Tag Archives: Carol Ottley-Mitchell

Reading Room and Gallery 37

Things I read that you might like too. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

Read the winning entries to the 2020 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge which are a mix of poems and short fiction. Support our patrons.

POETRY

“I was going to write to you last week but delayed
till I could add a bit of news that hadn’t quite resolved—
in a season of nest failures new nests have been made.” – Villanelle of a Passing of Harold Bloom by John Kinsella

COMMENTARY

“When the publishing industry — which is 84 percent white — tells Latinx writers that our stories are too hard to read, our worlds too complicated, our audiences too small, do they not mean this is hard for me to read, this book doesn’t reach me, it is difficult for me to bear witness to what my people have done, I don’t see myself in this story? Despite all its failings, American Dirt still made its debut at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Writers like Cummins will continue to supply these voyeuristic stories for the white imagination. And we will continue telling our stories as is natural for us to tell them.” – Ingrid Rojas Contreras writes about American Dirt 

CREATIVES ON CREATING

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OBIT.

“As much as his scholarly writings chronicled the post-colonisation Caribbean experience, however, it is Brathwaite’s poetry that captured the imagination of both the region and the world.” – Barbadian Poet Kamau Brathwaite Leaves Behind A Legacy of Language (on Global Voices by Janine Mendes-Franco)

FICTION

“She slept fitfully that night, and woke up the next morning with an inexplicable sense of loss. Retirement blues? She got out of bed and made herself a cup of tea. What was it that she had planned to do that morning? Yes, to go to David Sassoon library and borrow Usage and Abusage by Eric Partridge; go to church and meet Father Pereira; buy some groceries on the way back . . .” – Miss Coelho, English Teacher by Kiran Doshi

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‘She had a habit of making lists in a small notebook. Lists of things she needed to do for the day, lists of the people she’d taken to shelters from the beach, even though she hadn’t gone there since rescuing him. The Coast Guard had become more vigilant and the landings had decreased. One day she read him something from the notebook. His name was the only one on a list she titled “People from the Beach I Have Kissed.”’ – Without Inspection by Edwidge Dandicat

PROFILE

“Elaine Potter Richardson (as she originally was) had been sent to New York from Antigua eight years before she met Shawn. Her stepfather’s failing health and the arrival of three baby brothers had drained the family finances. Elaine, a precociously bright child and a voracious reader, had been taken out of school and sent away to earn some money.” –Jamaica Kincaid: Looking Back in Anger in Caribbean Beat magazine

MISC.

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Bocas Lit Fest has readings for children on instagram as long as lockdown lasts. At this writing, they’re reading Carol Ottley-Mitchell’s Trapped in Dunstan’s Cave. Here’s the link.

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Conversation and reading with Trinidadian writer Vahni Capildeo, who was the University of the West Indies St. Augustine writer in residence for Campus Literary Week (virtually due to COVID-19). A list at the end of video 1 sees Antigua and Barbuda’s Jamaica Kincaid making a curated list of top Caribbean female writers. Listen to hear who else is on the list – some we’ve discussed right here on the site. And, yes, we said video 1, the conversation is broken up in to several video clips – click the link above.

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Caribbean American Perspectives Carry on Friends recommends ‘5 Must Read Fiction Books by Caribbean Women Authors’. See who made the list.

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INTERVIEW

‘How can we support each other right now as readers and writers?

For me, it’s pretty simple. Buy books, read books, and probably number one—talk about books. It’s amazing how often the talk turns to television, even among literary people. I think it’s just habitual. First of all, it’s easier to find people who are watching the same shows. You can pretty much bet that if you say Tiger King right now—and look, I’m enjoying it, too, don’t get me wrong—but I ask of myself to always ask other people, “What are you reading?” And it’s interesting how it seems to lead to deeper discussion ultimately than “What are you watching?” And for all the great TV out there, honestly, I find that if it’s a choice between reading and watching, I read. It just feels like a deeper satisfaction and also a kind of insistence, in my own life anyway, on the importance of this practice. So I think, just keep literary culture alive by insisting upon its centrality. That’s what we can all do.’ – The PEN Pod: Keeping Literary Culture Alive Through Resilience with Jennifer Egan

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“I experiment with new ways of writing. I try to get outside of my own box and I’m not afraid if it fails or doesn’t work.” – Sharma Taylor, exclusive interview with Jhohadli

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Happy Okay“Well, the funny thing about a culture of silence is that once the silence is broken, others find a connection, and begin to recognize there’s a problem, and that many people are suffering. Once that happens, more people start speaking up, and eventually, it becomes easier to speak of the unspeakable.” – Haitian-American writer M. J. Fievre in interview with me at my jhohadli blog about her new book Happy, Okay?

