Tag Archives: Ava Duvernay

Reading Room and Gallery 39

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.

ESSAY/NON-FICTION

“Writing helps me attain knowledge of Trinidad and Tobago, helps me understand it and appreciate it, and helps me forgive the hurtful parts of it.” – from The Fishing Line by Kevin Jared Hosein

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‘She carries Jamaica in her spirit, and particularly the rural Jamaica she grew up in, which is as she said “embedded in her heart beat”. They really couldn’t have picked a more Jamaican Jamaican from the esteemed writers of a culture that has produced so many great writers.’ – from my Olive Senior Appreciation Post on Wadadli Pen

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“I am a black woman writer from Trinidad and Tobago. I was born here to Trinidadian parents. I have lived here all my life. I do not have an escape route to Elsewhere, whether the route is through money, family connections or non-TT citizenship.” – Lisa Allen-Agostini, 2018 in Repeating Islands

POETRY

“America, I am poor in all
ways fixed and unfixable. My poverty a bullet point” – from Double America by Safiya Sinclair, Montreal Poetry Prize International

INTERVIEWS/CONVERSATIONS

“It’s not just one influencing the other; to me they are one.” – Ava Duvernay re the relationship between art and activism, in discussion with The Root

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“What was extremely important for me was coming to England in 1984. That was a few months after the US invasion of Grenada in 1983, and I arrived here with a profound sense of betrayal and outrage largely because I thought that story needed to be told from the point of the people who were at the receiving end of the guns and the canons and that invasion, and I had to write that rage..36 years later I’m just about doing the book.” – Jacob Ross

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“When I was young, people didn’t think children could see or hear, they would do and say anything in front of them… but from my own experience, children hear a lot.” – Zee Edgell talking about her work in a 1990 Banyan TV interview (click on the image below and type pass word ‘zee’ to access)

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“I wanted to create a book that would encourage people in Antigua and Barbuda to be proud of their identity… so instead of A is for Apple, let’s begin with A is for Arawak.” – Margaret Irish

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“We were all asked to give details of what we wanted to see in terms of the art work, at least I know I was, and to me it’s like she took my thoughts and she somehow created almost exactly what I had in my head. That’s the way it felt (and)..it’s everything I would have wanted it to be. The people look as if they’re our people and there are a mix of people in the story book. And I say that because there are times when I’ve seen some books that are supposed to be our books and the people look perhaps the way other people think we look.” – Barbara Arrindell

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“It’s about when you see these things to not get depressed by it and to make the change you can because you mightn’t be able to create the world you want to see but you can do one thing that does that and it’s very important that we do those things.” – Tanya Batson-Savage

MISC.

“It is revealed that all of the appointments to the University of the West Indies were vetted in London by a committee on which there was a representative of MI5 which aimed ‘to keep the university free of communism’. Within the West Indies communism was an elastic category into which were consigned anyone with an uncompromising relationship to the colonial order and its successor.” – from a public lecture by Richard Drayton

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“First, I made a collage of 6 recent rom-com covers I loved, that reflected the current look of the genre—hand-drawn fonts, bold color, big fonts. I noted I wanted an inclusive, modern design (no male/female cake topper or thin white bride etc).” – Georgia Clark, author of It Had To Be You on the process of conceptualizing a cover; click the instagram link to read (and see) more. (Source – direct author mail and instagram)

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‘Impressionist/actor Jay Pharoah has a zeroed in on a few distinctive traits — some comics call them “handles” — to help flesh out his version of Biden; there’s the little rasp in his voice, as well as favorite Biden phrases like “c’mon man,” “malarkey” and, of course, “here’s the deal.” “The key to a great impression and keeping it fresh, is always trying to look for things that person does, that other people don’t know yet,” says Pharoah, who played President Barack Obama, Jay-Z, Denzel Washington and many more notables in six years on Saturday Night Live. With Biden poised to take office as the nation’s 46th president, comics like Pharoah face a crucial question: How to impersonate him in a way that really resonates? … Pharoah recalls Saturday Night Live sat on an idea he brought up when he joined the show in 2010; a character who was Obama’s more emotional subconscious. Years later, Comedy Central’s show Key & Peele debuted Obama’s “anger translator,” Luther, in a similar sketch, and Pharoah saw an opportunity missed. “There was not a Black person in America, sitting there while Barack Obama had to take everything that he took from the Republican party, [who didn’t think] ‘He has got to be ticked off,” Pharoah adds.’ – NPR

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“So don’t start with exciting plot; start with people.” – Leone Ross, masterclass on characterization

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“Film is so powerful, television is so powerful, it can literally change perception and change culture.” – Gina Prince Bythewood, writer-director of Love and Basketball, Beyond the Lights, and The Old Guard.

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 37

Things I read that you might like too. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

Read the winning entries to the 2020 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge which are a mix of poems and short fiction. Support our patrons.

