Dear Readers, Tis the season for giving. May I suggest a lovely book that is a treasure trove of literary work from poets and writers from Dominica? Montage Domnik: New Stories and Poems from Dominica is a colorful collection that serves as a platform to expose and preserve new work from twenty-four of Dominica’s most […]Tis the Season for Giving — Kristine Simelda
Tag Archives: Caribbean writers
June is #readCaribbean and #CaribAThon which are two #CaribbeanHeritageMonth social media book reading challenges. I’ve been letting those challenges drive, if not guide, my reading this month and journalling about it over on my Jhohadli blog.
With #readCaribbeanwriters on online minds though, it seems a good time to revisit a thread posted last June to the Caribbean Writers group on facebook; specifically for the answers and what they reveal about the landscape for writers in the Caribbean. The questions from Barbara Arrindell, Wadadli Pen team member, who was crowd sourcing responses for a presentation, were what do Caribbean writers most need, and what is the state of the writing and book production industry in the Caribbean.
Cut and condensed for length (with insertions primarily in parentheses for clarity) and, while there was a fair amount of conversation between respondents, keeping to answers to the original questions. Where ideas are repeated, limiting to one or two versions. Also, while I’ve gotten permission from group admin Sandra Sealy to share the thread, I don’t have individual author permission. However, if I recognize the respondent as a public figure, I will name and, where possible, link them (if anyone wants their name removed, they can let me know). The reason for naming and linking is to encourage you to check them out and especially their books and/or services (mine linked here). Ordered and re-arranged in to sub-heads because this is a blog not a facebook thread. Finally, these are not absolutes; each island/country is different and some have more resources and initiatives than others. But the point is there could always be more, a lot more.
– Development & Opportunities –
“More support for libraries which, in turn, can serve as centers of support for local writers – hosting readings, writers groups, workshops, etc. Two of the Caribbean countries where I’ve lived have no national libraries since at least 2014.”
“Continued spaces for aspiring writers to nurture their abilities. Most are limited to writing competitions which don’t come with any ongoing support.” (Nerissa Golden)
“I taught a few novels for almost ten years in the lower forms or secondary schools. There should be a faster turn over so other writers could get an opportunity.”
“Regular changing of the CXC books and recommended books for all Language Arts courses. Transparency around when submissions are due, what criteria given selection. A mix of veteran and young blood authors. Writers in schools program. Supported by governments.” (A-dZiko Simba Gegele)
– Finance & Institutional Support –
“More self-published authors. Still not where it needs to be. Established systems such as education ministries, CXC (Caribbean Examinations Council) aren’t encouraging using more modern stories in their curriculums.” (Nerissa Golden)
“We need governments to support and promote local books and to encourage and equip their writers to produce work at an international standard. And we need MOEs (Ministries of Education) to incorporate recent local work in the education system and also invite ongoing production of new material for our students.”
“•Arts grants systems to support working writers.•Publishers need incentives to produce fiction, poetry and drama because those are not typically as lucrative as text books.•Support for audio book production, marketing and distribution. This is an emerging market the region could really “ramajay” in because we have great stories, great voices and great producers.” (Lisa Allen-Agostini)
“Grants definitely. Self publishing improved. Printer.”
“When we get books published, we then need to be BUYING them to stock in our libraries, using the books in our curriculum, reducing the inertia in the CXC book list, using our books to promote our islands as more than sea and sand, and so on. With that endorsement and exposure, we might change local public attitudes towards our books and generate demand that will support the industry, increase output, and bring book prices down. Separately, if we value the art then we have to put dollars behind it. Not just a one time handout every now and then but a long term PLAN with real money for ongoing training, opportunities for exposure, writer community building, and institutionalization of Caribbean books. If we do that we’ll get more output from all of the islands.” (Carol Mitchell)
“Little (publishing) houses need something like the Arts Council of England.”
“Government support for the writing industry, through a regional/national writing council that treats writing as an export product. Government should behave as if telling local stories is an investment in cultural positioning, because, writing is excellent public relations for any country. A literature council whose goal is to produce books written by nationals about your culture has been a strategy of developed countries to make their way of life almost seductive for the rest of the world. We need nothing less than a change of perspective in the industry, there is so much potential for growth.” (Marsha Gomes-Mckie)
“Taxation and customs is a real problem when it comes to bringing in books. It drives the prices sky high, higher than any international distributor. It’s what will make a 90-page poetry book cost more than $100. Not related, but even obtaining royalties and advance money is a pain. It will take months to get through to BIR (Board of Inland Revenue) for you to get through to stamp duty to avoid double taxation from some territories.” (Kevin Hosein)
– Publishing avenues & Infrastructure –
“With regards to works of fiction, we definitely need two strong areas. 1) a strong marketing department and 2) literary agents. Both of them working hand in hand. In addition, and this is one is a slow process. Writers to succeed need readers. You can have the best books and no readers and the books will not succeed.”
