted submissions, given the submitters an opportunity to correct and re-submit. We can’t underscore enough that this is not something folks should count on; rather read the guidelines and submit accordingly, at risk of elimination. As is, despite us bending over backwards, something like five 2017 entries had to be cut for a range of reasons including late submissions, notwithstanding a built in grace period.

So, thanks to the staff at the Best of Books for making the effort to type the St. Andrew’s bulk submission which enabled us to give these young writers a chance, and thanks to the St. Andrew’s staff for making the effort to get the entries in in the first place – efforts which paid off with two students from St. Andrew’s ending up on the long list.

We want to encourage more teachers to encourage their children to get involved and to assist them with submitting per guidelines. Wadadli Pen’s Challenge is more than a competition, it is an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to develop your writing skills, an opportunity to express yourself, and, yes, an opportunity to shine. At Wadadli Pen, we remain committed to nurturing and showcasing the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, but we don’t do this alone.

So, shout out to St. Andrew’s.

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Sometimes, on my facebook, I post #situationrightnow as a way of updating the page’s followers on what’s going on. Sometimes, it’s a way to take a breather from what I’m doing. This is a bit of both.

Right now, I’m trying to finalize the prize breakdown (making sure it all balances out etc.) for the Wadadli Pen Challenge 2017, so that we can follow up with confirmed patrons (and lock down the unconfirmed ones) to collect and do our best to have everything in place for the May 13th 2017 awards, set for 5:30 p.m. during the Wadadli Stories book fairWadadli Stories flyer. It may seem like a wide window but when you factor in that this is not our all-day everyday job and that we have to leave room to collect (and the ways Murphy can mess with that), we might actually not have enough time. As I write this, I still have a to-do folder with 41 small and bigger tasks, and that’s just me and just for Wadadli Pen. So, yeah, we’ve got to make good use of the time we have left.

That said, it’s been a long and busy day, and my eyes are dipping, so hang with me while I wrap this up.

10:40 p.m. – School with the Most Submissions – I remember we first offered this prize in 2005 and the recipient was Buckley’s Primary. This year it’s Island Academy with more than 20 submissions from a total of 93. They’ll be receiving prizes contributed by ECAB, Harper Collins, and an anonymous donor. Decision made.

10:45 p.m. – We have four prize recipients in the 12 and Younger category; one more than anticipated or budgeted for – but we’ll make it work. Prizes in this category will be courtesy Art. Culture. Antigua, Harper Collins, Juneth Webson, and Little Bell Caribbean (copies of my book With Gracewith-grace). There is one other, unconfirmed, and then there is the Cushion Club which has given every year since the early days of Wadadli Pen, despite itself being a non-profit youth-centric activity.

11:30 p.m. – We, also, have four prize recipients in the 13 to 17 category; it’s that kind of year. Prizes in this category will come from another long time patron, the International Women’s Club of Antigua and Barbuda, and the Barbuda Express, ferry service – that’s right one of our winners is getting a trip for two to the sister island where the beaches are miles long, the lagoon is a richly biodiverse experience with frigate birds aplenty, where there are caves, and seafood cyaarn done.

11:55 p.m. – Up to the 18 to 35s which have your standard three, and prize commitments from Brenda Lee Browne, Caribbean Reads Publishing, Harper Collins, and Raw Island Products.

12:10 a.m. – the overalls.  There are prizes in this category from Sweet Dreams (boss cake designer), Jane Seagull, Paperclips, the Best of Books, and reliable patrons, anonymous and Frank B. Armstrong. I’m also offering a coaching session, something I’ve never done before. I mean, I’ve done coaching before (it’s part of my suite of freelance services) but I’ve never inserted my services in to Wadadli Pen before. Typically, I try to get another writer on board to do this. But part of the reason I’m doing this is to aid in the development of youth and the literary arts; this is something I can do, so why not do it.

1:01 a.m. – Done. Email sent. The rest of the To Do List is gonna have to wait for another day. Done.

Oh, p.s. there’s still time to give.

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, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, 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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Antiguan and Barbudan Arts – A Wish List

Today, I appeared on Crusader Radio (Antigua and Barbuda’s) Listen to Women. One of the last questions put to me by host Joan Underwood was suggestions for development of the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. I spoke about putting a foundation in place to assist artists with accessing the opportunities and funding I know is out there; development of the professional infrastructure needed to support the arts (agents, lawyers, managers, arts development officers, publishers etc.); and research and documentation of our (his)stories – example, the stories of our national heroes in picture book form, for the kids. Inevitably, once I left the studio, I thought of all the things I hadn’t said- like the time I and a group of local writers applied for Commonwealth funding to attend the Calabash literary festival and the time I reached out to our local government via various avenues for a similar mission to the Havana’s International Book Fair, receiving no response.

