Tag Archives: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Reading Room and Gallery 45

Things I read or view or listen to that you might like too. Things will be added – up to about 20 or so – before this installment in the Reading Room and Gallery series is archived. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right. Possible warning for adult language and themes.

CREATING

Dancers acting out the movements that become the motions of the animated characters in the movie Encanto‘s presentation of “We don’t talk about Bruno?”

MISC.

A colonial era British tourism video showing some of what life was like (through that particular gaze, of course) in 1950s Antigua.

CREATIVES ON THE BUSINESS

“The rights! Are mine! OMG, that feels so good.” – Trinidad and Tobago writer Liane Spicer on the bumpy publishing journey of a bestselling books

CONVERSATIONS

“There’s a piece that I did that I call ‘8-8-21’ that I wrote after teargas Sunday last year. I call it ‘Freedom 8-8-21’…it starts by saying, I think, ‘Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. When the youth are protest ready, they become revolutionary’. And it goes on from there and it just kind of encapsulates the entire Sunday, everything that happened that Sunday. Because I happened to be there. That was my personal experience. I was caught up in it. I was gassed as well… that piece means a lot to me not only because it was my experience but also it’s history, it’s chronicling what happened that day.” – Dotsie Isaac, in conversation with Joanne C. Hillhouse for her art and culture column CREATIVE SPACE

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 “I think art has to be able to go to a place that’s messy, a place that’s uncomfortable.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Piton Noire discusses Commonwealth winning short story ‘The Disappearance of Mumma Dell’ by Jamaican writer Roland Watson-Grant.

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“It was really hard to always focus on what was to my immigrant mind like already kind of a luxurious activity…I felt frankly super exposed when we were all in the house and my children realized that my writing was just walking around the house a lot.” – Edwidge Dandicat on Writing Home: American Voices from the Caribbean

POETRY

“as if they were beacons/for the men who leave their self-control, unused, under their mattresses” – from ‘Ole Jezebel‘ by Karolyn Smith in Rebel Women Lit’s online magazine

ESSAYS

“The text opens with, ‘On the balcony of vigilance I sit’ which Lewis makes into ‘I sit on the balcony, alert.’ Two lines later, the poem reads ‘my lips are cracked like the trunk of a palm tree overlooking the river’ which Lewis turns into ‘like the roots of the palm tree.’ The latter image makes no sense, it fails to capture his contrast of the texture of cracked lips to the harsh trunk of a palm tree.” – from ‘Western Poets kidnap Your Poems and call them Translations’ by Mona Kareem in PoetryBirmingham.com

PRESENTATIONS

Mac Donald Dixon reading from his novel A Scream in the Shadows.

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 “No matter what you are, what you do in life, if you have a dream, stick to your dream, pursue your dream…and just be you, be original, and someone will relate to it, and it will take you very far in your life.” – Andre Leon Talley

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Kendel Hippolyte delivers the Sir Derek Walcott lecture during Nobel Laureate Week in St. Lucia. “I don’t want you to come away from this word journey thinking of the poets. What they feeling and expressing is not particular to them. Is not because they’re poets that they feel all this. What they’re experiencing is what all of us have experienced; some days more, some days less intensely. But these experiences are common to all of us who live here. That’s why we recognize them so immediately. Poets have the gift of finding and weaving together the words that describe it but what they’re describing is ours; spontaneously, intrinsically ours, each one of us.” – Kendel Hippolyte

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Jail Me Quickly is a sequence of five poems written by Martin Carter and published in New World Fortnightly in 1964 and again in 1966.
The poems are:
Black Friday 1962
After One Year
What Can a Man Do More
Where are Free Men?
Childhood of A Voice
Dr Gemma Robinson offers insights into this period of Martin Carter’s writing with a general overview of the sequence and a detailed look at aspects of each poem. Readers are Konyo Addo, Jasper Adams, Stephanie Bowry, Stanley Greaves and Lloyd Marshall.

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 “I thought I had died and gone to heaven because they were what I imagined publishers to be respectful thoughtful helpful with a terrific marketing team…” – 2019 Margaret Laurence Lecture with Olive Senior

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. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, 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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Reading Room and Gallery 44

Things I read or view or listen to that you might like too. Things will be added – up to about 20 or so – before this installment in the Reading Room and Gallery series is archived. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right. Possible warning for adult language and themes.

