Tag Archives: Carmen Maria Machado

Reading Room and Gallery 31

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Share by excerpting and linking, so to read the full story or see all the images, or other content, you will need to go to the source. No copyright infringement is intended. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 31st  one which means there are 30 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one.JCH

POETRY

“The woman is perfected.
Her dead
Body wears the smile of accomplishment…” – Edge by Sylvia Plath

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‘“Unwritten: Caribbean Poems After the First World War” is an attempt to address this gap in the narrative.’ Those poets commissioned by this project, writing and researching new work, come from both the Caribbean, and the Caribbean diaspora. Performing are: Jay Bernard, Jay T John, Ishion Hutchinson, Kat Francois, Tanya Shirley, Vladimir Lucien, Charnell Lucien, Malika Booker and Karen McCarthy Woolf.’ – Unwritten

NEWS FEATURES & OPINION

“The fact that no importance is placed on storytelling makes me very frustrated not only because it puts so little value or emphasis on children’s creativity, but also because storytelling is more than simply an art – it is a crucial skill for life and commerce.” – Ditch the Grammar and Teach Children Storytelling Instead by Tim Lott

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“Simon was a four-time Oscar nominee and a staggering 17-time Tony nominee; he won three times and received a special Tony in 1975, along with virtually every other honor a playwright can win, including the Pulitzer Prize for 1991’s Lost in Yonkers. Because he was so prolific, churning out more than 60 plays, screenplays, teleplays, and even contributions to musicals over the course of half a century, it’s hard to home in on his most important works, or even his most important decade. But here are four Simon works we think every theater lover should know.” – Vox on late American playwright Neil Simon

CREATING

“When I was 24 years old, I chanced upon this style of comedy. I was doing a very small cable TV show, it was a public access show in England called F2F and I was playing an early form of the character that became Ali G. In that version he was  called Joseline Cheadle Human. He was an upper-class wanna be rapper, skateboarder, lover of hip-hop. In this show, I would go out and shoot little segments and then I would sort of pop them into this live show. I shot a little thing with this character and then I saw a bunch of real-life Ali G’s. The director with me at the time, a guy called Mike Toppin, a brilliant ex-editor of evening comedies who happened to be working on this public access show. I said, those guys are like me and he said, go and speak with them. That moment changed my career. I interacted with them, I started trying to get on my skateboard and they are going, ‘you’re wack, man. That is ridiculous.’ They were mocking me, and after two minutes I came out of character and I said, ‘guys, I’m pretending. It’s not me.’ They were shocked, and I realized oh my God, I’ve found something. Suddenly a tourist bus turned up. I jumped on the tourist bus with a camera. I grabbed the microphone. I started rapping into the microphone. We got off the bus, I went into a pub and started breakdancing on the floor. They called the cops. I then went into the lobby of some big business firm and I said my dad ran the business, and security threw me out, and I was completely invigorated.

I took the stuff and would cut it into the live show, and by the third segment everything was cut. It went black. Somebody had pulled these pieces that we’d shot. I was pulled in front of the station chiefs afterward and they said, never do that again or I’d get sued. I knew at that point that I had found something. It was by chance, by luck. I chanced upon a new style of comedy, which was putting comedy characters into the real world. A week later there was a pro-hunting rally in England, which every member of the upper class was there, save the royal family, and I decided to go undercover as a foreign character. I’m driving down there and in the back seat. There’s a hat from Astrakhan in Southern Russia. I put it on my head and I come out of the car and I am basically an early form of Borat.

Hello, my name is…[he assumes the Borat accent]. I would start asking people, ‘excuse me. When we went hunting in Moldova, we like to hunt the Jew. Would you hunt the Jew here?’ And they’d start answering…[assumes upper crust British accent] ‘Well, actually…yes, so long as he was given a fair start. Yes, I would.’ And I suddenly realized here was a method that allowed people to really reveal their true feelings on camera. I came back home and I said to my flatmate, I think there’s a new style of comedy here that I’ve accidentally chanced upon, an undercover character comedy. I just started working on that and when the cable access show got shut down, I started developing a show for Borat, which was going to be undercover in a house with students with hidden cameras for three months, kind of an early form of Big Brother. It was not commissioned, but that is how all this happened.” – Sacha Baron Cohen

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“To know a character, I have to understand what they want and what they’ve lost.” –  Bret Anthony Johnston

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‘The short story is well placed for putting twists on simple things. Unlike the novel – in which the author is primarily concerned with world-building – the short story is typically centred on a moment or event and charged with a more playful energy. An author of three novels – The Beast of Kukuyo (2018), The Repenters (2016) and Littletown Secrets (2013) – Hosein felt ‘Passage’ was better suited for the short form, for its warmth, tension and confusion. “‘Passage’ works because of its set-up and quick deflection of expectations,” says Hosein. “There also had to be continuously rising tension that’s a lot more difficult to maintain in a novel, especially a novel that entails such few players.”’- Kevin Jared Hosein on The Culture Trip

THE BUSINESS

“1.Give anything you’ve just finished some time and space before you submit.

