Category Archives: Wadadli Pen 2004

About the 2004 Wadadli Pen competition

Literary Arts in Antigua and Barbuda – a Reflection

This past weekend left me in a bit of a reflective mood. I attended a literary event organized for Black History Month by our Culture Department and a women’s empowerment event and Cottage of Hope fundraiser organized by The District (a clothing boutique) on Sunday, and felt much more inspired (in a positive way) by the latter. Enter side note –>Here’s where I should insert a picture of me contributing copies of my children’s books Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and With Grace to the Cottage c/o The District, but I only remember to take pictures 50% of the time. I do hope that the young people who get to read the books enjoy them. Exit side note–>The Sunday event (which included testimonials from the likes of TnTs soca diva Destra and AnB’s soca diva CP) emphasized finding your passion and doing that, and in the doing, sharing.

So, as I reflect on my journey in literary arts, an improbable journey that I ventured out on and continue to venture out on despite the obstacles and setbacks, I can feel confident that it has been driven by my passion for writing, and that through Wadadli Pen and other projects, not just my books, I’ve been finding ways to share that passion. I mean, so much else is uncertain, and increasingly I question whether Antigua and Barbuda wants me at all, and it’s always a financial high wire act but I am happy that I haven’t let fear and disappointment  stop me from doing the thing I was put here to do.

Art Culture Antigua

This is from the IG of Art. Culture. Antigua – an online platform by Linisa George, promoting the arts. The announcement concerns the current Wadadli Pen Challenge season and features an image from the 2017 season awards ceremony held during the Wadadli Stories Book Fair – a community led lit arts showcase. Art. Culture. Antigua is back as a 2018 patron and the Best of Books continues to sponsor the Challenge plaque, pictured. Wadadli Pen was first launched by me in 2004 – writers who have partnered with me on the project over the years include D. Gisele Isaac (a founding partner), Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau, Brenda Lee Browne, Linisa George, Monica Matthew, Barbara Arrindell, Joy Lawrence, Floree Whyte, Glen Toussaint, Claytine Nisbett, and others, with contributions by several regional and international writers as well.

It is in this frame of mind that I think, too, about the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda and how its strivings and whatever hurdles have been cleared are largely a reflection of the talent, passion, hard work, and will of the literary arts practitioners. We have had to cut and contrive a path of our own making – and, true, this may be true of artistes every where but especially so where there is no real infrastructure, nor resources, to support the artiste’s journey. We hustle and hustle hard, and still are asked to give even when our cups are empty (often without the asker considering what is the cost of this to the artist and what is the value of this to our community).

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Presenting to the 12 and younger winner Verdanci Benta at the first Wadadli Pen awards ceremony in 2004.

When I started the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize in 2004, it wasn’t because I had an abundance of time and resources; it was because I saw a need and had/have still a passion for the literary arts. It has been my pleasure in the years of maintaining this blog – which launched in 2010 to encourage, report on, celebrate the continued journeying of the community of literary artists in Antigua and Barbuda of which I am a part, among other things.

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A&B writers who got together to apply for Commonwealth funding to attend the Calabash literary festival in Jamaica in 2007.

From this reflective space, I thought I’d share some of our journey as writers in this Antigua-Barbuda land. There is no way in this reflecting to hit everything everyone did to create and sustain vibrancy in the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda over the past 7+ years since I’ve been documenting it in this online space, but I can share some highlights N.B. where programmes have floundered often its due to lack of financial support and other resources to keep it going; the energy runs out when you’re burning it at both ends and still trying to make your bills. Wadadli Pen has been on the brink a number of times when I just didn’t feel like I had any MORE in me, and, honestly, it’s often someone from the community of writers who (along with the interest and expectation of the participants) pushes me to keep going and whose volunteer efforts help make it possible for me to do so.

2010 –

ABILF 2010

Here I am reading from Antigua-descended writer Ashley Bryan’s Anansi-themed Dancing Granny under the children’s tent at the ABILF. Before writing my own children’s books, Anansi was my go to when asked to read to children.

Showcases
This blog launched in April 2010 and committed to spotlighting not only the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize (a project committed to nurturing and showcasing the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda since 2004) but the literary arts (and then some) in Antigua and Barbuda (and beyond) – one example of the type of coverage I did as site blogger from that first year was ‘Lit Happenings Antigua-Barbuda Nov 1-8 2010′.

Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival launched in 2006 by two entrepreneurial (Montserratian!) sisters with strong author support and so much potential but, notwithstanding a revival in 2010, unfortunately has not survived.

Wadadli Pen Open Mic launched in 2010 using the Wadadli Pen name but run by the Best of Books and acting as a development platform for young/budding writers.

Programmes
The Cushion Club – a reading club for children in Antigua and Barbuda – continued its relationship with Buckley’s Primary; this project began with school visits by me and CC leader Cedric Holder to the school, one of several schools we’ve both visited over the years, to read and run story workshops. The prize was sponsored by Cedric on behalf of the Cushion Club because of his desire to encourage greater interest and aptitude in the humanities. Cedric has also consistently contributed a prize to the Wadadli Pen Challenge on behalf of the Cushion Club.

Wadadli Pen returned after a 3 year hiatus – its life 2004-2010 to that time chronicled in this post.

Publications
Voices from the Lagoon, a collection of student writings shepherded by scribe and teacher Fransene Massiah-Headley released.

