Tag Archives: Carnival

Carib Lit Plus (early to mid August 2020)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back.

Cancellations and Closures

The online children’s literary journal Anansesem has ceased publishing. It explained via open letter: “We’ve been forced to reconsider our professional and personal priorities. Under normal circumstances, it’s challenging running a small literary magazine when we receive such little funding and are unable to pay contributors and team members. In these drastically changing times, when jobs are on the line and the financial future is uncertain, it’s become clear that running a magazine using volunteer staff, as we’ve done since our inception, is no longer feasible.” The website remains online and the online bookstore remains open. Read the full open letter here.

The Antigua and Barbuda Conference would have taken place in early August right after Carnival, but, like Carnival, is has been cancelled. The organizers, in an email announcing the cancellation, said: “Our plan was to look at the impact of the migration and the brain drain on Antigua and Barbuda. We will try to keep this topic on the agenda for next year, but it may have to share this focus with the impact of the corona virus on Antigua and Barbuda. The 2020 issue of The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books will be coming out in the fall. It will carry forward the examination of Barbuda begun at last year’s conference, as well as featuring concerns of its own. We will do our best to get it online, so that all of us can have access to it. We will certainly miss the intellectual stimulation and synergies of our gatherings. Stay well, stay safe, and, with this pandemic behind us, hopefully see you next year.”

Reading Recs

Bocas’ Books that made us campaign has produced a top 10 that includes the classics you’d expect (Miguel Street, The Dragon can’t Dance, The Lonely Londoners, The Year in San Fernando, Annie John, Summer Lightening etc.) and some newer entries including no less than two entries apiece by two Caribbean modern Classics (Edwidge Dandicat – Breath, Eyes, Memory and The Farming of Bones; and Marlon James – Book of Night Women and Brief History of Seven Killings). Read the full report here. Remember my list?

Speaking of Bocas, its Bios and Bookmarks series continues: unnamed

Intersect, an advocacy project out of Antigua and Barbuda, that’s focused per its instagram page, on “connecting Queeribbean & Caribbean feminists through storytelling, art, and gender justice” has, after a quiet period, become quite vibrant in the COVID-19 quarantine era. Having put out a call for people to share their Caribbean and Queribbean feminist stories, as well as stories on colourism. They’ve so far posted audio excerpts of stories by writers from Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, and, continuing, from other places. They’ve, also, been sharing book recs, art and original interviews (including one with me) on their instagram page.


Bahamian Alexia Tolas was first long listed then short listed (Niamh Campbell of Dublin was ultimately announced as the winner) for the 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award for ‘Granma’s Porch’. She is the only Caribbean writer on the list. She was the Commonwealth Regional prize winner in 2019. See the full listand learn more about the authors.

The long list for the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean has been announced. It’s a long one.

As seen in the images (click for full view), the long list includes writers from Antigua and Barbuda (Joanne C. Hillhouse, ‘Vincent’), Barbados (LaFleur Cockburn, ‘Blight Tone’; Akim Goddard, ‘At De Busstop’), Dominica (Yakima Cuffy, ‘De Souvenir Shop’; Delroy N. Williams, ‘Deported’), Guyana (Tristana Roberts, ‘Backtrack Home’; Sonia Yarde, ‘Cursed’), Jamaica (Kim Robinson-Walcott, ‘Ridin Bareback’; Amanda Rodrigues, ‘Breast Milk’; Sharma Taylor, ‘The Story of Stony’ – Taylor is from Jamaica but resident in Barbados), Puerto Rico (Nahomy Laza Gonzalez, ‘The Greats’; Adriana De Persia Colon, ‘Bathroom Visits’), Trinidad and Tobago (Akhim Alexis, ‘Gone America’; Theresa Awai, ‘The Lagahoo in the Blue Sweat Pants’; Suzanne Bhagan, ‘The Village Seamstress’; Joanne Farrag, ‘All Skin Teeth’; Rashad Hosein, ‘Fry Chicken’; Sogolon Jaya, ‘The Autobiography of my Father…because my mother didn’t want me’; Alexander Johnson, ‘Pulling Bull’; Ryan Seemungal, ‘Quiet Revelry’; Hadassah K. Williams, ‘Vizay’). Twenty one writers overall by my count.