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‘What my family ate, spoke, and did was a mystery to our neighbors and somehow it made us strange and foreign to them. I remember reading books when I was kid and not being able to relate to a single character because I didn’t look like them and my family didn’t do the things they did. I also couldn’t relate to characters in Chinese children’s books because well, I couldn’t read Chinese and stuff like “after I do my homework I help grandpa wash his feet in a water basin” didn’t relate to me.’ – Mina Yan interviewing Eugenia Chu, author of Brandon goes to Beijing and other books in the series of Chinese-American books for children inspired by her own son

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“The novel is set in Trinidad, and it follows the lives of an unconventional family – Betty, a widow, her son Solo and their lodger Mr Chetan. You know why I’m sure sure you’re going to love them? Because I loved them. I let them do all kind of stupidness, but I always treated them with respect and empathy. In spite of all the madness we, like these characters, are all just trying to live our best lives.” – Caribbean author Ingrid Persaud talks about her book Love after Love

This blog is maintained by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, and author Joanne C. Hillhouse. Content is curated, researched, and written by Hillhouse, unless otherwise indicated. Do not share or re-post without credit, do not re-publish without permission and credit. Thank you.

 

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Reading Room XV

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms, use the search feature to the right, to the right.

FICTION

“So, Damian spent his time climbing trees in our backyard, acting like those TV monkeys. He mimicked them: jumping on me like those babies did their mommies. It’s cute when they do it. But when he did it . . . well, things broke. My arm, leg, and, once, he yanked so hard on me I herniated a spinal disc.” – Read Mindy Halleck’s full story.

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‘“Did you pack a snack and a sweater?”

Charlisa pointed to her backpack. “They’re in my satchel,” she said, waiting to see if Sister Rita would notice she’d learned the word.’ –
Read the full award winning story by Brenda Scott Royce here.

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I’m putting this in the fiction category though Moko’s Firing the Canon includes visual arts and poetry as well, because I mostly talk about the fiction here (you can and should read the whole issue though).

VISUAL

A new website, http://www.barrelstories.org launched in January following the successful Commonwealth Shorts’ film by Lisa Harewood, Auntie. Lisa’s idea is for the site to encourage conversations about the effects, both positive and negative, of migrants leaving their children behind in the care of others. It’s a place where we can listen to personal accounts of parents, children and carers.  You can also contribute your own story; to do so, email to submit@barrelstories.org

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“A definite powerful conversation piece, the mural sends a strong message to our society and demonstrates what can be accomplished when youths are empowered and encouraged to affect change.” Read more about this mural, created by youths of Antigua and Barbuda.

WRITERS ON WRITING

“Although you the writer are indeed doing the writing, your narrator is the one telling the story. And that narrator is not you. Sure, your narrator could be a slightly more neurotic or jealous version of you, or someone very different from you, or somewhere in between, but he or she is not you. Yep, even when you’re using first person.” – Janelle Drumwright

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“While too much detail and description can bog down the pace of a story, the reader still needs adequate description to frame the story.” – Zetta Brown, introducing How to Create a Fictional Setting by Michelle Gwynn Jones.

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“Very often your dialogue can become stilted unless you are a good listener, and if you listen you’ll discover that people interrupt each other.” – Maeve Binchy – Secrets from the Writing Club

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“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything. Or a broken billboard. Or weeds growing in the cracks of a library’s steps. Of course, none of this means a lot without characters the reader cares about (and sometimes characters—‘bad guys’—the reader is rooting against).” – Stephen King, read more at Writer’s Digest.

BLOG

From Antigua to London to the US to the Bahamas…Linisa George’s Brown Girl in a Ring is indeed well-travelled. In this post, a Bahamian actress reflects on performing it in the country’s annual Shakespeare Festival. Check out what she had to say about the experience in this posting – You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do on her blog The Little Lady’s Diary.

AUTHORS ON PUBLISHING

“Most writers I know continue to work on their submissions for years, even after acceptance, feeling they can always improve. So don’t get egotistical about what you want to stubbornly believe is your final draft. Accept that most writing is never final, even amongst the best.” Read more of Ralph Monday’s article : The More Lines Cast Into the Water, the More Fish That Will Bite (and Other Tips on Submitting to Lit Mags)

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“Never give up” plus *bonus* Supernatural gifs. Read more on self-publishing after publishing by Jennifer Armentrout here.

