Tag Archives: Books

Barbados, Guyana, and Bermuda Finalists for 2018 Burt Award

The Burt Award for Caribbean teen/young adult fiction is sponsored by Canadian non-profit CODE and administered by Trinidad and Tobago’s Bocas Literary Festival. The winner will be announced at this year’s festival, scheduled for April 25th to 29th 2018. In the running are Shakirah M. Bourne of Barbados (below right), Imam Baksh of Guyana (below left), and Elizabeth J. Jones of Bermuda (below middle).


Here’s the announcement making the rounds:

CODE and NGC Bocas Lit Fest are thrilled to announce the finalists for the 5th annual CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature. This year’s finalists were selected from over 30 submissions of both published books and unpublished manuscripts from around the Caribbean.

In alphabetical order by title, the 2018 finalists are:
A Dark Iris by Elizabeth J. Jones (Bermuda)

Jury Summary: “A sophisticated ‘speculative fiction’ story that reveals the realities of adolescence; crushes, family problems, and school. The main character is real and relatable.

My Fishy Stepmom by Shakirah Bourne (Barbados)

Jury Summary: “A delightful story that is charmingly funny. With a folktale antagonist, the shenanigans that result as the main character fights to preserve her bonds of family and friendship are heartwarming.”

The Dark of the Sea by Imam Baksh (Guyana)

Jury Summary: “A compelling page turner, this fantastical adventure story follows the journey of a young man who is rebellious, unimpressed by education and religion, cynical about the future, and obsessed with girls. The humour is dark, the morality complicated, …and the victories bittersweet.”

The winner and two finalists will be announced on 25 April 2018 at the opening night celebration of the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Celebrating YA literature will continue throughout the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

Since 2014 a dedicated network of local partners has distributed more than 37,000 award-winning books in eleven Caribbean countries. We look forward to seeing this year’s winning books published and distributed to youth throughout the Caribbean.


I would like to add my congratulations to the finalists. It’s no secret that this award is one that means a lot to me – since being a finalist in the inaugural year, 2014, I’ve had the opportunity to work with CODE as a workshop facilitator and a mentor to the Africa leg of the programme (which also has a Canada leg focused on the First nations community), and as a judge with Bocas. I like that the programme in Canada, the Caribbean, and Africa is opening up publishing opportunities for those underserved by the industry. As for the Caribbean leg, I like that it’s leading to the production of new, or increased promotion and distribution of, books that are culturally relevant and whether historical, modern, or futuristic engaging to the teen/young adult reader. Having grown up reading so many books from overseas, it’s nice to know that today’s Caribbean teen has more options. I also like that it not only gives Caribbean independent presses an opportunity but insists on publishing with Caribbean publishers, which can only be good for the industry in the region. The books are distributed throughout the region – and, of course, a savvy publisher will also work to build the overseas readership as well. So, because of the opportunities it offers to Caribbean writers, teen/young adult readers, and publishing industry, I hope this programme has the resources to keep going. I mean, look at the literature that has come out of it already:

all over again - cover FAW 05JUN2013All Over Again by A-dZiko Simba Gegele (1st place, 2014) – author from: Jamaica; published by Blue Moon Publishing of Jamaica.

“All Over Again is a hilarious and enchanting coming of age story as a young boy goes through the trials and joys and puberty, battles with his 6-year-old sister who is the bane of his existences, worries about disappointing his mother and understanding his father…”

rosesThe Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Nunez (1st place, 2017) – author from: Puerto Rico; published by Papillote Press of Dominica/UK.

“It is 1957, in a quiet Havana suburb. Adela Santiago is 13 and lives in a small blue house with her family. But something is amiss…”

HoseinThe Beast of Kukuyo by Kevin Jared Hosein ( 2nd place, 2017) – author from: Trinidad and Tobago; published by Blue Banyan Books of Jamaica.

“You’re standing alongside Tiki and running next to Rune at the same time, looking for clues in the forest and admiring the beautiful Trinidadian landscape as you move through this adventurous tale…”

children of the spider 001Children of the Spider by Imam Baksh (1st place, 2015) – author from: Guyana; published by Blue Moon Publishing of Jamaica.

