Category Archives: Wadadli Pen 2016

Merry Christmas


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.

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, 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.


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Wadadli Pen: What Trended in 2016

Happy New Year in Advance! We made it! 2017 here we come!

Just one more bit of 2016 business.

It’s always interesting to see what people engaged with over the course of a year. Wadadli Pen has existed as an online platform in this space for six years. In that time, it has provided a window to Wadadli Pen (who we are, the work that we do); to the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda; to Antigua and Barbuda and not just to the literary arts, and I have enjoyed the journey and the growth. I enjoy blogging in this space and appreciate you reading and engaging and sharing. So, let’s see what you’ve been reading, engaging with, and sharing the most, shall we? Scroll to see the top posts of the year according to YOU!


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The Wadadli Pen 2016 challenge: the long list

This makes sense. The long list is the first chance people who’ve submitted to the annual Challenge have to see how things are shaking out. So, they check in, and I can feel the excitement and, on the flipside of that, the disappointment; as a writer myself, I am intimately familiar with that emotional seesaw, and I don’t take any bit of that processing of their submissions and unveiling of the cut lightly. And, as seen in this year’s posting, in keeping with Wadadli Pen’s development agenda, I don’t hesitate to make it a learning and growth opportunity for the writers. Remind yourself who made the 2016 long list by clicking here.


Gone to Drift

Reflecting on Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay

My relationship with this book goes back to me serving on the 2015 Burt Award judging panel, a year after I was a finalist myself. I loved it from the first time I read it, in fact I loved it before it was a book when McCaulay won recognition from the Commonwealth Short Story competition for a story I realize looking back was the genesis of this book. We actually spoke about that story, in 2012, during Diana’s first interview here on the site. Diana is technically part of the Wadadli Pen family having donated copies of her books to our awards programme, and, in 2016, thanks to her publisher, we were able to gift Gone to Drift as well. This post is my musing on the book, which I still love and continue to share whenever I get the chance. I feel it picked up some traffic from being shared on sites like Repeating Islands and passed on by the author and publisher as well. So, I appreciate that…and I appreciate this book. Read the post and feel free to share as well.


new-plaqueWho Won in 2016

No surprise here; the who won and who won what in the annual Wadadli Pen Challenge is always one of the biggest posts of the year – which is good for our winners, our patrons, and Wadadli Pen. Take a second look at the 2016 crowd.


Books for 1735: this is a picture post


Students of CHSS donate books and hug an inmate of 1735, Antigua and Barbuda’s prison.


Ayanna Shadrach, a teacher at Clare Hall Secondary rallied her students to give back; specifically they collected and donated books to the prison. I was happy to not only contribute to this act of goodwill but help amplify it. It took some time for her to be able to deliver the books to the prison, in part because of a contagion outbreak, but it’s finally done. See the pictures of the delivery.


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Remembering Roland Prince

2016 was a car crash of a year as far as music is concerned – so many greats gone so quickly and some so unexpectedly: Merle Haggard (a loss to country music), Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest (a loss to hip hop), Maurice White (a loss to Earth Wind and Fire fans…and who isn’t), Leonard Cohen (“Hallelujah”), Glenn Frey (Eagles’ co-founder and co-lead), Rod Temperton (you might not know the name but if you’ve ever listened to Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall or Thriller or watched The Colour Purple, for instance, you know his songs), Prince (the loss of the Purple one still hurts), Vanity (one of Prince’s protégés), David Bowie (an icon), George Michael (“Father Figure”), and for us here in Antigua and Barbuda and the world of jazz internationally Roland Prince – at one time dubbed the best in the world by people who know more about these things than I do. Re-read what I wrote on his passing.


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Zahra performing in a local production of The Vagina Monologues which she co-produced and co-directed.

Congrats, Zahra – 2016 NYA Winner for Literary Arts

Zahra Airall won the literary arts award at the National Youth Award, and as we always cheer our artistes – especially our literary artistes – this was our big up to one of the hardest working women in Antiguan and Barbudan arts. Read it here.


Time to Talk

One of the books I blogged in 2016


Blogger on Books lll

I work hard to keep Wadadlli Pen and me separate (especially with the moves I’m now making to solidify it as a legit non-profit); though as I am founder-coordinator and chief blogger here at Wadadli Pen, there’s inevitably overlap. From so many of the site-relevant pictures and articles I have written in my journalistic life ending up here on the blog to my blogger on books series which is really just my opinion about books which found a home on what’s essentially a literary blog. Well, the series has relocated to my personal blog and this was its last installment here–> Check it out.


