Tag Archives: Book recs

Carib Lit Plus Early to Mid October 2020

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.

Farewell

We’ve reported before on the passing of writer and art collector (also politician but that’s not what we’re here for) Sir Selvyn Walter. Sir Selvyn received an official funeral on October 12th 2020. Per the Daily Observer, “he was the founder of the Halcyon Steel Orchestra, along with Sam and Penod Kirby and Melvin Simon in 1972.” He authored the Daily Observer series Not a Drum was Heard and the book Bank Alley Tales – both capturing the life and times and forgotten culture and people of Antigua and Barbuda. Reportedly, the refurbished art gallery at Government House will be renamed for him. Observer writes, “We have lost one of our finest thinkers and historians – a curator of that which made us who we are.”

Congrats are in Order

For winners of the Catapult Caribbean Arts Grant Stay Home Artist Residency; including familiar (to the Wadadli Pen blog) names like Trinidad and Tobago’s Lisa Allen-Agostini and Shivanee Ramlochan, and the Bahamas’ Sonia Farmer. The residency enables 24 cultural practitioners from the English, Spanish, French, and Dutch Caribbean to be supported to the tune of US$3,000 each while continuing work from home over a two month period.

The Stay at Home Artist Residency is only one of the initiatives supporting Caribbean Creatives during 2020 under the Catapult: Caribbean Artists Grants. It is managed and funded through Kingston Creative, Barbados’ Fresh Milk, and American Friends of Jamaica. Through six initiatives they are supporting the work of Caribbean artists in a year that has sent the entire world in to a tailspin thanks to COVID-19. “These funding opportunities will increase the visibility of over 1,000 Caribbean-based artists, creatives and cultural practitioners to global audiences, provide much needed financial support, and develop the creative skills of our artists.” (Fresh Milk) In addition to the Stay Home Artist Residency (above), there is the Caribbean Artist Showcase, Caribbean Creative Online, Digital Creative Training, Consultancy Vouchers, and Lockdown Virtual Salon – the recipients of which are
“The CATAPULT Lockdown Virtual Salon programme aims to mitigate isolation, especially heightened during the current pandemic, by creating virtual platforms for cultural practitioners to engage in discourse about and explore their evolving practices. These one-hour artist talks from their homes or studios will be live-streamed via the Fresh Milk YouTube channel at 1PM and 4PM AST, every Tuesday and Friday between September 29th & November 20th, 2020.” (Fresh Milk)

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This year’s recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature has been named: she is American poet and Yale professor Louise Glück. Here’s a sample of her poetry: Per this BBC article, she is amazingly only the 16th woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature since it was first awarded in 1901. Another woman who was trending as the Nobel announcement drew near was Antigua and Barbuda’s Jamaica Kincaid who was reportedly in top contention. Trinidad-American blogger Keishel Williams wrote after the announcement, in a piece headlined Waiting for Jamaica Kincaid’s Nobel Prize, “Unlike in previous years, I was particularly nervous about this year’s prize. The last time WE won a Noble Prize in Literature was almost twenty years ago and WE have only won this prestigious prize twice in its history – Derek Walcott in 1992 and V.S. Naipaul in 2001. Suffice to say, when Antiguan-born novelist, essayist, and short story writer Jamaica Kincaid was tipped as a top contender for the prize this year, I was over the moon.” The article ended, “WE will another Noble Prize in Literature and I will be there waiting, patiently, when it is awarded to Jamaica Kincaid.” Literature gods willing.

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Jamaican writer Diana McCaulay, recently interviewed for a series on publishing here on Wadadli Pen, later adapted for an article in Publishler’s Weekly, has been announced as part of the judging panel for the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story prize. An environmental activist and award winning novelist whose books include Dog Heart, Gone to Drift, Huracan, White Liver Gal, and Daylight Soon Come is also a past winner of the prize. The Commonwealth Short Story prize has one judge from each Commonwealth territory. McCaulay is this cycle’s Caribbean judge alongside A. Igoni Barrett (Africa), Khademul Islam (Asia), Keith Jarrett (Canada and Europe), Tina Makereti/(Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Rangatahi) (Pacific), and chair South African writer Zoë Wicomb. For information on submitting to the Commonwealth Short Stories Prize and other opportunities, see Opportunities Too here on the blog for details.

