Tag Archives: Books

Book Publishing Q & A

I responded, last year, to some questions submitted via email by someone doing research for an MA programme. This questioner found me when I had the time (or made the time). That may not always be the case. I thought sharing my responses here might be useful to others who may have similar questions going forward (for days when I don’t have the time). Questions were specific to my books with independent press Caribbean Reads Publishing (which, I believe, was the chosen case study).

*Did you have to re-draft your books before they got published? What were some of the editor’s comments on your work? Did you find these critiques helpful?

Both books went through an editing process (not redrafting but fine tuning). Editing was outsourced to someone knowledgeable in critiquing teen/young adult books, and then a second round of editing, I believe, in house. I don’t remember the specific comments- the only thing that comes to mind is in the case of Musical Youth the addition of a chapter fleshing out one of the characters more, and some language notes, some cultural and some re suitability of content for the target audience. Probably some plot and character points that needed clarifying as well. Some I found helpful, some I did not.

*Can you describe the process of negotiating your contact? Do Caribbean own the rights to the books you have published with them?

I sought my agent’s advice re the contract – something I try to do always. The process was amiable considering the circumstances. The writer owns the rights but certain rights are licensed to the publisher – any rights not specified remain with the author. Standard contract.

*To what extent are you involved in the creative design and illustrations of your books?

The publisher has final say but in each case I’ve had input to varying degrees – with Caribbean Reads especially, it’s been quite collaborative with author feedback sought on character design at various stages.

Lost! character

Does Caribbean Reads provide an illustrator and cover the cost for you?

With traditional publishing, the publisher invests the money in publishing the book, including commissioning (selecting, hiring, and paying) the illustrator (in the case of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure) and cover design (in the case of Musical Youth). They do ask for and consider my recommendations re the artist – which is not the case with every publisher.

*Were there any pro’s or con’s to publishing with Caribbean Reads specifically?

See the video – it doesn’t speak to the nitty gritty of publishing with anyone but it does make a distinction between working with big and small publishers. Caribbean Reads as an independent Caribbean press is on the small side.

*How did Caribbean Reads market your work to boost sales? Which was the most effective method?

A number of ways from sending books out for review to advertising to social media to giveaways to festival bookings to media releases etc. I think a combination of approaches rather than a single thing, and consistency, yields the most success.

*Once your book was published, did Caribbean reads organise book tours or readings to promote the book?

Not a book tour, no, but as noted they did facilitate certain bookings like the Brooklyn Book Fair and, in tandem with my efforts, the Miami Book Fair.

*What advice do you have for writers who want to be successfully published?

See this video

You can check the resources page on the Wadadli Pen blog (i.e. this blog right here) which I maintain – some of my other blogged content re the publishing process is there among the resources by other people that I share (you will need to dig through it to see what is mine as most of it is links to third party sites).

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 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, Oh Gad! and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen, my books, and my freelance writing-editing-coaching-workshop services. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Book Drive

This one comes to my attention via the Daily Observer newspaper. It’s an opportunity to share gently-used used books and/or maybe buy a book and contribute. It’s got an interesting twist.

The Clare Hall Secondary School is inviting Antiguans and Barbudans to contribute to the DARE to DEAR – Drop Everything And Read – 2020 book drive.

Step 1

Send a video recording about your favourite book (or a book you like)… or a book you read…or …maybe, wrote?

Step 2

Donate a copy or multiple copies of that book to our school library.

Step 3

To follow through on Step or make inquiries about Steps 1 or 2 or any part of Dare to DEAR, call 462-3487 or email admin@chss.edu.ag

Step 4

Complete Steps 1-3 by December 2020 in time for Christmas and make someone very happy.

Images and vids in this post are not related to the 2020 DARE to DEAR but used to enhance this posting. They include, top down, a video from an out-store event hosted in 2020 (just a week or so ago) by the Best of Books at which I talked about my book Musical Youth; an image of me with a teacher, Ms. Shadrach, from a 2015 visit to Clare Hall Secondary School during which I gifted the school Musical Youth and other CODE Burt Award winning teen/young adult novels; images of books, exterior and inscription, I gifted, via a teacher at the school, for last year’s CHSS Christmas book drive. I want any young person who cracks these books to be as inspired as I was when writing.

Be the inspiration in someone’s life if you have the funds to add an extra book to your book drive, or a book lying around that you enjoyed and want someone else to enjoy. Give.

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, its Spanish language edition Perdida! , and Oh Gad! ). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page Jhohadli or like me on Facebook. Help me 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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Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices (on Netflix)

Netflix released a trailer for “Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices,” set to premiere Sept. 1. Hosted by author Marley Dias, the live-action series features Black artists reading children’s books from Black authors that center around themes of identity, justice and action. Among the celebrities involved are Tiffany HaddishLupita Nyong’o and Common. Nyong’o will be reading her own story “Sulwe,” while Haddish will read “I Love My Hair” by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, and Common will read “Let’s Talk About Race” by Julius Lester.”

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Carib Lit Plus (early to mid August 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.

Cancellations and Closures

The online children’s literary journal Anansesem has ceased publishing. It explained via open letter: “We’ve been forced to reconsider our professional and personal priorities. Under normal circumstances, it’s challenging running a small literary magazine when we receive such little funding and are unable to pay contributors and team members. In these drastically changing times, when jobs are on the line and the financial future is uncertain, it’s become clear that running a magazine using volunteer staff, as we’ve done since our inception, is no longer feasible.” The website remains online and the online bookstore remains open. Read the full open letter here.

The Antigua and Barbuda Conference would have taken place in early August right after Carnival, but, like Carnival, is has been cancelled. The organizers, in an email announcing the cancellation, said: “Our plan was to look at the impact of the migration and the brain drain on Antigua and Barbuda. We will try to keep this topic on the agenda for next year, but it may have to share this focus with the impact of the corona virus on Antigua and Barbuda. The 2020 issue of The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books will be coming out in the fall. It will carry forward the examination of Barbuda begun at last year’s conference, as well as featuring concerns of its own. We will do our best to get it online, so that all of us can have access to it. We will certainly miss the intellectual stimulation and synergies of our gatherings. Stay well, stay safe, and, with this pandemic behind us, hopefully see you next year.”

Reading Recs

Bocas’ Books that made us campaign has produced a top 10 that includes the classics you’d expect (Miguel Street, The Dragon can’t Dance, The Lonely Londoners, The Year in San Fernando, Annie John, Summer Lightening etc.) and some newer entries including no less than two entries apiece by two Caribbean modern Classics (Edwidge Dandicat – Breath, Eyes, Memory and The Farming of Bones; and Marlon James – Book of Night Women and Brief History of Seven Killings). Read the full report here. Remember my list?

Speaking of Bocas, its Bios and Bookmarks series continues: unnamed

Intersect, an advocacy project out of Antigua and Barbuda, that’s focused per its instagram page, on “connecting Queeribbean & Caribbean feminists through storytelling, art, and gender justice” has, after a quiet period, become quite vibrant in the COVID-19 quarantine era. Having put out a call for people to share their Caribbean and Queribbean feminist stories, as well as stories on colourism. They’ve so far posted audio excerpts of stories by writers from Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, and, continuing, from other places. They’ve, also, been sharing book recs, art and original interviews (including one with me) on their instagram page.

Accolades

Bahamian Alexia Tolas was first long listed then short listed (Niamh Campbell of Dublin was ultimately announced as the winner) for the 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award for ‘Granma’s Porch’. She is the only Caribbean writer on the list. She was the Commonwealth Regional prize winner in 2019. See the full listand learn more about the authors.

The long list for the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean has been announced. It’s a long one.

