Category Archives: Wadadli Pen 2014

Wadadli Pen (Art and and Update)

A short update re the 2018 Wadadli Pen Challenge. We’re still working but hope to have the awards ceremony in April 2018. Specific date and other details to come. This year is Winner Take All and thanks to the patrons named below said winner (pulled from a field of almost 70 entries) will be amply rewarded.

Art. Culture. Antigua – Barbara Arrindell – Barbara Arrindell & Associates Best of Books Carol Mitchell – Cedric Holder on behalf of the Cushion Club Frank B. Armstrong – Jane Seagull – Joanne C. Hillhouse – Juneth Webson – Monique S. Simon – Pam Arthurton

As usual not all patrons wish to be named and one or two aren’t confirmed, but to all we say thank you.

And now as my thanks to you for stopping by and for your patience (all who submitted), I’m going to share my favourite of the winning Wadadli Pen art submissions over the years. So that you have something beautiful to look at while you wait. And to remind you that Wadadli Pen hasn’t been exclusively about the literary arts. In 2010, we had our first Art Challenge themed Black and Beautiful. In 2011, we invited artists to register to create illustrations for shortlisted stories. In 2013, we had an Anansi Challenge broken down in to junior and senior categories. In 2014, we had a cover art challenge. That was the last one.  Art notes after the images. What do you think, should we bring back the art Challenge?

10.jpgLast Cry (Final) Alvin Livingstone

7

winner

second runner up

Miss

Delinquent Development

 

twins artwork final

The Knock On My Door.jpg

9.jpg

Art notes (disclaimer – these contests are gone and done, and the prizes spent; and I had no hand in the selection of the winner. Point being, my musings are my own):

First image – 2010 – one of my absolute favourites – and unfortunately I lost the record of which image from this year belongs to which of the winning artists – so the artist is either Ashley Clendenen, Akeem Barry, or Shem Alexander.

Second image – 2014 cover image for Last Cry if it were a book – artist: Alvin Livingstone – every time I look at this I see something new. Another of my absolute favourites.

Third image – 2010 – another one by either Ashley Clendenen, Akeem Barry, or Shem Alexander – and you know what’s striking to me about this not the profile in the foreground but the symbolism and parchment effect in the background.

Fourth image – 2011 – this is so whimsical to me and such a good match with its story, Sands and Butterflies – the artist is Hudle Jennings.

Fifth image – 2011 – this artist was eight year old Freya Platts-Costeloe and I thought she did a really good job capturing her matched story (The Scary Night)- love the level of detail.

Sixth image – 2013 – this character study of Mrs. Anansi was one of three images submitted by Garvin Jeffrey Benjamin – she’s a character isn’t she?

Seventh image – 2014 – Something about this one really appealed to me but don’t ask me to explain what…something to do with the house itself and the way it captures in a single image both the narrative and the mood of the poem Delinquent Development – artist is Shazianne/Hilesha Humphreys.

Eighth image – 2011 – This didn’t win or place (as I remember) but it was one of my favourites – the way both sides of the image mirror each other and capture the individual personality of the twins in the story Market Day, the market lady in the middle, and the mangos in sync with the story itself in my opinion – artist is S A Dixon.

Ninth image – 2014 – Emile Hill is a professional artist in his own right and I thought he handled the challenge (cover art for The Knock on My Door) well – from the creepy font to the looming monster to the eye in the doorway.

Tenth image – 2010 – As noted, the artist is either the artist is either Ashley Clendenen, Akeem Barry, or Shem Alexander, and the medium (with all of them) seems to have been some form of mixed media – but it’s the little stormy face, not the extras, that catch my eye in this one.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Reading Room and Gallery 27

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 27th one which means there are 26 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one. – JCH

NON-FICTION

“I am a black woman writer from Trinidad and Tobago. I was born here to Trinidadian parents. I have lived here all my life. I do not have an escape route to Elsewhere, whether the route is through money, family connections or non-TT citizenship.” – Lisa Allen-Agostini, A Black Female Writer’s Story

VARIOUS

Read the winning Wadadli Pen Challenge entries through the years and across several genres here.