BUSINESS

“It’s pretty difficult to advocate for yourself when you’re an artiste and you’re doing something that you really like; it’s very easy to sell yourself short…eventually I created a fake manager, it was really me, and I was able to negotiate a lot higher. It’s very, very important. Somebody needs to teach a class on that for sure.” – Felicia La Tour, life and wellness coach

FICTION

‘It was never meant to be this way,’ she reminds me as we walk past the more elaborate tombstones. ‘He was meant to bury me.’ – from ‘The Strong-Strong Winds‘ by Mathapelo Mofokeng

VISUAL ART

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This is a link to an article on must-see Antiguan and Barbudan films, according to Caribbean Loop news. HAMA, producers of the country’s first full length feature, The Sweetest Mango, dominates the list with four features but click to see who else made the list. Speaking of Antigua and Barbuda’s first full length feature, here’s a making of that I recently came across on YouTube.

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This is a link to several animated shorts (or trailers for shorts) by women from all over the world – although not, alas – the Caribbean (though not, I’m sure, through lack of ideas). There are seven shorts. Three of the ones you can watch all the way through are Paper or Plastic, dir. Nata Metlukh of the Ukraine and the US, Albatross Soup, dir. Winnie Cheung from Hong Kong, United States, and Japan, and The Opposites Game, dir. Lisa LaBracio & Anna Samo from Germany, Russia, and the United States.

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‘Cinematography, per Britannica.com, is “the art and technology of motion-picture photography. It involves such techniques as the general composition of a scene; the lighting of the set or location; the choice of cameras, lenses, filters, and film stock; the camera angle and movements; and the integration of any special effects.”’ – this post frames and links to a Variety article entitled ‘Contenders: How Cinematographers played with Elements to convey Director’s Vision’

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The cinematographer of the Small Axe anthology series was Antiguan and Barbudan Shabier Kirchner. Director Steve McQueen is British of Grenadian and Trinidadian descent. – “You need to see it hurts.”

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BEFORE SILENCE: Afghan Artists in Exile.

POETRY

“To be born is to be ushered in to noon’s brightness…” – from ‘Spirit of Labyrinth’ by Wilson Harris, read by Ian McDonald

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“So you try not to act too muscular not to look too big
muscular looks very threatening on your skin
you want to walk hard jog hard
be hard
but today you think about your mother

you owe it to her to protect her from this
what you can do what can be done to you” – from ‘Place de la Nation (III)’ by Jason Allen Paisant in Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters

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My 2022 World Poetry Day live includes readings of poetry found right here in the Reading Room and Gallery series. Including poems by Grace Nichols of Guyana, Juleus Ghunta, Claude McKay, and Safiya Sinclair of Jamaica, Yvonne Weekes in Barbados, Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming of Trinidad & Tobago, US poet Lucille Clifton, Stanley Humphreys in Antigua-Barbuda from the song lyrics data base, and some of my poetry as found in A & B Writing in Journals, Showcases, and Contests

The audio is not as clean and clear as I had hoped, but the poems are linked on my jhohadli blog; so you can read along.

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“play my body like a dub riddim” – from ‘Yes‘ By MOON in Rebel Women Lit digital literary magazine

CONVERSATIONS

The Tim Tim Bwa Fik podcast focusses on Caribbean romance literature and I’m pointing you there specifically to check out a series of conversations with Caribbean authors who have written in the genre. The line-up begins and continues with the British Virgin Islands’ Eugenia O’Neal (Jamaica Dreaming), Trinidad and Tobago’s N. G. Peltier (Sweethand), Barbados’ Callie Browning (The Vanishing Girls), and Antigua and Barbuda’s Joanne C. Hillhouse (Dancing Nude in the Moonlight) and Rilzy Adams (Twelve Dates of Christmas).

