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Carib Plus Lit News (Middish January 2020)

Condolences

We begin with condolences to the friends and family of Victor Chang, and the community at the University of the West Indies. He actually died some weeks ago, in 2019. This Jamaica Gleaner article described Dr. Chang as a former lecturer in the Department of Literatures in English at UWI.

“Chang’s academic career is characterised by his involvement with the wider community and beyond, having served as a visiting lecturer at the University of Hull, England in 1981, carried out assignments with the Ministry of Education and Jamaica Festival. The noted academic was a contributor to the National Association for Teachers of English Workshops for some 20 years and was assistant chief examiner in English Literature with the Caribbean Examinations Council …(in addition to) service to the West Indian Association for Commonwealth Language and Literature Studies (WIACLALS).” There were many expressions of condolences being shared among the Caribbean literary community including my own memory of him as head of my department during my time at UWI (Mona, Jamaica) and this one (unknown) “He gave brilliant conference papers about Caribbean writers, and his sense of humor was wicked.”

Trinidad Poet wins the T. S. Eliot Prize

We move to celebratory news with Trinidad and Tobago poet Roger Robinson’s win of the T. S. Eliot Prize, the only major poetry prize judged solely by established poets. He won for A Portable Paradise about which judges said: “Roger Robinson’s characters bear witness to a country where ‘every second street name is a shout out to my captors’. Yet though Robinson is unstinting in his irony, he also gives us glimpses of something that his chosen protagonists also refuse to surrender – a taste, through the bitterness, of ‘life, of sweet, sweet life’.” A Portable Paradise was published by Peepal Tree Press in the UK. Robinson receive a £25,000 cheque.

Wadadli Pen 2020

The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge is back for 2020 with several new categories to stimulate artistic expression among young people in Antigua and Barbuda. …The Wadadli Pen Challenge is open to any resident aged 35 and younger. Entries – fiction, poems, creative non-fiction –1000 words max. must be original. Beyond that entries can be as creative or tonally diverse as the artist desires; as long as it retains a Caribbean sensibility (i.e. feels Caribbean). Young Antiguans of all ages are encouraged to try – there will be, as usual, age category prizes, with a slight adjustment to the breakdown (six and younger, seven to 12, 13 to 17, and 18 to 35) – in addition to an overall top three. All entries require completed submission forms (2020 WADADLI YOUTH PEN PRIZE SUBMISSION FORM). Incomplete and plagiarized entries will be disqualified.

Special Prizes

Imagine a Future – A special prize will go to the story which per the sub-head ‘Imagine a Future’ best illustrates either the consequence of inaction (dystopia) or action (futopia) on climate change. This is an opportunity to venture in to speculative fiction (including science fiction). What does the future look like through your eyes? Be creative.

Art Prize – Visual artists can also tell their story, solo or in collaboration with others by creating a comic strip – telling a complete story using visual art and (optionally) words in three horizontally-aligned art panels of equal size, fitting on to a single sheet of paper. Art entries can be hand inked and coloured (per standard comic panels) or electronically created. No collages. Winning collabos get a single prize.

The Wa’omani Prize – Eligible Barbudans are also invited to write a story or poem, or create a comic strip (telling their complete story using visual art and, optionally, words in three horizontally-aligned art panels of equal size, fitting on to a single sheet of paper). This prize is designed to encourage greater participation from Barbuda and create a space for Barbudans to tell their unique stories.
An entry can be considered for more than one special prize (indicate with entry), and everyone vying for a special prize will also be considered for the main prize and for their age category prize. There will also be a prize for the school with the most submissions. Submit by 16/02/20 with ‘Your Name Wadadli Pen Challenge Submission 2020’ in the subject line.

Some early patrons have pledged their commitment and will be announced in a subsequent release. Other businesses or individuals wishing to contribute, contact wadadlipen@gmail.com To keep up with all things Wadadli Pen follow the blog. For all things Wadadli Pen 2020, check https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/wadadli-pen-2020

Sharma Wins

Sharma Taylor, Jamaica born, Barbados based, inaugural winner of the Johnson and Amoy Achong prize in 2019 starts 2020 with another win – first prize in Barbados’ 22nd annual Frank Collymore Literary Endowment award for an unpublished collection of short stories called Hollow Calabash which one judge described as “unputdownable”. She wins $10,000 (I’m not sure if this is US or BDS but either way).

Sharma credits the support of Commonwealth Writers (CW) through initiatives like the short story prize for which she was shortlisted, a 2018 fiction writing workshop in Barbados, and the individual mentoring the CW provided in 2019, as well as encouragement from other writers.

Congrats to her (pictured below, second from left).

‘Second place went to Claudia Clarke, who was awarded $6,000 for her “CircleSquare.” Anderson Lowe’s “Inside the Blackbelly Sheep” secured him third place and prize money of $4,000. Lowe also received the Prime Minister’s Award. Ingrid Persaud and Sarah Venable received honourable mention for “So it Go” and “The Tropic of Sweet and Sour” respectively.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes spoke of the importance of Barbados having a strong literary tradition, saying, “seeing your culture reflected and celebrated in print is a powerful and validating experience.”

The Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Awards was started in 1998 to support and develop the literary arts in Barbados. In addition to the annual competition, the programme includes outreach to secondary schools and technical workshops for writers.’ Read more.

Sabga

The 2020 Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence have been announced. They are:

Arts & Letters: Mr Jallim Eudovic, Sculptor, St Lucia
Entrepreneurship: Mr Andrew Mendes, Energy Services Entrepreneur, Guyana
Public & Civic Contributions: Dr Olivene Burke, Community Activist, Jamaica
Science & Technology: Dr Shirin Haque, Astronomer, Trinidad & Tobago

The Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards is the only programme in the Caribbean which seeks out and rewards outstanding nominees in Arts & Letters, Public & Civic Contributions, Science & Technology and Entrepreneurship. It has been in existence since 2005, and has named, inclusive of the current inductees, 43 Laureates from throughout the region.

The 2020 ceremony will be staged on April 25, 2020 at a venue to be announced in the near future. Here’s the press release: 2020-Laureate-announcement-Press-Kit

Impac Dublin Caribbean

I first became aware of the Impac Dublin award back in 2012 when I was researching possibilities for which my novel Oh Gad! could contend. I bring that up because I wondered then and I still wonder now which books have been nominated by our local library service with which I’ve shared the Impac Dublin information. The latest Caribbean author to be nominated and longlisted for the Impac Dublin prize is Viviana Prado-Nunez, the Puerto Rican author of the Burt award winning The Art of White Roses which the nominating Jamaica Library Service describes as  “a striking debut novel with a cast of engaging characters. Told through the eyes of a 13 year old who lives with her family in Marianao, a quiet suburb six miles away from Old Havana, the novel gives an intimate view of the struggles of the working people fighting for independence fuelled by a burning desire to end corruption. It is a sharp-eyed study of power, community, questioning values and the contradictory messages of adults.” The Art of White Roses is published by Dominica’s Papilotte Press.

Also nominated by the Jamaica Library Service, also long listed, another Burt Award title Kevin Jared Hosein’s The Beast of Kukuyo. This is published by Jamaica’s Blue Banyan.

Congrats to them and to the library service for nominating them. See the entire long list. The prize is €100,000 which is awarded to the author if the book is written in English. If the winning book is in English translation, the author receives €75,000 and the translator, €25,000. The winner also receives a trophy provided by Dublin City Council. Nominations are made by libraries in capital and major cities throughout the world – libraries interested in participating can contact the organizers.

The shortlist for the 2020 prize will be announced in April.

Publishing News

Papilotte press, of Dominica and the UK, continues to make major moves with the acquisition of UK based Trinidad author Lawrence Scott’s Dangerous Freedom, a novel described as “radical and moving”. Said the author, “In Dangerous Freedom I am trying to redress what I see as the romantic portrayals of Dido in art, film and literature. I wanted to question the sketchy history we have of Dido and, through fiction, to alter the psychological and political perspectives. I hope that the novel can add to our understanding of a pain that remains just below the surface of contemporary life.” I’ve seen at least one of the film adaptations, Amma Asante’s Belle which starred Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the daughter of an Englishman and an enslaved African who lived with her aristocratic uncle, none less than Chief Justice Lord Mansfield at a time when he was adjudicating a critical case in the anti-slavery movement. Papilotte publisher Polly Pattullo bought world rights, excluding translation, for Dangerous Freedom from Johnson & Alcock. It will be published in May 2020 and distributed by NBN International.

New Music Awards for Antigua and Barbuda

You might remember that there was a music awards held in Antigua and Barbuda some years ago. It was produced by a private person and called the National Vibes Star Project Award. It was a  great Grammy-style event that I truly enjoyed covering. But it was a one-time event. And while I will always wish we weren’t reinventing the wheel, the announcement of a national musical awards by the Culture Department is, on the surface of it, a welcome development.

 

Deputy Director of Culture, and accomplished musician, Mr Khan Cordice described the awards, to be held on April 16th 2020, as a “Grand Celebration’ to recognize the work of all musicians and music practitioners alike to include vocalists, instrumentalists, pannists and DJs for the work they would have contributed to music over the years, but more specifically, throughout the year 2019.”

There are six categories: ‘Vocal Awards’; ‘Instrumental Awards’; ‘Steelpan Awards’; ‘Best Recording Artiste of the Year’; ‘DJ of the Year’ and ‘Special Awards’. In the vocal awards category, the breakdown includes:
Junior Soca Artist of the year
Junior Calypsonian of the year
Junior Reggae Artist of the year
Junior Gospel Artist of the year
Soca Artist of the year
Calypsonian of the year
Reggae Artist of the year
Gospel Artist of the year
Choir of the Year

At a glance, one difference between this and the NVSPA is that the latter also included hip hop and artists that didn’t fit in to the usual boxes.

For the Steelpan Awards announced categories include:

Steelpan Awards
Junior Pannist of the Year
Pannist of the Year
Arranger of the year
Junior Steelband of the Year
Steelband of the Year

The rebirth of pan continues – you love to see it.

