Tag Archives: caribbean poetry

Reading Room and Gallery 33

Sit back and enjoy, and when you’re done, if you want to sit back and enjoy some more, use the search feature to the right to search ‘reading room and gallery’ and visit the previous installments.

MISC.

“In these revisions, Brathwaite seems to be Caliban discovering his mother’s voice through the  computer for the first time.” – Professor Kelly Baker Joseph’s Kamau Brathwaite Lecture

VISUAL ART

THE BUSINESS

“My mind was blown. As a lifelong perfectionist, it had never occurred to me that I should seek out failure as a means to level up. I felt both embarrassed and eternally grateful. This eureka moment—a trusty hand-me-down from Liao—inspired me to make rejection my New Year’s resolution.” – Courtney Kocak

For more Resources, go here.

CREATIVES ON CREATING


POETRY

‘“Your fault you were drinking”
“Well, was she wearing a thong?”
“Sounds like she just wants attention or something”’ – There is Strength in Our Stories: MeToo# – Christian Garduno

***

“Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night and
Wouldn’t you love to love her?
Takes to the sky like a bird in flight and
Who will be her lover?

All your life you’ve never seen
A woman taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
Will you ever win?

She is like a cat in the dark and then
She is the darkness
She rules her life like a fine skylark and when
The sky is starless

All your life you’ve never seen
A woman taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
Will you ever win?
Will you ever win?

Rhiannon
Rhiannon
Rhiannon
Rhiannon

She rings like a bell through the night and
Wouldn’t you love to love her?
She rules her life like a bird in flight and
Who will be her lover? – two time Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductee Stevie Nicks

***

“The motherland had called our sons to her bosoms
come, sons come fight for your motherland, she said;
that bitch

Son, I have no language for this loss
him dead” – from Unwritten (Caribbean poets sharing poems inspired by the Caribbean experience in the second World War) on BBC Sounds 

FICTION

“My body was a well of fear, but the neighbor was asking if he could come in for a minute and get warm. He appeared cold and gray, and he was trembling. He smelled as if he were his own ashtray. I imagined these past weeks hard alcohol had been his water, cigarettes worked as food, but on this day he was beyond human, some kind of wild animal, all bones of limbs and ribs. His cheeks sunken, his presence felt witchy. If I had asked him to leave, he might have cast a spell on me.” – Snow Line by Elizabeth Brinsfield

***

“Meanwhile, the smell of bread, the taste of it. We’d split a loaf, slice it, and the steam would bloom up. We’d devour it. I’d bring out some butter and salt from the walk-in fridge and we’d stand in that kitchen, facing the empty bar and two-tops, eating our prize in silence. This was our communion, a religious moment, and there was nothing to contemplate but bread, and the soft inside was hot enough to burn you, and the crust could cut up the roof of your mouth.

Then I’d drive home. I’d circle my neighborhood, looking for parking, craving sleep, late afternoon, the sky turning orange. In my dreams I baked bread, ruined bread, ate bread. It went like this. Soon it would be early morning again, and I’d be trying to remember where I put my car so that I could drive back to the kitchen to bake bread, to make the kitchen dirty with flour again.” – Butter by Eve Gleichman 2016 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest Winner

***

“She told me I could serve her in heaven. She accompanied me to school each day.” – from Genesis by Tope Folarin

***

“They’re showing familiar-looking aerial footage, a SWAT team crossing the sports fields and the track, when I realize I’ve seen this all before, because I recognize that track.” – Breaking by Christopher Fox

***

“I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal— having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition.” – The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

***

– Jojo Instiful and Tamera George reading from the children’s picture book With Grace by Joanne C. Hillhouse at a 2018 Black History Month event organized by the Barnes Hill Community Development Organization and held at the Barnes Hill Community Reservoir Park.

For published short fiction and/or poetry by Antiguans and Barbudans, click the links for A-M and N-Z.

