Tag Archives: caribbean art

On Bill Burt, the Burt Award (for Caribbean Literature), and the 18 teen/young adult Caribbean fiction titles it produced

Burt-Award-winners-book-covers

Home Homethe beast of kukuyoThe Art of White RosesThe-Dark-of-the-SeaMy-Fishy-StepmomA-Dark-Iris

The-Unmarked-Girl-Jeanelle-Frontin

You may not know the name Bill Burt. After all, he was a Canadian commodities broker. But you may know some of the titles above (all Code Burt award titles from the Caribbean). That seal on all but the newest of the pictured titles (This year’s titles are not yet published but the original edition of the winning 2019 title The Unmarked Girl is pictured) is the Oprah’s Book Club seal of teen/young adult Caribbean literature, that little edge, that extra endorsement to help them stand out and perhaps be picked up. It is an endorsement. It indicates that these titles have been tapped by writers, editors, and other literary professionals from the Caribbean and elsewhere who served as judges (refreshed every year), as being among the best new writing from the region in the teen/young adult genre.  It is Bill Burt putting a ring on it.

Accepting Burt Award trophy

That’s Bill Burt, left, above presenting me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) with the first runner up trophy for the inaugural Caribbean Code Burt award, for my then unpublished manuscript Musical Youth, at the 2014 Bocas literary festival in Trinidad.

A trophy. The most substantial single cheque of my creative writing career to that point. An opportunity to be published and to select the publishing house I would be working with from among several options in the Caribbean. A guaranteed order of the books. That was my prize. It was an amazing boost at the time.

Musical Youth and all of the pictured books benefited from someone, who, with the funds he made through this stock market investments, helped amplify stories from typically marginalized communities of which the Caribbean was only one.

Winners ...and #MusicalYouths in their own right ... members of the AGHS winning cast from the secondary schools drama festival collecting copies of Musical Youth.
(above and below, me presenting copies of Musical Youth at local schools)Musical Youth copies 2014 3

The Burt Award, named for Bill Burt and administered by CODE, a Canadian non-profit, stimulated the production of teen/young adult fiction specific to communities whose voices are not often heard in the vast publishing world. He presented the first Burt Award (for teen/young adult African literature), in Tanzania in 2009. The programme subsequently expanded to Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Canada (specifically among First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people), and the Caribbean.

The initial guaranteed order of the winning books was/is distributed to teens and young adults through individuals and institutions that work with youth. If you appreciate that funding is a major hindrance for working artists and for independent publishers, you will appreciate how significant this prize is; if you can appreciate that this was about producing books teens and young adults in the region would WANT to read, you would see how impactful this prize was or could be.

I entered that first year (October 2013 submission deadline), after they had adjusted initial proposed guidelines to accept unpublished manuscripts. I had to print, bind, and FedEx the manuscript from Antigua to Trinidad. I believe the guidelines were adjusted the following year to allow for online submissions but submissions had to be professionally bound in 2013. It wasn’t cheap but it was one of those invest in yourself moments and it was worth it because, thanks in great part to this programme, the book that manuscript birthed, Musical Youth, placed with Caribbean Reads publishing, out of St. Kitts, has become one of my best performing books. I can’t imagine Musical Youth even existing in a Burt-less world, especially given that two weeks out from the deadline I started writing something to submit (which is not the advised way to approach competitions of this nature but is the way this book came to be). Future Burt finalist Shakirah Bourne (of Barbados) who wrote her title (My Fishy Stepmom) in less than a month, blogged recently about how this bit of foolhardiness on my part inspired her (after some disappointments that made her consider not submitting at all):

“Five months later, on October 7th 2017, Antiguan author, Joanne Hillhouse shared the invitation to submit to the 2018 CODE Burt Award on Facebook. Initially I dismissed it. The deadline was October 31st, 24 days later. But Joanne is an amazing blogger and so I checked out her post ‘The BURT Blog – Memories to Keep and a Trophy’ and was amazed to read that she wrote her award-winning book Musical Youth in less than two weeks!”

