Tag Archives: Caribbean writers

What (Caribbean) Writers Want

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.

Caribbean Reads, indie publisher out of St Kitts-Nevis and the US, at the Brooklyn Book Festival, maybe around 2018. Caribbean Reads was started by US based Nevisian writer Carol Mitchell as an avenue to publish her own books and books by other authors (including some of mine). Its listing includes award winning and critically acclaimed Caribbean books.

Responses –

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.

Olive Senior, Jamaican writer and current poet laureate, at the Best of Books (Antigua-Barbuda bookstore) table at the Alliougana literary festival in Montserrat, 2019. Olive, also a Wadadli Youth Pen Prize patron, has mentored writers like me in the Caribbean and likely Canada, where she lives, won major awards, achieved international success and local acclaim, and is on record (a few years ago now, so things may have changed) criticizing the lack of availability of her books/books by Jamaican authors in Jamaican bookstores and spaces where books are sold (like the airport).

– 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)

Andre Warner, pictured here at the Best of Books collecting his prizes, has been a finalist for several years and in 2020 was co-winner of the main prize for the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, a project I started in 2004 to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. In 2021, Wadadli Pen became a legal non-profit. Also in 2021, Andre started interning with me, assisting me while trying to learn more.

– 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)

Students in Antigua and Barbuda browsing books. This looks to be a table set up by a local bookstore in-school.

– 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)

A book table display, likely belonging to a local bookstore, which would have the books of participating authors available for sale, at the 2015 US Virgin Islands book fair.

– 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)

Periodically, long time Wadadli Pen patron, the Best of Books bookstore, hosts local authors, not just for launches or readings, but sidewalk showcases like this one from 2020 i.e. as the country began to loosen pandemic restrictions.

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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).

Started during the pandemic, Ten Pages bookstore in Antigua and Barbuda, owned by Glen Toussaint, who also has a lengthy relationship with Wadadli Pen, and continuing, can also be found around St. John’s City and online.

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.

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Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid January 2022)

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.

Milestones

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.

Wadadli Pen’s Joanne C. Hillhouse who also celebrated her remarkably non-milestone birthday this month, January 5th, is pictured with Kendel HIpplyte at their first meeting, at the Congrès International des écrivains de la Caraïbe in 2013.

“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)

Farewells

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)

Events

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
Facebook: @NobelLaureateFestivalSaintLuciaFacebook
Youtube: @cdfsaintluciaNTN
Flow Channel 122UWITV
Flow Channel 105

(Source – Facebook)

Accolades

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)

Publication News

Jamaican Poet Laureate Olive Senior’s Hurricane Watch: New and Collected Poems lands at the end of January 2022. From Carcanet.

(Source – Twitter)

***

You know that Wadadli Pen team member Floree Williams Whyte’s latest book dropped in December and she features in the first CREATIVE SPACE of 2022.

(Source – Me)

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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)

Site Updates

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)

Shout Outs

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). 

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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)

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To my Jhohadli blog and specifically this round up post of recent publications and more. (Source – me)

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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)

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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)

Opportunities

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)

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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.

News

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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid August 2021)

Happy Emancipation Day (August 1st 1834).

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)

Philanthropy

How can you help the arts?

For one, the Bocas Lit Fest has a Friends of Bocas initiative, inviting participation from individual stakeholders (regular people). For a contribution, you get access to a whole host of exclusive activities. Our winning Wadadli Pen writer of 2021 was gifted membership access as part of his prize thanks to Bocas, in addition to workshop access to some of our other finalists. Want to get in on the action while supporting the work? Details here.

Passings

Flags are being flown at half mast after the August 9th announcement of the passing of former Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister and National Hero Lester Bird in early August. Bird who was only the country’s second prime minister after Independence, and successor to his father, often referred to as Father of the Nation and National Hero Vere Bird Sr., was also author of two books found in our literary database of books by Antiguans and Barbudans on this site: Antigua Vision – Caribbean Reality: Perspectives of Prime Minister Lester Bryant Bird and The Comeback Kid: An Autobiography of Sir Lester Bryant Bird K.N.H. with Lionel Max Hurst.

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Milton Benjamin, veteran journalist from Antigua crossed over late in July. His passing in part inspired me to write about Antigua and Barbuda’s media culture in my first CREATIVE SPACE of August which you can read here.