POETRY

“…But
this too is disputed – not the flowers – rather, the origin
of bananas; they may have come here with Columbus on
a ship that in 1502 slipped into Orcabessa the way grief
sometimes slips into a room. …” – Place Name: Oracabessa by Kei Miller

INTERVIEWS

“Which is to say, it wasn’t easy for me.  And it wasn’t easy for the professors, agents, editors, publicists and publishers who each took a risk and supported my work in first getting published. But fucking miracles of miracles—it happened. I deserved it, for sure. But so do a shitload of others for whom the miracle hasn’t happened as yet. We’ve got to try and do right by those writers and those books. And even those of us who have one or three books published—we have to keep proving ourselves and the industry has to keep taking a chance on us.” – Tiphanie Yanique

***

“Why does the land speak your poem?

The land is doing what all good poets do, it is speaking for people – the Taino who were the original inhabitants – who have no voice.” – Lorna Goodison speaking on her poem “Reporting Back to Queen Isabella”; also read the poem.

***

“We don’t see you. The future is not you. The future is not your story. And the future is not black sci fi. So if we don’t exist in the future, where do we exist? Only in the past.” – Canadian film director Sharon Lewis on her film Brown Girl Begins, based on Nalo Hopkins’ Brown Girl in the Ring

FICTION

“Sometimes I listen outside closed doors, a thing I never would have done in the time before. I don’t listen long, because I don’t want to be caught doing it. Once, though, I heard Rita say to Cora that she wouldn’t debase herself like that.” – excerpt from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

***

(Audio reading by Ali Smith of Grace Paley’s A Conversation with My Father) “Story here is a matter of life and death; the father is old, ill and dying; they both know it, and so does the reader. But this breathtaking, breathgiving short story, which never compromises on this truth or the admittance of inevitable tragedy, is profoundly, comically generous in its open-endedness, and leaves you both shaken and renewed by the heart, the fight and the life in it.” – link for full listen

***

“I sharpened the knife on the bottom of a saucer and quartered the potatoes, and then fried them with the garlic and a fistful of coriander. My mother returned from the garden holding a cluster of beets, her hands black and her feet black, and she asked why we never had any napkins and she must always wipe her hands on the pages of English grammar books.” – from Waiting for the Electricity by Christina Nichol

***

“Swami did not listen to the naysayers. He continued to sit and fast on his pulpit while the highway took shape around him and stretched further and further into the west. The road shone just like when Charlton Heston parted the sea to rescue the Jewish people and lead them to the Promised Land. Swami continued to chant while Friendship Village slowly disappeared. One by one, families succumbed to the generous compensation offered by the government for their feeble acres. Some agreed to relocate to more affluent areas in the west, to houses blessed with running water and electricity. Others even moved overseas to start a new life. Many bought second hand Japanese cars. The children who sat in the backseat often waved at Swami as they passed him on their way to the Promised Land of cineplexes, shopping malls, American chain restaurants and coffee shops.” – “How the Professor Made History” by Suzanne Bhagan

***

“That was the day I learned you should never try to pull your fingers out of an eel’s mouth, not a live one or a dead one. Not if you want to have any skin left to carry him home with, and especially not if it’s a twenty-pound silver-belly.” – Eel by Stefanie Seddon

***

“Still, he shut up and drank the tea, the sweet-milk making it go down more easily. Sweet milk was his favourite thing next to an ice-cold soursop suckabubby. As with the suckabubby, he would clamp his mouth to the opening and coax out the thick liquid when Tanty wasn’t looking. Tanty preferred to buy the sweet-milk since it lasted longer un-refrigerated than the evaporated sort, and their fridge did little more than take up space.” – excerpt from The Boy from Willow Bend by Joanne C. Hillhouse

***

“When I tell you, I could only love you in England, I also mean that you could only love me here, as well, but I cannot say this because you would not understand, you would argue, and tell me that love conquers all. We speak in English, and I cannot tell you that I know this is not true.” – I am a Bird by Kathrina Haji Mohd Daud

***

“Jules Poitevin is 54, he has three children, two sons of 17 and 14 and a nine-year-old daughter. He had felt that two children were more than enough, but his wife really wanted a little girl.