The BCLF is also offering a short story prize for Caribbean writers living in the diaspora. That short list is shorter and includes Stephanie Ramlogan, ‘The Case of the Missing Eggs’; Lisa Latouche (of Dominica), ‘Summer’s End’; Max Smith, ‘Morning Prayers’; Deborah Stewart, ‘Wash Belly’; Marisa Blanc, ‘Going, Going, Gone’; Gabrielle Patmore, ‘Unavailable’; Fana Fraser, ‘Saturday Night’; Krystal Ramroop, ‘Sticky Wicket’; and Jennelle Alfred, ‘Ella, Anika and the Cricket Ball’.

Congrats to all and good luck to all.

To Shoot Hard Labour Project Ends (and RIP to Sir Keithlyn Smith)

The month long celebration via the Voice of the People summer reading project of To Shoot Hard Labour chronicling roughly 100 years of the life of Antigua and Barbuda, 19th century to 1980s, through the life of Antiguan and Barbudan working man Papa Sammy Smith ended on the last day of the month July 31st 2020. Later that night,  the death of co-author of the book Keithlyn Smith was announced. The legendary union man (longstanding general secretary of the Antigua Workers Union) had earlier that day communicated, via his daughter,  affirming the acknowledgment of To Shoot Hard Labour by the likes of Dr. Natasha Lightfoot, daughter of the soil, professor at an Ivy league university in the US, and author of her own history book Troubling Freedom, meant to him after initially having his book undermined on its release. This video is of the first week’s discussion of the book which featured Dr. Lightfoot. RIP to Sir Keithlyn who leaves behind a legacy of both championing workers rights and returning to Antiguan and Barbudan people their own story.

The project has announced eight-year-old Rheikecia Manning as the winner of its dioramma competition. She gave her interpretation of the Yeoman’s Old Road estate at Cades Bay complete with sugar mill, Antigua Black pineapple, wattle and daub house, cane, and a woman preparing to wash clothes and place them on the stone heap.

Carnival and Cropover

In the midst of summer 2020,  COVID-19 shutdown blues, hurricane/storm anxieties, and a summer at once damp and dry, Caribbean people (read: Carnival people) have been finding ways to keep the music playing and the fete going. It hasn’t all been easy sailing with the government in Antigua and Barbuda getting tough on gatherings, prompting push back, and reinforcing beach shutdowns on public holidays, which begs the question is it Carnival Monday with no j’ouvert and no beach. As with everything else, while the live Carnival has been cancelled, some aspects have gone on line – on August Monday there was what seems to be an unofficial Opposition organized Emancipation Day Kayso Monarch competition broadcast across ZDK, Observer, and Progressive FM, and won by G-Eve who sang about uniting to fight “this Corona malady”.

Meanwhile on the national station ABS TV, streamed live online, was a Soca Monarch Virtual edition. This was also streamed on Emancipation Day night which means that, yes, calypso and soca were once again battling for fans’ attention – unfortunately. At this typing there was no declared winner for the latter. ETA: Veteran of the arena Blade was declared the winner. So, we’ll just place a picture of Naycha Kid who has in recent years returned to the soca stage, after a long hiatus due to being born again. The gospel artist is no longer singing about Another Man taking your place, but he is still full of vibes.

No it does not skip notice that the calypso viewers were roughly 20% of the party monarch viewers, and also that the numbers overall weren’t great for either – what questions hang on that, do we really care about calypso? is virtual Carnival not doing it for people? What to say but mek out ’til 2021?

A personal highlight was the spotlight on the Watch Night celebrations which usually get lost in the Carnival but with no Carnival this year was featured live on ABS TV on July 31st in to August 1st – Emancipation Day (1834).

Over in Barbados, meanwhile, the show went on with Cropover online, branded Freedom Festival 2020. Activities include a virtual art gallery, online lit magazine, ben ovah dance competition, spoken word showcase, and theatre show.

