Tag Archives: Alexia Tolas

Reading Room and Gallery 42

Things I read or view or listen to that you might like too. Things will be added – up to about 20 or so – before this installment in the Reading Room and Gallery series is archived. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right. Possible warning for adult language and themes.

CONVERSATIONS

“My mother being from the Caribbean and my father being from the South, and me having a huge need to fit in and low self-esteem, I lost my identity very quickly, trying to fit in, to go under the radar…the disconnect from getting to know who Michael was…and the ability to chameleon myself…that also started very early…I got addicted to fantasy very quick.” – Michael K. Williams (RIP) in one of his last interviews discussing his craft, his addiction, his background (which is part Caribbean on his mother’s side – she was an immigrant from the Bahamas), his love of cooking and trying new things, and more. Michael K. came to fame first as a back-up dancer and choreographer and later playing iconic roles like Omar in The Wire, and as a strong character actor in films like Bessie and When They See Us.

***

“The Federal Art Project was part of something called Federal One, which had projects not just for the fine arts but also for theater, for writing, for music. There was a design index. It was one aspect of a really diverse and wide-ranging kind of project…the government saw it as an obligation, part of its duty, to provide artists in need with economic support. So they commissioned them to produce public art…The arts, for Roosevelt and the New Dealers, were seen as a fundamental component of a truly democratic society. A democracy could not call itself as such without art, music, theater, poetry, writing, design, photography, film.” – Alison Wilkinson in conversation with Jody Patterson for Vox

***

“In the same ways that women were expected and didn’t slip in high school in reading Shakespeare and be expected to get all sorts of things from Shakespeare and from Walcott and from Brathwaite – men can get enormous things from this book and from reading these women as well and that’s what I’ll say to that. There is a stance that, “oh we have to think about the men’s feelings here, and whatnot,” but we don’t think about that when it comes to women reading male writers, right? Male writers, they have achieved, it seems, a kind of universality that “women have not”… Bullshit. I cry bullshit to that. Women, too, are universal. Right? So if you want good writing, if you want good interviews, if you want all of that, women can provide it as well. So male writers will get the exact same things and male readers will get the exact same things here that they would get from any good book.” – Jacqueline Bishop in conversation with Jamaica Creates

FICTION

“Don’t get me wrong: Long Island boys look good. When the Anglican Diocese host Jamboree here, all the girls from Exuma and Eleuthera drool over our boys like they ain’t got none back where they come from. But I ain’t never seen nothing like Demetri before. Brown sugar kiss his gilded skin. The sun blink at the golden glint of his hair. I almost drown in the cerulean waters that rise up to meet me when he look over. He got them eyes that shift with the light. Sometimes they so clear you could see right down to the bottom. Other times they froth with the Lusca’s rage.” – Granma’s Porch by Alexia Tolas

***

“We meet our friends for happy hour, hand a twenty-dollar bill to the bartender, double-take when he quips, Still whiskey and Coke after all these years? We peer at him, recognize the brown boy we wrapped our arms around in a basement in Richmond Hill. While Aaliyah crooned on the radio.” – Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades, 2019 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest Winner

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“With all its horrors, the pandemic has led to a host of online workshops, open mics, events like poetry readings and literary festivals, virtual spaces to share, discuss and connect with other writers and writing communities, and a host of other opportunities. All of these have helped to improve my craft and my confidence. I have also been reading poetry voraciously from a diverse range of poets, and other articles that catch my interest, not just literary ones, from quantum physics to the amazing life and anatomy of an octopus. I assume it’s the same for everyone.” – Bocas longlisted poet (Guabancex) Celia Sorhaindo in conversation with US based Jamaican writer Geoffrey Philp on his blog.