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“Instead of sending the manuscript out to other potential markets, I waited…and waited…and waited for a response from Arabesque. I eventually got despondent and put the whole publishing idea on indefinite hold. (Pro tip: DO NOT DO THAT!)” – Liane Spicer at Novel Spaces

VIDEO

“Books have an extraordinary power to take you out of yourself and into someone else’s mindset, so that for a while at least you look at the world through different eyes.” – Ann Morgan talking about her journey Reading the World. (click on the image for the vid)Ann MorganFor For my thoughts on the book that her journey birthed, check Blogger on Books ll

POETRY

“And somewhere inside him, he wanted/ to be here for all of it: all the repeating shapes and pegs/ of that life-long game where the more things changed,/ was the more they stayed the same.” – Vladimir Lucein’s Overseer: Detention

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“It’s not your fault, no
I blame those boats
I blame the coast
Hell, I blame the tide
I blame the sea for not picking a side
I blame the slave traders and sellout chiefs alike
But it seems like you blame me
For being born in a former British colony
I sound white?
As opposed to what?
Sounding American?” – slam poet Maya Wegerif, Why You talk so White?

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This one started showing up in my social media timeline after the November 2015 Paris attacks. I decided to look it up and share it. It’s by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire:
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

Read all of What they did Yesterday Afternoon

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by David Crawley.jpg

by David Crawley

INTERVIEWS

w/David Baldacci:

‘A former lawyer, Baldacci still attacks his writing career as if preparing for a high-stakes defense. His typical day currently involves a few hours of work on his second Decker thriller, another few hours drafting Book 3 of Vega Jane, and another few hours on a screenplay. “During the course of the day I might work on three or four different projects, but only when I run out of gas on one do I move on to another,” Baldacci says. “I write until my tank is empty each day. I don’t count words or pages or whatever—that seems like an artificial goal for me.”’

w/Claudia Rankine:

‘“Because white men can’t/ police their imagination/ black men are dying.” What was in your mind when you wrote that line?

When white men are shooting black people, some of it is malice and some an out-of-control image of blackness in their minds. Darren Wilson told the jury that he shot Michael Brown because he looked “like a demon”. And I don’t disbelieve it. Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people.’

w/Brenda Scott Royce:

“When I struggle to think of ‘what’s next’ in a story, I draw a blank. But then I’ll be listening to NPR or shopping for groceries or having a random conversation with a stranger, and something sparks an idea. Meeting someone with an unusual occupation always makes me wonder, could one of my characters do that for a living?”

w/Marlon James:

“At some point you have to accept writing bad on the way to getting good. That you can write one hundred pages and only use twenty. I’m at the stage where that is no problem for me. I’m a very sloppy writer and I don’t rewrite, I don’t reread, until I’m done. I write everything straight to the end.”

Pamela Taivassalo Wikholm travelled from Sweden to Antigua in 2015 and interviewed a handful of local artistes – Joanne C. Hillhouse (writer), Tian Winter (singer), Mark Brown (painter); see interview links for all three below.

w/Tian Winter (Popreel TV):

“If it’s singing, just sing; someone will hear you, something will happen.”

w/Joanne C. Hillhouse (on Popreel radio):

“The writers from here that I knew and I have great respect for them were the calypso writers people like Shelly Tobitt and Marcus Christopher because when I was coming up calypso was the literature that I would hear that had some relevance to my community,, the other literature that we read was mostly from America or from Britain.”

Joanne

w/Joanne C. Hillhouse:

“The characters come to me. They don’t always reveal their stories fully, so for me writing is a journey of discovery. Like I can’t always see where it’s going but I’m kind of wandering my way through it and trying to figure out what is it all about.” – Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse on Sweden’s Popreel TV.

w/Tian Winter:

“If you have a dream, don’t let anybody, no one, not your mother, not your brother, no one, kill that vibe, kill that dream out of you, don’t let them out that fire.” – Antiguan and Barbudan soca artist Tian Winter on Sweden’s Popreel radio.

w/Mark Brown (on Popreel radio):

“I need to paint things that people are not saying enough, and people find hard to say, and hrd to encounter, and hard to read, and hard to speak about.”

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w/Mark Brown:

“At that time I didn’t know what it was called but I knew that I lived in a very imaginary world.” – Antiguan and Barbudan artist, Mark Brown’s interview on the Popreel TV programme on Swedish TV.

 

w/Eric Jerome Dickey :

“I walked from the undergraduate degree in Computer Systems Tech, but I carried the knowledge with me. Every class I had taken at the University of Memphis to complete those requirements; from English, to Physics, to Sociology, to Latin, to Electronics, to kicking it in karate class with Bill Wallace, it all went with me.”

w/Nalo Hopkinson:

“The Caribbean region. Writers from there are producing wonderful literature that takes language, story and form and bends them into creations you would never have believed possible.”

w/Carol Ottley-Mitchell:

“CaribbeanReads is a small publishing company dedicated to serving talented Caribbean authors. Our aim is to make publishing more accessible to potential Caribbean authors and to increase the number of high-quality books about and for the Caribbean.”

w/Ision Hutchinson, Tanya Shirley, and Christian Campbell:

