Tag Archives: Caribbean

Roland Watson-Grant: Caribbean Winner, 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize — Repeating Islands

Jamaican author Roland Watson-Grant is the Caribbean Winner of the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, with “The Disappearance of Mumma Dell”—his winning story of a matriarch’s funeral gone awry, a missing body, a forbidden pear tree and a community under threat is told through the eyes of a teenager. The 2021 overall winner will be announced […]

Roland Watson-Grant: Caribbean Winner, 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize — Repeating Islands

‘I entered Commonwealth Short Story Prize because I write in the spaces where cultures have conversations. I eavesdrop on what one culture –based on geography or time– has to share with another. I couldn’t ignore a platform that is dedicated to the very same thing.’ (Grant)

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is now open for submissions. See this and other deadlines in Opportunities Too.

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Caribbean Readers Choice Lit Awards

The content in this post would usually be in a Caribbean Lit Plus post (the site’s twice monthly round up of regional arts news) but it merits its own. This is the Caribbean Readers Choice book awards courtesy of the Rebel Women Lit book club – an opportunity for Caribbean readers and readers of Caribbean books to, say, I’mma let you finish (insert prestigious literary awards here) but these are the books that the bookworms are actually stanning. The category breakdown is pretty interesting – I would add only Best children’s book, Best individual poem, and Best cover (of any genre) but there’s always tomorrow. As for today, eligible books would have been published between November 2019 and November 2020 (if I’m remembering correctly), if you’re wondering where your favourites are – books are reader nominated and (after being whittled to a short list) reader voted. So vote. In order announced on Rebel Women Lit’s live podcast, from which these images were screen captured, here is the shortlist of nominees.

First up was critics (this is not a voting category; just acknowledging)

(Now the categories you CAN vote in)

Big Congratulations to all the nominees. There are several books from my TBR listed, plus one I’ve actually reviewed, and voting is going to be hard because I know and/or love a lot of these writers and their writings, and the ones I don’t know, I look forward to discovering.

But this is Wadadli Pen. You know what I’m here for. The Antiguan and Barbudan nominees are:

Rilzy Adams (for best novel) with Birthday Shot. Rilzy is Rilys Adams, local lawyer and former Wadadli Pen finalist (2005, 2006), in addition to being a prolific self-published novelist.

Joanne C. Hillhouse (listed incorrectly as Hill above) in the short non-fiction category with ‘F is For…’ from the Caribbean Literary Heritage forgotten Caribbean books series. I am Joanne, writer and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator. This short listed article began as a research project for my Jhohadli blog which I later redrafted and contributed to the CLH series. I also find myself in an esteemed company of critics and all I have to say is I’m not worthy.

Several Wadadli Pen 2020 shortlisted writers (whoop whoop!) – Andre J P Warner (A Bright Future for Tomorrow), Zaniah Pigott (A Mermaid), Aria-Rose Browne (Fabled Truth), Cheyanne Darroux (Tom, the Ninja Crab, listed as Ninja Crab), William Henderson (The Beast of Barbados) – made the short list for best short fiction; and how dope would it be if one of them won. Vote!

Barbara Arrindell is one of two nominees (the other being Jamaican writer Pietra Brown) from the online platform started just last month by Antiguan and Barbudan gender activists in the short fiction category. Barbara, a local writer and Wadadli Pen team member, is nominated for Belonging to Barbuda.

We in the 268 don’t get a lot a lot of attention usually as far as canon fanfare is concerned but we made out okay this time. Thanks to Rebel Lit Woman for this initiative. This book lover is looking forward to voting; hope you are too. If voting isn’t open when you check, just check back.

Voting closes December 31st 2020.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on 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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Out-Store Book Event

Out-Store is my spin on in-store because the Best of Books bookstore’s Independence weekend event was held on the sidewalk outside of their store, not indoors, and we were all masked up because #COVID19isreal in these streets. The showcase of local literary talent actually ran over three days. I was there on Saturday afternoon, but I believe it started on Thursday of that weekend. Here are some I believe exclusively Saturday images and videos (courtesy the Best of Books and writer Brenda Lee Browne who was, also, a part of the event).

I was there (in purple) with (standing, left) Brenda Lee Browne, author of London Rocks and the Just Write journal to jumpstart your creativity.
Just Write books and mugs (the latter created locally by Cedars Pottery).
Pictured in the foreground is Farida Issac’s latest, Live Out Loud: A 90 Day Guided Journal for Women Ready to Live their Best Lives.
Farida Isaac also brought her children’s book Calypso Princess: the Grand Celebration and the companion activity book.
Janice Sutherland was out with her book This Woman Can! The No Bullsh*t Guide for Women Who Lead. This is the first upload to the new Wadadli Pen YouTube channel.
Other videos from the event have been added to the Wadadli Pen channel. Check the ‘Book Event, Independence 2020 Playlist’.
T. Lerisa Simon was out with Gift of God: Finding Treasure in the Darkness and Lemon Tree: Surviving Miscarriage and Other Things We don’t discuss.
Joy Lawrence.

I am pictured here with the original 2014 edition, left, of the Burt Award winning title Musical Youth, and the 2019 second edition, right.

Also present was The Boy from Willow Bend.

That’s me at the end. I am Joanne C. Hillhouse. I write books. I run Wadadli Pen. I blog here. If you use anything from this post, credit where due and link back. If you’re a writer who participated in this event, don’t see yourself, and have a picture of vid to share, you can send to wadadlipen@gmail.com Will do my best to post as soon as time allows. #buylocallit

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Carib Lit Plus March 2020

The timing of this post is funny (not haha) as the world slowly shuts down to halt the spread of an international pandemic. No hysterics here. Just a reminder to be safe – follow the guidelines – and don’t panic.

Check a trusted source and tune in to official fact-based updates via local news outlets. Recommended though that this news intake be in manageable bites (to reduce fear and panic), and that we all embrace ways to stay lifted. To wit, this being an arts site, we hope you’ll appreciate this montage of Italians coping with song.

Now, on to arts news from Antigua and Barbuda, and the wider Caribbean.

Awards

The Wadadli Pen 2020 Challenge has a short list! Thanks to judges Floree Williams Whyte (judging chief/Wadadli Pen partner), Glen Toussaint (bookseller, writer), and Danielle Boodoo Fortune (Bocas winning poet, and artist). Entries still in the running are: Oh, Beach that I once loved; The John Bull Effect; The Beast of Barbados; Two Worlds Collide; A Bright Future for Tomorrow; My Favourite Dish; A New World; A Mermaid; Lead Me Lord; The Fabled Truth; and Tom, the Ninja Crab. See who the writers were, here.

