Category Archives: The Business

Section where you can find industry news and insights

CARIB Lit Plus (Early – Mid July 2020)

A Note from the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Team

Recently, an eagle-eyed reader of this blog brought an incident of plagiarism related to a 2016 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge entry to our attention. While it is four years too late to retrieve the prizes this entry would have received, we have removed it from public view and corrected the record, we will be informing the recipient, and will be more diligent in future to ensure that plagiarized entries are not rewarded. The development of young people, the encouragement of original creativity, and the integrity of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize are important to us. We wish to thank Mary (the reader’s name) for bringing the offence to our attention and we apologize to the author of the original piece which was plagiarized. It is not in keeping with our mission and our standards to steal from another writer. We will do our best to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Awards

Britain based, Jamaican born dub poetry pioneer Linton Kwesi Johnson is the 2020 recipient of the PEN Pinter Award. The award is meant to defend freedom of expression and celebrate literature. Read details of his win at The Guardian.

Book News

FINAL-Obeah-Race-and-Racism-Invitation-page-001-232x300 British Virgin Islands writer Eugenia O’Neal’s latest book investigates Obeah, Race and Racism: Caribbean Witchcraft in the English Imagination. Her book is being published by UWI Press. A virtual launch is set for April 17th 2020 11 a.m. Register here. Her previous books include the pirate adventure Dido’s Prize, reviewed on this blog. She’s also been previously interviewed here on the blog about Publishing.

crCaribbean Reads Publishing has announced that it is actively seeking #ownvoices manuscripts for middle grade readers, roughly 8 to 13 years, with a Caribbean setting.  There’s no published cut off date but don’t sleep on it. Go here for submission details.

The Bookseller reported that Hamish Hamilton has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, Doubleday the US rights, and Bond Street Books the Canadian rights to Ayanna Gillian Lloyd’s The Gatekeepers. A ghost story and a love story set in modern Trinidad, Lloyd’s homeland,  it has been described (per Hamish Hamilton) as “mythic and timeless” and at the same time “sharply contemporary”. The book is set to debut in 2022 with a second novel Dark Eye Place to follow in 2024. Now, that’s how you do it!

Reading Recs

Bocas Curated Reading

Bocas has been very active this COVID-19 season with a lot of online content including an arts survival kit that includes readings of works by Bocas prize winning poet Richard Georges, former Commonwealth Short Story prize winner Ingrid Persaud, Andre Bagoo, Anu Lakhan, a tribute to Kamau Brathwaite, and more. Find it online here.

You can also find up to 40 renowned Caribbean and other writers reading Brathwaite’s work on YouTube at the Kamau Brathwaite Remix Engine.

Home Home

The US edition of Home Home (Delacorte Press) by Trinidadian writer Lisa Allen-Agostini dropped somewhat quietly during quarantine but it’s been getting some big reviews. The Burt Award winning title, initially issued with Papillote Press, was written up in Publishers’ Weekly, which said: “Allen-Agostini (The Chalice Project) uses clear, concise prose to break down the daunting reality of depression and anxiety. Strong interpersonal dynamics balance hard themes, including homophobia, suicidal ideation, troubled parent relationships, and the minimization of depression, resulting in a quietly optimistic story.”

You can also catch Allen-Agostini in conversation with Diana McCaulay, Shakirah Bourne, and me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) in Caribbean Writers Discuss Publishing Lessons, Breakthroughs, and Rights right here on the Wadadli Pen blog.

Lit Events 

Caribbean Literature Day 

July 12, 2020 has been proposed by St. Martin’s House of Nehesi Publishers as Caribbean Literature Day. The call was made a the closing of the 2020 St. Martin Book Fair, its 18th.  Writers, aspiring writers, literary festivals, book clubs, journals, creative writing programs, and all creative artists, institutions, and media of the Caribbean region; all Caribbean peoples; and all lovers of Caribbean writings, authors, and books, from everywhere in the world have been asked to participate. How? Per a press release, “by reading the works of your favorite Caribbean authors; buying Caribbean books, published in the Caribbean and beyond, and by Caribbean authors; and presenting Caribbean books as gifts. Celebrate the day with books, recitals, and with discussions about books, of poetry, fiction, drama, art, music, and all the other genres by Caribbean writers.” Here’s the full press release: OES News 20_Statement_Caribbean Literature Day

ETA (09/07/20) The Institute of Gender and Development Studies Regional Coordinating Office (IGDS-RCO), out of the University of the West Indies’ Jamaica campus, has announced that it will be teaming up with House of Nehesi Publishers to celebrate Caribbean Literature Day. It will host two Zoom webinars under the theme: The Gendered Word on July 12, from 12 noon to 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Poets, writers and teachers of literature in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean are invited to read their work and the works of other Caribbean writers or comment on Caribbean literature. Those who wish to participate may email their interest at: igdsrco@gmail.com.

Also, contact Lasana M. Sekou Projects Director Nehesi@sintmaarten.net

To Shoot Hard Labour

The seminal Antiguan and Barbudan retelling of the history of Antigua and Barbuda from the lived point of view of Samuel ‘Papa Sammy’ Smith is being celebrated all month long on Observer Radio 91.1 FM. The virtual summer reading project will air specifically Fridays (July 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st) on the popular Voice of the People programme which typically runs from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., later, I believe, on Fridays. It is being co-produced by Beverly Georges of the Friends of Antigua Public Library based in New York. Special guest presenters will include Dr. Natasha Lightfoot, Agnes Meeker, Paddy ‘the Griot’ Simon, children from The Cushion Club Reading Club for Children in Antigua and Barbuda, me (Joanne C. Hillhouse), and the co-author of To Shoot Hard Labour Keithlyn Smith. A number of activity tie-ins for young readers are planned. See flyer:  diorama

TSHL-Project2

Don’t forget to check Opportunities Too for more opportunities with pending deadlines.

TCW Webinar and Launch

The Caribbean Writer has announced that Volume 34 after COVID related delay launches its digital edition on July 7th 2020 and the print edition “on or about July 16th 2020”. The editor, Alscess Lewis-Brown (who has Antiguan and Barbudan roots by the way, though resident in the US Virgin Islands) has also announced a July 19th 2020 webinar. The six hour event, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be held under the theme ‘Interrogating the Past, Re-imagining the Future’. There will be presentations and an opportunity for contributors past and present to share for five minutes one of their published pieces. This is The Caribbean Writer’s facebook page; here’s the sign up link.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, 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/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). 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.

2 Comments

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen 2016, Wadadli Pen News, Workshop

Caribbean Writers Discuss Publishing – Lessons, Breakthroughs, and Rights 5/5

Recently, I (Joanne C. Hillhouse of Antigua and Barbuda) reached out to three female Caribbean writers (Diana McCaulay of Jamaica, Lisa Allen-Agostini of Trinidad and Tobago, and Shakirah Bourne of Barbados) with whom I have in common the distinction of being a finalist for the Burt Award for Teen/Young Adult Caribbean Literature (Diana with Daylight Come in 2019 and Gone to Drift in 2015; Shakirah with My Fishy Stepmom in 2018; and Lisa with Home Home in 2017; my own Musical Youth was a 2014 finalist).

daylight comeGone to DriftMy-Fishy-StepmomHome HomeMusical Youth

The three writers interviewed for this series have further distinguished themselves by selling rights to U.S. editions of their Burt books (McCaulay’s Gone to Drift released in the US market with Harper Collins in 2016; Lisa’s Home Home’s US edition landing in 2020 with Delacorte Press; and Shakirah’s book forthcoming in 2021 with Scholastic). I want to thank them for making the time because I believe their experiences, different though they are, are an education on publishing, especially if you’re a Caribbean Writer. The conversation is serialized due to length (so click here for the start of the series) – there are 5 questions.

Q. 5. I also want to touch a bit on the value of an author as a brand. How do you feel valued as a Caribbean author, how do you feel not valued? – re speaking fees, copyright etc. but, also, generally.

