Tag Archives: caribbean literature

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


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


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me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) with the first runner up trophy for the inaugural Caribbean Code Burt award, for my then unpublished manuscript Musical Youth, at the 2014 Bocas literary festival in Trinidad.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


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)


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.

Leave a comment

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

Mailbox – The CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature 2019 is now open for submissions!

(from the Bocas Lit Fest)

With the generous support of the Literary Prizes Foundation based in Canada, the CODE Burt Award is given annually to three English-language literary works for youth created by Caribbean writers, and illustrators.

The winning title is awarded $10,000 and the two finalists each receive $2,000. Local Caribbean publishers are granted a guaranteed purchase of a maximum of 2,500 copies. These copies are then distributed to youth in schools, libraries, and community centers across the region.

Books published between 1 November 2017 and 31 October 2018 and eligible manuscripts must be received at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest office by 31 October 2018. Submissions that arrive after the deadline will not be considered. The award shortlist will be announced in March 2019. The winners will be announced April 2019.

See deadline listing for Burt Award and other opportunities for writers with upcoming deadlines in Opportunities Too.

See past Burt Award Winners.

Be inspired.

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love

Caribbean Voices: a History

Caribbean Voices is a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme that was critical to the establishment and amplification of Caribbean literature. It didn’t give Caribbean literature a voice (your voice is your own) but it gave it a megaphone.

The programme, initially Calling  the West Indies (1939), emerged first as a way of connecting Caribbean people, fighting for the ‘motherland’ during World War II, to each other and to home. It was rebranded as Caribbean Voices in 1943 with Jamaican Una Marson as the producer.

The programme spotlighted literary works by Caribbean writers.  Through this programme –  and through the contributions of regional literary presses like Barbados’ Bim, started in 1942, and Guyana’s Kyk-Over-Al, started in 1945 – a Caribbean literature was born. Whereas, pre-Caribbean Voices, people largely wrote in isolation from each other. Once the programme got going people got to hear the writing from other islands, moving us from a nation literature to a Caribbean literature and given that Caribbean Voices operated out of the BBC, Caribbean literature was becoming a part of world literature. Scripts were sent up to the UK to be edited and then broadcast back to the Caribbean. This programme also provided opportunity for literary development given the editing and critiquing of the stories. Marson was succeeded in 1946 as programme producer by Irishman Henry Swanzy. It must be noted, as well, that by 1948, the Windrush generation (mass migration of English-speaking Caribbean people i.e. British West Indians to the ‘motherland’ i.e. England) began establishing a formidable and transformative Caribbean presence in the UK. The programme blossomed and the emerging Caribbean voices blossomed through it. It provided a platform for writers and work for them as editors and reviewers etc.; it paid writers (!).

So, through all of this, Caribbean Voices helped lay the foundation for Caribbean literature. Given the reach of the medium of radio (and given that this programme was backed by the BBC), it was critical; one might even say, revolutionary. Jan Carew of Guyana, Andrew Salky of Jamaica, Sam Selvon of Trinidad, George Lamming of Barbados, Derek Walcott of St. Lucia are just some of the early writers – now known as the foundation (and legends) of the Caribbean literary canon – to have come through this programme. To quote the BBC retrospective that inspired this post, “They felt encouraged to keep on writing…they were writers of the Caribbean.” They are today considered to be the classics of Caribbean literature.

V. S. Naipaul was editor for a couple years after Swanzy – and the programme speaks to how his stint helped him to develop his craft to become the Caribbean literary legend that he is. The special explores how the programme, which ran up to 1958, shaped Caribbean literature; in positive ways and in ways that bears some re-examining as the programme touches on, particularly in its framing of the idea of what Caribbean literature ‘should be’.

It’s an interesting listen, if you have the time. This one sort of summarizes in roughly 30 minutes. There is a two parter as well, the first part covering much of the same ground as the previous link, the Caribbean Voices’ impact and the second part looking at what’s happened since up to the early 2000s. The retrospective was produced by Colin Grant and ran in 2009.

Through what platforms do we engage with Caribbean literature today?

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.


Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love

Una Marson: an Exceptional Life

Carolyn Cooper pays homage to Una Marson in her column for Jamaica’s Gleaner. On International Women’s Day, Jamaica’s first playwright, Una Marson, was celebrated with the launch of two of her plays, Pocomania and London Calling. They had long languished in the archives of the National Library of Jamaica. The plays were finally published last year […]

via Carolyn Cooper: Una Marson Born Too Soon — Repeating Islands

Leave a comment

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

Caribbean Literary Resources

DISCLAIMER: This page links to third party sites. Linked sites are not 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. Some of these are cross-posted to the Opportunities page where you’ll find opportunities for writers in the Caribbean and beyond, as well as the Literary Festivals of the Caribbean page; there is also related content in A & B Writings in Journals, Showcases, and Contests (see R & D page) and on the A & B Artistes Discussing Arts page

Now, in mostly alphabetical order…

ACalabash interviews Caribbean writers and publishes curated creative content.


The Allen Prize (founded by writer Lisa Allen-Agostini) is a not-for-profit company set up to reward, train and publish writers between ages 12-19 living in Trinidad and Tobago.


Amplify Caribbean – a social justice initiative spearheaded by young Antiguans and Barbudans.


 – Anansesem (founded by writer Summer Edward) is an online magazine devoted to Caribbean children’s and young adult literature written by both new and established writers. Anansesem no longer publishes but remains archived online and also has The Anansesem Bookstore through which Caribbean #ownvoices children’s books can be purchased; also the Anansesem facebook page is still regularly updated.


ArtsEtc Inc. is an independent Barbadian publishing company and cultural forum founded in 2003 by writers Linda M. Deane and Robert Edison Sandiford. It aims to be the premier cultural forum for Barbados, offering readers independent, authoritative, entertaining, and timeless perspectives in words and pictures on all aspects of the nation’s arts.


Badass Black Girl is a blog and vlog by Haitian-American writer M. J. Fievre which features conversations with Caribbean creatives and other women of interest.


Beyond Publishing Caribbean is a group of artists and writers, coming together to produce graphic novels and comics of all genres. The group is also looking to get new artist and writers to come aboard, giving them an outlet to have their work published or to work on existing projects.


BIM: Arts for the 21st Century is one of the older if not the oldest surviving Caribbean literary journals.



Bocas – it’s the Caribbean’s current dominant literary festival and this is its YouTube channel.


Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival is a stateside Caribbean literary initiative inclusive of an annual festival, short story prizes (named for Trinidad-American writer Elizabeh Nunez), the BCLF Cocoa Pod on Apple podcasts, described as “a Caribbean storytelling experience in which writers of Caribbean heritage narrate their own stories. …rich with the rhythm, pitch and intonation of the one who wrote it”, and more. We are informed that they are open to receiving author press kits/bios/links and, also, review copies or ARCs (new releases) as they consider booking authors for their various programmes.


Burt Award for Caribbean Literature was a literary development project (now discontinued) which financed the publication of competitively selected Caribbean teen/young adult books. It was coordinated by the Bocas lit fest in Trinidad and Tobago, and named for and financed by late Canadian philanthropist William Bill Burt (who died in 2017). There are variants of the programme in Africa and Canada. Read about Caribbean books published through this programme here on Wadadli Pen. (Pictured Bill Burt and Wadadli Pen founder/coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse, whose Musical Youth was second placed for the prize, at the inaugural CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature awards ceremony at the 2014 Bocas Literary Festival)



Calabash International Literary Festival is one of if not the Caribbean premiere literary festival. Held over three days in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, it was founded in 2001 by Jamaican writers Colin Channer (US-based) and Kwame Dawes (originally from Ghana), and Jamaican independent film producer Justine Henzell. The world class literary festival received the Madam C. J. Walker award from the Hurston Wright Foundation in 2021. (Pictured – Antiguan and Barbudan writers including Wadadli Pen’s Joanne C. Hillhouse, second from left, and former Wadadli Pen judge Brenda Lee Browne, third from right, during a 2007 Commonwealth Foundation sponsored trip to Calabash with Kittitian-British novelist Caryl Phillips, second from right).

Calabash pic


Calabash is an international journal of Caribbean arts and letters founded and edited by US based Jamaican writer and artist Jacqueline Bishop. It has ceased publication but the content is archived, so you can still check it out. You’ll find interviews, reviews, poetry, short stories, and more – and not just from the English speaking Caribbean.