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Kassav, the Guadeloupe band whose ‘zouk-la’ had the ability to enliven any soca fete I’ve been to has lost co-founder Jacob Desvarieux, also in late July. His passing brought forth an outpouring of tributes, like this one that landed in my inbox from Karukerament.

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Jamaican writer Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, associated with the early dub poetry movement, has also passed on the ancestral plane. The Jamaica Observer reports.

(Source – the local news I heard about locally, the others via social media)

Events

Antiguan and Barbudan author and Wadadli Pen founder-coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse will be reading at the Medellin World Poetry Festival (virtually) on Augutst 10th 2021 at 8 p.m. AST. Here’s how you can watch.

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The Caribbean Style & Culture Awards. See site.

Accolades

ETA: The BCLF list below is of Caribbean writers resident in the Caribbean. Above is the long list of Caribbean writers resident in the Caribbean. It includes 9 writers from Trinidad and Tobago, 5 from Dominica, 5 from Jamaica, 3 from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 1 from Barbados, 1 from Puerto Rico, 1 from St. Lucia, 1 from Guyana, 1 from Grenada, and 1 (Joanne C. Hillhouse) from Antigua and Barbuda. Click images to enlarge.

The Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival’s short story competition has been one to watch. And we’re watching this incredible 2021 long list.

Congratulations to the 22 long listed writers. The wealth is spread on a list that includes 7 writers from Trinidad and Tobago, 5 from Barbados, 3 from the Dominican Republic, 2 from Jamaica, 2 from Guyana, 1 from Dominica, 1 from Puerto Rico, 1 from Haiti, 1 from St. Lucia, 1 from Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, and 1 from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. No your math isn’t wrong, you know how it is in the Caribbean – some writers are from multiple places. (Source – Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival facebook page)

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Belated congratulations as well to St. Lucia’s Canisia Lubrin, who with The Dyzgraphxst (poetry, McClelland & Stewart) becomes the third St. Lucian to claim the main Bocas prize after Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott (White Egrets, poetry, Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2011) and Vladimir Lucien (Sounding Ground, poetry, Peepal Tree Press, 2015). Other winners of this coveted main book prize and its considerable purse have been the British Virgin Islands current Poet Laureate Richard Georges (Epiphaneia, poetry, Out Spoken Press, 2020), Jamaica’s current Poet Laureate Olive Senior (The Pain Tree, fiction, Cormorant Books, 2016) and, also of Jamaica, Kei Miller (Augustown, fiction, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2017), and Trinidad and Tobago’s Earl Lovelace (Is Just a Movie, fiction, Faber & Faber, 2012), Monique Roffey (Archipelago, fiction, Simon & Schuster, 2013), Robert Antoni – of Trinidad descent and raised in the Bahamas -(As Flies to Whatless Boys, fiction, Peepal Tree Press, 2014), Jennifer Rahim (Curfew Chronicles, fiction, Peepal Tree Press, 2018), and Kevin Adonis Browne (High Mas: Carnival and the Poetics of Caribbean Culture, non-fiction, University Press of Mississippi, 2019.

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Canada-based Gayle Gonsalves of Antigua and Barbuda was a National Indie Excellence Awards finalist for her latest book My Stories have No Endings. (Source – the author’s social media)

Publications

Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne is now out in the world even as she works on its follow up.

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New Anansi

The author is from Trinidad and Tobago. I haven’t been able to find more information about it, which is odd. (Source – JRLee email)

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It occurs to me that I’ve, not by design, reviewed a number of books by Dominica’s Papillote Press – perhaps more than any other Caribbean press, because they proactively reach out with ARCs, no pressure if I can’t read the books right away. I generally have enjoyed their catalogue, what I’ve read of it and thought I’d share my reviews.

Dangerous Freedom by Lawrence Scott – currently reading
Guabancex by Celia Sorhaindo
Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini
The Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Nunez
Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay

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Impact Magazine dropped in May 2021 (I believe). I thought I’d mention it as it describes itself as the newest source of entertainment and lifestyle news from Antigua, the Caribbean and the world at large. (Source – N/A)

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 AmazonWordPress, 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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Mark the Date

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March 30, 2021 · 2:04 pm

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

Burt-Award-winners-book-covers

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

The-Unmarked-Girl-Jeanelle-Frontin

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

Accepting Burt Award trophy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yay!!!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

my gift1.jpg

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

Gift to Library

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

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

MUSICAL_YOUTH_Cover_FRONT_Final

new edition released 2019

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

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

after a school presentation in St. Croix

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

Inner City Girl by Colleen Smith-Dennis (Jamaica)