REPORTING

“I propose we start by giving the prophets honour in their own land while they’re alive. Let us like Barbados and Jamaica establish positions of writer laureates or poet laureates in our country for a defined period for each of our accomplished writers, giving them the opportunity to promote writing and their own missions either in schools or in other public spaces.” – Chairman of the Folk Resource Centre, St. Lucia, Embert Charles

***

“As a child of generations of immigrants and a victim of civil war, she communicates her experience of feeling naked in a new and often unwelcoming environment. Thus, the poems in the collection reflect her attempt to get into the marrow of the immigrant’s ordeal.” – Ghana Writes Editor, Ekuwa Saighoe, interviews Prof. Mark-Romeo on The Nakedness of New

***

“Gonnella depicts boxing great Muhammad Ali as young and strong in his fighting stance, the slightest hint of amused confidence hiding in his eyes; smoke escapes in a sinewy wisp from Jimi Hendrix’s lips, parted in a playful smile.” – Pop Phiz Fantastic by Naydene Gonnella as reported by Andrea Milam in Maco

***

‘“Ryan really wanted them to have these blankets close off their costumes because he wanted them to have this moment of reveal, where they push the blankets back and you see their weaponry and they go into battle,” said Carter of her work on Black Panther. “Ryan felt he couldn’t really do the Black Panther story without having gone to Africa, so he went and spent some time with the Basotho people [in Lesotho] and he fell in love with these blankets and I see why — they’re beautiful.”

Having purchased 150 Basotho blankets from South Africa and “stamped [the fictional metal] vibranium on one side to make them like shields for the warriors,” Carter said, the blankets were inevitably screen-tested by Marvel as too thick and unusable. So one of Carter’s assistants spent hours shaving each one of the 150 blankets with a men’s shaver to get it right.’ – 10 Surprising Facts About Oscar Winner Ruth E. Carter and Her Designs

***

“Of course, Debbie Eckert, I feel like there are two main lanes to her visual art – her portraits, she has an incomparable knack for capturing the light in her subject’s spirit, especially when it comes to children; and her nature canvases which are all about that magical glow. Right away I knew Approach, the full moon’s golden glow hitting the water and rippling out, was hers.” – from ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: AN ART, HISTORY, CULTURE TOUR 2 – CREATIVE SPACE #14 OF 2018 (coverage of the 2018 Independence Visual Arts Exhibition, spotlighting several local artists including one former Wadadli Pen finalist) 

REVIEWS

Doe Songs
“This is a fascinating collection, recommended for readers who like their poetry with teeth, claws and a dash of surrealism.” – PN Review of Doe Songs, an acclaimed poetry collection by Danielle Boodoo Fortune (past Wadadli Pen judge and patron, Trinidad and Tobago writer, illustrator – including of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure by Wadadli Pen founder Joanne C. Hillhouse) – Also check out Danielle Boodoo Fortune in Reading Room and Gallery 31, 30, 26, 25, 22, 18, 17, 14, 11, 5, 4, 2, and 1

For reviews of works by Antiguans and Barbudans, go here.

INTERVIEWS

“I think a great many of us thought that Independence would lead to a kind of progress; that things that seemed inadequate like education, medical care, infrastructure that we feel had been neglected – we thought well they denied it to us, at least that was my view – but now that we were in control, we would proceed and show them how to manage small places with small, dedicated, intelligent people and morally good people, people on the right side of history. So when I returned I met kind of a universal chorus of ‘oh, they’re so corrupt, oh this, oh that, and the disturbing thing I think for me was the way the citizens reveled in it.” – Jamaica Kincaid on the BBC (interview also features Jacob Ross and Claire Adam)

***

“When you live in Baltimore City, especially coming up in the crack era, people dying is not a strange thing. Witnessing murders is not a strange thing, or being in a situation where you’re on a basketball court and somebody starts shooting is not a strange thing.” – Baltimore author D. Watkins in conversation with NPR

***

“I got a message a few years ago from a minister of government when I returned to Grenada accusing me of giving the island a bad name and I said to the messenger I’d like you to tell the minister I’ not writing tourism brochures.” – Jacob Ross  – interview with Jacob Ross, Jamaican Kincaid, and Claire Adam with the BBC

***

“It was really fun to get inside each others’ heads and understand how we see the world.” – Jennifer Miller w/Jason Feifer in conversation with quickanddirtytips.com

***

“First and foremost, I think she is an unquestionably talented writer whose books and poems shed light on a very interesting literary and geopolitical period.” – Eliot Bliss biographer Michela Calderaro in conversation with Jacqueline Bishop. Read the whole thing: Bookends Eliot Bliss