Zadie Smith, a UK writer, of Jamaican descent on her mother’s side, was shortlisted for the Folio Prize. Already well known and celebrated for books like White Teeth, Zadie is one of eight singled out, this time for her book Grand Union. The winner is due to be announced this March. More here.

Here in Antigua and Barbuda the Directorate of Gender Affairs Awarded 25 Women of Wadadli, a first time initiative held, appropriately, on International Women’s Day, March 8th 2020. “DoGA Executive Director, Farmala Jacobs, said that this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day is especially significant and that the Woman of Wadadli Awards aimed to recognize the unsung heroes among us.” Among the 25, there were broadly eight artists (Colleen Simpson – Culinary Arts, Heather Doram – Culture, Noreen Phillips – Fashion, Zahra Airall – Fine Arts, Marion Byron – Music and Entertainment, Mako Williams – recognized for Tech is also an artist, and Wadadli Pen core team member Barbara Arrindell – recognized as a changemaker, but also a writer). The Literature prize went to Wadadli Pen’s own Joanne C. Hillhouse.

WoW

Read more.

Exclusive Interview: M. J. Fievre

Featured on Hillhouse’s Jhohadli blog, this interview with Haitian-American writer M. J. Fievre traverses the territory of depression and her own experience with it and the creative expression that emerged. Her book Happy, Okay? uses various literary forms to speak to her mental health journey (in progress) and another book touched on, Badass Black Girl, is meant to be a guide to young girls in their own process of emerging. Check out the full interview here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Books

New from Peepal Tree Press, from PEN English Translation winners Puerto Rico-based Loretta Collins-Klobah and Maria Grau Perejoan, a bilingual anthology of thirty-three contemporary Caribbean women poets The Sea Needs No Ornament/ El mar no necesita ornamento. It is the first bilingual anthology of contemporary poetry by women writers of the English- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean and its Diasporas to be curated in more than two decades. The anthology presents a selection of work by poets from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and from various Anglophone Caribbean islands and the Diaspora. Each poem is presented first in the original, followed by the translation. The majority of poets have not yet been widely translated nor included in a bilingual anthology of this scope.

Klobah is a past Bocas winner.

This one actually came out in late 2019 but we missed it, so

The ArtsEtc Winning Words Anthology is very much in the spirit of what we try to do here at Wadadli Pen. It is a developmental programme that helps to nurture and showcase new writing in Barbados – from fresh and established voices. The only difference really is the resources behind it (e.g. the National Cultural Foundation). Kudos to the NCF for all it does to push literary arts in BIM.

We also want to acknowledge that past Wadadli Pen finalist Rilzy Adams dropped three new self-published ebooks late in 2019 – 12 Dates of Christmas (Love on the Rock Book 1); You, Me + Baby (Love on the Rock Book 2); and Brand New: A Love on the Rock Novelette.

Jacob Ross has released the second book in his Michael ‘Digger’ Digson crime noir series. Black Rain Falling (published with Sphere) picks up after The Bone Readers (Peepal Tree), which introduced the Caribbean forensic detective to the literary world, with a couple of new mysteries to solve.

Monique Roffey – already prolific and profound as the author of books like Archipelago and White Woman on the Green Bicycle (both published with Penguin) – has a new one  (with Peepal Tree) The Mermaid of Black Conch, in which a fisherman on a fictional Caribbean island meets a cursed woman of the sea. The UK-based Trinidad writer previously won the Bocas Prize for literature and has been shortlisted for several other major international awards. Early reviews for this one are good too: “The setting is slow and lush, full of colour and texture, which makes it beautifully three dimensional, with a feeling of movement that lifts and carries you through. There is beauty in the grimness too.” (Jess Sturnam-Coombs)

Also out this March, An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading (CSL Kreisel Lecture Series via the University of Alberta Press) by Dionne Brand. Most online bios found through google describe her as a Canadian poet but she is Trinidad and Tobago born and raised. And this book is informed by her Caribbean colonial upbringing. In it, the “internationally acclaimed poet and novelist Dionne Brand reflects on her early reading of colonial literature and how it makes Black beings inanimate. She explores her encounters with colonial, imperialist, and racist tropes; the ways that practices of reading and writing are shaped by those narrative structures; and the challenges of writing a narrative of Black life that attends to its own expression and its own consciousness.” (book summary)

Film

Guyanese actress, Shuri from Black Panther, Letitia Wright has reportedly signed on to star in the bizarre story of a pair of Barbados-born, UK-based twins. In a nutshell, “They became known as The Silent Twins as they refused to communicate with anyone but each other, and ended up in Broadmoor Hospital after they turned to crime. Jennifer and June spent 11 years in Broadmoor where they were studied by doctors and psychologists, but the pair would still only communicate with each other and became catatonic when separated.” Interesting. Check it out.

Meanwhile, an Antiguan-Barbudan boy is Peter Pan in a new adaptation by the director of the critically-acclaimed, Oscar nominated Beast of the Southern Wild.

Yashua Mack, a local boy, made his big screen debut in February 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival playing the iconic literary character who has been re-imagined many times over but, perhaps not with quite so much melanin. The film was also partially filled in Antigua, primarily at local landmark Hell’s Gate – an offshore island which is a border between the calm of the Caribbean Sea and the wilds of the Atlantic Ocean. A red carpet premiere was planned for Antigua-Barbuda in March 2020 (can’t confirm if this has been cancelled in light of COVID-19 government ban of public gatherings of a certain size – with this and all events call first).

Reading Comps

Reading competitions seem to be catching on; there are two national ones in Antigua, one with a regional component. Here’s some news related to both.

A Grace Christian Academy student won the Rotary Antigua Reading Comp, for the third time. This is the second year in a row that it has featured a book by a Wadadli Pen associated writer – last year, The Wonderful World of Yohan by Floree Williams Whyte, Wadadli Pen’s chief judge and this year, The Boy from Willow Bend, the first book by Wadadli Pen founder Joanne C. Hillhouse.

Reading Comp
(read the full article above from the Daily Observer newspaper 08-03-20 and this related blog post )

Meanwhile, Antigua and Barbuda placed third in the OECS edition of the Courts reading competition.