Bocas 5

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

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

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

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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

***

“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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Commonwealth-Caribbean Writers

kk(Barbadian/Caribbean science fiction author, Karen Lord, author of Redemption in Indigo and other books and most recently editor of New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean, leads a session during the Commonwealth-Caribbean writers workshop which she co-facilitated with Jacob Ross at Ocean Spray Apartments in Barbados)

I got a ton of pictures from the Commonwealth workshop held  in June 2018 for Caribbean writers in Barbados (Read about it here) and thought I’d share some of them (so keep scrolling). The pictures were taken by workshop co-facilitator Jacob Ross and supplied by Emma D’Costa of the Commonwealth.

1 h
(Senior Programme Officer, Commonwealth Writers, Emma D’Costa, centre, with participating writers Sharma Taylor, left, and Shakirah Bourne, right)

Speaking of Emma, I also got from her the Antigua-Barbuda numbers as relates to submissions to the Commonwealth Short Story competition (Read about the outcome of this year’s competition) and, my people, we need to step it up. I say that knowing that rejections are hard to ricochet from and maybe you don’t want to put yourself through that – you just want to write, that maybe competitions are just not your jam, that maybe you have reservations specific to this competition (or the politics of competitions in general), or maybe you don’t see your writing as being its own journey with a narrative arc that requires it to stretch and grow and reach beyond its immediate space. I hear all ah dat (and even feel you on some of it) but le me bend your ear anyway.

This is an international competition, no entry fee, a lot of prestige, and a sizeable purse; plus as it breaks down the Commonwealth in to Asia, Africa, Canada & Europe, the Pacific, and the Caribbean, someone or someones from the Caribbean will be shortlisted and could win, potentially catapulting their writing/career to another level. In 2012, Jamaican author and environmental activist Diana McCaulay was our region’s winner; Trinidad & Tobago’s Sharon Millar who has since published a short story collection was the 2013 regional and shared overall winner with writers from Trinidad & Tobago also short listed, British-based Guyanese writer Maggie Harris was 2014’s regional winner with Trinidad & Tobago and Bahamas also making the short list, Trinidad & Tobago’s Kevin Jared Hosein whose star continues to rise was 2015’s regional winner with Jamaica and TnT also making the short list, TnT educator Lance Dowrich won the 2016 regional prize with Jamaica also short listed, Barbados-based Trinidad and Tobago writer and lawyer Ingrid Persaud (who hosted writers at the Barbados workshop at her beautiful home) 1nn
(That’s Ingrid Persaud, right, during the lime at her home, with Yesha Townsend of Bermuda, and Emma – clearly we had a grand time)

was the 2017 regional and overall winner with Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago also making the short list. In 2018, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are the region’s selections (four of them) for the Commonwealth Short Story short list.

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(During the 2018 Commonwealth workshop for Caribbean writers there was a public reading and 2017 winner of the Commonwealth Prize Ingrid Persaud was a featured reader – we got to hear an excerpt from her novel in progress)

Though shortlisted in the earlier incarnation of this prize in 2002 and 2008, between 2012 and 2018, we (speaking about Antigua and Barbuda now) haven’t cracked 10 entries in any given year – our lowest years in that time were 2015 and 2017 (three entries each) and our best years were 2016 and 2018 (nine entries each), which points as well to an on-year, off-year pattern (not sure of the reason). I know we’re doing a lot more writing than that (for sure we are doing a lot more writing and especially publishing than we were doing even a few years ago – see the ever-growing bibliography of local books archived on this). Still even with the number of submissions from the region being comparatively low (238 in 2018 of 5128 submissions), the number of submissions from the two winningest Caribbean countries is over 50 percent of total submissions from the region (77 from Trinidad and Tobago, and 55 from Jamaica). Granted TnT and Jamaica are considerably bigger than us, and for that and many reasons (more literary models, a more vibrant arts/writing and publishing culture and tradition among them) the odds are in their favour. But still. As Caribbean Reads publisher Carol Mitchell said recently – referencing another regional prize, the Burt Award (for which my book, Musical Youth, published by Caribbean Reads, was a finalist in 2014, one of the very few small island finalists over the years) – we in the small(er) islands need to submit more.

‘…she is concerned that most of the winners come from the larger Caribbean nations, such as Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana and the competition is missing out on the great talent in the smaller islands.