***

“We inhabit the life of a theoretical stranger and we really get to know a point of view that we might not otherwise really understand.” – Barbara Kingslover (interview on BBC) 

***

“I acknowledge the assimilation of many writers from what I think of as a Caribbean Tradition in the writing of my first novel Witchbroom. Africa, India, Europe all mixed up – a creole culture, so many languages. That’s what I celebrate. Beacon movement, our part in Harlem Renaissance, but also what I call the greats of the 50s, 60s, 70s novelists, poets and historians and now such a lot going on, many many more women: poets, story tellers, novelists, historians, Bridget Brereton; critics – Ramchand and Rohlehr, setting the pace in 1977. Dear Pat Ismond! London calling: New Beacon, Bogle Overture. And let’s adopt Jimmy Baldwin. I went on pilgrimage last December to St Paul de Vence. Volunteering at The George Padmore Institute. I get so excited at the lives and the works that are being archived there.” – Lawrence Scott

***

“When I was writing my dissertation in the 80s, this was my initial quest to unearth the first and earliest novel/poem/play, anything by a Caribbean Woman. As a teenager I had read Herbert G. De Lisser, 1929, novel The White Witch of Rose Hall, but I yearned for the stories of black enslaved women and free working class Caribbean women. I read the Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Mary Seacole in Many Lands,1857; The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave, 1831, and I wanted to find the Caribbean equivalent to Phillis Wheatley. I had read poems by Una Marson, and of course everything by Louise Bennett. Read Sylvia Wynter’s novel, The Hills of Hebron, 1962, then stumbled on Phyllis Shand Allfrey, The Orchid House, 1953; Ada Quayle’s first novel, The Mistress, 1957; Eliot Bliss’ Luminous Isle, 1934; and finally Alice Durie’s One Jamaican Gal, 1939. Although, Durie is an outsider, a white American who married a Creole Jamaican, her text offers important insights. Sadly, when I was doing field research in Jamaica and sought out and met her son, he confessed to burning her papers and other unpublished novels, because he didn’t know what to do with them, he claimed. This was a man with a successful business and warehouse. I was so angry I gritted my teeth to keep from slapping him. If this was the fate of an upper class white woman, then what chance during those earlier times for the poems and novels of a poor black woman, especially in the Caribbean.” – Opal Palmer Adisa  – Also check out Opal Palmer Adisa in Reading Room and Gallery 21, 13,  5, 4, and 1.

***

James book
“MARLON JAMES: A lot of it came out of all the research and reading I was doing. African folklore is just so lush. There’s something so relentless and sensual about African mythology. Those stranger elements aren’t about me trying to score edgy post-millennial points. They are old elements. A lot of this book was about taking quite freely from African folklore, specifically from the area below the Sahara Desert. And that’s important to me. Mostly when people think of sophisticated Africa, they think of Egypt. And even that they attribute to aliens.” – Interview magazine. Also check out Marlon James in Reading Room and Gallery 31, 28, 18, 1514, 6, and 1.

For Antiguans and Barbudans discussing their art, go here.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, and author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Oh Gad!, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All rights reserved. Subscribe to this site to keep up with future updates.

 

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Reading Room and Gallery XVlll

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms (1, 11, 111, 1v, v, v1 , v11, v111, 1x, x, x1, x11, x111, x1v, xv, xvi, xvii), click the links or use the search feature to the right, to the right.

ON PUBLISHING

“#3 Not following guidelines.
Double check all guidelines before submitting to a magazine. Is there a word count requirement? Should your name be removed from the piece? Should your document be in Word, pdf, or rich text format? If it’s an email submission, do they want the document attached, or pasted into the body of the email? Do they accept simultaneous submissions? Don’t risk getting your piece being tossed out because you didn’t follow the rules.” – (here at Wadadli Pen I know this one well) – read the rest of the list of mistakes writers make when submitting.

