Tag Archives: Antigua and Barbuda

You should read…

I mentioned it before and I have skimmed it previously, but I am finally taking some time to read through the Daily Observer Independence 2021 issue (I know, I know).

For any non-Antiguans-&-Barbudans here our 40th anniversary Independence commemoration was November 1st.

The first 15 or so pages of the anniversary issue are taken up with the obligatory messages (read if you like that sort of thing but really, skip). Beginning on page 16, though, take the time to scroll through ‘The History of Antigua and Barbuda’ which begins “before 9000 BC” and comes forward to the present. It includes this image I’ve never seen before (wish the article had included something of its provenance) of an auction of enslaved people at Redcliffe Quay (bit of trivia: the barracoon where enslaved people were held is still there just above Redcliffe Quay, one of St. John’s City’s two major tourist shopping centres, on lower Nevis Street – and I hope the powers that be do whatever needs to be done to preserve it).

An interesting (little known) detail in this history is that when Antigua was captured by the French in 1666, the English retreated to Ottos hill (or Ottos Mount as the article calls it – I’m not sure if they mean Mount St. John where the hospital is or Ottos hill, part of my childhood stomping grounds as a #gyalfromOttosAntigua) leaving the enslaved people behind as the invaders rampaged and burned; but (and this is the interesting part) the Kalinago (called Caribs in the article) assisted the enslaved in escaping and they fled to the Shekerly Hills where they lived for many years (I learned about the free community at Boggy Peak/Mount Obama well into adulthood – in school we learned that there weren’t maroon communities in Antigua because the terrain didn’t allow for it). So that was interesting to me. Oh, the French only held the island to 1667 – which is why Antigua remains pretty firmly in the English-speaking column.

The article also goes in to detail about the fate of the two main leaders of the 1736 rebellion (King Court and Tomboy – interesting to me because we don’t hear nearly enough about Tomboy, who received “35 strokes with a large iron bar” before his execution).

And for those of us who grew up not knowing, the article touches on some of the other rebellions – 1831, 1858, 1918.

There’s a Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau poem which has this line that I love, “I love Antigua like a lover” – but which is not so blinded by love that it does not challenge us to be better.

I liked some of the fresh (?) details about the national symbols – like the Antigua Black pineapple being originally introduced by the Arawakan speaking people (the fruit also gets a whole article elsewhere in the publication), and being used for making twine and cloth, and for healing purposes, or the whitewood tree’s alternate name being Black Gregory.

The Independence baby article – featuring Sasha Stuart Young – was a bit (too) long but a good catch-up (p. 25-30).

The Barbuda article had a few touches beyond the usual cliches – I especially found endearing the details about the elderly going to the lagoon at 5 a.m. to “sap their knees” and ease arthritic ache, or about how that same lagoon feeds the people with lobster, conch, and fish – and keeps them independent. And, like a dark anti-chorus: “Today, after Independence, the lagoon has become an environmental collateral damaged site.” A reminder of the tensions between Antigua and Barbuda, the exploitation of the latter by the former. The author, Darlene Beazer-Parker also includes a poem that has a roll call of Barbudan people, “Bo Ram Bo, Boxer, Tomack, and Dada”, and places, “Hog Hole, Five Springs, Darby Cave, Ann Pass”, and a glossary of Barbudan expressions, like “tikka yah dome”, that reminds that Barbuda is not just a playground for tourists, or even Antiguans, but home to those who “smell the mud after the rain.” (another phrase I liked).

The article on recently deceased national hero Sir Lester Bird was an interesting read – especially his early athletic exploits – if sanitized as such things inevitably are. Speaking of, I like that the Paul Quinn op-ed touched on the tensions in the build-up to Independence, which was not a foregone conclusion (nor initially, the piece suggests, a popular one). Shout out to the ad for Antiguan Homemade Fudge in this section because e bang good.

I like the issue’s engagement with young Antiguans and Barbudans doing awesome things in a substantive way; such as former junior calypsonian A’shante and her multiple enterprises including Amplify Caribbean with other young Antiguans and Barbudans, and mental health advocate Chaneil, recently featured in my CREATIVE SPACE series.

Nice to see the nurses styling in their national dress fabric.

Now we just need to support them by doing everything we can to keep our COVID-19 numbers down.

I’ll admit to skipping through the sections on COVID (though I’m glad it’s in there) – and am all vaxxed and boostered up, wear my mask etc. That said, I liked the approach in the article by Dr. Cleon Athill, looking at the socio-economic vulnerabilities exposed by the virus on the national and individual level, and ending with call for dialogue on several key areas including the importance of critical thinking, the balance between personal and community rights, and the roles of various stakeholders in the event of a national crisis.

Space was made for the work of the diaspora – shout out to the Friends of Antigua Public Library in New York.

There was an article on our only living national hero accompanied by this picture.

…and of the first Antiguan and Barbudan to be called up to the West Indies Cricket Team (Andy Roberts). “Being the first Antiguan to play and the first to make the headlines, I realized that I cannot fail because this is opportunity for people to know there is a small island named Antigua.” He remarked how even in Jamaica they didn’t know Antigua and while Jamaicans knew the name Antigua by the time I studied there (thanks to cricketers like Viv and Andy) and there were already a lot of Jamaicans living in Antigua, I did get some questions that exposed the huge gaps in information and massive misconceptions about the “small islands” like mine. So I can relate.

