Tag Archives: 2017

Carnival is Mas

Some of you who read this blog are not Antiguan or even Caribbean so when I talk about Carnival I’m not quite sure what you picture (some of you do have Caribbean Carnivals where you are as it’s become one of our more popular exports – wherever  Caribbean people reside – Miami, Toronto, Notting Hill, Boston, New York, Atlanta etc. – there is a Carnival). But beyond the wining and soca, the rum and debauchery, there is a history rooted in our liberation as former enslaved people brought to the Americas from our home continent of Africa centuries ago. In Antigua, Carnival (which celebrated its 60th anniversary as a summer festival – the Caribbean Greatest Summer Festival to hear us tell it, though Rihanna and Barbados’ Cropover might have something to say about that – this year but existed as a Christmas season mas before that) intersects with Emancipation Day, August Monday, and there is a small adjacent, but not integrated, Emancipation celebration that’s more about honouring the ancestors and seeking justice for the lives eaten up by hundreds of years of enslavement. And then there is Carnival proper which begins with pre-fetes, and includes pageants (Queens and Teens), music competitions (soca, calypso, pan), and, of course, mas…because Carnival is mas. And in Antigua that mas takes up two business days (three if you count Children’s Carnival though Children’s Carnival unlike the other two days is not a national holiday) known as Carnival Monday and Tuesday at the end of which prizes are dispensed. I wanted to share some of the mas in this space.

How it works is that you have different mas bands (or troupes) and they play different themes (a new one each year) – from mythology to lost civilizations to things in nature to things in the great beyond, and beyond; it’s about history and fantasy, creativity and expression. There are adult categories and junior categories. I’m going to share pictures from Junior (i.e. Children’s) Carnival first because those are the only mas photos I found on the Antigua Carnival facebook (and it works out fine since this is a youth-focused arts blog); but don’t ask me to say who is who nor what they’re playing.

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The source for the images in the slideshow is Antigua Carnival on facebook.

I wanted to show some of the adult themes as well.

Staci Mua RussellopeningInsane

In order, the top image is a modern take on the John Bull by Stacey Russel (Stacey and Dem) – the John Bull is a traditional mas character who used to scare the devil out of us when we were kids. It is based on the masked African witch doctor and back in the day there was a cattle tender with a whip, and the horned character would charge the crowd, and people would scatter; it was a whole thing. Read more on the John Bull here. The second image is a member of a mini-mas group called Just Friends, because that’s literally what they are. Me and my crew played behind  them this year (but more on that in a minute). The third image is Insane Mas. All three placed in the competition this year. Read the full results here. Sorry there aren’t more adult pictures but it’s hard to pull more without pushing beyond fair  use boundaries – as it is these three are public posts from the mas pages (Stacey’s and Insane‘s) and the Carnival page on facebook.

Finally, this year, as I blogged here, two friends and I (as one media person repeatedly intoned “all three” of us) decided to do our own thing this year. An ulterior motive was showcasing a character from my most recent children’s picture book With Grace – a mango tree fairy. So yes, this is a shameless plug for my Caribbean fairytale (please pick up a copy for the young one in your life) but it’s also mas which we all love and have played many times together and apart over the years. These costumes are made by my friends (with funding from Titi Rent-a-Car, Townhouse Megastore, and Pink Mongoose) and inspired by the art work in the book (illustrated by Cherise Harris). I think we did okay.

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That’s it!

Okay, fine, here are some more of the kids (love how much fun they’re having):

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-by Joanne C. Hillhouse, resident blogger and author

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THOSE WHO WON’T HEAR, WILL FEEL! by Zion Ebony Williams

Zion

Zion Ebony Williams

About the author: 11 year old Zion Williams is Grade 6 “A” student at the Baptist Academy.  She  loves liturgical dancing, singing and watching her favorite TV shows. Although relatively shy, lately she has become bolder, due mainly to her church’s quest to have young children doing public speaking at as early an age as possible. Zion has steadily progressed up the ranks since she started submitting to Wadadli Pen, earning honourable mention in the 12 and Younger category for The Night I went to Cricket in 2014 and 2nd runner up in the same category for A Dinner to Remember in 2016.

