ETA: New announcement alert! Kevin Jared Hosein has won the overall Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Congrats!
I missed a couple of announcements which is understandable, this isn’t my job after all, but I wanted to get back to them even if they aren’t technically new(s) any more, because these authors deserve their dap – and because there are so few opportunities specifically for Caribbean writers, I like to highlight the ones that are. Call it inspiration for any of the rest of us out here putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard, thumbs to keypad, whatever) every day.
First up. This dude. This dude right here!
He made all the newspapers in his native Trinidad and Tobago for being that rare unicorn to repeat a Commonwealth Short Story Writers Prize win. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000 – 5000 words) across the Commonwealth. The overall winner receives £5,000 and regional winners receive £2,500. Translators receive additional prize money. Hosein, as I mentioned on my facebook, has been on a roll lately between being longlisted for Bocas (for The Repenters in 2017), being shortlisted/placing second for the Burt Award (for The Beast of Kukuyo in 2017), and now winning his second Regional (Caribbean) Prize for the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. I had a conversation recently with someone about whether it was fair for past winners to repeat and I think it is – a past winner is still a writer, writing, and not as set for life as some might like to think, and if the judging is blind as we like to think it is then their odds of winning/losing are the same as anyone else’s. I don’t think it necessarily has to stack the deck. And if you break through in any competition against a proven winner wouldn’t that feel even more like a win? I don’t know, apples and oranges in terms of scope, but Wadadli Pen winners can keep competing no matter how many times they win, as long as they’re still age eligible, because for them and every entrant it’s about challenging themselves; at least that’s how I see it. I certainly plan to keep going for everything I’m eligible for because I’m far from set/still hungry and because I always want to challenge myself to be better. A competition isn’t really an exact science as far as good, better, best is concerned – I know this all too well having been a judge of competitions myself – but for me the challenge isn’t really on the judges’ end but on mine, challenging myself to be better than I was two sentences ago. When it’s a personal challenge like that, chances are you may be inclined to step back anyway because been there, won that. Though of course that prize money and the come-up a win gives a writer is also nothing to cut your eye at. Within all of it though, hopefully bigger than all of it, is the desire to continue telling your stories:
“Trinidad and Tobago writes itself. It writes loudly and quietly at the same time. Loudly, because it likes to boast of its best and worst parts. Quietly, because it thinks nobody cares to listen. This win, along with the many voices year after year whom have shortlisted and won for this little twin-island nation, is reinforced proof that people out there are entertained by our stories, derive meaning and relevance from them, and are moved by them. It is proof that people care to listen”. – Kevin Jared Hosein
Since you’re here btw, take a new look at a post Kevin did about writing and publishing from the Caribbean; I’ve recommended it for people trying to understand the industry, and recommend it here again for you – he breaks it down way better than I’ve been able to.
I posted the short list and a run down of all previous winners (and their books) of the Burt Award but don’t think I ever got around to coming back and letting you know the top three winners’ ranking. Not that it matters – apart from a little more bank depending on where you are in the ranking – as, per Burt’s template, all three top three will be published and widely distributed across the region. This makes the Burt Award – sponsored by Canadian non-profit CODE and replicated among the Canadian First Nations/Natives community and all of Africa – a tangible path to publication.
So you can look out for new books from Guyanese writer Imam Baksh (who claimed his second Burt win – top spot), Barbadian writer (and filmmaker – second in the ranking) Shakirah Bourne, and Bermudan writer (editor, tutor – third overall) Elizabeth J. Jones. In addition to the book orders (up to 2,500 copies of each book), Burt also gives lump sum cash prizes to the winners – 10,000 CAD to the winner and 2,000 CAD each to the finalists. See the winners’ announcement here.
Looking forward to their books and I really do encourage you teachers, parents, aunts with teens – Caribbean or otherwise but especially Caribbean – in your life to introduce them to at least one of these books. These are modern tales of the young Caribbean experience or tales with particular, though not exclusive, appeal to this age group.
See also Caribbean Reads publisher Carol Mitchell’s encouragement to writers from the so-called small islands to big up themselves in these contests and Opportunities with upcoming deadlines for anyone seeking to challenge themselves to do just that.
As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.