When I heard this year ahead of the announcement of the last Burt finalists at the Bocas lit fest which administered the prize regionally, that this would be the last year, I wrote back to them “Congrats to the shortlisted writers. Sorry to hear it’s coming to an end. Sorry as well to learn (as I just did in this email) of the passing of Bill Burt. He did a great thing.”

That’s why I’m writing this because Bill Burt did a great thing and we need more people within and without the region to replicate this kind of philanthropy – in fact, one of my dreams for Wadadli Pen is that someday it has the resources to support a writer now and again in the region or maybe even the sub-region, maybe just Antigua and Barbuda, for completion of a project – just give them a financial break for a bit so that they can focus on creating. It’s the kind of help I need and as with Wadadli Pen itself, started because of a void in my experience of anything to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, I want to be in a position someday to support other artists in the ways that I don’t feel supported today.

Bill Burt’s life at least from his 40s onwards (I think) is a reminder that there is great value in giving if you can, where you see the gaps, simply because it needs to be done.

I know this is running long but I wanted to run through the books and some developments (re the authors’ professional trajectory) certainly in the Caribbean since winning the Burt award. Starting with 2019 (via bocaslitfest) and working back to the inaugural year, 2014, with the hope that you will consider purchasing (sharing, reviewing, recommending) these specifically Caribbean books, which wouldn’t exist as they do (as exciting new titles from Caribbean publishers for the teen/young adult market) without Bill Burt.

The Burt Award will not be accepting submissions from 2020 on; it will be interesting to see if any philanthropic entity steps in to the gap.

2019 titles:
Winning title – The-Unmarked-Girl-Jeanelle-FrontinThe Unmarked Girl by Jeanelle Frontin (Trinidad and Tobago), published by Mark Made Group Ltd (which is a Caribbean-based company providing arts and entertainment services of which publishing is only one component) – a quick google suggests that Frontin submitted the first of three ebooks in her YaraStar trilogy; self-published, according to Looptt (which suggests to me that Mark Made is not a traditional publisher but either a vanity or hybrid, paid for their services by the author). That book (already awash with five star reviews on Amazon) and the entire series just got a boost.

The Accidental Prize by Tamika Gibson (Trinidad and Tobago) – Tamika, a returning finalist, submitted a manuscript which puts this in the to-be-published category. Gibson, also a 2016 finalist for Dreams Beyond the Shore, published by Jamaica’s Blue Banyan Books, and named one of 2017’s best contemporary teen reads by Kirkus, said, “What’s phenomenal about the Burt Award is that it’s a direct path to getting your books into the hands of readers. Entering the competition has freed me to focus on writing the best novel that I can, without having to worry too much about the business aspects that come after the book is finished.”

Daylight Come by Diana McCaulay (Jamaica), also a manuscript – Diana is also a previous winner for 2015’s Gone to Drift which has since had an American edition published (2016) with Harper Collins after its initial release with Dominica’s Papillote Press. McCaulay was already an award winning and critically acclaimed author and activist when she first triumphed at Burt and hasn’t missed a step with another non-Burt book published in 2017 (her fourth novel) and Daylight Come forthcoming with, I believe, Peepal Tree press (which is UK based but publishes primarily Caribbean fiction and has been a favourite of the main Bocas prize).

2018 titles:
Winning title – The-Dark-of-the-SeaThe Dark of the Sea by Imam Baksh (Guyana) – also a repeat winner this is his second previously unpublished manuscript to find a home with Jamaica’s Blue Banyan Books after 2015 Burt title Children of the Spider which was published in 2016.  He explains in this linked article how the increased visibility positions him to do more to boost literature in his country even as he continues to work on his next novel and embraces opportunities to travel and present his work (most recently featured at the Edinburgh literary festival)

My Fishy Stepmom by Shakirah Bourne (Barbados) – manuscript, the Caribbean edition since published by Blouse and Skirt which is an imprint within Blue Banyan. Bourne is an independent filmmaker and self-published author now with a literary agent (I mention that this is the Caribbean edition of the book for just this reason as she also landed the book with an international agent right around the time it was shortlisted for the prize, as she blogs here). For her, there are loads of emerging opportunities (of which being a featured presenter at the 2019 Edinburgh festival is only one).