The Instrumental Awards include:
Junior Instrumentalist of the Year
Instrumentalist of the Year

Two young Antiguans and Barbudans having recently featured in the finals of the Commonwealth International Composition Awards, as reported in Carib Plus Lit News in November 2019, it makes sense to continue to encourage our Musical Youth in this way.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday month to one of my literary icons Zora Neale Hurston who LitHub informs me was born January 7th (two days after me) 1891 (so not exactly the same century).  

Another reason I’m shouting out the late Harlem Renaissance writer, she has a new book coming with a foreword from Tayari Jones (whose book, the Oprah’s book club pick An American Marriage I’m currently reading after absolutely loving her previous book Silver Sparrow). Hurston died in 1960 – and while she had published significant work like Their Eyes were watching God – had slipped in to obscurity until resurrected by Alice Walker in In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, the title piece in the latter’s 1984 essay collection. Hurston has been a staple on university lit syllabuses since then including my African-American lit courses at UWI, which is where I discovered her and, in her, a literary model. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is Hurston’s second posthumous book (after 2019’s Barracoon: the Story of the Last Black Cargo) in three years.  Can’t wait.

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

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The Wedding Project (a prompt response)

Because we have to practice, here’s my response to a writing prompt from Tammy at Writing Wednesday.

The Wedding Project

Receive the wedding invitation.
Settle on the spread for the marriage bed as your gift. You will make it.
Buy the thread, one spool to start.
Dig up the needle Tanty taught you to crochet with.
Try to remember what she taught you.
Remind yourself what the short hand means (sc, tr, dc, sl st).
Remember only some of it.
Start crocheting anyway.
Unravel and start again.
Unravel and do not restart.
Go to the wedding. Promise yourself to re-start (which you do not manage to do before the divorce).
When you hear of a possible reconciliation, contemplate restarting the unfinished wedding project.

The prompt was to write 12 steps of something and my brain ended up going with 12 steps of making something unmade. Where does your brain go? Write something.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

 

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Built on Faith

Updated (April 19th 2018)

“Lots of little bits is still a lot.” – from Antigua & Barbuda (gift cards, The Caribbean Folklore Project by Monique S. Simon)

folklore

A set of these gift cards were the first contribution I received from a patron for the 2018 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge season. It seems like a good lead-off for a post on this year’s patrons, not just because this card is one of the gift items to be taken home by our winner when the winner is announced on April 21st, but also because this likkle likkle full basket approach has been the Wadadli Pen model since we first launched in 2004. We didn’t – and don’t – have big bank and as we are still a project, not a non-profit with the infrastructure to do our own fundraising and bank the profits. Our prize packages have always been about pulling together whatever we get (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot) in to something that can tangibly serve as a satisfying incentive and reward for those who dared. We are still very much dependent on the generousity of people I’ve come to think of as Friends of Wadadli Pen – new friends, old friends, friends we haven’t met yet…

mock logo

Of course, in 2004, all I had when I stepped out to ask people to give was faith – faith that my community would support this fledgling project, faith that our newness wouldn’t make them think twice, faith that they would trust that their money would be used for its intended purposes. One of the ways I sought to reassure them and myself, a practice that continues to this day, is that no cheque is written to Wadadli Pen or to me (or any of the other partners I’ve drawn to the project over the years). What I’ve always sought from our patrons before each launch is the promise to give – a pledge. So, I have to have faith that when time comes they’ll deliver exactly what they promised (and for the most part they have). Once the winner has been determined, the patrons who’ve pledged money are supplied with the name so that they can prepare the cheque specifically for and to the intended recipient. Only more recently have we from time to time received (and accepted) cash which we then pass on to the intended recipient. But I think by this point – 14 years on  – they have some confidence that we are who we say we are and will do what we say we will do. Evidence of that, I think is the way patrons have come through with pledges in 2018, in spite of us not having our ducks in a row before the launch (that’s right, for the first time ever we launched with a set of gift cards and no other confirmed pledges…stepping out on faith) because for a protracted period of time we debated doing a Challenge this year at all or taking the time to put our energies in to getting our status together.

SIDEBAR One of the reasons I am and have been concerned about our non-status is my desire to create continuity long term and to expand what we do in the medium term. For example, if our status was solidified, we could – whether through seeking grants or through fundraising projects – raise money that belongs to Wadadli Pen to do more: development projects such as workshops year-round, projects showcasing the arts – such as short films inspired by one or more of our winning shorts, and more. But that is still in the dreamscape. I tell you what I’d like right now is a lawyer who does pro bono work for non-profits to assist us with getting set up – I feel like I’ve been reading through the legalese for some time now and am still turned around; up is down (lol). Also, I feel like I need a break and (if I’m being honest) Wadadli Pen might be due for another hiatus until I can get myself sorted out. SIDEBAR OVER

But with a date (April 21st), time (6:30 p.m.), and venue (the Best of Books on St. Mary’s Street) set for the awards, we are pressing on for this year at least and the finish line is in sight. And so we pause to give a shout out to the people who continue to act on faith by pledging to support our project and who, by so doing, are (along with the young writers who dare each year) the wind behind our backs. Much love and respect to them (and to any business or individual) who continues to bet on the arts and our young people.