As seen in the images (click for full view), the long list includes writers from Antigua and Barbuda (Joanne C. Hillhouse, ‘Vincent’), Barbados (LaFleur Cockburn, ‘Blight Tone’; Akim Goddard, ‘At De Busstop’), Dominica (Yakima Cuffy, ‘De Souvenir Shop’; Delroy N. Williams, ‘Deported’), Guyana (Tristana Roberts, ‘Backtrack Home’; Sonia Yarde, ‘Cursed’), Jamaica (Kim Robinson-Walcott, ‘Ridin Bareback’; Amanda Rodrigues, ‘Breast Milk’; Sharma Taylor, ‘The Story of Stony’ – Taylor is from Jamaica but resident in Barbados), Puerto Rico (Nahomy Laza Gonzalez, ‘The Greats’; Adriana De Persia Colon, ‘Bathroom Visits’), Trinidad and Tobago (Akhim Alexis, ‘Gone America’; Theresa Awai, ‘The Lagahoo in the Blue Sweat Pants’; Suzanne Bhagan, ‘The Village Seamstress’; Joanne Farrag, ‘All Skin Teeth’; Rashad Hosein, ‘Fry Chicken’; Sogolon Jaya, ‘The Autobiography of my Father…because my mother didn’t want me’; Alexander Johnson, ‘Pulling Bull’; Ryan Seemungal, ‘Quiet Revelry’; Hadassah K. Williams, ‘Vizay’). Twenty one writers overall by my count.

The BCLF is also offering a short story prize for Caribbean writers living in the diaspora. That short list is shorter and includes Stephanie Ramlogan, ‘The Case of the Missing Eggs’; Lisa Latouche (of Dominica), ‘Summer’s End’; Max Smith, ‘Morning Prayers’; Deborah Stewart, ‘Wash Belly’; Marisa Blanc, ‘Going, Going, Gone’; Gabrielle Patmore, ‘Unavailable’; Fana Fraser, ‘Saturday Night’; Krystal Ramroop, ‘Sticky Wicket’; and Jennelle Alfred, ‘Ella, Anika and the Cricket Ball’.

Congrats to all and good luck to all.

To Shoot Hard Labour Project Ends (and RIP to Sir Keithlyn Smith)

The month long celebration via the Voice of the People summer reading project of To Shoot Hard Labour chronicling roughly 100 years of the life of Antigua and Barbuda, 19th century to 1980s, through the life of Antiguan and Barbudan working man Papa Sammy Smith ended on the last day of the month July 31st 2020. Later that night,  the death of co-author of the book Keithlyn Smith was announced. The legendary union man (longstanding general secretary of the Antigua Workers Union) had earlier that day communicated, via his daughter,  affirming the acknowledgment of To Shoot Hard Labour by the likes of Dr. Natasha Lightfoot, daughter of the soil, professor at an Ivy league university in the US, and author of her own history book Troubling Freedom, meant to him after initially having his book undermined on its release. This video is of the first week’s discussion of the book which featured Dr. Lightfoot. RIP to Sir Keithlyn who leaves behind a legacy of both championing workers rights and returning to Antiguan and Barbudan people their own story.

The project has announced eight-year-old Rheikecia Manning as the winner of its dioramma competition. She gave her interpretation of the Yeoman’s Old Road estate at Cades Bay complete with sugar mill, Antigua Black pineapple, wattle and daub house, cane, and a woman preparing to wash clothes and place them on the stone heap.

Carnival and Cropover

In the midst of summer 2020,  COVID-19 shutdown blues, hurricane/storm anxieties, and a summer at once damp and dry, Caribbean people (read: Carnival people) have been finding ways to keep the music playing and the fete going. It hasn’t all been easy sailing with the government in Antigua and Barbuda getting tough on gatherings, prompting push back, and reinforcing beach shutdowns on public holidays, which begs the question is it Carnival Monday with no j’ouvert and no beach. As with everything else, while the live Carnival has been cancelled, some aspects have gone on line – on August Monday there was what seems to be an unofficial Opposition organized Emancipation Day Kayso Monarch competition broadcast across ZDK, Observer, and Progressive FM, and won by G-Eve who sang about uniting to fight “this Corona malady”.

Meanwhile on the national station ABS TV, streamed live online, was a Soca Monarch Virtual edition. This was also streamed on Emancipation Day night which means that, yes, calypso and soca were once again battling for fans’ attention – unfortunately. At this typing there was no declared winner for the latter. ETA: Veteran of the arena Blade was declared the winner. So, we’ll just place a picture of Naycha Kid who has in recent years returned to the soca stage, after a long hiatus due to being born again. The gospel artist is no longer singing about Another Man taking your place, but he is still full of vibes.

No it does not skip notice that the calypso viewers were roughly 20% of the party monarch viewers, and also that the numbers overall weren’t great for either – what questions hang on that, do we really care about calypso? is virtual Carnival not doing it for people? What to say but mek out ’til 2021?

A personal highlight was the spotlight on the Watch Night celebrations which usually get lost in the Carnival but with no Carnival this year was featured live on ABS TV on July 31st in to August 1st – Emancipation Day (1834).

Over in Barbados, meanwhile, the show went on with Cropover online, branded Freedom Festival 2020. Activities include a virtual art gallery, online lit magazine, ben ovah dance competition, spoken word showcase, and theatre show.

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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Wadadli Pen 2020: Post-Awards (A Virtual Gallery)

We weren’t able to have actual live awards this year (the awards announcement was done via facebook live and our release was sent out to the media– thanks to the Daily Observer, 268today, Antiguanewsroom, and anyone else who ran it). We do have pictures, though, ‘thanks’ to our drawn out post-awards season of trying to connect winners with their prizes. An unexpected side-benefit of having to do so much communication virtually is the patrons, parents, and participants who’ve stopped to look back and share their thoughts and pictures. We appreciate it and are delighted to share with you…

This picture from long time patron Frank B. Armstrong’s rep, presenting main prize winner (tied) Andre J. P. Warner (author of A Bright Future for Tomorrow) with his $500 cheque from the company, while both modelling good mask etiquette (in light of the global pandemic that forced a change in our usual award protocols as it has in facial wear, personal space, and hygiene all over the country and the world – remember to keep #socialdistancing and #besafe).

This picture of Andre who tied with 11 year old Cheyanne Darroux (author of Tom, the Ninja Crab) for the main prize – their names will be on the Alstyne Allen Memorial Challenge Plaque (pictured) and also won the 18 to 35 and Imagine an Future/Climate Change prize was sent to us by the Best of Books, our usual awards host, plaque sponsor, and longtime patron, which contributed a selection of books to each 2020 finalist. Andre’s book haul also includes local authors‘ Brenda Lee Browne’s London Rocks and Just Write journal and Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Musical Youth (hard cover edition), and US$250 worth of books sponsored by Sean Lyons (a NYC-based recent tourist who contributed US$500 worth of books which was divided between the two main prize winners). Winners’ choice.

This image of 13 to 17 winner D’Chaiya Emmanuel (author of Two Worlds Collide) is also from Best of Books, where she picked up her books contributed by the bookstore, her gifts from Juneth Webson (who contributed gift packages which were shared among several winners and the $500 which went toward Andre’s climate change prize), cash from Lawrence Jardine (who contributed $500 which was divided among the 13 to 17s), $200 from D. Gisele Isaac, a free eye exam from Paradise Vision Center, and an external hard drive from the Cushion Club (which also sent us an image of their gift wrapped prize).

Zaniah Pigott (author of A Mermaid), who was 3rd 7 to 12 and received books from Best of Books, Cindy’s Bookstore (as did all winners 7 to 12), and copies of Musical Youth and With Grace (both paperback) from Joanne C. Hillhouse.