 

Developmental News

The Honorable Harold Simmons Folk Academy of The Monsignor Patrick Anthony Folk Research Centre has announced a FRC Saint Lucia Studies Conference for 2020 focused on “Creoleness/Créolité : Saint Lucian culture and cultural/creative industries in national development today.” The announced date is June 24-26 at the Finance Administrative Centre in Pointe Seraphine. The Conference seeks to provide an opportunity for researchers in the areas of Saint Lucian life and culture to present their findings in a Saint Lucian setting. For more information, email frc@candw.lc or the folkresearchcentrelibrary@gmail.com

Online literary journal (out of Jamaica) Pree has announced a Pree Writing Studio initiative funded by the Prince Klaus Next Generation Grant. “With tutors of the calibre of Marlon James, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Kei Miller, Garnette Cadogan, Ishion Hutchinson, Ingrid Persaud and Safiya Sinclair those lucky enough to attend PREE’s inaugural writing studio are in for a treat. In addition there will be a publishing studio by Little, Brown/Hatchette/Dialogue Books publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove.” There may be some subsidy for writers unable to meet the total cost and this seems to be only the first of a planned series. Read more.

International Publishing Announcements

UK-based Jamaican writer Leone Ross’ latest book is the talk of the publishing world after inking a deal with Faber for the 2021 release of This One Sky Day. ‘Set on a fictional Caribbean archipelago called Popisho, This One Sky Day is described by Faber as “a sensual meditation on the nature of love and addiction” as well as “a dazzling, funny and incisive disquisition on post-colonial politics”. It also called it “a major work of fiction in conversation with Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy and Junot Díaz via the Harlem Renaissance and Anaïs Nin”.’ Read more.

My-Fishy-Stepmom

Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne has landed a publishing deal with Scholastic for her Burt Award winning title, already released as My Fishy Stepmom by Jamaica’s Blouse and Skirt Books, to be released in to the US market as Josephine vs. the Sea Spirit. Per Publisher’s Weekly, “This middle grade novel features cricket-playing Jo, who discovers that her father’s new girlfriend is a powerful and vengeful sea creature and has to convince everyone of the woman’s true identity before she loses her dad forever. Publication is slated for spring 2021.” We don’t know the details of the deal but this is a big deal and we join the Caribbean literary community in congratulating her. If we’re counting right, this is the third Burt title to land a separate US publishing deal – maybe she should team up for a ‘how they did it’ seminar with Diana McCaulay, author of Gone to Drift which landed at Harper Collins, and Lisa Allen-Agostini, author of Home Home which is forthcoming this year from Delacorte Press, a division of Penguin Random House,  after both being initially published by Dominica/UK’s Papillote Press.

Pan

Kim Johnson of Trinidad is seeking to republish his Illustrated History of Pan.

Meanwhile, in Antigua and Barbuda we say good bye to the long serving member of the longest running pan in the world the multi-award winning Hell’s Gate Steel Orchestra, Eustace ‘Manning’ Henry.

Anansesem Announces a New Chapter 

The founding editor Summer Edward is stepping down but the online platform for Caribbean children’s literature will carry on – which is what you love to see; succession, continuity. Summer also took the opportunity to announce the pending publication of her own book. Read her full statement.

CREATIVE SPACE on a New Platform

The Antigua and Barbuda art and culture series by JCH is now running every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer newspaper and on the Jhohadli blog online with extras.

The latest edition – second on this new platform – is Black History Month and Women’s History Month themed and headlined Centering Us, Year Round. Above is that second published article – be sure to look out for fresh articles in the series every other Wednesday

Book Club

ABS TV has for several weeks been running Book Club, a Tuesday morning segment on Antigua Today. So far segments have included the likes of D. Gisele Isaac (Considering Venus) and Gayle Gonsalves (Painting Pictures and Other Stories). Not sure if it airs at a particular time in the daily national TV morning show but Tuesday’s the day. Kudos to ABS TV for this initiative.

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, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on 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 Plus Lit (Mid February 2020)

brooklyn book fest 2020

Caribbean Reads – sponsor of the 2020 Wadadli Pen Challenge Schools Prize – at the Brooklyn Book Fair in 2019. The sub-regional independent publisher will be giving EC$600 worth of books to the winning school in this year’s Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge, some from its own booklist. Which may include pictured books like Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure by yours truly.

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On the subject of Wadadli Pen, I wanted to share that I am thrilled that this project has survived since 2004 – it’s always touch and go. Also, though it mostly manifests as a competition, it’s not about winning prizes. It’s about encouraging creativity and all of the reflection, imagination, and expression that comes with that.

In one of the targeted direct mailers I sent out, I noted that participation “can be purely fun and about self-discovery; it can also open a portal to expressing and coping with challenging feelings and experiences. Encouraging youth creativity also promotes mental growth, potentially improving academic performance and emotional maturity. Encouraging youth creativity gives young people an opportunity to try new things, new ways of seeing, new ways of thinking, and new ways of problem solving. The ‘Imagine a Future’ special prize in this year’s Wadadli Pen Challenge, for instance, will create an opportunity to explore the potentials of action or inaction on climate change – the existential challenge of our day – do we survive and how. This may emerge as a dystopian shadowland or a bright sci fi future. Who knows? As small islands, we are on the front lines of climate change; it’s an opportunity for young people to think through what will be the first major battle of their life time, for bad or good. If you are a youth in Barbuda, you have been in the headlines at least since 2017 and hurricane Irma, the trauma of which you may not have fully explored even as you grapple with historical and political realities beyond your understanding, where is your voice in this, what’s your story? ‘The Wa’omani Prize’ is an opportunity to remember that there are no small stories, that every experience matters – from fishing with your dad to being in the path of a storm to end all storms. The Wadadli Pen Challenge is not fixed on a theme – tell any story you want, about anything you want, however you want – but it is Caribbean, simply because we must centre our own imagination in our own stories. Storytelling is an opportunity to explore us. At the same time, it is an opportunity to experience our reality from a different perspective – where did the frigates go when they flew away …from the perspective of a frigate. For people working with young people it’s an opportunity to ask what if… allowing the imagination to zig from reality to fantasy and back again. The 3-strip comic panel is a challenge for those better at expressing themselves using visuals than words because visuals too can tell a full story filled with drama, humor, warmth, etc. Writers and artists can even collaborate for full expression of an idea. The thing to remember is that there  is no wrong or right, only the urge to write, to draw, to create, and the freedom to be on the page.” Time will tell if this and the other media (thanks to Observer Media Group, Antiguanice.com, 268 Antigua, ABS TV, Crusader Radio, and others for helping us get the word out) and social media, and direct pushes we made to encourage young people in Antigua and Barbuda to submit by February 16th 2020 moved the needle at all.

