Category Archives: Literary Gallery

Images of the Antigua and Barbuda literary scene

25 Book Recommendations for Caribbean Youth

“This list of 25 books includes 11 from the Caribbean. In this regard, it goes against the grain of existing literature. Statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center reveal only 10% of children’s books published in 2015 featured characters of African or Latin backgrounds, and the percentage of those which were Caribbean based is minute. We must make a concerted effort to expose our children to books that reflect their culture in a recognisable manner. According to Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita at Ohio State University, “When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.”

And so we must encourage our children to read widely and with relish, and we must actively seek to put Caribbean books into their hands.”

My book Musical Youth, now on the secondary schools reading list in Antigua and Barbuda, finds itself on this list somewhere on this list between All Over Again, the Caribbean book that won the Burt title the year I was first runner-up, and The Redwall Series.

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Thanks, Zing.

As with all content (words, images, other) 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,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Voter Turnout Low

(media release updating re #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda – issued December 8th 2018)

Votes are trickling in but voter turnout could be a lot higher. That’s according to Wadadli Pen which is running a #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda People’s Choice Book of the Year Challenge. The Challenge – the first of its kind for Wadadli Pen, which will not be having its usual creative writing challenge in 2019 – invites and encourages readers to vote from among the 45 books in the running; and if you or your circle haven’t read any of the books, Wadadli Pen wishes to remind you that books make good gifts to self and others.

Some authors have embraced the idea, notably Shawn N. Maile, who did a promotional ebook giveaway of his book, How to Work Six Jobs on an Island: an Island Boy’s Dream, in order to encourage people to read and vote. And he didn’t limit his encouragement to his book, posting on his facebook page, “also support the other authors by purchasing and reading their works in whatever format you can.” His book is one of the leading vote getters so far. Voters are encouraged to leave a reason for their vote and one of those who voted for Six Jobs said, “It was a great example of time management and maximizing resources.” Also on the board so far, the second leading vote getter Vivian Luke’s F.A.K.E.; three books by Roxy Wilson, who writes ebooks in the romance genre – Be With You, Friends to Forever, and The Guardian Vampire; former Wadadli Pen judge Brenda Lee Browne’s London Rocks; and former Wadadli Pen finalist Rilzy Adams’ The Gift – “it really had me in the feels”.

The #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda initiative has not reached the minimum vote threshold but readers do have until March 2019 to vote. Wadadli Pen does want to reminder the Antigua and Barbuda public, though, if there’s a book you like – or a book your children liked – don’t sleep on it. With 44 books in the running – after corrections to adjust for books of which Wadadli Pen might not have been aware – there are plenty of choices to go around.

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One online group, Amazing Antiguans and Barbudans for Social and Economic Development, sharing one of the several social media posts about #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda, said, “so I heard on radio the other day that we are lacking in authors and then here comes (this)…do you know your local authors? If not, get to know them and vote! If you are already familiar then do vote now!” Wadadli Pen appreciates the love and encourages everyone to share, read, and vote.

Wadadli Pen is reminding fans of the books to vote, as well as authors of the books as well and their circle – authors may not be able to vote for their own book but they can vote; and they can and should do whatever they can to push their book. The #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda is about giving our local authors and their books a boost in keeping with Wadadli Pen’s mission to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda.

For more on #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda and to vote, visit https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/readantiguabarbuda-voteantiguabarbuda

As with all posts on Wadadli Pen, this is written by founder and author Joanne C. Hillhouse, who (full disclosure) also has a book – Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure – in the running. This one you can feel free to share fully and encourage your fellow book lovers to #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda

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Did you know?

Did you know that Ian McDonald, author of Caribbean classic The Hummingbird Tree (1969), has Antiguan roots. The Trinidad born Guyanese based writer is a descendent of Edward Dacres Baynes, his five times great grandfather who was a colonial civil servant in the Leewards in  the 1800s, eventually settling in Antigua, where he and his wife raised their 15 children. He is also the grandson of Hilda McDonald,  the first female member of the Antiguan House of Assembly. Both Baynes and McDonald are listed for their writings in the bibliography of Antiguan and Barbudan Writings.