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“My advice for young writers is to keep reading widely and for pleasure. And don’t get discouraged! So much of it is just mule-like persistence. That’s what I feel I learned this time around. There were many times when Swamplandia! failed and I had to pick it up and try and write it again. There were stories in my collection that were just duds, they’ve been voted off the island, and it was only because I had this material commitment to getting them out the door that I was willing to keep working at them. I really do think that’s the best advice—to keep at it.” – Karen Russell

***

“An interesting insight into the process came when the pair considered how they had arrived at rather different descriptions for the location of the windmill-giants – Jull Costa has them ‘on that same plain’, whereas Bush situates them ‘in the nearby field’. It transpired that, rather than seeking a literal translation of the Spanish ‘en aquel campo’, each had pictured what they read the original to mean and then found a way to render the image in English.” – Ann Morgan on dueling translations of Don Quixote

***

“Not only do I not see movies as I write, I can’t visualise, well, anything. At all. I don’t even dream in pictures. I have absolutely no concept of what it would be like to see things that no one else can see.” – Jo Eberhardt

***

“It happens too often that beginning fiction writers fail to give their characters jobs or occupations. Weak stories by beginning writers often feature adults who are wealthy without any discernible means of income or who perform the indiscernibly ambiguous task of “work.” Characters are described as working each day, but the reader is never told what they do or how their daily jobs affect them or their interactions with others. Characters do not earn money; they simply have it. There are no bills, no expenses, and, of course, no financial struggles.” – Amina Gautier

***

“So here you have a man at the beach, but he can’t enjoy it; he has to sit, because of his paranoia, with his back to the water, sitting in a chair; he wears a Hawaiian shirt but there’s a bullet proof vest under it; he likes a red wine spritzer but it tastes like Skittles which is very loaded…Trayvon Martin had a pack of Skittles.” – Rowan Ricardo Phillips, born in New York to Antiguan parents, reflecting on his poem News from the Muse of Not Guilty after a reading of the poem, from his collection Heaven, on CBC Radio.

***

“You start from building this world with their rules, and then you just follow logic in order to come up with the rest of the details. So once you have this simple fact that you’re treating couples in a certain way and single people in another way—and there’s a bit of a concept that this is almost like a prison drama or something, at least in the first half of the film—then you pick up on those things and you borrow things from other kinds of situations … We tried to get into the heads of people that would be in charge and what they would come up with.” – Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos on the making of his film The Lobster

***

Writing other…Mary Robinette Kowal provides some insight to culturally sensitive approaches to doing so.

***

“The second thing is reminding myself: You don’t have to write anything that you’re not deeply interested in. Every time I remember this, it’s a relief and a surprise.” – Rita Mae Reese on curing the affliction of not-writing.

****

“I use traditional women’s techniques, such as sewing, beading and applique. I incorporate found objects in my work; they are clues towards understanding my story and that of women in general.” – Heather Doram

***

“So much of what the filmmakers did in creating and then editing their work is what we writers strive for when polishing a manuscript: pinpoint the heart of the story and stay true to it, cut what can be lost, and always direct conflict and pacing.” – Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton w/ Elena Greene discuss The Lord of the Rings’ adaptation from book to film and what writers can learn from the choices the filmmakers made. It’s a five part series that begins, here.

***

A long form interview on the arts is a rare thing, especially in a Caribbean print publication, so kudos to Jamaica’s Observer for this series of poetry month features, this one spotlighting American Tim Tomlinson, co-founder of the New York Writers’ Workshop, in conversation with Jamaican-American poet and artist Jacqueline Bishop. Tomlinson’s book Yolanda, an Oral History in Verse, is focused on the Phillipines but his connection to the Caribbean – his time spent visiting and diving in various islands and countries but most especially the Bahamas is explored as well. Essentially, this interview is about both his journeying as a person and how that has informed his writing, how he creates, generally, and specifically in the case of Yolanda. W/thanks to Jacqueline Bishop for sharing, here have a slow as you sipping your iced tea kind of read:

Tim Tomlinson 1Tim Tomlinson 2Tim Tomlinson 3

***

“That was one of those magic moments. That came out pretty much whole cloth. Every now and then you ride the tiger. Most days the tiger rides me, but every now and then I ride the tiger. That’s my favorite chapter in the book. The opening chapter of The Given Day is another example. It’s my favorite chapter in The Given Day. It was written in two nights. It was rewritten extensively for prose, but it just came out.” – Dennis Lehane

***

“When I closed my eyes, I could smell flue-cured tobacco. I could feel the hot sun beating down on me. I could hear the southern accent of a teacher whose voice reminded me of poetry.” – Shannon Hitchcock on the inspiration for her book Ruby Lee & Me

VISUAL ART

Online gallery of Netherlands artist Marijke Buurlage.