Number of publications in 2010 (not including the student publication which isn’t listed in the data base of Antiguan and Barbudan Writings, and specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda):  7

2011-

2011 winner Devra Thomas with Best of Books owner E. M. Grimes-Graeme.

Wadadli Pen 2011 winner, seen here receiving the Challenge plaque sponsored by the Best of Books, is now part of the Wadadli Pen team.

Showcases
When a Woman Moans – after bringing Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues to Antigua beginning in 2008, the Women of Antigua reached out to local writers to contribute pieces to this homegrown theatrical production and we (specifically Melissa Elliot, Elaine Spires, Brenda Lee Browne, Floree Williams-now-Whyte, Tameka Jarvis-George, Marcella Andre, Joanne C. Hillhouse and Salma Crump, with WOA co-founders Linisa George and Zahra Airall) did.

Antigua-penned and independently produced films The Skin (written by Howard Allen/produced by HAMA) and Dinner (written by Tameka Jarvis-George/produced by Cinque) earned slots at the Jamaica Reggae Film Festival.

D. Gisele Isaac and I were invited by the A & B Consulate in Canada to participate in Independence activities there, participating in panels and sharing our work alongside writers based in Toronto.

Programmes
The Best of Books Book Fair (and Wadadli Pen Awards) – this was the 10 year anniversary of the book store and the return to full strength of Wadadli Pen which was on hiatus in 2007, 2008, and 2009 (simply because I couldn’t see a way to carry it anymore), and had an abridged programme in 2010 (returning because it is a programme I care passionately about). The partnership has endured.

A word on school visits – many of us as writers in Antigua have done them – teachers call us sometimes as with the St. Mary’s Centre for Excellence; other times as with Joy Lawrence’s school tour promoting Wadadli Pen, we volunteer – the schools need a consistent programme but it cannot be on a voluntary basis given the time commitment for prep and actual presentation and because school presentations is something for which writers should actually be compensated (<–offsite link).

The Independence Literary Awards – this version** of it actually dates back to 2005 with first Brenda Lee Browne and then Barbara Arrindell at the helm. I was among the judges in the first year, and that was also the year I started building the data base of Antiguan and Barbudan writers, for the Museum exhibition we also did that year. In 2011, Arrindell announced her retirement with an open letter in which she called for the installation of a year round literary arts point person and development programmes, a call that landed, it seemed to those of us in the literary arts community, on deaf years.

Publications
The literary arts programme in the prison, facilitated by Brenda Lee Browne on a volunteer basis published its first collection of works from inside the prison.

Number of books published in 2011(not including the prison publication which isn’t listed in the data base of Antiguan and Barbudan Writings, and specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 4

2012-

Most of the awardees of Wadalipen with Joanne Hillhouse 2012

Wadadli Pen Challenge 2012 photo call.

Showcases
Antigua and Barbuda penned and independently produced documentary film Melissa Gomez’s Silent Music shows at the Toronto Film Festival.

The Friends of Antigua Public Library, based in New York, hosted the U.S. launch of my first U.S. publication Oh Gad! 

Programmes
Art at the Ridge which is not around anymore had regular art shows and took over for a time the annual Christmas card competition; they also became a Wadadli Pen patron and partner in these years.

Just Write Writers’ Retreat launched at Mount Tabor by Brenda Lee Browne.

Publications
Linisa George is spotlighted at the Poetry Parnassus during the Olympics and published in the companion collection The World Record – this collection includes works by writers from every Olympic country; through her own efforts Linisa became Antigua-Barbuda’s selection.

I had works included in Womenspeak Caribbean Arts and Letters out of the Bahamas – other Antiguan and Barbudan writers like Brenda Lee Browne and Barbara Arrindell would publish with them in subsequent years. That year, my story Genevieve, later published in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings (2014), was short listed for the Small Axe Fiction Prize. I was also published that year in the University of the Virgin Islands’ Caribbean Writer, from which I’ve also received two literary prizes over the years; not my first or last time publishing with them but they have quite high literary standards and reputation, and it’s always nice to make the cut.

Number of books published (not including  works in anthologies, and specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 7

2013-

Caribbean Writers Congress with Marin Bethel and Leone Ross 2013

At the Caribbean Congress of Writers in Guadeloupe with Bahamian writer Marion Bethel and UK based Jamaican writer Leone Ross.

Showcase
Antiguan Authors Day – a promotion at the Best of Books.

On the heels of the publication of my novel Oh Gad!, I had the opportunity to participate in a number of off island literary showcases such as the Caribbean Congress of Writers in Guadeloupe.

The Public Library holds an annual Summer Read programme; writers – myself and others – have been asked to volunteer to do presentations and we have.

Dr. James Knight wrote and independently produced a documentary on the life and music of King Short Shirt. It premiered at Deluxe Cinema and was also subsequently screened in Jamaica.

Programmes
An open letter from me re Wadadli Pen.

My first Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project launched – as it prepared to launch I contemplated ways to make it interesting. After our week of workshop activity, I was happy to receive this positive review from a parent.

Publications
Antigua-Barbuda collection edited by Althea Prince launched in Canada.

Joy Lawrence Explored the History of Parham in the second book in her village folk history series.

An online magazine inspired by the poem Black Girl in the Ring was launched by the poem’s writer and the site’s publisher Linisa George.

Number of books published (not including journals, online or otherwise, and specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 6

2014-

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Collecting my Burt Award prize at the Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad.