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“I am talking to super compassionate, people who are interested in nuance, people who are intelligent, but people whose emotional intelligence is off the charts, but importantly, people who I can trust with these things.” – Kei Miller

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“There’s a Stephen King novel called 11.22.63 about a man that goes back in time to stop the Kennedy assasination, and one of the main characters in that is a librarian named Mimi Corcoran who is a best friend of this character who goes back in time. When Bridget Carpenter was writing that series, she felt very strongly that she did not want to do a series set in the 60s where the only roles that Black people played were shoeshine people; even though that was quite a reality of the time, she didn’t want her series to reflect that. So she decided that she was going to take Mimi Corcoran and cast it as a Black woman.” – Tonya Pinkins during this very interesting panel with a number of African-American actresses including the legendary Diahann Carroll

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“It’s difficult to find an edge on me; my spine is a valley” – Bones by Lisa Ann Cockrel, Kenyon Review workshop (online)

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“I thought you know, my mom and dad are particularly ridiculously crazy about each other…you’d go out with them to a store and you’d catch them stealing a kiss…in a way, my parents were the first pushing back…the ways in which they creatively circumvented disciplinary measures to pursue pleasure.” – Andil Gosine

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“Trust that people will meet you where you are and if they’re not there on their own, give them a map so that they’ll meet you there.” – Stacey Abrams with Merriam-Webster’s Book Thing

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“When you’re that young, you’re so clear eyed about how stupid these rules are…” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“Being under water, swimming, keeping an eye on things under water, trying to get the best shots possible in such a foreign environment, I was really excited by the challenge.” – Arati Jagdeo, past Wadadli Pen finalist, make up artist and art director on Yemoja’s Anansi

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“This is the world in which I’m creating.” – Christal Clashing on her Anansi series for my (Joanne C. Hillhouse) CREATIVE SPACE column

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This is actually creatives creating. The Beatles working out ‘Something’. It’s from the 2021 Peter Jackson directed docu-series, The Beatles: Get Back.

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This is how it was adapted about a book cum film that the whole film making academy slept on in the 2022 awards season. Read my review of the book and of the film over on my blog.

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Elijah Wood on his Lord of the Rings experience –

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“I love creating characters…I create my characters from every body I’ve ever known.” – Bernadine Evaristo

ARTICLES

“There’s a deep irony to the parallels: an outraged white Texan succeeds at getting a novel about Mexican American experiences removed from schools, and she does it with a distorted reading of a passage about a group of white Texans, in 1937, venting their outrage at the presence of a Mexican American in their school.” – from ‘A Texas School District Banned My Book. Then Things got Really Ugly.’ by Ashley Hope Pérez, author of Out of Darkness, a historical novel chronicling a love affair between a teenage Mexican American girl and a teenage African-American boy in 1930s New London, Texas, occurring right up to the 1937 New London School explosion.

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“The two people who vouched for Moore’s birth and life experiences in Antigua with the most depth were Black women who had until recently been enslaved themselves, her half sister Hester Blackstone and her friend Mary Hughes. Moore did not know her own date of birth, and the retelling of her early life in Antigua rested on the estimates of women who were equally unsure about details of Moore’s biography and the exact moments when she was taken from and returned to the island. But the women speaking on her behalf skillfully figured out how to circumvent their inability to provide exact dates. Hester and Mary used imperial events in their 1838 depositions, a tactic manifested in their testimonies in so similar a fashion as to suggest deliberate coordination. Hughes and Blackstone linked important moments in Moore’s life with notable British imperial administrative and military events at the turn of the nineteenth century, such as the installation of a new governor in Antigua or the outbreak of war in the Caribbean. Their use of imperial time made their affirmation of Moore’s birth and life in Antigua as a child more legible to the powerful administrators hearing testimony from these formerly enslaved women. Their success, however, should not obscure the reality that the strategy they adopted out of necessity calls our attention to yet another dehumanizing aspect of enslavement: the negation of enslaved people’s sense of themselves as beings in time, and thus as autonomous participants in their life stories. Their inability to know time intimately and the denial of the privilege to preserve a record of important dates in their lives, such as their own birthdays and the births and deaths of loved ones, helped to compound the exploitation deeply embedded within enslavement. The depositions of Blackstone and Hughes nonetheless underline the crucial function of community in slavery as the support system that facilitated both survival during bondage and individual enslaved people’s acts of fugitivity and claims to freedom. The British government would not have taken Moore’s case seriously if these women had not vouched for her. Eliza’s first point of self-presentation was to invoke her Antiguan-born mother, Sally Carr, which both Blackstone and Hughes reiterated. Proclaiming her birth to an enslaved mother in Antigua and demonstrating her sisterhood and friendship with formerly enslaved Antiguan women all grounded Eliza in that British colony and contributed to the colonial administrators’ serious consideration of her case. These details subtly show how enslaved people fostered and deployed loving relationships even over time and distance.” – from “So Far to Leeward”: Eliza Moore’s Fugitive Cosmopolitan Routes to Freedom in the Nineteenth-Century Caribbean by Natasha Lightfoot in The William and Mary Quarterly, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Volume 79, Number 1, January 2022