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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CARIB Lit Plus (Mid to Late July 2020)


A couple of Caribbean writers have been named among the Hurston Wright Award nominees for 2020. I spot among the Fiction nominees Jamaican writers Nicole Dennis-Benn (Patsy) and Curdella Forbes (A Tall History of Sugar). Read the full list here.

Book News

Not book news but screenplays are the books of the film world and the last CREATIVE SPACE focused on Antiguan and Barbudan films available online. The series runs every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer and on my blog.

Caribbean Literary Heritage used the inaugural Caribbean Literature Day as an opportunity to kick off its Caribbean A – Z of lesser known books series. A is for Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie, Gwen, Lilly, Pam, and Tulip (1983) is presented by Keja Valens @kvalens, who writes, “Kincaid’s story narrates a moment of first contact between Caribbean natives and conquistadors, from the point of view of the Caribbean natives who are also constituted by the history that will result from that meeting. It features the stylistics, themes, and even characters for which Kincaid is well known: a deceptive simplicity, a deep concern with the colonial and post-colonial experience of Caribbean girls and women, and Annie and Gwen.” They’ll be doing the whole alphabet – including an F entry by me, so check them out by clicking on the page name above.


Myriad Publishing in the UK has lots of news re the global anthology New Daughters of Africa, featuring more than 200 Black women writers from around the world, and edited by Margaret Busby. First, the recipient of the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa award, made possible because all participating authors waived their fee, went to Iza Luhumyo of Mombasa. Additionally, 500 copies of New Daughters have been donated to schools in the United Kingdom via The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise that campaigns for black British histories to be taught from reception through to A Levels. Myriad’s publishing director Candida Lacey said, “It feels more urgent now than ever to improve the way we educate our children and young adults and to share with them the richness, range and diversity of African women’s voices and across a wealth of genres.” The paperback edition of New Daughters will be out in September.

Caribbean Reads Publishing has announced that it is actively seeking #ownvoices manuscripts for middle grade readers, roughly 8 to 13 years, with a Caribbean setting. There’s no published cut off date but don’t sleep on it. Go here for submission details. Caribbean Reads has also recently released a reading guide for its Burt Award winning title Musical Youth. Download it for free here.

A reminder that Caribbean Reads publishing is accepting middle grade manuscripts. “What’s a middle-grade novel? These are books for readers in the last years of primary school and early years of high school. These readers are beyond picture books and early chapter books but not ready for the themes in YA novels. Age range of readers: 8-13 years. This is a large range and will include simpler, shorter books for the 8-10 range and slightly longer, more involved ones for the 11-13 year olds. Length: 15,000 – 50,000 words. This is a guide. There are longer middle-grade books. Character ages: 10-14 years old. Generally children like to read up, so the protagonists should be slightly older than the children in your target age range. They can’t be too old or the concerns that are most realistic for your characters will be too advanced for your readers. General features: The story must have a compelling plot line and at least one sub-plot (this is one of the features that distinguishes the middle-grade novel from the earlier books).
Adults should have minor roles. They should never step in to solve the children’s problem. The book should show a clear understanding of the protagonist’s point-of-view and concerns as a child. The books may be one of a variety of sub-genres: realistic, fantasy, historical, humorous, etc.” For more, go here.

The Voice of the People’s reading of Keithlyn and Fernando Smith’s To Shoot Hard Labour continues all July (July 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st). Don’t forget the youth tie-ins.

And the live trivia, prizes for which include copies of books by local authors

ETA: I’ve uploaded week 1 of the reading club discussion to my AntiguanWriter youtube channel


What’s there to say? Carnival is cancelled. Or is it? As we settle in to this new normal the news that Carnival has been cancelled has morphed in to some aspects of Carnival is going online. There will be a t-shirt mas via zoom and a party monarch with a $15,000 purse. Registration is ongoing at this writing. I’m going to link the Antigua Carnival page though I was not able to find, with a little digging around, info on these announced events – it is a (too) busy page though so I maybe missed it; either that or it’s not updated yet which would be confounding considering it’s already been in the news. But here’s the page– otherwise, google.

Black Lives Matter

Yes, here in the Caribbean too. A recent addition to the conversation – the part of it having to do with the dismantling of racist iconography – is an op-ed by writer-publisher Mario Picayo, who resides in the VI and in the US.