Claytine Nisbett Walking into Walls standing next to a piece by Xhyphensaphair King

Claytine Nisbett, a former Wadadli Pen volunteer, and founder of Walking in to Walls (an online advocacy project), alongside art work by X-Saphair King. This was at a Directorate of Gender Affairs event in which King and several other local artists showcased their work, at the intersection of arts and advocacy.

Remembering the Artist: X-Saphair King

The blog’s other big obit of the year was X-Saphair King, and I take no joy in saying that.

“Joanne, I am deeply saddened to read this news. I did not know him as a person, obviously, but X-Saphair’s work was stunning. What a loss to Antigua and Barbuda, and to the Caribbean as a whole. My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.” – Nicolette Bethel, editor of Tongues of the Ocean in which X-Sapphair’s art work had been featured, commenting below the post about his passing.


Conference organizer, Brown University Professor, Paget Henry of Antigua.

Dr. Paget Henry, pictured here at a past conference at the Enlightenment Academy is one of the chief organizers of this annual August event.

Gender Equality in Antigua and Barbuda: Call for Papers

I can’t really account for the popularity of this one (it’s really just a call for papers for the 2016 Antigua conference) – though, obviously, I’m happy if it played a role in or reflects a heightening of the profile of the more than 10 years old Conference. Maybe using buzzwords like “gender” in the tags had something to do with its attraction. I did note some new faces among the panelists and attendees at this year’s Conference – so, good.



ADA drummers, 2006..

Antigua Dance Academy marks a Milestone, is ignored

This one attracted a lot of shares and comments quickly; I hope it leads to deeper appreciation and action not just with respect to ADA but the arts as a whole with all its potential to be transformative and revelatory in and for and to Antigua and Barbuda. If only we knew the power of this thing we take for granted.

Some comments in response to the article/blog:

“So thrilled (and disappointed) to read this today. THRILLED for ADA… I’ve had the pleasure of attending their performances in the past and was impressed with their professionalism, skill and commitment to being culture preservers with little to no support…what, really and truly, will it take for us to get bored with giving lip service to support of the Arts (in it’s many forms) in Antigua & Barbuda?!”

“I encourage you all to keep up the great and important work you have been doing in the cultural arts. We are on the precipice of a culture and arts renaissance.”

“Congratulations to Veronica Yearwood and the Antigua Dance Academy for your hard work and dedication that enabled you to reach this great Milestone.Veronica I feel your pain, having been there myself in our early days of dance in Antigua and the struggles we all experienced. You must not give up. Stay strong, you are doing a marvelous job with the young ones… Do let me know if I can be of assistance in anyway.”

Veronica and ADA, whatever resources they lack, have a lot of goodwill in the community, as evidenced by how quickly this post jumped to the top of the year’s rankings. Read it here.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Fish Outta Water, and, forthcoming, With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out Please note that the images also belong to us and ask first if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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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, 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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Wadadli Pen Challenge Response – Daryl George

One of the items we inadvertently skipped on the Wadadli Pen Challenge 2016 Awards ceremony was the response from the winner. This probably had something to do with things always being a bit harried on that day and this being a new feature. I believe I added it to the programme in part in response to one of my grant rejections (in anticipation of future such applications) that required more on the impact of the programme – I think somewhere at the back of my mind was the idea that the participants were better able to speak to this than I was. We had one such letter, submitted by a past finalist on the occasion of the programme’s 10 year anniversary; maybe we needed more (beyond the by the numbers accounting). I hope/believe there was also in my thinking a desire to let the winner have his/her say as winners do in numerous award ceremonies. Well, no matter, whatever the reason, we forgot and skipped it.

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Winner Daryl George with Douglas Allen, brother of Alstyne Allen in whose memory the plaque is named at the 2016 Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards Ceremony.

But, wait, that’s what this blog is for and it’s probably better this way as it gives the winner more time to think through what, if anything, he actually want to say. So, with thanks to him for taking the time to do this, here now is the response from repeat finalist and 2016 overall and 18 to 35 winner Daryl George, author of Tropical Moonlight Sonata.

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Daryl’s response:

It gives me great pleasure to provide the response for the 2016 edition of the Wadadli Pen Prize. The Wadadli Pen Challenge, going on 12 years strong, is the only literary competition in Antigua and Barbuda geared towards youth, and one of only a very few in the entire Caribbean. Thanks must go out, first and foremost, to Joanne Hillhouse: the time, energy, and effort necessary to arrange the Wadadli Pen Challenge is significant, yet she does it anyway. So too for the many sponsors who do believe in young people and who have put their money where their mouth is when it comes to investing in our youth and our culture.