“Mayali is a fugitive from her home world of Zolpash, which is ruled by the Spider gods and their armies, who now have plans to invade Earth—it’s up to Mayali to thwart them…”

dancing in the rain 001Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph (3rd place, 2015) – author from: Trinidad and Tobago; published by Blue Moon Publishing of Jamaica.

“Set against the dazzling beauty of the Dominican Republic, Dancing in the Rain explores the impact of the tragic fall of the Twin Towers on two Caribbean families…”

Dreams-Beyond-the-Shore-front-lr-190x300Dreams Beyond the Shore by Tamika Gibson (1st place, 2016) – author from: Trinidad and Tobago; published by: Blue Banyan Books of Jamaica.

“Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Marchand was pretty satisfied with her life. Until recently. Willing to play the dutiful daughter as her father’s bid to become Prime Minister of their island home brings her family into intense public scrutiny, Chelsea is swept along by the strong tidal wave of politics and becomes increasingly disturbed by her father’s duplicity…”

Girlcott-cover-192x300Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell (2nd place, 2016) – author from Bermuda; published by Blue Banyan Books of Jamaica.

“A week ago, Desma Johnson had only two things on her mind – in exactly eight days, she would be sixteen years old and to top it off she was inline for a top scholarship, bringing her one step closer to her dreams. Life was perfect and nothing would get in the way of her birthday plans. But it’s 1959 and the secret Progressive Group has just announced a boycott of all cinemas in Bermuda in order to end racial segregation…”

Papillote_-_Gone_to_DriftGone to Drift by Diana McCaulay (2nd place, 2015)  – author from Jamaica; published by Papillote Press of Dominica/UK.

“The story of a 12-year-old Jamaican boy and his search for his beloved grandfather, a fisherman who is lost at sea…”

agostiniHome Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini (3rd place, 2017) – author from Trinidad and Tobago; published by Papillote Press of Dominica/UK.

“A coming-of-age tale with a twist: a clinically depressed Trinidadian teenager, who has attempted suicide, is banished by her mother to Canada to live with her aunt. She feels lonely and in exile. But…”

innerInner City Girl by Colleen Smith-Dennis (3rd place, 2014) – author from Jamaica; published by LMH Publishing Company of Jamaica.

“Martina does the unthinkable: a poor girl from the inner city gains entry into one of the most prestigious high schools in the country. Milverton High, situated on a hill with its picturesque surroundings, students from the upper echelons of society and teachers who do not neccessarily understand, contrasts with the poverty, hunger and family problems which Martina encounters. But Martina is not about to succumb to ridicule, rejection, and poverty…”

Musical YouthMusical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse (2nd place, 2014) – author from Antigua and Barbuda; published by Caribbean Reads of St. Kitts-Nevis/USA.

“Zahara is a loner. She’s brilliant on the guitar but in everyday life she doesn’t really fit in. Then she meets Shaka, himself a musical genius and the first boy who really gets her. They discover that they share a special bond…”

Protectors-pledge-cover-187x300The Protectors’ Pledge by Daniel V. C. Mclean (3rd place, 2016) – author from Trinidad and Tobago; published by Caribbean Reads of St. Kitt’s-Nevis/USA

“Twelve-year-old JV can’t wait to spend his vacation exploring the Oscuros Forest. True, everyone in the village of Alcavere believes the Oscuros Forest is a place to be feared, inhabited by dangerous and magical beings. But JV is not afraid, even when his first trip into the forest brings him face-to-face with a mysterious creature…”

And now there are three more books to look forward to.

Two finals thoughts. If you have a teen in your life, there’s got to be something on this list that appeals to them and if you’re a writer, embrace this opportunity to put your name and your country on this list, and potentially put your book in the hands of readers across the Caribbean and beyond.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.


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This Week in Books and Blogging

I usually participate in the Caffeinated  Book Reviewer’s Sunday Post over at my Jhohadli blog…but I’m here and its #lazySunday so I’ll do it here.

The Sunday Post is an opportunity to share news – recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things received. That’s it, then you share your link and visit others who’ve linked up (well, as much as you can…there’re a lot of them but, well, you have to give to get). #bookblogging #networking

Okay, so here goes.


