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)
While Antigua and Barbuda is not specifically named, Antiguan and Barbudan writer Jamaica Kincaid is on this USA Today list of 100 Black novelists and fiction writers you should read… (that includes other Caribbean writers like Marlon James of Jamaica and Edwidge Dandicat of Haiti). Read the full list.
The Wadadli Pen patrons list continues to grow in spite of challenging times – the latest pledges come from former Wadadli Pen finalist cum award winning writer Rilys Adams, Cedric Holder of the Cushion Club, and Diana McCaulay with her publisher Peepal Tree Press. They join celebrated Jamaican author Olive Senior, another past Wadadli Pen finalist Daryl George, new local writer Patricia Tully; plus Moondancer Books and the Best of Books. Additional books have also arrived from the year biggest donor to date Harper Collins UK. The Wadadli Pen Challenge gives writers and artists in Antigua and Barbuda until March 26th 2021 to respond to the Challenge to reflect and create. Readers also have to this time to #readAntiguaBarbuda and vote for their favourite books. Details here.
For more opportunities with pending deadlines check this link, and, because I’ve recently received requests for information re publishing, here too are links to the main Opportunities and Resources pages.
I wrote about the death in December 2020 of Belizean writer Zee Edgell in the first Carib Lit Plus of the year. I’m revisiting her life to share a link to the review I posted in February of her book The Festival of San Joaquin which was one of my picks for my Black History Month #abookaday project.
I want to thank Trinidad filmmaker (Banyan Ltd.) Christopher Laid for giving permission to share the following Zee Edgell interview from the Second Conference of Caribbean Women Writers (1990). Access it by clicking the image below and using the password ‘zee’.
I also wanted to share an announcement from her daughter Holly, received via email from St. Lucian writer John Robert Lee (excerpted): ‘ST. LOUIS, Missouri — Zee Edgell, Belize’s foremost author of fiction, has died at the age of 80. She passed away on December 20, in her home after a battle with cancer. Born in Belize City, British Honduras in 1940, Mrs. Edgell was the daughter of the late Clive Tucker and Veronica Tucker (nee Walker). She was married to the late Alvin Edgell for 52 years. Together they raised two children: journalist Holly Edgell, 51, and physician Randall Edgell, 45. …Mrs. Edgell authored four novels and five short stories set in Belize, the only Belizean writer of fiction to do so. Her first book, Beka Lamb (Heineman 1982), is beloved in Belize and throughout the Caribbean. It has been part of school and examination curricula in the region and in other parts of the world since its publication. Mrs. Edgell received an honorary doctorate in literature from the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados in 2009. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies degree from Kent State University and earned a diploma in journalism from Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster). In 2007, she received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II, for her services to literature and the community. Among Mrs. Edgell’s many services to Belize was her founding of the “The Reporter” newspaper in 1967. In addition, she served as director of the Women’s Bureau (later the Women’s Department) under the People’s United Party and the United Democratic Party in the 1980s. Later, she was a lecturer at the University College of Belize (now the University of Belize). …After retiring from Kent State University as a tenured English professor in 2009, Mrs. Edgell moved to St. Louis, Missouri with her husband.’ (Source – re additional content – John Robert Lee via email)
The Caribbean Literature in Transition series from Cambridge University Press has dropped – electronically in December 2020 and hard copy in January 2021. Its authors are:
Evelyn O’Callaghan, professor of West Indian Literature, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, and author of writings on women’s writing, early Caribbean narratives and more recently, ecocritical readings of Caribbean landscapes in visual and scribal texts. She has edited early Caribbean novels such as Antiguan and Barbudan writer Frieda Cassin’s With Silent Tread. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of West Indian Literature.
Curdella Forbes, professor of Caribbean Literature at Howard University and award winning fiction and non-fiction writer. She serves on the editorial advisory board of JWIL and Anthurium. Her most recent work of fiction is A Tall History of Sugar (Akashic 2019, Canongate 2020).
Tim Watson, professor of English at the University of Miami and author of several books on Caribbean culture and writing.
Raphael Dalleo, professor of English at Bucknell University whose most recent book, American Imperialism’s Undead: The Occupation of Haiti and the Rise of Caribbean Anticolonialism (2016), won the Caribbean Studies Association’s 2017 Gordon K. and Sibyl Lewis Award for best book about the Caribbean. He serves on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of West Indian Literature.
Ronald Cummings, associate professor of Postcolonial Studies in the Department of English Language and Literature at Brock University. He is co-editor of the Literature Encyclopedia volume on Anglophone Writing and Culture of Central America and the Caribbean.