Congrats to them all. You can read their stories and all winning stories through the years, here. Thanks to the ones who dropped us a line. Such as…

Aria-Rose Browne (author of The Fabled Truth, and 3rd placed 13 to 17, who won Musical Youth, cash from Lawrence Jardine, the books from the Best of Books, and the gift from Juneth Webson): “I would like to thank you all so much for both the opportunity and rewards. I am so thankful to have made it as a Short Lister much less third place, especially as this is my first writing competition. I really appreciate, and thank you from the bottom of my heart and I will be sure to keep writing.”

Andre J. P. Warner: “…excellent job for organizing Wadadli pen for another year once again.”

Dyna, mom of Sienna Harney-Barnes (author of A New World, honourable mention 7 to 12, who won books from Cindy’s Bookstore and Best of Books in addition to The Wonderful World of Yohan and Antigua My Antigua, contributed by the authors Floree Williams Whyte and Barbara Arrindell, respectively): “Thank you so much. Sienna was tickled pink to be acknowledged. She truly enjoyed the experience.”

Zaniah: “Hello Joanne, Thank you so much for the experience you and Wadadli Pen have provided. It was such a fun time and I’m very thankful for all the help you have given to allow me to advance so far. I have read some of the other stories and they are all interesting and fun. I will still strive to write better stories and hope to enter with my brother next year.”

Her mother wrote as well: “Thank you so much for these books for my avid reader Zaniah. Zaniah and I are very grateful for this opportunity for her to showcase her story telling.”

You know what I appreciate most about these notes, that hint that each writer feels encouraged to continue writing – that’s the goal. Finally, I encourage you to join these dope people whose feedback I found here and on social media, and leave a comment beneath the winning stories.

“I read both winning entries (A Bright Future for Tomorrow and Tom, the Ninja Crab) and thoroughly enjoyed both but I especially loved the one that was written by the young lady (Tom, the Ninja Crab) because I got to share it with my granddaughter and great niece.”

“Great poem, I hope he continues to keep up the poetry writing even with the demands of medicine. Excellent and evocative.” (this refers to Oh, Beach that I once Loved by Sethson Burton, 3rd place 18 to 35, winner of books from Best of Books and a copy of Musical Youth, 2nd edition paperback)

Those are the major ones; there were some awesomes and wonderfuls thrown in there. Add yours, or constructive criticism, that’s okay too, just don’t be …unconstructive.

Thanks again to all of you who have supported the 2020 Wadadli Pen Challenge Season, to patrons the Cultural Development Division, the Best of Books bookstore, Photogenesis, Cindy’s Bookstore, the Friends of Antigua Public Library-NY, Barbara Arrindell, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Floree Williams Whyte, Lawrence Jardine, D. Gisele Isaac, Paradise Vision Center, Juneth Webson, the Cushion Club, Brenda Lee Browne, Hermitage Bay Antigua, Dr. Hazra Medica, Caribbean Reads Publishing, Sean Lyons, Jane Seagull, and Frank B. Armstrong/Seven Seas.

 

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, its Spanish language edition Perdida! , and Oh Gad! ). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page Jhohadli or like me on Facebook. Help me 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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Wadadli Pen Diary – Contributors’ Library

As we come up on the awards portion of the 2020 Wadadli Pen Challenge, this post features the books by authors who have donated their creative works to the Wadadli Pen prize packages for Challenge winners over the years (authors specifically, not their publishers or other entity). We want to show that we have appreciated it and make sure they get some mileage out of it. Mileage for an author is, of course, people buying and reading their book talking about it, posting about it, reviewing it, even passing it on…rippling the waters. We’re going way back to the beginning AND we’re not limiting it to the book they contributed though we’ll have those written in bold (but we want to introduce you to as much of their catalogue as we can – not necessarily every book though; COVID-19 or not, I’ve got work to do). Consider it your Wadadli Youth Pen Prize contributors library – remember to support the artists who support the arts, and pick up their books. I imagine reading material is in demand right about now as we isolate at least enough to slow the roll of this virus that’s trying to take us out. So get the ebook if you have to, the physical copy if you can…for those of you in Antigua and Barbuda, we see that long time Wadadli Pen patron and partner The Best of Books has a drive by service…but however you can get em, get em…and use this time to read a little.

Barbara Arrindell – Antigua My Antigua; The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories

 

 

Brenda Lee Browne – London Rocks; Just Write Journal; CAPE Revision Guide Communication Studies (with Natalee Cole)

 

 

 

 

Diane Browne – Island Princess in Brooklyn; Every Little Thing will be Alright; Abigail’s Glorious Hair; Cordelia finds Fame and Fortune; Ebony and the Auntie of the Starlight: a Caribbean Cinderella Story; The Happiness Dress; A Tumbling World. A Time of Fire (Time Mill Adventure Series); The Ring and The Roaring Water (Time Mill Adventure Series); Whispering Winds. Time of Secrets (Time Mill Adventure Series); Twins in a Spin; The Land in the Purple Evening

 

 

Nana Ekua Brew Hammond – Powder Necklace

 

 


Claudia Elizabeth Ruth Francis – Tides that Bind; The Road to Wadi Halfa; Missing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggie Harris – Kiskadee Girl; Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning; From Berbice to Broadstairs; On Watching a Lemon Sail the Sea; Limbolands; In Margate by Lunchtime; 60 Years of Loving; Writing on Water; After a Visit to a Botanical Garden

 

 

Joanne C. Hillhouse – Dancing Nude in the MoonlightThe Boy from Willow Bend; Oh Gad!; Dancing Nude in the Moonlight: 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings; With Grace; Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe; Musical Youth

 

 


Dotsie Isaac – Ab-soul-uuuutely Dotsie; I am Speaking; The Royal Wedding

 

 

S. E. James – Tragedy on Emerald Island; A Narrow Escape; Kidnapped at the Beach

 

 

Marie Elena John – Unburnable

 

 

Ruel Johnson – Ariadne and Other Stories; Fiction; Collected Poems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joy Lawrence – The Way We Talk and Other Antiguan Folkways; Bethesda and Christian Hill; The Footprints of Parham; Barbuda and Betty’s Hope; Island Spice

 

 

Marcel Marshall – All That Glitters is Not Gold

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diana McCaulay – Dog-Heart; Huracan; White Liver Gal; Gone to Drift; Daylight Come; Writing Jamaica: People, Places, Struggles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Mitchell – Seascapes; Caribbean Adventure Series; Another Day; The Masquerade Dance; Barbery Hill

 

 

MotionMotion in Poetry; 40 Dayz

 

 

 

 

Dorbrene O’Marde – Send Out You Hand; Nobody Go Run Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewell Parker Rhodes – Voodoo Dreams; Magic City; Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors; The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Non-Fiction; Douglass’ Women; Season/Voodoo Season; Porch Stories: a Grandmother’s Guide to Happiness; Moon/Yellow Moon; Ninth Ward; Hurricane; Sugar; Bayou Magic; Towers Falling; Ghost Boys;Black Brother, Black Brother

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Althea Prince – Being Black; Ladies of the Night; So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End: an Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing; Beyond the Journey; In the Black: New African Canadian Literature; The Politics of Black Women’s Hair; Feminisms and Womanisms: A Women’s Studies Reader; Loving this Man; How the East Pond got its Flowers; How the Starfish got to the Sea

 

 

Kris Rampersad – LiTTscapes: Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago; Finding a Place: Indo-Trinidadian Literature; Through the Political Glass Ceiling: Race to Prime Ministership by Trinidad and Tobago’s First Female

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elaine Spires – What’s Eating Me?; Singles Holiday; Sweet Lady; Singles at Sea; The Banjo; Holiday Reads; Holiday Reads 2; Singles Set & Match; The Single Best Thing; Single all the Way; Singles & Spice; The Christmas Queen; Weak at the Knees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leon Chaku Symister – Under the Calabash Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Floree Williams-Whyte – Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses; Through the Window; The Wonderful World of Yohan!

