Tag Archives: Austin Clarke

Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid February 2022)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here).

News

The Environmental Awareness Group in Antigua and Barbuda has re-shaped its floating classroom series in to tools for the classroom, specifically a publicly available video series (beginning with the one below focussed on the Antiguan Racer Snake) and companion workbook/booklet. The ‘Into the Wild’ series is sponsored by the Sandals Foundation, produced by Chaso Media Services, with theme song by G’Eve and DJ Quest. It is worth viewing, even if you’re not in the classroom.

(Source – Daily Observer newspaper)

Events

Carib Lit Plus covered the Antigua and Barbuda participation in the 2020 Dubai Expo in November 2021. Still no update that I have seen re lit arts (as with CARIFESTA or other opportunities to show the full spectrum of arts representation – and I don’t like that) but some arts and artists I love (like Miranda Askie) have gotten their shine and I like it for them. This latest post showing an artist capturing the Heather Doram designed national dress popped in my timeline and I had to share.

Expo 2020 is a World Expo being hosted by the United Arab Emirates in Dubai, October 2021 – March 2022, pushed back by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Expo’s theme is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. (Source – Maria Blackman PR on Facebook)

Transitions

Ashley Bryan, third from left, with, left to right, Edward Albee, Nora Ephron, and Salman Rushdie – co-honourees at a New York Public Library event

Learned tonight (February 6th 2022) of the passing of a great one, children’s book writer and illustrator Ashley Bryan, 98. I was fortunate to meet and interview Mr. Bryan who at the time visited his ancestral home, Antigua, on the regular. The New York native’s parents were from here and he had had quite the storied life, including being on the frontlines of D-Day during World War 2, an experience he captured in one of his more recent books Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from WWII to Peace. His award winning children’s books (Beautiful Blackbird etc) have been favourites of mine that I have used in readings and workshops here in Antigua and Barbuda – and his Dancing Granny is even performed by the youth drama group in my book Musical Youth. I believe (or hope) that the US knows what a treasure they had in him and am happy that I was personally able to discover his work. You can find him here on the blog in Meeting Ashley Bryan, Carib Lit Plus (February 2020), the Count to 10 with me book tag, Bestselling Black Caribbean Children’s Picture Books, and, of course, Antigua and Barbuda Children’s Literature. There are personal and intangible things from my conversation with Ashley Bryan that have stuck with me and I will remember him, and one of the ways that you can is by go and finding and reading his books, beginning with the ones found in our Antiguan and Barbudan Writing database.

Ashley Bryan at the Antigua and Barbuda Public Library.

This NPR obit. summarizes Ashley Bryan’s life but I just wanted to make sure, because the mainstream outlets won’t necessarily say this, that we know he was one of ours in addition to being one of the greats of children’s literature, creating specifically beautifully Black images and stories, in a space where we still need to say #weneeddiversebooks because there are not nearly enough. (Source – Twitter)

Discussions

Are you all caught up on the Tim Tim Bwa Fik romance writing podcast series interviewing Caribbean authors? It has so far interviewed in two parts BVI’s Eugenia O’Neal, Trinidad and Tobago’s N G Peltier, Barbados’ Callie Browning, and from Antigua and Barbuda me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) and Rilys/Rilzy Adams. Here is the site link. And remember to check the Wadadli Pen Reading Room and Gallery for more conversations. (Source – Twitter)

Books

100 + Voices for Miss Lou: Poets, Tributes, Interviews, Essays, edited by Opal Palmer Adisa and published by the UWI Press. Ms. Lou refers to Louise Bennett, 1919-2006, a beloved Jamaican writer who in verse and engaging storytelling popularized the embrace of the local vernacular in literature. She is described as the Mother of Jamaican Culture. Palmer Adisa has also recently published the authorized biography of former Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller Portia Dreams. The book is illustrated by Jamaica’s Wayne Powell. Simpson-Miller was the country’s first and to date only female Prime Minister. “She wanted to share her life with children because she wanted to inspire them …this book is about her childhood…and how she became who she became,” Palmer Adisa told the hosts of Sunrise on Jamaica’s CVM TV.

(Source – google search)

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Karian Christian and Sonalli Andrews collaborated on a colouring and activity book, Children of the Soil, a jumbo sized book with 100 pages of content, to fill a gap she saw in culturally relevant content for children. Her January 2022 release has been added to the growing list of children’s literature from Antigua and Barbuda.