***

‘I’d had workshop earlier that day, and my professor, Elissa Schappell, said two pieces of advice that lodged in my brain: Don’t be afraid to take risks in your writing, and Write what only you could say. It was advice I needed to hear at that point in time; I’d been pursing art in an academic setting—the MFA—and the program had, ironically (or perhaps not-so-ironically), left me feeling creatively stifled. Elissa’s words reminded me of the thematic and formal risks I wanted, and absolutely needed, to take in my art. What she said helped me feel the freedom I needed to feel to begin “Brown Girls.”’ – Daphne Palasi Andreades, KR Conversations

***

“Seabirds are a constant in my daily life. Along my daily commute frigates are flying overhead while pelicans rest on the waterside rocks. Just now, in the empty lot next to my apartment a lonely heron wanders about. When I ride the ferry over to the outer islands or over to St. Thomas, brown boobies chase the boat’s work. Sometimes I feel like my outstretched fingers may just graze their bellies.” – British Virgin Islands poet laureate and OCM Bocas prize winner Richard Georges in conversation with acclaimed and award winning Jamaican writer Jacqueline Bishop for her series in the Jamaica Observer Bookends supplement. Read the interview:

***

“She changed the requirement that actresses in the movies being invariably likeable or attractive. She lifted the veil of appropriate behaviour in women to expose what was scary, unexpected, or ugly; in other words, to do what was appropriate for the character” – Meryl Streep on Bette Davis for Turner Classic Movies

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, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, 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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Reading Room and Gallery 38

Things I read that you might like too. Things will be added – up to about 20 or so – before this installment in the Reading Room and Gallery series is archived. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

Read the winning entries Wadadli Pen Challenge entries, a mix of poetry and short fiction, with some visual art, through the years.

THE BUSINESS 

INTERVIEW/DISCUSSION

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– Joanne C. Hillhouse Catapult Caribbean Creatives Online #catapultartsgrant #AskMeAnything Q & A with readers

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Antiguan and Barbudan writers discuss To Shoot Hard Labour by Keithlyn and Fernando Smith as part of a month long reading series featuring the book. The series was produced by Beverly George for Observer Radio’s Voice of the People.

REPORTING

Excerpts, in no particular order, from Caribbean Time Bomb author Robert Coram’s A Reporter at Large: Ancient Rights in The New Yorker, 1989:

“Joseph, like most of the divers, is fond of having a drink now and then, and he is fond of rum, but he will not touch Cavalier rum, because it is made on Antigua.”

“And although the Barbudans had long ago learned to live together, so that there was little need for a judicial system, they were now technically bound by the laws of Antigua.”

“But the Antiguans, who saw Barbuda as a poor and backward island, did not want to finance medical facilities, schools, clergy, and courts on Barbuda.”

“The island is also ridiculed because the people are different; their quirky individuality standing out even in the Caribbean.”

“Barbudan slaves (enslaved Barbudans – my edit) even used Codrington boats to send their livestock and the fresh meat from their poaching to Antigua, and in 1829 the Codringtons’ island manager wrote of Barbudan slaves (enslaved Barbudans – my edit) wrote of Barbudan slaves, ‘They acknowledge no master, and believe the island belongs to themselves.’”

“Until 1961, when regular air traffic from Antigua began, it could take a week to reach Barbuda, even from Antigua.” – read the full article here: New Yorker 06 Feb 1989 

***

‘It was in form four, he says, that his work began to acquire an especially grim, menacing glint, layered with violence, tones of the macabre, and an arsenal of baleful sexual suggestion. His father, who dutifully printed off copies of the stories at work, gave him a sage kernel of advice that Hosein has never forgotten: “Even if you writing smut, keep writing. Just be careful of who you showing it to.”’ – Shivanee Ramlochan on Kevin Jared Hosein in Caribbean Beat