***

***

Technically this is musical and literary art (lyrics) shared via a visual medium but that’s not the point. RIP, Prince.

***

“Nature is completely indifferent to the human endeavours whether they are good, evil, otherwise, whatever.” – Lori Landey and Beth Harris discussing Joseph Mallard William Turner’s Slave Ship

NON FICTION

“How many times over the years
I have explained
This.
Celie and her “prettier” sister Nettie
are practically identical.
They might be twins.
But Life has forced on Celie
all the hardships
Nettie mostly avoids…” – Is Celie actually Ugly? By Alice Walker

***

“Why, I asked my brother, did you like the film so much? So many messages. Look at the title. Everyone has problems underneath. Just because you are smart doesn’t mean u can work everything out yourself.” – Sejal Shah writing on Ordinary People

***

“You must read to develop a deeper understanding of literary elements, such as character arc, subtext, voice, and narrative distance.” – Chuck Sambuchino in his article The Pros and Cons of getting a Creative Writing MFA at Writer’s Digest

***

Kei Miller’s essay in this BBC piece resonates with me – it’s truthful and thoughtful and bold as so much of his writing is even when speaking of his tentativeness writing the issue of race -how our whiteness and blackness mediate our interactions. That said, I feel that same prickle of disagreement I feel stir in me whenever a black person, black writer (especially if they’re from colonized or formerly colonized places like I am) say, I didn’t know I was black until… because it’s not my truth (my blackness didn’t limit my sense of possibility but the reality is that, like class and other things, our blackness or shades of blackness was and remains a way of separating ourselves from ourselves) even in the predominantly black places I have lived (including Kei’s Jamaica). The Caribbean is not insulated from these issues, though they are not as starkly or sharply or consistently experienced in whiter places like the US and UK. Beyond my own experiences (some touched on in my February 2016 Essence article Mirror Mirror and issues of colourism/shade-ism explored in my book Musical Youth), this fairly recent memory comes to mind: being in a roomful of children of different shades of black, in a public child-friendly space, right here on our predominantly black island, only to have another adult, call out to one of the children, “black boy, black boy” with a tone and cadence that suggested “bad boy, bad boy” and to have him look up, in full acceptance of this (internalizing it). My aside aside, give the audio clip a listen; it’s a really engaging and touching reflection from one of the Caribbean’s best.

INTERVIEWS

“A writer always benefits from being a kind of outsider. That is why I try not to belong to anything too much. [Alienation] makes you an insider-outsider . . . sharpens [your] sense of observation. You look at things with detached eyes. Even some words. Pondering these English words with your Creole eyes. . . . There always is a sort of dialogue going on [within] most artists anyway. They just soak things in that they ultimately try to reproduce some other way. I think having this dual lens has been very helpful.” – Edwidge Dandicat

***

“Grounded in the realities of our history and geography, but unbounded in their imaginative possibilities” – Philip Sander describing the work of Nalo Hopkinson jumped out at me as the very thing I’ve been trying to define when I speak of a Caribbean aesthetic as a criterion for (but not a limitation of) Wadadli Pen submissions.

***

“Shorter doesn’t mean faster or easier! Short story writing is a very different art from that of the novel, from pacing to character development. So for a novelist, it can actually take longer and be more of a stretch to try her hand at writing a short story. A rewarding challenge, certainly, but definitely a challenge.” – Lauren Willig

***

“I remember myself as a young child, my mother had books inside here, and one of them dealt with the Haitian Revolution. I was ever so proud of Toussaint L’Ouverture. I was just proud. I mean, there he was, sitting in the same book with Napoleon and all of these other great men. So, for me, the Haitian Revolution was very significant. I don’t know how it is in popular memory, because right now everybody’s sorry for the Haitians—and “sorry for” in the sense of, “We’re better off” or “They can wear our old clothes.” So I don’t know about it in the popular memory. But certainly historically, Haiti served to frighten late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century governments. Frightening them, and as a matter of fact, had them even more repressive towards their black enslaved workers because their fear of Haiti was so strong. So, I don’t know that it has popular resonances, but certainly for nineteenth-century politics, it did.” – Erna Brodber interview at SX Salon, a Small Axe Literary Platform