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Writing Gender into the Caribbean: Selected Essays 1988 to 2020 by Patricia Mohammed. Patricia Mohammed is Emerita Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of the West Indies, and the new book is a compilation of critical published and unpublished essays on and inspiring feminism and social thinking in the Caribbean. It centres both intersectionality and Caribbean-American feminist/gender/queer analyses with extensive research, literary creativity, and sensual intelligence; and exposes the complexities of feminism, developmental thought, gender awareness, sexual physiologies and Caribbean perspectives of gender experiencing drastic transformations throughout her extensive research and literary writings. The book is the recipient of the Barbara T. Christian Literary Award and Mohammed the recipient of the Caribbean Studies Association Lifetime Achievement Award, both in 2021. The Barbara T. Christian Literary Award is given to the best book published within the most recent three-year period which explicitly and innovatively examines topics of race, gender, sexuality, class and intersectionality. The CSA Lifetime Achievement Award recognises outstanding achievements by a living scholar in academic leadership relating to the multi-disciplinary field of Caribbean Studies. ‘Leadership’ refers primarily to foundational or superior contributions in research and scholarship, but also considers teaching and mentoring, organisational or centre development, as well as contributions to the Caribbean Studies Association. By instituting a Lifetime Achievement Award, the CSA intends to recognise and honour the role and lifetime work of scholars who have contributed significantly and consistently to its field of study, and who have by virtue of their professional persona and intellect helped to expand not only the field’s boundaries, but also achieved greater public acknowledgement of and understanding for Caribbean Studies as a field of intellectual engagement and for the Caribbean region as a space of valuable and significant contributions to humanity. (Source – Hansib email)

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Foreign Body: What if it happens to You? by British-Trinidadian writer Laurene is a 2021 Hansib release. Summary (excerpted): A tale so bizarre which occurs infrequently as a medical anomaly, Marcia’s cryptic pregnancy produces a son for her apparently infertile husband, Marcus. Results from DNA tests only cause further confusion that reverberates within the medical establishment as well as in the family. The question is asked: “Who is the mother of this baby?” The events and family history also have ramifications for the doctor dealing with the exceptional situation, who becomes personally involved as the story builds to its climax. (Source – Hansib email)

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Antiguan and Barbudan award winning (and 2020-2021 Caribbean Readers Awards finalist for Birthday Shot) author Rilzy Adams has penned 23 books of fiction – maybe more by the time you read this. Her popular series of self-published romances added six titles in 2021 by my count – Deeper, Love Scammed, Surrender, Treble, Before We Fall, and Just For Tonight. She reports that she has signed with Nubian Audio for audiobook versions of Go Deep, Deeper, ATE, Surrender, and Treble. Adams is a two time Wadadli Pen finalist. (Source – Twitter)

Accolades

An award has been named in the memory of Barbadian-Canadian writer Austin Clarke. The inaugural winners are

Fiction

Winner: “Perfect Little Angels” by Vincent Anioke

Runners Up: “The Upper Bright World” by Zilla Jones and “Playing Possum” by Ian Gillespie

Poetry

Winner: “Same Ocean” by David Ly

Runner Up: “Shelter” by Erin Soros

Read about them here. (Source – N/A)

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Jewell Parker Rhodes is not Caribbean but she is a past Wadadli Pen patron and we stan. She has recently picked up an Audiofile Earphones Award for her story ‘Paradise on Fire’. Listen here. (Source – N/A)

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Guyanese writer Imam Baksh was a University of Iowa International Writers Programmes writer-in-residence late in 2021. Before that, Baksh was a two-time Burt Award finalist. (Source – N/A)

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Beyonce Ambrose of Antigua and Barbuda was named by Vogue as one of ‘10 Breakout Models of Spring 2022‘. Ambrose is the daughter of cricketing icon Curtly Ambrose.

Lina Cruz of the Dominican Republic and América Gonzalez of Venezuela are also on the list. (Source – Facebook)

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Diana McCaulay of Jamaica is the inaugural winner of the Watson, Little Prize for an extract from her in-progress novel Roots of Stone. The Prize is a celebration of the agency’s 50th anniversary and is dedicated to writers over 50 years of age. She was plucked from 430 entries from 20 countries. Watson, Little is a literary agency established in 1971. (Source – N/A)

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The Calabash International Literary Festival will not be held in 2022, given the current uncertainties in the world. But it is still very much alive. Signs of life, its 2021 receipt of the Madame C J Walker Prize from the Hurston Wright Legacy Awards. The award is for supporting Black literature which Calabash has definitely done since it was founded by Justine Henzell, Kwame Dawes, and Colin Channer in 2001.