2.Try to be as objective as possible when you finally do return to that piece.

3.Be ready and willing to revise.

4.Know thyself. Be brutally honest.

5.In the end, go with your gut. If you think it’s ready, send it.” – Matt Mullins in Atticus Review newsletter

INTERVIEWS

“A sense of the inner wildness, the “untameness” that is always beneath the surface of people and places, is what drives many of the poems. In the process of writing and editing Doe Songs, I tried to access that inner wildness and to learn to see it in everything, to acknowledge that the domestic and the wild, the gentle and the feral are bound together so closely in all living things and places.” – Danielle Boodoo Fortune 

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“What is the first thing you wrote?

When I was in sixth form, I studied literature for my “A” levels with Dennis Scott. We had finished with the syllabus fairly early, so Dennis invited his friends, Rex Nettleford, Mervyn Morris, Lorna Goodison, and Christopher Gonzalez, to name a few, to talk to us about music, art, and poetry. I believe it was after a lecture by Lorna Goodison that he gave us an assignment to visit any gallery and write an essay about what we saw.

I had arrived at the gallery late and begged one of the cleaning ladies to let me in. I told her it would only be a few minutes. She smiled with me and said, “Only ten minutes.”

When I walked into the gallery, a security guard was walking past a statue, “Eve” by Edna Manley. As he walked by the statue, he slapped the statue on the buttocks and said, “Big batty gal.” Talk about a visceral reaction to art.

I wrote the essay and then, published my first poem, “Eve (For E.M.)” in the Daily Gleaner.” – Geoffrey Philp interviewed for the Caribbean Literary Heritage website

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“You know I think the jokes that work for white guys and their white guy comedian friends don’t work, always, for women of color. …” – Amber Tamblyn

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What advice would you give to new writers starting out? Where to start? Kill adverbs. Use nouns and verbs. Adjectives are less useful than you think. Think about what you’re trying to say and then do that, plainly. Be kind to yourself – writing is hard. Read lots of stuff, everything, but try including some good ones, you know, that have critical acclaim. It does count for something. Grammar. Jesus Christ – fixing that is not an editor’s job, or it shouldn’t be. Go looking for your inspiration – be active. There is no bolt from the blue that will deliver you literary perfection – it takes work. READ. Most of the time the story will not just seek you out – you have to go find it. READ. Oh, and if you’re a poet, I beg you not to read poetry in that sing-song voice that so many put on at worthy events. Sorry, I know I’m supposed to be talking about shorts. READ. ” – Leone Ross

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“For writers, dreams are where it’s at.” – Angela Barry

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Who made reading important to you? When I was little, my older sisters read to me from time to time. I also have one memory of my father reading to me. He was not a very fluent reader and I remember him struggling with the words, but he tried very hard and put a lot of heart into it. I was about five or so and was very moved by it all; that reading experience fueled something and has remained with me on many levels.” – interview with Marcia Douglas

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“If you’re prepared to be tough with yourself. That’s hard to instill in people – that you can have a lot of confidence and still be really tough. And also know it’s not factory work, it’s not office work, it’s not going to come out the same every day. And because this is the only place we write from, this self that we are, some days it’s a bit fucked up.” – Jeanette Winterson with Marlon James

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‘And when someone asked me that [authority question], I said, “You mean… talent and imagination?”’ – Marlon James with Jeanette Winterson

FICTION

“The obit didn’t say how he died. Just that he left a wife, one son, a brother, and a mother behind.” – From Where We Rush Forth by Rachel Ann Brickner

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“In the autumn of Maria’s eighteenth year, the year that her beloved father—amateur coin collector, retired autoworker, lapsed Catholic—died silently of liver cancer three weeks after his diagnosis, and the autumn her favorite dog killed her favorite cat on the brown, crisped grass of their front lawn, and the cold came so early that the apples on the trees froze and fell like stones dropped from heaven, and the fifth local Dominican teenager in as many months disappeared while walking home from her minimum-wage, dead-end job, leaving behind a kid sister and an unfinished journal and a bedroom in her mother’s house she’d never made enough to leave…” – Mary When You Follow Her By Carmen Maria Machado, Illustrations by Sergio García Sánchez