It was nice to see the sports section make space for one of the greats off the field (Gravy), who for 12 years made entertainment of spectacle during cricket matches – and going deep in to his formative years, like the time he was clowning in front of the class and in retaliation the principal “beat everybody else all to me.” A reminder that growing up Caribbean could be brutal. But could also be charming, like the story about how he got his nickname the time he asked his mom to take back the meat and give him more gravy. Make no mistake, what Gravy did was performance art (his grand finale in a wedding dress for instance, as a bride walking down the aisle) and like any artist his chief regrets are related to the artistic expressions he either didn’t achieve or didn’t complete. “Up to now I am at home, I think about things I should have done on the Double Decker, from one end to the other end. There is a steel beam that runs across Double Decker from one end to the other end and I always see myself going up there and walking across the Double Decker stand in mid-air.” His wish, to the powers that be, take care of the disabled and less fortunate, and, to the public, “remember me”.

In the CREATIVE SPACE entry in the Independence issue, I remember some of my favourite Antiguan and Barbudan protest songs (my spin being that protest songs are some of the most patriotic). You can still listen to the playlist. You should also check out DJ/broadcaster Dave Lester Payne’s Independence top 10 in the Daily Observer Independence issue.

There is also…

An article on cryptocurrency chastising those of us lagging behind to catch up or, “delusional”, be left feeling like we’re in “a galaxy far, far away” – there is an explanation of the explosion of cryptocurrency but no crypto for dummies which some of us need.

An article on cha-cha dumpling, ostensibly, but really on the cut and contrive nature of the Caribbean culinary experience – and a hint of the enterprise necessitated by the pandemic (subject Caesar is a taxi driver but…the pandemic).

An article on popular Antiguan sayings (only fair as we had some Barbudan ones earlier). I will admit though that I’ve never heard “you lip shine lakka dog seed” (gross).

An article on children’s games, primarily from a boy’s point of view so lots of street cricket and marble lore, but not a deep dive on hand games, ring games (with the exceptions of Ring-a-rosie and Brown Girl in the Ring), and especially jump rope games (this was one of the popular past times when I was a girl. I don’t remember us doing double dutch though; that was more of an African American skipping style). I liked the article but I’m now thinking I need to do that deep dive on Caribbean jump rope games – maybe for a future CREATIVE SPACE.

A flour feature. Like flour day which I recently found out about, this feels like an odd thing to boost given certain lifestyle diseases that have likely ‘helped’ the ballooning health bills (referenced elsewhere in the publication) but flour is not without cultural context (it is one of the foods that has sustained us – droppers to ducana). Interesting choice to include cornmeal here, which I don’t think of as flour but, I guess. It is referred to as corn flour which on technicality allows for the inclusion of cornmeal pap and national dish (or half of) fungee.

An article on superstitions which was a resonant retelling of the folklore I grew up on or heard about growing up – jackolantern, soucouyant, jabless/diablesse, jumbie (the article also says duppy but that was terminology I only read about in stories set in Jamaica) with mention of obeah (not a connection I instinctively make but…okay).

What’s left? Fashion of course and I guess we can officially call Amya’s the queen of Independence, with the label’s independence accessories getting a whole feature. Nice.

This issue is triggering memories as I’ve interviewed a lot of the people featured over my journalism career – Goldsmitty which has a jewellery feature based on the bread and cheese bush (again, interesting) and Amya whom I first interviewed many years ago and most recently included in a piece in CREATIVE SPACE among them; been cussed out by a couple of them too (not Hans or Louise though) in the course of my reporting.

Among the standard fair (articles on governance, patriotic songs, nostalgia pictures) in the closing pages, a highlight for me was the picture of my primary school alma mater at the youth rally – seeing us (well not me, I didn’t march, but us) was dope (especially since people, including Catholics, hardly seem to remember we existed).

Verdict: definitely worth a read.

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 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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New Banner Salutes Jamaica Kincaid

If you’re a regular here, you know I update our blog banner every quarter with covers of books by Antiguan and Barbudan authors. Usually it’s a mix of authors and covers, selected randomly. In the 3rd quarter of 2021, I decided to tribute Althea Prince by using some of her covers. That was a just-because #womancrushWednesday. But, this time around, in commemoration of Jamaica Kincaid being the 2021 Langston Hughes Festival honoree – and conversations during that ceremony that prompted me to reflect on her relationship to Antigua and Barbuda in my subsequent CREATIVE SPACE art and culture column, entitled Antigua and Barbuda’s Jamaica…

I decided to tribute her here as well.

ETA: video of my presentation.

Specifically, the banner uploaded in the fourth quarter, specifically on November 27th 2021, features just some of the covers of her first novel Annie John (my first and still one of my top 3 Kincaid books) – and let me tell you, any writer would be chuffed to have so many editions of a single one of their books.

Kincaid had too many covers of this book to fit in our banner, and she has been no one hit wonder. We salute you, ma’am.