To keep a marriage running, you had to make sacrifices.” – Paxadol by Arnon Grunberg

***

“Their memories had become muddled with what they had been told, and what they wanted to believe.” – Paddle to Canada by Heather Monley

***

“But he did not touch her. Instead, as he watched her check the soup, he felt sadness for her, too. He felt awful that she had to make this soup base every Tuesday. He knew that years ago, she had a miscarriage. He knew that the daughter she did give birth to, the one who survived the pregnancy, didn’t call home often enough and that her son could only call collect from jail. Touching her breasts would make her less important than what she was, and she wasn’t important at all.” – DeMisty D. Bellinger’s French Fry Soup

CREATIVES ON CREATING

‘When I arrived at the gallery, I found other unsure-looking writers waiting for the salon to start. Unless we’re behind a desk and a mountain books, we writers often look lost. We spend much of our writing lives isolated, and we forget what it’s like to be surrounded by others who speak the same creative language…. When the salon ended, I walked up to the Great Hall where an opera singer gave “the gift of song” to visitors who accepted her offering. Her voice filled the vast hall as she sang to a little girl who sat on her mother’s lap. Afterward, I poured over images and artifacts from the “One Life: Sylvia Plath” exhibit. I might have missed it all had I decided to stay home that day.

Sometimes we must force ourselves into different environments and open ourselves to art outside of the modes we work in. I’ve written before about visual work that inspires my own craft, but I must continually remind myself to resist spending day after day in front of a computer screen. When we open a channel of inspiration, we enrich and broaden our work.

As spring (finally) arrives for many of us, let’s force ourselves into the sunshine, into worlds outside our usual routines to shift our perspectives, even when we don’t particularly feel like it. There is never a perfect time. To wait for a perfect time is to risk running out of time altogether, and that would be truly missing out.” – Dorothy Bendel, managing editor, Atticus Review (from their e-newsletter)

***

***

“I wasn’t keeping it simple. By keeping it simple I don’t mean abandoning any intricate details of what I envisioned. I simply mean that I was leaving out some fundamental basic things that would strengthen the work I was doing. I had to revise my approach to these fundamental aspects of how I was working and keep it simple. In this case, keeping it simple meant, for me, not to overlook the fundamentals.” – from Levi King’s Emerging Director Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

***

“The poem stalled here. I went back to my journal later and edited a few times, and you can see the lines I crossed out as well as how the final draft came to be. I think it is important for the poet to trust that first voice that a poem appears in, insomuch as that first voice often contains a several different possibilities that cannot all be explored. Now, I may try to split that voice and discover more than one poem, but more often than not, it is a process of whittling away and discarding to find the right direction and emotion that I need to capture.” – British Virgin Islands’ poet Richard Georges

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. 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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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).

Verdancireceivesprize

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.

Antiguan_writers_group_with_Caryl_Phillips_2[1]

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-

MJ_Bocas-Lit-Fest_NALIS_20140425371

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.
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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

To submit or not…why is this even a question?

Fact, Antigua and Barbuda has a lot of literary talent – look at the sheer number of writers these 170 square mile twin-small-islands continue to produce. Fact, there is literary enthusiasm (just peep the eager, so when do we start, comments re the 2016/2017 season of the Expressions Open Mic over on their facebook page). Fact, relative to facts one and two, we under-submit to journals, anthologies, and contests (can’t say we don’t know when we have an Opportunities and Opportunities Too (the one with pending deadlines) page, plus facebook pages like Just Write  to keep us in the loop). What’s that you say? The claim of under-submission is opinion, not fact? Over-statement considering our size? Maybe, I mean I don’t know the submission levels for every small island but…

Case in point, the Commonwealth Short Story competition’s submissions from Antigua and Barbuda after 2012 (when my story Amelia at Devil’s Bridge, also shortlisted for the Small Axe fiction prize and taught in two college/university courses, one in NY and the other in Belize, that I’m aware of, was one of the prize also-rans included in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the CaribbeanPepperpot1-524x800):

2013 – 4 submissions
2014-8 submissions
2015-3 submissions
2016-9 submissions

I don’t have numbers for earlier but if I’m recollecting my conversations with the Commonwealth rep overseeing the comp correctly, it was consistently less. And these uneven numbers though they reflect an improvement seem a trickle to me (even though we’re a combined 100,000 people if you want to stretch the truth a little), relative to facts one and two.