Me at Calabash in 2007. I was part of a small group of Antiguans and Barbudans who had applied for and received Commonwealth funding to attend. I got over my nerves enough to sign up for the open mic section (at which I read a section from the book in my hand, The Boy from Willow Bend) – Marlon James (yes, that Marlon James) was the one signing up writers for the open mic. Between the location, atmosphere, line up, books, food, and vibes, it is perhaps my favourite literary event that I’ve attended in the region and I dream of returning – hopefully as an invited author on the line-up. A writer can dream.

Calabash will be back in 2023. (Source – Twitter)

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This one is not in the arts lanes and it’s also late since the award was presented late last year but it’s in the realm of youth development, so not off brand for us here at Wadadli Youth Pen Prize – even if it is football related. Something that jumped out at me was what the winning community hero, coach Arnold ‘Keagan’ James said about putting back in to others what had been put in to him.

(Source – ABS TV)

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News of Celeste Mohammed winning best novel in this year’s Caribbean Readers Awards, and other outcomes, were already shared with you in the last Carib Lit Plus. But I’ve since written about it in my CREATIVE SPACE column and I thought I’d share that too. Here you go.

(Source – me)

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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Reading Room and Gallery 20

The reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artists by rippling the water together. For earlier iterations of the Reading Room and Gallery, go back to XVlll and follow the links for the previous ones from there. Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one.

MISCELLANEOUS

“The best career advice I can give is to stay flexible: When I was in grad school and teaching comp and freelancing—copyediting—I wrote my first book review for the Los Angeles Times.” – Carolyn Kellogg

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“Don’t worry about failing. There’s a great video where Ira Glass explains that when you start in a new field, your work won’t be as good as your taste. It will take years for your taste and the quality of your work to intersect. (If ever!) Failure is essential. There’s no substitute for it. It’s not just encouraged but required.” – Mike Birbiglia’s Six Tips for making it Small in Hollywood. or Anywhere

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“I quit my job, bought a one-way flight to Italy, and moved into a four-room farmhouse overlooking a valley. The Umbrian sun was as profound as it was supposed to be in pastoral Italy (after you quit your job, etc.). The valley was a patchwork quilt of olive grove and sunflower field; the row crops were bordered by copses of downy and turkey oak, as run through with pheasant and boar and stag, and, when seasonally appropriate, hunter. There was even an old paisano, Otello, who showed up now and again to instruct me on how to tend a newly-planted orchard of olive saplings. He spoke no English. I spoke no Italian. Va bene. Perfetto.” – Odie Lindsey, on becoming a writer…and a cliché

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“Inspired by Anne Frank, she kept a diary, which her parents discovered and read aloud before other members of the family, an experience that deeply traumatized her and kept her from writing for decades. The incident provided the starting point for the title story of the collection ‘Bodies of Water’ (1990).” – on the passing of Michelle Cliff

MUSIC

Give Thanks –India Arie

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08 Home Suite – Prelude No.1 & Mvt.1 – (Song For Loma) – Khan Cordice Live From a Music recital 2015.

FICTION

“Henry’s shoes were on his team, and they weren’t leaving him anytime soon.” – from Tonya Liburd’s Shoe Man

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‘The next morning, Naga complained to her mother, “De man beat me and tear me up last night.”

“Yuh go have tuh get used to that. Yuh is a woman now,” her mother said, handing her a cup of hardi tea. “Drink this, yuh go feel better.”’ – “Naga” by Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming

INTERVIEWS

“It got me in a lot of trouble, that wanting to fit in…and so when that light bulb went off in my head that I could do something artistic and get paid at it…I gravitated…I found something that one, held my attention, and two, didn’t feel like work.” – Michael K. Williams being interviewed by Charlie Rose

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“I have mentioned that the novel was born out of deep nostalgia. If I was back at home, and I saw my siblings every day, the space for the depth of reflection that birthed the story would not have happened. Since the work we do is imaginative, there is much value in trusting the power of hindsight. If I sat across from you at a cafe and I was to describe that moment on the spot, I would write about the obvious things you did. But if I lie down in my bed later that night, and the light was off, and I closed my eyes, the fine-grain details will trickle in. I will remember the unobvious things, the person scratching their wrist, or hawking into a napkin—those fine details that enrich fiction. That is, it is then, when the person is gone and the meeting is ended and the day is forgotten that things become closer, clearer.”  – Chigozi Obioma