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 Journal (and Sunday Post) 05-09-21 — jhohadli

My last reading update was August 23rd and at that time I was up to page 120 of the just over 200 pages of Ruby’s Dream by Ronan Matthew. I did a Reading Journal (and Sunday Post) just a day earlier in which I mentioned other books in progress (The Mermaid of Black Conch, New […]

Reading Journal (and Sunday Post) 05-09-21 — jhohadli

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Wadadli Pen 2021 – Photo Gallery

As with last year, we weren’t able to have in-person awards this year. Thanks to Best of Books, management and staff, for capturing some of these images as winners came in to collect their prizes and, of course, the winning plaques that will hang in the store. Thanks as well to Frank B. Armstrong for these first two photographs.

The Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque bears the name of every winner since the Wadadli Pen Challenge was first held in 2004. It is sponsored by the Best of Books bookstore, where it hangs year round.
Long listed writer Latisha Walker-Jacobs with her signed copy of Musical Youth (from her facebook).

Second placed writer Ashley-Whitney Joshua, author of ‘Hiraeth‘ with prizes that include gifts from Rotary Club of Antigua, books contributed by Sekou Luke, cash contributed by Rilys Adams, and a spot in a future Bocas workshop.

12 and Younger honourable mention (for the story ‘The Blackboard‘) Eunike Caesar collecting her prizes which include books from Harper Collins and Barbara Arrindell, gift certificate from Juneth Webson, and gift certificates and other prizes from Rotary Club of Antigua.

Sheniqua Greaves’ ‘The Juxtaposed Reprieve‘ earned honourable mention in both the ‘2020’ subtheme and main categories, and she earned prizes from Bocas (workshop), Peepal Tree Press (Daylight Come by Diana McCaulay), Juneth Webson (gift certificate), Rotary Club of Antigua (various), and Devra Thomas (cash).

Gazelle Goodwin is the first time winner of the Cushion Club Zuri Holder Achievement Award given to the top 12 and younger writer. Her poem was ‘Beautiful Disaster‘.

Andre Warner – honourable mention for ‘The Brave One‘ collecting his prize.
Gazelle Goodwin holding the Cushion Club Zuri Holder Achievement Award which now bears her name. Gazelle is 12 and younger winner for ‘Beautiful Disaster‘.
Aunjelique Liddie collecting her prizes for placing third with ‘The Beach‘.
Main prize winner Kevin Liddie for ‘Mildred, You No Easy‘ with the Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque.
Collecting contribution to the Public Library.
These Collins Big Cat books are at the library. Go get them.
Main prize honourable mention for ‘Vixen‘, Razonique Looby.
Principal of St. Anthony’s Joanne Boulous-Callias collecting her school’s prize.

Click below for:

About Wadadli Pen

Wadadli Pen 2021 press release announcing this year’s winners

Who Won What in 2021

Wadadli Pen 2021 Playlist on YouTube

Wadadli Pen Winners through the Years – Story Links

Thanks to our Patrons

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PRESS RELEASE – WADADLI PEN FIRST: FATHER AND DAUGHTER WIN

A Wadadli Pen first – father and daughter in the top 3.

Kevin Liddie’s name has been added to the Alstyne Allen Memorial Plaque, sponsored by the Best of Books, as winner of the 2021 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge. The writer of ‘Mildred, You No Easy’, benefiting from the opening up of the usually youth-focused Prize, finds himself in company with his 13-year-old daughter Antigua Girls High School student Aunjelique, third placed with her poem ‘The Beach’. Teen, Ashley-Whitney Joshua, author of ‘Hiraeth’, ranks second. Wadadli Pen congratulates them for emerging victorious from among 72 entries. The announcement of winners was made on May 30th 2021, in the second year of virtual awards.

This virtual shift is not the only way ‘2020’ impacted Wadadli Pen; ‘2020’ was also a subtheme. The subtheme winner is Jason Gilead, whose story ‘The Great Old Woodslave’ is also an honourable mention for the Wadadli Pen 2021 main prize. Sheniqua Greaves, ‘The Juxtaposed Reprieve’, is honourable mention for both the ‘2020’ subtheme prize and the main prize.

Other main prize honourable mentions are last year’s winner Andre Warner, ‘The Brave One’, and 15-year-old Christ the King High School student Razonique Looby, ‘Vixen’.

The other special prize in 2021 is the 12 and younger prize. Gazelle Goodwin, a 12-year-old Island Academy student and writer of the poem ‘Beautiful Disaster’, will be the first name on the Zuri Holder Achievement Award – a new plaque memorializing the former Wadadli Pen 12 and younger finalist who died in a road accident earlier this year. The prize is sponsored by his family.  Nine-year-old Baptist Academy student, ‘The Blackboard’ author Eunike Caesar, is honourable mention in the 12 and younger age category.

The school with the most submissions was St. Anthony’s Secondary School and a couple of their students Aria-Rose Browne, also a finalist last year, and Naeem DeSouza are on the Wadadli Pen 2021 long list.

Reportedly, the school has incorporated Wadadli Pen in to its curriculum. “We are going to do so much better next year,” said teacher Margaret Irish during the awards. “I dare any other school in this country to try to beat us.”

