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)
The BarbudanGo grant for a project on Barbuda has gone to ACT – no, not that ACT. Congrats to the ACT Drama Theatre. –
(Source – facebook)
Just before Christmas, Brooklyn based online Caribbean arts non-profit tropicalfete.com launched the Caribbean Cultural Puzzle. St. Lucian born founder and tropicalfete.com president Alton Aimable said, “The purchase of the puzzle helps us with our mission of developing the community in arts and social services with the focus on educating the community on Caribbean culture. The projects we engage in are to use culture as a tool for social transformation,” he shared. (Source – email from tropicalfete.com)
I would like to be able to do one of these without having to do a death announcement but it is not this day… this day we mourn Zuri Holder who died tragically on January 4th 2020 of injuries sustained during a vehicular accident. Zuri was family. I met him as a very young child when I started volunteering with the Cushion Club and watched him grow over the years. His dad Cedric has kept that Club going to this day, a literary and literal uncle to many children over 20 or so years, though Zuri graduated the Club some years ago and was a young adult. I can’t imagine his pain. The Wadadli Pen family will remember Zuri as a repeat finalist – second in the 12 and younger category in 2011 and winner of that category and third overall in 2013. Zuri had also been a dancer and drummer with the Antigua Dance Academy. Wadadli Pen deals with youth mostly so we haven’t really had as a platform to deal with the loss of one of our own before – forgive any missteps; my heart is heavy. (Source- the circle of us who knew him)
Foremost Belizean author Zee Edgell died in December. I met her once and interviewed her as well (at the 2010 Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival) and found her not only to be calm but calming, her energy influencing yours in the most sublime way. No airs, no off putting ness despite being, well, Zee Edgell. “Edgell, lauded as Belize’s foremost fiction writer, was perhaps best known for her 1982 debut novel, Beka Lamb, read and studied by generations of students in the Caribbean and beyond. She received an honorary doctorate from the UWI Cave Hill, and was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.” (Bocas) Read more about Zee Edgell and view a reading of her work at the African American Literary Book Club. (Source – initially Bocas Lit Fest on Instagram followed by additional research and relfection)
fAntiguan and New York Times bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey has died. He was a regular at the literary festival here in Antigua as seen above, during its short run, and even lived here for a time while working on one of his books which is partially set in Antigua. His death was a double blow coming within hours of Zuri’s passing. He was one of my literary angels and I mourn him. Read more about EJD here. (Source – initially twitter condolence post by another writer and then confirmation after much searching via Essence)
This is one I should have mentioned before as it happened back in 2020 and I wanted to mention it because I believe people that put out themselves to give back should be recognized. Eugene Humphreys, self-described Minister of Helps, was not, to the best of my knowledge, part of the arts community but he was part of the culture – as someone who was a known community activist who was known for service through charitable acts and especially fundraising for people and projects that needed it. He died in December 2020 of cancer. His legacy is that of a selfless person doing for others and we need more of that in the world. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)
Have you been watching Academy award winning, Caribbean-British director Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series? I’ve started and after watching Mangrove, I’m definitely invested in seeing the other films in this anthology series. I’ve already reported that Antiguan and Barbudan cinematographer Shabier Kirchner is DP on the series. There are other Caribbean people involved behind and in front of the camera including Black Panther’s little sister Shuri (Letitia Wright, whose roots are in Guyana). With the explosion of Black Lives Matter (again) in 2020, this series of films couldn’t be more timely. Mangrove (dealing with the trial of the Mangrove 9) in my opinion should be as much in the awards conversation as The Trial of the Chicago 7; in a year when everything is streaming anyway, I don’t know if it qualifies for an Oscar, but it should in my opinion since a theatrical run (an Oscar requirement) is not in the cards for many (almost any) films due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The story is fact-based and a reminder that anti-Blackness and the issues around that (including xenophobia) is not uniquely American – it is, in fact, global; and in this specific instance, we have a film that illustrates the discrimination experienced by migrants from the Caribbean (i.e. the British West Indies) and other people of colour parts of the British empire and the protests and activism it bred. (Source – various – it’s in the ether – but this post was prompted specifically by this article at The Root, which landed in my email inbox)
This book revisits Jean Rhys’s ground-breaking 1966 novel to explore its cultural and artistic influence in the areas of not only literature and literary criticism, but fashion design, visual art, and the theatre as well. Building on symposia that were held in London and New York in 2016 in honour of the novel’s half-century, this collection demonstrates just how timely Rhys’s insights into colonial history, sexual relations, and aesthetics continue to be. The chapters include an extensive interview with novelist Caryl Phillips, who in 2018 published a novel about Rhys’s life, an account of how Wide Sargasso Sea can be read through the lens of the #MeToo Movement, a clothing line inspired by the novel, and new critical directions. As both a celebration and scholarly evaluation, the collection shows how enduring Rhys’s novel is in its continuing literary influence and social commentary. (book summary) (Source – John Robert Lee/St. Lucian poet and archivist email blast)
Rilys Adams, whom you may remember was a nominee for the Rebel Women Lit Caribbean Readers Awards Best Novel prize has another chance to win with the Romance book industry’s reader picked Swoonies. The results come out February 1st 2021. She is a semi-finalist for Best Erotic Romance with Go Deep and Romance Novella/Short Story with Birthday Shot, the same book nominated in the RWL CRA, if you’re thinking of voting. (Source – initially social media post by the writer then check of the actual site)
The results of Rebel Women Lit Caribbean Readers Awards were announced on January 3rd 2020 and can be read/viewed in full here. The first announcement of the live had me over the moon because it was one of our own – Andre J. P. Warner taking the prize for best fiction for his 2020 winning Wadadli Pen piece, A Bright Future for Tomorrow. Jamaica’s Donna Hemans won the best novel award for Tea by the Sea. Antiguan and Barbudan writer and Wadadli Pen alum Rilys Adams, writing as Rilzy Adams, was shortlisted for this prize for her book Birthday Shot. Dominican-American writer Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap when you Land won the prize for best teen/young adult book. Best middle grade book was JAmerican writer Kereen Getten’s When Life gives you Mangoes. Puerto Rico’s Loretta Collins Klobah with Maria Grau Perejoan won the best translation prize for The Sea Needs No Ornament/El Mar No Necesita Ornamento, a collection they worked on while PR struggled to recover from Maria and which includes many other voices from the Caribbean. The poetry book prize went to New Voices: Selected by Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica, 2017 – 2020. Best non-fiction book is US based professor Jessica Marie Johnson’s Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World. Olive Senior, veteran Jamaican writer partially based in Canada, for best short non-fiction for Crosswords in Lockdown: #WhatIAmDoingWithMyTime. Best short story collection went to Stick No Bills by Trinidad and Tobago’s Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw. The new content creator prize went to @ambi_reads on instagram; the critical work of Shivanee Ramlochan, Gabrielle Bellot, and Kelly Baker Josephs was recognized, and, and this was a surprise, I was an honoree. (Source – watched the announcement on their youtube channel)
Antiguan and Barbudan legendary calypso writer Marcus Christopher died in 2015. This year, this tribute to him emerges.
(Source – Linkedin post by the artist)
The PEN America 2021 awards nominees includes Caribbeanauthor Maisy Card, born in St. Catherine, Jamaica, and raised in Queens, NY in the USA. Her book, These Ghosts are Family is nominated for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, a prize worth US$10,000. Full slate of nominees listed here.
Winners to be announced in February 2021. (Source – PEN America email)
As with all content on this site, unless otherwise noted, this is prepared by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, Joanne C. Hillhouse. As we try to do, credit if sharing.