McDonald though best known for The Hummingbird Tree has kept writing from his home in Guyana. His latest collection, via Peepal Tree Press, is New and Collected Poems.

mcdonald

Read more about it and him, here.

See also: https://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/features/02/01/‘i-shake-hands-with-you-in-my-heart

As with all content (words, images, other) 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,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Mailbox – Saint Lucia – for the Record

I’m sure they have their complaints – and they did suffer the debilitating loss of their Folk Research Centre to fire earlier this year – but from where I’m sitting St. Lucia does a commendable job of researching and documenting its artistic resources, resource people, and accomplishments. I’ve written before about The Bibliography of St. Lucian Creative Writing Poetry, Prose, Drama by St. Lucian Writers 1948-2013, The Saint Lucian Literature and Theatre: an Anthology of Reviewsfor instance, and credited the work they’ve been doing in the area of documentation and research with funding from the state and private sector, and lamented the lack here – even as we do what we can here on the site – documenting what we can of our media history, art developments, and literary publications, to start, and in fact one of the ‘documents’ here on the site, a curated Caribbean lit anthology, was compiled by the man who is a common denominator of the various St.  Lucia publications – poet John Robert Lee.  I admit some low level envy that there is tangible support for this kind of work in St. Lucia as it suggests to me that the powers that be (and the private sector) understand that art and culture has real value (though, like I said, I’ve talked with enough of us artist types across the region to know that we all have our complaints).

All of that preamble to say, here they come with another one:

Author Index - book cover DRAFT 1 .jpg

Published by Papillote Press, it is due for release in early 2019. This is the original cover concept; watch this space for the final cover.

John goes out of his way to keep the community of Caribbean writers, inasmuch as we are a community, connected and informed; and because he does that for others, I thought it important to share this here.

Keep doing what you’re doing, St. Lucia.

As with all content (words, images, other) 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,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

 

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A Small Place Now A Big Play

“This staging of Kincaid’s book is so faithful an adaptation that it performs the text in its original and entire form, spoken to the audience with no dialogue between actors. Director Anna Himali Howard underlines, rather than hides, the fact: the opening scene features an unnamed actor (Cherrelle Skeete) reading from the essay by torchlight. She puts the book away when a second actor (Nicola Alexis) joins her, but they narrate every word of the essay together.” Read more of this Guardian review of the controversial book by Antigua and Barbuda’s leading international writer Jamaica Kincaid

…and read this animated social media discussion on the artist and her work and relationship with home, beginning with A Small Place.

As with all content (words, images, other) 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,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Link-up: CREATIVE SPACE

Bermuda3.jpgThe Lecture Series (Mas’king and UnMasking) marks entry 16 and 17 in the CREATIVE SPACE series on my blog – a series started so that I could resume/extend spotlighting local art and culture as I did as a journalist. The Creative Space series first existed as a public entity when I ran it as a series in the then Lime, now Zing, LIAT inflight magazine. These days I envision it as a multi-media platform showcasing not only the finished product but the makings of our (Antiguan and Barbudan, with a dash of wider Caribbean) art and culture. It is a work in progress which for now consists entirely of the blog series started early in 2018 with updates every couple of week, on average. The series, syndicated on Antigua Nice for greater reach, is an opportunity for Antiguan and Barbudan busineses to boost their brand while boosting local art and culture. The sponsored ad spot with each new entry is available for sale to any business, or entity which wishes to take up this opportunity. They have only to contact me at jhohadli at gmail dot com for details. Businesses which have products that they want reviewed or boosted can also contact jhohadli at gmail dot com to see if they meet the criteria for a sponsored post. So, yes, CREATIVE SPACE IS seeking business linkages to enable the continuation of the series.