ESSAYS/NON-FICTION 

– Yvonne Weekes reading from her volcano themed memoir

***

“Georgetown is where some 90% of the population live today. We shouldn’t really be here. But in the 1700s, Dutch colonisers, bringing technology from their own low-lying country, decided to drain the swampy coast and install a ‘polder’ system of canals, sluice gates (known locally as kokers) and dams to cultivate sugar and other crops on the fertile land. Historian Dr Walter Rodney estimated that, in doing so, enslaved Africans were required to move 100 million tonnes of soil by hand. Ever since then, the sea has been trying to reclaim the land that was taken from it.” – Life on Stilts: Staying Afloat in Guyana by Carinya Sharples

***

“We are unwitting victims of a larger global issue beyond our control.” – from After the Aftermath: Hurricane Dorian by Bahamian writer Alexia Tolas

***

‘In “Winged and Acid Dark,” Hass tells us directly what happens to the woman in Potsdamer Platz in May 1945, but he does this direct telling circuitously. The poet approaches the idea, then “suggests” the rape. Note the second stanza: “the major with the swollen knee, / wanted intelligent conversation afterward. / Having no choice, she provided that, too.” The poem suggests the before by describing the “afterward” and by describing what the woman has to do “too.” Later in the poem, Hass describes the prying open of her mouth and the spitting in it, and lets these moments stand for much more. The lightning strike of this poem, the one we would expect at least, would be a graphic description of the rape, and yet, Hass soothes us on that front while delivering alternatively terrifying truths. The thing we prepare ourselves for, because we’ve heard that old war story repeated so many times, is only alluded to. Instead, Hass focuses on something else we are surprised by and therefore have to hear.’ – Tell It Slant: How To Write a Wise Poem by Camille T. Dungy

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“I wanted not simply to record but to interrogate what was happening and my response to it, to use poetry the way it can function at its utilitarian best: offering ways of seeing, of examining, of challenging complacency, and of contextualising the current situation within broader life considerations. …I am surprised at what I am doing because I normally spend a huge amount of time thinking about, writing, and then editing everything that I write before sending it into the world, so this speed of composing, followed by a click of Send and then almost immediate response is something new for me. I am less concerned with literary values or aesthetics than I am with memorializing the historic moment that I am living through. I want to capture the zeitgeist, literally, ‘the spirit of the time’.” – Cross Words in Lockdown by Olive Senior

“I would sit and talk to them, get to the essence of who they were…because it would help me to figure out how to write for them.” -Babyface

FICTION

“On his knees, hands behind his head, he asked for a cigarette. I gestured that he be given one. Our eyes met, we held each other’s gaze. What was he thinking? He must have been the same age as me. The same dark skin and stature. In another time, another place, we might have been neighbours, colleagues, friends. But here, now, he is one of them. ” – from The Debt by Nicholas Kyriacou

***

“In later years when he lying in bed all by he self…” – Levar Burton reads ‘A Good Friday’ by Barbara Jenkins. You can read this and other stories in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean

***

“Sunny stayed up the entire night, mopping the floors of her living room and bedroom as the heavy winds forced water through the shutters and windows. It was silly, in hindsight. The water was coming anyway, and fast. But she had to pass the time. Once every half hour or so, she would run to the hallway, frightened by the loud crashing noises from outside, anticipating that one of the shutters would give way and the kitchen window would burst wide open. They never did that night.” – Four Women at Night by Schuyler Esprit

POETRY

“A mother has just lost her son
A mother has just lost her son
A mother has just lost her son.” – reading by Curmiah Lisette, from her poem ‘The Bandits’, part of the CaribCation Caribbean Author Series

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“Speaking to you from St. Lucia…we have a strong literary tradition, anchored by our Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott.” – John R. Lee reading and discussing his lit and more in the CaribCation Caribbean Author Series

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“Somewhere or other there must surely be
The face not seen, the voice not heard,
The heart that not yet—never yet—ah me!
Made answer to my word.” – from Somewhere or Other by Christina Rossetti

***

“But grief,
it wrings out your soul-case” – Grief by Yvonne Weekes in Barbados’ Arts Etc.