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“‘Well me wasn’t there, but people say it, so I believe it,’ the man said, chuckling through a smile of missing teeth.” – An Elephant in Kingston by Marcus Bird

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!, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, Musical Youth and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Filed under Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery

Reading Room and Gallery 30

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Share by excerpting and linking, so to read the full story or see all the images, or other content, you will need to go to the source. No copyright infringement is intended. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 30th one which means there are 29 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one.JCH

POETRY

“The tiny footprints you made on the home we shared, I could never erase them, and you had me wrapped around your finger while his fingers were wrapped around my neck.” – Catalayah by Wendy Hara

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“How many tied cotton bags of crystallized sugar were you and your father’s other bastards given to suckle? So you could, years later, find yourself” – Poems by Jacqueline Bishop

THE BUSINESS

“You need an agent because you’ll be so eager to publish that you’ll pay them” – Tayari Jones

BLOG

‘More forgiveness and understanding.  I talk quite unexpectedly to Ronald Bickram.  (There’s no such thing as an innocent introduction.)  He was an entrant in the non-fiction category for the Bocas Prize.  He admits his work needed more vigorous editing.  “I went back and found a mistake on every page!”  We have a frank talk about the need for work to be in the best place possible before being released to the world, and for judges and entrants to have conversations similar to ours.  “For writers like me to know what to do—how to make the work better,” he says.  We shake on this, and he tells me he has a relative in Black Rock, St Michael, not far from where my mother grew up in Barbados.  She has a Chinese restaurant with local flare, Wing Kwong.  “Tell Rene you met me!”’ – NGC Bocas Lit Fest 2018—Day by Day by Robert Edison Sandiford

CREATIVES ON CREATING

‘Lovers Rock is also about what she goes through in the industry: “I walk into a room and I’ve had my own label for the past five to seven years and the energy is still like, ‘Who do you think you are?'” she says. “I finally was like, ‘No, no, no, you’re not gonna keep disrespecting me.’ The response to the question, ‘Who do I think I am?’ is always, ‘I know who I am, a queen. Who do you think you are?'” – British soul-pop singer Estelle talking to NPR about her new West Indian inspired lovers rock album.

FICTION

“In the autumn of Maria’s eighteenth year, the year that her beloved father—amateur coin collector, retired autoworker, lapsed Catholic—died silently of liver cancer three weeks after his diagnosis…” – Mary When You Follow Her by Carmen Maria Machado, Illustrations by Sergio García Sánchez

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“People assume all kinds of things about you when you’re silent. That you’re stupid. That you’re smart. That you can’t hear. That you can’t communicate. That it’s a religious thing. That it’s an attention-seeking thing. Over the years, Ghillie heard them all. The religious thing was closest to the mark, although truth be told, his motives were far from holy. He made a vow to speak only when he had something worth saying, but he persisted with it because of how crazy it made people. Social workers, teachers, policemen, doorsteppers, they couldn’t bear his silence. Sympathy turned to rage in a surprisingly short space of time, particularly if he didn’t meet their eyes. It gave him a perverse sense of pleasure, saying nothing as they wheedled and cajoled, pleaded and threatened.” – Lynda Clark’s ‘Ghillie’s Mum’

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“Laura had passed her entire life in a world of dreams. She dreamed of being beautiful, but was decidedly plain. She dreamed of living in a big house, but lived in a shack. She dreamed of having a large family, but had only her elderly parents.” – an Excerpt from Chechen Writer Zalpa Bersanova’s Novella ‘The Price of Happiness’

NON-FICTION

“The Great Emu War officially commenced in October 1932 with just three members of the Royal Australian Artillery — Major GPW Meredith, Sergeant S McMurray and Gunner J O’Hallora — heading into the Wheatbelt with two Lewis guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition. Game on.” – The Great Emu War: When Australia’s Wildlife Fought Back by Tom Smith

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‘We would make up games to entertain ourselves. There were always so many kids, babies, and toddlers around that you had to kind of invent an activity that would be good for all ages. I excelled at this (probably my need to entertain, or just my inherent geekiness). There was the game “questions in a hat,” where we’d rip up small pieces of paper and write anonymous, naughty questions for each of us to pull out of a hat and answer (I’ve since turned it into a drinking game with my friends). We made up dances to show off in the club. We’d play characters and perform skits for one another. We were all the entertainment we had and it was glorious.’ – Issa Rae