 

 

p.s. couple of anniversaries. If Wadadli Pen were a child she would be turning 16 years this year – she would be a girl; and her little brother would be this blog which wordpress just reminded me turns 10 this year. Where does the time go. Happy Birthday to my my kiddies, middies for short. Don’t tell my books; they might get jealous. – me, jhohadli, JCH

 

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Carib Lit Plus March 2020

The timing of this post is funny (not haha) as the world slowly shuts down to halt the spread of an international pandemic. No hysterics here. Just a reminder to be safe – follow the guidelines – and don’t panic.

Check a trusted source and tune in to official fact-based updates via local news outlets. Recommended though that this news intake be in manageable bites (to reduce fear and panic), and that we all embrace ways to stay lifted. To wit, this being an arts site, we hope you’ll appreciate this montage of Italians coping with song.

Now, on to arts news from Antigua and Barbuda, and the wider Caribbean.

Awards

The Wadadli Pen 2020 Challenge has a short list! Thanks to judges Floree Williams Whyte (judging chief/Wadadli Pen partner), Glen Toussaint (bookseller, writer), and Danielle Boodoo Fortune (Bocas winning poet, and artist). Entries still in the running are: Oh, Beach that I once loved; The John Bull Effect; The Beast of Barbados; Two Worlds Collide; A Bright Future for Tomorrow; My Favourite Dish; A New World; A Mermaid; Lead Me Lord; The Fabled Truth; and Tom, the Ninja Crab. See who the writers were, here.

Zadie Smith, a UK writer, of Jamaican descent on her mother’s side, was shortlisted for the Folio Prize. Already well known and celebrated for books like White Teeth, Zadie is one of eight singled out, this time for her book Grand Union. The winner is due to be announced this March. More here.

Here in Antigua and Barbuda the Directorate of Gender Affairs Awarded 25 Women of Wadadli, a first time initiative held, appropriately, on International Women’s Day, March 8th 2020. “DoGA Executive Director, Farmala Jacobs, said that this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day is especially significant and that the Woman of Wadadli Awards aimed to recognize the unsung heroes among us.” Among the 25, there were broadly eight artists (Colleen Simpson – Culinary Arts, Heather Doram – Culture, Noreen Phillips – Fashion, Zahra Airall – Fine Arts, Marion Byron – Music and Entertainment, Mako Williams – recognized for Tech is also an artist, and Wadadli Pen core team member Barbara Arrindell – recognized as a changemaker, but also a writer). The Literature prize went to Wadadli Pen’s own Joanne C. Hillhouse.

WoW

Read more.

Exclusive Interview: M. J. Fievre

Featured on Hillhouse’s Jhohadli blog, this interview with Haitian-American writer M. J. Fievre traverses the territory of depression and her own experience with it and the creative expression that emerged. Her book Happy, Okay? uses various literary forms to speak to her mental health journey (in progress) and another book touched on, Badass Black Girl, is meant to be a guide to young girls in their own process of emerging. Check out the full interview here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Books

New from Peepal Tree Press, from PEN English Translation winners Puerto Rico-based Loretta Collins-Klobah and Maria Grau Perejoan, a bilingual anthology of thirty-three contemporary Caribbean women poets The Sea Needs No Ornament/ El mar no necesita ornamento. It is the first bilingual anthology of contemporary poetry by women writers of the English- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean and its Diasporas to be curated in more than two decades. The anthology presents a selection of work by poets from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and from various Anglophone Caribbean islands and the Diaspora. Each poem is presented first in the original, followed by the translation. The majority of poets have not yet been widely translated nor included in a bilingual anthology of this scope.

Klobah is a past Bocas winner.

This one actually came out in late 2019 but we missed it, so

The ArtsEtc Winning Words Anthology is very much in the spirit of what we try to do here at Wadadli Pen. It is a developmental programme that helps to nurture and showcase new writing in Barbados – from fresh and established voices. The only difference really is the resources behind it (e.g. the National Cultural Foundation). Kudos to the NCF for all it does to push literary arts in BIM.

We also want to acknowledge that past Wadadli Pen finalist Rilzy Adams dropped three new self-published ebooks late in 2019 – 12 Dates of Christmas (Love on the Rock Book 1); You, Me + Baby (Love on the Rock Book 2); and Brand New: A Love on the Rock Novelette.

Jacob Ross has released the second book in his Michael ‘Digger’ Digson crime noir series. Black Rain Falling (published with Sphere) picks up after The Bone Readers (Peepal Tree), which introduced the Caribbean forensic detective to the literary world, with a couple of new mysteries to solve.

Monique Roffey – already prolific and profound as the author of books like Archipelago and White Woman on the Green Bicycle (both published with Penguin) – has a new one  (with Peepal Tree) The Mermaid of Black Conch, in which a fisherman on a fictional Caribbean island meets a cursed woman of the sea. The UK-based Trinidad writer previously won the Bocas Prize for literature and has been shortlisted for several other major international awards. Early reviews for this one are good too: “The setting is slow and lush, full of colour and texture, which makes it beautifully three dimensional, with a feeling of movement that lifts and carries you through. There is beauty in the grimness too.” (Jess Sturnam-Coombs)

Also out this March, An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading (CSL Kreisel Lecture Series via the University of Alberta Press) by Dionne Brand. Most online bios found through google describe her as a Canadian poet but she is Trinidad and Tobago born and raised. And this book is informed by her Caribbean colonial upbringing. In it, the “internationally acclaimed poet and novelist Dionne Brand reflects on her early reading of colonial literature and how it makes Black beings inanimate. She explores her encounters with colonial, imperialist, and racist tropes; the ways that practices of reading and writing are shaped by those narrative structures; and the challenges of writing a narrative of Black life that attends to its own expression and its own consciousness.” (book summary)

Film

Guyanese actress, Shuri from Black Panther, Letitia Wright has reportedly signed on to star in the bizarre story of a pair of Barbados-born, UK-based twins. In a nutshell, “They became known as The Silent Twins as they refused to communicate with anyone but each other, and ended up in Broadmoor Hospital after they turned to crime. Jennifer and June spent 11 years in Broadmoor where they were studied by doctors and psychologists, but the pair would still only communicate with each other and became catatonic when separated.” Interesting. Check it out.

Meanwhile, an Antiguan-Barbudan boy is Peter Pan in a new adaptation by the director of the critically-acclaimed, Oscar nominated Beast of the Southern Wild.

Yashua Mack, a local boy, made his big screen debut in February 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival playing the iconic literary character who has been re-imagined many times over but, perhaps not with quite so much melanin. The film was also partially filled in Antigua, primarily at local landmark Hell’s Gate – an offshore island which is a border between the calm of the Caribbean Sea and the wilds of the Atlantic Ocean. A red carpet premiere was planned for Antigua-Barbuda in March 2020 (can’t confirm if this has been cancelled in light of COVID-19 government ban of public gatherings of a certain size – with this and all events call first).

Reading Comps

Reading competitions seem to be catching on; there are two national ones in Antigua, one with a regional component. Here’s some news related to both.

A Grace Christian Academy student won the Rotary Antigua Reading Comp, for the third time. This is the second year in a row that it has featured a book by a Wadadli Pen associated writer – last year, The Wonderful World of Yohan by Floree Williams Whyte, Wadadli Pen’s chief judge and this year, The Boy from Willow Bend, the first book by Wadadli Pen founder Joanne C. Hillhouse.