OUR 2018 PATRONS (CONFIRMED*)

best

Challenge Plaque/Certificates

  • The Best of Books

Art_Culture_Antigua-logo fa

Cash  (EC$2900+)

  • Pamela Arthurton (EC$500)
  • Art. Culture. Antigua (EC$300)
  • Carol Mitchell (EC$100)
  • *Unnamed (EC$500)
  • Frank B. Armstrong (EC$500)
  • International Women’s Club of Antigua (EC$500)
  • Juneth Webson (US$200 = EC$537.65)

ba  Moondancer

danz

Gifts

  • Barbara Arrindell (Books: Antigua My Antigua & The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories -1 each)   bat's cave best-of-books-colouring-book-1
  • Barbara Arrindell & Associates (Two hour training session to a group of the top writers – session will focus on “Presenting: Telling your story orally”)
  • The Best of Books (Books)
  • Brenda Lee Browne (Books: Just Write Writers’ Journal and London Rocks)
  • Cedric Holder for the Cushion Club (Gift certificate for books valued at EC$100)
  • Danz’s Sweet Dreams (Gift Certificate valued at EC$225)
  • Floree Whyte/Moondancer Books (Book: The Wonderful World of Yohan -1)  Yohan book
  • Jane Seagull (personalized writer’s journal)
  • Joanne C. Hillhouse (Books: With Grace – 3; Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure – 2 & scholarship to participate in the Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Series – series 3)    with_grace-3d-standingLost Cover Front 4
  • Monique S. Simon (Gift cards from her Caribbean Folklore Project)

*Patron unnamed, by choice.

To all, for stepping out with us on faith, we say thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!

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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A & B Arts Round Up – April 10th 2018 —>

This page or series of pages is specific to arts and/or cultural events being held in Antigua and Barbuda.

May 20th 2018 – Call for papers – 13th Annual Conference and Distinguished Lecture (August 16th -17th 2018) – the University of the West Indies Open Campus Antigua and Barbuda, the Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association, and the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Enlightenment Academy. Details re Call for Papers: UWI-ABSA Conference 2018 Call for Papers

April 28th 2018 – Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Series continues – must register at least one week in advance – can participate from anywhere – several payment options – April 2018

April 21st 2018 – 6:30 p.m. mock logoThe Wadadli Youth Pen Prize 2018 Challenge Awards Ceremony at the Best of Books, St. Mary’s Street.

April 16th – 18th 2018 –  3:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Teenagers’ Artistic Expressions In Writing and With Cell-phone Photographs – Instructor, Mali Adélàjà Olatunji Dip. photo, BSc, M.A. The_Art_of_Mali_Olatunji_-_Full_Size_RGB_m– at The Museum Of Antigua and Barbuda (Long and Market Streets, St. John’s, Antigua) – exploring the simplicity of photography with the use of a cell-phone to make pictures of any subjects or objects with the intention to produce images of artistic pictorial expressions; also articulating  intentions in words in the manner of photojournalism to provide a documentary or a visual account of specific subjects and events, literally re-presenting objective reality rather than the usual subjective discourses of everyday life.

April 14th & 15th 2018 – Antigua Opera Society’s first ever performance at Catherine’s Café and the National Sailing Academy. Read more at Antiguanice.com

April 14th 2018 –  the official launch of Brenda Lee Browne’s first novella, ‘London Rocks’, at Cedars Pottery, Buckley’s Main Road, 6pm – 8pm. There will be a reading,  Q&A and book signing – copies of  ‘Just Write Writers Journal’  will also be on sale. An art exhibition featuring original pieces by Browne will be on display. About the Book: New Book from Hansib – London Rocks[1789]
London Rocks

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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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-

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015-

jamaicajoanne 2015 at V I Lit Fest

(with Jamaica Kincaid at the VI Lit Fest)

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

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

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

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

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

Joy Lawrence continues researching village histories .

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

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

2016-

A River Of Stories Flyer 2016-1

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

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

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

Writing workshop during the Best of Books summer camp.

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

My picture book With Grace, a Caribbean fairytale launched.

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

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

2017-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018-March 2018 workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Senior, History, Challenge

When I came across an article about the honorary doctorate presented by the University of the West Indies to Olive Senior (my alma mater and first fiction workshop leader, respectively),

Senior on social media

From Olive Senior’s social media.

I wanted share it. Just to big her up. But what she says gives me an even better reason.

‘Reasoning that cultivating curiosity — a writing tool — will enrich lives, making better citizens, workers, parents, future leaders and future influencers, Senior urged graduates to be more conscious in employing the tool to know more about themselves as Jamaicans, the country and its heritage.

…“Knowing about our country and ourselves is what enables us to feel rooted no matter how far we grow, for that is something that cannot be taken from us.”’

