Tag Archives: Caribbean culture

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me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) with the first runner up trophy for the inaugural Caribbean Code Burt award, for my then unpublished manuscript Musical Youth, at the 2014 Bocas literary festival in Trinidad.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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Carnival in to Arts

Carnival is, of course, an art form consisting of and celebrating many art forms in its own right, but I’m calling this post Carnival in to Arts because it announces the Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters 13th issue Carnival Suite. The Anu Lakhan edited issue sees Carnival through the perspective of the literary and visual arts with poetry, fiction, essays, sculpture, gaming, mas, painting from creatives across the Caribbean.

Moko

The Antigua Carnival pre-season has already opened up (meanwhile, Caribana in Barbuda was recently cancelled due to the slow recovery from last September’s hurricane Irma and no doubt the fact that most Barbudans are still not home). So you can go ahead and add this Moko issue to your reading to get in to the spirit of things. I’m in the issue with A Life in Mas, an essay on, well, my life in mas, leading up to my experience of bringing a character from my children’s picture book With Grace to the road last Carnival 1– being a mas leader, which is a very generous way of putting it considering that we were the micro-est of mas, was a one-and-done experience though I did receive a registration reminder this year from the Carnival office. I will never be done with Carnival though. In fact, as I type this I realize this is my third time being published in Moko which previously published my poem Children Melee and my short story Game Changer, both of which are also Carnival themed. So, let this be a reminder, whatever your passions, write them and seize the opportunities to insert them in to the conversation. Moko is an opportunity to do just that as not just another market (albeit a non-paying one) but one of the few Caribbean-specific markets for creative work – a platform that allows you to occupy a small space in the Caribbean literary canon (Antigua and Barbuda, why not us?) and a journal that helps your writing to evolve by putting you through the rigor of selection and editing. So, challenge yourself. Get out there.

Shout out to Moko’s founding editors, the British Virgin Islands’ Richard Georges and David Knight Jr. who didn’t let their own hurricane lashing disrupt their agenda to create pan-Caribbean connections through the arts. I’m looking forward to reading this issue – the writers whose work I already know (like St. Lucia’s John Robert Lee, Bermuda’s Nancy Anne Miller, and Trinidad & Tobago’s Lisa Allen-Agostini and Barbara Jenkins; and the writers and artists whose work I have yet to discover. Check it out.

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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Dis ‘n Dat

***DISCLAIMER: By definition, you’ll be linking to third party sites from these Links-We-Love pages. Linked sites are not, however, reviewed or controlled by Wadadli Pen (the blog, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize nor coordinator/blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse); and Wadadli Pen (the blog, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize and coordinator/blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse) disclaims any responsibility or liability relating to any linked sites and does not assume any responsibility for their contents. In other words, enter at your own risk.

Updating these links, it hits me how impermanent the web is (though we like to say the internet is forever): so many sites have gone altogether or gone stagnant since Wadadli Pen started and since I started keeping this list. We’re still here though; let’s have a party! But first, check out the links.

Antigua – history in pictures (archival photos)

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Antigua Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra

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Antiguan, Nadine has two interesting, I would say lifestyle blogs. One, Local Flavours Added, can be found here and the other, Antigua A La Carte, can be found here.

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http://www.antiguanice.com – Before Wadadli Pen ever had its own site, it had a page on Antigua Nice, the country’s local online hub, thanks to the generosity of Colin and Alison Sly-Adams.

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http://antiguamusic.com – Antiguan and Barbudan music.

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http://antiguastories.wordpress.com/about/ – The Friends of Antigua Public Library is interested in collecting oral histories; some of them are posted here. Do you have a story to share? I’m sure they’d like to hear it.

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The Antiguanization Project – here’s their facebook

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Virtual home of the Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society based in New York.

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Antiguan Writer – this is my current you tube channel

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Archeology Antigua with Dr. Reginald Murphy, director of Heritage Resources for the National Parks Antigua, president of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology, affiliated Professor of the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, co-director on the Human Eco-dynamics Research Group CUNY Graduate Center, co-founder and President of the Museum of Antigua, and the Secretary General for the National Commission UNESCO Antigua and Barbuda. Dr. Murphy is, also, a “Restoration Ambassador to the St. John’s Cathedral, a trustee of the Clarence House Restoration Trust in the U.K., Chairman of the Betty’s Hope Estate Project, and a director of the Barbuda Research and Archaeological Center.