Reading Comp
(read the full article above from the Daily Observer newspaper 08-03-20 and this related blog post )

Meanwhile, Antigua and Barbuda placed third in the OECS edition of the Courts reading competition.

 

Developmental News

The Honorable Harold Simmons Folk Academy of The Monsignor Patrick Anthony Folk Research Centre has announced a FRC Saint Lucia Studies Conference for 2020 focused on “Creoleness/Créolité : Saint Lucian culture and cultural/creative industries in national development today.” The announced date is June 24-26 at the Finance Administrative Centre in Pointe Seraphine. The Conference seeks to provide an opportunity for researchers in the areas of Saint Lucian life and culture to present their findings in a Saint Lucian setting. For more information, email frc@candw.lc or the folkresearchcentrelibrary@gmail.com

Online literary journal (out of Jamaica) Pree has announced a Pree Writing Studio initiative funded by the Prince Klaus Next Generation Grant. “With tutors of the calibre of Marlon James, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Kei Miller, Garnette Cadogan, Ishion Hutchinson, Ingrid Persaud and Safiya Sinclair those lucky enough to attend PREE’s inaugural writing studio are in for a treat. In addition there will be a publishing studio by Little, Brown/Hatchette/Dialogue Books publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove.” There may be some subsidy for writers unable to meet the total cost and this seems to be only the first of a planned series. Read more.

International Publishing Announcements

UK-based Jamaican writer Leone Ross’ latest book is the talk of the publishing world after inking a deal with Faber for the 2021 release of This One Sky Day. ‘Set on a fictional Caribbean archipelago called Popisho, This One Sky Day is described by Faber as “a sensual meditation on the nature of love and addiction” as well as “a dazzling, funny and incisive disquisition on post-colonial politics”. It also called it “a major work of fiction in conversation with Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy and Junot Díaz via the Harlem Renaissance and Anaïs Nin”.’ Read more.

My-Fishy-Stepmom

Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne has landed a publishing deal with Scholastic for her Burt Award winning title, already released as My Fishy Stepmom by Jamaica’s Blouse and Skirt Books, to be released in to the US market as Josephine vs. the Sea Spirit. Per Publisher’s Weekly, “This middle grade novel features cricket-playing Jo, who discovers that her father’s new girlfriend is a powerful and vengeful sea creature and has to convince everyone of the woman’s true identity before she loses her dad forever. Publication is slated for spring 2021.” We don’t know the details of the deal but this is a big deal and we join the Caribbean literary community in congratulating her. If we’re counting right, this is the third Burt title to land a separate US publishing deal – maybe she should team up for a ‘how they did it’ seminar with Diana McCaulay, author of Gone to Drift which landed at Harper Collins, and Lisa Allen-Agostini, author of Home Home which is forthcoming this year from Delacorte Press, a division of Penguin Random House,  after both being initially published by Dominica/UK’s Papillote Press.

Pan

Kim Johnson of Trinidad is seeking to republish his Illustrated History of Pan.

Meanwhile, in Antigua and Barbuda we say good bye to the long serving member of the longest running pan in the world the multi-award winning Hell’s Gate Steel Orchestra, Eustace ‘Manning’ Henry.

Anansesem Announces a New Chapter 

The founding editor Summer Edward is stepping down but the online platform for Caribbean children’s literature will carry on – which is what you love to see; succession, continuity. Summer also took the opportunity to announce the pending publication of her own book. Read her full statement.

CREATIVE SPACE on a New Platform

The Antigua and Barbuda art and culture series by JCH is now running every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer newspaper and on the Jhohadli blog online with extras.

The latest edition – second on this new platform – is Black History Month and Women’s History Month themed and headlined Centering Us, Year Round. Above is that second published article – be sure to look out for fresh articles in the series every other Wednesday

Book Club

ABS TV has for several weeks been running Book Club, a Tuesday morning segment on Antigua Today. So far segments have included the likes of D. Gisele Isaac (Considering Venus) and Gayle Gonsalves (Painting Pictures and Other Stories). Not sure if it airs at a particular time in the daily national TV morning show but Tuesday’s the day. Kudos to ABS TV for this initiative.

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, 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 (Mid February 2020)

brooklyn book fest 2020

Caribbean Reads – sponsor of the 2020 Wadadli Pen Challenge Schools Prize – at the Brooklyn Book Fair in 2019. The sub-regional independent publisher will be giving EC$600 worth of books to the winning school in this year’s Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge, some from its own booklist. Which may include pictured books like Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure by yours truly.

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On the subject of Wadadli Pen, I wanted to share that I am thrilled that this project has survived since 2004 – it’s always touch and go. Also, though it mostly manifests as a competition, it’s not about winning prizes. It’s about encouraging creativity and all of the reflection, imagination, and expression that comes with that.

In one of the targeted direct mailers I sent out, I noted that participation “can be purely fun and about self-discovery; it can also open a portal to expressing and coping with challenging feelings and experiences. Encouraging youth creativity also promotes mental growth, potentially improving academic performance and emotional maturity. Encouraging youth creativity gives young people an opportunity to try new things, new ways of seeing, new ways of thinking, and new ways of problem solving. The ‘Imagine a Future’ special prize in this year’s Wadadli Pen Challenge, for instance, will create an opportunity to explore the potentials of action or inaction on climate change – the existential challenge of our day – do we survive and how. This may emerge as a dystopian shadowland or a bright sci fi future. Who knows? As small islands, we are on the front lines of climate change; it’s an opportunity for young people to think through what will be the first major battle of their life time, for bad or good. If you are a youth in Barbuda, you have been in the headlines at least since 2017 and hurricane Irma, the trauma of which you may not have fully explored even as you grapple with historical and political realities beyond your understanding, where is your voice in this, what’s your story? ‘The Wa’omani Prize’ is an opportunity to remember that there are no small stories, that every experience matters – from fishing with your dad to being in the path of a storm to end all storms. The Wadadli Pen Challenge is not fixed on a theme – tell any story you want, about anything you want, however you want – but it is Caribbean, simply because we must centre our own imagination in our own stories. Storytelling is an opportunity to explore us. At the same time, it is an opportunity to experience our reality from a different perspective – where did the frigates go when they flew away …from the perspective of a frigate. For people working with young people it’s an opportunity to ask what if… allowing the imagination to zig from reality to fantasy and back again. The 3-strip comic panel is a challenge for those better at expressing themselves using visuals than words because visuals too can tell a full story filled with drama, humor, warmth, etc. Writers and artists can even collaborate for full expression of an idea. The thing to remember is that there  is no wrong or right, only the urge to write, to draw, to create, and the freedom to be on the page.” Time will tell if this and the other media (thanks to Observer Media Group, Antiguanice.com, 268 Antigua, ABS TV, Crusader Radio, and others for helping us get the word out) and social media, and direct pushes we made to encourage young people in Antigua and Barbuda to submit by February 16th 2020 moved the needle at all.

For full guidelines and submission form, visit https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/wadadli-pen-2020 Shout out to our patrons Juneth Webson, Frank B. Armstrong, Lawrence Jardine, Brenda Lee Browne, D. Gisele Isaac, Caribbean Reads Publishing, Hermitage Bay Antigua, Adventure Antigua, Cindy’s Book Store, Floree Williams Whyte, Paradise Vision Centre, Jane Seagull, and others.

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You’ll notice that the art category is back for Wadadli Pen but framed this time as a comic strip challenge. Here’s hoping we’ll see lots of entries from the winners of this other art prize, the Halo Christmas card competition, which has been one of the more enduring art initiatives – albeit under different headings, Halo in recent years – in Antigua and Barbuda. Shout out to my alma mater Christ the King High School from which winner Tiffany Dunnah hails. Here’s the report via 268.