“Reactivate the Caribbean YA (young adult) Lit Prize that Bocas ran. It published over two dozen books in the time it was active, got markets for those books and put them in children’s hands. That was a successful programme for all the parties involved: publisher, author, reader.” (Lisa Allen-Agostini)
“Distribution in the region is a massive problem. At the production end and the retail end getting books printed in region may be rendered more expensive when you try to get the books to different territories. That’s one of the advantages of a publisher. All authors aren’t necessarily marketers nor should they have to be and a publicity and distribution network that was as seamless as possible would go a long way.” (Ayesha Gibson)
“…and effective ways of receiving payment.” (A-dZiko Simba Gegele)
“Self-publishing is hard. Most of the time that should be spent creating is spent on publishing. Our governments want us to write, edit, print and shop our books entirely by ourselves just so they can boast that we have a “creative industry”. Only in books and media are we expected to build a car and sell it; every other industry is given tax breaks, concessions and loads of cash. A writer can’t be a writer. We have to be business people. That might sound empowering but it is not. It is enervating and deprives us of the needed creative energy to push against boundaries. But more than that, we need to make readers of our people, particularly our children. So if the system won’t give us an imprint to which we can submit manuscripts and will support our work, then at least create a love for reading, writing and appreciation for books. Not reading for CXC but reading for pleasure, provocative thought, preservation of memory, experimentation, self-expression, self-esteem and sheer variety.” (Julius Gittens)
– Bookstores & Book Promotion –
“Encourage the book shops to display West Indian writers’ books in vantage positions in their shops. Too often the books are hidden away, tucked away in some deep dark corner. We need them at the front so as soon as you enter the shops you see them.” (Vishnu Gosine)
“Now with the internet we should improve marketing of our work maybe under one banner.”
“Authors should not be expected to be their own marketing machine, and that is sadly the case in the Caribbean…Real money has to be put in, in the form of grants or awards or angel investors. This has been seen in the Burt Award for Young Adult Caribbean Literature, which in my own experience, was quite successful in what it set out to do. The prize money was like a neat little advance and then you had tours with schools and libraries in the region, getting reviews from Bookstagrammers, Goodreads and NetGalley, and could easily get books featured in stores …And some of the books were even picked up by other presses, such as Diana McCaulay‘s and Lisa Allen-Agostini’s. It provided visibility and opportunity to connect with an audience.” (Kevin Hosein)
I will end by sharing a wish list I posted here back in 2017 and the Wadadli Pen R & D page – work done completely voluntarily; though there have been calls to the government of Antigua and Barbuda for the appointment of someone specifically tasked with lit arts development, who could, we would hope, access the resources to do this and more, more consistently. What has been captured on the R & D pages, and built on this blog over the years, consistent with what sparked Wadadli Pen in the first place, is providing what was not and is still not available. There is a RESOURCES page, a page of Caribbean Resources, a listing of professional services, writing and publishing frequently asked questions, two opportunities pages (one with pending deadlines and one with market, including publisher links), links to writer web pages locally and regionally, listings of published short pieces and books by Antiguan and Barbudan writers, a bibliography of Caribbean writing, a reading room and gallery series sharing writing and art and art conversations, links to literary festivals of the Caribbean, and more (including regular lit postings).
One of my pet peeves is to hear people within the formal infrastructure say that artists should not sit and depend on government, they should do things for themselves, because our feet are tired, that’s primarily what we’ve had to do (build what we need) given the lack of an enabling environment. And though it seems obvious to me that some in the region are doing more and better than others, it’s clear there are some common grievances and needs and avenues and opportunities, as writers mentioned hail from various islands (big and small).
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, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.
A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here).
Happy New Year! And let’s hope it truly is happy.
Celebrated St. Lucian poet Kendel Hippolyte, named as you’ll see below as the person tapped to deliver the Sir Derek Walcott memorial lecture during poet laureates’ week, is being feted for another reason this January – a birthday milestone. Hippolyte turned 70 (three score and 10) on January 9th 2022.