Mario Picayo’s Little Bell Caribbean published my book With Grace, which centres a dark-skinned Black girl in her own faerie tale.

Entitled Healing the Present by Owning the Past, it was published in the St. Thomas Source and took shots at things in public spaces named for slaver-pirate Francis Drake, colonialist ruler King Christian IX of Denmark, and other things European (and American).

‘Francis Drake was a pirate for the English Crown, and an early slave trader. Together with merchant John Hawkins, a relative, Drake made several trips to Africa between 1561 and 1567 and participated in the triangular trade. During their first trip they reported capturing “at the least” 300 Africans in Sierra Leone through a campaign of destruction and violence. As late as the 1580’s Drake enslaved people during his trips through the Caribbean. In one instance he took “300 Indians from Cartagena, mostly women” as well as “200 negroes.” In Marin County, California, Drake’s statue will be removed and the name Francis Drake Boulevard will be changed.’

Antigua and Barbuda actually has some experience with this – the changeover of European names to one of more local significance, more generally, but the changeover of things named for Drake and Hawkins specifically as well. When I was a child there were streets named for them. Post-Independence, King Obstinate did a song, ‘Sons of the Soil/True Heroes’ that as a child and still I believe changed attitudes and policy regarding some of the things named for European colonists and enslavers. There are still many things named for them, of course, but gone were Drake and Hawkins streets, and two other parallel streets in St. John’s City, and in their place were streets named for legendary cricketers Sirs Vivian Richards and Andy Roberts, and future national heroes King Court and Nellie Robinson. Still no Short Shirt Village nor Swallow Town though.

Read Mario’s full article here.


Dame Edris Bird (born 1929), former resident tutor of the University of the West Indies Open Campus (Antigua and Barbuda)/University Centre, has died. She has been offered an official funeral “in celebration of (her) selfless contribution to nation building”. In an obit I recommend reading in full, the Daily Observer newspaper speaks of her considerable (and little known to those of us who came after) arts advocacy (for example for the details of the time she stood up to then Prime Minister and Father of the Nation and her brother in law Papa Bird in defense of free expression on the nation’s station).  “The University of the West Indies under her leadership was a mecca for education, the arts, cultural expression, and exploration of self-awareness and self-fulfillment. She encouraged theatrical performances (see RULER IN HIROONA and CEREMONIES IN DARK OLD MEN), and nurtured great playwrights and actors like Dorbrene O’Marde, Edson Buntin, Eugene ‘Rats’ Edwards, Irving Lee, Dr. Glen Edwards, and the cast of Harambee Open Air Theatre. Pan blossomed and flourished, as did African drumming and creative and contemporary dancing. Public speaking and debating thrived; poetry and prose performances all found room for expression at the University Centre. It is without fear of contradiction that we declare that the University Centre under Dame Edris Bird was the cultural and educational hub in Antigua and Barbuda.”

Lit Events

ETA The read2Me_TT bedtime readings are ongoing. Happy to have been included  sure to check out their channel.

Intersect is a Caribbean gender justice advocacy group out of Antigua and Barbuda which recently invited me to participate in a discussion on colourism and more in my Burt award winning teen/young adult novel Musical Youth. Here’s the full instagram live video.

ETA: Weekes is part of the faculty of the new Faculty of Culture, Creative and Performing Arts on the UWI Cave Hill campus. It launches online August 1st 2020 at 6 p.m. our time with performances and speaches. Here’s a link.


ETA – this event has come and gone; here’s a report. ETA: And here now is the uploaded video of day one of the event – subscribe to the page for notifications re day 2 and more going forward. View my reading during the event on my page AntiguanWriter which you are invited to subscribe to as well

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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A & B Arts Round up – March 5th 2020 –>

Remember to always check the Opportunities Too page for the latest upcoming deadlines re arts opportunities locally, regionally, and internationally. This series of pages is re upcoming arts and culture events (speaking of be sure to check out my CREATIVE SPACE series – running every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer and online with extras at my Jhohadli blog). As with most things, information for the round up is pulled from several sources including personal interaction or reporting, social media, regular media, and other where, and written or re-written for listing here under fair use terms.