A Dark Iris by Elizabeth J. Jones (Bermuda) – manuscript, since published by Blouse and Skirt (Blue Banyan Books). You’ll see Tanya Batson-Savage’s Blouse and Skirt and/or Blue Banyan Books on this list a number of times as it has published more Burt Caribbean titles than any other imprint. Specifically, The Dark of the Sea and Children of the Spider by Imam Baksh, My Fishy Stepmom by Shakirah Bourne, The Beast of Kukuyo by Kevin Jared Hosein, Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell, Dreams Beyond the Shore by Tamika Gibson, Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph, and the very first Burt Caribbean winning title All Over Again by A-dZiko Simba Gegele. This means that this independent Caribbean publisher’s list has grown by almost 10 (maybe more by the time this year’s winning books are published) because of this prize’s investment in the region and in the process new voices from across the region (Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, and Jamaica just from this list alone) are being either heard or amplified. I have had the opportunity to work with Blue Banyan as an editor of one of the named books and can attest to how seriously Tanya takes the job of shepherding these books in to the marketplace.

2017 titles:
Winning title – The Art of White RosesThe Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Nunez (Puerto Rico) – this previously self-published novel was described by Kirkus as “An emotional coming-of-age story posed against the backdrop of the Cuban revolution.” It is one of three Burt titles issued by Dominica’s Papillote Press. What’s interesting to me is that Papillote, while not publishing Dominican books exclusively, had, certainly in my mind, been branded as a distinctively Dominican press (a press primarily concerned with stories out of Dominica) – with the publication of three Burt books out of Jamaica, Trinidad, and Puerto Rico in a short three year span, it emphatically broadened its brand to include the wider Caribbean.

Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini (Trinidad and Tobago) – this too is a Papillote book. I actually couldn’t find a lot from Lisa re the publication of the book but she did say this about its genesis on her blog: “The manuscript I first wrote a decade ago and rewrote while in hell in an airport in Suriname in 2016 is now being published as Home Home by Papillote Press, after being named third place in the CODE Burt Awards for Caribbean Literature in 2017. We’re hoping to do a launch at the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

Yay!!!”

For a manuscript 10 years in the making, I suspect that “Yay!!!” is only the half of it. And that’s the other thing, some of us write new things, some find a home finally for that manuscript gathering dust because of an industry that makes very little room for voices like ours. ETA: Home Home has landed a deal with Delacorte (Penguin) for release of a US edition due in 2020.

The Beast of Kukuyo by Kevin Jared Hosein (Trinidad and Tobago) – Kevin was actually on quite a roll (with several Commonwealth short story wins, Bocas long listing)  when he placed in Burt so perhaps for him this didn’t change much but it certainly added to his coffers and his publishing credits.

2016 titles:
Winner – Dreams Beyond the Shore Dreams-Beyond-the-Shore-front-lr-190x300by Tamika Gibson (Trinidad and Tobago)

Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell (Bermuda) – who, per this article, dreamed of being a writer since her days reading the Bobbsey Twins and then of working in publishing, then a librarian only to find that she couldn’t work as a librarian in Bermuda because of segregation. With this book, the first dream is fully realized and she finally gets to tell the little known tale of segregation in Bermuda – and telling our under-told and unknown stories in a way that can enlighten generation now about the past is not a small thing. This is just one review I came across on booktube which contrasts segregation in the US and in Bermuda via Girlcott, indicating that this is a book primed for social studies discussion.
Beautifully Bookish Bethany, who seems to be American, said “(Girlcott is) super interesting… because I actually had never heard anything about Bermuda during the civil rights era… this is from an indie publisher but I really recommend it.”

The Protectors’ Pledge by Danielle Y C Mclean – published by Caribbean Reads
It’s worth noting here that one of the interesting elements of the Burt titles is that they underscore that the Caribbean story is not one thing; we write in different genres of different times and different futures, we have lore that is primed for exploration and expansion, and imaginations not constrained by the perceived tropes of Caribbean literature. There are many other non teen/young adult books that do this of course but if you’re looking for your teen reader you can find romance, adventure, crime, fantasy, coming of age, history, and so much more; just google them (I haven’t linked every book because I don’t feel like linking to Amazon but I have linked to the reviews I’ve written of the ones I’ve read).