Lisa: I have always taken my branding seriously. I got married at 19 and took my husband’s last name primarily because there were other Lisa Allens out there writing and I needed a unique brand. Lisa Allen-Agostini is a hellishly long name but it’s one-of-a-kind. I built my brand as a creative writer alongside my brand as an arts journalist and critic. Since 2009 when I joined Facebook I began using that platform to post about my events and publications. I also post about literary events I attend and regional literary news. I got an Instagram account a few years ago and those work in tandem. I also have a blog which isn’t active at the moment. I’m not one of those shy writers who pretends their work hasn’t been published. I post everything, and I accept nearly every invitation to speak or read. I have intellectual capital from this brand-building, and I sometimes get asked to judge competitions, give speeches or sit on panels to discuss the creative arts. I participate in the Bocas Lit Fest annually, doing every reading or panel discussion I’m invited to do.

  • Gone to Drift on the shelf at Powell's, Portland, Oregon

    Gone to Drift on the shelf at Powell’s, Portland, Oregon. Having a US edition for Diana meant seeing her book on shelves in the US, one of the biggest global markets, for the first time.

Diana: I don’t think of being an author as a ‘brand’ at all. I really distrust that characterization – plus I occupy a, let us say, somewhat uncomfortable position as a light skinned Caribbean writer of privilege. So the entire process of promoting myself and my work is very, very difficult for me – I wish I did not have to do it at all. I don’t think I’m particularly effective in front of an audience, and I hate saying to anyone – buy my book. Or: Laad, post a review, nuh!?

Lisa: I do get paid commissions to write pieces. I don’t usually get paid for speaking or reading (the Burt tour was an exception), though I might get a commemorative gift from the people who invite me. A lot of unpaid labour goes into being a writer. I can spend five to ten hours a week managing my social media–more if I have an event. The week of the Bocas Lit Fest I’d be gone all day, every day, attending readings and panels and photographing them, and lurking in the lounge to meet and network with publishers and other writers.

Calabash 2016 @Cookie Kinkead

Diana presenting at the Calabash literary festival in Jamaica in 2016. by Cookie Kinkead.

Diana: Huge amount of unpaid work. Huge. I do get paid to write sometimes, I seek out those opportunities, but I would say it’s underpaid. I’ve never been paid for speaking as a writer, occasionally I’ve been paid as a competition judge or reader.

Lisa: I do feel valued, even cherished, as a writer. However, I wish we had a system of patronage so that writers could survive without having to hustle doing the kind of work that pays bills. People advocate the hustle. I don’t, but with no arts council funding in the region it’s impossible to avoid.

Diana: Do I feel valued as a writer? Hmm. Sometimes. Not often. But I’m also aware that writers tend to have huge amounts of insecurity about their writing, so it’s possible that my feelings of lack of value are more to do with my own weaknesses than an objective situation. But yeah, there’s no arts council support here and I think it’s true everywhere that only the mega stars can afford not to work at other jobs. I remember hearing Olive Senior once say that she wished she had more time to think, to dream, to create, and I do wish that too.

57487901_434162707130198_647214

Diana with the last of the Burt Award finalists in 2019.

I also want to say that more recently, I feel optimistic about the success of Caribbean writers on the world stage, I started to list names, but then realized what a long list it is. I’m proud to be an editor for PREE, a new online magazine celebrating contemporary Caribbean writing. I’m glad we have our own festivals – a growing number too. So I’m happy to be a part of the Caribbean writing community.

Shakirah:  Joanne, in an article you once described me as “never doing one thing at a time, it seems, on the page or in life” and that is such an apt description. I started off in adult short fiction, but then became known for my comedy films, and now I’m venturing into children’s fantasy books; I am a marketer’s nightmare. However my brand has always been “authentic Barbadian stories” and I hope that readers, viewers, attendees, whoever, expect to be entertained and enlightened in some way when they consume my work.

The market is flooded with books and other content from Western media, so I’ve found that local consumers really value my Bajan stories, and international readers are excited to experience a different point of view. So whether it is an elderly Bajan woman laughing at the local cinema, or an email from a reader in the UK who is grateful for the little taste of home or an acceptance from an international publisher, I have always felt valued as a Caribbean writer.

I expect to be compensated for my time, especially for paid events, and I don’t depend on other persons to assign a value to it. It took a while, but I’ve become very comfortable in asking “do you have a budget?” Fortunately I’ve not interacted with many people who are surprised by the question. I appreciate when people are upfront about not having a budget and if I’m still interested, we discuss avenues for funding, or compensation in kind. When I’m invited to events, they usually cover all expenses and at least offer a per diem if they can’t afford speaking fees.

Still, there are few avenues for literary funding and for authors to make money from public speaking. For instance, in the US, earnings from school appearances can be significant; I was shocked at the average fees for a school author visit. Not many public schools here could afford a fraction of that price, but they do have supportive teachers who are happy to buy a certain amount of books. It may be a while before it is commonplace for an author to charge so much for a school visit, but in the meantime I try to partner with local cultural organisations to facilitate these sessions.

*’

That’s it that’s the series – here are links to parts 1, 1.2, 2, 3, 4, and interviewer Joanne C. Hillhouse’s take, after some prompting, on her own questions. I’ve since made my answers in to an addendum to the series here on the Wadadli Pen blog – an unofficial part 6. Alternatively, you can use the search feature to the right to find earlier installments of these women breaking down their experiences in publishing. It’s worth noting that their published books are only one part of their CVs. Lisa is a comedian and freelance writer, Diana is an environmental activist; and Shakirah is a filmmaker and consultant; and

I am a freelance writer and editor, writing coach and course/workshop facilitator; Me before the reading and that’s only a part of it.

 

All images are courtesy of the authors and interview was conducted and published by Joanne C. Hillhouse. You can excerpt and share with link-back/credit but do not republish without permission.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

Caribbean Writers Discuss Publishing – Lessons, Breakthroughs, and Rights 4/5

Recently, I (Joanne C. Hillhouse of Antigua and Barbuda) reached out to three female Caribbean writers (Diana McCaulay of Jamaica, Lisa Allen-Agostini of Trinidad and Tobago, and Shakirah Bourne of Barbados) with whom I have in common the distinction of being a finalist for the Burt Award for Teen/Young Adult Caribbean Literature (Diana with Daylight Come in 2019 and Gone to Drift in 2015; Shakirah with My Fishy Stepmom in 2018; and Lisa with Home Home in 2017; my own Musical Youth was a 2014 finalist).

daylight comeGone to DriftMy-Fishy-StepmomHome HomeMusical Youth

The three writers interviewed for this series have further distinguished themselves by selling rights to U.S. editions of their Burt books (McCaulay’s Gone to Drift released in the US market with Harper Collins in 2016; Lisa’s Home Home’s US edition landing in 2020 with Delacorte Press; and Shakirah’s book forthcoming in 2021 with Scholastic). I want to thank them for making the time because I believe their experiences, different though they are, are an education on publishing, especially if you’re a Caribbean Writer. The conversation is serialized due to length (so read the start of the series here) – there are 5 questions.

Q. 4. What opportunities have opened up for you as a direct result of being published in different markets? Do you have other editions by region of the Burt or any other books pending?

42768987_1142941399190526_4284663086437601412_n

Lisa during a stop on her Burt/Bocas book tour, San Juan North Secondary School. Photo by teacher Karen Sankar.

Lisa: I’ve had good reviews for Home Home’s Delacorte edition from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and Booklist; I’d never been reviewed by any of them before. [Edited to add: Trinidad Noir which Lisa co-edited was reviewed by Booklist in 2009]. Schools and libraries have expressed interest in it. Though the book’s Papillote edition has Caribbean fans, it hasn’t been warmly welcomed by schools and libraries here because it contains LGBTQ themes, a no-no in the Caribbean. I’m glad to give new, more liberal markets a shot. I have no other books pending but if you know anybody who wants to buy a contemporary domestic noir manuscript of 71,000 words…

Diana: Being published by Harper Collins got me the Kirkus star I mentioned and the better sales numbers, and also access to a call for proposals for Caribbean writers to write children’s stories for Collins Big Cat in the UK. I pitched a children’s booklet for schools and it was accepted – will come out this year.