All long listed writers – including former finalist Latisha Walker-Jacobs, Linita Simon, Anastatia Mayers, Jai Francis, Annachiara Bazzoni, Kadisha Valerie, Rosemond Dinard-Gordon, and Noleen Azille – will have the opportunity to participate in development workshops sponsored by US based Jamaican Garfield Linton and facilitated by Wadadli Pen founder-coordinator-patron and Antiguan and Barbudan author Joanne C. Hillhouse.

Rotary Club of Antigua was a first-time major patron in 2021. RCA member Kevin Silston, who attended the virtual awards, explained, “Rotary usually supports the spelling bee (and reading) competition and this year in particular because of the COVID related challenges, we were unable to do that. More broadly, this year, our theme has been opening opportunities by supporting youth development and healthy lifestyle choices. …Us coming on board to be able to provide some support allows us to execute our mandate while at the same time supporting a worthy cause.”

Other prizes have been contributed by past Wadadli Pen finalists Rilys Adams, Daryl George, and Devra Thomas; new patrons the Trinidad and Tobago’s Bocas Lit Fest, Harper Collins UK, Peepal Tree Press (UK), Jamacia’s Poet Laureate Olive Senior, Ten Pages Book Store, Sekou Luke and new local writer Patricia Tully; and long time patrons Frank B. Armstrong, Juneth Webson, and Barbara Arrindell.

Marcella Andre, owner of another first time patron NIA Comms, which ran its own NIA Mentor Award earlier this year, said, “Wadadli Pen is something that inspires creativity and I think that is something that’s very important…I want to support people who want to get their thoughts out in to the world.”

For Awards clips go to the Wadadli Pen YouTube   and to read the stories visit the Wadadli Pen blog. The team members – Barbara Arrindell, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Margaret Irish, Devra Thomas, and Floree Williams Whyte – thank all patrons, media, partners, past and present for bringing the project from 2004 to the present, nurturing and showcasing the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda.

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Sub-theme ‘2020’- Winner, and Main Prize – Honourable Mention (Wadadli Pen 2021) – Jason Gilead

Jason Gilead, M, ‘The Great Old Woodslave’ (fiction)

About the Author – Jason declared, “I am not a writer by any stretch of the imagination.  I enjoy travelling, meeting people, eating great food and gaining new experiences.  I have a vivid imagination, but most times the things I imagine remain just there, in my imagination.

About ‘The Great Old Woodslave’: Jason is a member of a social club, and, for a recent club activity, was challenged to write a story about how any object around their home would view the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, “A few nights before that activity I had what can only be classified as an all-out war with a woodslave I found in my living room (I admittedly have a mild phobia of anything that looks like a lizard). I therefore chose to write my short story from the eyes of that woodslave. The members enjoyed the story very much and challenged me to enter the piece. I never expected anything to come of the submission.” Jason is outside of the usual age range of Wadadli Pen and his is the kind of story that makes us feel good about opening up the Challenge to all ages in 2021.

*

‘The Great Old Woodslave’

I didn’t trouble him na! Most times he doesn’t even know I am here. We have lived together, co-existed for years; I don’t bother him, he doesn’t bother me. I stay in the eaves of the house and simply observe.

Oh how life has changed over the past year. He used to be gone all day and back only at night. I had the lay of the land all to myself. I would roam, enjoy the quiet serenity and snack on my favorite morsels that pass my way. I would retire to my spot, before he got home or dart at the sound of the rustle of his keys, so he would not have the chance to see me. But of late, he has been present way too often……always sitting at the table banging away at and talking into that black box with lights….lights that hurt my skin. Oh, and that box seems to be filled with other humans….males, females, with all sorts of accents and they talk incessantly!!! Oh how I miss my serenity!

One day, my curiosity got the better of me. I ought to have known better but what was going on in that black box, the one with buttons and the lights and the many voices…it wrestled my attention. As the human retired to that room in which I am seemingly not welcomed, I came out from my hiding place to investigate.

I don’t know which of the humans in the box told him I was out, but the next thing I knew, I was on the receiving end of a broom. Whap! Whap!. The licks left me so dazed and confused. I scurried back to my hiding place to catch my breath. It was then I realized I had lost my tail in the melee.

Had it not been for this pandemic, I would not have captivated by that box…by those wretched people inside that box, nor would my curiosity have gotten the better of me.

This story was edited by the author, post-judging, prior to posting. It is one of the winning entries in the 2021 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge. Please respect each writer’s copyright.

Click here for the full prize break down and remember to support our patrons as they support the arts.

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Main Prize (Wadadli Pen 2021)- Honourable Mention Razonique Looby

Razonique Looby, 15, F, ‘Vixen’ (fiction)

About the Author – Razonique is a fifth form student currently studying at Christ The King High School. When not desperately obsessing over Jamaica Kincaid, she spends her time writing. “Ever since I was very young, words have been my dearest way of expressing my thoughts and feelings.” Razonique’s favourite themes to explore are those that deal with the internal conflicts of women and their relationships with society and the world at large.

About ‘Vixen’: ‘Vixen’ is a story about a woman who, driven by the pandemic, takes on ‘lovers’ and ruins them for her personal gain. Razonique says she likes to work with femme fatales. “I find them to be some of the most complex and rewarding characters. This particular piece was inspired by a quote from one of my favourite feminist books, Margaret Atwood’s Robber Bride which goes, ‘Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.'”

