A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here – credit and link back if you use).
Antigua and Barbuda and the pan fraternity worldwide bid farewell to one of the best to ever do it, son of the soil Victor ‘Babu’ Samuel. An official funeral was held on August 8th 2022 at the Antigua Recreation Grounds. The eulogy was delivered by former PM and steelpan lover Baldwin Spencer, a long time friend and collaborator of Babu through their mutual relationship with the Halycon Steel Orchestra. The service featured performances by Trinidad and Tobago’s Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe, the Antigua Dance Academy, and Rudolph Davis, principal of St. Joseph’s Academy, for which Babu arranged, leading them to several wins in the schools panorama competition. Steelbands performing at the service were Halcyon, Panache, West Side Symphony, Gemonites, Hell’s Gate, along with the Point Iron Band. Babu who was a multi-winning pan arranger with Halcyon Steel Orchestra, with which he played since the 1970s, died on June 28th 2022 after a prolonged illness. Babu, a 2001 national award recipient, pioneered the Law Enforcement Steel within the police force. A notable role of Babu’s which he speaks about this interview for Halcyon’s anniversary with The Spectator (an interview well worth watching for an understanding of the developmental challenges still faced by the art form even as we posthumously honour one of the men who fought hardest for its development), was youth pan development programme and specifically the National Youth Pan Orchestra which abruptly ended, as he states in the interview (and as written about in my CREATIVE SPACE interview with Culture department pan programme coordinator Barbara Mason). A post-note of the funeral, based on calls to Observer radio the day after the funeral, is that Halcyon was reportedly disallowed from playing Babu to the cemetary given that it was an official funeral. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)
The Humane Society of Antigua and Barbuda has distributedmore than 4,000 copies of its All Creatures Great and Small Colouring Book to public and private pre-schools and kindergartens; if you’re in Antigua and Barbuda, to collect, call them at 461-4957. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)
Antiguan and Barbudan cyclist Andre Simon who was injured while riding one day and has had to be flown off-island for further treatment. A number of fundraisers have been organized to assist with medical expenses. The latest, at this writing, is an announced gospel concert “Each One Reach One”, August 14th 2022, SJPC House of Restoration Ministries on Lauchland Benjamin Drive. (Source – Valerie Gonsalves-Barreiro on Facebook <— Contact her for tickets)
The Booklyn Caribbean Literary Festival has a short list; matter of fact, they have two.
BCLF ELIZABETH NUNEZ CARIBBEAN-AMERICAN WRITER’S PRIZE SHORT LIST 2022
Jazz Sanchez – Cock Soup – JAMAICA
Amaris Castillo – El Don – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Rachelle J .Gray – Peter 3:15 – BARBADOS
Elesa Chan – Jumbie – GUYANA
Yvika Pierre – Nadege goes Home – HAITI
BCLF ELIZABETH NUNEZ AWARD FOR WRITERS IN THE CARIBBEAN
Denise Westfield – The Valley- St. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES
Topher Allen – A Familiar Friction- JAMAICA
Kirk Bhajan – The La Diablesse of Ecclessville – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Callie Browning -The Science of Garbage – BARBADOS
Alexia Tolas – The Fix – BAHAMAS
Lisa Allen-Agostini – Meeting Beverley Jones -TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Sara Bastian – The Girl With Your Grandmother’s Eyes – BAHAMAS
Portia Subran – Please Take One- TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Martine Magnus – One for the Books – JAMAICA
Kwame Weekes – Green Thumb – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
(Source – BCLF email)
Monique Roffey (awarding winning British-based Trinidad writer) and Polly Patullo (who owns the UK-Dominica press Papillote) have been made honorary fellows with the Royal Society of Literature. In the largest mass induction in RSL’s history, nearly 100 fellows and honorary fellows signed the RSL’s historical roll book with a famous writer’s pen. This was the first year writers could use the Andrea Levy (UK-Jamaican writer) and Jean Rhys (Dominican-European writer) pens since they were introduced to the collection for the 200th birthday of the RSL in 2020. To be nominated as a Fellow, a writer must have published or produced two works of outstanding literary merit, and nominations must be made by two Fellows or Honorary Fellows. The 2022 inductees also include the first cohort of Fellows elected through RSL Open, a flagship programme celebrating the great diversity of outstanding writers and writing in Britain. (Source – JRLee email)
Coming out of Antigua and Barbuda’s Carnival congrats to Revo Band (cheers to Daddy Barlo) recognized as the first and sweetest sounding jam band on the road at j’ouvert; Mud Mas awarded as the first j’ouvert troupe. The winning road march tune is “How M’ Sound” by Lyricks Man (who is also the Jumpy Party Monarch). The runner up for road march is soca veteran Claudette ‘CP’ Peters – a former winner (first female to do so) in her own right, and also once again crowned as Antigua and Barbuda’s Groovy Party Monarch. Her tune is “Stressless”.