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Best of Books Antigua on facebook.

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Black Public Media.

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Need to get around by bus in Antigua but don’t know the routes? You’ll want to check out Bus Stop Antigua.

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A charity to aid Caribbean Children.

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The Caribbean Commons which primarily announces Caribbean Studies events and publications of interest.

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Caribbean Painters

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Create Caribbean – out of Dominica, a research institute allied with the Dominica State College.

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http://danielleboodoofortune.blogspot.com – I’ve been a fan of Trini Danielle Boodoo Fortune’s poetry since I met and shared a panel with her in Barbados in 2008. Who knew she was such a delightful artist as well?

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Danish West Indies – online searchable historical records.

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http://www.darienbookaid.org – In existence since 1949, Darien Book Aid is a non-profit, all volunteer organization that builds a foundation of peace, understanding, and friendship through the free distribution of books. Book Aid sends books in response to specific requests from Peace Corps volunteers,  libraries and schools all over the world   Books are also donated to libraries, prisons, hospitals, and Native American and Appalachian groups in the United States. Among the groups, Dariend Book Aid has donated to is the Cushion Club right here in Antigua.

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Daily Writing Tips – link of writing prompts.

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Frank Walter – a site dedicated posthumously to showcasing the life and work of the late Antiguan and Barbudan artist.

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http://freshmilkbarbados.com/ – Fresh Milk is a Caribbean non-profit, artist-led, inter-disciplinary organization that supports creatives and promotes wise social, economic, and environmental stewardship through creative engagement with society and by cultivating excellence in the arts.

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Antigua-based artist Gilly Gobinet has a website where she blogs on active projects; interesting for those interested in process.

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History of Antigua and Barbuda in Writings, Photographs, and Stories by Dr. Susan Lowes

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The History Makers

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http://islandstyle.typepad.com – Okay, so this site isn’t strictly literary but the blogger (an Antiguan) does have an engaging style and occasionally posts excerpts of fictions. But mostly it’s about fashion…and what’s wrong with that?

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Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology – I kind of wish Arts was in there but …

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The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda – Opened in 1985 and housed in one of the oldest and best preserved buildings on the island, this is, of course, one of the best spots for exploring Antigua and Barbuda’s history. See the old Museum site.

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Museum of Photography and Fine Arts – Photo museum showcasing the history of Antigua & Barbuda – a project of photographer and publisher Timothy Payne – located in the upstairs gallery at the Multipurpose Centre Perry Bay – the subject matter is mostly historical

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National Archives database – digitization of some of the material related to the history of Antigua and Barbuda.

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Nugents of Antigua – bumped across this bit of local history, thought I’d share it.

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Other Artists – a gallery page that includes bios of several Antiguan and Barbudan artists.

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Permit me to mention this other artist, Barbadian artist Sheena Rose, whom I had the opportunity to profile for my former Zing column Creative Space – http://sroseart.tumblr.com/

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I edited a book for this blogger, a delicious culinary book. It’s not in wide release yet; meantime, check out her blog: Sitting in a Mango Tree.

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It’s a little known secret that while I don’t cook (well), I do watch cooking shows and troll cooking sites like this one: Tastes Like Home.

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TED Talks like this one by Sir Ken Robinson on how schools as currently constructed kill creativity, Tracey Chevalier’s wonderful presentation on finding the story inside the painting, and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s powerful presentation the Danger of a Single Story

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Travelling Light – this site is on a mission to collect an object – physical or virtual – from every country in the world. And, yes, I sent them something from Antigua and Barbuda.

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I like the beauty of Van Gogh’s art and find his life so fascinating…fascinating like I’d like to see it on screen someday, with maybe Michael Fassbender in the title role…yeah, I’d go see that…in the meantime, check out the man and his work – Van Gogh, not Fassbender – here at the Van Gogh Gallery.

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Wadadli Short Film Festival – bringing films from all over the world to Antigua and Barbuda.