I was a finalist for Burt twice – last year I placed third for my forthcoming novel, Daylight Come. I wrote it as a young adult novel, but I kept thinking about it and realized I wanted the story of an adult character to be explored in the book. So after Peepal Tree Press and Papillote Press expressed interest, I rewrote Daylight Come substantially as an adult novel, which will be published this year by Peepal Tree Press in September, Covid-19 allowing. Both Peepal Tree and Papillote offered me a contract – that was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Boy, did I ever wish I had an agent then!

At EIBF with Lisa Thompson

Shakirah on a panel at the Edinburgh International Literary Festival.

Shakirah: The US edition of my book is coming out in Summer 2021, and I’ve just moved on to the copyediting stage so it’s still very early. However, I was included in my agency’s foreign rights catalogue and my book was to be pitched at international book fairs, but those were cancelled due to COVID-19. Still, fingers crossed that there will be news of new editions in the near future.

I have written other children’s books since then which will be pitched to my publisher so we shall see …

*

Q.5. and the author responses will follow in the final installment of the series.

All images are courtesy of the authors and interview was conducted and published by Joanne C. Hillhouse. You can excerpt and share with link-back/credit but do not republish without permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

Caribbean Writers Discuss Publishing – Lessons, Breakthroughs, and Rights 3/5

Recently, I (Joanne C. Hillhouse of Antigua and Barbuda) reached out to three female Caribbean writers (Diana McCaulay of Jamaica, Lisa Allen-Agostini of Trinidad and Tobago, and Shakirah Bourne of Barbados) with whom I have in common the distinction of being a finalist for the Burt Award for Teen/Young Adult Caribbean Literature (Diana with Daylight Come in 2019 and Gone to Drift in 2015; Shakirah with My Fishy Stepmom in 2018; and Lisa with Home Home in 2017; my own Musical Youth was a 2014 finalist).

daylight comeGone to DriftMy-Fishy-StepmomHome HomeMusical Youth

The three writers interviewed for this series have further distinguished themselves by selling rights to U.S. editions of their Burt books (McCaulay’s Gone to Drift released in the US market with Harper Collins in 2016; Lisa’s Home Home’s US edition landing in 2020 with Delacorte Press; and Shakirah’s book forthcoming in 2021 with Scholastic). I want to thank them for making the time because I believe their experiences, different though they are, are an education on publishing, especially if you’re a Caribbean Writer. The conversation is serialized due to length (so click here for the start of the series) – there are 5 questions.

Q. 3. What have you learnt through this journey about the business of publishing? – What tips do you have for navigating the publisher and/or agent relationship; Biggest mistakes to Best decisions. Think of this question in light of what you would say if you were mentoring your younger, yet unpublished, self.

Lisa: My advice: Submit your work. Be honest with your editor and realistic about deadlines. Persist. Network. Follow through.

Diana: I can’t say anything about the agent relationship – I did have one briefly, but she delivered nothing, even avoiding a scheduled in person meeting with me in New York. I’ve tried to get an agent because I do think it helps a writer to get a better deal, but in the current literary market, it’s harder to get an agent than a publisher, in my opinion. One issue for Caribbean writers who are resident in the Caribbean is that publishers and agents worry that you will not be able to do the kind of publicity a writer living in a literary market can do. And the days of writers being able to adopt a mysterious reclusiveness are long gone – you have to be out there, at library readings at which six people show up, doing the dreaded (for me, anyway) networking, etc.

590647~1

Diana in a panel with other Burt 2019 winners at the Bocas Literary Festival.

Shakirah: I want to jump in to say that I’m grateful that my location was never brought up as an issue, because doing that dreaded networking (I feel the same) is much easier thanks to technology. Of course it would be much simpler for a US-based author to pop into a book store and sign books and establish a face to face relationship with readers and distributors, but booksellers and librarians are just as open to having online events. In the time of COVID publishers have relied on digital promotions and understood that these meaningful connections can still be forged from a distance. I would not refuse a physical book tour once it’s safe to travel again though!

Diana: Regarding the relationship with publishers, I have had three now, the thing I wish most is that they would communicate more regularly with you, tell you what they are doing for your book. Your contract will most likely require an annual royalty payment, so you know nothing about how sales are going until one year and three months has passed. In a way, you send your book out into the world and the only feedback you get is if you are reading in front of audiences, and those do not necessarily translate into sales, or the few emails and Amazon or Goodreads reviews you might get If you’re doing your own publicity you have no way of knowing what brought sales, and it’s easy to believe your publisher is not doing much.

This is why I self-published my fourth book. I wanted to see how difficult it was to promote my own book – I felt like I was doing quite a bit of promotion for my books that had publishers. And the answer – I’ll save readers some heartache – is that publishers are doing A LOT. They just don’t necessarily tell you about it. So, much as self-publishing gets easier and easier, I learned that everybody needs an editor, and even very low-key publishers have networks you have no access to as a writer. You asked about biggest mistake – and in one way I think the decision to self-publish White Liver Gal was a mistake, but it was a necessary one for me to make and I am glad I did it.

white liver gal
I’ll also say that I kept the e-book rights for my first two books (until recently), and the thing I loved about that was I could go online every day if I wanted to and see who downloaded my books, where they lived in the world, and the royalties would be sent directly to my bank account by month end. It was important, real-time feedback that made me feel connected to a reading public.

Lisa: The best decision I made was to tell Polly about my mental health conditions, even though I was afraid she would judge me. I had terrible anxiety and depression while publishing other books before and because it was a surprise to the editors I was working with they didn’t know how to respond. Being honest with her helped both of us. I followed the same route in working with Monica.

Shakirah: I have learnt that the journey to publication is more dependent on luck and timing than talent. We all know several amazing writers who are still waiting for a book deal, and are hoping to submit the right book to the right editor at the right time. In my experience, a lot of quality manuscripts aren’t selected for publication because the publishers already have a similar title on their list or are unsure of how to position the book in the market. It was difficult, but I had to learn to separate myself from the book, and understand that rejection is most likely a business decision and not a personal one; a rejection of your work is not a rejection of you as a writer. It has nothing to do with your ability to write or the value of the story. I had to redefine the meaning of rejection, and realize that every “not for me” brought me closer to finding the right editor, eliminating those who were not the best advocates for my work. It may take some writers more time to find that publisher, and the journey requires LOTS of patience, but in the mean time I’ve learnt to focus on what I can control—the writing.

Clear communication is key in navigating a relationship with both an agent and publisher. With an agent, it’s important to know what kind of support you’re looking for. Do you need an agent who is editorial and can help develop your story? A career agent or simply an agent for one manuscript? Do you want an agent with a good sales record in the genre? An agent who advocates for diversity and represents clients you admire? Figure it out and only query agents who you genuinely want to work with and whose goals and values align with yours. Talk to current clients, read and listen to interviews before signing with an agent. Don’t just say yes to any offer because having a bad agent is worse than having no agent. And always voice concerns. Though my agent readily answers all my questions, I still worry about bothering her or being seen as demanding. I have to constantly remind myself that it is an equal partnership and it’s her job to give insight and guidance along the publishing journey.

This can be applied to a relationship with a publisher as well. Speak up and ask for what you want. If you have an agent, you can voice these requests and let the agent communicate with the publisher. If there’s no agent, then engage with the publisher directly and do not be afraid of the word “No”. I think this fear of rejection stops us from asking for things that we want, and instead we sit and hope that the publisher offers and then get terribly disappointed if they don’t. Do not let fear of the word “no” prevent you from trying.

I think this ties into the question about biggest mistakes—that fear of the word “no”. Most of my unfavourable situations have come out of my fear of offending and subsequently acquiescing to unfavourable terms. I’d just advise that you get a lawyer or agent to look over every contract.

42528452_249920399005114_2098826601566526491_n

Caribbean students with several Burt titles including Lisa’s Home Home.