2015 titles:
Winner – children of the spider 001Children of the Spider by Imam Baksh (Guyana) – Anansi as you’ve never seen…ze?

Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay (Jamaica) – a book that draws on the author’s career in environmental advocacy as it weaves a tight rescue tale.

Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph (Trinidad and Tobago) – I haven’t read the published version of this one yet though it is on my book shelf but I did read it when it was a contender for the prize as I was a judge that year. And speaking of telling different stories, this was is not only a Caribbean story but is another story that can be added to the library of books (if such a thing exists) about the fallout from 9/11, existing as it does at the intersection of Caribbean and American life. It’s also about grief as Home Home is about depression, as such tackling the still fairly taboo issue of mental health. These books (the Burt books generally) go there and really should be read not just by Caribbean teens but beyond.

2014 titles:
Winner – all over again - cover FAW 05JUN2013All Over Again by A-dZiko Simba Gegele (Jamaica) who has recently been announced as a Musgrave medal recipient (the equivalent of national awards) for her contribution to the literary arts. She said in the  linked article, “We are still in the very early stages, but there are a lot of fantastic writers right here in Jamaica. Unfortunately, most of them get on a plane and leave in search of greater opportunities for income and exposure. With technology moving the way it is, the good thing is that that is not even necessary any more as we can stay here and enjoy the benefits of these markets. But at a certain level, our work has to be recognised, we need to be taken seriously and it must be recognised that behind every great movie, song, radio or television programme is a good writer.” No lies detected and the Burt award – in fact other Bocas prizes are among the very few opportunities for writer development and reward in the Caribbean. That’s another reason why it’s sad to see it go- especially before another Eastern Caribbean small island writer could come through.

Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse (Antigua and Barbuda) – that’s me (the previous Eastern Caribbean small island writer that came through) and I would be remiss if I didn’t speak a bit on the opportunities I’ve had to work with the Burt Award and/or Code since being short listed for this prize. I organized and facilitated a workshop in 2014 (in addition to assisting with distribution and promotion of all three Burt titles here in Antigua and Barbuda)

my gift1.jpg

presentation of Colleen Smith-Dennis’ Inner City Girl at Clare Hall Secondary school

Gift to Library

copies to the Public Library at the official launch of Musical Youth

; I was recruited as a judge for the 2015 Caribbean Burt prize; and I was hired in 2017 as a mentor for one of the finalists of the Burt Africa prize. Thanks to Caribbean Reads’ hustle, my book Musical Youth (added to the schools reading lists in Antigua and Barbuda in 2018 and to a reading list in Trinidad before that, with its second and hard cover editions published in 2019)

MUSICAL_YOUTH_Cover_FRONT_Final

new edition released 2019

continues to find new readers (I’ve personally presented it at readings in New York, St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Croix, Barbados, and here at home).

with Muntsa Plana Valls and Auntie Janice and the staff at one of three schools visited

after a school presentation in St. Croix

It has earned accolades from the likes of Oonya Kempadoo (author of Buxton Spice) who said, “I first recognized the weight of her work by the response of the teens to her book, Musical Youth , in the Grenada Community Library. It remains one of the most popular books with teens, despite their tendency to shun Caribbean literature when they have a choice because they are required to read it in schools.”