“I do believe the results reflect perhaps, a lack of access to the resources that may be key to producing a polished manuscript that has a shot at winning,”…’

Fair enough, but submitting can build your muscles (and resourcefulness) as a writer (and your chances of being a winning writer) and you never know what could come of it.

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(Here I am at the public reading during the workshop, reading from my children’s picture book With Grace – which in 2017 was an official pick for the US Virgin Islands Governor’s Summer Read Challenge and of which I sold all three copies that I had on me after the Barbados reading – yay)

By way of example, I have never won the Commonwealth Short Story contest, but because of it I was published in 2014’s critically acclaimed Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean and specifically because of that I was invited to read at literary festivals in Scotland and New York, and am excerpted in a CSEC English A Caribbean revision guide, and have been read/studied at two tertiary institutions that I’m aware of (one in Belize and one in NY)- all off of one story (Amelia at Devil’s Bridge), easily one of my most travelled stories. And, yet, a story that didn’t win. This is in concert with other developments in my literary life (including referencing my Burt win, subsequently organizing and facilitating a CODE/Burt workshop here in Antigua; serving as a Caribbean Burt award judge; and, most recently, a mentor for a Burt/Code writer in Africa). All are part of the whole and none of it would happen without consistently writing and submitting. And of course none of it means that I am either where I want or need to be as a writer. After all, I still haven’t won yet, right?

This year not-winning landed me in Barbados for this Commonwealth workshop with other Caribbean writers, drawing strength and community from each others’ experiences (including or perhaps especially our challenges) on our respective islands and from the experience we shared together in Barbados. I felt disappointed obviously about not making the short list but welcomed the opportunity in the end to participate in this workshop because I remain a student of writing and because opportunities to immerse myself in spaces that encourage and respect and support my growth and journey as a writer are rare. And what I learn, I continue to teach, as I returned home to jump in to series 4 of my own Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Workshop Series and continue my own writing with new and/or re-affirmed goals. Winning the prize (any prize) would be nice to be sure but there is more to be gained from each experience. I know it’s scary and not winning can be disheartening, but sometimes it really is just how things shake out and not a verdict on the worthiness of our story nor of  us as writers (though the goal is to always work to be better by whatever metric is important to us). Keep going, write, submit. Because in the same way that if you let fear win you’ll never learn to swim, if you stop journeying as a writer because of an obstacle in your path, you’ll miss the adventure.

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(Shout out to Sharma Taylor, pictured here amid the creaking towering bamboo trees at Coco Hill. Sharma is from Jamaica but resident in Barbados. On day one of the workshop, she reminded me that she’d taken the workshop session I co-facilitated with African American writer Bernice McFadden at the BIM Lit Fest in 2016. Small world, renewed connections. Sharma is one of the 2018 24 short listed Commonwealth writers.)

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(Coco Hill Forest really was a side of Barbados I’d never seen before)

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(Seriously)

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(But we were game – that’s from left, Barbados’ Carlie Pipe, St. Lucia’s Katherine Atkinson, Bahamas’ Alexia Tolas, Mahmood ‘Mood’ Patel – Barbados filmmaker and owner of Ocean Spray and  this hill we were just about to hike, and me, Antigua and Barbuda)

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(Through the forest we will go, through the forest we did go)

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(Barbadian artist Carlie Pipe blended poetry and music for her presentation #Dampersand)

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(The reading was dope with every one bringing his/her own flava, some reading from  Commonwealth prize entries, some switching it up with poetry, and some, like Shakirah Bourne, reading from previously published work – like her story from the Commonwealth Writers site Adda , one of two stories by her that I’ve used in my workshops by the way)

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(After the readings it was dancing time – let’s see, that’s Nailah Imoja of De Bajan Bookshop and other things, with her back to the camera, she was the workshop’s point person in Barbados and emcee of the public reading; that’s her daughter next to her. In front of them, facing the camera is Bajan short story writer and filmmaker, whose novel a 2018 Burt finalist is forthcoming, Shakirah Bourne, and in conversation, to the right is Alexia Tolas of the Bahamas and Sharma Taylor of Jamaica-Barbados. Some of us are the other bodies you see in the back there dancing)

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(Nailah!)