***

“My iPhone keeps me company.
Plays music for me, shows pictures
of friends, what they’re thinking.
Lights up the dark when I’m missing you,
brings other poets’ words with a touch.” – from ‘April 2020’ by Julie Mahfood (Jamaican in Canada) in the Jamaica Gleaner’s Meeting Ground: Poems in the Time of COVID-19

***

‘Like other poets of the Harlem Renaissance, McKay, though a powerful advocate of black liberation, took the dominant “voice” of traditional culture, mastered it and made it accommodate his different ways of seeing, his visions and his anger. The fusion of urban realism with more traditional Romantic tropes in Harlem Shadows still leaves room for clear blasts of rage against “the wretched way / Of poverty, dishonor and disgrace”.’ – re poem of the week Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay (poem and analysis) 

***

“She forgave grandma, then a single mother of six,
who fed her children with one hand
while choking them with the other.” – from Mother Suffered from Memories by Juleus Ghunta in Anomaly 28

This blog is maintained by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, and author Joanne C. Hillhouse. Content is curated, researched, and written by Hillhouse, unless otherwise indicated. Do not share or re-post without credit, do not re-publish without permission and credit. Thank you.

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Reading Room and Gallery 35

Here I share things I like that I think you might like too. But not just anything. Things related to the arts – from the art itself to closer examination of the art to the making of the art…like that. There have been 34 installments in this series before – use the search window to the right to find them; and there’ll be more additions to this installment before it too is closed – so come back.

VISUAL

“I’ve worked with so many artists, but I’ve seldom experienced such an ebullient, rich, and massively productive creative process,” Mouly told Artnet, later adding, “The goal for both of us was not just a resemblance but something that emotionally evokes her person, because Morrison is deeply complex. [The artwork] works in a cathartic way for the artist and the viewer and the reader…I’m very grateful that Kara was willing to put herself through this process.” – ‘Quiet As It’s Kept’: Artist Kara Walker Creates the New Yorker’s Cover Tribute to Toni Morrison

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BLOGS

“Our last poetry and prose collection was published in 2014 and we are overdue for another.” – Althea Romeo-Mark blogs about Writers’ Works’ Bern in Switzerland

NON-FICTION

“As an adult, when I was estranged from my mother, my father would ask me to recall those holidays where my mother labored in the kitchen for hours. He would ask me to think about why my mother went to such pains and expense. Was it just for her friends, he’d want to know? Of course not. He would tell me that my mother always felt an astute guilt at raising me away from my extended family. For all those holidays absent of grandmothers and aunts and uncles and cousins. Instead of allowing me to feel that loneliness, she filled up our house with guests. She feared that I would never know family as they knew it, that even though I professed not to feel that sense of loss, I had inherited it nevertheless. Her failure to teach me those values, my mother believed, extinguished in this world a way of love.” – Give Hostages to Fortune by By Mehdi Tavana Okasi

***

“Since my 30s, I’ve hated those birthday cards with their black balloons and messages of doom: How does it feel to be over the hill? Don’t collapse your  lungs blowing out candles!” – Judith Guest

POETRY

***

At sunset,
when sunlight morphs into dusk,
slaps start: mosquito roulette.” – Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming’s Writer’s Digest winning Weekend at the Beach

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“LVDB: My first novel was in the first person, and that felt like working from the center to the exterior in that I feel like I had such a deep understanding of that character from the start. And it was more about how to write this character in such a way where what I understand about her is accessible to a reader who is not me. With The Third Hotel it was sort of the opposite in the sense that there was a lot that I actually didn’t know about Clare and didn’t understand about Clare and so hard to work from the outside in. One bit of latitude that you get in the third person is that you can see into a character and you can also see around them. That roundness of perspective felt important for The Third Hotel, given how much instability there is in both Clare’s POV and the world at large.” – Crystal Hana Kim and Laura Van Der Berg in conversation