Inner City Girl by Colleen Smith-Dennis (Jamaica)

Bocas 5

Bocas Photo of finalists panel at the inaugural Code Burt award for Caribbean teen/young adult fiction (photo by Marlon James/original Bocas photographer)

If you’ve never heard of the Code Burt Award, I hope this post helps fill in the blanks and underscores the need for arts philanthropy. Per the Bocas press release announcing the wrapping up of the prize, “This unique literary award programme has inspired Caribbean writers to create fantastic stories; publishers have been supported to build young adult literature into their lists; teachers and librarians have been given fantastic resources; and young readers now have access to more books than ever before.”  I would say that we have always been telling fantastic stories and Burt gave us a platform to get them published while building the publishing infrastructure in the region and targeting the desired audience, ensuring that they, Caribbean teens, have stories they can relate to which also fire their imagination.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

Sheena Rose: Another Bajan Export Making Big Moves in the US

A report by Tamara Best for the New York Times. Almost every room in Sheena Rose’s family home, tucked away on a quiet street here, has played host to her paintings and live performance art. In 2015, for “A Bit of Gossip, a Bit of Privacy,” Ms. Rose invited both the public and people from the […]

Excerpt:

‘The bubbly Ms. Rose, who is passionate about art advocacy, teaches visual arts at Barbados Community College in St. Michael. Still, she is grappling with whether to remain in Barbados or move abroad to a city like New York, which she said was like her second home.

“Some people say: ‘Man, Sheena, you have so much going on for yourself. Why are you studying Barbados so much?’ And I say: ‘Barbados is my home. I can’t help it.’ I have this anxiety of ‘Should I leave? Will things be bigger and better for me?’”

Those questions — and possible answers — will no doubt continue to play out in her art.’

via The Artist Sheena Rose Is Reaching Beyond Barbados — Repeating Islands

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Filed under Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery

Reading Room V

Like the title says, this is the fifth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Four came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.

POEMS

The Nakedness of New by Althea Romeo Mark is a haunting piece about what it is to be a stranger in a strange land trying to find your footing. It gives one pause re their sense of feeling encroached upon by foreigners, non nationals, immigrants, whatever you want to call them. We are them sometimes when we find ourselves far from home:

‘A “foreigner” is dust in the eye
and many believe I have come
to plunder their treasures.’ Read more.

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Paper Boats by Trisha Bora.

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The Call by Danielle McShine.

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Etiquette for Fine Young Cannibals by Simone Leid

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Where Mine by Hal Greaves

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De Poem’s Birth by Opal Palmer Adisa

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What is a Poem? by Althea Romeo-Mark

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A Creed by Kei Miller

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Street Violence by Oscar Tantoco Serquiño Jr.

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Sliver of Light by Sanjulo

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A Testament to the Cycle of Truth by Martin Willitts

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Chameleon Thoughts by Danielle Boodoo Fortune. Read more of her poems here.

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Don’t exactly know how to categorize this but it’s beautiful and poetic to me.

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Ernestia Fraser’s My Caribbean Mother is rich in imagery and symbolism that’s a feast to the senses. Read it here.

STORIES

Gaulin Child by Helen Klonaris, director of the Bahamas Writers Summer Institute (I really need to do some more research on that, btw).

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Barbara Jenkins has won prizes from Bocas and the Commonwealth; this – Something from Nothing – is one of her winning pieces.

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A children’s story about growing up from a new and fun perspective @ Anansesem by Latoya Wakefield. A good bed time read-along.

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In this clip, the first story Kincaid reads in the audio ‘Girl’ is one of the stories we read during the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing project. I don’t think it read on paper to them “a bit like a horror story” as suggested in the commentary supporting the video; rather I think they recognized it as being the somewhat familiar protective and proprietary tension in the relationship between Caribbean mothers and daughters, albeit heightened and from another time. Perspective is an interesting thing. I like to use it as an example that form is not written in stone (form can in fact be formless) and that characters and place can be clear as day without being plainly stated. The story is 90 percent monologue about 10 percent dialogue; I first read it in Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction and it is one of my favourite Kincaid stories.

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2012 Commonwealth Short Story prize winners.

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A bleak and sobering insight to life in a Haitian ghetto; Ghosts by Edwidge Dandicat.

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A Fish-eye Country by Ashley Rousseau

NON FICTION

Kei Miller’s eulogy for dub poetry that interestingly had me thinking of calypso. Perhaps you too will see the connection.

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An interesting encounter stirs a discourse on language, arwe language in this blog posting by Dr. Carolyn Cooper.