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“Cap’n Tim Meaher, he tookee thirty-two of us. Cap’n Burns Meaher he tookee ten couples. Some dey sell up de river. Cap’n Bill Foster he tookee de eight couples and Cap’n Jim Meaher he gittee de rest. We very sorry to be parted from one ’nother. We seventy days cross de water from de Affica soil, and now dey part us from one ’nother. Derefore we cry. Our grief so heavy look lak we cain stand it. I think maybe I die in my sleep when I dream about my mama.” – Zora Neale Hurston ‘Barracoon’ excerpt

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“I was reluctant to ask him where he was going, what he was doing these days.  Part of me was always reluctant to ask this of my friends from primary school, absurdly afraid to embarrass them.  At 14, I had been awarded a partial bursary to a private boarding school in the city, which got its prestige from selling itself as an international school, thus attracting children of ministers, ambassadors and the wealthiest in the country.  My single mother was a primary school teacher, with a permanent government job, so in primary school I had been considered fairly well-off.  As a boarder, I was one of the school’s poorest students, often called to the principal’s office because my mother had missed paying her share of my tuition.  The fact that I attended this school, taking French and Drama lessons, around students who spoke English all the time and talked back to their teachers, meant that the trajectory of my life had taken a sharp turn from my primary school friends.  Whenever I saw them, I worked hard to reassure them that I had not changed, that I was still the same person who had gathered with them over the soft sorghum porridge we ate at break time.” – Good Manners by Gothataone Moeng

INTERVIEW

“I think it’s important for us to be honest; to say, yeah, we’ve overcome but also talk about the ugly side of it. Because I’ve found in my experience sometimes you wonder if it’s you alone going through this. If, you know, why isn’t it coming as easy as this particular person. And you’re not hearing the ugly part of it: the I can’t feed myself part of it, the I don’t know where the school fee is coming part of it, the my God I wonder if I can be like one of those women that, you know, sell their bodies to make a dollar part of it, the ugly part of it, the whole you know what I need some new underwear but I’m going to wear the old tear up ones because school fee need to be paid ugly part of it. I just think it would be better if people shared that because we overcome it and it helps us to feel less alone.” – Zahra Airall in Candid Conversation with Alicia Ward

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“I’m also aware that of the 400 or so writers featured on the BBC’s ‘Caribbean Voices’ programme over 15 years, only 71 were women and that’s only 1/5th of the voices featured. It was  bit of a ‘boys club’, as Alison Donnell says in her essay ‘Heard but Not Seen’ [in The Caribbean Short Story Evans, L., McWatt, M. and Smith, E. (eds.) (Peepal Tree Press, Leeds, 2011), 29-43]. Many of the female Caribbean writers of that time have evaporated into thin air. There are over 200 private collections of papers in the West Indiana Collection at UWI in Trinidad. I was the first West Indian woman to add my papers, four years ago, in 2014. I was shocked to find this out.” – Monique Roffey

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“I’ve been immersed in 19th century newspapers and memoirs, mostly from Trinidad. They are fascinating and, because of the blatant blind spots and racism, disturbing.” – Rosamund King

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“SE (Summer Edward): Seven Stories, the UK’s National Centre for Children’s Books, recently acquired the archives of UK-based award-winning Guyanese children’s authors, John Agard and Grace Nichols. I find it unsettling that institutions in the UK are more concerned about preserving Caribbean children’s literature as cultural heritage than we here in the English-speaking Caribbean are. What do you see as some of the advantages of creating our own repositories to collect archival material related to the Caribbean children’s literature?

JRL (John Robert Lee): The advantages are that we are better placed to understand the roots and sources of our literature, to identify the authentic stories and storytellers, to make connections between the stories, our histories and our community lives, and to see how the older stories can provide a continuity into the present and future, and even generate new stories that have an authentic foundation in the traditional experiences and values of the past. Our own repositories provide national archives of what we recognise as important records of our literature and history.” – Read the full interview in Anansesem

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“PS: When did you decide to pursue your art and writing full time?