On a personal-professional-writerly note, I re-started my Jhohadli Writing Project creative writing workshop series (now also open to off-island participants). I had just a handful of registrants and less show-ups despite the significant shares and queries (and pre-registration); despite the fact that people have been asking me for the better part of a year, when are you going to do another workshop. BUT it is what it is; it’s off to a start…and you know what, I’ve really been enjoying the sessions and fingers-crossed I’m not alone in that (pending the written evaluations/feedback at the end of this first four week cycle). I’ll be keeping it going #cantstopwontstop and hopefully growing.

My new year typically begins on my birthday which was two Fridays ago and a blast…2018 bday especially so since the extended celebrations continued the following weekend with limes (hangouts) with family and friends and a drink called Purple Rain… and today is my dad’s birthday (shoutout to my rock, who is better than The Rock btw)… but in between the fanfair it’s been a struggle sometimes to keep my spirits up. Is this the start of the mid-life crisis because if so it’s not fun. But I still love what I do and the things I imagine I could do (but for the financing…and the time) so I’m fighting to stay on the upswing. #onthehustle #TheWritingLife

Okay, enough of that. Book stuff. Royalty statement in on two of my books this week. Could always be better but thankful still. Each sale represents a buyer, but more importantly, a reader. That’ll never not be dope.

If you want to be part of the dope posse, remember to check out my books and share, buy, review, blast…in to the bestsellingstratosphere because I may be from a 108 square mile island in the sun but a girl can dream…and does.

In Other People’s Books, last week I picked up a new-to-me Faye Kellerman from the bargain shelf, I finished and blogged (Blogger on Books!) Nectar in a Sieve (or was that week before last?) and moved Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal from the to be read shelf to the active reading pile. I started it (but I’ve had to accept that a slower reader has taken over my brain so it’s in-progress, though I’m liking it so far); think Jane Austen with some sci-fantasy thrown in. This week I also dipped into (from that active reading pile) Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (I’m actually more engaged with this than I expected to be), Sara Douglass’ The Serpent Bride (I hoped for a bit of escapism but so far…meh), and Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (the best of the lot obviously and I’m in to it but I feel like I’ve read several books already…this one is long and involved).

As for what’s new on the blog (this blog) –

I launched year 14 (crazy, right?!) of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, the annual writing Challenge I started back in 2004 to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda.

I let go of the hope that we could have just…five…more…votes in for the Antigua and Barbuda favourite book of the year.

I declared that Boys DO Read (newsflash, right?)

I shared a couple of the posts that caught my eye – Tips to Help You Concentrate While Writing from A Writer’s Path and Mandy Mikulencak on self-doubt John Irving & Writing in Bed at BookPeople, the blog of “the largest bookstore in Texas” (because the internet connects us across great divides like that).

I updated the Resources page and the Opportunities Too page (because as I gather, I scatter).

There’s more but that’s enough; so I’ll end with a reminder to check out my writing, editing, coaching, and course and workshop facilitation services (use me) and a shout out (and two reasons to say Congratulations) to Fayola Jardine who last Saturday collected her copy of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure from the Independence trivia here on the blog and has bigger things ahead (shh). Thanks to her for supporting by copping an extra copy as well. And since I didn’t get to take a picture of her collecting her prize, here are some of my favourite reader-shares of the book so far.

Sallys Books This is a share from facebook of not one but two of my books – the teen/YA novel Musical Youth and Lost! (a children’s picture book)

And these two are from Instagram

l share cropped (Okay, I don’t see Lost! in this one but among this mountain of Caribbean children’s picture books I spy With Grace – my Caribbean fairytale)

another l share cropped (my two favourite things about this picture – these are all Antiguan-Barbudan children’s picture books …and #babyfeet)

Thanks for stopping by – if this is your first time here, this blog is the platform for the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize – youth/lit arts development programme in Antigua-Barbuda, and a Caribbean literary portal (dig around). I am a writer and you can follow me and my bookish and other ways usually over at my Jhohadli blog. Thanks for stopping by. Here ends the Sunday Post and enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

As ever, any words or pictures found here are mine. Respect copyright.




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Caribbean Colouring Books

One came in to my mailbox recently and I decided to mention it but to use the opportunity to shout out a couple others I’m aware of as well.

colouring book

This is the one that landed in my mailbox via Barbados’ Chattel House Books. It looks like a combo colouring and activity book, and is described as a Kiddies Caribbean Heritage Activity Book. Someone asked me recently about a book for kids depicting Carnival; seems like this would be a good fit for that request, right?