Lisa: I don’t know if I’ve made any big mistakes. For many years I won no prizes and was quite despondent about what I perceived to be my lack of success, but if I’m honest I’ll admit I’ve had more success than most so maybe I was doing something right.

Diana: If I were mentoring my younger, unpublished self, I would say – grow a very thick skin because no matter how successful you get, your work is still going to be rejected. I saw a post recently by Bernardine Evaristo, the 2019 Booker Prize winner for her book Girl, Woman, Other, that a commissioned short story she had written was rejected. I had the impression that once you “made it” as a writer, rejection was a thing of the past, but this is not the case. I would tell my younger self – write all the time. Submit. When stories or articles get rejected, send them somewhere else. Try to stop thinking about “success” – try. It’s hard to define anyway, and I know I keep moving the goal posts on myself. The thing I hate most about writing for publication (I have always written and will always write, but writing for publication is a different thing) is that feeling of envy you get when other writers win prizes, even prizes you have not entered! What’s that about?? But apparently we all feel that, and if I could get rid of those feelings, that’s what I would zap.

I would also say to my young writer self – learn your craft. I’ve done work as a creative writing teacher, a reader and editor and I’m often struck by how sloppy some of the submissions are – poor grammar, cliché-ridden, point of view changes in every other sentence and so on. If you want to write, be serious about it. Study it. Do workshops. Read widely and constantly. And write. And submit. And submit again.

largephoto_burt_award_caribbean_2015_winners_0

Diana at her first Burt ceremony in 2015.

Shakirah: I’d tell my younger self to trust in your story. Stop worrying about international editors not understanding the dialect or getting the subtext or voice. The story will appeal to its intended audience. Continue to read, experiment, challenge yourself and go where the pen (or keyboard) guides you. And practice self-care! All the inevitable rejection and waiting can take a toll, so make sure you have a good coping mechanism.

Get involved in the writing community and spend time around like-minded persons who can empathize with your journey, help you brainstorm ideas and give advice on navigating through the industry.

*

Q.4. and the author responses will follow in the next installment of the series.

All images are courtesy of the authors and interview was conducted and published by Joanne C. Hillhouse. You can excerpt and share with link-back/credit but do not republish without permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

Caribbean Writers Discuss Publishing – Lessons, Breakthroughs, and Rights 1.2/5

Recently, I (Joanne C. Hillhouse of Antigua and Barbuda) reached out to three female Caribbean writers (Diana McCaulay of Jamaica, Lisa Allen-Agostini of Trinidad and Tobago, and Shakirah Bourne of Barbados) with whom I have in common the distinction of being a finalist for the Burt Award for Teen/Young Adult Caribbean Literature (Diana with Daylight Come in 2019 and Gone to Drift in 2015; Shakirah with My Fishy Stepmom in 2018; and Lisa with Home Home in 2017; my own Musical Youth was a 2014 finalist).

daylight comeGone to DriftMy-Fishy-StepmomHome HomeMusical Youth

The three writers interviewed for this series have further distinguished themselves by selling rights to U.S. editions of their Burt books (McCaulay’s Gone to Drift released in the US market with Harper Collins in 2016; Lisa’s Home Home’s US edition landing in 2020 with Delacorte Press; and Shakirah’s book forthcoming in 2021 with Scholastic). I want to thank them for making the time because I believe their experiences, different though they are, are an education on publishing, especially if you’re a Caribbean Writer. The conversation is serialized due to length (so click here for the start of the series) – there are 5 questions.

Q. 1.2. You’re all Burt authors – the process involves the opportunity to select from a number of Caribbean publishers, tell me about your decision making process – why was your publisher right for your book, and do you have any thoughts on the Burt Award experience generally?

Shakirah_Bourne pic
Shakirah: When I first decided to submit to Burt, I did research on the previous winning titles and several were published by Tanya Batson-Savage of Blue Banyan Books. I really admired the gorgeous cover designs and high quality of the books, and then truly enjoyed reading the stories. In making my final decision about a publisher, I spoke to previous Burt Award winners, and everyone spoke highly about Tanya’s editorial skills. Still, it was a tough decision because I was also impressed by another publisher who had great reviews and was passionate about my story.

After I had submitted the manuscript to Burt, I decided to try to find an agent in case the book wasn’t shortlisted and so I dived into the US publishing industry. Actually, it was more of a belly flop than a dive but luckily I managed to snag the interest of a top US agent at the same time I was informed that the manuscript was shortlisted for Burt. I thought I had to choose between the two opportunities, but a seasoned local author gave me a lesson in literary rights and I realized that I could negotiate with all parties. I’ve written about the full experience of finding an agent on my blog. In the end, I went with the publisher who had no issues in having only Caribbean rights to the book.

Lisa:  The best part of the Burt Award for me was the guaranteed publication and distribution to regional libraries and youth literacy programmes. Not only would I have a book, it would be sold and it would be in libararies and in young people’s hands. I was ecstatic about that. I self-published when I was 18 and I still have copies of the book at age 46 so I know publication without marketing and distribution is a bust. With Bocas Lit Fest, Burt also organised a schools reading tour which took me to meet hundreds of young readers and got mainstream media and online spotlights for the book.

Diana: Lisa was able to do the book tour, I see. I am glad Gone to Drift is in libraries throughout the Caribbean, but I’m also aware that this has to be supported by some programme, or it just remains on the shelf. I’ve tried to get Gone to Drift as a set book for regional exams, and I think now it is on an optional reading list, but not as required reading.

Shakirah: I loved knowing that the Caribbean edition was available in libraries and schools all around the region. As a previous self-published author, I never had the resources to get that far a reach. NALIS in Trinidad selected My Fishy Stepmom for their “One Book, Many Schools” programme, where students read the book and did displays, art competitions, craft activities etc inspired by the book. With the support of BocasLitFest, I created a My Fishy Stepmom Educational Package that included discussions, quizzes (Fishy Feud!) and even science experiments for young readers and is available free online. I had the absolute pleasure of librarians engaging with me on social media, and sending photos of classes reading the text and playing the games.

Barrackpore West Secondary School (Photo by BWSS Library Media Centre

Barrackpore West Secondary School (Photo by BWSS Library Media Centre)

Edinburgh Collage

Shakirah at Edinburgh International Book Festival.

One of the most rewarding opportunities was being able to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2019. Janet Smyth, who was the Head Judge for Burt and also the Children & Education Porgramme Director extended an invitation to all the Burt winners and we were all part of the Schools’ programme. I also was asked to conduct two workshops during the festival. I met so many of my favourite authors and was fangirling throughout the entire event.

*

Q.2. and the author responses will follow in the next installment of the series.

All images are courtesy of the authors and interview was conducted and published by Joanne C. Hillhouse. You can excerpt and share with link-back/credit but do not republish without permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

Caribbean Writers Discuss Publishing – Lessons, Breakthroughs, and Rights 1/5

Recently, I (Joanne C. Hillhouse of Antigua and Barbuda) reached out to three female Caribbean writers (Diana McCaulay of Jamaica, Lisa Allen-Agostini of Trinidad and Tobago, and Shakirah Bourne of Barbados) with whom I have in common the distinction of being a finalist for the Burt Award for Teen/Young Adult Caribbean Literature (Diana with Daylight Come in 2019 and Gone to Drift in 2015; Shakirah with My Fishy Stepmom in 2018; and Lisa with Home Home in 2017; my own Musical Youth was a 2014 finalist).

daylight comeGone to DriftMy-Fishy-StepmomHome HomeMusical Youth

The three writers interviewed for this series have further distinguished themselves by selling rights to U.S. editions of their Burt books (McCaulay’s Gone to Drift released in the US market with Harper Collins in 2016; Lisa’s Home Home’s US edition landing in 2020 with Delacorte Press; and Shakirah’s book, renamed Me Against the Sea, forthcoming in 2021 with Scholastic). I want to thank them for making the time because I believe their experiences, different though they are, are an education on publishing, especially if you’re a Caribbean Writer. The conversation is serialized due to length (each installment linked at the bottom of the one before it) – there are 5 questions.