Is it the ‘unattractive’ prizes?£2,500 for regional winners,  £5,000 overall plus a bump of recognition that can lift any emerging writer’s stock.

Is it the tight submission window? I mean sure it’s every year at the same time (November 1st – Independence Day in Antigua and Barbuda) but who can remember?…oh that’s right I remind you months in advance on Opportunities Too.

Is it the prohibitive no entry fee?

Is it that our mangoes will never get a fair shot against them apples? Except the Caribbean is its own region – remember the dark days when we were linked with Canada; and from this region, our writers – like Trinidad’s Sharon Millar have claimed the main prize.

What is it then?

I have an inkling.

It’s scary.

As someone who’s been submitting to this prize for more years than I care to think of, I understand the intimidation factor and the soul crushing power of rejection – it’s hard putting your stuff out there and being told it’s not good enough. But you know why I keep submitting (well, apart from the obvious masochistic streak that keeps me getting up like a fighter that doesn’t know when she’s been beat)? Because I have stories I need to tell and I’m not about to let anybody tell me that those stories aren’t worth telling – my characters won’t have it. Because I know that sometimes these things are less about the quality of the work and more about how something clicks in a particular moment in time – I know (because some of you’ve told me ) that you have read winning stories and gone …but, but, but how? Don’t matter, it was that story’s turn and frankly, they’ve been good choices, the ones I’ve read (and I do try to read them for the enjoyment factor but also to learn and grow). Because if I’m being honest with myself my story probably did need some work and I’d rather work to get better because I know that talent is such a small part of what makes a writer – we’ve got to be committed to the journey and the work. Because I am a writer and this is the rhythm of the writing life, and you need to develop the resilience to survive and game it (and give yourself permission to cry when it’s too much but DON’T GIVE UP). Because I am good enough dammit (repeat that three times!) and some day they’ll have to admit it – yes, the part of me that grew up hearing  Solo affirm in song We bigger dan dem, will not allow size to limit her. A mix of positive affirmation, drive, and badmindedness (harnessed for good) – because, whatever it takes, for me to pick myself up off the ground and try again.

And so as I look at the trickle of submissions relative to the literary activity and enthusiasm for the literary arts here, I want to encourage you to find your whatever it takes, keep working on your craft (inquire re what didn’t work with your story if there’s an avenue to do so), keep growing, and keep submitting. Now you may say, I don’t write for that and that’s fine, if you don’t…but if you do want to take your shot and you’re talking yourself out of it, tell yourself to get out of your way and go through. And no, this isn’t the first time I’ve come here to urge you (and myself) to go for it…don’t think of me as a broken record, think of me as your favourite song on repeat, and get up and dance.

Carry these facts with you for some inspiration.

Diana McCaulay of Jamaica was the regional winner in 2012 for her story the Dolphin Catcher. That story was the root of her manuscript Gone to DriftGone to Drift which was the first runner-up for the 2015 Burt Award for teen/YA Caribbean fiction and has since been published to critical acclaim by Papillote Press. Diana, before and since the Commonwealth short story comp, has published several books, and won or been short listed for several regional and international prizes. She and her publisher are also past donors (2013, 2016) to the prize package for the annual Wadadli Youth Pen Prize challenge and we’ve reviewed her book here on the site as well (teaser: we loved it).

Sharon Millar of Trinidad & Tobago was the regional and overall winner in 2013 for her story The Whale House. She’s since gone on to publish her first book The Whale House and Other Stories to critical acclaim including right here on Wadadli Pen . It was also longlisted for the 2016 Bocas prize.

Maggie Harris, originally of Guyana, many years resident in the UK, was the regional winner in 2014 for her story Sending for Chantal. Maggie already had a long list of credits when she won the prize and she hasn’t missed a step, winning the Guyana (Poetry) Prize in 2015 for 60 years of loving. She’s also a 2014 prize donor to the annual Wadadli Youth Pen Prize challenge.