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“My grandmother was Caribbean and Caribbean folk are very private; they just don’t believe in sharing a lot of their personal history.” – Bernice McFadden on MPR talking about her Book of Harlan

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“If most days are not filled with writing, they are filled with the thought of writing – the fixing of a sentence I haven’t even written yet, testing it on my tongue, trying to figure out its pauses or its cadence, or else the chasing of some strange idea, the way I imagine Jamaican maroons would have once chased wild hogs through the thicket. And always I want to grab hold of this idea, to wring its neck then flop it down on the table like some mad surgeon, as if to determine how many poems or stories or essays can be removed from its guts. I have a bad knee though, and seem to chase elusive and slippery things. Most days I do not grab hold of anything. Most days they slip away, grunting happily in the undergrowth. I go to bed most nights, disappointed, but I say to the sound in the bushes just beyond me, tomorrow! Tomorrow I will catch you.” – Kei Miller. Read the full Guardian interview.

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“We shouldn’t have to travel to Ghana and visit this castle to have this history.” – Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing on The Daily Show. “If you want to paint a full picture of the slave trade , you have to include the African side of it.”

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‘“I’ll give you two positions.  One is the position of these writers who feel that they will overtake me,” he says.  “That’s fine, if they’re going to write better work than me….  I assure them that I will be writing when I die.  The second position is my own.  I consider them to be competitors, and I’ve told them so.”’ Robert Edison Sandiford’s 1998 interview with Austin Clarke, the esteemed Bajan writer who passed in 2016

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“Caribbean fiction writing has really been hit hard on the publishing end; I spoke to Macmillan Caribbean who noted that they were focusing only on textbooks at this time. Other Caribbean publishing may be doing the same. Even when they publish children’s books, you have to market your books yourself on the side so that it would get a second print. We are a textbook publishing region because there is money in it.” – Marsha Gomes-McKie, interview on her role as Regional Advisor, Caribbean South Chapter of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators and more

CREATIVES ON CREATING

Then (John) Ridley explained his secret: “If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to be a listener first.” – Sarah McCoy

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“An artist in a studio, working.” – Antonya Nelson

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“Once you’ve chosen a setting, be specific about its nature. Your setting should never seem vague or half-imagined. Some writers will draw landscape maps. Some will create a layout for the house in which their characters live. If your story takes place outdoors, be aware of the terrain, the season of the year, the foliage, the weather, the color and texture of the sky. If your story takes place indoors, be aware of the architecture, the kind of furniture, the feel of the room (stuffy, open, cozy, cluttered), the amount and quality of light, the smell of the air. This does not mean you must describe all these elements in detail, but the more aware you are of your setting, the more you will be able to capture it and integrate it into the story.” – Abby Geni

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“I wanted to write about the life of children and the lives of their parents without everyone thinking it was about me and my children and their life,” she said. “And of course, everyone thinks it is. It is not. I maintain it is not.”  – Jamaica Kincaid speaking about See Now Then

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“But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that only Romeo & Juliet would work. Middle grade readers know this play even if they haven’t read it or seen it performed; it’s embedded in our culture. My plan was to use the play as much as possible, plotting Star-Crossed on a track parallel to Shakespeare’s play: The Capulets and the Montagues became rival school cliques. Willow (Tybalt) throws a Halloween party but doesn’t invite Mattie, who sneaks in, disguised as Darth Vader. That’s where she meets and flirts with Gemma, who assumes that underneath the costume, Mattie is a boy. And so on.” – Barbara Dee

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“Now that I’ve read through my manuscript a few times I’m starting to notice some little things that I never necessarily thought about during my first (or second or third) pass. I’m going through and carefully adding more layers to all of the characters so that they talk and feel like real people – complicated and varied the way we all know real people to be. During this process I can’t help but notice what may or may not be a big issue: I never described what my main character looked like.” – from Caitlyn Levin’s post ‘How do I look?’ at She Writes. In it, Caitlyn Levin notes that only at her third or fourth pass through her finished novel length manuscript did she realize she’d not described what the main character looks like. But does it matter, she asked. It’s a worthwhile read if you’re wondering how much or too little to reveal of character. Good insights in the comments section as well. Below, I’ll share excerpts from the ones I found most interesting (and perhaps most helpful to us all here at Wadadli Pen):

