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).
Island Scribe’s writing retreats launch in Catara, Tobago in May 2023, with two dates – Mayb 6th and May 11th – reportedly all booked up. Island Scribe is curated and hosted by Trinidadian born, US based writer Simone Dalton who is described as a teaching artist and writing coach. (Source – Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival email)
Gordon Rohlehr (1942-2023), literary scholar and emeritus professor at the University of the West Indies’ St. Augustine, Trinidad campus, has died. The Guyana-born cultural commentator, considered by the many writers who have been commenting on social media since learning of his death, as a vital part of the Caribbean arts community, was reportedly 80 at the time of his passing.
“He was an authority on West Indian literature and the calypso,” UWI international relations professor Mark Kirton was quoted as saying.
That same article in the Demerara Waves, provided the following biographical notes –
“He graduated in 1964 from the University College of the West Indies, Jamaica, with a First Class Honours degree in English Literature, after which he wrote a doctoral dissertation titled “Alienation and Commitment in the Works of Joseph Conrad” at Birmingham University, England (1964-1967).
His publications include: Pathfinder: Black Awakening in “The Arrivants” of Edward Kamau Brathwaite (Tunapuna: College Press, 1981); Cultural Resistance and the Guyana State (Casa de las Américas, 1984); Calypso and Society in Pre-Independence Trinidad (Port of Spain, 1990); My Strangled City and Other Essays (Longman Trinidad, 1992); The Shape of That Hurt and Other Essays (Longman Trinidad, 1992); A Scuffling of Islands: Essays on Calypso (Lexicon Trinidad Ltd, 2004); Transgression, Transition, Transformation: Essays in Caribbean Culture (Lexicon, 2007); Ancestories: Readings of Kamau Brathwaite’s “Ancestors” (Trinidad: Lexicon, 2010) and My Whole Life is Calypso: Essays on Sparrow (2015).” (Source – social media/various)
Arts and Culture
Some news re the Commonwealth Short Story Prize: not sure how this compares to other prizes but the current cycle – the shortlist of which will be announced in April – netted 6,640 submissions were made by writers living in 54 countries, from Canada to Gabon to India to Samoa. Four-hundred and seventy-five stories were written in languages other than English and a further 141 were translated into English from other languages. I’m going to ask them for the submission by Caribbean territories and when I get it, I’ll share the breakdown. (Source – Commonwealth Foundation email)
Commonwealth Writers – the entity behind the Commonwealth short story competition, the Adda platform and various developmental initiatives (some of which – e.g. publication in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean, participation in the Aye Write literary festival, participation in a writing workshop and, coming out of that, a reading and this article commission, the Carib Lit editing workshop and the reading at Moray House in Guyana, publication on the Adda platform, – I’ve benefited from) has changed its name to Commonwealth Foundation Creatives on account of it being no longer just about writers but about creative practitioners from all disciplines. You can follow them on twitter, facebook, and instagram. (Source – firstname.lastname@example.org email)
Tropical Arts is a new online marketplace and gathering spot for artists, creatives, photographers, and collectors. Operating out of Curacao, it invites registration broadly from creatives in the Caribbean and the diaspora. “The site’s goal is to support the livelihoods of the creative community as well as to rewards collectors with works (both digital and physical), digital assets, and storytelling that illuminates the rich culture and traditions of the region.” (Tropical Arts) Once signed in, artists can create an account and upload digital works. “You can spotlight any of your works and we’ll pay for the minting so you can show them off as NFTs. Or you can list them for sale in the marketplace.” (promotional artist email) This is strictly For Your Information; please do your due diligence – especially as I am not knowledgeable about non-fungible tokens (though the site includes a FAQ that explains all that) – and ensure you understand fully what you are signing up for. (Source – promotional artist email)
“Rashad Hosein has won the 2022 NGC Bocas Youth Writer Award, which comes with a cash prize of TT $5,000, sponsored by the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited. The announcement was made on Saturday 7 January at an award ceremony honouring the young finalists for the award, hosted at The Writer’s Centre by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
The 24-year old author was selected as the winner from four finalists, with his short fictional work “Saga”. Hosein has already established himself as an writer to watch, after winning the John Steinbeck Award for Fiction last year from Reed Magazine. He has also been a finalist for the BCLF Elizabeth Nunez Award for Caribbean Writers, was longlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize, and shortlisted twice for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2019 and 2021.
Launched in 2021, the NGC Bocas Youth Writer Award recognises and celebrates young authors of T&T birth or citizenship, aged 25 and younger.” (Source – Bocas email)
A Caribbean writer has again won the T S Eliot Prize (the last was Roger Robinson in 2019). “Anthony Joseph has won the TS Eliot prize for his collection Sonnets for Albert, described as “luminous” by the judges. Joseph takes the £25,000 poetry prize, which this year saw a record 201 submissions.” (The Guardian) “Sonnets for Albert, which was shortlisted for the Forward prize for best collection last year, is an autobiographical collection that weighs the impact of growing up with a largely absent father.” Joseph is an accomplished poet who has published five poetry collections and eight albums to critical acclaim and awards recognition. The Trinidad and Tobago born Joseph is resident in the United Kingdom. The T S Eliot Prize is named for one of the 20th centuries greatest poets who was a founding member of the Poetry Book Society which started the prize now run by the T S Eliot Foundation. Derek Walcott, a Nobel Laureate, of St. Lucia became the first non-white and explicitly Caribbean writer (previous winners having come from Ireland, England, the US, Scotland, Canada, and Australia). He won in 2010, 17 years after the prize was launched. Robinson, UK of Trinidad and Tobagian ancestory, followed, and now Joseph.