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Diana again for the release this month of her Peepal Tree book Daylight Come, a Burt award winning title.

Congrats to her.

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Monique Roffey, award winning Trinidadian author, has had her latest book, The Mermaid of Black Conch, shortlisted for Goldsmith’s Prize recognizing the best in experimental fiction. The prize is worth 10,000 pounds. Re Roffey’s book, ‘Judge Sarah Ladipo Manyika said: “This is one of those rare gems of a novel that can be read and enjoyed on many levels—it’s a whimsical love story, a history of the Caribbean and its indigenous peoples, an ode to Mother Earth, and an allegory for our times.”’ (quoted here). The winner will be announced on November 11th 2020.

Book Recs

St. Lucian poet John Robert Lee recommends the latest from Ghanian-Jamaican writer Kwame Dawes and UK based Peepal Tree, Natural Mysticism. He describes it as a “page-turner” which isn’t something you often hear of books of this type. I personally remember really liking a previous reggae-themed book of Dawes Bob Marley Lyrical Genius for his breakdown and contextualizing of the universally familiar lyrics.

Lee said of Natural Mysticism, “Others no doubt have written of this seminal, water-shed period of Caribbean life and experience, from the mid- sixties to the mid-eighties (in my reckoning), but for the first time I was studying a closely- observed record of the lives and times and music and ideas that had so moved me and all the companions and lovers and artists among whom I lived in those heady days. Marley and the Wailers, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Jimmy Cliff, Culture, Burning Spear, Steel Pulse … But not only was Kwame Dawes writing a fascinating social and cultural history…but he was making a very bold assertion: that reggae and its spiritual heart of Rastafari, provided an aesthetic that could shape the arts and literature of the new Caribbean already taking shape around us.”

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For Coloured Girls. No, not the Tyler Perry movie; the play (“for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf “) by Ntozake Shange, who died in 2018, leaving an indelible mark, in the captured stories of various women’s inner lives. Seven women, including talent and director Wendy ‘Motion’ Brathwaite, who is Antigua-descended, staged a virtual reading of some of the play/book’s classic monologues in an event called For Colored Girls: A RemiX. The reading – consistent with the choreopoem’s use of word, sound, movement, and drama – can be viewed on the Band Gallery channel.

Watching it is reminding me how much I thought Anika Noni Rose was overlooked in Oscars conversation because whatever you thought of the linear framing of the narrative or of Perry’s direction, there were several standout performances, and for me Rose’s, and Loretta Devine’s, were among them. Watch the video, and revisit the book while you’re at it.

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Shivanee Ramlochan over at Caribbean Beat, a literary star in her own right, recs three books already on my TBR which should be on yours (either that or your AR – already read): Epiphaneia by Richard Georges (“Here are poems that reward several concentrated readings to mine their full, harrowing flavour”); Black Rain Falling by Jacob Ross, second in his fictional crime series that began with The Bone Readers (“Move over, Agatha Christie — Jacob Ross is in charge”), and Ingrid Persaud’s Love After Love. And Shivanee’s reviews are an art form in themselves. Read this about Love After Love: “Ingrid Persaud steers the world of her novel with a merciless kind of sensitivity, turning the very notion of a tiny existence on its clichéd head, rattling every cupboard in this narrative home for loose change, deep confessions, and dalliances sweeter than Demerara sugar.” So feel free to check out her Forward Prize nominated Everyone Knows I am Haunting which incidentally debuted in October (Happy Anniversary Month, Shivanee) back in 2017.

Events

Perhaps not unexpectedly, regional arts and culture showcase CARIFESTA 2021, scheduled for Antigua and Barbuda, has been pushed back to (August 11-21) 2022. This is according to a report in the Daily Observer newspaper of Friday 9th October 2020.

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You can revisit the 2020 virtual Bocas Lit Fest now on their YouTube channel. With over 80 writers, performers, events over three days, there’s a lot to see.

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The Caribbean Writer has announced an after-dinner reading affair, part of its Reader Response Discussion Series, for October 15th 2020, 7 to 9 p.m. The will be discussing four pieces from the recently published Volume 34, themed ‘Dignity, Power, and Place in the Caribbean Space’. Here are the details:

ZOOM LOGIN INFORMATION

https://zoom.us/j/96011298073?pwd=SHJJQzlacUVzZ09HV1VPRE5tUE0wUT09

Meeting ID: 960 1129 8073

Passcode: 521956

NOTE: If you would like a digital copy of volume 34, order here.