Showcases
The launch of my book Musical Youth included readings by other writers – specifically past Wadadli Pen finalists and was followed by a workshop organized and facilitated by me and sponsored by the same organization, CODE, that sponsored the Burt Award for which Musical Youth placed second overall, earning itself a publication deal. This was a busy year for me in several ways with, among other things, the release of the mass market edition of Oh Gad! and recommendation on NPR in the US; also the release of Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings.

Programmes
Wadadli Pen celebrated record number of entries on its 10th anniversary and more importantly the participant response was #inspired

Publications
I was asked to volunteer as guest editor of regional online publication Tongues of the Ocean to produce an Antigua and Barbuda issue and drew on my network of writers and artists to do just that. The final publication included works by Althea Romeo-Mark, Brenda Lee Browne, Gayle Gonsalves, Kimolisa Mings, X-Saphair King, Heather Doram, Glenroy Aaron, Barbara Arrindell, Tammi Browne-Bannister, Tameka Jarvis-George, Marcus Christopher, Dorbrene O’Marde, Hazra Medica, Linisa George, past Wadadli Pen finalists Devra Thomas, Shakeema Edwards, Emile Hill, Rosalie Richards, Vega Armstrong, Zion Ebony Williams, and others.

My short story Amelia at Devil’s Bridge included in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean which had launched in Trinidad (at Bocas), Scotland (at Aye Write!), and New York (at PEN Awards Literary Safari), each of which I had the opportunity to participate in.  This particular story was shortlisted for the Small Axe Fiction Prize and subsequently excerpted in one of Harper Collins’ CSEC revision texts.

Number of Books published (specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 25

2015-

jamaicajoanne 2015 at V I Lit Fest

(with Jamaica Kincaid at the VI Lit Fest)

Showcases
Lady of Parham – a published play inspired by the story of the ghost of Parham in Antigua – was shortlisted for the Guyana literary prize.

I was invited to the Virgin Islands Literary Festival – the featured writer was another Antiguan, Jamaica Kincaid.

Programmes
Stories Handed Down –  a research and writing competition started by the Friends of Antigua Public Library some years earlier was won in 2015 by a Wadadli Pen regular. The FOAPL has also provided literary showcases through its Author in Residence series and book club, cultural remembrance through its Collecting Memories online data base, and programmes like its summer read project with the Public Library over the years.

The Cushion Club and Wadadli Pen teamed up to offer a summer reading challenge.

Publications
Dorbrene O’Marde becomes the first Antiguan and Barbudan long listed for the Bocas prize.

Joy Lawrence continues researching village histories .

The Art of Mali Olatunji which I reviewed in the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books 2016 edition.

Number of Books published (specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 33

2016-

A River Of Stories Flyer 2016-1

Antiguans-Barbudans Joy Lawrence and Joanne C. Hillhouse were included in the River of Stories series with selections by writers from around the world.

Showcases
Joy Lawrence received a National Award, a rare occurrence for a literary artiste and one that required celebrating on the blog.

Programmes
Independence Literary Arts Forum (this was a government project).

Writing workshop during the Best of Books summer camp.

Publications
Spilling Ink – an arts collective – launched a second book.

My picture book With Grace, a Caribbean fairytale launched.

The Antigua and Barbuda Review of books – edited by Paget Henry, and funded largely by Brown University where he teaches (which begs the question what will become of this project when he is no longer able to helm it?); he also organizes the annual Antigua Conference. The Review continues annually critiquing literary works by Antiguans and Barbudans such as Dorbrene O’Marde’s Nobody Go Run Me and Short Shirt/Shelly Tobitt’s classic Ghetto Vibes album. Both projects began roughly around 2004/5 (ish).

Number of Books published (specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 16

2017-

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Leaving this one large so that you can see the covers of all those Antigua-Barbuda book titles in the background; and also the bright faces of our 2017 intern, right, and a finalist, left.

Showcases
They’re not so officially but I call anyone who travels to represent our country in the literary arts a literary ambassador. In 2017, that was Barbara Arrindell at the Alliouagana Festival in Montserrat, where she presented alongside the likes of Paul Keens Douglas.

In fact, as much as possible, I try to cover any cultural ambassador in the arts, including our soca artistes.

If you’re lucky, your books travel without you and I’m fortunate that my books have traveled and one of their stops (this one fairly close to home) in 2017 was the USVI where With Grace was named to the Governor’s Summer Read Challenge.

Programmes
Wadadli Pen found another way to give another young person an opportunity when it took on its first intern. Here she writes about her experience;  and the project announced a permanent team to push the project forward – included on this team are two writers/literary stakeholders and two former Wadadli Pen winners.

This is really an every year thing – every year for a number of years, I submit or am asked to submit recommendations for the Department of Youth Affairs’ National Youth Awards in Literary Arts; and the prize has gone to the likes of Linisa George and Women of Antigua (2012),  Linisa George and Glen Toussaint (2013),Wadadli Pen 2013 and 2014 winner Asha Graham in 2015 with another Wadadli Pen alum Angelica O’Donoghue copping the media award , Zahra Airall (2016),   Spilling Ink, an Antiguan and Barbudan arts collective (2017) , and others.

Just Write organized a workshop focused on historical literature and collaborated with visiting poet with Antiguan and Barbudan roots Tanya Evanson to offer a master class.