About the story: In an effort  to  prepare  Zion for the Grade 6 National Assessment this year,  her mom gave her several topics from which to choose and write a story, so she could get some practice in creative story writing. This is the story she wrote on the topic “Those Who Won’t Hear Will Feel.”  The story is about a nightmare she had, in which she suffered the consequences of being disobedient to her mother.

In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Annual Writing Challenge, the judges ranked Zion’s story 1st in the 12 and younger age category and 3rd overall.

***

Weeeoooeee, weeeoooee!  the wailing of the siren  and  the flashing lights seemed so  distant, but I knew the ambulance was here, for I heard my mother  saying, “be careful , l think her foot is broken .”  “Ahhhhhhhh!” I screamed as they lifted me into the ambulance. The pain was so excruciating, I felt I would  surely die. The talking grew fainter, and then… nothing….blackness . I had passed out.

It all started one bright day during the summer holidays. It was a normal day, until my mom said she had to go to a meeting, so I would be home alone with my big sister. Mom  left giving the usual command to study and do my homework,  with the reminder,  “Heights of great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight …..”  and I finished it for her, because I had heard it so many times before.  This was still normal,  until the neighbor’s  two girls called me out to play.  I knew my mom didn’t want me playing with them. She had often said “you’re in the same school, but you’re not in the same class. ” She meant their standards and values were different from ours.  You know those mothers who always have  a saying for everything ? Well, my  mom is one of those.
With all thoughts of the consequences for disobedience out of my head, I went out to play. We went directly to the forbidden dumbs tree, that  I was  told,  as a girl,  I was  never to climb. We competed to see who could climb to the highest part of the tree  and get the half snatty dumbs .  I really wanted to win, so although the limb did not seem sturdy, I still climbed on it. First, there was  a soft  “crack”, as I placed one foot,  and then a loud “CRACK”,  as I placed my other foot on the limb. The next thing I knew , I  fell  through the cassi  branches and  to the ground  with a loud THUD!

When I regained consciousness,  I was in the hospital  with a  cast on one foot,  a bandaged head, and heard one of the girls saying,

“It’s all her fault, we told her not to go up in the tree.”

“What!  They never told me that! ” I screamed to myself. I kept my eyes closed, because I didn’t want to see my mom’s disappointed look, but  I could not help hearing her say, “pickney who nah hear wa mumma say, drink peppa warta, lime, and sarl.”   When I was finally brave enough to look timidly  at mom,  she said lovingly, “a disobedient child is worthy of death, but thank God you didn’t die”.

“I’m sorry, mommy” I said sheepishly.
After  being  outfitted with a pair of crutches  and pain killers, I was sent home.  Mom  gave me my favourite ice cream, and then  said,  “ you know you’re going to get lashes for disobeying?”  as she went for the pot stick. “Whaaaaaa…whaaaaa!” I wailed loudly,  before I had even gotten a blow. I could not believe she was still going to punish me with my injuries….how CRUEL, I thought !

Mom was not moved. “What you crying for, you get something to cry for?….. Stop the noise or I’ll give you something to cry for! ….Open your hand!  Those who won’t hear,  will feel ! ”  I screamed , as she raised her hand,  and then felt some one shaking me.

“Wake up Zion!”  I was drenched in sweat.  “Phew!”  It was a DREAM….No,  a NIGHTMARE!