***

“For fiction written in the past tense, here’s a technique for tackling flashbacks that I stumbled upon years ago, and writers I’ve shared it with have tended to get highly excited: Start off your flashback with, let’s say, two or three standard-issue had’s (“Earlier that year, Jerome had visited his brother in Boston”), then clip one or two more had’s to a discreet “’d” (“After an especially unpleasant dinner, he’d decided to return home right away”), then drop the past-perfecting altogether when no one’s apt to be paying attention and slip into the simple past (“He unlocked his front door, as he later recalled it, shortly after midnight”). Works like a charm.” – Are These Bad Habits Creeping Into Your Writing? by  Benjamin Dreyer

***

“Rule No. 10: Revise, revise, revise.” – Colson Whitehead, Rules of Writing

INTERVIEWS

“The importance of controlling the image answers the question of why there are very few black films from that time. The hostage-taking of the image is something that happened because of a lack of access to tools, because of a lack of access to exhibition and distribution, because of a lack of access to the tools that captured who we were, and because of how images were distributed falsely with a different and untrue narrative. Every time a filmmaker of color makes a film, it is a rescue effort. It is an act of resistance and defiance to use tools that were kept away from us, tools that were used to harm us for so long. When I get to a film like this, where there are so very many black people in it, every frame becomes a vitally important demonstration of freedom.” – Ava Duvernay in conversation with vulture.com re her mini-series When They See Us

***

I don’t make any such decisions as my poems come to me as the first few lines come into my head, and any language that it comes in I just continue in that language. Sometimes it breaks in the middle of the poem and goes to Jamaican or breaks and goes to England but from when the first few lines come into my head that is the language it comes in
and I don’t make that choice in advance.” – Jean Binta Breeze talking to Jacqueline Bishop. Read the full interview which was published in Jamaica Observer’s Bookends column edited by Sharon Leach: BOOKENDS MARCH 24

***

“I resisted buying a scrapbook-like biography of Charles Dickens put together by Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, his great-great-great-granddaughter, on the occasion of his bicentenary (1812-2012). The book has photographs and facsimiles of documents: letters, his will, theater programs . . . I have the same birthday as Dickens (February 7th), and when he turned 200, I was a mere 60. A friend heard me talking about the book and surprised me with it.” – Brooklyn Book Fair pre-event interview with Mary Norris

***

“I was an avid reader when I was a pre-teen, so my mother would come home from work with Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High novels. It felt like Christmas each time. I would inhale the newness of the books, running my fingers across the pages, refusing to put creases in them. I was shocked when I came to America and found out that people leave books on sidewalks to take for free! I discovered The God of Small Things, The Alchemist, and 1984 this way. I had considered it an abomination to leave books on street corners, but I remember grabbing every one of those titles as if I were in a contest and grabbing gifts.” – Brooklyn Book Fair pre-event interview with novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn

***

“I daresay that as Caribbean writers, we are extremely fluent in the shapes and short story procedures absorbed largely from an English-focused curriculum; and later, from our exposure to narratives outside the Caribbean. In fact, we excel at them, much as we used to in cricket. If people don’t know it yet, the Caribbean is the producer of world-class contemporary short fiction in the Commonwealth, I’m thinking in particular of Trinidad and Jamaica. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I do contend that the caribbeanness of the Caribbean short story remains underexploited, though I’ve begun to see the emergence of writers who are reaching past the creole language to explore ‘folk’ tropes and structure.” – Jacob Ross in conversation with Jacqueline Bishop. Read the full interview: Ross 1Ross 2Ross 3Ross 4

FICTION

“I continued to go to the interviews, to prove that I was still alive, but I no longer expected anything.” – The Golden Bough by Salman Rushdie

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“It is an awkward thing to buy fish from another vendor. It’s like horning your partner, or switching to a new barber or hairdresser. Be guaranteed that your regular vendor will find out about your clandestine purchase, because the new vendor will be sure to gloat that they were able to ‘tek yuh sale from yuh’, and the next time you go to the market, your regular vendor’s glare will follow you all the way back to your house. Even those dead fish eyes will stare at you with scorn, and that normally tender flesh will fight you all the way down from your throat to your colon.” – A Hurricane and the Price of Fish by Shakirah Bourne