August Rush (the writing and producing duo of Linisa George and Zahra Airall) has given writers a regular showcase for several years consistently through its Expressions Open Mic series but as we all do, they hit a point where self-care and other projects forced them to shelve it in 2017. Another August Rush initiative that provided what was needed for a time is the Young Poets Society of Antigua and Barbuda.

Publications
Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure launched with a chat between the US based publisher, Trinidad based writer, and Antigua based writer (me).

Floree Williams Whyte launched independent press Moondancer Books and her first book under the imprint.

Claytine Nisbett launched her first book and re-launched her online magazine.

Tammi Browne-Bannister included in international collection. Submitting
internationally is something I continually advocate on the blog, using my own experiences as example.

We even launched an online book of the year prize that admittedly was too little, too late in terms of planning and promotion and that’s never a good look.

Number of Books published (specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 18

2018-March 2018 workshop

Showcases
Antiguan and Barbudan writer included in a top ten list of Caribbean female writers you should be reading on the Literary Hub.

In the tradition of the Open Mics more than a decade ago now at Traffic Nightclubs and possibly inspired by Expressions, we’ve had, for the past few years, Soothe: soothe

This like other literary/arts activities (including an upcoming workshop on self-publishing by Kimolisa Mings) is listed in the blog’s Arts Roundup series.

It’s worth noting that this blog has not limited itself to the literary arts, nor has the Wadadli Pen Challenge which has included art challenges (illustrations, cover design) over the years. Most recently, I reported on this showing by Antiguan and Barbudan art teachers, and discussion which touched on arts issues like the lack of a national gallery
And we continue to report on film such as the ongoing success of Vanishing Sail on the film festival circuit.

Programmes
Here at the blog, I also don’t limit what I share to what’s happening domestically – for example, I’m always encouraging our writers to submit to programmes like the Commonwealth Short Story competition.

I continue to offer workshops via the Jhohadli Writing Project which (as I’ve announced on my author blog) is also available to offer workshops in schools and other institutions.

And…
Really, can there be any talk of literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda without mention of international literary citizen Jamaica Kincaid who added to her considerable accolades with receipt of the Dan David prize from Tel Aviv University – among the literary and cultural news reported on the blog in 2017.

This blog has also covered many issues in arts and culture – in fact, it is to some of these posts that I point people when they approach us – writers and artists – for conversations that rarely, it seems, yield real, juicy, tasty, tangible fruit. Among the things that I have written about in this space…?

You can see from this listing – which is only part of the story and only over the 7+ years of this blog’s existence – that the Antiguan and Barbudan literary community has been doing and doing and doing (largely) without any wall, financial or otherwise to lean on.
The blog is, of course, also the home of my baby (as much my baby as any of my books have been), the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. So we report on each year of the prize back to the beginning (2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). Among the services this blog continues to provide are Opportunities and Opportunities Too (the former listing projects, funding, markets etc. and the latter upcoming deadlines); writing and publishing tips (with Resources, Publishing 101 with Eugenia O’Neal, Chatting Writing and Publishing in the Caribbean with Diana McCaulay, Womanspeak: the Lynn Sweeting Interview, Kevin Jared Hosein Breaks it Down, developing your writing skills –tips from Wadadli Pen, On Intellectual Property Rights, Negotiating an ebook contract as just a sample, not to mention the blog’s reading rooms and writing spaces); the A & B Literary Archives – Songwriters, Playwrights and Screenwriters, Antigua and Barbuda Children’s Fiction, Antiguan and Barbudan Poets, Antiguan and Barbudan Writing, Antiguan and Barbudan Fiction, Antiguan and Barbudan Non-Fiction, Published plays and screenplays, A & B Writings in Journals and Contests, Antiguans and Barbudans Awarded, Antiguan and Barbudan Writers on the Web, Song Lyrics data base, Antigua and Barbuda Media: An Abridged RecordAntigua and Barbuda Media: An Abridged Record, Author spotlights-. Jamaica Kincaid, Floree Whyte, Vivian Michael, Swallow, Veronica Evanson Bernard, Kush David, Marie Elena JohnGayle Gonsalves etc., A & B Artistes Discussing Art; A & B Literary Works reviewed; and more); regional and international news (literary festivals, the passing of Derek Walcott etc.); local Arts News – e.g. A & B Arts Round up, Meeting Ashley Bryan, Veteran Calypso Writer now a Novelist; Obits (Nerissa Percival, Roland Prince, Marcus Christopher, X-Saphair King, and others). Wadadli Pen, the blog, has also afforded me the opportunity to see the progress of young people I’ve come in to contact with over the years – such as when former Cushion Club kids shine, or when Wadadli Pen alums stride (e.g. Angelica O’Donoghue, Rilys Adams, Lia Nicholson, Kemal Nicholson, etc.) and, of course, though we still dream of doing a publication, anyone can read for free the winning stories through the years, or other pieces written since by Wadadli Pen alums.
I write all of this to say that work has and is being done, that our artistes have provided something to build on. Within these touchstones are answers to one of the questions now being raised, what do artistes need/want – I think at the root of it though is a desire to be valued, to be a voice, and to be in an enabling environment (access to information, resources, funding, and more). As we stay tuned to see what will jump off in what the Minister of Culture described as a year focused on the literary arts, we will continue working and collaborating, as we have done.