Second runner-up for road march (song played most on the road) is another former party monarch Tian Winter with “Stressless”. The opening parade cheerleading competition was won by Xplosion, with AS and BK cheerleaders following. The winning opening parade float was the Ministry of Tourism’s followed by the Transport Board and State Insurance. The T-shirt mas winner is Icons followed by Redd Hot Nation and Xclusive Mas. (Source – ABS TV/Radio on Facebook)
Additionally, the Calypso Monarch winners are Trevor ‘Zacari’ King in the social commentary segment and Tian in the Bacchanal segment – runners up are Ge’Eve and Peetron in social commentary and Sammie C and Thalia runners up in Bacchanal. This is Zacari’s fifth calypso monarch crown. Usually there is one calyspo monarch, with artists having to compete in two segments, unofficially with a serious song and a party song, but this year, it was decided to have two segments with different line-ups. (Source – Observer Media by Newsco Ltd on Facebook)
Unclear (at this writing) what happened to the band of the year announcement re the winning troupe or troupes; it was not a part of the official results posted and no mention of why in that posting – disappointing. Possibly it had to do with Carnival being COVID cancelled for two years and the late announcement of its staging this year. Still something should have been said when the results were published.
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.
A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here).
I wasn’t going to write about Calvin Holder. This letter I came across in Guyana’s Staebrok News when googling to see if news of his passing was true (it was, February 7th 2022) changed my mind. Mr. Holder was a teacher of mine and one of the mentors along the way to me becoming the writer that I am. His English classes (at the Antigua State College) drew me out, I shared my writing with him and received feedback, I wrote plays for the college drama group he led. After college we lost touch – though we reconnected from time to time, though not in a long time. The writer of the February 21st 2022 letter, Roy Brummel, referenced Mr. Holder’s PhD thesis, Victim and Vehicle: The Political, Cultural and Intellectual Contexts of Martin Carter’s Poetry, which he successfully defended on April 5th 2007: “Calvin had served as a teacher in different parts of the hinterlands and, after graduating from UG, he returned, giving more years before being transferred to work as an education official on the East Coast of Demerara. Calvin migrated to Antigua to teach, but he came back to UG to read for his Masters in English and later completed his PhD at the University of the West Indies, with his thesis being on Martin Carter….I have been informed that Dr. Gemma Robinson of England has written a thesis on Martin Carter, but I don’t know of any Guyanese besides Calvin who has written a PhD thesis on Guyana’s national poet. Therefore, Calvin’s work is very significant. I’ve asked people whether they have knowledge of a Martin Carter biography, and they said no. Assuming there is no Martin Carter biography, the works of Drs. Robinson and Holder are even more important as they are the closest to that biography.” Sounds like a good idea to me. Rest in Peace to Mr. Holder. (Source – a friend)
Sarah White, who was the co-recipient of the first Bocas Henry Swanzy Award in 2013, has passed. She was described by Bocas as co-founder of New Beacon Books with her partner John La Rose, and “a true and practical friend to generations of Caribbean writers, artists, and activists…Her death is a great loss to Caribbean and Black British publishing and bookselling, writers and readers.” Sarah was born in 1944 and died in 2022. (Source – JRLee)
On Thursday, February 3, 2022, the Rex Nettleford Foundation celebrated Professor Nettleford’s life and legacy with a viewing of “Renaissance Man” A Documentary of the Life of the late Jamaican professor. Nettleford (full name Ralston Milton “Rex” Nettleford) was a scholar, social critic, choreographer, and vice chancellor emeritus of the University of the West Indies.
Tim Tim Bwa Fik podcast discussion with Rilzy Adams part 2 (2022) – “When writing, where this was concerned, the one thing that I really wanted it to feel like and be like was Antiguan… I was very intentional with everything from the food choices to the music…but I also wanted them for the most part to be not necessarily heartwarming but …my general brand, for everything I write…Antiguan, full of love, and spicy.” She added that while so much of our Caribbean fiction deals with our historical trauma she just wants to write about people meeting, falling in love, and having sushi.