For full guidelines and submission form, visit https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/wadadli-pen-2020 Shout out to our patrons Juneth Webson, Frank B. Armstrong, Lawrence Jardine, Brenda Lee Browne, D. Gisele Isaac, Caribbean Reads Publishing, Hermitage Bay Antigua, Adventure Antigua, Cindy’s Book Store, Floree Williams Whyte, Paradise Vision Centre, Jane Seagull, and others.

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You’ll notice that the art category is back for Wadadli Pen but framed this time as a comic strip challenge. Here’s hoping we’ll see lots of entries from the winners of this other art prize, the Halo Christmas card competition, which has been one of the more enduring art initiatives – albeit under different headings, Halo in recent years – in Antigua and Barbuda. Shout out to my alma mater Christ the King High School from which winner Tiffany Dunnah hails. Here’s the report via 268.

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We join the Caribbean and the rest of the literary world in bidding well done and farewell to the late Barbadian scribe Kamau Brathwaite who died on February 4th 2020 (at age 89). He’s been covered a time or two here on the blog but the various tributes should provide a sense of the scope of his work and influence. Also, the Bocas Lit Fest reported “Just days before he died, Brathwaite agreed to accept the 2020 Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters, presented annually by Trinidad and Tobago’s Bocas Lit Fest. The award pays tribute to Brathwaite’s landmark work as a critic — the author of many seminal essays on Caribbean literature and culture — literary activist, and editor, and was also intended to honour him in the year of what would have been his ninetieth birthday.” The award will now be presented to a member of Brathwaite’s family on March 5th 2020 at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill in Barbados during the annual KamauBrathwaite Lecture.

Peepal Tree publisher Jeremy Poynting said in his tribute (among the various tributes linked above): “Maybe there’s a room somewhere where Kamau, Derek and Wilson are talking together. Now wouldn’t that be some conversation to hear?” He is, of course, referencing Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and acclaimed Guyanese writer Wilson Harris, the statement an indicator of the company in which Brathwaite sits.

In his influence on and shaping of Caribbean poetry, West Indian Literature, Nation Language (a term he coined as a descriptor of Caribbean ‘dialect’), Africa-infused experimental linguistics in his creative expressions,the work of the UWI, the writers he’s mentored or influenced, the many he’s educated, Brathwaite is remembered as a literary lion and his legacy will surely endure.

For more on Brathwaite, read this editorial in Barbados Today

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Also via a Bocas mailing, the second year of the Johnson and Amoy Achong long list has been posted. It is, per usual, dominated by Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guyana (after being won last year by a Jamaica born, Barbados based writer). The developmental prize for emerging writers (this year focused on non-fiction) will go to either Amanda Choo Quan (T&T), Melissa Doughty (T&T), Ruel Johnson (Guyana), Otancia Noel (T&T), Kim Robinson-Walcott (Jamaica), and Amílcar Sanatan (T&T). Congrats to them.

Speaking of Bocas, check out some of the activity forthcoming at Writers Centre, described as an arts friendly, collaborative, enterprising space.

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New Books –

British Virgin Islands author Eugenia O’Neal’s latest book is March 2020 release Obeah, Race and Racism: Caribbean Witchcraft in the English Imagine (via University Press of the West Indies) which sounds very interesting (wonder if I can get a review copy). Here’s a partial synopsis from its Amazon page:

“In Obeah, Race and Racism, Eugenia O’Neal vividly discusses the tradition of African magic and witchcraft, traces its voyage across the Atlantic and its subsequent evolution on the plantations of the New World, and provides a detailed map of how English writers, poets and dramatists interpreted it for English audiences. …O’Neal examines what British writers knew or thought they knew about Obeah and discusses how their perceptions of black people were shaped by their perceptions of Obeah. …The English reading public became generally convinced that Obeah was evil and that blacks were, at worst, devil worshippers or, at best, extremely stupid and credulous. And because books and stories on Obeah continued to promulgate either of the two prevailing perspectives, and sometimes both together until at least the 1950s, theories of black inferiority continue to hold sway in Great Britain today.” Interesting, right?

Also coming soon is Trini-Bajan Ingrid Persaud’s Love after Love which landed with Faber and Faber after a bidding war because she’s dope like that. It’s due in April but this interview she did with Audible about her BBC and Commonwealth award winning short story The Sweet Sop and her writing journey to date is up now.

Excerpt: “Plot. You know how many times I wake up all two in the morning wondering if I will ever find a plausible plot? Or sometimes I have a plot, and I dream of all the black holes readers are going to find. One day I hope to create a story with a plot so exquisitely crafted that the reader is barely aware of being led through it.”

Finally, in new books, this one is already out I believe, Dominica’s Celia Sorhaindo writes I believe the first post-Irma book of its kind, Guabancex: “On 18 September 2017, a category 5 hurricane, the worst in recorded history, hit the Caribbean island of Dominica. Hurricane Maria destroyed lives and land. Nothing would be the same again. Guabancex explores the complex mix of experiences and emotions, both during and after the event. The collection is named in recognition of the ancient indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. One of these groups, the Taino, called the supreme female spiritual entity associated with all natural destructive forces, Guabancex.”

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Here in Antigua and Barbuda, we can also report that the Cultural Development Division has announced plans for a National Music Awards. It is not, as touted the country’s inaugural music awards (we’ve had the National Vibes Star Project Awards, which was a private/community-driven Grammy-style venture which actually had an even broader range of categories) but it is good to see an initiative to boost one aspect of the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. Lit arts still out here waving its hands but we’re not going to begrudge another category of artists getting a deserved boost. The NMA, per a release, is meant “to highlight and motivate practitioners in the field of music, in Antigua and Barbuda.” The person behind the initiative seems to be new deputy director of Culture, also a very talented, award winning musician and composer, Khan Cordice. As we’ve always said here on the blog (see reference to Barbara Mason) artistic disciplines benefit from having advocates who are passionate about the particular disciplines being in a position backed by the resources of state (limited though they may be) to move the needle. The announced awards categories, each with its various sub-categories, are Vocal, Instrumental, Steelpan, Recording Artiste, DJ, and Special awards. See breakdown.The announced NMA date is April 16th 2020.