**re versions – When I speak to versions of things, I do so because it’s important to note that we tend to start and start over things in Antigua and Barbuda as though starting from scratch each time. Part of the problem is there has been too little recording of what has come before and too little continuity so that you often do feel like you’re starting from scratch. I discovered a weathered contributor copy of the 168-page book Young Antiguans Write, a 1979 publication of the Ministry of Education and Culture, at my friend Gisele Isaac’s house some years ago. Young Antiguans Write is a collection of the prize winning works of participants in the school creative writing competition that ran from 1968-1978. Both the publication and the creative writing programme was, to my understanding, largely the efforts of someone (Lucilla Benjamin) who was committed to the task within the Ministry. I’m going to assume that once that person moved on for whatever reason, the baton just lay their on the track, unclaimed. Because in my coming of age, I don’t remember such a programme or any sense of a literary culture in Antigua and Barbuda; what I remember is the Independence essay competition that I won one year earning myself a trip to another Caribbean island. There were tourism industry ones that I participated in as well. That was it though, spotty competitions specifically about Independence/Tourism and that memory is in part what made me insist that Wadadli Pen be about whatever the writer wanted to write about (no limitation re theme, the focus on the art not art in service to a particular theme). But as much as I wasn’t aware of Young Antiguans Write, it played a part in Gisele becoming a writer, and Gisele being a writer, the only other Antiguan-Barbudan novelist I knew at the time and the only one that was accessible to me (Jamaica Kincaid was an inspiration yes but a distant idea), us being friends made it possible for me to say, after reflecting on the lack of nurseries for writers in the Caribbean (shout out, to Guyanese writer Ruel Johnson for bringing that bit of clarity to my own fledgling journey as a writer then), hey let’s do this thing. And between me, Gisele and Young Explorer, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize was born. Starting, but not, though I didn’t know it, starting from nothing. One of the reasons I’ve been talking and angling to find a way to set up this project more formally is because I want it to be continuous; I want the baton to be picked up, and while it’s possible that whoever picks up the baton may not have the passion for it that I did (it is my baby, after all), they should have an awareness of and foundation on which to build – an operational template, a plan, resources, funding, and support – to make its survival not just a matter of will. We’ll see. Meantime, keeping a record of what we do, not just Wadadli Pen, not just my efforts, but our arts and culture (literary arts and beyond) has been important to me so that there is continuity, so that there is an accounting of all this ‘nothing’, so that no one can plausibly question (or believably overlook) the will, passion, talent, and hard work of those of us working in the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. We’ve been here.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Merry Christmas

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It’s here, people (almost), the most wonderful time of the year…or so the song says. Whether your 2017 has so far been good, bad, or, more like, the rollercoaster ride of a bumpy Antiguan road or a deceptively smooth one (you know the one, where a pot hole as deep as the Grand Canyon suddenly drops in out of nowhere), here’s hoping 2018 is better.

A reminder to check out our most popular posts of 2017.
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A reminder to vote for your favourite Antiguan and Barbudan book of 2017.

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A reminder that I have a new creative writing workshop series starting in 2018 and that you don’t have to be in Antigua or Barbuda to participate.
Promo Flyer corrected

And if you’re wondering about the Wadadli Pen 2018 Challenge season, bear with me, it’s been a challenging stretch, decisions are being made; will update as soon as something has been finalized. Meantime, always feel free to flashback to the winning stories of years past and see the work and the writers we’ve helped shepherd  into the public space in 13 years of existence.
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Thanks for taking this journey with us and here’s hoping your Christmas is indeed Merry.

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, Oh Gad!, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Do not re-use content without permission and credit. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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 2004, Wadadli Pen 2005, Wadadli Pen 2006, Wadadli Pen 2010, Wadadli Pen 2011, Wadadli Pen 2012, Wadadli Pen 2013, Wadadli Pen 2014, Wadadli PEN 2015, Wadadli Pen 2016, Wadadli Pen 2017, Wadadli Pen News, Wadadli Pen Year by Year, Workshop

Why I like doing this blog

This was originally published in 2010 (at a site that shall remain ghosted until they pay me what they owe me for unrelated freelance work, and again re-published with some subtle variation at Summer Edward’s blog), shortly after I started blogging.

I’ve been drawn time and again these past weeks to the new Wadadli Pen blog (https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com) I’ve not long started; a tweak here, a twitch there. Time consuming as it can be, as much as it challenges my limited technical knowledge, I feel energized by this as I don’t much else right now. Maybe it’s the pure pleasure I experience reading the creative efforts of our young writers through the years; the way their storytelling prods at relevant social issues and reveals, in some instances, a literary maturity I didn’t necessarily have at their age.

Mired in things, it’s sometimes hard to feel the heft and texture of them; and in the first three years of this competition, 2004 to 2006, I was a bit of a headless chicken trying to make sure everything ran just so.

I read the stories, sure; appreciated them. But as I edit and post, I feel like I’m reading them for the first time. So it was, for instance, that I was seeing, with a certain clarity, the parallels between Gemma George’s Stray Dog Prepares for the Storm and Damani Tabor’s Irate Beggar, one with a dog and the other with a human at their centre but both really speaking to the way society recoils from its responsibility to the less fortunate.

And when at the Best of Books Open Mic after my reading of Kemal Nicholson’s Ma Belle, one listener commented on his effective use of irony, I felt collectively proud of these youngsters. They’ve proven that not only is Antigua a reading public, s/he’s also a writing public. It strengthened my resolve to bring this competition back, to keep it alive, wherever my personal fortunes may lie – notwithstanding my abhorrence of going cap in hand to businesses for patronage knowing the cause may be good but the reception not always pleasant, nor polite.

