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Wadadli Pen Diary – 2020 Judges – It’s Not Easy Work But They’re Up to the Challenge

Our judging pool has shifted year to year since Wadadli Pen’s 2004 launch; the only constant since our core team was put in place in 2016 has been chief judge/judging coordinator Floree Williams Whyte.

We wanted to share info re our respective 2020 judges currently hard at work assessing the 57 submissions to the Wadadli Pen 2020 Challenge.

Danielle Boodoo Fortune Hackshaw is a Trinidad-Tobago poet; she is also a returning Wadadli Pen judge, having initially served on the 2014-2015 panels, and having contributed her custom notebooks and bookmarks to past prize packages. Her connection with Wadadli Pen founder coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse goes back to 2008 when they were both on a panel in Barbados Celebrating Caribbean Women Writers. Since then Danielle’s literary fortunes have only continued to rise. She’s been published in several local and international journals such as Bim: Arts for the 21st Century, The Caribbean Writer, Small Axe Literary Salon, Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing, Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, Dirtycakes Journal, Blackberry: A Magazine, Room Magazine, and others. Her accolades include a prize from The Caribbean Writer (2009), a Pushcart nomination (2010), a Small Axe poetry prize (2012), the Hollick Arvon prize (2015), and the Wasifiri Prize (2016). She was twice short listed for the Montreal Prize (2013 and 2017). Twenty nineteen though was her most celebrated year as a Caribbean creative force. Her acclaimed book Doe Songs was the poetry prize winner at the Bocas literary festival. In addition to being a sublime poet, Danielle is a talented artist – her retail pieces and commissioned work are in many a private collection. Her murals (for example her work with the Urban Heartbeat project, a street art project across Central America and the Caribbean) tell unique stories and through her workshops she helps young people begin to tell their own stories. Her original pieces have featured in shows in the UK, Canada, Grenada, Latin America, and her home country Trinidad and Tobago where she debuted her solo show Criatura in 2013. She is also known for illustrations like the ones in Hillhouse’s Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure In many ways, Danielle is as much a part of the Wadadli Pen family as any one from Wadadli. Given that she has always been willing to serve and is well positioned to bring a knowledgeable eye to both the art and lit side of our Challenge, we are delighted to have her on board.

Glen Toussaint works as a supervisor at the Best of Books bookstore so it’s no surprise that he’s an avid reader; he’s also a writer – primarily a poet who has featured at local open Mics such as August Rush’s Expressions Open Mic and Spilling Ink’s Poetry in the Park in addition to running his own Best of Books’ monthly Wadadli Pen Open Mic. Glen said in a 2019 interview on Spilling Ink’s Facebook page that his writing really began  in 2008, shortly after he started working at the bookstore, when he “wrote a poem called ‘Ode to Love’ as a response to reading Joanne Hillhouse’s ‘Dancing Nude in the Moonlight”. That poem is now published in the 10th anniversary edition of the book released in 2014. But this publishing-link-up (via the author who is also the founder-coordinator of Wadadli Pen) is not Glen’s only connection to the programme. He has more often than not hosted the awards ceremony in the years (2011 to present) that Best of Books has partnered with the project, and has served as a judge (2016-2017). Glen is also published in the anthology So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End: an Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing edited by Althea Prince. He blogs at Because I love Words and Dat Bwoi for Jackie.  One of the main reasons Wadadli Pen wanted to bring Glen back on board this year was his knowledge of comic art (given the addition of our three-panel-comic art Challenge for 2020). One project Glen was recently involved in launching was 2019’s first time ever Antigua-Barbuda Con which included an art competition. In the referenced Spilling Ink interview, Glen said, when asked about advice to artists, “practice, work at your craft, learn to take criticism and learn when to apply it, study others in your craft.” Sound advice. With his wealth of knowledge in both comic art and literature, passion for the literary arts, mix of excitement and grounded-ness, Glen is a welcome re-addition to the Wadadli Pen judging panel.

Floree Williams Whyte is an independent publisher (Moondancer Books) and the author of one non-fiction book (Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses), one adult book of fiction (Through the Window), and one book of children’s fiction (The Wonderful World of






Yohan). Yohan first appeared in the story Yohan! published in 2010 in Anansesem, the Summer Edward edited and published online Caribbean children’s literary journal. Floree has also been published in Carnival is All We Know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and Souls of My Young Sisters: Young Women Break Their Silence with Personal Stories that will Change Your Life edited by Dawn Marie Daniels and Candace Sandy.

Floree works as a marketing communications executive. She has been a Wadadli Pen prize donor over the years,  a judge since 2012, and a member of the core team since 2016 in recent years taking on the role of judging coordinator and chief judge. Floree’s no drama focus is part of what makes her a great part of the team, and a steady leader of perhaps the most challenging part of the entire Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge.

The team is at work; we look forward to the outcome.

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