Apart from the obvious nod to one of the reasons we write, there is the specific reference to knowing and embracing your culture, not to the exclusion of others but as a way of understanding yourself when engaging with others. This naturally intersects with Wadadli Pen and especially with the 2018 Wadadli Pen Challenge. Wadadli Pen’s annual Challenge gives Antiguans and Barbudans the opportunity to write their world, and though we don’t normally do themed Challenges, this year’s is specific to historical fiction – not fiction necessarily set in a realistic point in our historical timeline (in fact we encourage writers to be experimental) but which, whatever the genre or sub-genre, engages with our history in some way. This was in part inspired by recent discussion about the waning interest in Caribbean history and our belief that we need to make Caribbean history cool again.

So, here’s the launch flyer Wadadli Pen 2018 Flyer

Here’s the link to the article on Olive Senior’s well-deserved honour

And here’s that history article

Looking forward to being wow’d by the submissions to this year’s Challenge

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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Merry Christmas

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

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

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

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

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Do not re-use content without permission and credit. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Lost! Book Chat

November 30th 2017 was publication day for my latest book, the children’s picture book, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure  which tells the story of Dolphin, an Arctic seal who finds himself stranded in the Caribbean.

On December 1st 2017, the illustrator (Trinidad and Tobago artist and poet Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné), publisher (CaribbeanReads), and I (author Joanne C. Hillhouse) engaged in a promotional live facebook chat, which I’ve copied (with minor editing and a bit of jigsawing) below. Oh, there were emoticons but you’ll just have to picture (most of) those; I’ll keep the hashtags.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …Since I first read Lost! and started illustrating, I’ve been wondering about the true story of Wadadli the seal. It’s fascinating! Joanne, did the idea for a book come to you immediately?

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …Immediately, no. Actually Wadadli’s story was some years before I wrote this. I was as surprised as anyone that it had imprinted on me in any particular way. I do think because I was doing a lot of school visits at the time and because I read to children as a volunteer reader with the Cushion Club, I kind of wanted to experiment with writing a children’s story. And the children at one of the schools I visited and the kids of the Cushion Club were actually the first to hear this story.

wadadliarticseal

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …An image of the actual seal Wadadli that inspired this story (quite literally finding himself stranded in the waters off Antigua and having to be helped home). I think you did an amazing job re-interpreting him and creating all of the other creatures he meets along the way, plus the world of the story.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …Yes, I think this was one of the first photos I saw in the early stages! It’s sometimes hard with animals, to give them human expressions, but luckily Wadadli had those gorgeous eyes to begin with.

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …Very soulful eyes, yes.

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Joanne C. Hillhouse …I’m always curious about a visual artist’s process… how did you approach this project?

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné …I wanted to get a feel for all the characters’ personalities, especially Dolphin. I wanted to bring out those qualities of curiousity and playfulness that make him so endearing in the book. It was a joy to illustrate because the underwater setting made it the perfect fit for watercolours, my medium of choice.

Joanne C. Hillhouse …I always thought your aesthetic and style would be a good match for this story. #superfan

CaribbeanReads …I agree this definitely fit your style. As soon as I saw some of your earlier work I knew it would work well.

CaribbeanReads …How did this story come about Joanne?

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …Wadadli, of course – the arctic seal who had made big news here and in environmental circles in the wider Caribbean after being stranded in waters off of Antigua. The need to have an actual children’s story for this children’s author label I carried erroneously (lol) for so long (since my first book The Boy from Willow Bend). The invitation the story extended for me to delve in to fantasy, which fascinates me. And the characters, the characters are always a draw, the main draw, when I’m writing – the main character’s challenge of making new friends when you’re in a strange place and feel like you’re sort of a weird one yourself (that’s actually what came first and everything kind of filled in around that). So that meeting scene between new friends is the first thing I remember clearly.

CaribbeanReads  …Why did you picture him as a daydreamer?

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …lol projection?

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …He’s clearly a lover of stories – see his bond with his nema – and stories are all about living a little bit in your head. Plus it helped define him as a little bit different from his friends and provide an instigating incident for his adventure.

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …I say that after the fact; in real time, as I was writing him, because he was a daydreamer.

CaribbeanReads  …It definitely works

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …Thanks.

CaribbeanReads  …How did that day dreaming influence your illustrations, Danielle.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …Dolphin’s daydreaminess really helps define him, I think. It was the first thing that struck me when I started doing concept sketches of each of the characters. It set him apart from his friends…. aside from his nose of course. In the illustrations, I wanted his eyes to always be wide and filled with wonder.

CaribbeanReads  …You definitely got that right!

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …CaribbeanReads, as a publisher with an independent press, you have to be careful in your selections as your booklist is much shorter…what moved Lost! up the list in your mind? Why did you want to publish this book?

CaribbeanReads  …We fell in love with the story. The two main characters are so different and equally loveable. The words conjured up beautiful images.

CaribbeanReads  …We do have to be very careful about what we invest in but this was a no-Brainer. Children will love the story and the characters.

CaribbeanReads  …My only concern was finding an illustrator to do it justice. I think we all agree that was a success.

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …yep, agreed.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …Yay! Such an honour. I agree that children will love the story and the characters. It’s a bedtime favourite in my house already.

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Joanne C. Hillhouse  …Danielle, have you illustrated any other books or was this a new type of project for you?