K. Jared Hosein of Trinidad & Tobago was the regional winner in 2015 for his story the King of Settlement 4. An earlier story of his had also made the cut in the aforementioned 2012 Pepperpot collection and he had self-published Littletown Secrets (check blogger on books for this site’s review). He has since published to acclaim The Repenters with Peepal Tree Press. And, with his permission, I’ve used both an earlier and the final draft of King of Settlement 4 in workshops, as an illustration of the tweaks that happen to make a story better as it goes through the editing process.

Lance Dowrich, a school principal in Trinidad and Tobago, won the regional prize in 2016 for Ethelbert and the Free Cheese. I’m not as familiar with his work, but given the trajectory of the other writers on this list, I have no doubt we all will be in time.

It’s worth noting, in case you’re feeling big-island intimidation that Antiguans and Barbudans have registered in this competition before. And no, I’m not talking about Pepperpot. Mary Quinn’s story Joe was highly commended in the 2002 Commonwealth short story competition as was Hazra Medica’s Banana Stains in the 2008 competition – in the years before the literary prizes out of the Commonwealth was restructured.

Keeping it real, I’d like to see Antigua and Barbuda make the short list and even win, and I believe we can, and so I submit every year. How about you?

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!) – still a writer journeying.

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HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD BECOME SUCCESSFUL

I dug this from the 2014 Wadadli Pen submission files recently and thought it was worth sharing. It’s an article by Karen James, a teacher at St. John’s Catholic Primary and contender for the Lead by Example Teachers Prize. The first round judge assessed it “interesting, well researched, but not relevant for the purposes of the competition.” Keep in mind that the Teachers Prize Challenge was about producing a creative piece they could share with students as a model of what they themselves can do. There was also an issue with the length of the piece. That said, it definitely seemed like the kind of knowledge that should be passed on to other teachers and parents as well, which the judge also said. So, I thank Ms. James for giving permission to post it. In giving such permission, she said, “the research has paid off  and my son is now doing really well in secondary school”; and expressed the hope that it would be helpful to others as well. Each one teach one, we say, as we pass it on.
 

For some time now, I have been struggling to lead my child, a student in primary school, to a place of total success. Misspelt words, writing ‘b’ for ‘d’, copying wrong information and acquiring low grades in other subjects because of wrong spelling have become very depressing and tiring. The quest was on. I was determined to find out how to bring my child to a place of success. Through interviews, research, observations and discussion, I was surprised to find out that school attendance is not the only determinant for a child’s success but there are other surprising contributory factors.

A child’s attitude or perspective towards life can determine his success. According to the view point of the school, this originates in the home. Parental and family attitude about learning is one of the most significant factors that influence a child’s ability to succeed in school and society. When children know that their parents expect them to attend school consistently, earn good grades and complete their homework, they frequently live up to those expectations. However, children without those familial expectations do not tend to see the importance of education and are more likely to skip school, ignore homework and perform poorly. Families can create a culture of high academic expectations by ensuring that their child has adequate time and space to do his homework, and by regularly discussing the topics he is learning in school (www.livestrong.com/article).

Results from a research done by a group of teachers from the Teacher Training Department, Antigua, showed that children whose parents model good behaviour and reinforce positive attitudes in them tend to be successful in life. In addition, they are better individuals to associate with in society.   On the other hand, children whose parents model bad behaviour such as negative language towards life and their children, disrespectful attitudes and poor problem solving skills (e.g. fights and arguments) tend to be unsuccessful in life. Hence, parents should therefore ensure that they model good behaviour and problem solving skills, reinforce the rules given and give suitable punishments or rein forcers to guide students. These will help to mould or shape students’ attitude into a positive one, thereby allowing them to have a positive outlook on life and fulfil positive goals.

Society believes that in terms of socializing, the influence a child’s peers have on him and his reactions to such influence are vital in determining his success. Psychologists have recently studied the powerful role of ‘peer cultures’ in children’s success. These are a shared set of activities or routines, values, concerns, and attitudes that children produce and share in interaction with peers. In other words, they are a set of rules that groups of students live by. These rules can be positive or negative and have proven to have powerful impact on children’s success.

During a five-year enrolment in a secondary school in Antigua, it was observed that there were different groups of students who would socialize all of the time. The groups had the following basic commonalities: eating together, walking home from school together, mostly associating only among themselves and doing a lot of other things together. However, what set the groups apart was their decision to do or be part of negative or positive activities.