(Source – various on Facebook)
Books and Other Reading Material
Volume 36 of The Caribbean Writer, Disruptions, Disguises and Illuminations, was released in December 2022. “Volume 36 is an imaginative collection of creative expressions from among the best writers within the region and its diaspora,” said editor Alscess Lewis-Brown. “The many permutations of this year’s theme make for a very powerful chorus of Caribbean voices.” This issue’s prize winners are: Monique Clendenin Watson (Daily News Prize for a US or British Virgin Islands author), USVI writer Eliot Richards (The Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for best short fiction for “Dying of the Light”), USVI writer Shawna K. Richards (The Marvin E. Williams Literary Prize for “I Think About Water A Lot”), Barbadian poet Winston Farrell (The Cecile deJongh Literary Prize to a Caribbean author whose work best expresses the spirit of the Caribbean for “A Notion of Cricket”), and Trinidadian short story Otancia Noel (The Vincent Cooper Literary Prize to a Caribbean author for exemplary writing in Caribbean Nation Language for “Muslimean Memory”).
Gail Widmer who is based in St. Croix is the cover artist with her piece “After the Storm”.
The theme for the next issue, due to be published in 2024, is “Legacy: Reckoning and Repair”. (Source – N/A)
“Happy New Year”, a poem by Joanne C. Hillhouse, published in the latest issue of Catholic journal Dappled Things, has been added to the database of journalled writing by Antiguan and Barbudan writers. and listing of published poetry on Jhohadli, where it can be read. (Source – Twitter)
Bookstagrammer If this is Paradise in Jamaica is now a published author with the inclusion of her essay “From the Omen to Saint Maud: A Black Queer Revelation” in Divergent Terror: At the Crossroads of Queerness and Horror (Off Limits Press). “I explore the different relationships I had with two Catholic horror films at two different points in my life: The Omen when I was a child and Saint Maud as an adult,” she posted. If this is Paradise – actual name Akilah or Kiki – is a freelance critic currently leading the Reading Jamaica Kincaid | Akilah | Substack as reported before in Carib Lit Plus. (Source – Kiki on instagram)
Book of Cinz‘s January 2023 newsletter, in addition to listing her January – March 2023 book club picks (Neruda on the Park by CLeyvis Natera of the Dominican Republic, Things I have Withheld by Kei Miller of Jamaica, and River sing me Home by Eleanor Shearer, who is a British writer of Caribbean descent), she lists several 2023 Read Caribbean releases.
The listed books include Trinidad and Tobago writers Kevin Jared Hosein’s Hungry Ghosts, Lesley-ann Brown’s BlackGirl on Mars, The God of Good Looks by Breanne McIvor, and When the Vibe is Right by Sarah Dass; Afro-Puerto Rican Jennifer Maritza McCauley’s When Trying to Return Home; St. Vincent descended Brit Alexis Keir’s Windward Family: An Atlas of Love, Loss and Belonging; Soraya Palmer’s The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts, said to be a Brooklyn-based coming of age story of two Jamaican-Trinidadian sisters; Guadeloupean legend Maryse Conde’s The Gospel According to the New World; Camille Hernández-Ramdwar’s multi-country collection Suite as Sugar: and Other Stories; Lorraine Avila’s The Making of Yolanda la Bruja; Jamaican Safiya Sinclair’s memoir How to say Babylon; Queen of Exile, a Haitian narrative by Vanessa Riley; Dominican writer Elizabeth Acevedo’s Family Lore; Jamaican folktale River Mumma by Zalika Benta-Reid and Donna Heman’s House of Pain.
The book club next meets on January 25th. (Source – Book of Cinz’s newsletter)
Brenda Lee Browne who is a British born Antiguan writer and former Wadadli Pen judge was one of the editors of the Commonwealth Writers Speak Out! series alongside Peter Sipeli of Fiji, Rifat Munim of Bangladesh, and Beatrice Lamwaka of Uganda. Speak Out! has four issues consisting of poems and creative fiction and non-fiction from around the Commonwealth. The theme broadly is freedom of expression. The Caribbean writing included in the editions (of which I’ve at this writing read three of the four) include Jamaicans Nadine Tomlinson, Topher Allen and Lloyd D’Aguilar, Dominican Lisa Latouche, Shanette Monrose, Belizean Calpernia Nicole Charles, Guyanese Hannah Singh, and Tobagonian Lynette Hazel. Browne is credited as the editor of Speak Out! 3 and says in her editorial, “The beauty of storytelling is that it speaks to us as humans—people, no labels—as we all carry stories that we would like to share.” You can read my thoughts on 1, 2, and 3 in the Jhohadli Blogger on Books series. I haven’t read the 4th and final installmetn as yet. (Source – N/A)
Barbara Arrindell who is a local book retailer and author, in addition to being a Wadadli Pen director, is interviewed by Carol Mitchell of Caribbean Reads publishing in her Book Club column in Inter Caribbean Airways’ Cacique magazine.
She talks about the book industry, the arts, and her own writing. The column also recommends three books by Caribbean authors – the Machel Montano biography King of Soca, Sharma Taylor’s acclaimed novel What a Mother’s Love don’t teach You, and children’s book The Coquies Still Sing. (Source – Carol Mitchell on Instagram)
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.