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …I’ve worked on a few illustration projects, but this was definitely one of my favourites as I got to do full watercolour, every single page! 😀 I’ve always wondered, Joanne, how do you choose illustrators? Do specific ones come to mind for a book, or is it a process of looking through several options?

Joanne C. Hillhouse  … Cool. It’s the publisher’s choice ultimately. But I was asked to make recommendations and you were at the top of my list …the only mark against you was that you weren’t Antiguan and I like to rope Antiguan artists in to my projects if I can…but I didn’t hold it against you (lol)…and clearly I didn’t know if you did book illustrations though I knew your art…and really it was your art …there was one underwater piece in particular that made me think heeeyyy …it was a woman sort of suspended and the suggestion of movement and at the same time stillness/solace…don’t remember the name…but really your entire oeuvre generally…, your style, your aesthetic, something about the delicacy and beauty and flow of your lines and the whimsy of your artistic voice (different in some ways from your poetic voice) that made me think you could see the world I imagined. I’m glad to know I was right.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …Lost! was really a delight to work on. Thank you for inviting me to be such a big part of Dolphin’s story. 😊

Joanne C. Hillhouse …☺️

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …Danielle, any particular challenges during the process?

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …Working with a wee one-year-old assistant clinging to my legs! 😂 My little one, Rafael, was so fascinated by the illustrations. Other than that, not at all. CaribbeanReads was a pleasure to work with, and the story was so visual and lovely.

Joanne C. Hillhouse …😆😀

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …And thanks. I’m just glad  the story didn’t leave you uninspired. Lol.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …Joanne, how do you switch so seamlessly from children’s fiction to poetry to blogging, etc? And you do each one so well. I’m in awe. #superfantoo

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …It’s not seamless at all, but it helps that I don’t think in terms of genres. I don’t like boundaries around art (and some of the snobbery that inspires it) either as a reader or a writer. I write from character and curiousity (the things I’m trying to understand, or in this case the what if…). I did learn, and this was the challenge, that editing something you’ve written for a young reader poses certain unique challenges – in terms of reading level, vocabulary, abstract v. non abstract thinking etc.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …That makes a lot of sense. I find that when I don’t think of myself as a ‘poet’ or ‘writer’, but just someone trying to explore an idea through poetry or painting, the work is so much stronger. I love that idea of writing from curiousity.

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …Yeah writing helps me process and make sense of the world. So if you see me being miserable, I’m probably blocked.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …Me too! It all feels like chaos when I’m blocked. 😂

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …For me, it feels like being cut off from myself. Hate that space.

Joanne C. Hillhouse  …Oh, you know what else I’m curious about, the process visually of distinguishing between the world of the Arctic and the world of the Caribbean…underwater.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …I had to show some restraint with the Arctic underwater world, not go too crazy with colour. Lots of cooler blue hues, less undersea life. When Dolphin got to the Caribbean Sea, I used lots of warmer tones, swirls, different kinds of application techniques.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné  …And CaribbeanReads was really great about giving feedback!

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Joanne C. Hillhouse  …p.s. for anyone who doesn’t know Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné and I first met in 2008 when we were presenters at a panel Celebrating Caribbean Women writers in Barbados (early in both our writing journeys) – so thrilled to have had the opportunity to work on a project with her FINALLY – she is one of our distinctive modern poetic voices. Don’t sleep on her talent. It’s actually not fair that she’s just as talented with images as she is with words.

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(So that’s pretty much it. We opened it up to anyone to ask questions but, short of that, had fun having that conversation among ourselves; I think you’ll agree there were some interesting insights.)

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Joanne C. Hillhouse  …This was a rare treat. …Thanks for hanging Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné and CaribbeanReads … Joanne C. Hillhouse signing off from Antigua. Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure to the world. #bestseller #speakingitintoexistence

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A Teacher Claims the 2017 Wadadli Pen Prize

PRESS RELEASE

A Teacher Claims the 2017 Wadadli Pen Prize

Twenty-three year old Kaeiron Saunders Saunders croppedwas announced, at the Wadadli Stories Book Fair on May 13th, as the 2017 winner of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge. Saunders, a lecturer at St. Anthony’s Secondary School (SASS), only the second teacher to be added to the Alstyne Allen Memorial plaquechallenge plaque, won the main prize and her age category, 18 to 35, with the poem ‘Not Another Island Story; as told by Auntie Gah’.

The Wadadli Pen Challenge, an Antigua and Barbuda literary prize launched in 2004, requires that entries be Caribbean, while leaving the interpretation of that up to the writers’ imagination. For some it can be constricting, for others an opportunity to freely imagine a transforming Caribbean. This poem does both, acknowledging the confines of the same story told over and over,

‘“Not another island story, Auntie,
I’ve heard it all before”
But every year, around this time
Auntie Gah would add more.’

As it presents and critiques this nostalgic approach to Caribbean storytelling, it, also, makes the point that neither the Caribbean nor our perception of it is fixed in time.

“Hush and listen to my story
The point is not to criticize
But to show that the good within a society
Is relative to each new generation’s eyes”

That this rhythmic poem both acknowledges and subverts the clichés, earned the judges’ approval. They dubbed it a “great piece!”