“Kendel Hippolyte was once described as “perhaps the outstanding Caribbean poet of his generation.” Besides being honored with the St. Lucia Gold Medal of Merit for his contribution to the arts, he joins Derek Walcott, Vladimir Lucien, and Canisia Lubrin as one of only four St. Lucians to win an OCM Bocas Prize, the English-speaking Caribbean’s most prestigious literary award. Note, however, Hippolyte won the poetry prize, while the other three won both the poetry and overall prize.”
Click here to read three poems by fellow Lucian poet John Robert Lee dedicated to Hippolyte on this occasion. (Source – Jako Productions)
Antigua and Barbuda media veteran and Rastafari elder King Frank I has been laid to rest in an official state-funded funeral held at the Sir Vivian Richards national stadium.
There were five pages of coverage of the funeral in the Daily Observer including reporting of performance of Farewell to a King by the Nyabinghi Theocracy Order. Francis was credited for activism that has led to Rastafari being more integrated into society. Frank I’s children Jomo Hunte St. Rose, and daughters Malaika and Denise Francis, the latter also a media worker, paid tribute to their dearly departed dad. Denise invoked her father’s well known sign off: “We know Jah will continue to guide, continue to keep fit, and to always be a good sport.” Read that full article here:
In an article in the subsequent issue, head of the Reparations Support Commission, of which King Frank I was a part, Dorbrene O’Marde, is said to have indicated that the Commission will be seeking some way to honour him. “We have lost an example of steadfast commitment to a cause…we have lost a proud proclaimer of the fact that although he was not born in Africa, Africa was born in him…” O’Marde was quoted as saying, during the ceremony, of his friend of more than 60 years. Read in full:
(Source – Daily Observer newspaper)
The Sir Derek Walcott Memorial Lecture (mentioned immediately below) is only one of a full week of activities which began on January 10th 2022 in celebration of Nobel Laureates Week in St. Lucia. The Windward island has two such Laureates – Walcott for Literature and Sir Arthur Lewis for Economics. The full listing of activities can be found here. (Source – Jako Productions)
Bocas Award winning St. Lucian playwright and poet Kendel Hippolyte will deliver this year’s Derek Walcott Memorial Lecture January 18th 2022.
Read about him here.
Tune in online at
Flow Channel 122UWITV
Flow Channel 105
(Source – Facebook)
Antiguan-Canadian writer Tanya Evanson’s Book of Wings has been named to the 2022 Canada Reads long list. Read about it here. (Source – Author’s facebook)
It has also been added to Antiguans and Barbudans Awarded.
This round up of 2021 book prize winners includes several Caribbean writers: namely, Barbadian Cherie Jones, a finalist for the Woman’s Prize for Fiction for How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House; and Jamaican Maisy Card, a finalist for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, part of the Los Angeles Time Book prize, for These Ghosts are Family. (Source – email)
Jamaican Poet Laureate Olive Senior’s Hurricane Watch: New and Collected Poems lands at the end of January 2022. From Carcanet.
(Source – Twitter)
(Source – Me)
There were seven book publications out of St. Lucia in 2021, according to Jako Productions. “These included two memoirs (My Journey, and You Left Me Broken), two commentaries on St. Lucian Art and culture (The Reign of Terra, and Dance Footprints), a children’s book (The Reunion: The adventures of Froggy-T & Bunnie), a book of poetry (Ear to My Thoughts), and a commentary on St. Lucian politics (No Man’s Land: A Political Introspection of St. Lucia). Added to this list is Scream, a murder mystery novel by McDonald Dixon, a leading St. Lucian poet and novelist, to be launched this month.” (Jako Productions). The post also singled out multi-award winning St. Lucian poet Canisia Lubrin for commendation. (Source – Jako email)
The latest issue of Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters has landed. Issue 20’s theme is Thanksgiving and it includes as its cover image ‘Daylight’ by Stefan Rampersad/Alexander Phoenyx, part of the Trinidad and Tobago artist’s Caribe Arch series.