POETRY

“I was going to write to you last week but delayed
till I could add a bit of news that hadn’t quite resolved—
in a season of nest failures new nests have been made.” – Villanelle of a Passing of Harold Bloom by John Kinsella

COMMENTARY

“When the publishing industry — which is 84 percent white — tells Latinx writers that our stories are too hard to read, our worlds too complicated, our audiences too small, do they not mean this is hard for me to read, this book doesn’t reach me, it is difficult for me to bear witness to what my people have done, I don’t see myself in this story? Despite all its failings, American Dirt still made its debut at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Writers like Cummins will continue to supply these voyeuristic stories for the white imagination. And we will continue telling our stories as is natural for us to tell them.” – Ingrid Rojas Contreras writes about American Dirt 

CREATIVES ON CREATING

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OBIT.

“As much as his scholarly writings chronicled the post-colonisation Caribbean experience, however, it is Brathwaite’s poetry that captured the imagination of both the region and the world.” – Barbadian Poet Kamau Brathwaite Leaves Behind A Legacy of Language (on Global Voices by Janine Mendes-Franco)

FICTION

“She slept fitfully that night, and woke up the next morning with an inexplicable sense of loss. Retirement blues? She got out of bed and made herself a cup of tea. What was it that she had planned to do that morning? Yes, to go to David Sassoon library and borrow Usage and Abusage by Eric Partridge; go to church and meet Father Pereira; buy some groceries on the way back . . .” – Miss Coelho, English Teacher by Kiran Doshi

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‘She had a habit of making lists in a small notebook. Lists of things she needed to do for the day, lists of the people she’d taken to shelters from the beach, even though she hadn’t gone there since rescuing him. The Coast Guard had become more vigilant and the landings had decreased. One day she read him something from the notebook. His name was the only one on a list she titled “People from the Beach I Have Kissed.”’ – Without Inspection by Edwidge Dandicat

PROFILE

“Elaine Potter Richardson (as she originally was) had been sent to New York from Antigua eight years before she met Shawn. Her stepfather’s failing health and the arrival of three baby brothers had drained the family finances. Elaine, a precociously bright child and a voracious reader, had been taken out of school and sent away to earn some money.” –Jamaica Kincaid: Looking Back in Anger in Caribbean Beat magazine

MISC.

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Bocas Lit Fest has readings for children on instagram as long as lockdown lasts. At this writing, they’re reading Carol Ottley-Mitchell’s Trapped in Dunstan’s Cave. Here’s the link.

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Conversation and reading with Trinidadian writer Vahni Capildeo, who was the University of the West Indies St. Augustine writer in residence for Campus Literary Week (virtually due to COVID-19). A list at the end of video 1 sees Antigua and Barbuda’s Jamaica Kincaid making a curated list of top Caribbean female writers. Listen to hear who else is on the list – some we’ve discussed right here on the site. And, yes, we said video 1, the conversation is broken up in to several video clips – click the link above.

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Caribbean American Perspectives Carry on Friends recommends ‘5 Must Read Fiction Books by Caribbean Women Authors’. See who made the list.

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INTERVIEW

‘How can we support each other right now as readers and writers?

For me, it’s pretty simple. Buy books, read books, and probably number one—talk about books. It’s amazing how often the talk turns to television, even among literary people. I think it’s just habitual. First of all, it’s easier to find people who are watching the same shows. You can pretty much bet that if you say Tiger King right now—and look, I’m enjoying it, too, don’t get me wrong—but I ask of myself to always ask other people, “What are you reading?” And it’s interesting how it seems to lead to deeper discussion ultimately than “What are you watching?” And for all the great TV out there, honestly, I find that if it’s a choice between reading and watching, I read. It just feels like a deeper satisfaction and also a kind of insistence, in my own life anyway, on the importance of this practice. So I think, just keep literary culture alive by insisting upon its centrality. That’s what we can all do.’ – The PEN Pod: Keeping Literary Culture Alive Through Resilience with Jennifer Egan

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“I experiment with new ways of writing. I try to get outside of my own box and I’m not afraid if it fails or doesn’t work.” – Sharma Taylor, exclusive interview with Jhohadli

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Happy Okay“Well, the funny thing about a culture of silence is that once the silence is broken, others find a connection, and begin to recognize there’s a problem, and that many people are suffering. Once that happens, more people start speaking up, and eventually, it becomes easier to speak of the unspeakable.” – Haitian-American writer M. J. Fievre in interview with me at my jhohadli blog about her new book Happy, Okay?

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‘What my family ate, spoke, and did was a mystery to our neighbors and somehow it made us strange and foreign to them. I remember reading books when I was kid and not being able to relate to a single character because I didn’t look like them and my family didn’t do the things they did. I also couldn’t relate to characters in Chinese children’s books because well, I couldn’t read Chinese and stuff like “after I do my homework I help grandpa wash his feet in a water basin” didn’t relate to me.’ – Mina Yan interviewing Eugenia Chu, author of Brandon goes to Beijing and other books in the series of Chinese-American books for children inspired by her own son

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“The novel is set in Trinidad, and it follows the lives of an unconventional family – Betty, a widow, her son Solo and their lodger Mr Chetan. You know why I’m sure sure you’re going to love them? Because I loved them. I let them do all kind of stupidness, but I always treated them with respect and empathy. In spite of all the madness we, like these characters, are all just trying to live our best lives.” – Caribbean author Ingrid Persaud talks about her book Love after Love

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

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“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

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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

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“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

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“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

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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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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

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‘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  

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“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

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“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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