-END-

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

With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):

EC$100 gift certificate (contributed by the Cushion Club)
EC$200 (contributed by Frank B. Armstrong)
EC$125 cash/gift certificate (sponsored by Art. Culture. Antigua)
Painting (contributed by the artist Jennifer Meranto)
cake/cake voucher (contributed by Danz’s Sweet Dreams)
Books – Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane by P L Travers, Mary Poppins in the Park by P L Travers, Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P L Travers, Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers, Mary Poppins by P L Travers, Spell Like a Champion (sponsored by Harper Collins)
Gifts (sponsored by Juneth Webson)
With Grace by Joanne C. Hillhouse (contributed by Little Bell Caribbean)
Inspirational card (from a line created and contributed by Monique S. Simon’s Caribbean Folklore Project )
Certificate x2 (sponsored by the Best of Books)

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“AND SHE SANG FIRE.” by Francis Yankey

13 to 17

Yankey, left, at the Wadadli Pen awards with other winners in his category. Photo courtesy Linisa George/Art. Culture. Antigua

Francis Yankey, a 16-year-old fifth form student at the Antigua Grammar School, says, “Writing my poems and a story for the Wadadli Pen were not easy, but worth it. I was inspired by a past Grammarian, who used to enter this competition & due to my love for reading and wanting to hone my writing skills. I am grateful for the Wadadli Pen for doing a wonderful initiative.”

Judges’ verdict: “Lovely and imaginative.”

In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Annual Writing Challenge, Yankey’s story tied for 3rd in the 13 to 17 age category.

***

“Isabette, Isabette, Isabette,” wanders the mind of Sonny Joe. Twenty years now, he still remembers her sweet musical sounds. Isabette, that black girl on fire.

When he was a young man, he would always walk down on the street in his village to Faroe’s Beach in the night.  In the village, there were no lamp posts neither street lights; however, he continued to walk in the darkness. As he entered the beach, he took off his clothes and hat. When his feet touched the cold waters from the sea, he breathed in the cool, misty breeze.

He jumped into the sea and swam in far distances for his relaxation. Suddenly, he heard someone singing, he was not alone. As he looks up, his mouth opened wide and the first word was Isabette, but that was not her true name. He saw her orange-red locks, her glowing red eyes and her lips glitter as gold. He also saw her elegant dress which was the same color of her locks. Isabette was the name of his mother who died when he was young. She was no ordinary black girl that he has ever seen before. His body was benumbed in the ocean, listening to the tunes and seeing fire blaste out from her mouth as she sang her heart out. She sang,”oh la la, tra la la. Love is so sweet, love is so merry, and love is so cherry.” Furthermore, he beheld geometric shapes in fire blasted from her mouth mid-air.

His eyes talked with her dazzling, red eyes. The only possible language between them was the language of love. The sad thing is that he didn’t bring his guitar to harmonize with her amazing voice. This happened in a few seconds where she disappears. The next night, he returned to the beach hoping to see her again. Then fire magically comes out of the sand and there she was. He couldn’t resist her charms and her unbelievable voice. While she sang so lustfully, he played his guitar with its sweet rhythm. They finished performing after midnight, and she vanished once again.

This strange incident continued to happen for the year. In all his mysterious nights with her, she didn’t seem to come from this planet. When he asked her questions pertaining to who she was, she just sang higher acting if she was deaf. Who was this black beautiful stranger?

When he returned as always to the Faroe’s Beach, he waited patiently for her arrival to meet him. As he waited, he remembered her melodic lyrics and the fire that would always come out of her mouth. Notwithstanding, she will never come back again to meet her lover, but he didn’t know. So he waited for a long time and she still has not arrived yet, therefore he sadly left.

Night after night, he came but without any luck. The only thing was fond memories of this stranger. He wanted to tell the village, but they would consider him a lunatic. So he kept it to himself as his treasured secret. Years passed by rapidly, yet he clearly remembered Isabette. His secret was the love between them and she would always be his black girl on fire.