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We join the Caribbean and the rest of the literary world in bidding well done and farewell to the late Barbadian scribe Kamau Brathwaite who died on February 4th 2020 (at age 89). He’s been covered a time or two here on the blog but the various tributes should provide a sense of the scope of his work and influence. Also, the Bocas Lit Fest reported “Just days before he died, Brathwaite agreed to accept the 2020 Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters, presented annually by Trinidad and Tobago’s Bocas Lit Fest. The award pays tribute to Brathwaite’s landmark work as a critic — the author of many seminal essays on Caribbean literature and culture — literary activist, and editor, and was also intended to honour him in the year of what would have been his ninetieth birthday.” The award will now be presented to a member of Brathwaite’s family on March 5th 2020 at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill in Barbados during the annual KamauBrathwaite Lecture.

Peepal Tree publisher Jeremy Poynting said in his tribute (among the various tributes linked above): “Maybe there’s a room somewhere where Kamau, Derek and Wilson are talking together. Now wouldn’t that be some conversation to hear?” He is, of course, referencing Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and acclaimed Guyanese writer Wilson Harris, the statement an indicator of the company in which Brathwaite sits.

In his influence on and shaping of Caribbean poetry, West Indian Literature, Nation Language (a term he coined as a descriptor of Caribbean ‘dialect’), Africa-infused experimental linguistics in his creative expressions,the work of the UWI, the writers he’s mentored or influenced, the many he’s educated, Brathwaite is remembered as a literary lion and his legacy will surely endure.

For more on Brathwaite, read this editorial in Barbados Today

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Also via a Bocas mailing, the second year of the Johnson and Amoy Achong long list has been posted. It is, per usual, dominated by Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guyana (after being won last year by a Jamaica born, Barbados based writer). The developmental prize for emerging writers (this year focused on non-fiction) will go to either Amanda Choo Quan (T&T), Melissa Doughty (T&T), Ruel Johnson (Guyana), Otancia Noel (T&T), Kim Robinson-Walcott (Jamaica), and Amílcar Sanatan (T&T). Congrats to them.

Speaking of Bocas, check out some of the activity forthcoming at Writers Centre, described as an arts friendly, collaborative, enterprising space.

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New Books –

British Virgin Islands author Eugenia O’Neal’s latest book is March 2020 release Obeah, Race and Racism: Caribbean Witchcraft in the English Imagine (via University Press of the West Indies) which sounds very interesting (wonder if I can get a review copy). Here’s a partial synopsis from its Amazon page:

“In Obeah, Race and Racism, Eugenia O’Neal vividly discusses the tradition of African magic and witchcraft, traces its voyage across the Atlantic and its subsequent evolution on the plantations of the New World, and provides a detailed map of how English writers, poets and dramatists interpreted it for English audiences. …O’Neal examines what British writers knew or thought they knew about Obeah and discusses how their perceptions of black people were shaped by their perceptions of Obeah. …The English reading public became generally convinced that Obeah was evil and that blacks were, at worst, devil worshippers or, at best, extremely stupid and credulous. And because books and stories on Obeah continued to promulgate either of the two prevailing perspectives, and sometimes both together until at least the 1950s, theories of black inferiority continue to hold sway in Great Britain today.” Interesting, right?

Also coming soon is Trini-Bajan Ingrid Persaud’s Love after Love which landed with Faber and Faber after a bidding war because she’s dope like that. It’s due in April but this interview she did with Audible about her BBC and Commonwealth award winning short story The Sweet Sop and her writing journey to date is up now.

Excerpt: “Plot. You know how many times I wake up all two in the morning wondering if I will ever find a plausible plot? Or sometimes I have a plot, and I dream of all the black holes readers are going to find. One day I hope to create a story with a plot so exquisitely crafted that the reader is barely aware of being led through it.”

Finally, in new books, this one is already out I believe, Dominica’s Celia Sorhaindo writes I believe the first post-Irma book of its kind, Guabancex: “On 18 September 2017, a category 5 hurricane, the worst in recorded history, hit the Caribbean island of Dominica. Hurricane Maria destroyed lives and land. Nothing would be the same again. Guabancex explores the complex mix of experiences and emotions, both during and after the event. The collection is named in recognition of the ancient indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. One of these groups, the Taino, called the supreme female spiritual entity associated with all natural destructive forces, Guabancex.”

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Here in Antigua and Barbuda, we can also report that the Cultural Development Division has announced plans for a National Music Awards. It is not, as touted the country’s inaugural music awards (we’ve had the National Vibes Star Project Awards, which was a private/community-driven Grammy-style venture which actually had an even broader range of categories) but it is good to see an initiative to boost one aspect of the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. Lit arts still out here waving its hands but we’re not going to begrudge another category of artists getting a deserved boost. The NMA, per a release, is meant “to highlight and motivate practitioners in the field of music, in Antigua and Barbuda.” The person behind the initiative seems to be new deputy director of Culture, also a very talented, award winning musician and composer, Khan Cordice. As we’ve always said here on the blog (see reference to Barbara Mason) artistic disciplines benefit from having advocates who are passionate about the particular disciplines being in a position backed by the resources of state (limited though they may be) to move the needle. The announced awards categories, each with its various sub-categories, are Vocal, Instrumental, Steelpan, Recording Artiste, DJ, and Special awards. See breakdown.The announced NMA date is April 16th 2020.

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Culture has also unveiled the team behind Antigua and Barbuda’s staging of CARIFESTA. via Antiguanice.com “Leading the charge as Chairman of the Board of Directors will be the Honourable Daryll Matthew, and Senator Shenella Govia as Deputy Chairman. The other members of the board will include Dr. Hazra Medica as Executive Secretary to the Board, the Director of CARIFESTA, and representatives from the following entities, namely the Ministry of Tourism; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Finance; National Festivals Office; Ministry of Health, Cultural Development Division; Environment Division; Immigration Department; Security Forces, and the Legal Department.” The announcement coincided with the launch of the new CARIFESTA logo selected from a competition in which Gamal Goodwin emerged victorious. You know what I’ve written about literary Antigua-Barbuda being written out of past CARIFESTAs but I think all of us in the arts community (including writers) still look forward to what may come.

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Another local government agency announcing an awards programme is Gender Affairs. Women of Wadadli is a people’s choice awards recognizing the contribution of “extraordinary work” by “ordinary women” in Antigua and Barbuda. 

(they’re out of order but I’m tired).

Here’s the link.

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Via the Daily Observer, we’ve learned of a film production webinar series, in progress, thanks to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States’ Business Development Unit. Facilitators so far, according to the report, have included St. Lucia’s Davina Lee and Antigua and Barbuda’s Howard and Mitzi Allen of HaMA Films. The series is reportedly aimed at “sensitizing filmmakers in the region to modern (and best) practices in film production.” FYI, Mitzi Allen is also one of the advisors, along with Shakirah Bourne of Barbados, Juliette McCawley of  Trinidad, and Kareem Mortimer of The Bahamas on the Commonwealth Writers Caribbean Voices project targeting filmmakers (writers, directors, producers) from the region. Apply by February 24th to participate in the May workshop and be in the running for funding for your film project. Details here just in case I don’t get time to add it to the Opportunities Too page in time.

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We’ve covered Dadli Hack before though it deals with tech, not arts, because it seemed a creative enterprise in the way it challenged participants to use technology to troubleshoot and innovate around the issues of our day. This year’s winner is also no stranger to the blog – Team Antigua Island Girls. Remember them? The first all Black all female team to row across the Atlantic. Per the Observer, Dadli Hack 3.0 is part of the United Nations Office of Project Services Global Innovation Challenge. Team Island Girls have won, from among a field of 10 from various Caribbean islands, US$5,000 towards the development of their project to improve eco-tourism via their youth ocean rowing project. The Hackathon includes a week of training and then the ideas pitch. It was held at Antigua and Barbuda’s Science and Innovation Park.