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Culture has also unveiled the team behind Antigua and Barbuda’s staging of CARIFESTA. via Antiguanice.com “Leading the charge as Chairman of the Board of Directors will be the Honourable Daryll Matthew, and Senator Shenella Govia as Deputy Chairman. The other members of the board will include Dr. Hazra Medica as Executive Secretary to the Board, the Director of CARIFESTA, and representatives from the following entities, namely the Ministry of Tourism; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Finance; National Festivals Office; Ministry of Health, Cultural Development Division; Environment Division; Immigration Department; Security Forces, and the Legal Department.” The announcement coincided with the launch of the new CARIFESTA logo selected from a competition in which Gamal Goodwin emerged victorious. You know what I’ve written about literary Antigua-Barbuda being written out of past CARIFESTAs but I think all of us in the arts community (including writers) still look forward to what may come.

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Another local government agency announcing an awards programme is Gender Affairs. Women of Wadadli is a people’s choice awards recognizing the contribution of “extraordinary work” by “ordinary women” in Antigua and Barbuda. 

(they’re out of order but I’m tired).

Here’s the link.

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Via the Daily Observer, we’ve learned of a film production webinar series, in progress, thanks to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States’ Business Development Unit. Facilitators so far, according to the report, have included St. Lucia’s Davina Lee and Antigua and Barbuda’s Howard and Mitzi Allen of HaMA Films. The series is reportedly aimed at “sensitizing filmmakers in the region to modern (and best) practices in film production.” FYI, Mitzi Allen is also one of the advisors, along with Shakirah Bourne of Barbados, Juliette McCawley of  Trinidad, and Kareem Mortimer of The Bahamas on the Commonwealth Writers Caribbean Voices project targeting filmmakers (writers, directors, producers) from the region. Apply by February 24th to participate in the May workshop and be in the running for funding for your film project. Details here just in case I don’t get time to add it to the Opportunities Too page in time.

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We’ve covered Dadli Hack before though it deals with tech, not arts, because it seemed a creative enterprise in the way it challenged participants to use technology to troubleshoot and innovate around the issues of our day. This year’s winner is also no stranger to the blog – Team Antigua Island Girls. Remember them? The first all Black all female team to row across the Atlantic. Per the Observer, Dadli Hack 3.0 is part of the United Nations Office of Project Services Global Innovation Challenge. Team Island Girls have won, from among a field of 10 from various Caribbean islands, US$5,000 towards the development of their project to improve eco-tourism via their youth ocean rowing project. The Hackathon includes a week of training and then the ideas pitch. It was held at Antigua and Barbuda’s Science and Innovation Park.

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U.S. based Haitian author Edwidge Dandicat is one of three finalists for the Story Prize for book length short story collections published in 2019 from among 94 submissions. The other two finalists are Zadie Smith and Kali Fajardo-Anstine. If she wins for her book Everything Inside, Dandicat will win US$20,000 and if she doesn’t, she’ll win ‘just’ US$5,000. The winner will be announced on February 26th 2020 at the New School (co-sponsor of the prize) in NYC.

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Have you read Jamaican Marlon James’ A Brief of Seven Killings. Much of the world has and as such Entertainment Weekly, as reported by Jamaicans.com, has dubbed it one of the best books of the last decade. The multi-award, including Booker Prize, winning was an obvious choice for this list and it’s cool to see the Caribbean represented.

Another writer who would make any one’s best of list is Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie who, per AllAfrica, was named ThisDay’s Woman of the Decade. I know she’s not Caribbean but she’s still amazing so we won’t hold that against her.

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Also from the Observer…

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The NAACP Image Awards nominees have been announced and while attention has been on the film and TV categories and Bajan daughter Rihanna being tapped for the President’s award (go, Bad Gyal Ri-Ri!), I have been particularly interested in the book nominations. I am delighted to reveal that New Daughters of Africa which includes some 200 writers, yours truly repping Antigua and Barbuda among them, is a fiction nominee. The anthology is edited by UK-based Margaret Busby (pictured left below with two of the book’s contributors ahead of a panel at the Sharjah International Book Fair in November 2019) who has African and Caribbean roots.

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“Trinida­di­an born po­et and au­thor, Ian Williams has won Cana­da’s rich­est lit­er­ary award for fic­tion, for his nov­el Re­pro­duc­tion. Williams was named as the 2019 Sco­tia­bank Giller Prize…beat­ing out five oth­er au­thors for the prize. The first time nov­el­ist, who is an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of po­et­ry in the Cre­ative Writ­ing pro­gramme at the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Co­lum­bia, said he was shocked to earn the prize. ‘It’s a to­tal sur­prise, I mean there’s no prepar­ing for it. Even in your wildest fan­ta­sy like you imag­ine it and there’s noth­ing like it. Maybe it’s what pro ath­letes feel like or when ten­nis play­ers win Wim­ble­don or the US Open. Like we don’t write books for this mo­ment and then it hap­pens and you’re to­tal­ly off guard as a hu­man,’ he told the Cana­di­an Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion. He said the win made him re­flect on his past, in­clud­ing his time be­ing raised in Trinidad and To­ba­go be­fore his fam­i­ly mi­grat­ed to Cana­da.” Read more.

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Another award winner, this one with Antiguan roots is lauded children’s book writer and illustrator Ashley Bryan who picked up another Coretta Scott King award for Infinite Hope: a Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace. Released last October, it is described as “a deeply moving picture book memoir about serving in the segregated army during World War II, and how love and the pursuit of art sustained him.” The story offers a reminder that though some have dubbed the WWII generation the greatest generation, it really depends on who’s telling the story. And here Bryan finally tells his own: “In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. He endured the terrible lies white officers told about the black soldiers to isolate them from anyone who showed kindness–including each other. He received worse treatment than even Nazi POWs. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers…but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. And he waited and wanted so desperately to go home, watching every white soldier get safe passage back to the United States before black soldiers were even a thought.” Read more about the book and the other nominees, at AALBC.

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Another Caribbean writer, another accolade. ‘Toronto writer M. NourbeSe Philip has been announced as the 2020 recipient of the PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature. The $50,000 U.S. ($66,445 Cdn) award honours a writer whose body of work shows “enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship.”‘ Philip is from Tobago. Read about her at CBC.

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There’s more; I’m always gathering stuff to share. But I have to stop for now. So, til next time.

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

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Text Books Written by Antiguan and Barbudan Authors

These are current texts written or co-written (included writers excerpted) by Antiguan and Barbudan authors.

The Life of Dame Georgiana Ellen Robinson by Barbara Arrindell in Unit 3: History in Collins Caribbean Social Studies 1. Harper Collins Publisher Limited. UK. 2017.

A social studies textbook adopted for use in schools in a number of  Caribbean Islands. The two-page spread on Nellie Robinson introduces the region’s youth to the lone female Antiguan and Barbudan national hero and speaks of her motivation, accomplishments, and awards. It also encourages students, through recommended activities, to find out more about celebrated Antiguans & Barbudans and other Caribbean heroes.