-END-

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

With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):

EC$75 (contributed by the International Women’s Club of Antigua and Barbuda)
Books – The Sisters and Manco’s Stories by Jan Carew + Cirque du Freak: Lord of the Shadows by Darren Shan (contributed by the Best of Books)
Certificate (sponsored by the Best of Books)

 

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BRAVE ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD SAVED TWO MONTHS BABY by Shadiael Simmons

Shadiael

The author, an 11-year old student at Baptist Academy, says: “I love playing football and I am a part of the Villa Lions Football Club.”

Judges’ verdict: “This story has potential.”

In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Annual Writing Challenge, the judges ranked Simmons’ story 3rd in the 12 and Younger age category.

***

“Good Morning mommy!” I said in the kitchen of my home. For some reason, I started playing football; she turned and exclaimed sharply: “BWOI! how much time I have to tell yuh nuh play football in the kitchen, especially when me in yah a cook!”

I immediately stopped.

“Go bathe yuh ‘kin and get ready fu football and then come eat,” she instructed, going back to work on the fried dumplings.

Later that Saturday afternoon my mother told me that she was going to get her hair done. After she left, I played football at the front yard on the grass. Fifteen minutes into the game, while I was cheering myself on and sweating all over, I heard a cry.

I stopped and listened. I was about to continue when I heard it again, this time louder and more frightened. I ran to where the crying was coming from and ended up in my neighbour’s front yard. I ran into the house and saw the pot on fire with no way to out it.

“What can I do?”

I  ran to the baby’s room, quickly grabbed her up but by that time, the fire was eating away at the Living room. I looked and looked and looked for an escape. Then, I saw a window in the masters bedroom. I got a stool from the baby’s room and then I started to cough. I placed the stool at the bottom of the window and awkwardly lifted myself and the baby out the window, accidentally cutting my right shin against the window pane.

When I got out the house, ABS  and the Daily Observer questioned me. I didn’t Know how to answer those questions because I was so badly hurt and I was coughing non- stop. As the house exploded I heard a wailing scream coming from the baby’s mother, Yvonne, who was running towards the house. She saw me with the baby in my hands and came over, crying “OH GOD! OH GOD! OH GOD!”

She took baby girl from me and started crying all over again as she sobbed “Thank you!”
Two minutes later the ambulance arrived with the fire fighters and it was all loud and exciting from there, however I was still struggling to breathe.

When I woke up I was in the hospital. They said I had second degree burns on my hands, feet and face. The doctors placed me on oxygen because I had inhaled a lot of smoke. Baby girl’s parents visited me and thanked me again for what I had done. I was in the newspapers and on the television… I was to be the next national hero.

-END-

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

With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):

EC$75 cash/gift certificate (contributed by Art. Culture. Antigua)
Books –  The Person Controller by David Baddiel w/illustrations by Jim Field, AniMalcolm by David Baddiel w/illustrations by Jim Field, Sword in the Stone by T H White, Spell like a Champion (contributed by Harper Collins)
Gifts (contributed by Juneth Webson)
With Grace by Joanne C. Hillhouse (contributed by Little Bell Caribbean)
Certificate (sponsored by the Best of Books)

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OUR CARIBBEAN by Ashley Francis

ashley francis

The author – an 11 year old sixth grader at St. Andrew’s School – says: “I love writing poetry and music lyrics. So when I heard about this contest and that we had to ‘keep it Caribbean and fresh’, I immediately wanted to enter and share a poem that tells all about my love and pride for my Caribbean.”

In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Annual Writing Challenge, Francis’ poem earned Honourable Mention in the 12 and Younger age category.

***

Caribbean, we feeling nice
A place where the sun is bright
A load of beaches to swim
This paradise is no sin.

All of these beautiful islands
There is nothing that is more grand
Than the great Caribbean
Sun, sea and sand.

Jumping up when it’s Carnival time.
Listening to all the soca rhymes
Carnival is so dear to me
Cant wait ‘til its100th anniversary.