Caribbean Authors is where the world meets Caribbean Literatures. It is the online platform of the Caribbean Books Foundation, a registered non-profit in Trinidad and Tobago with a mandate to connect the Caribbean community and its diaspora through literature. It is founded and directed by Trinidad and Tobago writer Marsha Gomes-McKie. Books written by Caribbean authors are catalogued on the site.


Caribbean/African Book Blog focusses on publishing trends especially for the do-it-yourselfer, and also has interesting coverage of book clubs, authors, readings etc. It hasn’t been updated in several years but the content is archived on the site.


Caribbean Children’s Fiction is the blog spot of Hazel Campbell, veteran Caribbean children’s writer, who provides invaluable tips on readying your work for publication, issues in Caribbean literature with an emphasis on children’s literature, and other writing news. The Jamaican writer died in 2018.


Caribbean Civilization Tumblr shares things cultural and artistic from around the Caribbean virtual space. It hasn’t been updated in several years.


Caribbean Intelligence shares news and analysis about the Caribbean. They were also running a writing contest at the time they caught our eye.


Caribbean Literary Action Group is self-described as “a working group of Caribbean writers, publishers, academics, festival coordinators and other persons from the literary sphere, with a shared interest in promoting Caribbean writing and publishing…(and the site is a) central resource for writers and publishers to gain information on publishing, marketing, distribution and bookselling in the Caribbean and to share their expertise and best practices.” (Pictured – a CaribLit co-organized workshop in Guyana, facilitated by Johnny Temple of Akashic and Jeremy Poynting of Peepal Tree Press, and including writer-editors-publishers-program-directors from across the Caribbean, including Wadadli Pen founder-coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse, second row but second from left across, aimed to build editing skills in the region and by extension the literary ecosystem).



Caribbean Literary Heritage is a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust that promotes literary and archival preservation in the Caribbean and the diaspora, as well as bridging connections between the literary past and present with an interest in exploring the new challenges and possibilities of born digital initiatives. One of its major projects was 10 Questions with various Caribbean authors.


The Caribbean Literary Salon– hats off to Anouska Kock, a freelance journalist and writer, born in the Netherlands to Dutch Surinamese parents and resident in Aruba, who drew Caribbean writers in to this virtual space to workshop, network, and support and promote each other. With more institutional support it could have really been something (but, alas); it now seems to be dormant or dead.


Caribbean Passion is, per the blog’s about page, “the Caribbean’s first line of Romance novellas.” The blogger is Nailah Folami Imoja, a Barbadian/British writer and teacher.


The Caribbean Press is a downloadable library from the Caribbean Press which includes Guyana classics and other Caribbean Press titles.


The Caribbean Review of Books was an online magazine covering Caribbean literature and arts. It focussed on reviews of new and recent books of Caribbean fiction, poems, biography, arts, culture, and current affairs. The CRB also published new writing, interviews, and essays on literature and culture. It was originally published between 1991 and 1994 by the University of the West Indies Publishers’ Association in Mona, Jamaica. In 2004, the CRB was revived by a team of writers and editors based at Media and Editorial Projects in Port of Spain, Trinidad. It published its last print edition in 2009 and was relaunched as an online magazine in 2010. The online magazine ceased publication in 2020. Issues are archived online.


Caribbean Science Fiction is a site for readers looking for Caribbean Science Fiction, Caribbean Science Fiction writers looking for a community, and for researchers looking to link up with others writing about Caribbean Science Fiction.


The Caribbean Writer, produced by the University of the Virgin Islands, is in the top tier of Caribbean literary journals. Order copies by emailing orders@thecaribbeanwriter.org

Caribbean Writer 29

(Pictured is art ‘Mysteries and Contraditions’ by Antiguan and Barbudan artist Edison Liburd which formed the cover of The Caribbean Writer Volume 29, 2015)


Caribbean Studies Association self-describes as an independent professional organization devoted to the promotion of Caribbean studies from a multidisciplinary, multicultural point of view. It is the primary association for scholars and practitioners working on the Caribbean Region (including Central America and the Caribbean Coast of South America).


Caribbean Tales defines itself as the first full-service film sales, and distribution company in the English-speaking Caribbean with the aim of becoming the reference point for producers and buyers of Caribbean-filmed content.