Click here to watch the full Tim Tim Bwa Fik series by podcaster Maëlla K on Apple podcasts. It includes interviews with several Caribbean writers. (Source – WordPress feed)
You can now view ‘The Journey of a Book’, a webinar co-organized by The Antigua and Barbuda Intellectual Property and Commerce Office and the World Intellectual Property Organization, online. The presenters were Antigua and Barbuda’s Barbara Arrindell, Award winning authof of Love after Love Ingrid Persaud, Barbados’ Erica Smith, CEO of COSCAP – a collective management organization, and Brian Wafawarowa of South Africa, chief content and product officer, Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd.
Pictured during the webinar, above, are, left, Ricki Camacho, registrar of Intellectual Property and Copyright, and, right, Ingrid Persaud.
“Own your work and find your voice…voice is the key,” – Ingrid Persaud said during the webinar, held on February 10th 2022, giving the writer’s perspective. Arrindell, an author and bookseller, spoke about practical resources for writers (what we have and what we need in Antigua and Barbuda). Camacho hinted that one of the things writers have been asking for, the ability to legally copyright their writing locally, may be in the works. But don’t take my word for it. Watch the entire video. Follow this link and use this password (&F9+t1&r). Thanks to the organizers for making this available. (Source – Me)
The Filmmakers Collaborative of Trinidad and Tobago has announced an online workshop with Los Angeles based South African writer/director Phumi Morae. It will cover screenplay titles, loglines, taglines, and short impactful synopses. Dates February 22nd and 23rd 2022. More here. (Source – Ministry of Culture, Trinidad and Tobago on Facebook)
The PEN Out Loud series which has booked a number of Caribbean and/or Caribbean diaspora writers for conversations over the years has Aida Rodriquez who is American of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent coming up on March 22nd 2022.
After a two-year break due to the pandemic, Antigua’s Carnival is coming back. No, the pandemic isn’t over (at February 17th 2022, our dashboard shows 135 lives lost to date , 76 active cases, 75 isolated, 5 new, and blessedly only one hospitalized, with vaccine numbers around 60 percent) but (keeping in mind that a vaccine is not a get out of COVID unscathed card, we can still get it and transmit it) hopefully we’ll find ways to party safely to avoid a post-fete surge. (Source – Antigua Festivals Instagram)
‘Dreadness: the Mystic Power, Philosophy and Performance of Shadow 1941-2021’, in celebration of Trinidad calypsonian the Mighty Shadow’s 80th birthday, is a virtual symposium announced for March 3rd and 4th 2022. Organizers are the Groundation Foundation and the University of the West Indies St. Augustine. Go here for details and registration information. (Source – Amilcar Sanatan email on this issue of Tout Moun Caribbean Journal of Cultural Studies)
The NGC Bocas Lit Fest has been set for April 28th 2022 to May 1st 2022. The events will be live streamed. Stay tuned. (Source – Bocas email)
The short list of books for the Bocas Prize has been announced.
They are Cuba: An American History by Ada Ferrer (Cuban-American), Things I have Withheld by Kei Miller (Jamaican), The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, & Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (American of Barbadian descent) contesting for the Non-Fiction prize; Pleasantview by Celeste Mohammed (Trinidad and Tobago), How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones (Barbados), What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J. A. Chancy (Haitian-Canadian) competing for the Fiction prize; Thinking with Trees by Jason Allen-Paisant (Jamaican), What Noise Against the Cane by Desiree C. A. Bailey (Trinidad and Tobago), Zion Roses by Monica Minott (Jamaican) in the running for the Poetry prize.
The judges will announce the winners in the 3 genre categories on 27 March. These will go on to compete for the overall #OCMBocasPrize2022 of US$10,000, to be announced on 30 April, during the 12th annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest. Each category winner will receive US$3,000. (Source – Twitter)
Late last year the Antigua and Barbuda JCI Youth Empowerment Programme recognized a number of young people. They are humanitarian award winner and Red Cross volunteer Daniela Mohamed, entrepreneurship award winner and Dadli Dose juice brand owner Kwesi Jarvis, sports awards winner and professional bikini fitness athlete Kimberly Percival, agriculture award winner and beekeeper Jamaul Philip, music award winner and pannist Jah-fari Joseph-Hazelwood, education award winner whose sede project is Eat ‘n Lime Tours Tiffany Azille, mental health activist awardee and associate clinical psychologist Regina A. Apparicio, leadership award winner and history teacher Kamalie Mannix, and culture award winner and translator Alfonsina Olmos.