Also coming in for approval were Devon WuilliezDevon, a 16-year-old Island Academy student, for her poem, ‘The Great Big Dumz’, and 11-year old Zion Ebony WilliamsZion, of Baptist Academy, for her story ‘Those who don’t hear, will feel’. Both won their respective age categories – 13 to 17, and 12 and younger – on the way to claiming the 2nd and 3rd prize overall.

It’s worth noting that while Saunders and Wuilliez are first-timers, Williams first submitted to Wadadli Pen in 2014 and has made two previous trips to the finals of her age category before this year claiming the top spot and a spot in the overall top three. For organizers this line-up is reflective of what Wadadli Pen hopes to do: encourage new voices to come forward, challenge practicing voices to keep pushing themselves, and foster growth in terms of the craft of writing in Antigua and Barbuda.

Other long listed writers are Andrecia Lewis (author of ‘Strange’), enrolled at the Antigua State College; Ava C. Ralph (author  of ‘Non Fiction?’), of Antigua Girls High School; Francis Yankey (author of ‘And She Sang Fire’), of the Antigua Grammar School; Fayola Jardine (author of ‘Shakiyah and the Mango Hater’); Lucia Murray (author of ‘Mr. Duppy’), a student at SASS; Shadiael Simmons (author of ‘Brave 11-year-old saves Baby from Fire’), a student at Baptist Academy; St. Andrew’s students Emma Belizaire (author of ‘Cricket is My Life’) and Ashley Francis (author of ‘Our Caribbean’), plus Island Academy, the school with the most submissions. Their rewards are a mix of cash, gifts, and time. Contributing patrons are Art. Culture. Antigua, Barbuda Express, the Best of Books, Brenda Lee Browne, Caribbean Reads Publishing, Claudia Elizabeth Ruth Francis, the Cushion Club, Danz’s Sweet Dreams, the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank, Frank B. Armstrong, Harper Collins, the International Women’s Club of Antigua and Barbuda, Jane Seagull, Jennifer Meranto, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Juneth Webson, Little Bell Caribbean, Monique S. Simon and the Caribbean Folklore Project, Paperclips, Raw Island Products, the West Indies Cricket Board, and one other regular patron who prefers to remain anonymous.

For the full breakdown of winners and prizes, and to read the winning stories, visit wadadlipen.wordpress.com

==END==

This is the press release circulated for media use about the 2017 Wadadli Pen Challenge after the May 13th 2017 Awards during the Wadadli Stories Book Fair. Please feel free to share. If you have questions, email wadadlipen@gmail.com

Featured image courtesy, a group shot of finalists and Wadadli Pen coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse, at the awards, courtesy Art. Culture. Antigua.

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Wadadli Stories Q & A

Wadadli StoriesYou’re at the Wadadli Pen blog so, presumably, you know this is the online home of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. If you don’t, go here. I promise to stop talking all things Wadadli Pen soon (I know everyone is not as hyped as I am about this) but our Awards are next weekend and, in spite of my other readings and panel at the May 13th Wadadli Stories Book Fair, for me the dopest part of the whole deal (the part I’m most looking forward to) is the Wadadli Pen Awards when we finally get to pat these young Antiguan and Barbudan writers on the back, and encourage them to keep writing and to never ever be afraid of using their voice.

There is, of course, lots more to see and do at the Book Fair and for the rundown we have Best of Books store manager Barbara Arrindell, the person whose idea sparked this entire event. Kudos, in advance, to her for moving inspiration in to thought, thought in to action, and action in to an event I believe the entire community will enjoy. As you’ll see in the interview, there’s something for everyone.

Wadadli Pen: What possessed you to take this on?

Barbara: Many countries large and small have literally events as part of their national calendar of events. There are things planned by government entities and things planned by private groups. In Antigua we have a few activities planned by individuals and service groups and in more recent times there has been a reading day planned through the Ministry of Education but I believe we need more if we are going to encourage our population older and young to read and write more. And the more for me should show the fun side of reading.

Wadadli Pen: On the point of fun, in today’s world of addictive video games, social media, and Netflix bingeing, how can you (and by you, I mean, parents etc. and you the organizer of this event) convince kids that reading books isn’t just this chore they have to suffer through in school? In what ways does this event try to showcase that reading is not only fundamental but fun?

Barbara: We are having celebrity readers. Hopefully, these will be some names and people they know. We are hoping that the message that comes across is that if these “cool” successful people read and have come here just to read to me. Then maybe reading really is cool. Also we hope that they will be exposed to books beyond what they use in the classroom. We come across little people from time to time who have no books in their home other than their school books so they associate books only with school work.

Wadadli Pen: What goes in to organizing something like this? Tell us a bit about how the sausage gets made?