Writing for the Wadadli Pen Challenge this year wasn’t easy: and that is precisely why it’s so beneficial, year in and year out. It is only through effort that we can grow, and only through difficulty can we triumph. We had a number of young persons enter the Wadadli Pen Challenge in 2016, and I believe that the process of writing a cohesive story or poem in 600 words or less, tailoring each word and each sentence for maximum impact, has allowed these young persons to increase their writing ability just a little bit more. I hope that those who had the fortune to receive feedback from this challenge will continue to broaden their talents, and to hone their skills to become even better writers.

With the good also comes the bad, and with the yin also comes the yang. I was disappointed this year at the coverage, or lack thereof, from a number of prominent local media houses. In a time where positive stories about youth seem to grow rarer and rarer, I do believe that this was an opportunity for them to step up and provide coverage in order to motivate those youth seeking positive avenues for their expression. I also am disappointed in the lack of supporting initiatives from relevant government stakeholders in pushing the culture of Antigua and Barbuda: too often we focus on promoting the “sexy” issues and topics around our youth while ignoring the amazing ability of the literary arts to act as a powerful force in promoting our local culture.

That being said, I look forward to 2017. I look forward to youth across Antigua and Barbuda sitting down, whether with pen and paper or on their laptops, and dreaming. Using their words to paint landscapes, using their imagination to create vivid images, and using their creativity to touch the soul of others. I look forward to youth stretching themselves to come up with their own unique stories, their own personal characters. And I look forward to reading all about their adventures next year and in years to come.

Couldn’t have said it better.

For a reminder of who won what in Wadadli Pen 2016, go here.

To read winning stories through the years, go here.

For more about Wadadli Pen, go here.

As for similar (youth-specific, purely literary) prizes in the region, he’s right, there are few. The Allen Prize comes to mind and more recently Poui’s Trini Kids can write. And there’s the region-wide Burt Award which is open to people of all ages but which is specifically looking for content targetting young (specifically teen/young adult) readers. Initiatives like these are, as Daryl said, critical to crafting a reading and writing culture, a culture that gives youth another avenue for expression and development, a culture that promotes arts appreciation and creative thinking, and a culture of triumph through effort and persistence. What’s the measure of persistence? Consider Daryl, a youth worker, who has consistently submitted strong entries but who took four tries to get his name emblazoned, as overall winner, on to Wadadli Pen’s Alstyne Allen Challenge plaque; and, believe it or not, that’s short in writing and publishing time.

Thanks, Daryl, for sharing your words.

p.s. here’s a bit of trivial – Daryl became in 2016 the first male to claim the main writing prize since Wadadli Pen launched in 2004.

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, Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad!, 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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Mailbox – Cushion Club

As promised, the Cushion Club (the Antigua and Barbuda reading club for kids with which I have volunteered with for several years) has been reaching out to the junior winners of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize 2016 Challenge (of which it is part patron)

we are sending you a BIG Cushion Club invitation to come visit us and share/read your story; we guarantee you will have fun with us.

…intent on having them come out to share their winning stories with the kids of the Club. We can confirm that Judah Christian, author of My Worst Day Ever, has accepted

 I accept your invitation on Judah’s behalf. He will be available on Saturday 28th May to share his story.

…via his parents, and will be sharing his story with the Club kids on May 28th. You’re welcome to join us and here Judah’s story come alive. The Cushion Club meets between 10:30 a.m. and 12 noon at the University of the West Indies Open Campus (Antigua and Barbuda) located on College Drive between Queen Elizabeth Highway and Sir Sydney Walling Highway (i.e. Factory Road). See you then.

Factoids re the Cushion Club’s contribution to the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize:

The Cushion Club’s chief volunteer Cedric Holder (a National Youth Award winner for his volunteerism) has contributed gift certificates in the name of the Club from the very first year of Wadadli Pen. Over the years, his pledge has been a given and Wadadli Pen has been grateful.

In this photo from the Cushion Club archives, Cedric reads to some of the children.

In this photo from the Cushion Club archives, Cedric reads to some of the children.

Factoids re young author Judah Christian:

His stories include The Worst Day Ever (2nd runner up for the 12 and younger prize in 2016) and Judah and His Friends Save the Day (a Best of Books Promising Writer Pick in 2015)

2015: Judah collecting his prizes from guest reader/presenter Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau. Be sure to check out her CD, I am Speaking.

2015: Judah collecting his prizes from guest reader/presenter Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau. Be sure to check out her CD, I am Speaking.