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Wadadli West USA – US based group connected to the Villa/Point community in Antigua.

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http://www.youtube.com/user/WayneBowen – Jamaican Wayne Bowen’s vid uploads

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White Creole Conversations –  a new dialogue privileging open and honest communication. Rather than asking ‘who am I?’ the question posed might be ‘who are you?’ The focus of the conversations pivot on issues to do with race and class in this small post-colonial island space and take place between the artist and the participant.

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http://womenspeak.tumblr.com/ – This is a space for women to share their stories, embrace their power, and celebrate their womanhood. It’s also a space of vulnerability and pain where the struggles and sacrifices are spotlighted. It’s an inclusive space, constantly updated with information and prompts designed to engage the reader in the process. Also, it’s 100 percent Caribbean. Check it out.

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WiWords – a user driven online dictionary of Caribbean terms.

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Hard to get printed historical material seems to be available through this site.

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Met Annie Paul at the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars conference in 2012. This is where she blogs on the literary arts and other things. Also had the opportunity to reconnect with well known author, literary scholar and former professor Carolyn Cooper and like Paul she is another thought provoking blogger out of Jamaica. Here’s where she stirs it up.

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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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Antiguan and Barbudan Cultural Icon – Paul King Obstinate Richards

King Obstinate is one of my favourite calypsonians, so when I came across this archival image from one of his iconic performances, I just had to share. What I remember of Obstinate as a kid is how fun his performances were from the big belly of Doing the Fat Man Dance to the pig tails and diapers of Children Melee and I think there was an elephant suit somewhere in there…this is back in the day when the calypso show was a theatre and I was still a kid losing myself in the illusion. Even then though I knew that Obstinate was also digging at deeper issues; I knew it in the power Believe had to bring tears to my eyes and in the way when he sang “sons of the soil also brought fame, proudly reclaim our true heroes name…” it made sense to us, perfect sense, when he called for a “Short Shirt village and Swallow town”. I remember grown folks cackling with glee as he dropped wud for the higher ups on songs like “Ah coming down to talk to you” at a time when few else (in fact few within and without the calypso arena dared to). Dropped wud for his rivals too. Antiguans will remember “Tiny t’rowing pompee-eye” at Short Shirt’s Wedding. Short Shirt may have been the Monarch (and remains my all time favourite) but Obsti didn’t pull punches. As he himself would later say “he sang the songs” of our lives. Here’re some in my top 10 favourites (or at least the favourites I could find on youtube, alas Believe, probably my all time favourite was nowhere to be found):

Wet Yuh Han’
Opening lines:
“Two woman cussing on Greenbay Hill
Ah go to work, come back, they cussing still …”

Antigua and Barbuda Independence
Opening lines:
“Oh land of peace, haven of rest
Antigua your shores are blessed
With the sweat of those who toiled
In bondage to till the soil”

Children Melee
Opening Lines:
“In a nursery little Tommy telling Sally (me nar lie, me nar lie)
Ah Bet you can’t tell me how me mammy get she baby (me nar lie, me nar lie)”

Ah Coming Down to Talk to You
Opening lines:
“Quite in Washington they bringing me the news
Mr. Bird it got me so confused
They say of all your picknee
You love Ivor the most
Because the others just waiting to take your post”

Shiny Eyes
Opening lines:
“I met this girl in St. Lucia, she had shiny eyes
I never thought I would lose her; she’s as pretty as the morning sky”

I’ll Always come back to you
Opening lines:
“Antigua and Barbuda ah wey me bury me navel string
And at an early age in the cane field ah start to sing”

Who Kill Me Sister
Opening lines:
“King Obstinate is asking who kill me sister Ethlyn
Right George, I’m asking: who kill me sister Ethlyn”

How will Santa Get here
Opening lines:
“Christmas is coming
Every child is hoping”

Get what you can get
Opening lines:
“Years ago when Antigua was young and no whole ton of money was around
Mi grandfather does say, water more than flour and tuppence ha’penny had plenty power”

Resurrection
Opening lines:
“King Obstinate I hear a voice cry
King Obstinate water in yuh eye”

It’s not for nothing that the four time Monarch and Sunshine Hall of Famer is known as the UNDEFEATED King Obstinate.

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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