March 13th 2020 – Read with Your Fan is a National Public Library activity for Education Month. It will feature local celebs reading to and engaging with students.

March 29th 2020 – 83771754_806511696523566_4051648323415703552_n

July 23rd – August 4th 2020 –

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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A & B Arts Round Up – 19th December 2019 –>


January 18th 2020 –

July 23rd 2020 – August 4th 2020 –


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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A & B Arts Round up – June 10th 2019 —>

August 17th 2019 – 59775614_329036067810776_4410562896208068608_n

July 31st 2019 – 64851874_353543768693339_5104058999066591232_n

July to August 2019 – Carnival


July and August – (register by June 30th 2019) – sessions to be held on July 22nd – 26th & August 12th – 16th 2019 – flyer and registration form copied below – this is a paid workshop but with sponsorship will offer scholarship – contact Joanne C. Hillhouse at jhohadli at gmail dot com if you need more information or wish to sponsor.workshop promo 4JSYWP Registration Form 2019

July 18th 2019 – Wesley cover 2.jpg

Longtime Caribbean-media Association boss, Wesley Gibbings, is coming to Antigua and Barbuda. He’ll be launching his latest book – a collection of poems – July 18th 2019, 6:30 p.m., at the Best of Books, on St. Mary’s Street.

July 7th 2019 –

July 6th 2019 – 65371896_1279172185592999_3623899404987006976_n.jpg

July 3rd 2019 – 10 a.m. – 12 noon – The National Public Library hosts Local Author of the Month Timothy Payne 51MkRaGCYHL

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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Dame Yvonne Maginley (a short note)

Copied from my facebook page where Antiguan and Barbudan playwriters and screenwriters was the Wadadli Pen Blog Post of the Week:

I had hoped to write something more but time is not on my side so I’ll just say here that for all her Tourism related accolades, the recently deceased Dame Yvonne Maginley, had a hand in the development of the arts in Antigua and Barbuda as well. … touching on her contribution to theatre and the folk music tradition, the Antigua Community Players has been at the forefront of this performing arts tradition since 1952. Their play Priscilla’s Wedding, written by the players, is always listed as a benchmark in the development of local theatre. Dame Yvonne Maginley took on the role of musical director in 1957, guiding the Players’ development into a choral group renowned for performance of international musicals and Antiguan and Barbudan folk music productions, and composing many folk/national songs over the years. For more on the Community Players and Antiguan and Barbudan playwrights follow the link. Thanks to the Dame who was laid to rest this past week (Rest in Peace to her), it is Your Wadadli Pen Blog Post of the Week. 

Also the Community Players entry on the playwrights and screenwriters page has been updated. (Edit: And, FYI, a publication of Maginley’s is also recorded at Antiguan and Barbudan Writings and Antiguan and Barbudan Non-Fiction Writings.).

Dame Yvonne Maginley died on January 27th 2019. She had been knighted in 2003 and, also, received a lifetime achievement award from the Caribbean Tourism Organization, after serving as Tourism Director General for many years (and, before that, executive director of the Eastern Caribbean Tourism Association). Maginley who received broadcasting training at the BBC and was programme officer at ABS (making her also a media contributor – as you know, I’ve been tracking the development of media in Antigua and Barbuda) on her return, and tourism training at the University of Surrey, also served as Governor General’s Deputy of Antigua and Barbuda; chair of the first children’s carnival, Queens committee chair for many years, and secretary of the Carnival Steering Committee – all this in the early years of the national festival; helmed the National Public Library re-building project; taught music; and, of course, all her work with the Community Players. (source: guest editorial by Sir Dr. Rodney Williams in the Daily Observer 12th February 2019)

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

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This is one of my favourite things I have ever had the opportunity to work on. It was released as a newspaper supplement. I wish it had taken more permanent form (a book or CD) but I’m glad that I got to do it at all. It was a publication I pitched for the 50th anniversary of Carnival and got the go-ahead to produce. The rollout was such that it was less impactful than I would have liked but still I was happy with the product. Happy because it collected the cross section of arts that contributes to Carnival – a reminder that Carnival is art…correction, arts.