Judah - far right - with other 2016 winners in the 12 and younger category collecting prizes from Seven Seas rep.

Judah – far right – with other 2016 winners in the 12 and younger category collecting prizes from Seven Seas rep.

p.s. I believe Zion and Chammaiah have also accepted the invitations – dates to be confirmed.

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 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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After the Awards – a Wadadli Pen Challenge 2016 Picture Post

Oh and remember to check out who won what and read the winning stories.

with him

Me with winner Daryl George holding the Challenge plaque.

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Winner Daryl George with Douglas Allen, brother of Alstyne Allen in whose memory the plaque is named.

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Okay, first an aside, when I look at this picture I’m struck by all the natural – everybody appears to be wearing their own hair; that wasn’t always the case (natural hair revolution!). Everybody in this case is, from left, me, winners Chammaiah Ambrose and Daryl George, and patrons Dr. Hazra Medica and Akeilah Hillhouse for Frank B. Armstrong.

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Honourable mentions in the 13 to 17 age category – Antigua Grammar School student Canice James and Irene B. Williams student Zahra Emanuel.

group photo 3 glen photo 12

That green lipstick though! That’s Akeilah Hillhouse, rep for Frank B. Armstrong with winners in the 12 and younger category Chammaiah Ambrose, Zion Ebony Williams, and Judah Christian – in the ranking it’s actually Judah then Zion but that’s how they line up, I guess.

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12 and younger, the most crowded field, yields lots of honourable mentions in addition to the top 3.

These additional photos are by Glen Toussaint of the Best of Books.

You’ve been warned: this is going to be a picture dump. I’ll be sharing memories of the Wadadli Pen 2016 Challenge season in pictures. Consider it a slide show like in those old school view finders and have fun!

p.s. to see the details of who won what and for links to the winning stories, go here.

new plaque

To the right is the now retired Challenge plaque; the left is the brand new Challenge plaque. All the names of the winners through the years have been re-located and the plaque has been (re)named the Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque for a past volunteer member of the Wadadli Pen family (and a really good friend) who died in 2015. I’m happy that we could remember her and her contribution to Wadadli Pen – as I really couldn’t have gotten through those early years without her help. The new plaque is sponsored by and hangs in the Best of Books bookstore on St. Mary’s Street. As for the old plaque, it’s now for me a Wadadli Pen memento, one with strangely emotional resonance (when I consider how far this project has come). I felt emotional doing a mock-up of the new plaque for other more personal reasons. Either way, this Wadadli Pen journey is not a dispassionate experience.

Raw Island products

This gift bag from Raw Island products valued at exactly EC$205.54 was among the prizes given to main prize winner Daryl George (author of Tropical Moonlight Sonata). For his main prize he also took EC$500, a pen (valued at approximately EC$150 give or take) and books from Pam Arthurton, a Barbuda Express voucher for two valued at EC$360 each covering travel to the sister island plus tour and lunch, more books from me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) and the Best of Books, including my Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings.


The Sweep series by Cate Tiernan was among the books donated by the Best of Books to the Wadadli Pen 2016 prize package. These went to 13 to 17 runner up Diamond Wayne (author of Granny for Sale) along with Lorna Goodison’s Selected Poems contributed by Pam Arthurton and EC$160 contributed by Dr. Hazra Medica.


Best of Books gave some games as well. Added these to the gift bags of Chammaiah Ambrose, Alyssa Charles, and Judah Christian.


Could these books be more different? Two went to the school with the most submissions and the other two were prizes in the 18 to 35 age category. See if you can guess which went where.


winning writer reads

Winning writer Daryl George reads his story Tropical Moonlight Sonata at the Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards ceremony, 2016.

12 and younger

The winners in the 12 and younger category showing off their certificates and Seven Seas bags – also pictured, far left, is rep from Seven Seas distributor Frank B. Armstrong, Akeilah Hillhouse. Each bag included goodies (plus cash in the case of the top three) for the winners some sponsored by Frank B. Armstrong, Juneth Webson, the Cushion Club, CaribbeanReads Publishing, CODE, and the Best of Books.


Audience at the Awards, Wadadli Pen Challenge, 2016, the Best of Books.


From left, Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator – me (yes, sigh, wearing glasses), winner of the 12 and younger category Chammaiah Ambrose, winner of the 18 to 35 age category and overall winner Daryl George, and one of the 2016 patrons cultural advisor Dr. Hazra Medica. Sidebar: I know I’m wearing flats but was Hazra always so tall?


Chammaiah’s poem Guilty was a hit with the gathered audience.


