Tag Archives: commonwealth

Go for it!

I’ve never met or even spoken to Maggie Harris

Maggie Harris.

Maggie Harris.

outside of the virtual world of social media, but she feels like part of the Wadadli Pen family, having contacted me well into the 2014 season to offer a copy of her book Kiskadee Girl as part of the prize package.

Kiskadee Girl.

Kiskadee Girl.

The book promptly came in the mail all the way from the UK where Maggie, Guyanese by birth, lives; and it’s since been added to the library of Ariel Dunnah who was third placed overall, in addition to being second placed and honourable mention in the 18 to 35 age category of the Wadadli Pen 2014 Challenge.

All of that preamble to say two things.

First, big up big up big up to Maggie Harris for being the regional winner of the prestigious and highly competitive Commonwealth Short Story prize. As we did a few weeks ago when Diana McCaulay another former prize donor and Wadadli Pen associate family member as a result claimed the Hollick Arvon Prize at Bocas, we feel in a celebratory mood, like we’re celebrating one of our own. Congratulations, Maggie, and fingers crossed that you’ll take the big win in Uganda in June.

Second, to all Antiguan and Barbudan writers reading this, this is a prize you need to go for. True confessions, I’ve gone for this prize several times, and I persist in going for it because I will not be undone by my failures, and because it is a significant prize in the doors it can open, the validation it can bring, and the sense of personal satisfaction that it will give…and that’s before you even get to the purse. The truth is, as a writer while you are your only real competition, it’s important to keep pushing yourself, challenging yourself, and step into those fields that can cause you and your writing to flourish. One of the reasons we do Wadadli Pen is to encourage this mindset, and one of the reasons we give short-listed writers the opportunity to benefit from the judges’ critique is to reinforce how essential craft is, and as a part of that, revision. One of the Commonwealth winning writers mentioned revising her story 12 times; for some writers that’s on the low side. You wrestle with the story, trying to get it right, and you try always to put your best effort forward. And the not making it the first two, three or ten times is no reason to give up, that too is part of the writer’s life; it’s not always easy but we pick ourselves up and we persist. I mention this here because I’m disappointed to learn how few Antiguans (too often none) actually take a shot at these prizes – prizes like the Burt Award for which I recently claimed second prize in 2014, prizes like Hollick Arvon for which another Wadadli Pen family member Brenda Lee Browne was long listed in 2013, and yes prizes like the Commonwealth Short Story prize which afforded me though not a finalist to be picked as one of only 13 writers from across the Caribbean, and the only one from Antigua, for the recently published Pepperpot collection, which also resulted in me being offered opportunities to read in Glasgow at the Aye Write! festival and in New York at the PEN World Voices festival. I mention the only one from Antigua not to suggest that I’m special in anyway because there are people as or more talented than me from the 108 by 62, the only difference is that, in spite of the hurts and set backs, I persist, I work at it and I research and reach for the opportunities. We need to try to swim in bigger waters, people; submit to those journals, go for those prizes, seek publication, access, and opportunity. You know why, because we have the talent here in Antigua and Barbuda, and while it takes more than talent – things like discipline, skill building, networking, and more – there’s no reason we shouldn’t reach for every opportunity.

Brenda Lee has a tag line, “just write”; how about we add “…and go for it”. Sure you might get rejected but you could turn out like Maggie Harris: “overwhelmed and thrilled… (and) very grateful”.

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. 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 the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

 

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Commonwealth Writers Short List

I hope lots of Antiguan and Barbudan writers submitted to the Commonwealth short story contest and I hope lots of us will continue trying. As I discovered when my story Amelia was subsequently picked for Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean, there is sometimes a second act….and there is always room to keep working and grow as writers. These let downs are part of the process but not the final chapter.

Big up, meanwhile, to the three Caribbean writers who did make the cut among the 19 finalists from all parts of the Commonwealth – effectively all parts of the globe.

Those Caribbean finalists include 2014 Wadadli Pen Patron Guyanese writer Maggie Harris, Trini Charmaine Rousseau who I am acquainted with through social media, and Bahamas writer Helen Klonaris. Read the full run down on these and other finalists here.

CONGRATS TO ALL.

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!), founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and  my books.  You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014 Deadline Approaches

There are less than four weeks left to enter the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Entries close 30 November 2013.

The prize is free to enter, and awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000-5,000 words) in English. Regional winners will receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. Short stories translated into English from other languages are also eligible.

The 2014 judging panel will be chaired by Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize, and previously Deputy Editor of Granta and Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House. The judges are: Doreen Baingana, Michelle de Kretser, Marlon James, Courttia Newland and Jeet Thayil.

“My hope is that writers from across the Commonwealth will be encouraged to send us stories that bring us news of wherever they are, in the wide variety of voices and accents that make up the English language. It would be wonderful to see submissions from bold stylists and stories that experiment with the form as well as more traditional approaches to the short story. This prize celebrates the power of the short story to spin a tale that concentrates experience and character in such specificity that the local is transformed to significance far beyond its borders. This is the magic of good writing, and this is what I hope we will find.” Ellah Allfrey, Chair, 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Commonwealth Writers is continuing its partnership with Granta Magazine to give the overall and regional winners of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize the opportunity to have their story edited and published by Granta online.

This year we are pleased to announce a new association with the London-based literary and media agency Blake Friedmann, who will work with selected writers identified through the Prize.

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Interviewed by Commonwealthwriters.org

Is there a place or an event that has informed your writing?

My writing is always rooted in my Antiguan-ness; and in particular the Antiguan (with a hint of Dominican) working-class reality from the 1970s to present; the rhythms of that world especially informed my first book The Boy from Willow Bend. But it’s there in some way, shape or form in the other stories as well – even the ones not set in Ottos, where I was born: people making do and making a way, people who had their eyes wide open to reality but were still superstitious, people dealing with the disorientation of change within the shadow of larger political and social factors, much like in my new book Oh Gad!

Calypsonians would have been some of the first poets I would have been exposed to and, from a literary perspective, their frank handling of topic juxtaposed with their inventive use of language to give the story a layered interpretation – I think in retrospect I took in some of that, though back then I just loved to sing and dance to my favourites – Shorty, Obstinate, Latumba. We all did; and we all knew we could count on them to tell the truth. But, of course, I also read what I could get my hands on, or bent my ear to whatever Anansi or jumbie story was floating around.

READ THE REST OF THIS INTERVIEW

I want to say thank you to them for their interest in interviewing me.

And with the April 17th 2012 release of my book Oh Gad! the timing couldn’t be better.

 

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Commonwealth call for film scripts

Hmm, I may dust off that screenplay and enter this one myself.

Got a film you’ve always wanted to see produced? Here’s your shot.

Commonwealth Foundation Call for Short Films

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011No Comments Categories: Call for Submissions, Film, Grants, Updates

The Commonwealth Foundation is inviting filmmakers from across the Commonwealth to submit an idea for a short film about relationships. Individual filmmakers or collectives should submit a proposal which explores the theme of love in its broadest sense, whether inter-racial, inter-generational or within and between the sexes. The theme should be relevant to the filmmaker and their community. The foundation is looking for original, bold and authentic films in any genre which entertain as well as stimulate and encourage debate both locally and globally. More here.

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