In terms of negative activities, these included vandalism, bullying, stealing, inappropriate dress code and use of indecent language. Before the end of the five-year period, the majority of the members in the negative group (“the ring leaders”) were expelled from school due to their lack of progress. The members from that group who were given a second chance joined positive groups and graduated with distinction. Twenty years later, they can be seen in different business places contributing positively to society. The others, who were expelled, are either in jail, addicted to drugs or basically live on the street.

On the other hand, some of the positive activities included studying together, respecting each other and each other’s property, getting involved in educational clubs, and volunteering in community projects. All of the members in this group graduated within the five-year period and went on to pursue higher studies. Twenty years later, all of them can be seen in different work places contributing significantly to society.

This therefore shows that in order for students to succeed, they should ensure that the norms in their groups are positive and support achievement in school and everyday life. Parents should also ensure that their children are interacting within positive peer cultures since they are more powerful in defining issues of style, socializing and motivation.

Similar to attitude, the school and society think that motivation originates in the home. Positive motivation, whether intrinsic or extrinsic, plays a vital role in a child’s success. Motivation is usually defined as an internal state that arouses, directs, and maintains behaviour. A child needs to be motivated daily in every aspect of his life. This will promote his interest, energize him to work harder and enhance behaviour. Studies show that when motivation is present at home, children are more successful in life.

Parents can motivate their children in many different ways and thereby enhance their success. Accomplishing a task, receiving good grades, and portraying good behaviour are some of the actions that children can be rewarded for in order to enhance their motivation.   They could be allowed to take their favourite snack, watch their television show or game, or have ‘free time’. Parents could praise their efforts, give them an allowance or even give them special privileges or responsibilities like choosing what will be for dinner.   Parents have observed that children enjoy being rewarded and when this is done on a regular basis the children have a desire to succeed and will succeed.

Additionally, society believes that time is another important factor to becoming successful from an early age. On a whole, society operates on time and in order for anyone to cope in society and be successful, he should be able to manage time properly. Research has shown that a child whose parents have good time management skills and therefore model it, grow up being able to do the same. They are high achievers in different aspects of their life. However, a child whose parents struggle with maintaining time schedules, or basically have poor time management skills, become under achievers. They tend to fail at different points in their life. The school also joins with society in support of this point.   Teachers suggest that parents should teach their children the importance of time management, make a time schedule of their child’s daily activities and most importantly model time management. This modelling is done by getting them to school on time, being on time for their appointments, completing assignments on time and any other activities which involve the child.

Another important factor influencing a child’s success, according to the school and society, is socioeconomic status (SES). This is a measure of a family’s relative position in a community, determined by a combination of parents’ income, occupation and level of education.   It is important that a child should generally be in good health to aid in his success. Most children are very active in life and need to maintain good health in order to succeed. SES influences success through basic growth needs such as nutrition and medical care. A lack of either can contribute to health problems, which in turn hamper their achievement. Parents with high SES are more likely to take their children to the doctor and dentist regularly than parents with low SES (Eggen, P. and Kauchak, D. (1992). Educational Psychology: Classroom Connections. New York: Merrill).

At a primary school recently, teachers were allowed to meet with parents whose children were underachievers to determine the reason. After individual and group discussions, the finding showed that 25 out of 30 students came to school each day without breakfast and went through the day without any thing wholesome or nutritious to eat.   It also showed that the same number of students had not visited the doctor or dentist in over three years. Further investigation showed that 20 of the 30 parents had low SES. Teachers suggested that students receive a balanced meal daily, eat healthy snacks and receive vitamin supplements.   A plan was put into action to ensure that this was done. The teachers also suggested that the parents take students to visit the doctor and dentist regularly. When students are in good health, they tend to be more successful in life.

In the view of parents, the availability of educational resources at home and school will aid in a child’s success. From a recently held Parents Workshop, which was conducted to inform parents of strategies they could use to enhance their child’s performance and their integration into the school system, parents observed and experienced the importance of using different manipulatives to solve problems in and out of the classroom. The idea was supported by all present and they pledged to use these manipulatives at home and also provide those needed for school.   Experienced resource individuals speaking at the workshop stated that students who used different resources such as additional workbooks, hands-on materials, or visited resource centres such as a museum, are more successful in life that those who do not use them.