*

‘Vixen’

Magdelyne stretched, arching her back and contorting her joints until the satisfactory snaps were heard and reminded her that she was not quite a dead woman yet.

She was not meant to be left alone with her own thoughts; the recent shut down of the country due to the pandemic only serving to exacerbate her many problems. The bustle of St. Johns had always been a necessary distraction, but Magdelyne always knew how to make do.

The man who was currently on video call with her (the fifth that afternoon), was from Britain but far from an English gentleman. Dylan, she thought his name was. Dylan, or Dianthus. He was fifteen years her senior at 37 years old and had the pandemic not gotten in the way of things, Magdelyne was certain that he would have been in Antigua worshipping the ground she walked on by now. This accountant had entered her rotation of ‘lovers’ about six months ago and Magdelyne could tell that poor Dianthus had already deluded himself into believing that he was in love.

After all, how could he not be? The very persona he knew her to be had been perfected to serve that very purpose; ‘Vixen’, a male delusion who never nagged and lived only to please and purr and wear lingerie. For obvious reasons, Magdelyne had neglected to tell Dianthus of the dozens of men around the world who shared his feelings and expressed their love into her bank account accordingly. This was how she lived, how she could afford the luxurious backdrop in frame behind her. Magdelyne was very good at her job.

The young vixen was bored and cold. Lying sexily on satin sheets at 7 PM in the middle of March was certainly not her idea of a good time, but she would do anything for a paying customer. The sinful red of the short robe she was wearing seemed to distract her ‘beaux’ from the dull look in her eyes and the uninterested, outright insincere look sitting on her face. There was not much of a masquerade taking place on either of their sides. Four hours ahead of her in London, Dianthus had called for a late evening ogle and a chance to moan about his sow of a mother. He never mentioned his father.

The more Dianthus spoke, the more disgusted she became. Generally, this was the case with all her marks, but she had long since learned to disassociate her conscience from her body during work. Very seldom did she feel this level of visceral hatred towards any one of her ‘lovers’ at any one point.

Magdelyne did not talk to openly married men. She never felt the need to ask (because she felt it was not her responsibility) but if the topic came up naturally the woman would never directly participate in infidelity. It was, however, explicitly clear that this annoying ‘mother’ of Dianthus’ was his wife- or at least a serious girlfriend. This was her fifth video call that afternoon and Magdelyne was at her wit’s end. Then again, it was not her place to confront him. Not until the young woman had a proper escape plan, at least.

“Sometimes I wonder, Vixen,” Dianthus drawled with a deep, dreamy sigh, “where you were all my life?”

Magdelyne resisted the almost overwhelming urge to roll her eyes and decided to play the part of gracious, giggling sycophant instead. She knew exactly where this was going. Dianthus, focused on the task at hand and keeping to his train of thought mused further, “I mean, I-I’ve never met anyone quite like you.” His breaths were heavy, and it was almost difficult to make out what he was saying over the phone as he was holding it rather unsteadily with one hand but a veteran like Magdelyne could recite this little speech in her sleep. “I w-wish my wife was like you- she barely knows how to have fun anymore…”

And there it was, the truth out in the open. Magdelyne felt like screaming. It was likely his fault that this wife was the way she was. Magdelyne guessed sympathetically that the woman was likely ‘good’, a member of the highly praised yet privately disparaged group of women who did things as society said that they ought to. They had fed from the pie society serves to Every Woman before handcuffing them and sending them into the kitchen (where a woman belongs) to bake the same dish for their daughters. These were the women whose lives revolved around a man as the centre of her universe, who sacrificed their interests and hobbies to be servile. These were the women who found themselves disregarded as ‘boring’ later on when the new girl smell wore off of their bosoms and their men decided to want to ‘substance’ (someone younger and prettier).

That complicit, submissive, eager to please part of Magdelyne had long since died. What was left was a cold, avaricious succubus of a woman. What a stupid man, she thought. An unreasonable, childish man. Couldn’t he tell that any boring woman would be better for him than she was? But alas, none of his lovers would ever be able to compete with Vixen who did not exist.

This character she was playing was an amalgamation of fantasies, barely a person at all. Magdelyne was beginning to get tired of this game.

Vixen performed as she knew how; purring and stroking and pawing and stripping and waited until the man reached his summit to reach for her phone. The end was near. Quickly, she snapped a picture of her laptop screen before grinning murderously, black eyes shining in contempt like a cat having caught its prey. The woman retied the discarded robe around herself.

Dianthus, yet unaware of the misfortune he had just suffered panted. Hard. “That was amazing,” he said.


Sure it was, she thought smugly. Magdelyne held her phone to the webcam and smiled as her newest victim gasped. Dianthus understood what was happening instantly. Tears pricked at his eyes; how could he have been so foolish?

“$50,000 or I send this to everyone you know.”

This story was edited by the author, post-judging, prior to posting. It is one of the winning entries in the 2021 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge. Please respect each writer’s copyright.

Click here for the full prize break down and remember to support our patrons as they support the arts.