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This links to CREATIVE SPACE 1-10, 2020 – 2022 on my Jhohadli blog. It is an anniversary check-in of the top performing installments of the column since it began its Observer run in 2020. This image is from CREATIVE SPACE #28 OF 2021 – CARIBBEAN CHRISTMAS. CREATIVE SPACE is an Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean art and culture column by Joanne C Hillhouse.

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. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, 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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Reading Room and Gallery 40

Things I read that you might like too. Things will be added – up to about 20 or so – before this installment in the Reading Room and Gallery series is archived. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

BLOGS

June was Caribbean American Heritage Month, prompting the return of the #readCaribbean and #CaribAthon hashtags around social media. Over on my other blog Jhohadli, I participated with some recommendations.

REPORTS

“Like any journalism, film criticism often displeases those being written about. And, like any journalists, film critics must have the support of their publications when that displeasure, usually coming from people far more powerful than any journalist, is made known — especially when that publication claims to report on the industry those powerful people inhabit,” the statement reads. “It is appalling that, in this instance, Variety chose to side with that power rather than supporting its writer.” – a report on the criticism of the response to criticism of criticism in The Wrap.

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“James uses vibrant colors and draws on Ethiopian Christian iconography in her work, an influence evident in the wide, almond-shaped eyes of the people she depicts.” – Antigua-descended, Bronx-artist Laura James work discussed in Fordham News’ Behind the Cover: Together We Rise by Laura James

“In an effort to fight conoravirus fears, Antigua-rooted artist Laura James posted a painting powered message of hope on Facebook …” – read more about it in the NY Daily News.

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“I knew I wanted magic and I knew I wanted magical realism.” – Leone Ross discusses her new book Popisho/This One Sky Day with Alicia O’Keeffe in The Bookseller. Read in full.

STORIES/SHORT FICTION

“He remembered a time before, when his mother’s breath smelled of almonds and her neck smelled of roses and cinnamon. She used to hold him in her arms and he used to breathe her in. A long time ago.” – from Cam and the Maskless by Lisa Allen-Agostini in About Place Journal Vol. II Issue II Pandemic Blues

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How to Marry an African President by Erica Sugo Anyadike – Wasafiri Magazine

“Your husband is no longer the authoritarian figure he was, tall, forbidding, back ramrod straight. His shoulders droop now, he falls asleep at the dinner table. Still he is respected and revered. What he says counts and he has crowned you his political heir.” – How to Marry an African President by Erica Sugo Anyadike

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“Carnival is much more than a show.” – Mario Picayo’s It Takes a Village read by Chef Julius Jackson

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“When she wakes up, she is alone on the back of a float, pieces of her costume missing and other pieces askew, and the mas yard is all but abandoned.”

This is an audio recording of my (Joanne C. Hillhouse) story Carnival Hangover as prepared for posting on the intersectantigua.com platform. It is read by Nneka Nicholas. Pay attention to the trigger warning.

INTERVIEWS/CONVERSATIONS

“I can’t think of any one favorite poem now. At present, I love the poetry of Dionne Brand, who is in many ways different from me politically. You know, she is an activist, LGBT, and we get on well, we talk well, I love her work. Somebody would want to know, how come I, kind of a conservative Christian, and this activist LGBT connect but we admire each other’s work. Our connection is the literature and writers we look to. I admire the vision and movements of her poetry.” – John Robert Lee in conversation with Andy Caul

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“I like to think of myself as a superhero.” – Ibtihaj Muhammad in conversation with Jewell Parker Rhodes (and vice versa)

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“I remember just really resenting how much my little body was policed as a child.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the birth of her feminism in this conversation on Bookshelfie.

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“I’m proud of this. I’m proud that I keep getting asked about the food… the challenge was to find different ways to make food beautiful, accessible, interesting, magical, multilayered.” – Leone Ross of Jamaica and Britain in conversation with American author Amber Sparks about her book Popisho/This One Sky Day.