Danielle: There was one very clear moment in 2011 when I just could not ignore the pull toward a creative life anymore. It felt like drowning very slowly, little by little each day. I had no idea how I would make it work financially, but I had to leap anyway and have faith. Before this I was an English teacher, and although I loved, and still love, working with children, my heart was pulling me toward something else. Not one day goes by where I am not thankful for the chance to live and work in my purpose.” – Danielle Boodoo Fortune interview

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“When I actively started thinking about what I wanted to publish, Una Marson’s Pocomania was on the list. I had been coming across the name of that play as a quintessential Jamaican work since I was doing my BA. I then learned that it was housed in the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ)  and I thought, that needs to change. If that play was so important, why don’t more contemporary people have access to it? One of the key things to know is that without the printing press, we would probably have forgotten Shakespeare by now. We need to give more of our playwrights similar access. Publishing the works of our playwrights is a part of how we acknowledge, celebrate and keep good work from disappearing into the ether. I, therefore, made my first proposal to publish the works more than a few years ago and the timing wasn’t right. But finally, last year it came to be, and the more I learned about Una Marson, the happier I was that we had managed to publish this.” – Tanya Batson-Savage

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“Many of the older writers are still important: Walcott, Brathwaite, Naipaul, Harris, Rhys, Lamming, Hearne among others. Lorna Goodison, Mervyn Morris, Earl Lovelace, Ian McDonald, the late Victor Questel, Dionne Brand and those who follow that first ‘Golden Age’ generation. Many new voices have arrived, many of whose works are rewarded by big prizes: Kwame Dawes, Claudia Rankine, Marlon James, Vahni Capildeo, Kei Miller, Vladimir Lucien, Tiphanie Yanique, Ishion Hutchinson, Shivanee Ramlochan, Ann-Margaret Lim, Richard Georges, Jennifer Rahim among others. These and their many other colleagues are important. Time will tell, of course, how truly important and significant they are. Then there are many Caribbean writers who have grown up in the diaspora: Caryl Phillips, Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy and others. Peepal Tree Press, Carcanet and Papillotte Press are doing a great job in publishing the works of the older and newer writers. And we have not even touched writers from the other language areas of the Caribbean.”    – St. Lucian poet and archivist John Robert Lee interview with Caribbean Literary Heritage

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“In Ghana, I had worked in theater and for Ghana Television. In Barbados, I wanted to carry on theater directing. Since the theater companies were self-segregated, I (being white and nervous about intruding across evident racial lines) went to the one known for white or near-white members and a lot of European plays. They asked me if I had a play to suggest. Death and the King’s Horseman was an ambitious project to do outside Nigeria, requiring a lot of solid grounding in Soyinka’s cultural contexts. It was also ambitious as to the casting, in Barbados. It is a powerful story about English colonial intrusion on an ancient culture, told, as Soyinka carefully explains in his introduction to the play, from within Yoruba social space, focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the title character. He and his society are the core of the play, and so most of the main parts require actors of African descent. To find those actors, I needed to upset the self-segregation common in Barbados theater at the time, and I approached a group of black actors and writers. Earl Warner, later very well known as a major theatrical figure in the region, agreed to play the main role, Elesin. The white actors for the colonial parts came from the company producing the play. The production involved about fifty people, a fairly large budget, and a lot of work.” – Elaine Savory interviewed by Kelly Baker Josephs

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“Our societies are not just diverse but complex, convoluted, so the poetry has to stretch itself formally to cope.” – Pamela Mordecai interviewed by Kelly Baker Josephs

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“What I find myself most drawn to and excited by (both in my own reading and in programming the festival) are voices and perspectives which are not what anyone would expect. I think that many of us, even here at home in the region –  we should know better – we sometimes have very narrow ideas of what the Caribbean is, or should be. What is a Caribbean subject or voice, or topic or question or anxiety, and I’m not keen on that. I think we are far more various than we give ourselves credit for.” – Nicholas Laughlin interview for Caribbean Literary Heritage

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“It took coming here to see that my voice was a voice that needed to be heard.” – Brenda Lee Browne, Real Talk with Janice Sutherland at Phenomenal Woman  And read more Antiguan and Barbudan artists discussing their art and more here on the site.

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“The irony of the Internet, which was supposed to rob us of our attention span and be the death of journalism, is that it has actually promoted a new passion for longform nonfiction. It’s also given us more opportunities to find and discover poets, who are a big part of the movement towards essays as well, since they are doing work that is increasingly hybrid. In general, the best thing I can say about social media and the Internet is that it has allowed a lot of people to bypass the gatekeepers, such that I don’t know if there’s a real gate any more.” – Alexander Chee

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!, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, Musical Youth and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business