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Main Prize (Wadadli Pen 2021) – Second Placed Ashley-Whitney Joshua

Ashley-Whitney Joshua, 19, F, ‘Hiraeth’ (Fiction)

About the Author – Ashley-Whitney, 19, spent her entire childhood devouring book after book. She still reads a lot, but now, writes just as much, using anything and everything as a prompt. She previously submitted to Wadadli Pen at 15, in 2017. She attended the Antigua Girls High School and has since completed an associates degree in culinary arts. She is currently working towards becoming a dietician and/or kinesiologist (whichever comes first).

About ‘Hiraeth’: Ashley-Whitney’s story is about a young woman escaping a less than ideal situation and ending up far from home in a place she never would have expected, then finding herself feeling regret for the home she lost. She explains, “The title ‘Hiraeth’ means, The feeling of longing for a home that no longer exists, or never was. In terms of inspiration, I had just finished raiding my Nana’s bookshelf when I received a call from my irate Godmother demanding to know why I haven’t entered this competition. After not giving a very valid excuse, I was sent the necessary information, and was told to ‘start writing’. I didn’t really need a prompt for this story, thinking back. All I needed was a name for the main character, then the words began to spill out and before I knew it, I was well past 1000 words.” Ashley-Whitney also wrote on her entry form at the time of submission how much she enjoyed writing the story, and requested feedback to improve her writing even if the story didn’t qualify for a prize. Well, it has and she has also earned spots in a couple of workshops to continue to work on her writing.

*

‘Hiraeth’

Emilia opened her eyes and looked around, confused for a minute, as was her routine, every day, since she packed her bags 6 months ago and fled Antigua. Mind blank, she sat up and thought, “what is that incessant beeping?” Looking around groggily, trying to pinpoint the sound, her eyes fell upon her source of annoyance. “My alarm,” she thought while rolling her eyes then froze, suddenly the beeping became insignificant as the events of the previous months flooded her memory. “Well, there goes my moments of ignorant bliss,” Em thought, while dragging herself out of bed and turning off the noise. As she walked passed her window towards her bathroom, she caught a glimpse of the sky outside. It was just 6 minutes past 7 and while she could hear the world waking up and coming to life outside, the sky was still very dark. Yet another stark difference between Antigua and Vancouver. The sun would have been shining in all its Caribbean glory by 6:30 despite being in the middle of January. Here, the sun, when it made the decision to show its face, was simply a decoration; especially at this time of year. Standing in front of the sink, she looked in the mirror, her eyes tracing the now fading scars that scattered her upper body and shuddered. She closed her eyes tightly and chased away the imaginary heat that had settled itself on her shoulders, stretched heartily and began her day.

Donning her mask and stepping out of her apartment building, she made her way down the icy sidewalk to the neighbourhood coffee shop, ‘Nani’s’ in anticipation of what the barista had in store for her today. “Nani’s,” she laughed to herself, “if someone back home only heard th-” she quickly cut herself off, “it wasn’t home anymore,” she reminded herself. Walking in, the upbeat old lady that reminded her of her Grandmother already had a steaming cup with her name on it waiting on the counter. Since she came in a few months ago and asked the lady to ‘surprise her,’ Nani, as she was known, has had a new flavor waiting for her every single day without fail. Today, it was a mango and ‘feevagrass’ latte, the scent making her think of home again. After paying and thanking Nani, she sipped and walked the rest of the way to the dance studio where she worked as a Cultural Dance instructor and began to prepare for her first class. Today, she was teaching African folk, so she tied on her waist wrap, pulled up her drum playlist and waited for her students to arrive. In the middle of teaching her class, she paused to drink some water as her throat was beginning to ache. “These white women have no damn sense of rhythm!” she exclaimed in her head. It was hard enough getting them to keep their distance and loosen up in the beginning but getting them to move in time with the music was an entire nightmare! Looking around at her students, her class mainly consisted of wealthy housewives who either had nothing better to do or wanted to, somehow, regain the attention of their disinterested husbands. “A disinterested husband,” she thought, “must be nice.” Without wanting to remember what drove her to leave her home, she continued her classes throughout the day, still, by the time she got home, the memories replayed in her head like a movie until, after a long hot shower, she laid in bed and allowed herself to remember…

…It never rained that much in Antigua. It was supposed to be ‘isle of sand, sun and sea,’ so when Emilia, left home without an umbrella (as usual!) she never would have guessed that she’d end up under a bus shed, nearly knee deep in dirty flood water. She only needed to get to her car which was parked at least two minutes away, but the rain, traffic and rising water ‘looked at her and laughed.’ Fuming, she only noticed the car that pulled up in front of her when she heard its horn. Looking through the rolled down window, she noticed the handsome familiar face of the customer that visited the small bakery she worked at earlier today and smiled. Thinking back on it now, she should have swam through the flood waters instead of getting into his car that night. And after bringing her home that night and taking her to her car the next morning, it set into motion the events that would shape the next two years of her life: A whirlwind of dates, trips, meeting each other’s families, then a proposal that came not long after. Thinking about it, she cursed herself for her naiveté, because who was even THAT perfect? So, she married him, with her mother’s insistence, and all she wanted, was to be the perfect housewife to the perfect husband and that she was, until he began to change. It started with heated interrogations after she ran simple errands, then he was screaming at her over simple things. “He’s stressed at work,” she remembers telling her best friend Jazz. But her friend wasn’t convinced; no, not when her husband’s “stress” had to be hidden with heavy concealer and eye makeup. He soon put an end to their friendship though, especially after her second miscarriage; and instead of blaming his fists, both he and her mother blamed her and stupidly she believed it. A while after, it was as though he had beaten the sense into her because the next day, she was on a plane to Vancouver with as much of his money that she could carry. Why there? No clue. It wasn’t the tropical paradise she’d known and it was a far cry from where she thought she’d be. “But I’m not a victim anymore” she said to herself. And with that, she closed her eyes and for the first time in ages, as she drifted to sleep, she smiled.