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“I wasn’t able to kind of bring out those nuances enough but I hint at them. The idea that the urban gay person has access to a culture and support network that the rural Indian boy…does not have. …and it really does seem to spin on socio economic factors.” – Trinidad born author Ingrid Persaud in conversation with Grenada born author and editor Jacob Ross about her book Love After Love.

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“We have a governor who is attempting to sell the magic and again, they push it away; again, society says we will not have it.” – Jamaican writers Leone Ross and Marlon James in conversation about Ross’ new book – Popisho in the US; This One Sky Day in the UK.

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“My journey is my own and once I’m learning from it and growing from it, then it’s a success.” – Cherie Jones, Barbadian, author of How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, during the US Embassy celebrates World Book and Copyright Day with a Writers Book Chat featuring Cherie Jones ‘Inspiring Eastern Caribbean Female Writers’

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“The beautiful thing about the creative arts, isn’t it, if you’re doing the thing you’ve always done, then you’re not really creating. For me, as challenging as these new endeavours are, because I always like to experiment, you’re always trying to discover the boundaries not only of your talent, of the ideas that are in your mind, of your potential, of your ability to imagine the world…. as a writer, you don’t get to see the side work as much, but I feel that we do that as well…it’s always about challenging yourself, push your boundaries technically but also express, …for me the things that I’m trying to understand, or the things that I’m trying to explore.” – me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) in conversation for World Book and Copyright Day with artist and award winning poet Danielle Boodoo Fortune, of Trinidad and Tobago, who has illustrated my books Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and The Jungle Outside. We discuss the process of creating together.

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. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, 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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READING ROOM IX

Like the title says, this is the ninth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Eight came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.

INTERVIEWS

Haitian American writer M. J. Fievre, who interviewed me for her website recently, has this really cool interview of her own.

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My work is never finished. Even as I read something that’s published, I still want to change it.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Read full interview here.

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“I don’t chase what I hear on the radio. I try not to compete with anybody. And even though I’m a musician, I don’t necessarily follow a certain set of rules. Sometimes my mistakes turn into interesting music because I do things that aren’t supposed to be done. Really it’s more about a state of mind. I grew up with a certain standard of music, watching my father and his peers. For them, music had a deeper purpose than one’s own selfish gain. It was never just a business.” – Ziggy Marley, full interview here.

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“I am inspired by kindness. When I see ordinary people practicing kindness in ordinary ways—smiling at strangers, getting up to give a seat to someone else on the bus, helping someone with their luggage, stopping to speak to a homeless person—I am inspired because I am reminded of humanity.” – Dena Simmons. Read more.

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – funny, as many interviews as I’ve seen and read with her, I never realized I’d been pronouncing her last name wrong. So, thanks for that Tavis Smiley. And thanks to both the Nigerian writer (Adichie) and American interviewer (Smiley) for an interesting conversation on the things people would rather not talk about. Here’s to uncomfortable conversations.

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Commonwealth podcasts featuring writers from across the Commonwealth including, from the Caribbean Lorna Goodison (Jamaica) and my girl Ivory Kelly (Belize).

That's Ivory, to the right, with me in Glasgow, 2014.

That’s Ivory, to the right, with me in Glasgow, 2014.

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I hope you didn’t miss this one, but in case you did, Jamaican writer (poet, fiction writer, essayist) and professor Kei Miller in 2014 won the Forward Prize. It’s kind of a big deal, made bigger still by the fact that he’s the first non-white poet to take the British-based prize in more than 20 years. For that, you get two links: his interview/profile in the (UK) Guardian and the Forward Prize announcement.

That's Kei to the right - hanging in Glasgow (with me and others), 2014.

That’s Kei to the right – hanging in Glasgow (with me and others), 2014.

Bonus, peep Kei in this British Poetry Book Society line-up of 20 poets to watch. And listen to the poet talk about his work and journey as a writer, here.

Another bonus: Kei’s Carcanet interview.

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Renaee Perrier (now Smith) was one of my block sisters during my UWI days. Check out this interview about her writing life.

FICTION

“Gramma had told me stories about jumbies—people who had died but could walk about in the night. They lived in dark shadows and all the bad scary places. But my jumbie daddy was different.” Read all of Neala Bhagwansingh’s Jumbie Daddy.