I recently suggested this colouring book by Trinidad and Tobago artist Danielle Boodoo Fortune to a local bookstore given the popularity of adult colouring books – as stress relief. This looks like one I could have fun with. I am biased, of course, by the fact that I love this artist’s art and that she illustrated my latest book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure.


This one I used to work on with one of my nephews. It’s an Antiguan and Barbudan colouring book by Wadadli Pen partner, writer, and bookstore manager Barbara Arrindell with illustrations by Edison Liburd – a past Wadadli Pen patron and another artist whose work I like. This one highlights places and spaces emblematic of Antiguan and Barbudan culture. And as indicated from my own experience great for adults to do with the kids in their lives.

This sub-genre seems far from saturated, a google search for ‘Caribbean Colouring Book’ to fill out this post turning up the older Macmillan’s Caribban A-Z and Caribbean Sights and Scenes colouring books, a Pirates of the Caribbean Colouring Book – neither of which, obviously, would have grown organically out of the Caribbean, and US born, global artist raised in Trinidad Jade Gedeon’s Island Escape.142437

What say you? Is the Caribbean colouring book market primed for explosion or what? or don’t kids colour anymore? or is my Google-fu broken?

Anyway, happy to share these finds.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.


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Books for 1735: This is a Picture Post

But first, the back story. Ayanna Shadrach, a teacher at Clare Hall Secondary, last November collected a couple boxes of books from me as part of her drive to donate books to the Antigua and Barbuda prison (the titular 1735 named above, otherwise known as the place behind the big red gate). In all, with the help of her students, she collected over 500 used books but if you’ve been following the travails of the prison, you know about the contagions (chicken pox etc.) that mitigated against access for a time. Seems the clouds have parted and Ms. Shadrach and her students were finally able to deliver the books to the prison. I thought it would be cool to share them here as an example of young people doing positive things. See below. No, first, read about Ms. Shadrach and her project here, then see below.

20160912_114026 20160912_114545 screenshot_2016-09-12-13-52-08-1 screenshot_2016-09-12-17-18-41-1 screenshot_2016-09-12-17-19-00-1 screenshot_2016-09-12-17-19-23-1 screenshot_2016-09-12-17-19-41-1 screenshot_2016-09-12-17-20-00-1 screenshot_2016-09-12-17-20-32-1 screenshot_2016-09-12-17-22-07-1 screenshot_2016-09-12-17-22-30-1

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Over time, Wadadli Pen has added a fair amount of writing and publishing information – from interviews with authors and publishers, to the reading rooms, to the opportunities pages (technically posts not pages). This post-not-page is something slightly different, though there’ll probably be a bit of overlap. Like the reading room and opportunities (which you can use the search box to find), it will be updated from time to time; its purpose is to gather and share information related to publishing that writers need to know – information that too many of us have to learn the hard way. Hope you find it useful on your writing and publishing journey.  Also visit the Writer’s Toolbox. Disclaimer: We don’t take responsibility for the information provided on any of the linked sites. Remember, do your own due diligence and seek the advice of an agent and/or lawyer if you can.

Authors – Getting Paid

11 Frequently Asked Questions about Book Royalties, Advances and Money

Festival Appearances – Guidance for Authors (UK specific but the principles, especially the breakdown re why authors should be paid, applies to authors everywhere)

Rate Guide for Authors


10 common—and crucial—copyright questions for communicators

A Writer’s Guide to Permissions and Fair Use

Basic Copyright Concepts for Writers

Copyright Information for Writers

Permission Guidelines for Using Copyrighted Material

The Fuss about Fair Use

Two Easy Steps for Using the DMCA Takedown Notice to Battle Copyright Infringement

On the Hustle – Tips for Freelance Writers

5 Red Flags to look for in a Contract

5 Tips for Aspiring Features Writers

31 Ways to Freelance Yourself to Financial Freedom

Case Study: How I Get Paid $100 a Week to Write Rants About Video Games

“Find your minimum…and charge no less than that. If someone comes to you and says ‘…can you go lower?’ just say no… If you’re getting a lot of low paying work, you just need to learn to say ‘no’ more…You are worth a certain rate as a writer and when you go below that you are undervaluing yourself and as a result that paints the wrong picture of you to your clients.” Very good webinar on navigating the freelancing life.