Educational programmes or extended learning programmes have a similar impact on a child’s success. The school and society believe that enrolling a child into different educational programmes can enhance his success. Some of these programmes are the library, summer camps, sports clubs, reading clubs, or even extra classes in one or more subjects. Parents should observe their child’s weaknesses, strengths, likes or dislikes and discuss it with them, then select the right programme which will enhance their performance. Educational Programmes can be used to strengthen a child’s weakness, provide hands-on experiences, teach them a lifelong skill, form lifelong relationships with other children in these programmes and, most importantly, they contribute significantly to their success in life. According to Ohio’s Resources for Extended Learning Opportunities, a good extended learning program will help students improve self-confidence, reduce harmful behaviours including alcohol and drug abuse, and improve reading and math test scores. Extended learning opportunities may be school-based or community-based and provide fun, constructive activities after school, on weekends and during summer breaks (http://www.livestrong.com/video/2994-prepare-child-school/). It has further shown that students who grow up to succeed greatly in life have been a part of some sort of educational programme. Parents are therefore urged to reap the benefits of these programmes by enrolling their children.

Every parent’s dream is to have a successful child. Every child’s dream, no matter how low his achievement rate might be, is to do better or be successful in life. The key or secret to children’s success is not only the school they are enrolled in but the incorporation of beneficial factors which have been questioned, researched and tested. The integration of these factors will help to create or mould a child to become successful in life and they will be able to contribute greatly to society.

IF YOU LIKED THIS ARTICLE, you might also be interested in reading ‘One Model of Effective Parenting’.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad! and, forthcoming, Burt Award finalist Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Do our children lack the abilty to imagine?

I was asked to present at the public library camp over the summer, as I did last summer.DSC_0346Couldn’t do it. But it provided the opportunity to introduce the children to the writing of one of our Wadadli Pen Challenge winners (or so I hoped).

Margaret Irish - winner of the Lead by Example Teachers Prize collects her gifts courtesy Caribbean Reads Publishing and plaque sponsored by Joy Lawrence.

Margaret Irish – winner of the Lead by Example Teachers Prize collects her gifts courtesy Caribbean Reads Publishing and plaque sponsored by Joy Lawrence.

Margaret Irish is the winner of the Lead by Example Teachers Prize 2014, and, from the beginning, the idea behind that was encouraging teachers to write, and getting them to get creative in a way that could inspire their students to do the same, inspire them to share their own stories. The teachers were Challenged to submit entries that they could share with their students. Margaret’s The Skipping Rope is a good example of this and that’s why I thought she’d be a good match for the library programme. She readily agreed to do it (thanks to her for doing that) but as she informed me in a subsequent email (shared with permission) she didn’t share her story after all. Instead, she said, “I took them through an exercise in learning to use their imagination” I’m still disappointed she didn’t share her story but adjusting to the circumstances in the field is perfectly reasonable; matter of fact, absolutely essential. Her adjustment was driven by her observation that “students are unable to write creatively, simply because they cannot, they have not developed their imagination.”

As I write this, I remember one of the judges making a similar comment in her review of the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge submissions (a comment that echoed the 2005 judges’ report, in which the judge commented about the writers playing it safe, if I’m remembering correctly). The 2014 judge wrote: “The talent is there but I think they need to be taught a few techniques in story writing. I think they suffer from writing too many structured school stories. It is as though they don’t know they can use their imagination.”

This judge’s comment also has me considering another part of Margaret’s email. When she asked the 80 or so students (campers) how many of them liked writing compositions, only five or six raised their hands; when asked how many hated writing compositions “you should have seen the frustrated looks and defiant hands. It was sad.”

Sad indeed.