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Barbara: Hmmm. Everything we do starts with making a decision to see it through to the end. If a lead organizer is lucky he/she finds a few people who share the vision and are willing to work as a team to make it happen. Contributing what they can and doing what they can. No exception here. So an online call was made for such people and two face-to-face meetings were held. Beyond that most of our organizing was done via WhatsApp. We’ve been lucky to have a few people like Natalie Clark and Marissa Walter who have been able to reach out to their contacts to get much of the physical  things we needed. Marissa was able to secure bathrooms from Island Sanitation and tents from Digicel. She also reached out to our onsite vendors Bobby’s​ Treats, the Sunshine Ice Cream Man and Brydens. Natalie negotiated with ACB [Antigua Commercial Bank] to get use of the parking lot [note: the event venue is the ACB Parking Lot on St. Mary’s Street], she communicated with the police and EMS to have them on hand. She reached out to the youth empowerment centre to borrow some of their resources and to the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. We have Louis Rivera and his team. skellihoppersThey created our logo and have done much of the design work for our online promotion. Many other people worked behind the scenes. Sonja George is coordinating our 18+ Erotica tent. Glen Toussaint and team are pulling together a Comi-Com tent.

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We have Jeriann George pulling together our celebrity readers. JerryAnn Francis working on our Jolly Phonics parents and teachers demonstration session. Mona Gardner of CHATS [Center for the Holistic Advancement of Therapeutic Services] and Dr Jillia Bird will be there conducting free screening. Dr. Bird will focus on sight. She will be testing young people 18 and under, while Ms. Gardner will be looking for things that have an impact on speech and the way we learn to read and process. She will see patients 0-99. She encourages parents to bring out their little children and have them tested if they suspect that there may be something going on that may stand in the way of their child learning. Sometimes understanding is all that is needed so that parents know how to proceed. The earlier the better, she says. And she wants to see adults because it is never to late to improve a situation. She also encourages people who have experienced a stroke or any injury that may have affected the brain to come and see her. This screening is FREE. in office these consultations could cost $200.

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Wadadli Pen: How much are you looking forward to this… to be over? And as the person who publicly resigned her post as Independence Lit coordinator during the awards ceremony  with an open letter challenging the Minister to hire a lit arts coordinator and get serious about the year round developemnt of the lit arts…how would you like to see this activity go forward beyond May 13th?

Barbara: I’m still annoyed at the fact that with all these highly educated people floating through our political landscape we have not seen fit to appoint someone to take responsibility for coordinating events .. as part of our culture .. you know the way we have a dance coordinator and a music person and pan ..And so much more. I get annoyed each month when I get an invitation from a government office in Barbados inviting me to participate in an activity and perhaps less frequently from almost every Caribbean space ..EXCEPT Antigua and Barbuda. I’m annoyed when all these people ask me for an hour of my time​ saying they are consultants with the government working on propoals to bring literary arts to the forefront in Antigua and Barbuda and then not a damn thing seems to happen. I’ve had two such interviews this year alone… and for the record I’ve blowm off a few others because I’d rather spend my energy doing rather than talking.

And on to Barbara’s final thoughts.

Barbara: Oh I haven’t mentioned our history and discussion corner featuring a talk by Keithlyn Smith author of To Shoot Hard Labour and a talk by the Reparations commission. I also haven’t mentioned our self development sessions and panel discussions. The first by HaMa on screen Writing. hamaThen a session on moving your manuscript forward by Joanne Hillhouse and Chadd Cumberbatch. Then a session on business and inspirational writing by Chrys Ann Ambrose and Dr. Dave Ray. We’ll also have an international publisher on hand from Harper Collins UK who is flying in from the UK to coordinate our primary and secondary school spelling Bees 17854813_10154497215021188_8497364273538347535_oand will be joining Joanne and Chadd’s panel discussion hoping to meet potential writers (primarily teachers interested​ in contributing to text books but authors in general).

And even more final thoughts.

Barbara: When I look at this event in it’s entirity ..the whole thing is dope. It is being promoted as “Wadadli Stories ..more than words”, yet we are starting off with a sort of academic thing A Spelling Bee because our Wadadli Stories do usually start with words so we want our young people to have command of our words and our language. But the event unfolds into so many unusual and interesting events. People walking around in costume as Comi-Com fans staking their claim in the literary world dispelling the idea that comics aren’t books… Our writers of Erotica ..saying we may not be for the young ..but we have a time and place … Our political figures ..our radio and TV hosts ..our musical stars our authors our artists ..our everybody .. getting involved.. now that’s cool. .and then we bring it to a close with the Wadali Pen writing challenge awards ceremony. We are happy  to host this awards ceremony within Wadadli Stories because it is a celebration of dedication and commitment by the coordinators and the teachers  who get it and know they need to encourage  participation in writing challenges. We  celebrate Wadadli Pen for providing young promising writers with an opportunity to flex their writing muscles for so many years. We are going to have little children and big grown men and women and everyone in between having a great time with “the word”… and we are doing it on the day before Mother’s Day and we hope that people will remember those who mothered the word in Wadadli… people like the Hart Sisters and Nellie Robinson … and many others ..people who ventured down their own path ignoring people who didn’t understand their methods.

Thanks to Barbara; sounds like it’ll be a busy and productive day, but also lots of fun. See you there, Antigua.  You, too, Barbuda.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. Seriously, a lot of time, energy, love and frustration goes in to researching and creating content for this site; please don’t just take it up just so without even a please, thank you or an ah-fu-she-subben (credit). If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

 

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