Caribbean Writers Online is the page on this site where we gather and share links to the websites of Caribbean writers. (Pictured are Caribbean writers Leone Ross of Jamaica and the UK, right, Marion Bethel of the Bahamas, centre, with Antiguan and Barbudan writer and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse at the Caribbean Congress of Writers in Guadeloupe in 2013)

Caribbean Writers Congress with Marin Bethel and Leone Ross 2013


Caribbean Writers tumblr   celebrates Caribbean writers by sharing excerpts from their work. It doesn’t seem like it’s being updated anymore.


The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) provides  users with access to Caribbean cultural, historical and research  materials held in archives, libraries, and private collections, including but not limited to: newspapers, archives of  Caribbean leaders and governments, official documents, documentation  and numeric data for ecosystems, scientific scholarship, historic and  contemporary maps, oral and popular histories, travel accounts,  literature and poetry, musical expressions, and artifacts. One of the publications archived at dLOC is the Ma Comere Literary Journal, a publication of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars. Archived there are issues covering a number of years 1998 to 2009.


Get Write!, tag line “we spark and inspire”, run by Barbadian writer Shakirah Bourne, is a place where struggling writers can release frustration through quotes, quirky articles, and valuable advice. It hasn’t been updated since 2019.


Groundation Grenada is a social action collective focussed on the use of creative media to assess community needs, raise consciousness, and create positive radical growth. It is developed by Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe and Richie Maitland to share the vision that Grenadian Society is fertile for positive change, requiring simply the necessary seeds and by extension the seed sowers.


Hands Across the Sea Hands-Across-the-Sea-logo-1is a US charity that helps stock school libraries across the Caribbean. Hands is a past Wadadli Pen patron.

St Johns Catholic Primary 2

Teachers from St. John’s Catholic Primary, 2013, collecting the prize for most submissions by a secondary school. The prize was US$500 worth of books towards a school library, sponsored by Hands across the Sea.


Interviewing the Caribbean (IC),  founded and edited by Jamaican writer Opal Palmer Adisa, is an online/print journal, now published by UWI Press, that celebrates Caribbean artists everywhere. Each issue features works from Caribbean artists at home and in the Diaspora and, as the title implies, the mode is interview.

Interviewing the Caribbean

(Pictured is the Spring 2020 issue of Interviewing the Caribbean which features the Cherise Harris cover of With Grace, published by Little Bell Caribbean and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse)


Jako Productions is a a cultural and entertainment enterprise that seeks to encourage the artistic expression of St. Lucian culture and to promote that culture worldwide.


A site on the Legacies of British Slave Ownership.


New Caribbean Voices is a books and writers podcast hosted by British poet, writer, and artist Malika Booker and produced by Peepal Tree Press.


Novel Spaces was a space for an eclectic group of writers bound by a singular passion: writing and blogging about their writing and publishing experiences.  Novel Spaces ceased new updates in 2019.


LoveAxe was a virtual summer 2012 book club whose members were Jamaican-American writer Geoffrey Philp, Bahamaian-Guyanese-American Stephen Narain, and Kelly Baker Josephs.


Memorial page for the late Angela Cropper, founder of the Cropper Foundation under which falls the Cropper Foundation Residential Workshop for Caribbean Writers.


The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda. And their old but still useful site which was originally maintained by late historian Desmond Nicholson.


The Museum has hosted several Wadadli Pen awards ceremony and collaborated on a showcase and fundraiser Word Up! 2006 (Photo of Wadadli Pen founder coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse producing and emceeing that event by Laura Hall)


Pen Tuh Paper, tagline Caribbeanness deconstructed, identities explained, was a place for West Indies and West Indies descended poets. It has not been updated since 2012.


Piton Noire – a collective which aims to nurture and encourage writers to explore science-fiction and fantasy genres, within a Caribbean context. Most of members hail from the Commonweatlh of Dominica but the collective is open to any writer with an interest in the Caribbean. Its mission is to create a unique body of work that speaks to Caribbean futurism while simultaneously preserving and building on the islands’ mythologies and folklore. Primary link is their YouTube channel; this is their facebook page.


Poets of the Caribbean promotes Caribbean poets and poetry. It is maintained by Jamaican-Canadian-American writer Yasmin Morais.


Repeating Islands curates news and commentary on Caribbean culture, literature, and the arts. It is maintained by Ivette Romero-Cesareo, born in the US-raised in Puerto Rico, and Lisa Paravisini-Gebert, who grew up in Puerto Rico.