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(The other Antiguan, Barbados-based Tammi Browne-Bannister)

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(Some of our best conversations happened right here over breakfast and lunch, and occasionally dinner at Ocean Spray – pictured in the foreground are Emma, left, facing away from camera chatting with teacher and writer Alexia Tolas of the Bahamas; across from them, on his computer is lawyer-cum-writer, you may be familiar with his work re Groundation Grenada, Richie Maitland)

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(Our facilitators really covered a lot of ground in the week we had together. There was much to absorb during the actual sessions. Me, absorbing)

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(and I wasn’t the only one)

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(in session – Bermuda’s Regina Ferguson and lecturer and veteran author Angela Barry – whom I first met in 2008 in Barbados when we were both on a panel dubbed Celebrating Caribbean Women Writers, on either side of St. Lucia’s Katherine Atkinson – a teacher, writer, tv personality, and publisher)

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(That’s Shakirah Bourne to my right, your left, fresh off the Burt Awards ceremony and the buzz around her last and most international to date film A Caribbean Dream, a Shakespeare adaptation)

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(Even session breaks were full of discussion – here’s co-facilitator Jacob Ross, whose latest books The Bone Readers and Tell No-one About This were short listed for major awards, with Shakirah Bourne and Sharma Taylor- this picture taken from Carlie Pipe’s public facebook page)

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(the one-on-one sessions were invaluable; pictured is Alexia Tolas with award winning sci-fi author, workshop co-facilitator Karen Lord)

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(I had a couple of sessions with the man himself Jacob Ross; here he is at his reading. Jacob is an acclaimed writer but I first new him as an editor)

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(Conversations never stopped even when we were kicking back – it was a truly rich experience)

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(… and when I said the sea lullabyed me to sleep every night, I wasn’t exaggerating)

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

 

 

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Writing Triumphs (Yay!)

Gerty Dambury writes in an article headlined ’10 Female Caribbean Authors You Should Know (And Add To Your American Lit Syllabus)’ and published at Lit Hub, “When I was studying English and American literature, I was struck by the fact that not one black woman—American, English or Caribbean—was included on any of the syllabi. It seemed as if such a category of writers did not exist. This is why I’ve listed below Caribbean women authors who, I think, deserve more attention. Some of them are contemporary, some older, but all are worthy of your time. I’m personally interested in the way these authors address issues of both racism and feminism.”

So, there I was scrolling through this list which kicked off with Una Marson (Jamaica), who I’ve written about here before as the first producer of Caribbean Voices, a programme instrumental in the development of the Caribbean literary canon. Through names I recognize – like Alecia McKenzie (Jamaica), Afua Cooper (Jamaica), Marion Bethel (the Bahamas), Marcia Douglas (Jamaica) and names I don’t – Elma Napier (Dominica by way of Scotland), Mahadai Das (Guyana), a list that rounds out with Myriam J. A Chancy (Haiti) and Velma Pollard (Jamaica) – other well-known Caribbean literary artists, when my name (and by extension Antigua and Barbuda) showed up. What?!

She wrote about my book Oh Gad! Oh Gad cover“With this book, Joanne Hillhouse tells a well-known story: how does it feel to return home when it is no longer truly home? Nikki, the main character, was born in Antigua but raised in the USA. When she comes back to Antigua for her mother’s funeral, she decides to remain on the island. Turmoil and chaos ensue. Joanne Hillhouse is a powerful writer, raising questions directly and with great energy.”

What?!

Humbled to be in such company. Give thanks. #gyalfromOttosAntigua

p.s. is it weird that I’m almost equally excited that today the nephew I wrote about in Boys DO Read …this kid–>boy reading … got an A on his writing assignment and got called to the front of the class to read his story; I don’t blame the teacher, I like reading his stories too.

p.p.s. if you’re reading this and resident in Antigua and Barbuda, remember to help your own little storytellers get their stories in to the Wadadli Pen 2018 Challenge on time.

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, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). 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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Caribbean Poets Forward

The 26th annual Forward Prizes will be awarded on September 21, 2017, at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre in London. Among the writers on the shortlist there are Caribbean writers such as: Ishion Hutchinson (Port Antonio, Jamaica); Malika Booker (of Guyanese and Grenadian parentage); and Richard Georges (Port of Spain, Trinidad). [Caribbean writers Vahni Capildeo and […]

via Forward Prizes 2017: Shortlists — Repeating Islands

The Forward Prizes for Poetry are the most coveted awards for poetry published in Britain and Ireland: they have played a key role in bringing contemporary poetry to the attention of the wider public for quarter of a century. They were set up in 1991 by philanthropist William Sieghart to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience, and are awarded to published poets for work in print in the last year. The three prizes – £10,000 for Best Collection, £5,000 for Best First Collection and £1,000 for Best Single Poem – are unique in honouring both the work of established poets and the debuts of brilliant unknowns. Past Forward Prizes winners include Claudia Rankine, Thom Gunn, Seamus Heaney, Alice Oswald, Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy and Kathleen Jamie.