Put your hands in the sky
Wave them, way up high
Let Caribbean beauty shine
It’s the favourite place of mine

Beaches, forests, rivers and lakes
Coming here to the Caribbean is no mistake
Please don’t try, for goodness sake
It’s a place you can’t recreate

Come enjoy a cricket game
You’ll never want to go once you have come
You will never feel the same
An experience you can’t even name

Come and celebrate with me
Let us rejoice with glee
The Caribbean is the Key
To sun, sand, and sea

Let us say this one last time
These isles are truly divine
All of these gorgeous lands
Make up the ‘Islands of the Caribbean’.

-END-

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

With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):

Books – Love From Paddington by Michael Bond w/illustrations by Peggy Fortnum and R. W. Alley, Spell like a Champion (contributed by Harper Collins)
Gifts (contributed by Juneth Webson)
Certificate (sponsored by the Best of Books)

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CRICKET IS MY LIFE by Emma Belizaire

Belizaire

Emma Belizaire

The author says: “I am 11 years old.  I am a 6th grader at St. Andrew’s School.   I have a love for all sports especially football and cricket.  My hero is Anisa Mohammed; the amazing female cricketer for the Women’s West Indies team.  Many people tell me I bowl like her, and so she and my love of cricket inspired this poem.”

Judges’ verdict: “Good poem.”

In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Challenge, the judges ranked Belizaire’s poem 2nd in the 12 and Younger age category.

***

Cricket ohh cricket
Cricket is my life
When I play cricket I feel free
So don’t try to beat me!

There is batting, there is fielding
There is also bowling
But when you see my team and I playing
We are unstoppable!

You are not going to beat me
You better take a seat,.. see
You see when I play cricket
I am in a zone, I am free
Cricket just calms me

I am in a zone that no one can take
Away from me
I am free…just free
I am free.
Don’t disturb me when I am playing,
I am in my zone

Cricket ohh cricket
Cricket is my life
Cricket just calms me
Don’t disturb me while I am playing, I am
In my zone. My cricket zone.

When you see me hitting the boundary
And knocking sixes with my eyes closed like
Sir Vivian Richards, I am in my zone.

When you see me breaking middle wickets
Like Anisa Mohammed, I am in my zone.
When you see my team catching them out
Like West Indies. We are in a zone.

When you see me wicket keeping like Ramdin
I am in my zone
When you see me bowling maidens like Stephanie Taylor
I am in my zone.

When I am playing with my team or even friends, I zone out.
Cricket just calms me
Cricket ohh cricket
Cricket is my life

When I’m looking like a tomato all red with rage
But then I’m playing cricket I just let go,
Cricket ohh cricket
Ohh cricket
Cricket is my life!!

-END-

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

With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):

EC$100 cash/gift certificate (contributed by Art. Culture. Antigua)
Books – Street Child by Berlie Doherty, Dotty Detective by Clara Vulliamy, Spell like a Champion (contributed by Harper Collins)
With Grace by Joanne C. Hillhouse (contributed by Little Bell Caribbean)
Gifts (contributed by Juneth Webson)
Cricket gear (contributed by the West Indies Cricket Board)
Certificate (sponsored by the Best of Books)

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NON FICTION? by Ava C. Ralph

PicsArt_01-27-06.28.14Ava C. Ralph, 15 at the time of submission, now 16, is a student at the Antigua Girls High School, who says she wrote ‘Non Fiction?’ “to keep myself sane. Reason for writing this like this: I really don’t know.” On learning she’d been named to the long list, she emailed, “Not gonna lie I still cannot believe you actually read my poem. Thank you so much for everything. I am beyond excited.”

Judges’ verdict: “Depth with a subtle invitation to look deeper.”

In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Challenge, they ranked Ralph’s poem 2nd in the 13 to 17 age category.