Interestingly, as I prepped the author notes to accompany the story postings, I realized that none of these, to the best of my knowledge, were beelining towards a literary career; but I felt fairly certain of two things – they’ll continue writing nonetheless in some way/shape/form, and their ability to express themselves in this way will be an asset in the courtroom or wherever they find themselves.

The other thing that I think draws me to this project is the growing number of publications and/or recordings by Antiguan and Barbudan writers, which I have taken it upon myself to catalogue these several years. I’ve begun posting these lists on the site and find that they are never done. No sooner have I ironed out a crease there, than someone will email to point out another crease an omission or such and I have to tend to that as well.

Far from making me feel hassled, it’s made me a little proud that here on this 108 square miles, we’ve produced such a wealth of publications (the vast majority books of non-fiction and poetry, with fiction a distant third and children’s fiction bringing up the rear); defiantly, persistently finding our way through the tiny cracks of a global publishing industry that really has little interest in who we are and what we have to say. Never mind, we seem to say, we’ll find a way.

Hence, the sheer number of publications, and the list, I fear/hope/dread/believe has only just begun to grow. There might be a lot more work ahead.

I’m thrilled to discover, as I have, that people are using the list, that people are being directed to it to discover who’s published what.

This list is particularly an eye opener – going back to that adage about how much we do or do not read – because growing up I really wasn’t exposed to/aware of much of what we had created, literally, and, frankly, the output then was paltry compared to the level of activity in the past decade or so. And for a long time, I don’t think I felt confident enough to believe in this pie in the sky dream of being a writer.

Even now, that that resolve is too often tested. And it felt then that there were no models, outside of the rich calypsos and Anansi storytelling, as I’ve said before, until I discovered Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John. Well, I feel fairly confident that young Antiguans and Barbudans with that secret dream in their heart can go to this list and I find inspiration.

I can’t mention that list without mentioning John Lee of St Lucia, whose similar listing of West Indian literature is also posted on the site. In fact, that’s an aspect of the site I’m excited about, the window I hope to open up not just to the Antiguan and Barbudan literary scene but to the wider Caribbean and the world really, as far as literary resources are concerned.

Wadadli Pen returned in 2010 and will be back in 2011, as my tanty would say, God spare life. With this time consuming blogging adventure, however, it’s kind of already here. I encourage readers to stop by and make use of it.

Joanne C. Hillhouse (http://www.jhohadli.com) is the author of The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight; and the founder/co-ordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize.

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, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Seriously, a lot of time, energy, love and frustration goes in to researching and creating content for this site; please don’t just take it up just so without even a please, thank you or an ah-fu-she-subben (credit). If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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WADADLI PEN WINNERS THROUGH THE YEARS – STORY LINKS

To see the winners through the years, you can click on the individual year in the drop down menu on the main page, and, of course, you can also use our search feature. But I thought it might be convenient (and appropriate) to have an easy and convenient listing of all the winners from a single space in the section on Antigua and Barbuda Writings as well. So, here goes.

2004

Verdanci Benta (Shirley’s New Roommate)

Gemma George (Stray Dog Prepares for the Storm)

Siena K. Margrie Hunt (A Nuclear Family Explosion)

Liscia Lawrence (The Day I saw Evil)

Lia Nicholson (Tekin’ Ahn Dey!)

Damani Tabor (The Irate Beggar)

2005

Rilys Adams (Fictional Reality)

Chatrisse Beazer (A Scary Night)

Verdanci Benta (Boysie’s Fixed Account)

Kennella Charles (Awaken to the Night)

Debesha S. A. Grant (Blue Mountain Hike)

Liscia Lawrence (Misinterpreted)

Sarah Ann Li (Lucky Dollar)

Sandrena Martin (The Torturer)

2006

Rilys Adams (Unheard)

Chatrisse Beazer (The Rescue)

Verdanci Benta (The Village Obeah Woman)

Ayoka [Angelica] O’Donoghue (Road Trip to Paradise)

Rosalie Amelia Richards (The Creation)

Kemal Osmel Nicholson (Ma Belle)

Blair A. Rose (The Day I became a Man)

2010

One of the top art entries from 2010.

One of the top art entries from 2010.

Terrikia Benjamin (Happy to be Black)

Shakeema Edwards (Skin Deep)

Hilesha S. Humphreys (Black and Beautiful)

2011

Art from the 2011 Challenge in which the writers had to write children's stories and the artists had to create illustrations for the top stories. This is one of two by that year's adult art winner Hudle Jennings.

Art from the 2011 Challenge in which the writers had to write children’s stories and the artists had to create illustrations for the top stories. This is one of two by that year’s adult art winner Hudle Jennings, an illustration for the story Sands and Butterflies.

Chatrisse Beazer (The Legend of Banana Boy)

SA Dixon (Cocos Nucifera)

Shakeema Edwards (The Curse of the Kumina)

Orique Gordon (The Lost Coin)

Zuri Holder (The Scary Night)

Ardis Lavelle (Pre School Days)

Keillia Mentor (Mongoose in a Hole)

Devra Thomas (Sands and Butterflies)

Latisha Walker-Jacobs (Market Day)

2012

Vega Armstrong (The Legend of the Sea Lords)

Naleka Beckford (Origin)

Akeile Benjamin (The Adventures of Mr. Coconut)

Ariel Dunnah (Angela’s Baby and Every Rose has its Thorn)

Darryl George (Snowcone Melancholia)

Aarati Jagdeo (The Yard and Thirty-Six Hundred)

Jordee Josiah (Let’s Dance)

Karenna Nicholson (The Caribbean Flavour)

Rosalie A. Richards (Smitten)

Tiffany Smith (The Colour Red and The Untitled)

2013

The challenge in 2013 was to create anansi characters - it was in fact an audition for  a possible assignment for a forthcoming book. Garvin Benjamin had the top art entries. This is his version of Ms. Anansi.