Alison Donnell, professor of Modern Literatures in English and Head of School of Literature, Creative Writing and Drama at the University of East Anglia, who has published widely on Caribbean and Black British writings, with a particular emphasis on challenging orthodox literary histories and recovering women’s voices. She is the author of Twentieth Century Caribbean Literature (2006) and Caribbean Queer: Creolized Sexualities and the Literary Imagination in the Anglo-Caribbean (2021), as well as co-editor (with Michael A. Bucknor) of The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature (2011). She leads a major project funded by the Leverhulme Trust: ‘Caribbean Literary Heritage: recovering the lost past and safeguarding the future’.
Some people got creative and busy during the pandemic; Jamaican writer Olive Senior got so busy and so creative she got a whole book of Pandemic Poems: First Wave out of it.
“Early in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Olive Senior began posting her series of Pandemic Poems on social media. The project was a way of bearing witness to the strangeness of it all and forging a reassuring connection with readers. Each poem is a riff on a word or phrase trending in the first wave of the pandemic – an A to Z of the lexicon newly coined or quickly repurposed for our historic moment. By presenting these words and phrases in sequence, Senior offers a timeline of the way events unfolded and how the language and preoccupations kept changing in response. In this accessible collection, Senior captures the zeitgeist of 2020.” (Repeating Islands) (Source – posting by another author on facebook)
p.s. Olive is a Wadadli Pen 2021 patron. So, buy her book!
Visual artist Heather Doram has turned her talents to publishing with a new series of colouring books.
A variety of Heather Doram merch can also be found exclusively at her online store. (Source – Heather Doram, artist, on instagram and/or facebook)
The latest release from Caribbean Reads, its first book of 2021, is The Talking Mango Tree by A. H. Benjamin of the UK with illustrator Daniel J. O’Brien of Trinidad. The mango tree, so says the plot, begins demanding a performance from each animals who wants its fruits and as one child reader reveals below Papa Bois is not happy.
This link includes various Caribbean booksellers that carry Caribbean Reads books but also see online and wherever books are sold. (Source – Caribbean Reads on instagram)
I previously posted this book in 2020 – not sure if pub was delayed or if I got the date wrong but I just learned that it was actually published this year, January 28th 2021, by Peepal Tree Press. So I did something I don’t normally do (deleted it from that 2020 Carib Plus Lit to re-post here). Shout out to Jacqueline Bishop whose The Gift of Music and Song: Interviews with Jamaican Women Writers has been described as a “beautiful collection of interviews, conducted by journalist, poet, novelist and artist Jacqueline Bishop, features insightful and entertaining conversations with many of Jamaica’s most significant writers including Olive Senior, Lorna Goodison, Marcia Douglas and many more.” A Peepal Tree press release, also, said, “Beginning at childhood, each interviewee narrates their fond memories of the Caribbean country with a nostalgia and yearning for a place that is complex and freighted with political, social and racial difficulties. The Gift of Music & Song is a space for these writers to talk deeply about writing back to their homeland; about being female voices from Jamaica, how one should represent the country, its rhythms and cadences, and what it means to be a female writer in the world today.” (Source – update via email from John Robert Lee)
Observer Media Group (Antigua and Barbuda) reporter Shermain Bique-Charles has published a romance novel, Jasmine: Shedding My Skin. According to the Daily Observer newspaper, “the story follows the life of a young woman who is teased in school and considered to be unpopular. In a series of intriguing developments, a young man teams up with his friends planning to violate her. Instead he falls in love with her, putting aside all his wealth, pride and ego to gain her trust and love.” The veteran journalist is originally from Dominica. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)
Shedding My Skin is just outside the publication window for the #readAntiguaBarbuda 2021 initiative (which closed in January 2021) but remember to vote for your favourite among the books that are in contention. (Source – the Daily Observer newspaper)
Congrats Due To…
Eric Barry of Trinidad and Tobago, regional winner of the International Playwriting Competition of 2020 with ‘Delisa Brings Home the Rainbow’. The full list of winners here.