***

“I’m Mildred 302.0” – Mildred by Robin Burke

***

‘Humph,’ Mavis say in her usual grunt: ‘Nuh worry. Mi find some US dolla under the dresser when mi clean it last week that mi aggo keep. But mi have something fi har though, man. De wretch nuh know sey is her toothbrush mi use clean the toilet.’  – Son-Son’s Birthday by Sharma Taylor

Antiguan and Barbudan fiction and poetry here and here.

REPORT

“Born in 1892, Savage would often sculpt clay into small figures, much to the chagrin of her father, a minister who believed that artistic expression was sinful. In 1921, she moved to Harlem, where she enrolled at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. A gifted student, Savage completed the four-year program in only three and quickly embarked on a career in sculpting. During the early to mid-1920s, she was commissioned to create several sculptures, including a bust of NAACP leader W.E.B. Du Bois and charismatic black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey — two key black leaders of the period who were often at odds with each other. Both pieces were well received, especially in black circles, but the racial climate at the time hampered wider recognition of her work. Savage won a prestigious scholarship at a summer arts program at the Fontainebleau School of the Fine Arts outside of Paris in 1923, for instance, but the offer was withdrawn when the school discovered that she was black. Despite her efforts — she filed a complaint with the Ethical Culture Committee — and public outcry from several well-known black leaders at the time, the organizers upheld the decision.” – from The Most Important Black Woman Sculptor of the 20th Century (Augusta Savage) deserves More Recognition by Keisha N. Blain  

***

“I write, and I take my writing seriously,” he said. “Awards affirm this. But were I to write for awards, I would be a failed writer.” – Kwame Dawes in article in The Daily Nebraskan

***

“Winning the regional prize for the Caribbean means everything to me. It means that I made the right choice. After my first semester in college, I had to make a difficult choice between doing what was expected of me and what I wanted. It seemed to be a selfish decision. I come from a struggling family and a struggling island, so as a girl with potential, I was expected to prepare myself for a lucrative career in the traditional professions: law, medicine, architecture. However, I chose to write. I got a lot of criticism for that choice. Many people asked me what I could do with a Literature degree: write children’s books; teach? I could, and there is nothing wrong with either. I make my living using my degree, and I am happy, but I still felt as if the true purpose behind my decision had not been realized. It has now.” – Alexia Tolas, of Bahamas, Regional winner (for the Caribbean) of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story prize. Other regional winners are from Zambia, Malaysia, Cyprus, and New Zealand

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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The Commonwealth Caribbean pick is…

‘A 27-year-old Bahamian writer has been named the Caribbean winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Alexia Tolas, whose short story “Granma’s Porch” was selected for the award, said she was in disbelief when she received the notification a few weeks ago that she was the regional winner for the literary prize.

“When I found out it was via email, of course, and it was in the middle of the school day so I started to scream,” said Tolas, who works as a literature teacher at Tambearly International School.

“My co-worker she was like, ‘Are you okay?’

“I am like, ‘I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I just bucked my toe.’

“I was like I just bucked my toe on the furniture or something because I was like I can’t tell anybody, so it was amazing. When I got home, I did tell one person. I told my husband.”

“Granma’s Porch” is a Bahamian coming-of-age tale told through the eyes of a young Bahamian girl, according to Tolas.

She said the story explores several themes including emotional and sexual abuse, neglect and identity.

“It’s about a young girl just experiencing her first love but just the intricacies of what that means in a Caribbean context, specifically an island context,” Tolas said.

“It’s a lot more difficult for us, especially coming with experiences from our family, experiences in poverty, experiences in neglect and abuse. So, what do all of those experiences do in us making our decision, in us moving forward in adulthood?”