Q. 1. You’re all Burt authors – the process involves the opportunity to select from a number of Caribbean publishers, tell me about your decision making process – why was your publisher right for your book, and do you have any thoughts on the Burt Award experience generally?

 

Lisa Allen-Agostini by Wayne Lee-Sing

Lisa, 2020 by Wayne Lee-Sing

Lisa: The Burt Award was a huge deal for me. Financially, it was a gift, as I live as a writer and the prize was significant even for the third place winner. (I was doing freelance journalism at the time and now I’m doing stand-up comedy. Yeah apparently I like being hungry.) The promise of publication was extraordinary because the lit market is tough; even though I had already had a novel published [The Chalice Project, Macmillan Caribbean, 2008] I still have no agent. When I got the publisher options from the award I researched them online. I chose Papillote Press even though it wasn’t offering the biggest royalties.

 

Diana McCaulay 2020 Credit Michael Vicens 3+MB

Diana, 2020 by Michael Vicens

Diana: The Burt Award is, well was, a wonderful prize to get. It was lucrative, it included a guarantee to a prospective publisher that a certain number of books would be bought by the prize and distributed to libraries in the Caribbean. So for the first time, I had publishers seeking me out, instead of the other way around. I had published two novels before Gone to Drift with Peepal Tree Press, but they as publishers were not eligible as they were not located in the Caribbean. I had no agent then, and still have no agent. As Lisa said, I considered the publisher options and also decided to go with Papillote Press, partly because I had read Polly Patullo’s work previously, due to my other life as an environmental activist. My only disappointment with Burt was there was a promise of a local book tour and that never materialized, I am not sure why.

 

Shakirah_Bourne pic

Shakirah

Shakirah: I was not interested in writing books for children, even though several peers suggested I give it a try because of my penchant for writing short fiction from a child’s perspective. But the Burt Award was such a rare opportunity for any author, especially from the Caribbean, to win a publishing contract, a cash prize and guaranteed sales & distribution of books; I could not resist. I edited an old manuscript (taking out all the R-rated content lol) but unfortunately it wasn’t selected for a prize. When I saw the call for submissions the following year, a project had just been cancelled and suddenly my schedule was clear for three weeks. I was inspired by Joanne’s blog post where she revealed that she wrote her winning Burt book in two weeks and I challenged myself to write a new story to submit to the competition. In writing My Fishy Stepmom, I realized that I had been so focused on creating stories to highlight a particular social issue or as commissioned work (freelance) or with a budget in mind (for film) that I truly forgot the joy of writing for fun. The Burt Award helped me to re-discover my calling and unearthed a love for writing fantasy; it changed my life.

Diana: I want to say that in my experience, there are only a few things that make a difference to the sales of your book – a champion who is well connected in one or more major literary markets, reviews and prizes. So any prize opens doors – without a prize, you probably won’t get invited to festivals, you might not get reviews, your book just won’t get much attention. A prize is something to hang publicity on, a focus for social media posts etc. The Burt Prize was unusual because of the guarantee of sales for a publisher.

Lisa: Papillote’s publisher is Polly Patullo. Her books are gorgeous. I’d reviewed her Lawrence Scott collection and the book was a beautiful object, not to mention a good collection. She also had Diana McCaulay on her list with a previous Burt book. I wanted to be able to offer Papillote my other unpublished work, which includes a collection of short fiction and an adult novel-length manuscript. She hasn’t picked up either but she was a sensitive and thoughtful editor; as a publisher she was thorough and painstaking and prompt in her payments (very very important!). And her edition of Home Home is indeed a beautiful book.

 

 

(Above, Caribbean editions to the left, US editions to the right)

Diana: I agree that Polly’s books are beautiful – in fact, I prefer the cover done for Gone to Drift by Papillote than the one later done by Harper Collins, after the US rights were sold. I also enjoyed working with her as an editor – she was thorough, respectful and pushed me in essential ways. The Harper Collins edition got Gone to Drift a Kirkus review and star – that had never happened for any of my work before. I don’t really keep a good track of reviews, so I’m not sure if there were others, but I do remember that one.

*

The responses to Q.1 are running long and so they have been split in to two. I’m calling part 2 Q. 1.2.

All images are courtesy of the authors and interview was conducted and published by Joanne C. Hillhouse. You can excerpt and share with link-back/credit but do not republish without permission.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

CARIB Plus Lit News (late June 2020)

Interviews

Your opportunity to interview me via my youtube channel, AntiguanWriter. I’ve promised to do a live AMA if I reach a certain number of subscribers. Check the channel’s discussion tab for the details.

Reading Recommendations 

pleasure Big up to Antiguan and Barbudan writing juggernaut Kimolisa Mings’ latest book, her 21st by my count, is a bestseller. Having climbed as high as 11th in the top 100 Amazon rankings, which is based on sales and updated hourly, The Pleasure is Mine (currently kindle only though I believe a print edition is pending) is, at this writing, 24th on the Amazon African American Erotica Bestsellers Books list and 28th on the Amazon African American Erotical Bestsellers Kindle list. The Pleasure is Mine is subtitled as A Caribbean BWWM Romance (Sapodilla Resort & Spa Romance Book 1). See the Antigua and Barbudan Writings and Fiction lists for Mings’ complete bibliography; she’s also listed in our data base of professional services.

I want to say thanks to the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority’s CaribCation Caribbean Author Series for tapping me for a spot in June 2020. You can view it on CaribCation’s social media and I’ve also uploaded it to my AntiguanWriter YouTube channel

I’m reading from Musical Youth, a Burt Award winning teen/young adult novel. I also encourage you to check out other authors featured in the series. I have been and I have added Dr. Tanya Destang Beaubrun’s Of Bubbles, Bhudda, and Butterflies to my TBR after listening to her reading.

New Daughters of Africa, published by UK’s Myriad press and by Harper Collins in the US NEW_DAUGHTERS_HIGH-RES-670x1024was recommended by Olivia Adams writing in Marie Claire about Books to Educate Yourself and Your Children about Racism: “Showcasing the work of more than 200 women writers of African descent, this major international collection celebrates their contributions to literature and international culture.”

At my author blog, where I blog on books among other things, my most recent recs are not really recs as I haven’t yet read the books (in full) but I recently listened to an audio abridged version of one Booker prize winner, watched a stage adaptation of an Orange prize winner, and read excerpts from a print edition of a book that includes Antigua and Barbuda, and specifically the Hillhouse family. If you want to see which books I’m talking about, go here.

Interviewing the Caribbean

We previously shared news of the publication of Volume 5 Issues 1 and 2 of the Opal Palmer Adisa and Juleus Ghunta edited ‘Interviewing the Caribbean’, an annual literary magazine. We wanted to update to let you know that both issues are available as ebooks through BookFusion. The UWI Press is also working to place the books – and these literary magazines are at least as thick as a short novel – with regional bookstores.  If you’re a bookseller looking to acquire the books, reach out to UWI Press. Issue 1 includes articles/art by and/or interviews with Polly Pattullo, Geoffrey Philp, Phillis Gershator, Oonya Kempadoo, Esther Phillips, Yolanda T. Marshall, Merle Hodge, Paul Keens Douglas, Diane Browne, Diana McCaulay, Tricia Allen, and from Antigua and Barbuda and Wadadli Pen specifically 2018 finalist Rosie Pickering and me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) – I’d been asked to rec some Caribbean books for the youth market, so I did. Pickering’s poem ‘Damarae’ is actually the same poem that earned her honourable mention in 2018 and, per the magazine’s format, she’s also interviewed about the poem. Issue 2 has as its cover image (above) the cover image of my book With Grace, art by Cherise Harris, used with permission of Little Bell Caribbean. It includes articles/art by and/or interviews with Summer Edward, Kei Miller, Tanya Batson-Savage, A-dZiko Simba Gegele, Tanya Shirley, Olive Senior, Pamela Mordecai, Linda M. Deane, Marsha Gomes-McKie, Carol Ottley-Mitchell, Yvonne Weekes, and from Antigua and Barbuda, and Wadadli Pen, Barbara Arrindell (Create Stories that Remind us of What We went Through) and me, again (an interview headlined Caribbean Children need as Many Stories as there are Tastes)

Paperwork

The Caribbean Development Bank’s Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund is crowd sourcing for information towards building a “compendium of cultural policies, practices,, resources, and trends in the Caribbean.” Why? “To best support Creative and Cultural Industries across the region, we need the right data to make the right decisions. As such, CIIF is developing a series of Country Profiles that showcase data and information about the cultural landscape in each of our Borrowing Member Countries, in order to help cultural practitioners and policy-makers make data-driven choices.” The process will take 15 to 30 minutes; here’s the link.