How not to Pitch Editors

How to become a Professional Ghost Writer

How to Market Yourself without selling Your Soul

“If you’re still a little unsure of your abilities, keep telling yourself that you have skills and experience that people are prepared to pay for. You’ve been invited to a meeting for a reason. You’ve won their approval thus far; you now just need to bring home the business by impressing them face-to-face.” – Learning how to sell yourself: how to win over a new client during a pitch by Katy Cowan

“Most freelancers spend about 30 percent of their time completing non-billable work like pitching, researching, interviewing, responding to emails, marketing, networking, and invoicing…That means an eight-hour workday only leaves you with about five billable hours. So when finding your own rate, be realistic with what you can charge and how many hours in the week you can work.” – Rates

“So be bold. Go after the writing you want, keep yourself at the forefront of editors’ minds, ask for fair compensation, and see what happens!” – Reminder to Be Bold when pitching

The Ultimate Guide to Recurring Income for Freelancers

What to do about freelance writing when you update your resume

What to do at every stage of a late payment

Why what you write matters more than where you publish

Writing for others – what to charge

Publishing – Books

An Author’s Guide to Praise and Endorsement Best Practices

Carly Watters – Literary Agent Blog – I’m sharing this here because I don’t really have an agents’ blog on this site but I find, just perusing her comments section that she’s quite responsive and has some insights about the industry that might be useful, whichever agent you pitch.

Don’t Fall Prey to Publishing Scams: 7 New Writer Mistakes to Avoid

GATE opens a window to the world of e-publishing

Guidelines for formatting your manuscript before submission and more guidelines BUT remember to check the publisher website for any guidelines specific to her.

How to get published

Negotiating an e-book contract

Nine Ways to a Faster Book Deal

The Pros and Cons of Book Awards

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing

Publishing 101 with Eugenia O’Neal

Publishing an Ebook

Publishing Contracts 101 (Protect Your Work)


Ten Principles of Fair Contracts

What to do When Your Book goes Out of Print

Why You need an Author Platform – and How to get One

Why your blog is your best promotional source

Publishing – Journals, Anthologies

Formatting manuscripts for submission

Submitting Something Somewhere: Things to Consider

Publishing – Promotion

How to Tame the Social Media Beast (a primer for writers on the use of social media as a promotional tool)

Social Media Playbook for Authors!

What Facebook’s 2018 Change Means for Authors


On Writing Dialogue

Three Plot Structures


About your e-signature and how to utilize it as a marketing tool

How to Hire a Skilled Editor and What You’ll Pay (because some writers really do need to consider what’s involved before pushing back on the rates – negotiating is fine, disrespect and derision is not) – rates and reasons vary but this isn’t a bad guide

On merchandising fictional characters – a legal primer

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, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, 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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Building a Reading Culture and the Link to Improving Exam Performance: a Perspective

Previously published in the Daily Observer. Reprinted here as it seems timely in light of the Cushion Club and Wadadli Pen teaming up for a summer reading challenge.

cushion clubnew

Recently, during an interview with a regional publication about the Wadadli Pen writing programme, I was asked about things people could do to support the literary arts. I spoke, of course, about the need for arts funding to run ongoing writing programmes and the like. But then the interviewer asked me a follow up that narrowed the scope of the question, and at the same time expanded it. What can the individual do? And what came immediately to mind was the simple act of encouraging a child to read, reading with and to a child; it can be your child, or it can be the child of someone else. It’s a simple act but that’s where it starts.


Quite recently, I read an article, during the period of hand wringing that usually follows the release of the results of the standardized tests as we try to figure out why our kids are failing English or Math or Social Sciences. It seems we do this dance every year. And certainly it’s a dance not unique to us here in Antigua and Barbuda. Within the rhythm and sway of it, one of the things that jumped out was the aforementioned article in which the Education Minister explained that “There has been a decline as teachers become acclimatized to this new English syllabus.” It gave me pause and I wondered what was in this new syllabus that was so challenging, so I read on; and what I read seemed to suggest that while the structure had changed what was expected was the same, the ability to comprehend.