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Audio clip of A-dZiko Gegele and Roland Watson-Grant reading at Bocas 2014 – good stuff.

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Love this story (The Headstrong Historian by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), first because it’s a good story well told…and a good example of a story having an epic span…but also for its view of pre-colonized Africa and the slow process of that colonization and the deliberateness of that/the trade off and of the decolonization of the mind…it resonates… it really does in unexpected ways… “Nwamgba was alarmed by how indiscriminately the missionaries flogged students: for being late, for being lazy, for being slow, for being idle, and, once, as Anikwenwa told her, Father Lutz put metal cuffs around a girl’s hands to teach her a lesson about lying, all the time saying in Igbo—for Father Lutz spoke a broken brand of Igbo—that native parents pampered their children too much, that teaching the Gospel also meant teaching proper discipline.” Makes you wonder, what’s really our culture (as once colonized descendants of Africa), a culture we defend so arduously, and what was thrust upon us until we didn’t know how to separate ourselves from it. Colonization is a hell of a thing. When people say get over it, it’s in the past, they don’t know. Anyway, you can also find this story in The Thing Around Her Neck, an Adichie book I highly recommend.

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“This story moves. With each stop and each passenger, the reader becomes more invested the bus driver—and more worried about the pig. The final line is satisfying in way that made me want to cheer.” – Kenyon Review on why it selected Karen Lin-Greenberg’s Care  

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Wanna hear something weird? While reading this story, which I really liked by the way, I pictured everybody in it as black, and specifically African American – the man, the sick woman, the angel, all black. There was no detail in the story (or none that I found on first read) to contradict me and yet there was detail enough to make these people – and angel – fully realized beings. It didn’t occur to me until I got to the end, and saw the picture of the author, that they may or may not be. Hm. That’s the funny thing about reading sometimes, how we project our reality or a context that makes sense to us (since my reality while black is not African American) unto the characters. It defaulted to what was famliar. But it just goes to show, though, that details of a character’s race, hair colour, eyes (details that, like any other, should really be used only in so far as they serve the story) may or may not be necessary to seeing the characters and the world of the characters. Maybe we see them as we’re meant to see them. Like I said, black or white, I found these characters to be really interesting (for the things unsaid between her and her lover, for the angel’s other worldliness and bewilderment with our world, and oddly enticing sensuality, for what it says about the nature of living and dying). Read Amy Bonnaffons’ Black Stones here.

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This excerpt of Roland Watson-Grant’s Sketcher tickled me in all sorts of ways. First, New Orleans. Been enamoured with New Orleans in literature since my Anne Rice college years. Second, born in the 70s myself, I laughed out loud at the narrator (also a child at the 70s) rolling his eyes about the 60s:  “It must have been the time o’ their lives, the Sixties, what with all that music and bell-bottom tight pants and lots of free love and everything. But I bet they still had headaches and mosquitoes and taxes, so I don’t know what all the fuss was about.” Third, intriguing characters, setting, scenario…and the CB craze of the early 80s…I remember that…remember my brother was into that too. Fourth, the writing…this isn’t just a nostalgia trip for me…the writing is alive and has the music and magic and sweltering energy of the landscape it describes. Moving this book up my to-read list. You will want to, too, after reading this.

NON FICTION

Poetry notes from my former mentor and teacher, Mervyn Morris.

“Poems work not just by what they say but by how they say it.” – See more here.

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The Pain of Reading is all kinds of heartbreaking. Read it here.

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“Read publishing contracts carefully before signing them… When selling rights to any work, remember that the fewer rights you sell, the better.” Read more.

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This is actually very similar with what I’m trying to do with the Jhohadli Writing Project – it gives me hope. Read, how I built my own literary scene and saved myself by Julia Fierro.

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Hell is my own Book Tour by Adam Mansbach made me laugh out loud and also strangely envious, as in at least you got to go on a book tour… ah the writing life, it’s not all glitz and glamour…in fact, often there’s no glitz and glamour at all… just four people at a book reading whom you nonetheless give your all.

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“The other way to escape the curse of knowledge is to show a draft to yourself, ideally after enough time has passed that the text is no longer familiar. If you are like me you will find yourself thinking, “What did I mean by that?” or “How does this follow?” or, all too often, “Who wrote this crap?” The form in which thoughts occur to a writer is rarely the same as the form in which they can be absorbed by a reader. Advice on writing is not so much advice on how to write as on how to revise.” – read more of Steven Pinker’s article on The Curse of Bad Writing.