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Less than Great Expectations by M. J. Rose is one of those hard truths about the business articles for those of you thinking of being writers. It says, among other things:

There are the occasional meteoritic rises to success. Every year, of the 10000+ novelists who get published, there will be five debuts that make the list because they were anointed and the system worked.

Those five aren’t worth analyzing. They are the lottery winners – the five with just the right book and just the right agent at just the right time to just the right publisher who has just the right line up with just the right foresight to make it happen.

The list of authors to pay attention to and learn from are the other 99% on the bestseller list who got there after 5, 7, 10, or 18 books. Jodi Picoult became a bestseller with her 8th. Janet Evanovitch with the her 18th. Carol O’Connell, who is one of my favorite writers, made it with her 10th.

It’s a rare author who gets anointed right off the bat.

I’m four books in, seven if you count the ones I’ve co-authored…and those are some daunting figures; but I’ve never been picked for anything so I continue working hard, learning, growing, hardening myself to the realities, while holding on to the dreamy girl who loves to read and still wishes on a star.

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Life opens up when you do by Rilys Adams (Wadadli Pen alum)

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I’m sharing this not because of the poster of one of my favourite movies that accompanies the post but because it’s a process and affliction any writer can relate to – the war within.

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I’m not an exhibitionist but I do love playing mas at Carnival; I see no contradiction. This blog post by Brenda Lee Browne explains it all.

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A charming, engaging, and thought provoking read on the danger and impracticality of a single story. By my old Breadloaf roommate and author of Evening is the Whole Day Preeta Samarasan. True Stories.

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Every writer needs an editor, Maria Murnane asserted at Shewrites.com and she’s not lying. And I’m not just saying that because I provide editing services.

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Insert writers (and perhaps every other type of artiste where it says singers and musicians) and the LA Times’ David Ackert speaks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

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I’m sharing this one because hearing that someone wrote a great novel in six months or two weeks, landed an agent on the first try, and licensed film rights and re-publications in various languages before the book was even on the shelves can get discouraging. The truth for most writers can be a lot more bleak; but as my mother is always saying nothing happen before it’s time…yeah that and wha fu you is fu you. Anyway, read Randy Sue Meyers’ journey to literary success. It’s a reality check…but oddly encouraging.

This is one of my pieces, an article I did for Bookbird about Wadadli Pen.

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This was a blog posting that caught my eye. It’s about the business of promoting your book (a business I’m still trying to master). Have a read.

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“An alarm clock or a ringing telephone will dispel a new character; answering the call will erase a chapter from the world.” Isn’t that the truth? Try getting people to understand that though. In this article on writing, African American author makes a strong case for exercising discipline and prioritizing writing the way we do other things that matter in our life. But he makes clear it’s not about word count but about keeping the world of the story alive by engaging with it every day…as it can become like mist with time.

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This article is about how Reagan K. Reynolds, a self-described “a white American in my early twenties, raised in a privileged home where education was never considered an interference of cultural ethics but a foundation for them”, engaged with the writing of Antigua and Barbuda’s own Jamaica Kincaid. She said, among other things: “Kincaid uses her pen to reach over and poke at my own social constructs built within the boundaries of gender, race, occupation and education. The floor beneath who I think I am and who I think others are comes apart in an earthquake of literary moments. These moments exist because authors like Kincaid are brave enough to create them…I have become addicted to the uncomfortable sensation that occurs when discovering a perspective that is unlike my own.”

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Preeta Samarasan is the author of Evening is the Whole Day. She was also my roommate at the Breadloaf Writers Conference in 2008. Needless to say, I’m a fan of her writing and this particular piece is both touching and thought provoking. Also it makes me think about how I obsessed about main character Nikki’s eye colour in Oh Gad! – it was a tie to her father, to her sister – but as expected though I knew children, black or, I suppose, mixed children, with just that shade, and did the research just to be sure, some have questioned it, the probability of a black or even a mixed race woman having that eye colour. As Preeta said, though, discussing her daughter’s blue eyes, it can be complex and assumptions can be far off base especially when the person doesn’t really take the time to observe.

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Thinking of publishing? Anthony Horowitz asks a thought provoking question you may want to consider first.

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Garfield Ellis’ testimonial is the stuff inspiration is made of.