This story was edited by the author, post-judging, prior to posting. It is one of the winning entries in the 2021 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge. Please respect each writer’s copyright.

Click here for the full prize break down and remember to support our patrons as they support the arts.

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Sub-theme ‘2020’ + Main Prize – Honourable Mention (Wadadli Pen 2021) – Sheniqua Greaves

Sheniqua Maria Greaves, 19, F, ‘The Juxtaposed Reprieve’ (fiction)

About the Author – Sheniqua Greaves is a recent graduate of Antigua State College. She loves reading and has a fondness for writing. She, also, enjoys watching animated movies, shows; and listening to music in her spare time.

About ‘A Juxtaposed Reprieve’: The story gives a glimpse into the daily struggles of two best friends during the height of the pandemic lockdown. Greaves said, “This story is inspired by my experience of boredom during the pandemic. As well as the notion of missing out, when in reality things will occur in the intended time.”

*

‘A Juxtaposed Reprieve’


Weary eyes gazed at the orange tinted glare of the computer screen. Shamia Anderson lazily scrolled through her social media feed for prospective job opportunities. Sure, times were hard, but there haven’t been any new job updates for two days and she was feeling antsy.


Deciding to refresh her page one last time, a candy-colored image came into view. “HELP WANTED,” it boosted. Quickly skimming for the requirements, her demeanor soured. More graphic designers? Really?


Tension was high, pandemic fatigue was in the air and she’d caught a bad case. Especially frustrating was the deviation from her plan. It was simple, graduate, get employed and raise money to pay for her degree.


Not sitting idly by while her family struggled to keep the lights on. Sure, it was hard to get a job in Antigua even pre-pandemic, but still… She was-


Ms. Anderson, “the smart one”, she was supposed to wow the interviewers with her personality, not stalk her rarely used Facebook profile like a scavenger.


Damn it. Her frustration and bitter tears welled up to the surface.


Then she let out a weary sigh, a reminder of the time. Wiping away her damp cheeks, she decided to get some sleep.

Declining her family’s request for a round of domino, and ignoring the 50+ messages from Andrea (poor girl, she had her own problems). She flopped on her bed, springs of the weary mattress protesting at her weight. Checking her phone, she scrolled aimlessly through her feed as the blue lights lulled her into a heavy sleep.


—-

The sweet tunes of pan music in the live band blended effortlessly with the other instruments, blanketing her, from the cold of the beachside restaurant, in nostalgic tunes. To the front of her, couples swayed in time with the music.


Yet Shamia, ever the introvert, sat off to the side, sipping on a virgin sunrise. It was well deserved after a hard day’s work, after all.


A tap on her shoulder notified her of Andrea, who took the seat next to her, attired in a blue oxford miniskirt and plain white kimono top. They started the most enthralling conversation about why the formation of the letter “G” was just so peculiar.


When taking another sip, some drizzled onto her pants suit, embarrassed, she looked down only to see that her business attire had been swapped for a multicolored halter-dress, accompanied by a crimson hibiscus in her teased-coily hair.


Something wasn’t right here. She didn’t have the confidence to pull this look off, meaning…


She startled awake, sharply inhaling. The dark, silence of her shared bedroom stood out even more than usual after that vibrant scene.


Despite living in a small house with four occupants, she’d never felt lonely. It wasn’t real.


What even was the purpose?


What joy is there to find that fictitious scene? It must’ve been a particularly emotional night, as tears surfaced again. They were as silent and isolating as ever.

***

Andrea Scholar didn’t live up to her namesake.


Sure, she finished Jennings Secondary with a whooping seven subjects.


Still, she found it hard to find anything outside of her current supermarket cashier gig. Yet, she was thankful for it. She was deemed essential, which was rare for anyone outside of Shamia or her mom to think. At least she didn’t work in the tourism industry, she internally shuddered at the prospect.


Hopping off the company bus, she tugged her mask down marginally. Allowing herself the luxury of some fresh air as she strolled to her humble, single-bedroom abode.


After walking in, she hip-checked the door, unintentionally slamming it.


“Idiot!” She internally berated herself. She proceeded to step lightly in an effort to keep quiet. Yet, any groan of the creaking floorboard was nothing compared to the groan of her awakened ailing mother.


“Andrea, is that you?” she croaked.

“Yes, mama,” Andrea answered, making sure to keep her distance. After a few exchanged words, she allowed her mother to get some more rest and herself, a shower.