Pay it Forward

I remember Antiguan-Barbudan reggae singer Causion paying it forward for years in the 2000s with his concerts on an open field in his home community of St. Paul’s, cost of entry a canned nonperishable to be dropped in to a barrel for later delivery to those who need it. Now it’s the community’s turn to help him. Observer newspaper reporters that the singer is battling stage 3 colon cancer. Details of his fundraising mission for himself and others in the Daily Observer. Also here’s a direct link to the thankyoumission.com

All things considered, this one seems appropriate

Causion, born Gregory Bailey, performing Put Your Trust in Jah roughly 10 years ago.

New and Forthcoming Books

This is an August 2020 released but I’m not sure I mentioned it – Trinidad and Tobago writer Andre Bagoo’s poetry collection The Undiscovered Country. ‘The Undiscovered Country discovers many things, but one thing for sure: Andre Bagoo is a fearless, brilliant mind. He can take us from the formal critical perspective to new futurist “visual essay”, to verse essay, to sweeping historical account that is unafraid to go as far in time as Columbus and as urgently-of-our moment as Brexit—all of it with precision and attentiveness to detail that is as brilliant as it is startling.’ (Peepal Tree Press)

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Scholastic UK has acquired and will be publishing this October the previously self-published Windrush book by Kandace Chimbiri. The Story of the Windrush celebrates the Windrush pioneers who first arrived in London in June 1948. With a mix of historical fact and voices from that generation, the children’s book not only tells the story but underscores its importance in the formation of modern Britain. Chimbiri is a descendent of the generations of Black Caribbean people who travelled that route to make a life for themselves in the UK. She was born in London, England in 1968 to parents from Barbados. The Story of the Windrush was initially published through her Golden Destiny Ltd. independent publishing house, founded in 2009. This info comes via a release put out by Scholastic and reaching us via Barbados’ National Cultural Foundation. In that release, Chimbiri is quoted as saying, “I noticed a lack of diversity in books for children especially in the non-fiction genre. I began by self-publishing my work and am really excited now about working with a publisher who is going to make stories like these available to a much wider audience. I feel that Scholastic understands what I want to achieve. They can see the importance of books like The Story of the Windrush and why they are needed in the world right now.”

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Collins (UK) is preparing a rollout of a number of Caribbean titles for its Big Cat series of children’s books. They include non fiction titles Sea Turtles and How to become a Calysonian, and fictional works Turtle Beach, The Jungle Outside, Wygenia and the Wonder of the World Leaf, Finny and the Fairy Fish, and The Lost Sketch Book. Authors and illustrators include Jamaica’s Diana McCaulay, Guyana’s Imam Baksh, St. Kitts-Nevis Carol Mitchell, and others including several from Antigua and Barbuda. Get the run down here on the Wadadli Pen site – and see which Wadadli Pen team members are involved with this series.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, 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/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on 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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CARIB Plus Lit News (late June 2020)

Interviews

Your opportunity to interview me via my youtube channel, AntiguanWriter. I’ve promised to do a live AMA if I reach a certain number of subscribers. Check the channel’s discussion tab for the details.

Reading Recommendations 

pleasure Big up to Antiguan and Barbudan writing juggernaut Kimolisa Mings’ latest book, her 21st by my count, is a bestseller. Having climbed as high as 11th in the top 100 Amazon rankings, which is based on sales and updated hourly, The Pleasure is Mine (currently kindle only though I believe a print edition is pending) is, at this writing, 24th on the Amazon African American Erotica Bestsellers Books list and 28th on the Amazon African American Erotical Bestsellers Kindle list. The Pleasure is Mine is subtitled as A Caribbean BWWM Romance (Sapodilla Resort & Spa Romance Book 1). See the Antigua and Barbudan Writings and Fiction lists for Mings’ complete bibliography; she’s also listed in our data base of professional services.

I want to say thanks to the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority’s CaribCation Caribbean Author Series for tapping me for a spot in June 2020. You can view it on CaribCation’s social media and I’ve also uploaded it to my AntiguanWriter YouTube channel

I’m reading from Musical Youth, a Burt Award winning teen/young adult novel. I also encourage you to check out other authors featured in the series. I have been and I have added Dr. Tanya Destang Beaubrun’s Of Bubbles, Bhudda, and Butterflies to my TBR after listening to her reading.