Richards Georges. Don’t remember if I mentioned this but, hey, it’s worth mentioning twice or thrice…Richard Georges is settling in to his role, announced late last year, as the first poet laureate of the Virgin Islands. Richard, who has Antiguan and Trinidadian roots, is a BVI author, most recently celebrated for his Bocas best book win. Speaking of Bocas, Georges is, at this writing, participating in a celebration of Black Britain that’s a collaboration between Bocas and Penguin Books UK. “Linking current voices with their past influencers, the partnership will criss-cross the Atlantic to celebrate the re-publication of six previously out-of-print works by Black British authors, including James’s fictional masterpiece, and newly-commissioned work by a younger generation of Black British poets and writers, including Malika Booker, Richard Georges, Keith Jarrett, Hannah Lowe, Maureen Roberts and Roger Robinson.” – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday (Source – email, various)
Aishah Roberts on her appointment to director of film development – Europe & UK at Fandomodo Films. Aishah is from Antigua and is the daughter of another film vet Conrad Roberts. Sidebar – Conrad Roberts‘ name was familiar to me as someone growing up in Antigua and Barbuda in the 1980s as he was maybe the only local working in Hollywood (e.g. Mosquito Coast, Miami Vice) I was aware of at the time.
Shabier Kirchner who has been collecting nominations and awards this season for his work as cinematographer on Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series. Read all about it in the latest installment of my CREATIVE SPACE series – Small Axe, Big Talent.
Edward Baugh and Mervyn Morris, joint announced recipients of Bocas’ Henry Swanzy Award.
“Baugh and Morris are widely considered pioneers of the study of West Indian literature, over careers that each span half a century. …
The Award, established in 2013, is named for the late BBC radio producer Henry Swanzy. Irish by birth, Swanzy worked as producer of the influential Caribbean Voices radio programme — originally founded by Jamaican Una Marson — from 1946 to 1954, becoming an essential figure in the development of modern West Indian literature.
The Bocas Lit Fest founded the award to honour and celebrate the contributions of the editors, broadcasters, publishers, critics, and others who have shaped the evolution of Caribbean literature behind the scenes.” (Repeating Islands) Personal congrats to my former mentor, Mervyn Morris. Well deserved. (Source – Facebook)
Sharma Taylor whose debut novel, What a Mother’s Love Don’t Teach You, has been acquired Virago at auction, part of a two-book deal. Via this March 1st 2021 article on thebookseller.com, ‘Described as “a powerful story of belonging, identity and inheritance”, the novel brings together a host of voices to evoke 80s Jamaica’s ghetto, dance halls, criminal underworld and corrupt politics, and at its heart, a mother’s unshakeable love for her son.’ About the book: “At 18 years old, Dinah, a Jamaican maid, gave away her baby son to the rich American couple she worked for before they left Jamaica. They never returned. She never forgot him. Eighteen years later, a young man comes from the US to Kingston. From the moment she sees him, Dinah never doubts—this is her son. What happens next will make everyone question what they know and where they belong.” The first of Taylor’s books are to be published in July 2022. Use the search feature to find the other times Sharma Taylor has shown up here on the blog (and there’s this exclusive interview on my other blog); it’s a lot as she’s been having breakthrough after breakthrough in recent years. I first met the Jamaica-born, Barbados-resident lawyer and writer when she participated in a 2016 workshop I co-facilitated at the BIM Literary Festival (we were co-participants in a 2018 Commonwealth workshop in Barbados). In the time I’ve known her, it’s been a meteoric rise including being shortlisted twice for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (in 2018 and 2020) and winning the 2020 Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Prize and 2019 Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize for emerging writers. Her short story “How You Make Jamaican Coconut Oil” won the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize. In 2020, ‘The Story of Stony’ (which I wrote the author was “heartbreaking”) was longlisted for the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean. An earlier version of What a Mother’s Love Don’t Teach You was awarded second prize in the 2020 First Novel Competition (organized by Daniel Goldsmith Associates). “I wrote this book to showcase Jamaican culture and to explore the relationship between mothers and their children. I was captivated by Dinah’s voice the moment she came to me in the kitchen of my apartment in Barbados.” (via email and social media – from the author)
Nissa Butler emerged winner of the first NIA Mentor Award. The initiative, launched and funded by NIA Comms founder Marcella Andre and media relations specialist at the Ayre Group Jamilla Kirwan, is intended to invest in and boost an Antiguan and Barbudan female entrepreneur – providing her money ($7,000) and mentorship (from seven women in business) for a year. Nissa’s business is Butler Inscriptions and Butler Graveside Concierge service. Novel (and creative) ideas to be sure. In her publicly posted thank you, Nissa pledged to do just what the NIA Mentor Award is poised to do for her. “I will continue my efforts to pay it forward and I await, with pleasure, the bringing about positive development and opportunities for my personal growth, business and for you, my fellow female entrepreneurs.” We share this because we recognize and applaud creativity and in an environment starved for opportunity, Marcella got creative. (Source – Observer newspaper, Antigua and further research via facebook)
As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.