I felt it at the tip of my tongue, like an overplayed song that everyone’s tired of hearing; we need to make reading a part of their everyday lifestyle. I really believe that the literary arts (imagining, reading, writing) is foundational to doing well not only in English but in the various subject areas, foundational to deciphering the puzzles that present themselves, foundational to thinking critically and creatively.


It helps perhaps that I’ve always found reading fun so I didn’t have to be bribed or bullied into doing it, and so maybe it’s easy for me to say this, but I believe that reading is the key to us beginning to figure out how to create, imagine, comprehend, and articulate ideas. It begins with that book you first read upside down and the stories you invented because the pictures made sense even though the words didn’t yet, and the stories you made up to fill in the blanks when the tale left you hanging, all the while building your vocabulary, your competence and confidence with respect to the use of language, and your brain’s ability to unknot things and create new patterns.


I was heartened, therefore, when I read a little further on in the story a comment attributed to an anonymous teacher who I really wished had acquiesced to having her/his name used because they made the point that links with what I’m saying here; that the real problem is that “children are not reading.”

Chadd Cumberbatch visits the Cushion Club2 Chief Librarian Dorothea Nelson 3

At this point, you’re thinking of all the parents working too many hours to make ends meet to have time to read to or with their kids, or too busy putting food on the table to put books on the shelves. And I feel you on that because I come from a world of scant resources myself and still live in a world where people are struggling to do too much with too little. But this is where we’ve got to get creative. I remember a parent once saying to me that because she’s at work all day she has no way of making sure that her son reads, no way of making sure that he doesn’t spend all the summer-long day watching TV, which, let’s face it, he probably did. I suggested to her that one way around that is to set the expectation. And no I’m not just talking about my mother’s trick of checking the TV for heat to make sure that we hadn’t been watching the Soaps after school, which we totally did (hey, I said I liked books, doesn’t mean I didn’t like TV too). But how about asking them to summarize what they’ve read that day, they don’t even have to write it down; it could just be a conversation, which is good for getting them to begin articulating how they feel about things. Kara Stevens, speaking about a Read Aloud programme she did at Villa School earlier this year, spoke about the step in the programme where the children were encouraged to react to the material, a process that could potentially build their speaking and writing skills, and get them thinking about broader social issues. So, encourage that conversation over dishes or dinner or while they’re helping you hang clothes on the line, whatever window your busy day allows; and if they didn’t read the book after all, well talk about the TV show you know they spent the time watching…after all TV shows (and no I’m not counting (Un)Reality shows here) are story-driven too.

library reading

So that’s what I said in that interview about Wadadli Pen that writing begins with imagining and reading, and that one of the ways we can support the literary arts – and, I suspect, begin to put an end to the annual wringing of hands about our performance in not just language arts but other subject areas – is by creating a culture in which children are encouraged to read in the homes, in the community (why not start a Cushion Club in your village?), in the classroom (a la the drop-everything-and-read activity in some schools). It seems a frivolous thing to some, a weird thing even, an indulgence in a practical world, but it can be skill building and even fun, and not, as I say all the time about Wadadli Pen, only if you’re interested in becoming a writer.


All pictures in this post are Cushion Club related except for the last two – one of which is me, reading from The Boy from Willow Bend and Musical Youth at the public library in Anguilla and at Hillside school in St. Martin. It goes without saying that (especially as these are pictures of children) you can link the post but not copy and past the pictures without permission…but I’m saying it anyway.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad!, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. And using any creative work without crediting the creator will open you up to legal action. Respect copyright.

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A Little Perspective

The long list of the OCM Bocas Prize was announced this weekend and an Antiguan and Barbudan writer/book/subject is on the list! 2136dd3c-42db-4ee4-841a-70fa52ac3d4cThe writer, Dorbrene O’Marde; the book, Nobody Go Run Me; the subject, Short Shirt . Maybe it will get some press here at home – whether you believe as I do that Short Shirt is the epitome of Antiguan and Barbudan calypso artistry, he is one of our cultural and calypso icons after all – whatever he does is news (right?), and Dorbrene is a well-established arts and media personality in his own right – from his days as Head of Harambee, widely acclaimed as the best of Antiguan theatre, to his current role as head and mouthpiece of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission (his profile certainly makes him news, right?). Plus Nobody Go Run Me was part of the news story that was the year-long anniversary celebration of Short Shirt’s 50 years in Calypso – something I, as a freelance journalist, covered for local publication Daily Observer, regional publication Zing, and, with specific reference to the book, am in the process of writing about for the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books which has ties, through its editor Dr. Paget Henry, to Brown University in the USA. All of that to say, this news of O’Marde and Nobody Go Run Me making the long list of a major Caribbean prize is news and probably won’t get lost in the shuffle. Probably. But, just in case, I want to bring a little perspective.