There was Carnival-themed visual art by cover artist Heather Doram, Carol Gordon, Mark Brown, Marie Kinsella, Denise Li, E. T. Henry, Jan Farara, Debbie Eckert, David Cadogan, Muerah ‘Artist’ Boddie, Jennifer Meranto; photography by Allan Aflax, Bernard Richardson, Alexis Andrews, Jermaine Simpson; Carnival designs (dresses and costumes) by Calvin S., Errol ‘Bumpy’ Nanton, Colin ‘Wanga’ Martin, and others; lyrics, short fiction, novel excerpts by writers like D. Gisele Isaac, Tameka Jarvis-George, Marie Elena John, Jermilla Kirwan, Shelly Tobitt, Marcus Christopher, Selvyn Walter, S E James, Leonard ‘Tim’ Hector, Brenda Lee Browne, Arthur ‘Bum’ Jardine, Edgar Lake, Sylvanus Barnes, Aziza Lake, Althea Prince, and others.

I called this collection Carnival is all We Know as a nod to a soca song that I felt captured the all consuming energy of Carnival and the exclamatory nature of it. And also, music.

I can’t share anything from the collection (although if you’ve read my book Oh Gad! you’ve read some of it since it was first excerpted in it and one of the stories found in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings was first published here). If you’re interested in reading a more recent lit journal dedicated to Carnival, remember to check out the latest issue of Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters. Also in the spirit of #throwbackThursday here’s a Carnival inspired article I wrote back in 2011.


p.s. this is the niece referenced in the story below with me on the road in 2017 when I played the tree faerie from my book With Grace.

Bridging the Musical Gap
An anecdote from the launch of Carnival 2011
By Joanne C. Hillhouse

“Is all old people dancing,” she said.

Pull up. Let’s start at the beginning.

Like hundreds of islanders – and a fair amount of visitors – I ventured to the Carnival street party at the Dockyard Saturday night. Truth be told, my niece and I left home intent on attending the Wadadli Music Fest as we’ve done in recent years but en route, plans changed, and there we were sitting on the grassy mound while below us CP swung her fire engine red locks and wined in sinfully short shorts backed by an energetic and athletic chorus line as she segued from track to track – Carnival is All We Know, Go Claudette, Something’s Got a Hold On Me. Well, I sat and swayed; Niecey disappeared for a while with a friend, reminding me that I was less liming partner, more chauffeur; reminding me that she was growing up and away from me. Sure, we both loved Claudette but she loved her down in the thick of it while me, I loved her, from a distance.

The distance was about to get wider; they don’t call it the generation gap for nothing.

Just as she returned, the emcees announced that Burning Flames was up next and that no, Tian Winter would not be performing. “No Tian Winter” it was almost too much for her pre-teen heart but she was still looking forward to Burning Flames. Me, less so. As I proceeded to explain to her, she hasn’t heard Flames like I’ve heard Flames. After all, I grew up on their music and still dream of the awesome foursome coming together for one grand finale, or, at any rate, to make me feel like they did then. They spell youth to me, my youth, and, ageless as they themselves seem, who could blame me. So, what we were about to hear was for me a poor facsimile of the original.

Then that voice we swooned over as teens at jam pond started up, the familiar and infectious beat behind it, and, on my feet now, my body remembered it all. Good music is good music, and the Flames of the mid-80s to mid-90s was the best; and as Onyan and Krokuss teased at the memory of those songs, that time, what could we do but dance. No, I wasn’t the only one. All around me, in the parking lot outside of the Dockyard gates, feet remembered, hips swayed and couples rocked. For some it was the end of Sailing Week, for us it was Carnival.