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U.S. based Haitian author Edwidge Dandicat is one of three finalists for the Story Prize for book length short story collections published in 2019 from among 94 submissions. The other two finalists are Zadie Smith and Kali Fajardo-Anstine. If she wins for her book Everything Inside, Dandicat will win US$20,000 and if she doesn’t, she’ll win ‘just’ US$5,000. The winner will be announced on February 26th 2020 at the New School (co-sponsor of the prize) in NYC.

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Have you read Jamaican Marlon James’ A Brief of Seven Killings. Much of the world has and as such Entertainment Weekly, as reported by Jamaicans.com, has dubbed it one of the best books of the last decade. The multi-award, including Booker Prize, winning was an obvious choice for this list and it’s cool to see the Caribbean represented.

Another writer who would make any one’s best of list is Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie who, per AllAfrica, was named ThisDay’s Woman of the Decade. I know she’s not Caribbean but she’s still amazing so we won’t hold that against her.

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Also from the Observer…

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The NAACP Image Awards nominees have been announced and while attention has been on the film and TV categories and Bajan daughter Rihanna being tapped for the President’s award (go, Bad Gyal Ri-Ri!), I have been particularly interested in the book nominations. I am delighted to reveal that New Daughters of Africa which includes some 200 writers, yours truly repping Antigua and Barbuda among them, is a fiction nominee. The anthology is edited by UK-based Margaret Busby (pictured left below with two of the book’s contributors ahead of a panel at the Sharjah International Book Fair in November 2019) who has African and Caribbean roots.

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“Trinida­di­an born po­et and au­thor, Ian Williams has won Cana­da’s rich­est lit­er­ary award for fic­tion, for his nov­el Re­pro­duc­tion. Williams was named as the 2019 Sco­tia­bank Giller Prize…beat­ing out five oth­er au­thors for the prize. The first time nov­el­ist, who is an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of po­et­ry in the Cre­ative Writ­ing pro­gramme at the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Co­lum­bia, said he was shocked to earn the prize. ‘It’s a to­tal sur­prise, I mean there’s no prepar­ing for it. Even in your wildest fan­ta­sy like you imag­ine it and there’s noth­ing like it. Maybe it’s what pro ath­letes feel like or when ten­nis play­ers win Wim­ble­don or the US Open. Like we don’t write books for this mo­ment and then it hap­pens and you’re to­tal­ly off guard as a hu­man,’ he told the Cana­di­an Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion. He said the win made him re­flect on his past, in­clud­ing his time be­ing raised in Trinidad and To­ba­go be­fore his fam­i­ly mi­grat­ed to Cana­da.” Read more.

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Another award winner, this one with Antiguan roots is lauded children’s book writer and illustrator Ashley Bryan who picked up another Coretta Scott King award for Infinite Hope: a Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace. Released last October, it is described as “a deeply moving picture book memoir about serving in the segregated army during World War II, and how love and the pursuit of art sustained him.” The story offers a reminder that though some have dubbed the WWII generation the greatest generation, it really depends on who’s telling the story. And here Bryan finally tells his own: “In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. He endured the terrible lies white officers told about the black soldiers to isolate them from anyone who showed kindness–including each other. He received worse treatment than even Nazi POWs. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers…but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. And he waited and wanted so desperately to go home, watching every white soldier get safe passage back to the United States before black soldiers were even a thought.” Read more about the book and the other nominees, at AALBC.

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Another Caribbean writer, another accolade. ‘Toronto writer M. NourbeSe Philip has been announced as the 2020 recipient of the PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature. The $50,000 U.S. ($66,445 Cdn) award honours a writer whose body of work shows “enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship.”‘ Philip is from Tobago. Read about her at CBC.

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There’s more; I’m always gathering stuff to share. But I have to stop for now. So, til next time.

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, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which has a Spanish language edition). 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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Book Store Memories

This post was prompted by this find.

That’s Island Newsstand which had a very international and varied stock of contemporary books, newspapers, and magazines. Before this I remember PC’s Book Revue (the other one I went to semi-regularly when I finally had money to spend on books as a working teen/young adult) had piles of fun reading material and the Map Shop which was good for Caribbean books and texts. I cop to having spent more time in Island Newsstand and PC’s than the Map Shop as a teen and young adult (but the latter was an institution – and is a past Wadadli Pen patron – its absence from the marketplace is sad). Before that I remember the book section of Benjie’s Department store the site of my first holiday job – long hours on my feet and dusting/arranging.

I think I stopped going to Island Newsstand as much when First Editions opened as it was closer to my job and had every type of book I could think of (even more than Island Newsstand).

Best of Books station at the Alliougana Book Fair in Montserrat.

Current Antigua-based bookstores (not sure about the Barbuda situation) are the long standing religious bookstores like Christian Literature and the Methodist Book Shop (and likely others in that vein), and Cindy’s Bookstore which seems to be primarily books and other items for children, and the Best of Books which is a favourite of mine and as much of a community centre as any community centre could aspire to be as a safe space for youth. There’s its regular open mic and its shelf of Antiguan and Barbudan books, book signings (all of my book launches for one), taking our books on the road (like to book festivals in Montserrat and St. Martin), co-producing big lit events like the 2008 Dancing Moonlight Street Festival and the 2017 Book Fair, and other special events/activities – including being the host since 2011/2012 of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge Awards.

The 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards ceremony at the Best of Books bookstore.

Bookstores are special; they can make you feel calm, naughty, happy, the full spectrum of feelings and that’s before you even crack a book. But maybe that’s just me. Books are my happy place, so shelves and shelves of books can feel like nirvana. I love bookstores. I sometimes think I could live in one, or maybe just get locked in one overnight like the two women in that Whoopi Goldberg-Will Smith-Nia Long-Ted Dansen film ‘Made in America’.

So what’s the moral of the story, apart from an excuse to share an old Island Newsstand pic… well, support your local brick and mortar bookstores, obviously, they do more than sell books (even though that would be enough); remember to spread the word re the current season of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge; and be sure to share your bookstore memories in the comments (you don’t have to be local to where I am to do that; bookstores, blessedly, are international).

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 November 2019)

Since I decided to start this news round-up, it’s all I can do to keep up. Sorry for the things I missed. Here’s some news (some not so new anymore).

Death

Antigua and Barbuda mourns the passing of Vaughn Walter Mbe, a cultural actor and longtime Culture Director and former Carnival chair, who passed unexpectedly. Walter, son of the country’s second premier and national hero Sir George Walter, who himself ran for elected office in 1999, was assigned to lead prep for Antigua and Barbuda’s hosting of CARIFESTA 2021, and reportedly collapsed on the job. The self-styled ‘de Vagabond’ (Vagga for short) is, also, remembered in the larger public consciousness as a broadly comedic personality known for catchphrases like “you haffu come man, you haffu come”. He has acted in a number of plays and other stage (e.g. calypso) presentations, plus local films. Walter who was also a certified marriage officer and event (weddings) planner, was set to retire from public service after his stint with CARIFESTA. I couldn’t find a listing of Walter’s performance credits but I will share one from memory. When, in 2007, the Rick James Theatre Ensemble undertook to tell the story of Antigua and Barbuda, Our Country, Walter took on the role of the man referred to as the Father of the Nation. Incidentally, this man Sir V. C. Bird Sr. was also his father’s greatest political rival (and vice versa) during the pitched battles of the late 1960s to late 1970s  – arguably the most contentious time in modern Antiguan-Barbudan politics. The accuracy and authenticity he brought to the moment of delivering one of Bird’s rallying speeches was one of the highlights of the play.