So far this year the series has covered new books like London Rocks and The Sweet Smell of Sugar, events like Playing to Inspire 2, Carnival, the Barbuda Homecoming, the World Wars exhibit, the Independence art exhibition, and more. You can follow the  Jhohadli blog for updates. Most recent updates spotlight Veronica Yearwood who spoke on the African Caribbean mas tradition in Bermuda and Dr. Carolyn Cooper who spoke about the History buried beneath the Sea.

from CREATIVE SPACE #16 of 2018 – The Lecture 1 – The Mas’king: “When I wrote about Veronica for Caribbean Beat (actually about the 25th anniversary of Antigua Dance Academy, the dance school and company she founded here in Antigua and Barbuda) it was obvious to me that she was seen as one of the leaders of the African-Caribbean folk dance tradition in the region and its diaspora, and this Bermuda presentation is only confirmation of that. With her permission, I’ll be sharing excerpts from that presentation.”

from CREATIVE SPACE #17 of 2018 – The Lecture Circuit – UnMasking: “A good teacher can make a world of difference and for a number of us during my years at the University of the West Indies’ Mona, Jamaica campus, Dr. Carolyn Cooper was a good teacher: the kind of good teacher that challenges us to re-consider how we see the world. Dr. Cooper may be now retired from her role as literary and cultural studies professor but, as a roving academic and speaker, she continues to teach. In November, she lectured in both Montserrat, at the Alliougana Festival of the Word and at the UWI Open Campus (Antigua and Barbuda), part of the UWI’s ongoing 70th anniversary observation. The latter was held on a balmy Sunday night after a week of heavy rains that prompted the rescheduling and, as an unintended blessing, gave the organizers and those of us learning about it late, more time to promote it.”

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Remember, you can support this series – boosting your brand while boosting local art and culture. Email jhohadli at gmail dot com to discuss.

Here’s the CREATIVE SPACE main page.

As with all content (words, images, other) 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,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Back from Miami Book Fair

I wanted to post on my visit to the Miami Book Fair (held at the Miami Dade College).

Highlights included the writers I got to connect with, however, briefly. Writers like Katia D. Ulysse (author of Mouths Don’t Speak and other books), whom I first met when we were both on a late night food run and subsequently kept bumping into each other, which is not a given at a festival as large and populated as this one. Writers like Vermont based cartoonist Rachel Lindsay with whom I had one of those discussions that can only ever really happen over breakfast in one of these spaces where writers gather and intimacy is accelerated. Writers like M. J. Fievre, who, as Caribbean Reads programmer and a real one, was partly responsible for me being there; she is a Haitian-American writer with whom I’ve interacted so much over social media and via email, in addition to interacting with her work (one of which I used in one of my workshops), that I kinda felt like I sorta maybe knew her, only I didn’t, not really. Writers like other writers who easily fit in to that category of writers I felt like I knew already only I didn’t, not really, like this man right here JAmerican writer Geoffrey Philp;  with Geoffrey Philp I’ll remember Geoffrey always as one of the authors/bloggers who showed me grace when he didn’t know me from Eve and didn’t have to. Writers like Loretta Collins Klobah of the US and Puerto Rico whose poetry I’ve shared so much here on the blog and who has shared my work with her students – we were both looking forward to meeting each other and we did though it was all a bit of a whirlwind. Writers like her co-panelist USVI writer Tiphanie Yanique, whom I’ve gotten to know at other events where our paths have crossed and through our works over the years . Writers like, and this is a big one for me, if you know my fangirling ways when it comes to this writer, Edwidge Dandicat who, yes, I finally also got to meet and considering how much her writing means to me, which I told her, hopefully without embarrassing myself too much. She was on the panel with Tiphanie and Loretta, a panel about women writing hurricanes, such an essential discussion for these perilous times in which the vulnerability of each one of our island-nations has been exposed. Loretta’s reflections about how the Puerto Rico hurricane affected not just her life but challenged her to find spaces to continue her work was particularly poignant, and Tiphanie’s revelations re writer-editor Alscess Lewis-Brown ‘s hurriku (you know, like haiku) and other creative pathways to help people give voice to their trauma was particularly inspiring. Not writers but part of the scene, publisher Johnny Temple of Akashic, who co-facilitated an editing workshop I participated in a few years ago, and US literary publicist, Linda Duggins, whom I ran in to for the first time since meeting her right here at the literary festival in Antigua – because, yes, once upon a time we had a literary festival in Antigua and Barbuda that attracted top tier people in the business. Writers like, Donna Aza Weir-Soley, a US based Jamaican talent, our first time connecting in real time since my first writing workshop, also in Florida, back in the 1990s. Writers like  Bernice McFadden, an acclaimed and award winning African American writer I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since we jointly facilitated a workshop at the BIM Lit Fest in 2016 and whose books I’ve read and blogged (seeing her was oddly like seeing an old friend – something to do with seeing a friendly face in a crowd to be sure but also something to do with her spirit).

