Category Archives: Wadadli Pen 2011

All the news you’ll need about the Best of Books Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge 2011

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 ( 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 ( 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, 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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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.


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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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Tracking Their Continued Success…

UPDATED TO ADD Kudos to 2006 winner, Angelica O’Donoghue, who co-founded online news source with the goal of delivering real time updates to local and regional events, sort of like a news feed, Antigua Chronicle.

Congrats to past Terikiah Benjamin , also 2010 winner in the Friends of Antigua Public Library short story competition, who finishes out 2011 with a win in the Homes, Families and Gardens Festival poetry and research competition.

Congrats to 2011 Wadadli Pen art finalist Freya Platts-Costeloe for scoring the win in her age category (9 – 10) of the Art at the Ridge 2011 Christmas card competition. Readers may remember that Freya also benefited as part of her Wadadli Pen prize package from her art camp experience with Edison Liburd. We salute her continued development.

While we’re here, kudos to Shakeema Edwards and Devra Thomas, Wadadli Pen winners who also did well in this year’s Independence Literary Arts competition, placing in the top three of the story writing section of  that competition.

Loving it!

p.s. There are a number such accomplishments predating the start of this blog but with only 10 fingers and limited time, I’ll add those (maybe) and any I find going forward when able.

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2011 TOP 10

Well it’s the time for year-end lists, so who are we to resist? Here’s our top 10 of 2011.

Caribbean writers from left: Jamaica's Carolyn Cooper, Trinidad's Danielle Boodoo-Fortune, Bermuda's Angela Barry, Barbados' Dana Gilkes, Barbados' Esther Phillips, Trinidad's Ramabai Espinet, Caribbean literary giant George Lamming, Antigua's Joanne C. Hillhouse (that's me), Trinidad's Patricia Mohammad, Barbados' Margaret Gill, and Curdella Forbes of Jamaica.

1. Tracking readership over the past year, site stats show that beyond the homepage, the bulk of our readers (2175 views) have been drawn to Robert Lee’s Discovering West Indian Literature in English – a Selected Bibliography. Little surprise considering that most people find us via facebook, google, and the Caribbean Literary Salon, and that many people come to us while scouting for ‘west Indian literature’ and particular Caribbean writers. We’re blessed to have this valuable resource on the site (notwithstanding that it really needs to be updated). Thank you, John.

2. Next in the line-up is the story the Legend of Banana Boy. This as a search engine term remains popular and, frankly, a head scratcher. But we’re glad that readers  (594 views) are discovering this 2011 story, winner in the 13 to 17 age category of Wadadli Pen 2011.

3. Blogger’s Bio. I’ve come to understand that as a consequence of my book, The Boy from Willow Bend, being taught in the Antigua and Barbuda schools, students will periodically be sent to research me (a prospect at once surprising, overwhelming and flattering). I know because many of them have over time called the house, facebooked or emailed me. And, of course, some (391 views) did their legwork, scouring the internet and making their way to my Blogger’s Bio.

4. About Wadadli Pen. If you stumble upon us, makes sense that you’d want to research what you’ve stumbled upon. ‘About Wadadli Pen’ fills that need for information about the programme; our 346 views bear witness.

From an Antigua Public Library online display: from left me and my books, D. Gisele Isaac and Considering Venus, and Joy Lawrence with her books.

5. There is no listing of Antiguan and Barbudan writing (that I’ve come across) as comprehensive as the one we have on this site. But then Antiguan and Barbudan Writings is at least six years and counting in the making; and at 244 views, the fifth most popular area of the site.

6. It thrills me no end that my musings on books I’ve read, Blogger on Books, is (with 240 views) one of the more popular areas of the site. I only wish those who viewed would respond and share some of their favourites as well.

Scene from Antiguan film Working Girl

7. Of all the sub-bibliographies, Playwrights and Screenwriters , one of the ones most in need of development keeps attracting strong readership (234 views); reflective, perhaps, of a high level of interest in the country’s burgeoning film industry.

Me on a panel with Eric Jerome Dickey at the ABILF

8. Spotlight – Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival. This may have been postponed in 2011, but is still an activity with some legs, obviously; 219 views don’t lie.

Singer/songwriter Swallow performing.

9. Antiguan and Barbudan songwriters. If I’m disappointed with the lack of development of any area on this site, this is it. But readers (180 views) keep coming back…would be cool if those with information on A & B songwriters would ahare though.

10. While Blogger on Books deals with Books I’ve read and liked, the Reading Room and Gallery  (and now the Reading Room and Gallery II) links to select poetry, fiction, non fiction, and more. I like discovering new things and sharing them with readers. I’m happy, therefore, that the Gallery (with 157 views) rounds out our 2011 top ten.

Here’s hoping you’ll keep coming back and supporting the efforts of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, which continues to aspire to  nurture and promote the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda.

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012.

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New Children’s Book

Get My Antigua A Colouring & Activity Book by Barbara Arrindell, Illustrated by Edison Liburd – Published December 2011, now available at Best of Books. Price: EC$15.00. Barbara has been very supportive of my career and that of other local writers as manager of the Best of Books and a literary activist, and Edison, of course, was a 2011 Wadadli Pen prize donor. Support them back.  HERE’S HOW TO ORDER.

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Bee pics 2011

Thanks to Margo of Frank B. Armstrong for these mementos of Wadadli Pen’s participation in the Haliborange-Rotaract Spelling Bee, though even she has acknowledged that they’re not the best. So, consider them the teaser and hopefully we’ll have better pics of the full event in  time. But suffice it to say the Bee finalists did amazingly well, as you’ll find in this article. Congrats to the winner, Keondre Herbert of St. John’s Catholic Primary.

And 2010 Bee finalist and 2011 Wadadli Pen finalist, Zuri Holder, a student of Sunnyside Tutorial and long time Cushion Club member, was selected to read his story The Scary Night at the event, following my brief introduction. Here’s a grainy record of both our participation in the programme:

introducing Zuri


Zuri delivering, with a capital D




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