***

How can I not write about non-fiction when this life is all I know
Truth be told I could write this poem a million times, and every time a piece of me will be lost
All that will happen is that
No otherworldly magic will occur
I’ll  simply mask the words giving myself a new form
‘Cause the poet in me is just a shape shifter, really
Somebody tell Papa Ben step to the side and  watch the real master mek moves
Let me hide myself behind metaphors, puns and tings
Let me be like my ancestors singing to cope with the pain, pouring my life into a bottle and then calling myself Brer Anansi because no one really cares for reality
Let me tie my struggles in banana leaves dried and died like my short lived dreams
Call me ducana although my friends would laugh and call me saltfish
Papa Ben I get it now
Let me stand by you
We can watch the forest together
Or at least here in Antigua we watch some coconut trees grow, struggle to live dehydrated, and then after years of life, lose theirs in a category three hurricane
This may seem blunt
This may even seem bitter
But I can’t help it
This is the story I’ve been forced to withstand
Written with a pen filled with life trembling in my hand

I cannot stress this anymore
I am only a measly shape shifter
Except this time only my shape has shifted
(My devices may be overlooked but then again I am too)
You said to keep this poem Caribbean so I’ll place my life on this page
Please ink my words  in red ’cause my blood is here and my ancestors’ too
Please ink my words in red just to make me seem more poetic
Please ink my words in red ’cause this is non-fiction

-END-

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

With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):

EC$125 (contributed by the International Women’s Club of Antigua and Barbuda)
Books – Jeremiah, Devil of the Woods by Martina Altman, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling,  + Champions of the Gayelle by Alwyn Bully, Zeno Constance, and Pat Cumper (contributed by the Best of Books)
Certificate (sponsored by the Best of Books)

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THE GREAT BIG DUMZ by Devon Wuilliez

Devon W for posting

The author says: “I enjoy writing poetry in English class. I deeply appreciate my teacher, Mrs.DiCocco for helping me enjoy English. My poem, ‘The Great Big Dumz’ is about how the Caribbean was brought together by a Dumz tree… (it) shows just how united the Caribbean islands are and gives a youthful spin on how the Dumz tree spread around the Caribbean.”

Judges’ verdict: “This hits all the right points, Rhyme and Rhythm, Caribbean flavor. It is simple yet immersive…and catchy enough that you could get beyond the whiff of cliché and enjoy the sweet familiarity.”

In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Annual Writing Challenge, the judges ranked Devon’s poem 1st in the 13 to 17 age category and 2nd Overall.

***

There was once a search for a very special tree
A tree so tall, and as bold as could be
The tree had fruit that was ever so sweet
For no other tree could even compete
The children would search, all across the land
They would climb through bush and dig deep in the sand
The trunk was ever so strong and thick
The fruit so plump, and ready to pick
For years they searched, but nothing was found
Some even assumed it was dug out of the ground
It was said that this tree could only be seen
Somewhere way down deep in the Caribbean
For it’s only here that such beauty can grow
The soil is soft and there isn’t any snow
It was on one exceptional Saturday
When some of the children had just come out to play
They had noticed a crack in the side of a cave
A small leaf poked out and suddenly waves
They began to move away rocks and that’s when they found
The Great Big Dumz tree with fruit so round
It had been asleep in the cave for as long as they knew
At last they discovered the tree with its outstanding green hue
After enjoying some fruit they sat down to think
They thought of a plan brought them together with the tree as their link
They decided to share this magnificent tree
By planting a seed in every Caribbean country

-END-

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

With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):

Barbuda ferry tour voucher x2 (courtesy Barbuda Express)
EC$300 (contributed by Frank B. Armstrong)
EC$225 (contributed by the International Women’s Club of Antigua & Barbuda)
Painting (contributed by the artist Jennifer Meranto)
One on One Coaching session (courtesy author Joanne C. Hillhouse)
Books – Jeremiah, Devil of the Woods by Martina Altman, Twilight: Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer, + Dragon’s Oath: A House of Night novella by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast  (contributed by the Best of Books)
Inspirational card (from a line created and contributed by Monique S. Simon’s Caribbean Folklore Project
Certificate x2 
(sponsored by the Best of Books)

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SHAKIYAH AND THE MANGO HATER by Fayola Jardine

Fayola JardineThe Writer – a local poet, spoken word artist, and actress currently at work on three books with plans to publish her first poetry book by the end of 2017 – says: “Shakiyah is an island girl who climbs trees and picks mangoes. While doing just that, she meets Brent, a mango hater. That should’ve been enough to tell her he was bad news.”