(Source – Facebook)
Guyana born British based writer John Agard in late 2021 became the first poet to win the Booktrust Lifetime Achievement Award. “I feel happy that I’ve stuck with this craft since I was a 16-year-old boy writing in a classroom in a Caribbean ex-colony. It’s not just me receiving this award, but all the people that inspired me,” Agard said. Read the full article here. (Source – Repeating Islands blog)
Jamaican writer Kei Miller (Things I have Withheld) was on the Baillie Gifford Prize long list late last year. The prize ultimately went to Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Industry by Patrick Radden Keefe. The prize recognizes the best in non-fiction. (Source – JRLee email)
Twenty early-career writers from seven different Caribbean territories have been shortlisted for the 2022 Bocas Emerging Writers Fellowships, to be awarded in two genre categories for poetry and prose. Scheduled to run for a period of six months, and offering tangible support for emerging writers to advance or complete a body of work, the two Bocas Emerging Writers Fellowships will include a cash award of TT$10,000, six months’ mentorship from an established author, participation in an intensive online workshop hosted by the UK literary organisation Arvon, and publication of a chapbook by Peekash Press. From a total of over 100 applicants, the shortlisted writers are, in alphabetical order:
Topher Allen (Jamaica) Xan-Xi Bethel (The Bahamas) Neala Bhagwansingh (Trinidad and Tobago) Johanna Gibson (British Virgin Islands) Ubaldimir Guerra (Belize) Jannine Horsford (Trinidad and Tobago) Jay T. John (Trinidad and Tobago) Gillian Moore (Trinidad and Tobago) Ruth Osman (Guyana/Trinidad and Tobago) Allyson Weekes (Trinidad and Tobago)
Tracy Assing (Trinidad and Tobago) Heather Barker (Barbados) Ayrïd Chandler (Trinidad and Tobago) Rachael Amanda Espinet (Trinidad and Tobago) Amir Denzel Hall (Trinidad and Tobago) Michelle John (Trinidad and Tobago) Garvin Tafari Parsons (Trinidad and Tobago) Rajiv Ramkhalawan (Trinidad and Tobago) Ark Ramsay (Barbados) Alexandra Stewart (Trinidad and Tobago)
The shortlists were selected by authors Andre Bagoo of Trinidad and Tobago (whose essay collection The Undiscovered Country was the winner of the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction) and Ann-Margaret Lim of Jamaica (whose book of poems Kingston Buttercup was shortlisted for the 2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry).
“Caribbean Lit is in good hands,” remarked Lim of the fellowship applications. “Good, serious writers from the Caribbean, unafraid of subjects traditionally ‘taboo’ in their countries, are writing their truths, and doing so beautifully and as well as any international poet or fiction writer…. The voices are not stilted or affected. They are bold, true, and indeed shaped by skill and attention.”
“These writers all demonstrate a mastery of language in service of an artistic vision or point of view,” added Bagoo. “Their writing samples provide glimpses of a future in which Caribbean literature is bolder, more exhilarating than ever.”
The call for fellowship applications asked for writers working in innovative, genre-crossing forms, exploring themes of individual and personal identity, and ideas of belonging, displacement, and home.
The two successful fellows, selected from the shortlists, are expected to be announced in late March 2022, and will present their work in progress during the 2022 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, running from 28 April to 1 May.
The fellowships are made possible by generous donations from Canisia Lubrin, winner of the overall 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature; Dionne Brand, winner of the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize in the fiction category; Christina Sharpe, judge for the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize in the fiction category; and Allyson Holder, Friend of the Bocas Lit Fest. (Source – Facebook)
Motion, Wendy Braithwaite, a Canadian writer of Antiguan and Barbudan descent, is a Canadian Screen Awards nominee for her writing on the drama series, ‘Coroner’. From Motion’s Facebook: “Wow! So much of our heart and souls went into this one! To see Ruby (played by talented Avery Grant) on screen. To write a story inspired by the culture. To integrate the sounds and the artwork of our artists in this city. To tell a story about art, family, legacy and a courageous girl – young, creative and Black. To work with an awesome room of writers, and create/collabo once again with visionary Charles Officer! 10 Canadian Screen Award noms for Coroner, and 2 for this special episode – DRAMA SERIES, BEST WRITING and DRAMA SERIES, BEST DIRECTING!” Motion’s nomination is for the episode ‘Eyes Up’. (Source – Facebook)
Shouting out artrepeneur Barbados’ Nikisha Toppin, winner of the MicroPitch Best Female Entrepreneur Award at Micro Pitch Caribbean with her business Elaine’s Caribbean Crochet – “a registered social enterprise that provides Caribbean crochet artists with the knowledge, tools and resources needed to help their businesses be sustainable”.