“If you choose not to describe your character, do make sure that’s an aesthetic choice used to maximum effect.  For example, Dickens’s narrator in ‘Bleak House’ is so unreliable that we never realize she is beautiful until the final chapter, a ‘minor’ detail that sends us reimagining the entire book and feeling even greater empathy for our heroine…You might think of Dickens’s choice as setting the bar.  If your reason is less compelling, less essential to the plot, consider going back through the manuscript to make one quick pass where you take an objective look at how much of your protagonist is truly on the page.” – ST

“I’m a visual person, so when I read a book, I flat out want to know what the character looks like. Our minds will always fill in the blanks, regardless. Tell me someone is blonde with blue eyes, and I will picture someone different than you. But at least it gives me enough to form a mental image to proceed. … She can twist a piece of her curly auburn hair around her finger, she can think of the size of her hips as she’s squeezing into a pair of jeans, someone can have an eye color just like hers.” – LGO

“Consider TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Scout doesn’t waste a word describing herself, but don’t we see her clear as day? She’s someone cantankerous tomboy we know from our past, the closest approximation in our lives, and that makes her personal to us. Neat trick, huh?”

This was my response:

“I think it comes down to what serves the story…what the character notices (or doesn’t notice) about herself and others says something about her. So I don’t have a problem with the author choosing to reveal or not reveal what a character looks like as long as it’s in harmony with the larger narrative. For instance, in my book Oh Gad! the main character’s struggles with her own place in things, her identity within her family is in part explored through the physical likeness and differences between her and other members of the family…that her mother largely exists in shadowed memory with a physicality that suggests an imposing persona is important to the narrative (and the understanding of that relationship) but what’s more important is her hands so that’s where the detail lies…that another characters’ peculiarities are illustrated often by his ‘strange’ physical appearance becomes important in the telling (as does her response to that ‘strangeness’)…in general, I tend to give something of the physicality  because there’s usually a visual in my mind from which these characters are drawn but I give to the extent that it serves the story.
Bottom line, I do like detail that add texture to the world of the story (including the characters), but not if it gets in the way of the story. It’s a balance I’m still working to master.”

BLOGS

“Read more and you will learn from your teachers in ink: Authors.” – Yecheilyah Ysrael

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“A few weeks ago, I read a column by a young columnist in one of our newspapers. It was after The Olympics and we were just full up with gratitude to our athletes, and especially happy for our Usain Bolt. The writer said that he had read this book when he was in school about great sportsmen of the world, Mohammed Ali and Pele ( I think he mentioned those), and he wondered if he would ever see any greats like that again  in the world, and here he was seeing  our own Usain Bolt, as great an athlete as ever there was in the world. I was amazed.I wondered if he was referring to the Dr. Bird Series (he remembered the books arriving at his school in a box), provided by the Ministry of Education, and written by Peggy Campbell (of blessed memory), Karl Phillpotts and I.” – Diane Browne

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“When I finished the novel I began to think about ways I could use the story with my fourth grade students.” – Patrick Andrus

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“I am sun-smothered, round, smooth, quiet in my mind and spirit.” – Bernice McFadden writing from Egypt

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Books can introduce children to tough topics in an age appropriate way. Kate Messner blogs her experience with one school after her book The Seventh Wish was deemed too tough for the kids to handle.

ON PUBLISHING

“Faced with seemingly infinite lists, calls for submissions, classified ads, databases, and fair-and-festival tables, how do I select which journals and magazines to send my work to with the hope that, after editorial review, my pages may indeed find proverbial “homes” online and/or in print?” – Erika Dreifus on 13 Questions to Ask Before Submitting to a Literary Journal

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“Find databases of agents at Absolute Write, Query Tracker, Poets & Writers, and Lit Rejections.” – Eight Essential Tips for Getting Your YA Novel Published by Jenny Manzer

VIDEO

That’s Antiguan and Barbudan Arlen singing on this track. Big up.

POETRY

“More of one thing
Doesn’t rhyme with one thing.” – from Violins by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

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Harmonium by Michael Klein first partHarmonium by Michael Klein second part

Harmonium by Michael Klein

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