A Volar! Workbook 2 – ¡A Volar! Primary Spanish for the Caribbean by Tiffany Azille-Henry (ed. Tracey Traynor). Collins. UK. 2015.

Specially designed for the Caribbean, suitable for primary pupils whose first language is English, this engaging course makes learning Spanish fun while meeting the demands of Caribbean teaching and curriculums. It introduces the Spanish language to children in a highly accessible format for beginners and young learners, with careful progression through the levels. Lively, colourful illustrations, fact boxes, games, and toe-tapping songs all help to communicate the learning objectives in a fun and active way. All pupil books include an audio CD, featuring specially-commissioned songs and audio for listening and speaking exercises and pronunciation of vocabulary.

CAPE Revision Guide: Communication Studies by Brenda Lee Browne (w/Natalee Cole). Harper Collins.  UK. 2016.

Focuses on the content and skills students need to master for success in CAPE examinations, covers all aspects of the syllabus, and provides excellent help with exam preparation. With clear and accessible information, practice questions, and exam tips throughout, this resource helps students prepare for the exam by giving advice and guidance on techniques for the text questions and school based assessment. It also gives clear and comprehensive coverage of each module of the syllabus. Accompanying audio files are available online for listening and comprehension practice.

Amelia at Devil’s Bridge by Joanne C. Hillhouse (excerpted) in The Concise Revision Course for CSEC® English A. Harper Collins. UK. 2017.

The Concise Revision Course for CSEC® English A provides comprehensive and authoritative guidance to preparing for the Paper 1 and Paper 2 examinations. The story Amelia at Devil’s Bridge – short listed for the Small Axe prize and published in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean – is excerpted in this text.

books by Anthea S. Thomas

Primary Social Studies for Antigua and Barbuda – STUDENT’S BOOK GRADE 3 by Anthea S. Thomas. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. UK. 2019.

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Primary Social Studies for Antigua and Barbuda — STUDENT’S BOOK GRADE 4 by Anthea S. Thomas. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. UK. 2019.

Primary Social Studies for Antigua and Barbuda — STUDENT’S BOOK GRADE 5 by Anthea S. Thomas. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. UK. 2019.

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Primary Social Studies for Antigua and Barbuda — STUDENT’S BOOK GRADE 6 by Anthea S. Thomas. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. UK. 2019.

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Primary Social Studies for Antigua and Barbuda — WORKBOOK GRADE 3 by Anthea S. Thomas. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. UK. 2019.

Primary Social Studies for Antigua and Barbuda — WORKBOOK GRADE 4 by Anthea S. Thomas. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. UK. 2019.

Primary Social Studies for Antigua and Barbuda — WORKBOOK GRADE 5 by Anthea S. Thomas. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. UK. 2019.

Primary Social Studies for Antigua and Barbuda — WORKBOOK GRADE 6 by Anthea S. Thomas. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. UK. 2019.

Antigua Primary Social Studies Workbook Grade 5& 6 2nd Edition by Anthea S. Thomas.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2018.

Antiguan Primary Social Studies Work book 4 3rd Edition by Anthea S. Thomas. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2018.

Collins Antigua Primary Social Studies has been specially written by a local teacher to meet the needs of local schools, teachers, and students. The books in this series provide full coverage of the primary social studies syllabus for Antigua and Barbuda, with engaging illustrations and activities to keep students interested and to help them learn. Collins Antigua Primary Social Studies provides everything teachers need for the Antigua and Barbuda social studies syllabus at primary level. This course has been specially developed by an extremely experienced local teacher who truly understands the needs of primary students and how to keep them engaged and interested in learning. It provides a skills-based approach to learning fully set in local contexts to allow students to develop tools and skills for learning and a wider knowledge of their own island and the Caribbean. The Collins books followed Thomas publishing her workbooks independently.

Poetry for the CSEC English B Examination by Sharon Wilson-Strann. Macmillan Education. UK. 2008, 2012.

 

This companion explores the poems that will be covered in the 2012-2014 and the 2015-2017 CSEC English B examination in a systematic way in order to guide students through their studies. Alongside a section on understanding figurative language, tips on essay writing, sample essays and a glossary of literary terms, the treatment of each poem includes the following features: – A summary of the text – An exploration of the subjects/issues – A description of the poetic techniques used – A variety of pre- and post-reading activities – A series of extension activities – A list of websites or books that relates to the text.

*This post refers to books specifically written as texts or supplementary material for schools/learning institutions. It does not include but does acknowledge:
-other non-fiction books which would enhance any academic institution’s reading list (pick any from our non-fiction list – Elizabeth Abbott to Brian Dyde to Paget Henry to Natasha Lightfoot to Desmond Nicholson’s to Joy Lawrence’s Colours and Rhythms and The Way We Talk and Other Antiguan Folkways when I taught Communication)

-fictional books (e.g. my fictional books The Boy from Willow Bend and Musical Youth) that are on the schools reading list in Antigua and Barbuda and some other Caribbean islands

-other books which are not text but were written for potential use in education (e.g. 1970s and 1980s Nelson’s, Macmillan’s, and Key Caribbean readers in which you can find the work of Oliver Flax, and more recently S. Khalilah Brann’s The ABCs of the Black Panther Party).

This post exists in part because where texts are written by local authors inevitably there is likely to be more relatable material, more excavation of local history etc. As someone who studied at institutions from pre to tertiary where almost all the material (one secondary school teacher introducing us to Smith and Smith’s To Shoot Hard Labour being a notable exception) was not reflective in any way (including the wider Caribbean material which tended to focus on the larger islands) of the reality I lived. Does it matter? I think it does; I don’t think the material we use should be exclusively self-reflective but I think it should be in the mix.

Disclaimer: it occurs to me after the fact that these are almost all Collins books. I assure you we have not been paid for promotion by Collins. What prompted this post was the Nellie Robinson entry in the social studies text specifically and my personal feeling (which once led to a proposal to the powers that be for a children’s book series spotlighting our national heroes) that more children in Antigua and Barbuda need to read about her.

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 its Spanish language edition Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe). All Rights Reserved. Please credit to Wadadli Pen if you share this list. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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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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What Caribbean Book Released in the Last 10 Years Will You Still Be Reading in 10?

Minus the Caribbean, this was the essence of a question asked recently on Lit Hub: Best of the Decade: What Books Will We Still Be Reading in 10 Years? 