Rebel Women Lit RWL started off as a book club, and is now a lit community with a community library, bookstore, book subscription service for tea Lovers and book clubbers, podcast, magazine and lots of projects, among the more high profile and impactful of those being the Caribbean Readers Awards, in which readers nominate and pick the best Caribbean books (and other literary content) of the year.

with plaque Andre

2020 winner Andre J P Warner with the Wadadli Pen Challenge plaque. Andre went on to win the Rebel Women Lit Caribbean Readers Choice of 2020 for best short fiction for his storyA Bright Future for Tomorrow


Seawoman Press, a blog run by Bajan writer Sandra Sealey, is a good resource for market listings and news from the literary scene.

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – Caribbean South Chapteris a professional information and networking society of over 19,000 authors, agents, editors and illustrators world wide. For financial members, benefits include
1.       Member swap services – where we can barter editing with editing etc
2.       Illustrator list and contacts on the website – so members can use your services more
3.       Free edits completed by Advisor for works under 1000 words
In addition to broader SCBWI benefits like:
·         Quarterly SCBWI magazine from the USA office
·         Weekly online industry updates via email and Facebook (please feel free to connect with me online)
·         Opportunity to attend the International Los Angeles & New York Conferences (conference fees to be borne by SCBWI member)
·         SCBWI biannual pre-Bologna Conference
·         USA and other international publisher information
Each member gets a personal page on Caribbean South website (i.e. in addition to your member page at the main site). Trinidad and Tobago’s Marsha Gomes-McKie is the regional advisor. Registration is done online.


St. Lucia Oral History Project is a project of the Green Mountain Educational and Cultural Trust, Inc.


The Spaces Between Words: Conversations with Writers… and Caribbean Writers in particular doesn’t exist anymore, due to the passing of Dr. Giselle Rampaul, but rates a mention for its readings and audio interviews with some of the best on the contemporary Caribbean literary scene (Nalo Hopkinson to Tiphanie Yanique, Lorna Goodison to Marlon James). I hope all those valuable interviews haven’t been lost.


Tim Tim Bwa Fik is a podcast dedicated to Caribbean literarture and romance.


Tout Moun: Caribbean Journal of Cultural Studies is an open access, peer-reviewed, academic online journal for the cutting-edge research in Cultural Studies produced in and about the Caribbean. The journal welcomes research submissions on diverse cultural projects in a broad range of media including critical essays in written format, visual essays (including photographs, drawings, videos and paintings), book reviews and works of fiction. Published annually Tout Moun is a project initiated by the Department of Liberal Arts at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago. The online journal responds to the challenges of a new publishing world, making papers and research accessible via the Internet, and in doing so, making the work of emerging Caribbean scholars and those already respected in this field, available to an international market.


The University of the West Indies Press is a not-for-profit scholarly publisher of books in thirteen academic disciplines. It is particularly well known for its work in Caribbean history, Caribbean cultural studies, Caribbean literature, gender studies, education and political science. Founded in 1992, the press has over 350 books in print.


Charmaine Valere, formerly Signifying Guyana, has not been updated since 2016 but has archived its news, reviews, series, and perspectives related to Caribbean Literature.


Vintage Caribbean is a blog about Caribbean history, music, culture, people, and more.


Voices from Haiti, tagline nou bèl e nou la (we are beautiful and we are here) celebrates the creative spirit of Haitians and friends of Haiti worldwide.


West Indies Books -is a reference listing of literature by West Indian authors, primarily anglophone West Indian authors, but with a highlighted listing of Haitian authors and works. The list is compiled by Patrick Jamieson (I don’t have information on him and his Caribbean connection) and includes a search feature for finding works by author.


WiWords seems to be a Caribbean version of the urban dictionary. It seems to be driven by a user additions – and to the point that I last visited it had low to nil Antiguanisms and Barbudanisms.


Womanspeak is a journal of literature and art by Caribbean women edited by Bahamian writer Lynn Sweeting.


Writing Home: American Voices from the Caribbean is a podcast in which each episode features an exceptional contemporary cultural actor in conversation with lit scholars and hosts Kaiama L. Glover and Tami Navarro.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. If you use, credit. It you enjoyed, check out my blog. Thanks.


Filed under Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, The Business