Here comes little Miss, right in the middle of the Go, Go, Go riff. “Let’s go”. Now I knew she had to be kidding; not when things had finally come alive. Don’t get me wrong, CP rocked it and if I had seen only her, it would have been enough. But this was just too much: Iron Band, Swinging Engine, Ride Yuh Bicycle, Go on wan kinda how…all the classics. But of course that was the problem. Excited as she’d been to hear Flames, she didn’t know the Flames I knew. Flames, for her, is Bull Bud, a ditty I didn’t particularly care for having missed Carnival, for the first time ever, in 2010. She’s of the era of Ok Papi, while I remember going crazy to Ah Rudeness Mek Me. And if I had to choose between the twin Flames we’ve got going these days, I suppose I’ve been more Red Hott.  But none of that mattered now, Onyan’s falsetto still had that delicious tremble and the music still had that intoxicating effect; and she would just have to wait – and choke on the irony – as I danced to the band she’d been salivating to see while she stood there in the stereotypical bored teenage pose (never mind that she has a few weeks to go before making teenager).

“Look,” I teased, “you don’t see people dancing?”

This is where we began. “Is all old people dancing,” she pouted. This amused me no end, as I looked around at these primarily twenty and thirty somethings – maybe one or two forty and fifty somethings – and shook my head at what surely must be an exaggeration. But then, when I was 12 everyone over 25 likely looked old to me too, I suppose.

What struck me then – or later, I was too busy dancing then – was I was exactly her age the first time I heard Flames; I remember how they had this Pied Piper effect luring the dancing posse to Potter and beyond all the while jigging Left to Right.

I remember though that I also appreciated my parents’ music – Short Shirt, Swallow, Latumba, Obstinate – because, to me, while each generation has its defining music, one generation’s Madonna is another generation’s Gaga, good music transcends generations. After all, didn’t I begin the day listening to Billie Holiday, and later cleaning to Aretha Franklin, didn’t I move to the dancehall and hip hop beat of the DJ battle before Sassy shifted the mood back to Carnival, and wasn’t I now dancing to Flames? I never could understand people who only listened to this or that genre or period of music; music is music, I say, and if it makes me feel, gi me more.

Alas, my niece was still stuck in a generational box and Flames was showing their age as far as she was concerned. She’ll grow out of it. After all, who can resist good music of any time or place, and, who can resist the band who – by any configuration – has a name that’s synonymous with Carnival.

So by the time Onyan and company teased Obeah and Brown Girl in a Ring we were both dancing; and by the time Bull Bud came on, well, for her, they could once again do no wrong. All was once again well with Carnival.

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


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Summer Festival by King Short Shirt

This one is a collaboration between King Short Shirt and co-writer and collaborator Stanley Humphreys. It won him the road march king in 1980, a year in which he also won one of his 15 Antigua Calypso Monarch crowns. See also our song lyrics data base; and our song writers’ data base. All lyrics are transcribed from the song recording. Errors and omissions are my own; feel free to help me correct or fill in the blanks. – JCH, blogger

Every year, it’s becoming more popular
The Carnival we display in Antigua
From every nation
They come to jump up in we steel band
Show them that they’re welcome
Let them enjoy our native land
You must show them
Our tropical sceneries
Our beautiful sites
Relating to histories
Our white sandy beaches
Our smiling faces
I say, they won’t want to go home

They enjoying the Caribbean’s
Most colourful
Summer festival

The tourist come
They come to enjoy the festival
It’s fun and spree
During the whole Carnival
They hear about j’ouvert
If you see them prowling for a band
They are filled with excitement
Dressed for the special occasion
Some are wearing tear up pajamas
Big boots and sneakers
With oversize trousers
Zip up panties
Half slip and nighties
Like if they don’t plan to go home


Our shows, I say they are spectacular
Yes we have
A high standard in Antigua
My calypsos
They vibrates the Caribbean
Our steelband and mas men
Strive for more innovation
See beautiful women in costume parading
The prince and princess
Are played by our children
Accept the invitation
For your participation
I sure you won’t want to go home


Once you have
Tasted this great festival
You must come back to share in our bacchanal
It’s so captivating
You can’t miss a next j’ouvert morning
The whole place pulsating
From sound of steel and brass playing
Mas bands parading
Colourful, fascinating
It’s so exciting
To see people dancing
So peaceful and free
It will live in your memory
You’ll wish Antigua was your home


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Carnival Honorees

That they were even having Carnival awards was something I didn’t realize until after the fact but could just be I had my head in the clouds as usual. Anyway (though the moment has passed and our heads are in a more somber place now), sharing and celebrating especially the writers in the line-up (because celebrating the arts and especially the writers is what we’re all about). Man like Marcus Christopher, Shelly Tobitt, Mclean Emanuel (Short Shirt), Rupert Philo (Swallow), Paul Richards (Obstinate), Percival Watt (Bottle), Ogliver Jacobs (Destroyer Sr.), Dr. Prince Ramsey, Toriano Edwards (Onyan), Joseph Hunte (Calypso Joe) … congrats to all.