A very small handful of Caribbean books made it on to that list (the main and subsidiary combined):

citizenCitizen: an American Lyric by Claudia Rankine who is of Jamaica (haven’t read yet but it’s on my TBR)
create dangerouslyCreate Dangerously by Edwidge Dandicat of Haiti (love! love! love! – see blogger on books review)
killingsA Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James of Jamaica (dug this one as well for the most part – see blogger on books review)

What do you think? Are there any Caribbean books you would add?

Drop them in the comments.

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, its Spanish language edition Perdida! , and Oh Gad! ). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page Jhohadli or like me on Facebook. Help me 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 Plus Lit News (Early September 2019)

UWI’s fourth landed campus opens in Antigua and Barbuda

UWI 1.jpg

“The establishment of the Five Islands campus in Antigua and Barbuda impacts the growth and development of this country in the same way that the establishment of campuses in Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago impacted development of those countries. Moreover, it holds the prospect of making a similar contribution to the countries of the OECS.” – Professor Stafford Griffith. The re-purposing of the building where the campus is being housed was controversial because it had been built initially as a secondary school to provide relief to overpopulation in especially urban secondary schools. With a change of administration came a change of agenda, and though there was some opposition objection (and even an article guest posted here on the Wadadli Pen blog by a former finalist explaining why he felt the campus should be used for its original purpose), the UWI fourth landed campus in Antigua and Barbuda is now reality. The campus began operations on August 25th and is registering students for programmes across the schools of Health and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities and Education, and Management, Sciences, and Technology.

Musical Youth Second Edition

This is one of my books, the second edition of which launched in early August. I wanted to share the release from Caribbean Reads Publishing:

(original cover art by Antiguan and Barbudan artist Glenroy Aaron)

Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 8, 2019. CaribbeanReads Publishing, a small press based in St. Kitts-Nevis, announced today the release of the second edition of Musical Youth, the award-winning title by Antiguan and Barbudan author Joanne C. Hillhouse. Over four thousand copies of the first edition of the book, which won second place in the 2014 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, have been distributed to young people throughout the Caribbean and the world. Musical Youth has been well-received by critics, reviewers, and most importantly by teens and is currently included on the book lists at schools in Antigua and in Trinidad and Tobago. While the text remains basically unchanged, the second edition sports a new cover and the kindle version contains links to a candid discussion about Hillhouse’s writing process, her vision of the characters, and more.

“This is such an important milestone,” commented Carol Mitchell of CaribbeanReads. “Caribbean books are finding their place in the global literature scene one book at a time. We are excited that thousands of Caribbean children have read this book, but we are also thrilled when we receive orders from Australia and Italy as it speaks to the human appeal of the story.”

Musical Youth is a coming-of-age story set in Antigua and, by chronicling one summer in the lives of a few teens, touches on a number of issues that our Caribbean youth face such as class differences, colourism, and relationships-romantic, familial, and platonic. The publishers credit the book’s success to the high quality of Hillhouse’s storytelling, the global appeal of the teen story, and the tremendous support they received from the NGO CODE, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the Antiguan (and Barbudan) Ministry of Education, bookstores like Best of Books in Antigua and Paperbased in Trinidad, and book reviewers.

In the Acknowledgements of the new edition, Hillhouse thanks “readers everywhere—tout monde sam and baggai, as we say in Antigua and Barbuda—who bought and/or took the time to recommend the book; and specifically, Caribbean readers and young people who have told me how much they love Zahara, and how Zahara and Shaka are #relationshipgoals.”

Ms. Hillhouse has made several contributions to the literary scene in the Caribbean. In addition to the award winning Musical Youth, she is the author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, the children’s book, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and the mass market title Oh Gad! She has been recognized at book festivals in the Caribbean and the US, and featured in Essence magazine.

 

Bahamas

Hurricane season 2019 hit its first major target, the Bahamas. Specifically it (reportedly) took seven lives (though the numbers may rise at this writing) and inflicted (reported) billions in physical damage in the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands. It’s been heartbreaking and in some ways re-traumatizing for those for whom the 2017 season that wreaked havoc across the Caribbean region (via Irma and Maria) is still all too fresh. I don’t know what to add to the conversation except #climatechangeisreal and real action is required; help the Bahamas if you can; and pray that the season doesn’t do any more damage – we can’t take it (though we will if we have to…pray we don’t have to). Amidst all of the posts I saw, one that feels especially relevant to us here on this arts platform is this public social media post by Bahamaian professor and publisher/editor of the Tongues of the Ocean online literary journal Nicolette Bethel, director of the Shakespeare in Paradise festival, mere hours after the storm:  “We are rehearsing for Shakespeare in Paradise tonight. You may think us insensitive but we know how important theatre and the arts are in the healing process. It is also important for people to focus on other things, on inhabiting other skins, for a moment. One of our actors has been working tirelessly with the rescue efforts. She has been the conduit for texts from people waiting to be rescued and she has been linking them up with the rescue teams. She has been working for the past two days. She has come to rehearsal tonight because she needs the distraction. She had to take a moment to decompress but she is right now giving a rehearsal that is just about performance ready. I am so proud of her!!!” That’s a beautiful reminder of just how powerful the arts are in our lives.

 

Who is Toni Morrison?

I’ve covered the deaths of Toni Morrison and Paule Marshall in the last and second to last editions of this Carib Plus Lit series but when two such important literary lights go out of the world, there will be and there has been multiple conversations as we process. This round of my processing is prompted by a particular conversation.

Someone asked me the sub-headed question when I told them Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison had died – ‘who is Toni Morrison?’ And once I got over being outraged, I reminded myself that we all have our areas of interest and if someone had told me about the death of some Nobel winning physicist, I might have had a similar ‘who is that?’ moment. I tried to explain who Morrison was but they were distracted and uninterested, and I was legit hurt by that because of how much she means not just to me as a writer but to the world. The same person, once  they caught the unavoidable coverage of Morrison’s death returned to ask me, ‘did you hear about the death of this author woman?’ And, after I banged my head against a metaphorical wall, I got it…I got it. I mean, I’m not perfect, I did have a moment of ‘are you kidding me, I tried to tell you about this?’ But I get it, we all have our areas of interest and only so much space in our heads. In fact, when it comes to Nobel prizes I pay attention to literature and peace; so I’m guilty of focusing on what interests me too. I’m prompted though by these conversations to share my favourite Morrison books (mostly focused on her fiction), the must-read Morrisons I haven’t yet read, the ones I’m not sure/don’t remember reading, and the ones still/definitely on my to-read list (for the ones I haven’t read yet but really want to); I’m going to do the same for Paule Marshall, because she too is a literary giant we lost recently, one with Caribbean roots (while Morrison is African-American). I promise to be honest if you promise not to be judge-y.