Awards and Accolades

The winner of the inaugural Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, awarded to a full length book of poetry published in 2019, will be announced in July 2020. The 13-person shortlist, announced in May, includes Jamaica Kei Miller (In Nearby Bushes) and Trinidadian Roger Robinson (A Portable Paradise) – the latter collection having already won several major prizes. The prize includes a $1,000 cash award, along with a reading at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, the publication of a limited-edition broadside by Arrowsmith Press, and a week-long residency at Derek Walcott’s home in either St. Lucia or in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Read more here.

Antigua and Barbuda’s acting culture director is also an award winning pan composer/arranger with Hell’s Gate and noted soloist in his own right. He proves his proficiency with his performance in Pan Ramajay, an international pan soloist competition started by Exodus Steel Orchestra since 1989, this year held virtually.104288255_1819636641493573_2262030051999680067_n

As you can see, he’s  the leading contender going in to the finals after the preliminary and semi-final rounds. The finals are Saturday 27th June 2020. If he wins, he’ll pocket $2000 (not sure which currency). ETA (290620): He did not win but he did place second overall.

The Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards is the flagship of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, a project launched in 2004 to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, and the reason this site, launched in 2010, exists. This year was a challenging year for Wadadli Pen as it has been and continues to be for all the world, due primarily to the global COVID-19 pandemic which literally shut down the world. We had to rethink how to do the awards – going in the end with a live announcement and efforts to connect the winners with the patrons directly so that they could make arrangements to collect their prizes. The latter has proved to be a drawn out process and I have had to find a way to make peace with not being able to really control any of it though I did my best to make the connections and follow up. One upside is that weeks out images like this one continues to trickle in – this is a picture from the mother of 7 to 12 honourable mention Sienna Harney-Barnes (A New World) who is shown collecting the contribution from the Cultural Development Division, a contribution volunteered during our live awards announcement by the director Khan Cordice who is shown delivering the prize to our young writer.

Two of our other writers, Cheyanne Darroux (Tom, the Ninja Crab), winner 7 to 12 and tied winner overall, and D’Chaiya Emmanuel (Two Worlds Collide), winner 13 to 17, made appearances to share their stories on ZDK radio – and we have video.


Caribbean Literary Heritage

June is Caribbean Heritage Month in the US. Online, this has sparked campaigns like the #CaribAThon on #booktube (youtube for bibliophiles) and #readCaribbean on #bookstagram (instagram for bookies). I’ve been happy to see some of my books (The Boy from Willow Bend, Musical Youth, and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight) show up in both challenges, and I jumped in as well, really to share (finally) my contribution to the #MyCaribbeanLibrary campaign that Bocas announced some time ago. But it all intersects.

The Caribbean literary love will continue if St. Martin’s House of Nehesi publishers, co-organizers of the St. Martin’s Book Fair, has its way. HNP used the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the Fair – largely virtual this year due to COVID-19 – to call for July 12th to be Caribbean Literature Day. “We envision this day as the first pan-Caribbean literature day, celebrating the roots, range, and excellence of writings and books across the language zones of our region. Celebrate the day by reading the works of your favorite Caribbean authors; buying Caribbean books, published in the Caribbean and beyond, and by Caribbean authors; and presenting Caribbean books as gifts. Celebrate the day with books, recitals, and with discussions about books, of poetry, fiction, drama, art, music, and all the other genres by Caribbean writers.” The date was chosen because it is the day in 1562 when the writings of the indigenous people were destroyed by their colonizers. (Full release here)

Goodbyes

Antigua and Barbuda said goodbye to two time Calypso monarch and one time road march winner (as lead singer of the Vision Band) Tyrone ‘Edimelo’ Thomas. He was laid to rest June 19th 2020 at St. John’s Cathedral. “Antigua and Barbuda has lost one of its brightest lights, and we are all the poorer for it. But his wonderful life and legacy lives on; none of it will be interred with his bones. Whenever we hear DON’T STOP THIS PARTY (a remix with the Mighty Swallow) or IN DE PAN YARD (an encomium to the joys of pan music), we will remember Edimelo,” said the June 20th Daily Observer newspaper editorial. We daresay, Carnival and party lovers will most remember him for the way the music made them “dress back” (the Road March winning tune) while Calypso lovers will surely pour out one every time they intone “the more things change/the more they remain the same” from arguably his best known calypso.

Caribbean Creatives Creating

I hope you’ve been keeping up with my CREATIVE SPACE series covering local art and culture. It continues to run in the Daily Observer newspaper every other Wednesday with an extended version on my site. Latest spotlights have included singer Arianne Whyte talking about her career and her Sip ‘n Stream online series and Chavel Thomas and his conceptual art which is about challenging and redefining gender, race, maybe even reality. It’s the first time the series has gotten the front cover since it switched platforms to the Daily Observer in 2020 – issue 9.

Cover Chav

In case you missed any of the previous installments in the series, including  on previous platforms, they are archived on the Jhohadli website.

Trinidadian Kamella Anthony’s Krea8ive Kids Show was spotlighted in T&T Newsday all the way back in the strictest part of COVID-19 curfew in the region. In it, the former librarian cum storyteller is quoted as saying, “Ultimately, I want to have creative centres locally, regionally and internationally. I have travelled and seen several types of centres and it’s been awesome. I like to see children learning and having fun. Not just from a book, but from nature, from people.” Here’s the link to her YouTube Channel.

This content is curated by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Additions may be made between now and the end of June 2020.  If used, please credit or link back.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen 2018, Wadadli Pen 2020, Wadadli Pen News

CARIB Lit Plus (early-ish June 2020)

Recommendations

Have you been listening to #40NightsoftheVoice at the Kamau Brathwaite Remix Engine on YouTube? Well, you should be as writers from across the Caribbean read the works of the late Barbadian poet. Brathwaite was held in great and popular esteem as one of the foundations of the Caribbean literary canon and a transformative figure with respect to the embrace of Caribbean creole as a means of artistic expression and experimentation within the language. Many see him as a mentor whether directly or through his written works, who encouraged and inspired new voices. The writers reading his work in the, at this writing, ongoing video series include Jamaicans Kwame Dawes and Opal Palmer Adisa, St. Lucia’s Vladimir Lucien and John Robert Lee, the BVI’s Richard Georges, Barbados-based Yvonne Weekes, an entire who’s who of the Caribbean canon (Pamela Mordecai to Merle Collins to Olive Senior), including Canadian of Antiguan descent Tanya Evanson. Go here for the readings.

Awards

Brian S. Heap of Jamaica is the Caribbean winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize of 2020. His story ‘Mafootoo’ has “been in the back of my head for almost five years, but this competition finally provided me with the opportunity, motivation and all important deadline to complete the work.” Heap is “the retired Senior Lecturer, Staff Tutor in Drama and Head of the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. He has worked in Drama and Education in Jamaica for over forty years. With Pamela Bowell he co-authored Planning Process Drama: Enriching Teaching and Learning (2001, 2013) and Putting Process Drama into Action (2017) as well as several conference papers and articles for refereed journals. He served as Conference Director and Convener of the Fifth International Drama in Education Research Institute (2006) in Kingston, Jamaica. He was honoured with the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica in 2002.” Other regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize of 2020 are Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Africa), Kritika Pandey (Asia), Reyah Martin (Canada and Europe), and Andrea McLeod (Australia). More here.