Judges’ Verdict: “There is a good build up between characters.”

In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Annual Writing Challenge, they ranked Jardine’s story 3rd in the 18 to 35 age category.

***

I should’ve known. After all, his opening line was, “I hate mangoes.”

It was the heart of the mango season and I agreed to help Mama make mango jams for Mango Fest the following week. I took a bus to Urlings, to my father’s farm, to pick the mangoes we needed.

When I arrived, my dad was in the middle of a tour. He wore a bright grin and signaled with pride towards his ackee trees and jamun berries.

I snuck by, not in the mood to make friendly, and jogged to the storage house where I retrieved a basket.

Appropriately dressed in t-shirt, jeans, and bare feet, I hoisted myself up into a mango tree and picked and threw mangoes into the basket below. In no time, I was lost in the rhythm of the work and the smell of the fruit.

“I hate mangoes,” he said.

I looked down and found a young man looking up at me, decked in fancy track pants and a fresh mohawk. He was cute.

“More for me,” I said.

“It’s mongoose food.”

“You drink milk?” I asked.

“Yea.”

“Baby cow food.”

He threw back his head and laughed.

“I’m Brent,” he said.

“Shakiyah,” I answered.

“You look too pretty to be climbing trees, Shakiyah.”

“One does not preclude the other,” I said. “Are you looking for someone?”

He smiled. It was crooked, but cute.

“I’m looking for dums. Can you show me where they are?”

I obliged him. He helped me down from the tree. My feet landed with a heavy thump on the grassy ground.

I escorted him towards the dums and we started a conversation. I learned he was eighteen – just a year older than me, and was home on summer break from college overseas.

We spoke about Mango Fest and I told him he was missing out. He cocked his head to the side, smiled, and said I was changing his mind. I fought not to blush.

We walked, talked, and flirted, and took longer than necessary to get to the dums.
We found the big ones that resemble green apples. He bit into one with gusto.

“Now this is good!”

I laughed at his enthusiasm.

“If I promise to come see you at Mango Fest, will you give me your number?” He asked.
I gave him my cellphone. Our fingers touched and my heart sped up, just a little. He was about to –

“Brent!”

A girl, who looked like her skinny jeans and bandeau top were painted onto her body, stomped towards us. Brent choked out the name Camille and took a step away from me.
“You carn serious,” she said. Her eyes raked over me like a detective scouring a crime scene.

Brent blurted out that I was the farmer’s daughter – Shakiyah wasn’t good enough, it seemed.

“What’s going on here?”

My father walked into the grove with his guests in tow. He stared at me. The guests stared at me. Camille glared at me. I felt like a suspect standing in front of a judge, jury, and hateful-looking prosecutor.

Moments, that felt like lifetimes, passed.

My mind was racing for something to say when a fat raindrop landed on my nose. As if on cue, a cloud burst over our heads and everyone ran towards the verandah, for cover.
Grateful for the rain’s redemption, I ran to the storage house. I was embarrassed, and glad that I could hide away until everyone left.

It was then that I patted my pocket, and remembered that Brent had my phone.