Possibly, part the problem is in the phrasing. One of the participants in my summer media training workshop at the Department of Youth Affairs comes to mind. She was distracted and disruptive throughout, but, as our rap sessions revealed, sharp as a tack and quite articulate and opinionated. Like most of them she resisted settling down to the work. I remember when she was required to present her review of the first film we’d watched. She hadn’t written a thing and I know she expected me to skip her but I told her she was still expected to present. And she did; she winged it. Interestingly, she did a pretty good job, there was good recall and clear insights in her ramblings and I couldn’t help thinking she’d have had a pretty good presentation if she’d taken the time to even organize her thoughts into bullet points if she didn’t want to write. I remember my one on one with her to discuss the article that each participant was required to produce at the end of the two weeks. She identified her topic, one of the topics we’d discussed earlier in the week but as I pressed re her action plan, trying to get her to focus and to draw on the tools and techniques I’d been sharing with them, it was clear she had no interest in the assignment or the topic. The assignment I dug in my heels on – I was determined that each person would at least try – but why would you pick a topic you had no interest in? So I threw it out and opened up a conversation with her about her genuine interests; it was a bit like pulling teeth at first but eventually I got her talking about one of her biggest interests and suggested to her how that could be a story. She hadn’t finished by the end of the week, and, frankly, I was doubtful she would, but she’d started. When she showed me her progress, it was primarily structured as responses to the questions I’d thrown out to guide her and I realized she’d need more time learning to structure them into prose. But I counted the baby step of getting her started on something as a win. The connection I’m seeing between that story and Margaret’s observation and the judges’ comments is the way we sometimes get locked into this square way of thinking, everything inside the box. One of the reasons I do Wadadli Pen is to awaken that idea that the stories are right there in their own backyard, in their own lives, not remote from their reality. Sometimes it’s enough to get them thinking and talking about the stuff they actually want to think and talk about, a little difficult to do in a one-off session with 80 people (with anything over, say, 15 – 20 really). Sometimes you have to jump start the conversation with films or songs or really whatever works. And, as I tried to do with the breaks and journaling activities at the DYA workshop, sometimes you need time to just be still within yourself, idle even, let your brain just float.

Because the imagination is key to everything: without the imagination there  is no writing, without the imagination there is no creativity, without the imagination there is no visioning, no seeing beyond where you are to the impossible. This is not just about writing now because seeing beyond where we are is something we need as individuals, period, and as a nation; it is this imagining that guides our feet, and lifts a song of promise and possibility in our souls, staving off stagnation and cynicism. So what is it about our environment that has them so uninspired and how can this be addressed not by way of one-off sessions but consistently?

Questions to ponder. Because it’s not that our kids lack imagination. As author Andre Dubois lll said, “We’re all born with an imagination. Everybody gets one.” And it is the font from which writing flows, and not just writing but everything that’s magical in the world.

During her session at the camp, Margaret read C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, instead of her own story (and I still, all said, have some issues with that decision because why not do both). She chose that story though I think to reinforce the idea that “when using one’s imagination, the events do not have to make sense.” It opened up the opportunity for her to engage them in an active exercise in which they would make up a story on what one could find on entering a wardrobe. And I’m pretty sure she wasn’t looking for shoes…maybe unless they were ruby red slippers which, clicked three times…conjured up a magic carpet that spirited you away to…Wonderland???

It sounds like she did it as a chain writing exercise, which I do too, as it’s a great way to get everyone involved and a good way to get out of the safe zone as you never know what the person before you is going to add to the story so you can’t over think it, you just have to go with it. Which reminds me of another quote (for you writers still reading this) from the Dubois article: “I love that line from E.L. Doctorow: ‘Writing a novel is like driving at night. You can only see as far as your headlights—‘ but you keep going until you get there. I’ve learned over the years to just report back anything that I see in front of the headlights: Are they yellow stripes or white? What’s on the side of the road? Is there vegetation? What kind? What’s the weather? What are the sounds? If I capture the experience all along the way, the structure starts to reveal itself. My guiding force and principle for shaping the story is to just follow the headlights.” It’s a good way to get out of that zone of what writing is supposed to be and just letting it be, a good way of just imagining where the story could go. It sometimes takes them a minute to warm up to it, to embrace the freedom inherent in the idea that everything doesn’t have to make sense. At least not the first time around; that’s what revisions are for.

To answer the question headlining this piece, no they don’t lack the ability to imagine, though it sometimes needs to be nudged awake, even as we put to sleep this idea that writing is this daunting, insurmountable, dead, and deadly boring thing.

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