The challenge in 2013 was to create anansi characters – it was in fact an audition for a possible assignment for a forthcoming book. Garvin Benjamin had the top art entries. This is his version of Ms. Anansi.

Chammaiah Ambrose (How Tigers got Stripes)

Vega Armstrong (Hide and Seek)

Daryl George (Julie Drops and Ceramic Blues)

Asha Graham (Revelations Tonight and Remembrance)

Michaela Harris (Secret of de Mango Tree)

Zuri Holder (The Big Event)

Jamila Salankey (Her Blackest Sin)

2014

Cover design by Alvin Livingstone. Winner of the 2014 cover design Wadadli Pen art Challenge.

Cover design by Alvin Livingstone. Winner of the 2014 cover design Wadadli Pen art Challenge.

Carmen Ambrose (Welcome Back, Champ)

Chammaiah Ambrose (The Great Cycle)

Vega Armstrong (Forbidden)

Terry Benjamin Jr. (The Farm Thief)

Letisha Carrington Faracho (Last Cry)

Damian De Silva (Escape to Paradise)

Ariel Dunnah (La Diablesse and A Grain of Salt)

Zahra Emanuel (The Day I saved a Friend)

Daryl George (A Guilty Fragrance)

Christopher Gittens (The Knock on My Door)

Asha Graham (Lajabless)

Daniel Ince (One Scary Night)

Margaret Irish (The Skipping Rope)

Liscia Lawrence (Misguided Illusion)

Arize Lee (The Cold Truth)

Zoe Lewis (The Day I Almost Died)

Mjolnir Messiah (Searching for a Treasure)

Kaylee Meyer (This is Paradise)

Kelvin Juwon Miller (Delinquent Development)

Alexandra Nathaniel Spence (Why did I get punished?)

Angelica O’Donoghue (Loving the Skin I’m In)

Kohylah Piper (Hallowed Ground)

Paula Russell-Peters (The Big Fight and Two can play at That Game)

Zion Ebony Williams (The Night I went to Cricket)

2015

Ondrej Austin-McDonald (untitled)

Judah Christian (Judah and His Friends save the Day)

Margaret Irish (Justice)

Olsfred James (Get Set, Go… )

Melicia McCalmon (The First Time I went to St. John’s)

Avriel Walters (Teenagers)

2016

Chammaiah Ambrose (Guilty)

Denejah Browne (Lost and Found!)

Alyssa Charles (Faded Glory)

Judah Christian (My Worst Day Ever)

Rolanda Cuffy (The Caribbean)

Zahra Emanuel (My So-called Father)

Daryl George (Tropical Moonlight Sonata)

Canice James (Heroic Night)

Kya Matthew (Antigua and Barbuda – My Paradise)

Jemelia Pratt (Les Trajó Aquí)

Morgan Leah Simon (Antigua Experience)

Laila Tahir (Caribbean Experiences)

Avriel Walters (My Cousin)

Diamond Wayne (Granny for Sale)

Zion Ebony Williams (A Dinner to Remember)

2017

Emma Belizaire (Cricket is My Life)

Ashley Francis (Our Caribbean)

Fayola Jardine (Shakiyah and the Mango Hater)

Andrecia Lewis (Strange)

Lucia Murray (Mr. Duppy)

Ava C. Ralph (Non Fiction?)

Kaeiron Saunders (Not Another Island Story; As Told by Auntie Gah)

Shadiael Simmons (Brave 11-Year-old Saved Two Months Baby)

Zion Ebony Williams (Those who don’t hear, will feel)

Devon Wuilliez (The Great Big Dumz)

Francis Yankey (And She Sang Fire)

 

 

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Readers’ Choice Challenge

As you know, the 2014 season of Wadadli Pen is coming up, making it 10 years since the annual Challenge was first launched. Now I have a challenge for you. Of all the winning entries over the past 10 years, which is your favourite and why? State your favourite and the reason in the comments section of this post. The most favourited story will be the 10th anniversary Readers’ Choice. It’ll mean more recognition for the author and an opportunity for you to revisit the engaging stories and promising talent that this Challenge has and continues to spotlight. Here’s the link to the stories. So, which one’s your favourite?

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Who won in 2004?

Prize donors, Culture and Education officials with some of the 2004 winners (standing from left S. Hunte, L. Lawrence, G. George, L. Nicholson's mom, D. Tabor)

*In addition to prizes mentioned, all winners received a certificate from the YE WYPP team.

Honourable Mention – General:

Liscia Lawrence, 16, Clare Hall Secondary School, for her story The Day I Saw Evil.

Prize Package:

  • CD (Alicia Keys) – King Progress

Sienna K. Margrie Hunt, 13, CKHS, for her story Nuclear Family Explosion.

Prize Package:

  • $75 gift certificate – Exotic Antigua

Damani Tabor, 18, Hatton, for his story Irate Beggar.