Art of the Moment

You may have noted that there are protests beginning in but not limited to America, sparked by a recent spate, part of a long tradition, of killings (and general oppression) of African-Americans by police. It has opened a wound perhaps some thought had scabbed over. These protests and the conversations the protests have sparked are not limited to America because anti-Blackness (including internalized or intra-community anti-Blackness) is not limited to America. There have been a number of what I’m calling #CaribbeanConversations (as I share them to my facebook page) in postings by the likes of Jamaicans Kei Miller and Trinidadian Shivanee Ramlochan and others reflecting on race in our region. And here in Antigua and Barbuda, these are recent art works that I am aware of in response to the moment.  DotkidChavy has given permission for re-posting of the image below, originally posted to his public facebook gallery, with the caption, “I’m tired. We are tired. Our demand is simple. #BlackLivesMatter”:

Another work of art, a poem, ‘Stepping on the Black Man’s Neck’ by Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau, published in the Daily Observer, is excerpted below:

“As we stretch our necks across the water/to the protests and murder in Minnesota/where is the outrage for all the necks that get stepped on in Antigua? …A British prisoner is housed in contrast conditions/to the black man’s daughters and local sons/who crap in buckets and old slop pails/who grow old and die in this overcrowded jail/A black prisoner walked in to a baton of blows/Cut-up he face and bruck-up he nose/but he can’t get no treatment./Meanwhile, Umberto Schenato got a quiet release/Now up by Fiennes receiving treatment. Please./Somebody had determined that as long as this Italian murderer is alive/he won’t spend another minute up at 1735/THAT, is kneeling on the black man’s neck….Bruce Jungle Greenaway belonged to somebody./He nah drop from hollow tree./He has children and a family./When the air left his lungs and his body could take no more/They dumped him at the altar of the shore/Waiting for the waves to wash away their sins/After they strangled him./And we wait./Every crime in this country is under investigation….Black man mek noise get kick inna he neck. Racism is alive and well in Antigua and Barbuda./So when we looking across the pond at Minnesota/REMEMBER/that plenty black man kneeling on black man neck inna dis country yah.”

Finally, this poem by me (Joanne C. Hillhouse), shared on my public facebook page, on June 3rd 2020, part of that morning’s writing exercise. It’s called ‘Sounds of Blackness’ (mostly because I wrote it during my musical meditation while listening to Sounds of Blackness):

“Not often enough but
Every now and again
The men in blue (and grey and black)
Are caught flat footed in their heavy boots
By the inconvenient realization
That the non-person discarded
Like old garbage
Hab smadee
That maybe they walk around the world in
Soot, caked on like unbelonging
And Maybe their mind is ‘modie’
But erasing them will take
Effort
Ka dem hab smadee
And somebody will say
Long time me na see so and so
Wey he?
He may be of no fixed address
(or other stories you spin)
But he know where to find his people
When he need them
And they make sure to check up on him
Where he roaming
And when dem na see he
Dem will ask smadee
And when dem see you ah abuse he
They will bear witness
With their eye-phones
And they will raise their voices
And other eyes will turn to the scene
And when that happens (if there’s to be any justice)
You will find a community of people
Turning eyes of inquiry in your direction
And your systems may protect you
This time
Or maybe this time you will be brought to account
And if there is justice in the world
(and we can’t often count on it)
You will sit in the realization
Within the walls built for people like him
That it is the man
Without feeling for his people
Who is the non-person”

COVID-19 News 

The country’s opening up and so is the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre which has relaxed its no visitor policy while keeping some restrictions in place. This is an arts site but we share this type of information because we need our community to act responsibly and to be safe. So, per an MSJMC release, all visitors (18 or older only with careful consideration given to anyone 65 and older) must wear a cloth face covering or mask (which, our edit, you should be wearing in public places anyway). Our space here doesn’t allow for a breakdown of visiting hours, which varies by department; so we’ll just say, call to check on the visiting hours – which are very tight and limited – and/or check their social media. Generally speaking, no more than 2 visitors per day, one  at a time bedside. Do not visit if you’re having any COVID-19 symptoms (in fact, our edit, call the hotline and/or your doctor for testing if you think that might be the case). You’ll be required to wash your hands with soap and water and/or apply hand sanitizer when entering and leaving patient rooms. Visitors will be required to stay in the patient’s room for the duration of the visit. Pray and take care; this is not over yet.

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

CARIB LIT Plus Mid to Late May 2020

CREATIVE SPACE

Have you been keeping up with my CREATIVE SPACE series covering local art and culture? I say local but there’s been some regional spillage. The second issue of May 2020 (the series as of 2020 is running every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer with an extended edition on my blog), however, covered Antiguan and Barbudan Art of the Century.  ‘Heather’s picks: Mark Brown’s Angel in Crisis series – a 2008 visual art show described in international publication The Culture Trip as “a provocative contemplation of the human condition”. She credited “the depth of the pathos”.’ That’s just one  of three picks by Antiguan and Barbudan visual artist Heather Doram. Read about her other picks, and picks from other artists. Tell me about your picks. In case you missed any of the previous installments in the series, they are archived on the Jhohadli website.

Covid Consequences

The country (Antigua and Barbuda), like much of the world, has been reopening – cross your fingers. Some are being real reckless; don’t be like them. COVID-19 is still very much with us; this is economic expediency not an all-clear sign.

Carnival remains cancelled – for the first time in my lifetime.

New music from local artist Rashid Walker

A little help from the Caribbean Development Bank for people in the creative industries who’ve suffered loss of income due to COVID-19. Specifically to the festivals sub-sector and the Carnival and Festivals sub-sector. The grant is for product development – to produce an online/virtual product, marketing – to promote new Caribbean content, digital – to support the further development of electronic solutions for revenue generation; projects should be community oriented. Details here.

Book Recs

Stay with me here. Margaret Busby OBE is Britain’s youngest and first Black female publisher. She was recently profiled in the 100 Pioneering Women of Sussex Blog series. Excerpt: “Margaret Busby was born in 1944 in Accra, Gold Coast (now Ghana) to Dr George Busby and Mrs Sarah Busby. She went to school in Sussex in Bexhill until the age of 15. She then went to London University to read English, graduating in 1964.” That had me saying, wow. because Margaret is a solid 29 years older than me and I had no idea when we met; her Black don’t crack for real but also she was just so cool – I never once felt out of place around her (which sometimes happens when you walk in to certain spaces). Here we are (her far right, me second from right) in Sharjah in 2019:

The article talks about New Daughters of Africa, the second global anthology in this series (this one 25 years after the original) which she edited. My interactions with her were always respectful and generous – even after all she  has achieved; I have enjoyed being a part of this project. “The 2019 anthology has been nominated for NAACP Awards for Outstanding Literary Work 2020 and a Lifetime Achievement in African Literature by Africa Writes in 2019. Each anthology compiles more than 200 women from Africa and the African diaspora.” So, the rec is New Daughters of Africa. Don’t sleep on it.

 

“Some of the earliest pioneers of crime fiction and mystery thrillers, who included Edgar Mittelholzer and John Morris (pseudonym of John Hearne and Morris Cargill), now find a worthy successor in Grenadian writer Jacob Ross.” – John R Lee’s review of new book Jacob Ross book Black Rain Falling

African American writer Jewell Parker Rhodes is a past Wadadli Pen patron (she donated copies of her book Ninth Ward in 2011) and we are happy to report this positive review of her latest book Black Brother, Black Brother. ‘Born of a white father and a black mother, Donte is extremely darker than his light-skinned brother Trey, and faces substantial discrimination at Middlefield Prep. His schoolmates label him “black brother” and even with Trey’s support he is treated like an outcast. Being one of the few black boys at his new school, Donte is framed and arrested for “throwing a pencil with intent to harm.” His society is constructed by whites for whites so those belonging to this race are considered lawful and civilized. Blackness, on the other hand, is viewed as a stain and is linked to criminality. This causes Donte to be seen as a “thug” who is responsible for any disruption that arises at Middlefield. He is left feeling defeated and confused as he highlights, “the uniform is supposed to make us all the same.” Uniforms at Middlefield Prep. do not guarantee uniformity and compassion, whiteness does, and this is something that Donte lacks on the outside.’ Sounds really interesting. Read the full review at the African American Literary Book Club.