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Kwame Dawes talks about how he writes. One of my favourite bits…

“My brain is a kind of cesspool that collects material unfiltered – or it may be filtered. I’m not conscious that I’m putting things into it. I may remark that something as interesting, but in truth what I’m doing is pulling something into that pool. When I make the decision to write a poem, I don’t know what is going to come from that pool. The act of writing brings together various and complex things. What I may access from that pool might happen immediately, or it may take years.”

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I’ve been given and received feedback, edited the works of others, been edited…and as I ruminate on both sides of that journey, I think it bears remembering that if you’re either hired to edit or just asked to give feedback on a piece of writing, “You’re being asked to consult—not commit a hostile takeover”, “Think of your reading mission as understanding the piece,” and “Don’t sacrifice feeling for critical thinking. Don’t forget to feel the piece.” Editing, like writing, is not paint by numbers. As writer, I try to listen to my characters and try to tell their tale authentically and insightfully. As editor, I try to come to each piece open to what the piece is trying to say and how the author is trying to say it, and hopefully guide them toward saying it clearly yet in their unique and distinct way. As I said in this article, it’s a delicate dance. Ten Essentials of Reading for Writers is an interesting read for those who’ve ever been asked to give feedback on a writer’s work in terms of striking the necessary balance.

REVIEWS

Black-ish – initial thoughts:My first requirement of a comedy is that it make me laugh. I can forgive a lot of things if you make me laugh. Black-ish, which debuted this Wednesday on ABC, made me laugh, sometimes. I run hot and cold with series star Anthony Anderson but found myself liking him in this role. His high pitched humour works here; and it better, as his perspective – his real moments and hyper real fantasies – are what drive the plot. It’s a family drama but, at least in the first episode, it’s the story of Anderson’s character struggling with the idea that the price of success is losing your blackness/your identity (as if there’s a simple definition of what blackness is) while at the same time, on the job at least, rebelling against being defined solely by his blackness (see the irony?). The show could do with more nuance, but I’d watch it again. Because it made me laugh; even if the humour wasn’t always fresh nor cuttingly funny. This is network television after all; the edge was a bit blunted and the message was laid on a bit thick. The performances are solid; the somewhat underused Laurence Fishburne’s dry wit balancing out Anderson’s hysterics, and Tracee Ellis Ross is a more natural fit as his wife than his last TV wife – I love you Vanessa (of the Cosby show) but I wasn’t buying the chemistry. The kids don’t really stand out yet, only in the general sense that they “don’t see colour”, which makes for some easy laughs. The challenge the show faces going forward, I suppose is being fresh and daring with both its humour and commentary, foregoing tired tropes and the easy laugh for laughter that makes you not only cut-up but consider and –re-consider your own prejudices. In that sense, it has the perfect lead-in in Modern Family, a show that’s all about challenging your assumptions while making you laugh out loud. And if it imprints the way Modern Family has, it’ll not only be a funny half hour comedy but ground breaking television. Time will tell.

POETRY

“And maybe in their eyes

it may seem I got punked out

‘cause I walked a narrow path

and then went and changed my route

But that openness exposed me

to a truth I couldn’t find

in the clenched fist of my ego

or the confines of my mind

or in the hipness of my swagger

or in the swagger of my step

or the scowl of my grimace

or the meanness of my rep

‘Cause we represent a truth, son

that changes by the hour

and when you opened to it

vulnerability is power.” |

Saul Williams

http://loquence.tumblr.com/

***

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft agley” – Robert Burns’ To a Mouse is copied here in Scottish and explained.

***

When I read Scottish writer Liz Lochhead’s Kidspoem/Bairnsong, I was immediately drawn in. On the surface, an innocent scene – a mother prepping her daughter for school; an structurally almost a round, like those songs and poems we did as children. But it’s commentary on how we lose our mother tongue is deep and for the Caribbean person deeply relatable.