MicroPitch is a combination of entrepreneurship trainings and a business plan competition that gives entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) of the Caribbean region the opportunity to boost their business by offering them capacity building and a platform to present (“pitch”) their business plans, solutions or ideas to a jury and audience, receiving personalised and instant feedback. Other finalists (more in the entrepreneur lane) are Jamaica’s Venice Irving, winner of the MicroPitch Export Award with her business Happy Teachers and Kavelle Hylton, winner of the MicroPitch Jamaica Award with her business STEM Builders Learning Hub; Dominica’s Jodie Dublin Dangleben, winner of the MicroPitch Best Entrepreneur Award with her Jaydie’s Naturals; Belize’s Miguel Huertas, winner of the MicroPitch Audience’s Favourite Award with his business Apilife and Mark Jacob, winner of the MicroPitch Belize Award with his business DML Foxtail Bamboo Straw; and Haiti’s Joseph Kendy Jules, winner of the MicroPitch Haiti Award with his business Haispot. (Source – N/A but finalists pulled from Micropitchcb Facebook)
Rise up, Sista by Kristine Simelda came out late last year. It tells the story of a Jamaican reggae artist and a British rocker who meet in London in 1963, sparking a powerful story of friendship and cultural revolution. . It is dedicated to the life of Nelly Stharre, a Dominican reggae artist who passed away in 2015 andexplores the amazing diversity of music written and broadcast during the 1960s and beyond—rhythms that served as a uniting force during times of change and political unrest. The book was published by Simelda, an American who has lived in Dominica since the mid-1990’s, River Ridge Press.
Horizon, Sea, Sound: Caribbean & African Women’s Cultural Critique of Nation by Andrea A. Davis was released in January 2022. Calling for new affiliations of community among Black, Indigenous, and other racialized women, and offering new reflections on the relationship between the Caribbean and Canada, Davis articulates a diaspora poetics that privileges our shared humanity. In advancing these claims, she turns to the expressive cultures (novels, poetry, theater, and music) of Caribbean and African women artists in Canada, including work by Dionne Brand, M. NourbeSe Philip, Esi Edugyan, Ramabai Espinet, Nalo Hopkinson, Amai Kuda, and Djanet Sears. Davis considers the ways in which the diasporic characters these artists create redraw the boundaries of their horizons, invoke the fluid histories of the Caribbean Sea to overcome the brutalization of plantation histories, use sound to enter and reenter archives, and shapeshift to survive in the face of conquest. The book will interest readers of literary and cultural studies, critical race theories, and Black diasporic studies. (Source – Twitter)
Rohan Balkin and The Shadows by Juleus Ghunta with illustrator Rachel Moss was an end of year Caribbean Reads release.
Rohan Bullkin is haunted by sinister Shadows that fuel his fear of reading. He hates books so much that he often rips their pages. But when the Shadows become intolerable, Rohan accepts an offer of friendship from a special book. This marks the beginning of a remarkable journey during which he not only learns how to conquer Shadows but also develops a love of books and life. (Source – Caribbean Reads email)
You know we’re all about promoting Antiguan and Barbudan books via our book lists, including Antiguan and Barbudan children’s literature. You know that we also promote Caribbean literature. Here’s a new one (or new to us), Jako Productions’ listing of St. Lucia Children’s Books. Just scrolling through it, I’m fascinated by Talking Talia Tattles or Tells – do I know the difference between tattling and telling? do you? this may be a book not just for children; lots of adventure tales – go Wyetta; love the use of the French creole – sak sa…sa ka fet…did I use those right?; the folklore – compere lapin to soucouyan… who looks as frightful as I remember from childhood tales in Antigua (my mother’s family is French creole from Dominica). Anyway, check out the listing of books for children and #readCaribbean (Source – Jako Productions email)
This is book news more than books, and the news is that American author of Haitian descent Roxane Gay has a new (new in 2021) imprint and a fellowship programme to provide opportunities to publish and/or learn the business, respecitively, to underrepresented voices. Read the announcement in this article in Poets & Writers, and then do your research. (Source – Poets and Writers email)
US based Trinidad and Tobago author Danielle Y. C. McClean’s The Whisperer’s Warning is the second book in her Secrets of Oscuros series after the Burt Award winning The Protector’s Pledge. It is illustrated by Rachel Moss and published by Caribbean Reads Publishing. Twelve-year-old JV has discovered that he’s one of a select few entrusted with preserving the balance between the world’s natural and unnatural realms and is now more driven than ever to know who his birth parents are. But there’s another mystery in the usually quiet village of Alcavere that he can’t ignore. He and his friends, Carol and Riaz, have received a cryptic warning from a supernatural being who dwells in the Oscuros Forest, launching them into a high-stakes mission. (Source – BCLF email)