Thankfully I had this handy post to remind me of my publicly expressed thoughts on this topic before. I’m re-posting some of what I wrote below. Also sharing this letter by Barbara Arrindell on resigning the post of coordinator of the independence literary arts competition in which she recommends to the Minister that someone be given year round responsibility for the literary arts under the umbrella of culture to do for lit arts what a similar approach, including bringing on board the technical expertise of practitioners of the art, did for pan (I would add, and have, that I favour a writer-in-residence programme attached to either Culture or the Public Library). I can only assume that Barbara’s open letter, delivered at the last lit arts comp she helmed, was ignored since the comp subsequently went on a hiatus that hasn’t technically been broken notwithstanding last Independence’s lets’ throw some money at it competition – not if our goal is development of the art form.

Thoughts, with the understanding that these are only my thoughts, and EVERYBODY’S got an opinion, here we go (feel free to share your own):

“Among the things I would like to see happen are …

  • Something similar to the Opportunities data base on this page and some protocols for assisting members of the creative community access opportunities available especially through agencies with which the country has a partner relationship – the OAS, the UN, the OECS, etc.
  • Training opportunities for artistes
  • Commissioning of the skills in the wider artistic community to take programmes to the schools and communities on a consistent basis – put our artistes to work, there are skills here that are underutilized
  • Assistance with sourcing funding for cultural products/productions – note I’m not saying dip into the Treasury but using their network to help artistes realize the production of more culturally relevant products and programming
  • Support for artistes travelling to represent themselves and the country, and assisting them with networking with the Antiguan and Barbudan community in New York, London, or wherever they’re going
  • Artiste showcases not just centrally but in communities throughout the island – and maybe taking some of those showcases on the road beyond our island – I’m reminded of when a group of us, Antiguan and Barbudan writers, applied for and received international funding to put in a showing at one of the top regional literary festivals, for us, a learning opportunity and an opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to have a presence in spaces where we are too often absent
  • A national gallery, an artist in residence and writer in residence programme through which ongoing initiatives to boost the arts in the community can be developed
  • Someone asked me today after reviewing the Independence programme what about the lit arts comp – I’ve got no answers to that …or for that matter, a book fair (remember the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival? What happened to that?) … anyway since that question came up today, I’ll just rest that here (EDITING TO ADD April 19th 2017 that a new development is the Wadadli Stories Book Fair, not a state project no, but a community volunteer project, because that’s how the arts community makes things, like the Wadadli Pen project, whose Challenge awards will be presented at the Fair, happen)
  • Promotion of the arts using all of the platforms at their disposal – from an enewsletter to their mailing list at home and abroad to TV and web programmes, utilizing everything from ABS to youtube to social media to share and support the work of the local arts community and create connections that could result in all kinds of other opportunities opening up such as targeted tours such as the one organized by Fringe St. Lucia featuring Lucian artistes in the UK earlier this year
  • A Cultural Policy – placed low on this list but really should be a priority on our national agenda and not just in the interest of the arts but in terms of visioning our future as a country
  • As founder and coordinator of Wadadli Pen, support for programmes like mine and others wouldn’t go amiss – short of grant funding which we have yet to access, the programme exists solely on volunteer effort and has gone a-begging each year in order to reward the efforts of and encourage our future writers and artists

…and those are just off the top of my head.”

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, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, 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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Writing is Your Business Returns

A moment during cycle one level oneThis one is for folks based in Antigua. It’s an adult education class I first offered in 2016 for working people seeking to improve their facility with written communication in the workplace. This isn’t about learning to write like a pro, but learning to write with more confidence and communicate effectively.

This course was offered under the banner of Barbara Arrindell & Associates and will be again.


I try to create an environment where participants don’t feel intimidated by the process of writing. I operate from the premise that writing can be made accessible to everyone. This is especially so for people willing to invest in themselves and putting in the work. The 2016 course reviews suggest I succeeded – by which I mean the participants succeeded in meeting their goals.

“I think I have improved. I now look at my weak areas when writing.”

“I accomplished my goal of learning proper grammar usage and some proper sentence construction.”

“The overall training was good and I’ve learned how to structure my ideas.”

“Overall it was a productive course” … “It was worth the sacrifice.”

“I  am more aware of common mistakes.”

Convinced, yet?

Think about it.

Once you’ve made up your mind, see the flyer above for registration details.

-posted by Joanne C. Hillhouse, who, when she’s not being the Wadadli Pen coordinator and blog manager, or writing books, offers several writing and editing services in Antigua and Barbuda and beyond, including creative writing courses and non-creative writing courses like this one.





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