She added, “The protagonist is a young girl, so everything is coming from her eyes. She’s not the most reliable narrator. She doesn’t really understand how the world works, so every decision she makes, every theory she comes up with, is given to her by the people around her.”’ READ ON.

1  c.jpgAlexia is pictured, left, with sci fi author Karen Lord, right, who co-facilitated a Commonwealth-sponsored workshop we both participated in last year.

Congrats, Alexia. And thanks for the shout out!

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, and author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Oh Gad!, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All rights reserved. Subscribe to this site to keep up with future updates.

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Mailbox – Commonwealth Short Story Prize

This email I received as a (failed) entrant indicates that there were 5,081 entries this year; and 21 short listed entries. Regional winners will be announced in May and the overall winner will be named in July.

And FYI: “The Short Story Prize is Commonwealth Writers’ flagship project, attracting entries from almost every single country of the Commonwealth. We appreciate all the entries we receive: not only do we celebrate the winners and shortlisted writers, but a number of entries also feature in our anthologies and on our sister website, adda. We also run a series of creative writing workshops related to the Short Story Prize, and will be sure to contact you if any of these are organized for your area. Please do keep writing and sending us your entries.” Their email address is: writers@commonwealth.int

So the email links to the actual news re winners – and right away I have to shout out Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne and Alexia Tolas of the Bahamas (both of whom I participated in a Commonwealth Writers workshop with last year – though I knew Shakirah before).

1 nm

That’s Alexia and Shakirah, also a 2018 finalist for the Burt Award, second and third from left during a hangout at the Commonwealth Writers workshop in Barbados last year. Also pictured are far left Sharma Taylor, a Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlisted writer last year and is short listed this year for the Johnson and Amoy Achong Prize which will provide mentorship for a Caribbean writer; fourth from left workshop co-facilitator with Jacob Ross, Karen Lord; and me (JCH).

They are two of the four from the Caribbean still in the running – Shakirah for ‘A Hurricane & The Price of Fish’ and Alexia for ‘Granma’s Porch’; the other two are Guyana’s Kevin Garbaran for ‘The Ol’ Higue on Market Street’ and Trinidad and Tobago’s Rashad Hosein for and ‘Oats’ by Rashad Hosein.

There are short listed writers from across the Commonwealth and you can read the full list here. Of the list internationally acclaimed author and 2019 prize judge Caryl Philips (whose roots are in St. Kitts-Nevis) said, “The vitality and importance of the short story form is abundantly clear in this impressive shortlist of stories from around the world. These authors have dared to imagine into the lives of an amazingly wide range of characters and their stories explore situations that are both regional and universal. Almost as impressive as the number of entrants and the quality of the shortlist, is the amount of work that the panel of judges have invested in this process. They have read carefully, debated with great sensitivity, and been mindful of cultural traditions as they have collectively reached their decision. Compared to many literary prizes, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is still young. However, with each passing year the prize gains importance within the literary world. It offers a unique opportunity to read and think across borders, and to connect imaginations from around the globe. It has been a great honour to be a part of the judging of the 2019 prize.”

The announcement gives some teasers; I’ll just share the blurbs of the Caribbean ones:

“The unlikely romance between a no-nonsense market vendor and a retired swindler has dire consequences on the price of fish during hurricane season.” – A Hurricane & The Price of Fish

“Folktales and Jumbie stories take a dark turn after young Devika decides to investigate the rumours of an Ol’ Higue living in her village.” – The Ol’ Higue on Market Street

“Fearing for his life, Forceripe Frederick obeys the blind obeah man after breaking his window. His request: read to him. This is a story about an old man who keeps oats in his pocket and a troubled teen who learns why.” – Oats

“Abandoned by her father on her grandmother’s porch, Helena fumbles along the delicate border between adolescence and adulthood, guided by the past traumas of her friends and family and her troubled first love.” – Granma’s Porch

Congrats to all the winners; Caribbean, come through.

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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