***

“What’s interesting to me is that of the women who have read this, every single one thinks that it is absolutely sexy and totally horny. Then I was like, ‘oh, so this is erotica’. And I was reminded again that erotica does not need to be explicit. And, of course, what is erotic and what we find sexy and will respond to viscerally in that way is entirely subjective.” – Leone Ross

***

“The fiction writer in me likes gaps in stories because I can jump into that gap and try to suggest something.” – Marlon James’ Vogue interview

***

“There’s a place for everything…” – says Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne in this NIFCA interview:

***

“To move past the ugly parts of history, you have to acknowledge them, on all sides, and this is what I think historical fiction can do so well: show how we got from there to here, but told through characters who see themselves not as history but as completely modern.” – Andrea Mullaney, author of The Ghost Marriage, 2012 Commonwealth Short Story winner for Canada and Europe

***

“The area where I spent my childhood years was surrounded my trees, and always seemed just on the edge of wilderness. That area has changed so much, but there is still that space in my imagination that’s the same…” – Danielle Boodoo Fortune, Woman of Colour interview

***

“What I’m trying to bring out is the power of words themselves, the power and musicality of words.” – Clifton Joseph

***

“Reading was such a sanctuary when I was a teenager, I wanted to see if I could tell a Jamaican story, a Caribbean story, that would interest even an urban teenager.” – Diana McCaulay re her new book Gone to Drift

FICTION

“In April of 1945, after facing only minimal resistance, Rhett was part of the Allied force that liberated a concentration camp named for the beech forests that surrounded it. The day was damp and overcast, with a heavy ground mist that sometimes hid the heaped bodies and sometimes revealed them. Living skeletons stood at the fences and outside the crematoriums, staring at the Americans. Some were horribly burned by white phosphorous.” – Cookie Jar by Stephen King

***

“In death, we live far more richly than we do in life. Our lives are pale shadows in which we are preoccupied with the business of living. It is in death that we take on nuance and colour. We seep through the floorboards of houses, spread out and nestle there. We whistle through windows, ruffle curtains and inhabit the minds and memories of others. We take on a resonance that only memory provides. We become deities. We become ancestors.” – from Ayanna Gillian Lloyd’s Walking in Lapeyrouse

***

“There was no rebuttal. She ended the call. From the decanter on side board, she poured herself a drink. The rum quelled the chill in her stomach — a chill reminiscent of rain-fly wings brushing against her skin. Where did they find him? They were hunting him for so long. Did he put up a fight? Errol had a point: There was really no need for her to kill him herself. But she wanted to.” – H. K. Williams’ Celeste in Moko

***

“They’ve taken you, in the rolling melody of their steps and song, to the river Aripo inside the forest, and when they sit and beckon you to come join them, their feet, you notice, are not as they’re supposed to be. It’s a peculiar thing to miss, really, backwards feet. You sense that your own feet have been treading air when they come into contact once again with the marshy forest floor. You look back into the bush where you think you came from, and you want to go home.”- Wenmimareba Klobah Collins

***

Edwidge Dandicat reads and discusses Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl and her own Wingless. And here’s Girl, so you can read along.

***

“My wife is happiest on Sunday afternoon, when I leave the house. We have been married five years – too soon for us to take pleasure in each other’s absence.” – from Radio Story by Anushka Jasraj – Commonwealth Short Story winner for Asia

***

“After years of working like a dog, clawing his way to fame and fortune—forfeiting family in the process—Desiree and the people of the island had broken down his mighty reserve and rewarded him with passion, friendship and the happiest times he’d ever experienced. He loved living in a place where everyone was aware of who he was, but not impressed or intimidated by what he had done. He admired the lack of social divides, that the Chief Minister played dominoes with ‘The People’, and that his best friend and “liming partner” was her cousin, and his Captain.” – Trudy Nixon’s Anguilla Boat Race, part of Akashic’s Mondays are Murder series