read Jamaica

I also hung out at the Read Jamaica tent where my publisher Carol Mitchell (Caribbean Reads Publishing) shared space with two of Jamaica’s hardworking independent publishers Tanya Batson-Savage (Blue Banyan Books) and Kellie Magnus (Jackmandora).

reading at the Miami Book Fair

My event was Read Caribbean presents Adventures for Kids and I was delighted to share the stage and do a signing afterwards with co-presenters Marjaun Canady, who was a tough act to follow, Paula-Anne Porter Jones, whom I remember actually, as I reminded her, from my UWI years, and Francie Latour. That’s Francie reading in the image below.

my panel at the Miami Book Fair

My only complaint really about my visit to the Miami Book Fair is there was so much to do, who could do it all…all I could do in the end was be in the moment (after all the prep and over-prep this is the most important thing – as I said to another writer who asked me for advice as it was her first experience of this type – be present and remind yourself that you have a right to be there i.e. your work got you there – I have to say I took my own advice this time and had a lot more fun than I normally do with all the stress of public speaking, as a result). My reading aside, my goal was to enjoy as much of it as I could, from the live reggae on The Porch to the many tempting book stalls of books and books and books and books, getting some much needed exercise with all the running about in the process, and somehow managing to split my time at one point between two panels I was eager to attend, and wandering into another panel that wasn’t even on my radar (fantasy young adult adventure fiction) but which I was reluctant to leave when the time came, because whatever you fancy from comics to serious politics to mysticism to fiction of all stripes, it was all covered. And though my trip was short, there was just time enough for music, nibbles, good conversation, and book themed drinks on one  of the many Miami waterfronts.

(The Spanish language edition of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure made its debut at the MBF. If you’re in the Miami area, signed copies of both editions are available at Books & Books)
signing books 2

Apart from being a part of my journeying as a writer, whenever I find myself in spaces like this, I am mindful not just of being a writer, but a writer from Antigua, a #gyalfromOttosAntigua, stepping in to spaces where we are otherwise absent (or at best our numbers are small) and adding our voice/s to the conversation.

In such times, I am at least as nervous about the interactions/the socializing as I am the actual presentation – life of an introverted (oftentimes read as aloof), awkward, Caribbean girl-cum-woman –but I challenge myself every time to step up because I will not stand in my own way. You never know how it will go. Writers and writing spaces can (like any other space where people congregate) be as cliquey as a high school cafeteria in a John Hughes film, there are associations and hierarchies,  even at times when the space should feel familiar because you all bathed in the Caribbean Sea. One of the ways I calmed my fears was to remind myself not of the negative encounters (and there’ve been a few) but of the ones of generous laughter and communication and real bonding. I have to say the Miami Book Fair fell in to the latter category, not nearly enough time for real bonding but little in the way of posturing and offputtingness, and lots of joy in connecting for the first time or again with writers and others I’ve met along the way; in part, I have no doubt because I chose to stay open and in the moment, and quiet the negative self-talk. Let it be as the Beatles one time sang, and it was.

my books at the Fair

And so with thanks to everyone who made it possible for me to be there including my friends and family, and publisher and all the readers

reading
(publisher Carol Mitchell with a reader)

and all the little ones who through the years gave this shy author lots of practice reading to little ones to prepare her for moments like this, and the MBF and anyone who’s ever shown me a little bit of grace.

The travels will hopefully continue (for a window to some past stops, see Appearances on my author blog).

As with all content (words, images, other) 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,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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