Among the writers on the shortlist there are Caribbean writers such as: Ishion Hutchinson (Port Antonio, Jamaica); Malika Booker (of Guyanese and Grenadian parentage); and Richard Georges (from Port of Spain, Trinidad and resident in the British Virgin Islands). [Caribbean writers Vahni Capildeo and Tiphanie Yanique were among last year’s Forward Prizes winners.]

 

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From the Mailbox – Hurston Wright Winners

Hurston/Wright Foundation Announces 2016 Legacy Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation announced the winners and finalists of the 2016 Legacy Awards and paid tribute to celebrated authors Ernest J. Gaines and Junot Díaz on Friday, October 21st in Washington, D.C.

Dominican-American author Junot Diaz at the 2016 Hurston Wright Legacy Awards (Hurston Wright image)

Dominican-American author Junot Diaz at the 2016 Hurston Wright Legacy Awards (Hurston Wright image)

More than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia attended. National Public Radio’s Michel Martin served as Mistress of Ceremony and novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez delivered a tribute to the foundation’s namesakes. The highlight of the evening was the naming of the winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2015 in the categories of debut fiction, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Mitchell Jackson, author of The Residue Years and a former Legacy Awards finalist, presented the North Star Award — the foundation’s highest honor for career accomplishment and inspiration to the writing community — to Ernest J. Gaines, the award-winning author of A Lesson Before Dying. Marita Golden, co-founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, presented Junot Díaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and founder of Voices of Our Nation, with the Ella Baker Award for championing diversity in MFA programs, his leadership in creating workshops for writers of color, and social justice advocacy.

The winners and finalists of the Legacy Awards are as follows:
Debut Fiction

Mourner’s Bench by Sanderia Faye (The University of Arkansas Press) – Winner
Fiction

Delicious Foods by James Hannaham (Little, Brown and Company) – Winner

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) – Finalist

The Lost Child by Caryl Phillips (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) – Finalist

 

Nonfiction

Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga by Pamela Newkirk (Amistad) — Winner

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander (Grand Central Publishing) — Finalist

Confronting Black Jacobins: The United States, the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic by Gerald Horne (Monthly Review Press) – Finalist
Poetry

Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press) –Winner

Honest Engine by Kyle Dargan (The University of Georgia Press) — Finalist

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay (University of Pittsburgh Press) – Finalist

 

The Award for College Writers, under the sponsorship of Amistad books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers, also was presented Friday night.  Princeton University’s John S. Wilson III won for fiction and Joy Priest of the University of South Carolina won for poetry, both of whom read from their winning works. Honorable mentions were awarded to Clynthia Burton Graham for fiction, and to Vanity Hendricks-Robinson and Latasha D. Johnson for poetry.
The 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards continue the foundation’s tradition of recognizing literary excellence by writers from the United States as well as the international Black writing community.
The additional nominees, all of whom were announced in June, were:
Debut Fiction

The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson (Penguin Press)

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown and Company)

Fiction

The Sellout by Paul Beatty (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson (William Morrow)

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

 

Nonfiction

Where Everybody Looks Like Me: At the Crossroads of America’s Black Colleges and Culture by Ron Stodghill (Amistad)

Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness by Harriet A. Washington (Little, Brown and Company)

The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America by D. Watkins (Hot Books/Skyhorse Publishing)

 

Poetry

How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes (Penguin Books)

It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time by Angela Jackson (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)

Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis (Alfred A. Knopf)
About the Hurston/Wright Foundation: The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation was founded in 1990 in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to discovering, mentoring and honoring Black writers. Through workshops for adult writers and teens, master classes and readings, the organization preserves the voices of Black writers in the world literary canon, serves as a community for writers, and continues a tradition of literary excellence in storytelling established by its namesakes. The Hurston/Wright Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit. Learn more at http://www.hurstonwright.org

 

p.s. you may have noticed a few people with Caribbean roots mentioned, folks like Junot Diaz, Caryl Philips (fiction finalist), and Naomi Jackson who has Barbadian and Antiguan roots (nominee for debut fiction). Congratulations to them and all the winners and nominees. And to all of us writing and dreaming, continue to strive.

 

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