***

Mary Akers said about ‘Viewing Medusa’ after it had been posted at The Good Men Project: “For all you writers out there, this story’s publication is a testament to persistence. It won the Mary Mackey Short Story Prize, it was the story I submitted for my successful Bread Loaf waiter application, but for ten years, I tried unsuccessfully to get it published. I submitted it to 101 journals, 100 of whom rejected it before Matthew Salesses believed in it and brought it out into the world.” Here’s an excerpt from the story:  “I found myself unable to look away as she slurped her soup, dipping the pieces of dasheen in the broth and sucking them dry after each dip. When the soursop was served, she peeled away the bumpy green skin and slurped the fruit into her mouth, rolling it around until the smooth brown seeds were free, spitting them onto her plate. Soursop juice ran down her wrists and dripped off her elbows to the floor. I thought of Miss Connie, later, on her hands and knees, wiping up the stickiness while shaking her head at the lack of manners displayed by scientists.” – the voice/point of view and descriptions work well together to create a clear picture of the part of Dominica in which the story (which feels less fiction and more here’s how it happened) is set – the beauty and ruggedness in the landscape and the character of the people as compared with the visiting (presumably white) scientists, to create as well a certain mood of foreboding, and to suck the reader in…even if it spits that reader out the other end with questions, or rather one lingering question: so wait, she nar go do nutten? – Read the whole of Viewing Medusa here.

***

“The fuel tank was empty. He’d collapsed from sunstroke and dehydration. He’d been raving incoherently. When he finally recovered he’d lost all memory of where he’d left his men. A Lysander was sent out to look for them but nothing was ever found. The unforgiving maw of the Sahara had simply swallowed them up.” – Bully Beef and Biscuits by Guy Carter – this was the 2015 winner of the Mogford Prize for Food & Drink Writing

POETRY

“In Trinidad, everyone knows

the Pitch Lake but few have been

few have seen the dark and strange

surface, the vast dirt a mind of its own:

asphalt lake as constant as change.” – from La Brea. Read that and other poems by Andre Bagoo in Moko.

***

“No one sees my tears
wafting through the branch clusters
weeping airy patterns into the jungle silence.” – from Mangrove Armour by April Roach in Moko

***

“We read menacing messages in the scowls
of passers-by. Some circle around,
mark the territory with treads of footprints,
count down days to our departure.” – Camp by Althea Romeo-Mark in Moko

***

“…crushed lemongrass
overcooked tourist flesh sizzling in the noonday sun
barnacled, rusted boats off Devonshire Dock
my neighbour’s garbage ripped open by feral cats
overpriced perfume – from Trimingham’s, I think
‘mountain fresh’ detergent scent of laundry drying on the line
frying fish and sun-ripened fish guts
Baygon and stale beer
overripe cherries
Limacol and sweat..” – from Kim Dismont Robinson’s Scents of Bermuda: Or, All De Smells That Accosted My Nose One Day When Ahs Ridin My Bike From My Momma’s House on Norf Shore To My House in Smif’s Parish

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‘In the roaring of the wolves the doctor said “Do you feel tenderness”
She was touching me’ – Niina Pollari, sharing and discussing her poem Do You Feel Tenderness

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“There’ve always been Sunday mornings like this,
when God became young again
and looking back you see
that childhood was a Sunday morning.” – Kendel Hippolyte (Sunday) – be sure to also check out the Dunstan St. Omer Red Madonna that accompanies the poem.

BLOG

“I think I had a very different vision of myself when I was young, and definitely thought I’d have a family and be a loving parent by now. Instead I’ve birthed books” – Zetta Elliott

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“Neglected authors fascinate me. While the particulars for their disregard may vary over time and from culture to culture, one thing remains constant: their perseverance despite official recognition. Such is the case of Eliot Bliss, a ‘white, Creole, and lesbian’ Jamaican novelist and poet whose collected poems have been resurrected by Michela A. Calderaro in Spring Evenings in Sterling Street.” Geoffrey Philp

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“Getting to the place in yourself that is beyond influence is the radical edge.” – Brooke Warner

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“…exploring a new space is a thing of wonder and an entirely individual experience…” – Sonia Farmer, blogging her Fresh Milk residency in Barbados

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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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