Prize Package:

  • CD (Mario Winans) and poetry book – King Progress

Best Under-12 Writer:

Verdanci Benta, 11, Golden Grove Primary, for her story Shirley’s New Roommate.

Prize Package:

  •  Three book gift set – S E James (author of Tragedy on Emerald Island, A Narrow Escape, Kidnapped at the Beach)
  • $50 voucher – Bailey’s Jewellery
  • Movie ticket – Deluxe
  • Gift certificate – Cushion Club

TOP THREE WRITERS

Third Place:

Verdanci Benta, 11, Golden Grove Primary, for her story Shirley’s New Roommate.

Prize Package:

  • EC $150 – Anicol
  • Three months free Internet – Cable & Wireless
  • Under the Calabash Tree – Leon ‘Chaku’ Symester (author)
  • Pendant – Antigua Jewellers
  • Two movie tickets – Deluxe
  • EC $100 – D. Gisele Isaac

Second Place:

Lia Nicholson, 15, Putney School, VT, USA – formerly of Sunnyside Tutorial, for her story Tekin’ ahn Dey.

Prize Package:

  •  Two Caribbean Star tickets
  • Three months free Internet – Cable and Wireless
  • $300 gift certificate – Benetton
  • Three book gift package – The Map Shop
  • Pen – Howell Jewellers
  •  Under the Calabash Tree (book) – King Progress
  •  Two movie tickets – Deluxe

Winner:

Gemma George, 18, Antigua State College student, for her story Stray Dog Prepares for the Storm.

Prize Package:

Gemma with Comnett owner Gerard Shoul collecting her prize.

  • Computer, printer, and other accessories – Comnett
  •  Two tickets to Costa Rica – BWIA
  • Engraved pen – Antigua Jewellers
  •  Three months free internet – Cable and Wireless
  • 1 Movie ticket – Deluxe
  •  Under the Calabash Tree – Leon ‘Chaku’ Symester (author)
  • $100 gift certificate – The Best of Books
  • Dancing Nude in the Moonlight – Joanne C. Hillhouse (author)

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Stray Dog Prepares for the Storm by Gemma George

Wadadli Pen inaugural winner Gemma George w/ coordinator @ the awards ceremony

[2004 Young Explorer Wadadli Youth Pen Prize winner]

Mangy Dog woke up on a bright September morning in 1995 only to hear the chatter of doom and gloom among the people on the street of St. John’s. What he heard caused him great distress as he looked for a place to shelter.

“Oh lad, dis a de worse one yet. Dis one dem call hurricane Luis. A wey me go shelta now?! A inna times like these me wish Antigua min ha dog pound. At least me woulda only haffoo worry bout dem putting me to sleep.

“But come to think of it, me na tink me woulda want wan next human foo hole me, for a because a dem me inna dis situation. Just because me na min tun out foo be de pedigree dem min expec, dem kick me outta de yard an let me loose pan de street. Nebba me an humans again!”

Mangy Dog then remembered that he actually lived with humans – those on the streets of St. John’s.

“Na get me wrong, you know. Me have human friends. But dem dey worse off dan me. Even me, one ‘stray,’ does feel shame foo hear dem a beg dollar when de good book say by de sweat a you brow you should eat bread. No, me nr pretend foo be no God-fearing dog, but me ha me pride. In any case, me haffoo live, so pride go haffoo suffer cause ah live by tiefing and begging.”

Just then Mangy Dog saw a Guyanese restaurant.

“Dis look comfortable and warm. Come me go in.”

“Get you mangy, mongrel self outta me place!”

Whap!

“I, yi, yi, yi! Imagine he come inna foo me country and a come stone me out! An wha mek e worse, he open one a dem sore when de sodden min dey a heal up.”

Mangy dog then headed down to the market. He thought he could find more friendly faces there.

“Oh gawd Margaret, look at that dog! Get it away from me! I don’t want it near my baby. I am sure it has fleas.”

“arrhrhrr! Foo me fleas woulda nebba want foo touch da pickney dey. He a wha Jackie Chan woulda call Third World ugly. Me na lub black people tall! You know de difference between dem an white people?  White people na scorn me. At least dem pet me sometimes.”

As Mangy dog was thinking about a little human kindness, a man passed by with a Roti and went to sit on a bench nearby. Mangy Dog’s mouth started to water so he thought of a plan. He would put on a pitiful face and stretch out his paw. It worked. The man took one look at Mangy Dog and threw the Roti on the ground.

“Yap, yap, yap, mhmmm.”

Mangy Dog ate his heartiest meal of the day. This time he was glad he was in bad shape. The man looked at his watch and said out loud,

“Wait, a 3 o’clock already? A better go home and board up me house.”

Mangy Dog was relieved and distressed at the same time. There was no school that day, therefore, no torment from Primary school children when they got out at 3 o’clock. Then again, he had to secure a place to pass the storm.

At about 5:30 that evening, Mangy Dog spotted an abandoned building. He entered it and saw a man curled up in a corner clutching a bottle of Cavalier Rum. He drew closer and closer until he was actually sniffing him. He sensed there was no danger. The dog lay quietly down beside the man who then put his arms around his sore-covered body as strong winds began to blow.

THE END

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION & TERMS OF USE
Copyright of the winning Wadadli Pen stories and/or art work featured on this site belongs to the creators of the individual works and are used here purely for promotional and educational purposes. Other blog content, except otherwise noted, is created and/or maintained by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Site content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders.

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