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Bahamas-centric but Ian Gregory Strachan’s Columbus’s Ghost:Tourism, Art and National Identity in the Bahamas is an interesting read on tourism’s impact on Caribbean arts. Example: “Governments even attempt to take carnivals and other folk festivals, which have historically been sites of grassroots cultural resistance and commodify them as sources of exotic entertainment for the tourist. And when they are not producing the exotic, the natives are cultivating a colonial past that adds to the visitors’ sense of a quaint island atmosphere. They are keeping alive the Royal Police Marching Band, and preserving the plantation Great Houses. Private concerns occasionally purchase such relics of slavery and turn them into inns for tourists. Seventeenth-and eighteenth- century forts are refurbished and the exploits of long dead pirates are heralded.” It makes the point that the omnipresence of tourism is such that it begins to shape the creative imagination: “So pervasive and overpowering an industry must, through its physical presence, economic presence, social presence, and media presence, impose itself on the imaginations of Bahamians, impose itself in such a way that it begins to influence how Bahamians imagine themselves, how Bahamians imagine the landscape of their country, their community, and their world.” Like I said, interesting.

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Reasons why you should not become a writer and signs that you already are in this Matt Haig article, Why You Should Write.

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I wasn’t sure where to place this but I figure here’s as good a place as any and something all of us writers need to hear at some point. It’s about Processing Feedback.

INTERVIEWS

I’m sharing this not because I’ve read this poet (I haven’t, yet, at this writing) but because I really enjoyed some of her responses, specifically:

I started trying maybe 1988 or so, started calling it poetry around 1990, then tried to write poetry a few years later, but really started writing poetry about 2000. And I say that because that’s when I started to understand my obligation to the craft…

“It’s difficult, not just because I’d like to do more writing, but because one intrudes on the other… a sort of identity disorder. I am beginning to resent this world and all its demands. It has no patience for reading and writing. It pulls at you…

“Just before the printing of it, I looked at the collection and couldn’t find one thing worth reading. It was all horrible compared to what I’m currently writing. Now post publishing, the opposite has happened: I adore them all and everything I write now can’t possibly be as good. I’m sure it’s a conceit! I’m waiting on the scales to lift from my eyes, to be balanced again…

“I have all sorts of great expectations and dread! I’m sometimes afraid of myself. Do people profit from receiving their hearts desire? Are they better off? Will it help or hurt my estimation of my work? Do I deserve it? I am a vat of questions. But all this is accompanied by a resounding sense of life being purposeful! Of being smiled on…”

These responses are from Jamaican poet Millicent Graham in an interview at Yard Edge.

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Catherine Bain and Gayle Gonsalves talk In the Black.

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Sharon Millar is a Small Axe and Commonwealth winning short fiction writer and this ARC interview reveals why. Some of us can only wish we could express so completely and incisively how our stories are born and grow into what they become, what their signatures are and where they fit into the canon. A really interesting read.

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Proust questionnaire answers from Mansa Trotman, daughter of well known Antiguan writer Althea Prince and a poet in her own right.

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Interview with dynamic and innovative Bajan artist Sheena Rose.

VISUAL ART

This is a story we should know (yet another indignity in the history of African people). I’m putting it here because the posting includes a film (a cringe worthy depiction of a cringe worthy but all too real episode in the intersecting narratives of African and European people); the story  of the so-called “Hottentot Venus”. Her name was Sara Baartman. Here is her story.

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This is another one of those not quite sure where it fits things but since it’s a video interview (see, it could have been interview), I’ll add it here. It’s a little known fact that Spartacus was one of my TV addictions while it lasted. The New Zealand born actor in this vid was an actor on that show, one of my favourite characters as a matter of fact. But this isn’t about that. What appeals to me about this vid (actually a single story broken up into about three vids) is the reminder of how important the arts (and a good teacher) can be in changing a young person’s life. Here’s Part 1, Part 3, and my favourite, Part 2:

“Choices…making the right choices.”

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sectionscene from Fish Outta Water by Zavian Archibald. Love her art work.

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, 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 and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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