-END-

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

With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):

EC$100 (contributed by Caribbean Reads Publishing)
Books – 3 AM Epiphany by Brian Kitely and This Year You write Your Novel by Edward Mosley (contributed by Brenda Lee Browne along with a scholarship to the next Just Write Writers Retreat)
Books – Thicker than Water by Cal Flyn and Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (contributed by Harper Collins)
Certificate (sponsored by the Best of Books bookstore)

 

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STRANGE by Andrecia Lewis

Andrecia

Andrecia, a 17-year-old student at the Antigua State College who wrote “I enjoy writing stories”, says of her 2017 Challenge submission: “Strange is the story about a teenage guy who had a dream that he was taken back in time to the Caribbean during the19th century and also contemporary 21st century Caribbean. He discovers that although the times has changed. There is one thing that remains the same.”

In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Annual Writing Challenge, the judges ranked Andrecia’s story 3rd (tie) in the 13 to 17 age category.

***


The thunder clanged violently
, as the rain beat in a mad fury against the rooftops. The wind howled outside, singing an eerie bewitching tune. I stared, mesmerized at the incomprehensible words on the pages in the book that I held tightly in my hands. With each page I turned, I became more enraptured as the words seemed to swirl and dance before my eyes. In the distance, I could hear a monotone voice, but the muffled words made no sense to me.  A blanket of darkness suddenly washed over me, and it was as if all of a sudden I was being carried far away, to a distant foreign land.

The darkness that had so suddenly engulfed me lifted.  After taking two deep, shaky breaths, I opened my eyes, clueless as to my whereabouts. Suddenly, a loud cheer erupted, around me stood over 400 persons decked in the finest clothing. The women, adorned in bright morning silk dresses and lovely lace parasols and hats of the finest quality. The men were clad in breeches and silk waistcoats  of unquestionable sophistication. All eyes glued to the horror movie unravelling before their cold, cruel, unfeeling eyes. The weather was nice and warm and it was an exceptionally lovely day, but such was insignificant. All that was to be focused upon was the body, jerking and trembling at the end of a rope tightly fastened around his neck.  The flailing of limbs and the agonized expression, the urine that dripped from those stockinged feet. I stared in horror, aghast at what I was witnessing. My body began to tremble uncontrollably, and my blood ran cold, as I stared continuously and unwaveringly, mouth agape. When I finally somehow returned to reality, I heard them chanting and chanting and chanting. “This was an outward demonstration of the consequences of his vice, the minimum necessary to appease God, before whom he was an abomination!” over and over again, as if reciting a psalm drilled into them since birth. With that being said, I ran as if the chariots and horses of Roman soldiers were after me. My feet sped down the dusty street. I was running and running, not knowing where I was going, or even if I was going anywhere at all. I felt myself fading away, losing touch with my surroundings, then I saw  nothing but black.

A blanket of darkness suddenly washed over me, and it was as if all of a sudden I was being carried far away, to a distant foreign land. I opened my eyes slowly, and stood up, and it was as if by some mysterious force, my legs began to move and I started running.  Lo and behold, I encountered a small abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. Slowly, I entered  the mysterious house, but there was noone in sight. Empty liquor bottles were scattered across the floor, and the ground was also littered with blood-covered knives. I began to see visions of a soul being tormented. Trying to numb the pain by dragging sharp objects against his skin. A soul spending days and nights drowning himself in alcohol, just to ease the pain, and silence the haunting voices that terrorized him day and night. Those voices screamed.

“Bun fire pun anti-man, bun fire pun anti-man!” A soul that dreams about what it would be like to no longer be alive, a soul that fantasizes about death. The visions began to get more real, and I could see a man with a gun in his hand pacing unsteadily in front of me. “Me cyan tek um no more,” he repeated over and over again like a broken record. I tried to get to him, to take the gun away to tell him that he didn’t have to do this, but it was as if the words couldn’t form, it was as if… “You likkle bwoy, you beta get outta de bed an gwan get ready for school.”

-END-

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

With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):

EC$75 (contributed by the International Women’s Club of Antigua & Barbuda)
Books – The Sisters and Manco’s Stories by Jan Carew + Reached by Ally Condie (contributed by the Best of Books)
Certificate (sponsored by the Best of Books)

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