Favourites

Song of Solomon – this may have been my first Morrison, an assigned read for one of my lit classes at the University of the West Indies, and one that it was an absolute joy to excavate – there were so many layers to it. The story of a family in early 20th century America and the inexorable connections to the past. I remember it cracking open pathways in my mind, in my soul, and my own history.

The Bluest Eye – I remember being powerfully moved by this story of a girl who wanted to be white and blue eyed when I first read it during my university days, in part because I think on some level every little Black girl (speaking very broadly, of course) can relate to how much of a journey it is to self-love (unfortunately).

Sula – I remember this book about, among other things, the bond between two girls-cum-women being a joy to read despite its dark turns.

Jazz – this one, with a love triangle at its core, was so much like jazz (with its complex and improvisational qualities) that it took me a few attempts to get in to it but once I did, I loved it; her technique especially with voice (and especially near the end) and the way it interacted with itself and with the story it was telling and, to some degree, with the reader was a mindblowing lesson.

Must-reads I haven’t yet read

Beloved – this story of a woman who escaped slavery only to be haunted by the ghost of the daughter she aborted is, from all accounts, a classic – its status not dimmed by the Oprah film which I remember not being very well received. I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet nor feel a great urge to read it – maybe it’s been in that zone of classics everyone insists you absolutely have to read for a little too long. Some times you just have to let go of those have-tos. I may read it someday still; it’s definitely not off the table. I mean, it’s Toni Morrison.

Paradise – like Jazz I’ve started this a few times and I pressed on because I came to love Jazz despite our bumpy start and because Oprah assured during her O’s Book Club discussion that it was a rough start but once you got 30 or so pages in, you wouldn’t be able to put it down. Well, I’ve put it down and taken it back up, and started over and put it down, and picked it up a few times; and it’s been down for a long time. I still hope to finish it some day especially as, as it’s not uninteresting – not with his opening:”They shoot the white girl first. With the others they can take their time.”.

God Bless the Child

Home

Not sure/don’t remember reading

Tar Baby

Love – I think I may have read this one sometime in the late nineties, early 2000s with my book club but I’m not sure it counts if I don’t remember.

Still/Definitely on my to-read list

Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination – the title has always intrigued me.

A Mercy

The Origin of Others

The rest, I think, are children’s books, anthologies edited by her, and books of non-fiction so I’ll stop by saying, I highly recommend you pick a Morrison and read one. My individual struggle with any book of hers does not change the fact that she is a master craftsman whose characters and settings are solidly and deeply drawn, whose premises are never conventional, whose execution is always assured, who for all her layers and distinctiveness as a writer never let the writing get in the way of the story. Barbadian-American writer Paule Marshall meanwhile is not as well known as Morrison but there’s no denying that she, too, made her mark.

Favourites

Praisesong for the Widow – your first is always your favourite right? This story of a well-to-do widow kind of deconstructing while on a Caribbean vacation and making some ancestral connections that move it beyond the personal is my first Paule Marshall read and a favourite from my uni days – iconic even, with certain images from it permanently marked on my mind and soul.

Browngirl, Brownstones – this coming of age story about a Caribbean family making new life in America was a solid read if not my absolute favourite; and it is a classic. Literally, it was first published in the 1950s and then revived on rediscovery in the 1980s (kind of reminds me of the rediscovery of Zora Neale Hurston by Alice Walker chronicled in In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens).

Daughters – a fairly epic tale of family and politics between the US and the Caribbean.

Must-reads I haven’t read

Soul Clap Hands and Sing

Reena and Other Stories – one of my favourite writings by Marshall is ‘To Dah-duh, in Memoriam’, a great generational, cultural, past and future divide story set in Barbados, which was originally published in 1967 and re-published in Reena and Other Stories in 1983.

Merle: a Novella and Other Stories

Triangular Road: a Memoir

Not sure/don’t remember reading

The Chosen Place, the Timeless People – I’m about 50 percent sure I haven’t read this story of an island in transition and a clueless American woman linked to the island (I think), and yet the synopsis seems familiar..

Still/Definitely on my to-read list

Conversations with Paule Marshall – I love to read writers talking about their process like when Marshall in a piece I read (not sure it’s included here) talked about the kitchen table talk that helped her develop her voice as a writer.

The Fisher King

 

Antiguan Hip Hop-er LogiQ Benefits from US Cultural Exchange

LogiQ at the US Embassy in Barbados prior to departure for the US. (Photo courtesy the US Embassy)

This one came in via press release from the US Embassy. Antiguan rapper Vincent Aldin Pryce, commonly known as LogiQ, has traveled to the America to participate in US government sponsored Partners of the Americas’ Education and Culture Exchange Program. His specific destination was announced as the PATH Hip Hop summer Academy of Music and Art. “The exchange is a part of Partners of the Américas’ Education and Culture program, which provides exchanges and small grants for communities across the Americas. The Education and Culture Program is funded by the United Sates Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and connects people and institutions to promote service in the community, enhance cross-cultural understanding and cooperation between the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and build professional development of participants and the communities they visit.” The two-week programme in Miami was expected to yield several benefits. “Mr. Pryce will contribute to and benefit from projects aligned with Partners of the Americas and PATH Inc.’s shared objectives and programs while developing creative leadership skills through professional development workshops and strengthening the social impact of his creative work. He will also develop and exhibit a professional series of creative work in collaboration with local artists, and connect with professional counterparts in the creative and community development sectors.”

 

New Caribbean Book of Local Writings 

About the series Local Writings: The series Local Writings is composed of monographic books that compile essays, chronicles, manuscripts, testimonies and various writings of curators, theorists, cultural critics, thinkers and artists of the region. This series seeks to make accessible a selection of several of the most important discourses and critical positions that have shaped critical paradigms in Central America and the Caribbean. This book is added to the two previous ones of this same series, dedicated to the critical work of Raúl Quintanilla Armijo (Nicaragua), Rosina Cazali (Guatemala), Adrienne Samos (Panama), Tamara Díaz-Bringas (Cuba / Costa Rica). The next titles in this series include the critical work of Virginia Pérez Ratton (Costa Rica), Michy Marxuach (Puerto Rico) and Rolando Castellón (Nicaragua / Costa Rica). Read more.

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Caribbean Writers (including Antigua and Barbuda’s Joanne C. Hillhouse and Althea Romeo-Mark) Share Their Summer Reads

 

 

 

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