New Daughters of Africa, published by UK’s Myriad press and by Harper Collins in the US NEW_DAUGHTERS_HIGH-RES-670x1024was recommended by Olivia Adams writing in Marie Claire about Books to Educate Yourself and Your Children about Racism: “Showcasing the work of more than 200 women writers of African descent, this major international collection celebrates their contributions to literature and international culture.”

At my author blog, where I blog on books among other things, my most recent recs are not really recs as I haven’t yet read the books (in full) but I recently listened to an audio abridged version of one Booker prize winner, watched a stage adaptation of an Orange prize winner, and read excerpts from a print edition of a book that includes Antigua and Barbuda, and specifically the Hillhouse family. If you want to see which books I’m talking about, go here.

Interviewing the Caribbean

We previously shared news of the publication of Volume 5 Issues 1 and 2 of the Opal Palmer Adisa and Juleus Ghunta edited ‘Interviewing the Caribbean’, an annual literary magazine. We wanted to update to let you know that both issues are available as ebooks through BookFusion. The UWI Press is also working to place the books – and these literary magazines are at least as thick as a short novel – with regional bookstores.  If you’re a bookseller looking to acquire the books, reach out to UWI Press. Issue 1 includes articles/art by and/or interviews with Polly Pattullo, Geoffrey Philp, Phillis Gershator, Oonya Kempadoo, Esther Phillips, Yolanda T. Marshall, Merle Hodge, Paul Keens Douglas, Diane Browne, Diana McCaulay, Tricia Allen, and from Antigua and Barbuda and Wadadli Pen specifically 2018 finalist Rosie Pickering and me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) – I’d been asked to rec some Caribbean books for the youth market, so I did. Pickering’s poem ‘Damarae’ is actually the same poem that earned her honourable mention in 2018 and, per the magazine’s format, she’s also interviewed about the poem. Issue 2 has as its cover image (above) the cover image of my book With Grace, art by Cherise Harris, used with permission of Little Bell Caribbean. It includes articles/art by and/or interviews with Summer Edward, Kei Miller, Tanya Batson-Savage, A-dZiko Simba Gegele, Tanya Shirley, Olive Senior, Pamela Mordecai, Linda M. Deane, Marsha Gomes-McKie, Carol Ottley-Mitchell, Yvonne Weekes, and from Antigua and Barbuda, and Wadadli Pen, Barbara Arrindell (Create Stories that Remind us of What We went Through) and me, again (an interview headlined Caribbean Children need as Many Stories as there are Tastes)

Paperwork

The Caribbean Development Bank’s Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund is crowd sourcing for information towards building a “compendium of cultural policies, practices,, resources, and trends in the Caribbean.” Why? “To best support Creative and Cultural Industries across the region, we need the right data to make the right decisions. As such, CIIF is developing a series of Country Profiles that showcase data and information about the cultural landscape in each of our Borrowing Member Countries, in order to help cultural practitioners and policy-makers make data-driven choices.” The process will take 15 to 30 minutes; here’s the link.

Awards and Accolades

The winner of the inaugural Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, awarded to a full length book of poetry published in 2019, will be announced in July 2020. The 13-person shortlist, announced in May, includes Jamaica Kei Miller (In Nearby Bushes) and Trinidadian Roger Robinson (A Portable Paradise) – the latter collection having already won several major prizes. The prize includes a $1,000 cash award, along with a reading at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, the publication of a limited-edition broadside by Arrowsmith Press, and a week-long residency at Derek Walcott’s home in either St. Lucia or in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Read more here.

Antigua and Barbuda’s acting culture director is also an award winning pan composer/arranger with Hell’s Gate and noted soloist in his own right. He proves his proficiency with his performance in Pan Ramajay, an international pan soloist competition started by Exodus Steel Orchestra since 1989, this year held virtually.104288255_1819636641493573_2262030051999680067_n

As you can see, he’s  the leading contender going in to the finals after the preliminary and semi-final rounds. The finals are Saturday 27th June 2020. If he wins, he’ll pocket $2000 (not sure which currency). ETA (290620): He did not win but he did place second overall.

The Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards is the flagship of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, a project launched in 2004 to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, and the reason this site, launched in 2010, exists. This year was a challenging year for Wadadli Pen as it has been and continues to be for all the world, due primarily to the global COVID-19 pandemic which literally shut down the world. We had to rethink how to do the awards – going in the end with a live announcement and efforts to connect the winners with the patrons directly so that they could make arrangements to collect their prizes. The latter has proved to be a drawn out process and I have had to find a way to make peace with not being able to really control any of it though I did my best to make the connections and follow up. One upside is that weeks out images like this one continues to trickle in – this is a picture from the mother of 7 to 12 honourable mention Sienna Harney-Barnes (A New World) who is shown collecting the contribution from the Cultural Development Division, a contribution volunteered during our live awards announcement by the director Khan Cordice who is shown delivering the prize to our young writer.

Two of our other writers, Cheyanne Darroux (Tom, the Ninja Crab), winner 7 to 12 and tied winner overall, and D’Chaiya Emmanuel (Two Worlds Collide), winner 13 to 17, made appearances to share their stories on ZDK radio – and we have video.


Caribbean Literary Heritage

June is Caribbean Heritage Month in the US. Online, this has sparked campaigns like the #CaribAThon on #booktube (youtube for bibliophiles) and #readCaribbean on #bookstagram (instagram for bookies). I’ve been happy to see some of my books (The Boy from Willow Bend, Musical Youth, and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight) show up in both challenges, and I jumped in as well, really to share (finally) my contribution to the #MyCaribbeanLibrary campaign that Bocas announced some time ago. But it all intersects.

The Caribbean literary love will continue if St. Martin’s House of Nehesi publishers, co-organizers of the St. Martin’s Book Fair, has its way. HNP used the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the Fair – largely virtual this year due to COVID-19 – to call for July 12th to be Caribbean Literature Day. “We envision this day as the first pan-Caribbean literature day, celebrating the roots, range, and excellence of writings and books across the language zones of our region. Celebrate the day by reading the works of your favorite Caribbean authors; buying Caribbean books, published in the Caribbean and beyond, and by Caribbean authors; and presenting Caribbean books as gifts. Celebrate the day with books, recitals, and with discussions about books, of poetry, fiction, drama, art, music, and all the other genres by Caribbean writers.” The date was chosen because it is the day in 1562 when the writings of the indigenous people were destroyed by their colonizers. (Full release here)

Goodbyes

Antigua and Barbuda said goodbye to two time Calypso monarch and one time road march winner (as lead singer of the Vision Band) Tyrone ‘Edimelo’ Thomas. He was laid to rest June 19th 2020 at St. John’s Cathedral. “Antigua and Barbuda has lost one of its brightest lights, and we are all the poorer for it. But his wonderful life and legacy lives on; none of it will be interred with his bones. Whenever we hear DON’T STOP THIS PARTY (a remix with the Mighty Swallow) or IN DE PAN YARD (an encomium to the joys of pan music), we will remember Edimelo,” said the June 20th Daily Observer newspaper editorial. We daresay, Carnival and party lovers will most remember him for the way the music made them “dress back” (the Road March winning tune) while Calypso lovers will surely pour out one every time they intone “the more things change/the more they remain the same” from arguably his best known calypso.

Caribbean Creatives Creating

I hope you’ve been keeping up with my CREATIVE SPACE series covering local art and culture. It continues to run in the Daily Observer newspaper every other Wednesday with an extended version on my site. Latest spotlights have included singer Arianne Whyte talking about her career and her Sip ‘n Stream online series and Chavel Thomas and his conceptual art which is about challenging and redefining gender, race, maybe even reality. It’s the first time the series has gotten the front cover since it switched platforms to the Daily Observer in 2020 – issue 9.

Cover Chav

In case you missed any of the previous installments in the series, including  on previous platforms, they are archived on the Jhohadli website.

Trinidadian Kamella Anthony’s Krea8ive Kids Show was spotlighted in T&T Newsday all the way back in the strictest part of COVID-19 curfew in the region. In it, the former librarian cum storyteller is quoted as saying, “Ultimately, I want to have creative centres locally, regionally and internationally. I have travelled and seen several types of centres and it’s been awesome. I like to see children learning and having fun. Not just from a book, but from nature, from people.” Here’s the link to her YouTube Channel.

This content is curated by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Additions may be made between now and the end of June 2020.  If used, please credit or link back.

 

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