Here’s the full list:



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!, Fish Outta Water, With Grace, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Do not re-use content without permission and credit. 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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Carnival is Mas

Some of you who read this blog are not Antiguan or even Caribbean so when I talk about Carnival I’m not quite sure what you picture (some of you do have Caribbean Carnivals where you are as it’s become one of our more popular exports – wherever  Caribbean people reside – Miami, Toronto, Notting Hill, Boston, New York, Atlanta etc. – there is a Carnival). But beyond the wining and soca, the rum and debauchery, there is a history rooted in our liberation as former enslaved people brought to the Americas from our home continent of Africa centuries ago. In Antigua, Carnival (which celebrated its 60th anniversary as a summer festival – the Caribbean Greatest Summer Festival to hear us tell it, though Rihanna and Barbados’ Cropover might have something to say about that – this year but existed as a Christmas season mas before that) intersects with Emancipation Day, August Monday, and there is a small adjacent, but not integrated, Emancipation celebration that’s more about honouring the ancestors and seeking justice for the lives eaten up by hundreds of years of enslavement. And then there is Carnival proper which begins with pre-fetes, and includes pageants (Queens and Teens), music competitions (soca, calypso, pan), and, of course, mas…because Carnival is mas. And in Antigua that mas takes up two business days (three if you count Children’s Carnival though Children’s Carnival unlike the other two days is not a national holiday) known as Carnival Monday and Tuesday at the end of which prizes are dispensed. I wanted to share some of the mas in this space.

How it works is that you have different mas bands (or troupes) and they play different themes (a new one each year) – from mythology to lost civilizations to things in nature to things in the great beyond, and beyond; it’s about history and fantasy, creativity and expression. There are adult categories and junior categories. I’m going to share pictures from Junior (i.e. Children’s) Carnival first because those are the only mas photos I found on the Antigua Carnival facebook (and it works out fine since this is a youth-focused arts blog); but don’t ask me to say who is who nor what they’re playing.

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The source for the images in the slideshow is Antigua Carnival on facebook.

I wanted to show some of the adult themes as well.

Staci Mua RussellopeningInsane

In order, the top image is a modern take on the John Bull by Stacey Russel (Stacey and Dem) – the John Bull is a traditional mas character who used to scare the devil out of us when we were kids. It is based on the masked African witch doctor and back in the day there was a cattle tender with a whip, and the horned character would charge the crowd, and people would scatter; it was a whole thing. Read more on the John Bull here. The second image is a member of a mini-mas group called Just Friends, because that’s literally what they are. Me and my crew played behind  them this year (but more on that in a minute). The third image is Insane Mas. All three placed in the competition this year. Read the full results here. Sorry there aren’t more adult pictures but it’s hard to pull more without pushing beyond fair  use boundaries – as it is these three are public posts from the mas pages (Stacey’s and Insane‘s) and the Carnival page on facebook.

Finally, this year, as I blogged here, two friends and I (as one media person repeatedly intoned “all three” of us) decided to do our own thing this year. An ulterior motive was showcasing a character from my most recent children’s picture book With Grace – a mango tree fairy. So yes, this is a shameless plug for my Caribbean fairytale (please pick up a copy for the young one in your life) but it’s also mas which we all love and have played many times together and apart over the years. These costumes are made by my friends (with funding from Titi Rent-a-Car, Townhouse Megastore, and Pink Mongoose) and inspired by the art work in the book (illustrated by Cherise Harris). I think we did okay.



That’s it!

Okay, fine, here are some more of the kids (love how much fun they’re having):

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-by Joanne C. Hillhouse, resident blogger and author

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