Appointment

On the heels of an adversarial Carnival season, in which the Eastern Caribbean Collective Organization (ECCO) was at loggerheads with local event promoters over artist royalties, the copyright management organization has designated an Antigua-Barbuda director in the person of Vaughan Skerritt. Skerritt works in the industry as copy writer and producer,  and was a member of Antigua and Barbuda’s premier hip hop group back in the day – Da Rock 1761.

Awardees

The Antigua and Barbuda Independence honours list included two members of the arts community, musical arranger Jagger Martin and songwriter Rupert ‘Littleman’ Pelle, as well as educators Dr. Edris Bird, first and former resident tutor of the UWI Open Campus, and Glendina Jacobs, among others. Congratulations to them all.

Marlon James, Jamaican and former Booker prize winner, was a finalist for the National Book Awards in the US where he lives, thanks to his latest epic novel Black Leopard Red Wolf.

Congrats due as well to Dionne Brand, winner of the 2019 Toronto Book Award (and $10,000 CDN) for Theory. The awards are now in their 45th year and are intended to honour books of literary merit that are evocative of Toronto. Brand is originally from Trinidad and Tobago.

Jamaican writer Olive Senior, also Canada-based, won the Matt Cohen at the annual Writers’ Trust Awards in Toronto, celebrating her body of work.


She is pictured here in Antigua (with local author/Wadadli Pen founder-coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse -i.e. me) after attending the Alliougana book fest in Montserrat. We go back to 1995 when, as I have related more than once, I did my first writing workshop at the University of Miami, the Caribbean Fiction Writers Summer Institute, which Olive facilitated. It was during that workshop that I began work on my first book The Boy from Willow Bend. Senior was by then already a Commonwealth award winning writer for her book 1989’s Arrival of the Snake-Woman and Other Stories.

Finally, shout out to the Antigua and Barbuda delegation to the Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival. They cleaned up, returning home with awards for production, original script (historical drama, The Long Walk by Zahra Airall), directing (Airall), set design, sound, lighting, actress (Khadelia Williams), and best overall contingent. Her production The Forgotten previously won the main prize at the CSSDF in 2015. Without missing a beat Airall is planning at this writing a staging of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues which she originally brought to Antigua and Barbuda as part of Women of Antigua in 2008.

Repping Books

Antigua and Barbuda’s Best of Books bookstore, a Wadadli Pen patron and partner, won representative of the year from UK publisher Collins alongside Jamaica and Belize.

 

Young Composers

Antiguan and Barbudan Brianna Georges, 16, was a finalist for the Commonwealth International Composition Award. Georges is a former member of the prize winning Antigua Girls High School pan orchestra. The Antigua State College student reportedly wants to be both a forensic scientist and professional musician. Khadijah Simon is also a finalist, also from Wadadli. She is still a student at AGHS, where she serves as the choir’s pianist and as a musician at the Spring Gardens Moravian Church. Another Antiguan and Barbudan Erienne Peters, also had a highly recommended entry. The Composition Award’s stated purpose is to promote composition around the world and give young composers the skills they’ll need to further their careers. This is its first year.

Film Arts Awards (Local)

Did you know that Antigua and Barbuda had two film festivals this Independence season? Well, it did. I’m sorry to have missed both (the Motion Picture Association of Antigua and Barbuda’s International Film Festival back after a hiatus, the last one was held in 2012, and the first time Wadadli Short Film Festival led by off-island folks with Antiguan-Barbudan roots) – as not only a film lover but as someone who served as associate producer on Antigua and Barbuda’s first feature length film (The Sweetest Mango) and production manager on its second (No Seed), both written by D. Gisele Isaac, and as a writer and arts advocate. Especially though as someone who likes to see the arts thrive and the work of our artists and art producers celebrated. So congrats to the women in film recognized by the MPAA’s festival – Heather Doram, artist and former Culture Director, who cameod in The Sweetest Mango, starred in No Seed, and who has featured in a number of local productions on stage (Sweet Lady, When a Woman Moans), on TV (Paradise View, Keeping it Real), and on film (Maisie and Em film shorts) among other activities since the early 2000s; Julie Hewlett who has appeared in a number of UK TV series (e.g. East Enders and Turks and Caicos per her IMDB) and who was among the main supporting cast of The Sweetest Mango and is forthcoming in HAMA’s Deep Blue, in addition to teaching and facilitating workshops; and Mitzi Allen, a TV and radio producer, also independent producer of Antigua and Barbuda’s main feature films and TV shows (movies The Sweetest Mango, No Seed, Diablesse, The Skin, TV series Paradise View, and any number of commercial productions, and informational or edutainment programmes e.g. Pet Playhouse, Let’s Talk) as co-founder and co-director of HAMA. Also recognized, Sandie de Freitas who is Canada-based (not sure there’s a direct Antigua-Barbuda connection, the article cited was light on information, but she is festival director and founder for Commffest community film festival in Toronto). The Wadadli Short Film Festival is Antigua-Barbuda based but counts the wider Eastern Caribbean/Caribbean community as its constituency, and UK-based personnel as its principals, and its inaugural awards reflected that with best film going to London-based director Jordan Pitt’s Coffee, best OECS film going to French filmmaker Alain Bidard’s The Flight , and best music video going to Hard Knaxx’s Life in Paradise. See the full list of finalists and short list from 130 submissions. Speaking of Antiguans and Barbudans in film, the Peter Pan inspired Wendy, by critically-acclaimed Beast of the Southern Wilds’ director Benh Zeitlin includes local locations and children (notably Yashwa Mack).

 

Antiguan and Barbudan author  included in the line-up for the Sharjah International Book Fair

More here. And here.

New Books

Not all the new books – just the ones that came across my attention to this writing – including The A to Z of Caribbean Art which is due in early December (no Antiguan-Barbudan artists that I could see); Una Marson by Lisa Tomlinson (fifth in the University of the West Indies press Caribbean Biography series, spotlighting the Jamaican poet, dramatist, broadcaster, and advocate and curator of Caribbean literary arts – Media Release_Una Marson); the latest historical novel by ex-pat writer Apple Gibley’s US Virgin Islands historical novels (Transfer, which just came in the mail along with her earlier work Fireburn, courtesy of the author for review – hopefully I can finish reading them quickly enough to donate them to the Wadadli Pen challenge prize package); a memoir and/or biography by  Antigua and Barbuda’s former PM Sir Lester Bird (The Comeback Kid); US-based Jamaican writer and Howard University professor Curdella Forbes (A Tall History of Sugar); several social studies text and workbooks by local educator Anthea S. Thomas who wrote them initially to fill a material gap in her classroom and landed a publishing deal; and a new anthology, Winning Words, out of Barbados spotlighting winning pieces from the National Independence Festival Creative Arts writing competition.

Finally, on December 1st 2019, Haitian American writer M. J. Fievre drops her latest book – ‘Happy, Okay?’. The Florida-based writer’s book is sub-titled “Poems about Anxiety, Depression, Hope, Survival”. A recent press release described it as “an exhilarating exploration of depression, anxiety, grief, and loss”. It is, according to the release, meant for people living with mental illness and those closest to them. Edwidge Dandicat, another famed Haitian-American writer endorsed the book: “‘Happy, Okay?’ is a beautifully written meditation filled with poignant and lyrical meditations of the joys, pains, and complications of life and the daily struggle to survive, create, and love.” Here’s the press release in full: Fievre_Press Kit

Speaking of books

Sandals knows what’s up. Books makes good gifts. I do hope some Caribbean and Antiguan and Barbudan books are in the mix.

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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