The second book in Jamaican writer Marlon James’ Dark Star Trilogy Moon Witch Spider King landed in February. It follows on National (US) Book Award Finalist Black Leopard, Red Wolf. In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sogolon the Moon Witch proved a worthy adversary to Tracker as they clashed across a mythical African landscape in search of a mysterious boy who disappeared. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon takes center stage and gives her own account of what happened to the boy, and how she plotted and fought, triumphed and failed as she looked for him. It’s also the story of a century-long feud—seen through the eyes of a 177-year-old witch—that Sogolon had with the Aesi, chancellor to the king. It is said that Aesi works so closely with the king that together they are like the eight limbs of one spider. Aesi’s power is considerable—and deadly. It takes brains and courage to challenge him, which Sogolon does for reasons of her own. Moon Witch, Spider King delves into Sogolon’s world as she fights to tell her own story. James is a US-based author whose many accolades include the Man Booker Prize (only one of two Caribbean authors to claim that coveted prize) for A Brief History of Seven Killings. (Source – BCLF email)
Sabine, the first short story collection from Hazel Simmons-McDonald, St. Lucia-born linguistics professor emerita, first head of the UWI Open campus, and poet, was published in December 2021. The book presents a deft exploration of class, of how values are shaped by religion, and of the tensions that undergird family life. She makes a place for voices hitherto not heard and creates characters who closely guard the secrets of their hearts but who through her narrative dexterity come to experience moments of truth and clarity of memory. Sabine is published by UWI Press. (Source – JRLee email)
Co-founder of gender activist group Intersect Antigua and Barbuda Sarah Gresham has created a free online library. The purpose, to share reading recommendations from the Intersect team on each theme of the Caribbean Feminist Stories project. Access podcasts, articles, videos, blog posts, and books that illuminate the themes Resilience in the Face of Natural Disasters, Critical Green Theory, and Black in Environment! As the weeks progress, more resources will be added. (Source – Twitter)
Ana Portnoy Brimmer’s To Love an Island came out in late December 2021. Portnoy Brimmer is a poet and organizer from Puerto Rico. To Love An Island begins with the aftermath of Hurricane María and spans the summer insurrection of 2019 and subsequent earthquakes in Puerto Rico. It was originally the winner of the YesYes Books 2019 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest. (Source – N/A)
A Lantern in the Wind: A Fictional Memoir was released in 2021 by Hansib. It was written by Ameena Gafoor and offers rare insight in to Muslim life in Guyana. Additionally, her description of being an immigrant in London is a relatively rare revelation of the female experience. Ameena Gafoor is the Founder of The Arts Forum Inc; the Founding Editor of The Arts Journal; and author of Aftermath of Empire: The Novels of Roy A.K. Heath (2017). She has received two National awards as well as recognition from the Guyana Indian Commemoration Trust and the Guyana Cultural Association of New York for her outstanding contribution to the literary arts of Guyana and the Caribbean. She has also received an award from Caribbean Voice for her social work with Support for Vulnerable People through The Gafoor Foundation. Her critical articles are published in selected Journals. (Source – Hansib email)
One Day, One Day, Congotay by Trinidad and Tobago’s Merle Hodge is described, on the website of publisher Peepal Tree Press, as ‘A novel, like George Elliot’s Middlemarch that celebrates the small, hidden lives that make the world a better place. Like any richly documented historical novel, it has much to say, by implication, about the present’. It was released in January 2022. (Source – JRLee email)
St. Lucian writer Mac Donald Dixon’s A Scream in the Shadows launches this month. It is a crime story set in the rural Caribbean where traditional allegiances and a flawed criminal justice system provide a backdrop to the rape and murder of a young girl. When her father is accused of the crime, her brother joins the police to try and clear their father’s name. While the suspect languishes in jail on remand, the young detective makes some alarming discoveries. (Source – Jako Productions email)
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 –
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.
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.JSYWP Registration Form 2019
July 18th 2019 –
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 –
July 3rd 2019 – 10 a.m. – 12 noon – The National Public Library hosts Local Author of theMonth Timothy Payne
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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