After dressing in some fresh clothes, she gently plopped onto the couch. She rummaged in her bag and pulled out her envelope of cash.


Okay, so first she had to make sure funds were put aside so her mother’s medication was paid for. Next the rent, bills, and groceries…


The excess $50 stared at her.

She really was hoping the reconnected the Wi-Fi or at least the cable, so her mom could get some entertainment when she wasn’t home, but it’ll have to wait.


Sigh. She’ll deal with this tomorrow. She just needed some rest, then she’ll start at some dinner for them. Lying on the couch, she stared listlessly at her roof. She hoped Shamia would eventually answer her texts. Poor thing was always so anxious.

Eyelids drooping, the sound of crickets lulled her to sleep.

Andrea sat upright on her couch as she sipped on a tequila sunset.


The sounds of Vivaldi spring and Shamia, busing herself in the kitchen, was a welcome deviation from the silence that usually permeated her house.


Shamia bustled as she prepared her specialty of roti and curry. Next to her, mother sat, looking better than she did in ages, enjoying her own cocktail. The designated chief grinned as she was quizzed on her method.


Deciding to help, Andrea got up from her seat and waltzed over.


Only for Shamia, to gently her away.


“Sit, sit. You’ve been working so hard.” She scolded.


“You really have dear.” Her mother added.


“I’m such a bad host,” Andrea protested, a sheepish grin on her face.


The three women broke out laughing at that comment. It really wasn’t that funny…


Gently she roused from her slumber. The muffled sounds of her mother’s coughs served to rouse her awareness.


Smiling to herself as she went to make some chicken soup. Her only hope is that her dream wouldn’t be the last of its kind, and maybe if she was really lucky, it’d even come true.

This story was edited by the author, post-judging, prior to posting. It is one of the winning entries in the 2021 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge. Please respect each writer’s copyright.

Click here for the full prize break down and remember to support our patrons as they support the arts.

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12 and Younger (Wadadli Pen 2021)- Honourable Mention Eunike Caesar

Eunike Caesar, 9, F, ‘The Blackboard’ (fiction)

About the Author – Nine year old Eunike enjoys reading and playing. She hopes to one day become a teacher and a famous YouTuber. Eunike first submitted to Wadadli Pen at 5 years old in 2017 and continued submitting in subsequent Challenges (2018, 2020) before making the short list in 2021. Eunike is a student at the Baptist Academy of Antigua.

About ‘The Blackboard’: The story is about a blackboard, which lived in the “Non-Living Things” world. The blackboard was accused of having the corona after it sneezed while being written upon. Eunike said, “After being a part of a short workshop by Ms. Arrindell, as well as a story my mother wrote, I was inspired to write this story.”

*

‘The Blackboard’

‘Achoo!’ sneezed the Blackboard while the teacher Ms. Jakes wrote a math equation on her.

For a second, the class was as quiet as the St. John’s cemetery.

Then Flora, the girl with the long braids, all the way to her bottom shouted ‘Corona!’ and suddenly everyone, including Ms. Jakes, was rushing out of the classroom. All you could see was a bundle of bodies, trying to squeeze through the door, above which was a sign entitled ‘Come in with questions. Leave with knowledge.’

Everyone scrambled down the corridor and almost ran out of the school yard. Thank God, Ms. Jakes remembered that she was a teacher. Breathing heavily, she said, ‘Hold on…stop…strain yourselves …tell Principal Crump’ and she dragged herself to the office.

“Mrs. Crrrrrrrrump. I.. neeeeeed to teeeelllll yooou soooomething!”

“What is it, did someone get hurt, was Rakeem sleeping in class again, is my daughter Chandria okay?” asked Mrs. Crump. “Here, drink some water and calm down.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Crump. I get my breath back. Blackboard sneezed. It has Corona! Call in the health inspectors quickly and we all need to go on quarantine. This is serious Mrs. Crump. This is serious.”

“Please take the children to Bathroom and let them clean up in case Blackboard got any saliva on them when it sneezed.” said Mrs. Crump, “This Non-Living Things Corona Virus is dangerous and we need to get this under control. God forbid that it should spread to humans.”

Mrs. Crump poked her head through the door and shouted “Miss Jenkins? Did you sanitize Bathroom?’

‘Yes, ma’am. You can eat off Bathroom floor.”

In five minutes, the inspectors drove into the school yard in Ambulance.

“Please, tell them to come back, I don’t have corona. I forgot to tell them that I have the flu.” Don’t they remember that it’s the flu season? I already got tested for the corona and my test came back negative. Please, please, please, don’t take me away to the Non-Living Things Hospital,” cried Blackboard. “I am so ashamed!

‘That’s where you have to go. You want US to catch the virus?”

Blackboard cried rivers of chalky tears, while the inspectors unhooked it from the wall.

The children ran behind Ambulance as it drove through the gate with Blackboard lying in the back. They began to sing, “It’s been a long day without you my friend, and we’ll tell you about it when we see you again”.

“Wa, wa, wa, wa,” was the sound which filled the air and disappeared as Ambulance went further and further away with Blackboard.”

This is one of the winning entries in the 2021 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge. Please respect each writer’s copyright.

Click here for the full prize break down and remember to support our patrons as they support the arts.

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