“…the first day I went to school

so my mother wrapped me up in my

best navy-blue top coat with the red tartan hood

twirled a scarf around my neck

pulled on my bobble-hat and mittens

it was so bitterly cold

said now you won’t freeze to death

gave me a little kiss and a pretend slap on the bottom

and sent me off across the playground

to the place I’d learn to forget to say

it wis January

and a gey derich day

so my Mum happed me up in ma

good navy-blue napp coat wi the rid tartan hood

birled a scarf aroon ma neck

pu’ed oan ma pixie an my pawkies

it wis that bitter.”

Here’s Liz Lochhead reading the poem and talking about the genesis of the poem and the importance of writing our reality in our way, which, you know, is a foundation of the Wadadli Pen Challenge.

***

This Tom Leonard poem immediately appealed to me for its defiant claiming of its mother tongue (Scots) – something we can relate to as Caribbean people, yes? Because as he writes “all livin language is sacred”.

***

“I sit and wring my hands,
at last old enough and sad enough,
and pathetic enough in my impotence
to do this” – Talking to Hamas by Alice Walker

***

Beauty by Bermudian poet Dane Swan:

Bag lady, your eyes tell stories
of glory, despair, success, failure
deceit, withdrawn ineptness.

BLOG

The Art of Submission…or how to handle rejection without becoming bitter.

***

So, you know how in Julie and Julia, a young writer undertakes the challenge of cooking and blogging Julia Child’s recipes for a year, and gets a book deal out of the experiment? Well, British writer Ann Morgan had a similar experience reading the world. Here’s an update re her book deal…and a big of inspiration for others laboring in the blogosphere.

VISUAL

Music video featuring Promise No Promises and directed by Jus Bus …very artistic visuals…very resonant lyrics…and a good bounce

***

cricket

This image of women playing cricket in St. Lucia, circa 1905 is one of my favourites from Rastas, Royals, and Revolution: 100 Years of Photography in the Caribbean. I was actually flipping through to see if there were any Antigua and/or Barbuda images and this one caught my eye. Good stuff. See more images in the series here.

***

Disbanded by John Pettie.

Disbanded by John Pettie.

The Starz series Outlander and my visit to Glasgow early in 2014 probably have something to do with this one catching my eye but the truth is I’ve always had an interest in Irish and Scottish culture and history. I came across this image while reading The Other Tongues: an Introduction to Writing in Irish, Scots Gaelic and Scots in Ulster and Scotland and looked it up online. According to this site, this is an image by John Pettie of a Scottish Highlander after his defeat at the Jacobite rebellion of 1746.

Here’s a bonus Scottish image from that same book(c) The Fleming Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationIt’s ‘Lochaber No More’, an 1863 image painted by John Watson Nicol. The title ‘Lochaber No More’ forms part of a popular 17th century Scottish folk song

“These tears that I shed, they are all for my dear,
An no’ for the dangers of attending or weir;
Tho’ borne on rough seas to a far distant shore.
Maybe to return to Lochaber no more” (full lyrics here)

The song is a lament. Lochaber, based on my research, was where Bonnie Prince Charlie recruited the first clans to his cause, sparking the Jacobite rebellion. The mournful nature of the song reflects the rebellion’s defeat at Culloden Moor in 1746.

***

“… it was while dancing and touring the nation and European continent that he chanced to visit The Louvre Museum in Paris that he “met his Muse”. As he walked the halls there, he was consumed by what he saw. Looking at the work of the Masters in The Louvre, he was reminded of what he had unconsciously reached for in his sprawling graffiti pieces; he recognized realms of color, style, passionate expression and possibilities that he had never before imagined.” – from About Frank Morrison at Morrison Art

I see a Queen in Me by Frank Morrison

I see a Queen in Me by Frank Morrison

***

Cover image Summer One by Glenroy Aaron inspired by Summer 1, a poem by Joanne C Hillhouse.

Cover image Summer One by Glenroy Aaron inspired by Summer 1, a poem by Joanne C Hillhouse.

Glenroy Aaron’s Summer One is the cover image of the Tongues of the Ocean Antigua and Barbuda issue. Here’s his bio from the site: Glenroy Aaron has always had a passion for anything artistic. Drawings and doodling captivated him in his childhood years and this love of the arts was nurtured in primary and secondary school and later honed under teachers in the Cambridge art programme at the Antigua State College. Upon leaving school he continued with his passion, branching into oils, which is currently his primary medium. He strives to capture the beauty in nature and human emotion.

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,  Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. 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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