Poets featured in the issue are Jason Allen-Paisant, Fawzia Muradali Kane, and Edythe Rodriguez. The issue includes reviews of Celeste Mohammed’s Pleasantview, Shara McCallum’s No Ruined Stone, Lisa Allen-Agostini’s The Bread the Devil Knead, Bermudan poet Nancy Anne Miller’s contribution to Moko’s One Poem One Poet series. The fiction consists of winners of the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival short fiction prize of 2021 Patrice Grell Yursik (Daughter 4) and Akhim Alexis (The Wailers); and new stories in the “sky islands” speculative fiction universe curated by Fabrice Guerrier including his own ‘Magic Mangoes’, alongside ‘Ixie and Izzy‘ by Joanne C. Hillhouse (she, of Wadadli Pen and Antigua and Barbuda) and ‘Rock, Feather, Shell’ by Celeste Rita Baker. The issue is edited by Andre Bagoo. (Source – twitter)
As part of its mission, non-profit The Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society has released a colouring book, All Creatures Great and Small, as part of its mission to create a more animal-friendly environment by promoting care. The assembly and printing of the books was funded by King’s Casino Antigua. The Amatos family, meanwhile, donated boxes of crayons, among other items, to be paired with the books. The books are intended for distribution to pre and primary schools; and some are on sale in the Humane Society’s merchandise shop. For more information on this initiative and to donate towards future initiatives, call 268-461-4957. (Source – the Daily Observer newspaper)
Writers continue to be added to the Antiguan and Barbudan Writers (+Artists) on the Web, the Antiguan and Barbudan Fiction and Antiguan and Barbudan Writing, and the Caribbean Writers Online data bases. An addition too to Reading Room and Gallery 42 and the Opportunities page. The addition of a new Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed. (Source – me)
To the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival BCLF Cocoa Pod on Apple podcasts. Congrats to them on the continued growth which has included, in addition to the popular literary festival, the short fiction story contests named for acclaimed writer Elizabeth Nunez, and now this podcast 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.” We are informed, re the BCLF initiatives for writers (the festival, podcast, and interviews), that they are open to receiving author press kits/bios/links and, also, review copies or ARCs (new releases).
To Rebel Women Lit which while counting votes for the Caribbean Readers Awards, to be announced January 9th 2022 after voting closed at the end of 2021, has concurrently announced its Book Club Reading List for the year. The list is not exclusively Caribbean but includes Caribbean reads like Things I have Withheld by Kei Miller, Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo, Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson, and The Dreaming by Andre Bagoo. (Source – RWL email)
To my Jhohadli blog and specifically this round up post of recent publications and more. (Source – me)
To New Caribbean Voices, a podcast on spotify, hosted by Malika Booker. It includes interviews with and readings by contemporary Caribbean authors. (Source – JR Lee email)
To the Wadadli Music Scene blog, a project of jazz musicians Khadijah Simon and Foster Joseph, both of Antigua and Barbuda. The goal is to document stories related to Antigua and Barbuda’s music history. (Source – Foster Joseph who was interviewed in 2021 for CREATIVE SPACE)
Two Wadadli Pen team members, Barbara A. Arrindell and Joanne C. Hillhouse went on ABS TV on January 12th 2022 to discuss creative writing. Watch here.
Both are offering workshops. See flyers below.
(Source – me)
The Catapult Creative Arts grant is back. The COVID-19 relief programme for Caribbean artists saw funds paid out for residencies, salons, and other arts activities. The new application cycle
opens January 3rd 2022 closes January 14th 2022. Apply here. And, yes, you can apply again even if you are a past grant recipient. (Source – Repeating Islands)
Remember to check Opportunities Too for this and other arts opportunities with pending deadlines.
As I blogged recently 2019 Independence fashion show winner Nicoya Henry has yet to receive her government promised scholarship to study in Trinidad. My thoughts expressed in this CREATIVE SPACE Coda. (Source – me)
Antiguan and Barbudan author Joan Underwood has been delivering live tips from her book Manager’s First Aid Kit on the Mornin’ Barbados show since October 2021. The four month stint was every Wednesday, each episode focus on a challenge covered in a chapter of the book and offering up practical challenges and solutions. See episodes missed in this playlist from Underwood’s YouTube channel. (Source – Underwood email)
Antigua and Barbuda’s Cultural Industries Mapping Project announced in November 2021 that it received 430 responses to its survey.
The company chosen to create the National Cultural Information System/Cultural Portal is COMPUSULT LTD. Keep track here. (Source – Facebook)
Antigua and Barbuda has a new culture minister. Michael Browne, the former minister of education whose cabinet appointment was withdrawn while he fought a charge which shall not be named, is to be re-appointed, having beat the charge, but under a different portfolio. Darryl Matthew who added education to culture and sports after Browne’s dis-appointment, is the outgoing minister of culture. Actually, it’s called creative industries these days, more fully creative industries and innovation – under which falls culture, carnival, independence, the one nation concert, V. C. Bird celebrations, visual arts, graphic arts, decorative arts, performing arts, musical arts, happiness and unity, innovatiion, and the UNOPS. This is according to an article in the Daily Observer. No specific reference to literary arts but google says UNOPS is the United Nations Office of Project Services. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)
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, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, 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.