When Antigua and Barbuda’s name is hollered for major literary prizes – PEN/Faulkner, the Guggenheim, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, American Book Award to name a few, it’s usually followed by Jamaica Kincaid. You won’t find her face on any of our many, many roadside billboards but she is a literary celebrity by any stretch of the imagination and, though her nom de plume references a larger island in the northern Caribbean, she is from the Ovals community right here in the 268. She has been and continues to be an inspiration for writers like me and others – from places like Ottos, Antigua and places far removed from it, where young girls dream of daring to write unconventionally, compellingly…uncomfortably, truthfully.

For many, Antiguan and Barbudan literature in as much as it even exists – and for many it doesn’t – begins and ends with Jamaica.

Because of this oversight, every pebble that ripples the water, reminding the larger Caribbean and international community that we are here (arwe yah!) matters.

When Brenda Lee Browne, in 2013, made the long list of the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize – a prize which allows an emerging Caribbean writer time and resources to advance a work in progress – to date the only Antiguan and Barbudan of 22 long listed writers between 2013 and 2014, it mattered.

When an Antiguan and Barbudan book, in 2014, made the short list and went on to place second for the first ever Burt Award for Young Adult Caribbean fiction, it mattered.

There weren’t headlines here at home for either of these breakthroughs, both administered by the team behind the BOCAS literary festival in Trinidad, and presented during the awards ceremony there, but as far as creating ripples in the water, they mattered.

Well, the OCM Bocas Prize is the biggest award presented at that festival. For Caribbean writers, with the Commonwealth Book and First Book awards now just a memory and the other major literary awards of the world not impossible to reach – as 2015 Frost medalist Kamau Brathwaite’s accomplishment recently reminded us – but a stretch (and, don’t get me wrong, stretching is good), the OCM Bocas Prize is one of the few opportunities remaining. It is specific to us, demands the best of us, rewards the best among us. Since its launch in 2011, it has been won by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott (White Egrets); Earl Lovelace (Is Just a Movie) – who also took the Grand Prize from the Caribbean Congress of Writers for the same book; Monique Roffey (Archipelago) – previously shortlisted for the Orange Prize for another book, White Woman on the Green Bicycle; and former Guggenheim fellowRobert Antoni (As Flies to Whatless Boys). Its long list has been a who’s who of Caribbean literati – Edwidge Dandicat, Kendel Hippolyte, Lorna Goodison, Kei Miller… and no Antiguans and Barbudans, until now 2015 with O’Marde’s book, Nobody Go Run Me. The book is in formidable company as there are no also-rans in this line up – Miller’s the Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion is already the winner of the prestigious Forward Prize in the UK, Marlon James (did you catch him this past week on Late Night with Seth Myers on NBC?) landed on several year-end best of lists in 2014 (TIME, New York Times, Amazon etc) and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US thanks to his Brief History of Seven Killings, Roffey’s House of Ashes was a finalist for the Costa Award, Tiphanie Yanique’s Land of Love and Drowning has already won the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, Elizabeth Nunez’s Not for Everyday Use has been dubbed by Oprah.com as one of the Best Memoirs of the past year, the author of Dying to Better Themselves, Olive Senior, is a previous winner of the aforementioned (and no longer) Commonwealth Writers Prize, and Tanya Shirley’s The Merchant of Feathers and Vladimir Lucien’s Sounding Ground have been receiving all kinds of critical acclaim. Nobody Go Run Me (described in the Bocas release as “…a carefully researched biography of Antigua’s most celebrated calypsonian and a history of Antiguan society and culture in the crucial decades after independence.”) deservedly claims its place among these great works. I hope that isn’t overlooked, as things of this nature tend to be, here at home.

It matters.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad! and Burt Award finalist Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.


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