“I know there are some people who are just born with exceptional talent, but for the rest of us, I recommend workshops with reputable poets, constant revision of the work, an openness to criticism and an insatiable desire to read poetry.” (Tanya Shirley in S/X Salon interview)

NON FICTION

“The self-governance of trees is mysterious and moving, though not always elegant.” – read all of Summer Edwards’ descriptive and reflective Fairmont Trees

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“When someone dies their silence becomes a sort of held note, a key on the piano pressed down for so long it becomes an ache in the ear, a new sonic register from which we start to measure our new, ruptured lives. A white noise. Maybe this is why there is so much music in dying: the funerals, the singing, the hymns, the eulogies. All those sounds crowding the air with what the dead can’t say.” – Read all of Ocean Vuong’s The Weight of Our Living: On Hope, Fire Escapes, and Visible Desperation

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“…getting a whooping from her was like getting a beating with fresh plucked feathers. I cried mostly because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings…” – Yvonne McBride, The Ballad of Broad Street

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Guardian Picks Best Caribbean Books of 2013

So since this is an Antiguan and Barbudan blog, you’ll want to know if any Antiguan and Barbudan books made the list. No resident Antiguan and Barbudan writers did, no…not yet. But there is Alscess Lewis-Brown, born in Antigua, raised and still resident in the USVI. Alscess is the author of Moko Jumbi Majorette which you may remember me previously listing on our page of Antigua and Barbuda Children’s Fiction. I also want to mention Carol Ottley-Mitchell, a Kittitian-Nevisian author, who’s mentioned for her book Fury on Souffriere Hills. Ottley-Mitchell has been and remains a friend to both the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project and the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. In fact, she is the main sponsor of our Lead by Example Teachers Prize being introduced for the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge. If you’ve read my book blogs, you know I’m sorta obsessed with Haitian writer Edwidge Dandicat, so I have to mention that she’s on the list as well for Claire of the Sea Light, which I haven’t read yet but predict nonetheless will be great because she is consistently great. I’m sure the books are all great especially with talents like Debbie Jacob (of Trinidad) and Olive Senior (of Jamaica) also making the cut. Read the full list here.

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, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved.

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New! Book Three in the Caribbean Adventure Series hits the Market

Congrats to Kittisian-Nevisian author (and current Ghanian resident) Carol Ottley-Mitchell on the launch of Trapped in Dunston’s Cave, the third in her Caribbean Adventure Series. The tales track the adventures of three children – Mark, Kyle, and Ingrid – and monkey, Chee Chee, along historical paths like Brimstone Hill (the first adventure) and Port Royal (the second adventure). By the way, thanks to Carol for donating copies of the first two books in the series to the Cushion Club, reading club for kids, last year. Hopefully, we can get her to gift a copy or two of Dunstan HIll to the next season’s Wadadli Pen prize package. No pressure, Carol. But, especially with the limited material from the region accessible to children from the region, who wouldn’t want to follow Carol’s characters through time as they continue to learn about the world in which they live. Doesn’t that sound like a series with Saturday morning cartoon potential?

For now, though, the book will have to suffice and that’s no sacrifice. If you’ve wandered here, you know that we love and celebrate the written word and the ways it can, as Ottley-Mitchell put it, “stir the imagination of our children and also instill a love for learning and for their culture.”

Here’s what children have had to say about the series:

“Mommy, there is Brimstone Hill. Did you know it was built 300 years ago and it is still here!” – seven year old reviewer

“Auntie, when is the next book coming out, I can’t wait to see what Chee Chee does next.” – 12 year old reviewer 

“Mommy, please let me finish reading this chapter!” – eight year old reviewer 

And (in this excerpt from the book) here’s some of the Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys-Trixie Belden-Goosebumps-ish type of suspense these critics and other readers have come to expect of the series:

“Mark, stop playing the fool,” Ingrid called out.

But Mark ignored her. He kept spinning until, finally he was dizzy and he stopped, disoriented and stumbling around a bit. He took a step to the side to steady himself and suddenly he felt the earth dissolving from underneath him as he fell into a deep hole. He tried to grab on to the vines and brush that had covered the hole, but they fell into the hole with him.

He dropped with a thump at the bottom. He was dazed for a few seconds and then slowly and gingerly he got to his feet. He had not hurt himself although the hole was very deep. He looked up the sides of the hole; they were very steep and he could not climb out.

He heard Ingrid up above. “Mark!” she screamed.

Then her voice sounded much closer as if she were directly above the hole. “Mark, are you okay?”

That’s all the teaser you’re getting, go buy the book and read the rest for yourself. For more, including an author interview and series background check out the Caribbean Adventure Series Media Kit or visit the series website.

Remember, feedback is love, so let the author know what you think about the series; who knows maybe she’ll bring the four adventurers  next to your neck of the woods.  An Adventure in Dark Cave (Barbuda) perhaps?



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