Coincidentally, the Seven Seas rep who came out to the awards is part of my extended family, a cousin on the Hillhouse side. She stepped up to assist with the prize giving above and beyond the call of her duties as a Frank B. Armstrong/Seven Seas rep. We are grateful. She’s pictured here with the top three in the 12 and younger category – Chammaiah Ambrose, Zion Ebony Williams, and Judah Christian.


Me, with winner Daryl George, holding the Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque.

photo call

This is a photo call at the end with a mix of winners (Chammaiah and Daryl, centre), patrons (Medica, and Hillhouse batting for Seven Seas, right), and next to me (second from left) Douglas Allen, brother of the late Alstyne Allen – it feels weird typing that – for whom the Challenge trophy is named. Bit of Wadadli Pen trivia, the first three years of its existence Wadadli Pen was partnered with the Young Explorer of which Douglas is publisher and editor.


Still not used to pictures of myself in glasses (all that reading will catch up to you) but I couldn’t not share this – the winners’ plaque being held by winner Daryl George, centre, Douglas Allen, brother of the person for whom the plaque is named, and me.




Love this one! Akeilah presenting to Chammaiah Ambrose, the 12 and younger winner, on behalf of Frank B. Armstrong, me hovering in the background trying to get the prizes right. Best laid plans, man; I tell you.

Credits: opening vid, me. w/Music sampled from Chosen Sounds and Eminem. Not profiting from any of this, including the use of the music. Pictures by Barbara Arrindell of the Best of Books, except for the black and white which I lifted from cuz’s (Akeilah Hillhouse’s) facebook.

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Lost and Found! by Denejah Browne

Honourable Mention in the 12 and younger age category – Wadadli Pen Challenge 2016

Author’s comment about the story: “Lost and Found! is about Life in the Caribbean in the old days included taking care of animals and crops. Modern comforts have changed our lifestyle, however, we must not forget our Caribbean Life.”

Judge’s comments (positives only*): “Could be a good little story; there is a setting and theme and a happy ending.”

Note: *While only the positives are being shared with the public, in keeping with the development goals of Wadadli Pen, all long listed entries are returned to the author with the judge’s note  – both positives and negatives – for revision. Congrats to Denejah for being singled out for honourable mention and for taking the opportunity to review and revise her story. Keep working on your craft; keep valuing your voice and your art. – JCH

Denejah Browne

Denejah Browne.


Here now is Lost and Found! by Denejah Browne, 11, who loves to read and play music, especially pan, and who is a student at Christ the King High School:

Long ago in a small village on a Caribbean Island, lived a farmer and his family.  His wife Silvia spent her day attending to the crops in the field and cooking for her family.  Their children Luke and Sally were eleven and twelve years old and spent their days looking after the goats and chickens.  Their father took care of the cows and planting the fields.  They lived in a three bedroom house with dirt floors and a thatched roof.  The family lived on a big piece of land and made money from selling milk, eggs and crops which were, corn, sweet potato, peas and carrots.

Their day started at 5:00 AM when they got up to take care of the animals. Luke and Sally were in charge of the goats and chickens, who needed fresh grass and water and to be taken to a new grazing area often. They had 10 adult goats and 5 kiddie goats.  Luke and Sally loved the kiddies and would play with them for hours.  In the evening they would go back and lock them in their pens for the night.  One night Luke and Sally were in a hurry to eat dinner and forgot to lock the kiddies goat pen door.  During the night they got out and wandered into the fields.  The next morning, Luke and Sally were surprised and worried when they saw the kiddies were gone and ran quickly to tell mom and dad what had happened.

The search for the kiddies began as the family headed out to the grazing fields.  They searched for hours and could not find the kiddies.  Mom returned home to take care of the other animals that were forgotten due to the search.  Luke and Sally were now in tears because the kiddies were lost.  Dad stated that it was almost dinner time and they must go back home.    On their way back home Sally saw a white tail hiding in the bushes.  As they went closer they saw the five kiddie goats looking scared and hungry.  They were so happy that they found their kiddie goats.  Dad helped them to take the kiddies home safely and they made sure to lock the door securely.


For earning honourable mention in her age category, Denejah received:
Gifts contributed by Juneth Webson and Frank B. Armstrong, a gift certificate for EC$25 from the Cushion Club, and a certificate sponsored by the Best of Books.

Thanks to all partners and patrons for making the Wadadli Pen 2016 Challenge possible. Here at Wadadli Pen, we encourage you to support the businesses and individuals who support the arts.

Please respect the writer’s copyright. And while we welcome feedback, please be constructive.

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