Bocas Lit Fest’s #MyCaribbeanLibrary survey which invited people to share books that made them has yielded the following titles: Giant by Trinidad-born BVI author with Antiguan roots, recent Bocas winner (for another book) Richard Georges, Pynter Bender by Grenada born UK based writer Jacob Ross, US based Jamaican writer Orlando Patterson’s Children of Sisyphus, UK based Jamaican writer Kei Miller’s Augustown, He Drown She in the Sea by Shani Mootoo, a Canada based Trinidadian writer, Prospero’s Daughter by Elizabeth Nunez, Measures of Expatriation by Vahni Capildeo, of Trinidad, based in Scotland, Mad Woman by Jamican-American Shara McCallum, Uncle Brother by Jamaican Barbara Lalla, who is professor emerita from Trinidad’s UWI campus, Jamaica’s poet laureate Lorna Goodison’s By Love Possessed, Claire Adam’s Trinidad set Golden Child, The Art of White Roses by Viviana Prada-Nunez of Puerto Rico, UK based Trini Monique Roffey’s House of Ashes, Barbados’ George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin, Trinidad’s Michael Anthony’s Green Days by the River, Nobel winning Omerus by St. Lucia’s Derek Walcott, Dominican Jean Rhys’ Voyage in the Dark, Small Island by Andrea Levy, a British writer of Jamaican descent, Trinidadian V. S. Naipaul’s Miguel Street, and Guadeloupean writer Maryse Conde’s Segu.

The New York Public Library’s picks in April for Immigrant Heritage Week included Caribbean titles, including US based Trinidadian Elizabeth Nunez’s memoir Not for Everyday Use and Esmeralda Santiago’s When I was Puerto Rican.

Awards

The five regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize will be announced on June 2nd 2020 and the overall winner during a special ceremony on June 30th 2020. Click here for information on catching it live. In the running for the Caribbean prize are Jamaica’s Brian S. Heap (Mafootoo), Trinidad and Tobago’s Brandon McIvor (Finger, Spinster, Serial Killer), and Sharma Taylor (Cash and Carry), of Jamaica but resident in Barbados, whom I interviewed on my Jhohadli blog.

Jamaican writer Marlon James won the Ray Bradbury prize from the L. A. Times for his book Black Leopard, Red Wolf. The prize is for science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction generally.

Congratulations to all Wadadli Youth Pen Prize recipients. Here’s this year’s photogallery.

Opportunities

The Bocas Lit Fest, as part of its 10th anniversary, has rolled out a number of resources for readers and writers – e.g. a publishing consultancy and book network.

Remember to check the Opportunities Too page here on the blog for opportunities for writers and artists with pending deadlines.

Obit.

Fans of the road march winning (Dress Back) Antiguan and Barbudan Vision band are mourning another loss. Founding member and vocalist (2 x Calypso monarch Edimelo) died quite suddenly recently and now so has another founding member, keyboardist Eric Peters. It was announced on May 20th 2020 that he had been found dead at his Browne’s Avenue home. A post mortem was scheduled to determine the cause of death.

Poet Cecil Gray died in March and was subsequently tributed by Peepal Tree Press with which he had a special relationship.

Guyanese playwright and director Michael Gilkes and cartoonist Samuel Rudolph Seymour – more casualties of COVID-19 from the Caribbean arts community – were remembered in the hometown press.

 

Compiled by Antiguan and Barbudan writer and Wadadli Pen coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse from various sources. 

 

1 Comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen 2020, Wadadli Pen News

Carib Lit Plus – Early to Mid May 2020

Awards

Membership has its privileges. We have to give pride of place to the Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards, the announcement of which went live (literally) on Saturday 9th May 2020  – the stories and breakdown of winners have been posted. Congrats to the main prize winners Andre J. P. Warner (A Bright Future for Tomorrow) and Cheyanne Darroux (Tom, the Ninja Crab). The full list of patrons can be found here.

*

Richard Georges of the British Virgin Islands is the 2020 winner of the OCM (One Caribbean Media) Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for his poetry collection Epiphaneia. This is his third collection after Make us all Islands, which was shortlisted for the UK’s Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and Giant, which was long listed for the OCM Bocas Prize and highly commended by the Forward Prizes. He is a founding editor of the online regional literary journal Moko. The BVI writer is born in Trinidad and, fun fact, has Antiguan roots (so much so I’ve actually debated putting him in the local book bibliography as I have, for instance, Guyanese writer with Antiguan roots, Ian McDonald, but I didn’t want to appropriate). His grandfather is from the BVI but went to school here and married a local girl before migrating (Scotland, BVI, Guyana, Trinidad). The OCM Bocas Prize, which has a US$10,000 main prize, is one of if not the major prize for literature from the English speaking Caribbean. Previous winners are St. Lucia-born Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott (2011, White Egrets), venerated Trinidad born literary elder Earl Lovelace (2012, Just a Movie), another multi-award winner, another Trini, first female Monique Roffey (2013, Archipelago), Trini Robert Antoni (2014, As Flies to Whatless Boys), St. Lucian Vladimir Lucein for his first publication (2015, Sounding Ground), Jamaican Commonwealth award winning literary icon Olive Senior (2016, The Pain Tree), Jamaican Kei Miller, also critically acclaimed and award winning (2017, Augustown), Trinidadian writers Jennifer Rahim (2018, Curfew Chronicles) and Kevin Adonis Browne (2019, High Mas).

The win was formally announced by chief judge Earl Lovelace during a live broadcast on May 2nd, which also included a presentation by Amanda Choo Quan, 2020 winner of the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize (a developmental prize for emerging writers – this year going to a writer of non-fiction).

See this schedule to catch other streamed Bocas events.

*

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize field has been narrowed from 5000+ to these few:

Sharma Taylor of Jamaica and resident in Barbados is one of three Caribbean writers (along with Jamaica’s Brian Heap, Brandon McIvor of Trinidad and Tobago) short listed for the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story prize. I caught up with her for an interview about her writing journey (with tips for other writers) which can be read in full on my blog. Here she discusses her short listed story: “On the Commonwealth Writers’ website when they announced last year’s shortlist, I saw a photo of one of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlisted writers and was fascinated with his prominent nose. I then wondered what my face would look like if I had his nose and how I would deal with it in the most awkward time of life when appearances matter: the teenage years.”

*

Roger Robinson’s vision of Trinidad as a “portable paradise” of “white sands, green hills and fresh fish”, has won the British-Trinidadian poet the Royal Society of Literature’s £10,000 Ondaatje prize, which goes to a work that best evokes “the spirit of a place”. – read more (via Repeating Islands via The Guardian)

*

Finally, here are this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners.

*

Jhohadli News – for new updates to my (Joanne C. Hillhouse) author blog, of possibly wider interest. Including…

The latest entry in my CREATIVE SPACE series In Conversation with the (Acting) Director of Culture

Announcement via my Poetry publications page of inclusion of three of my poems (Grandmother and Child, Weather Patterns, and Waste Not) in UK magazine Skin Deep’s Is This The End? issue

Sharing the video essay below spotlighting four Antiguan and Barbudan authors on my Media page.

Sharing the video and a Discover Montserrat book recommendations list that includes my children’s picture book Lost! to my Lost! Endorsements and Recommendations page.

Passing

The Caribbean theatre community is still mourning the passing of Trinidad and Tobago iconic playwright, producer, and more Tony Hall who died in April at 72, only 3 days after retiring according to this TnT media report and reflection:

*

Also while they have no Caribbbean ties that I know of, I have to mention the passing of two Black musical giants – a founding father of Rock n Roll Little Richard who was in his 80s when he died on May 9 and one of the men who shaped modern RnB, hip hop, and culture generally as founder of Uptown Records and head of labels like Motown Andre Harrell who was just 59 when he died on May 8.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, 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/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). 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.

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen 2020, Wadadli Pen News