Tag Archives: Creative Space

You should read…

I mentioned it before and I have skimmed it previously, but I am finally taking some time to read through the Daily Observer Independence 2021 issue (I know, I know).

For any non-Antiguans-&-Barbudans here our 40th anniversary Independence commemoration was November 1st.

The first 15 or so pages of the anniversary issue are taken up with the obligatory messages (read if you like that sort of thing but really, skip). Beginning on page 16, though, take the time to scroll through ‘The History of Antigua and Barbuda’ which begins “before 9000 BC” and comes forward to the present. It includes this image I’ve never seen before (wish the article had included something of its provenance) of an auction of enslaved people at Redcliffe Quay (bit of trivia: the barracoon where enslaved people were held is still there just above Redcliffe Quay, one of St. John’s City’s two major tourist shopping centres, on lower Nevis Street – and I hope the powers that be do whatever needs to be done to preserve it).

An interesting (little known) detail in this history is that when Antigua was captured by the French in 1666, the English retreated to Ottos hill (or Ottos Mount as the article calls it – I’m not sure if they mean Mount St. John where the hospital is or Ottos hill, part of my childhood stomping grounds as a #gyalfromOttosAntigua) leaving the enslaved people behind as the invaders rampaged and burned; but (and this is the interesting part) the Kalinago (called Caribs in the article) assisted the enslaved in escaping and they fled to the Shekerly Hills where they lived for many years (I learned about the free community at Boggy Peak/Mount Obama well into adulthood – in school we learned that there weren’t maroon communities in Antigua because the terrain didn’t allow for it). So that was interesting to me. Oh, the French only held the island to 1667 – which is why Antigua remains pretty firmly in the English-speaking column.

The article also goes in to detail about the fate of the two main leaders of the 1736 rebellion (King Court and Tomboy – interesting to me because we don’t hear nearly enough about Tomboy, who received “35 strokes with a large iron bar” before his execution).

And for those of us who grew up not knowing, the article touches on some of the other rebellions – 1831, 1858, 1918.

There’s a Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau poem which has this line that I love, “I love Antigua like a lover” – but which is not so blinded by love that it does not challenge us to be better.

I liked some of the fresh (?) details about the national symbols – like the Antigua Black pineapple being originally introduced by the Arawakan speaking people (the fruit also gets a whole article elsewhere in the publication), and being used for making twine and cloth, and for healing purposes, or the whitewood tree’s alternate name being Black Gregory.

The Independence baby article – featuring Sasha Stuart Young – was a bit (too) long but a good catch-up (p. 25-30).

The Barbuda article had a few touches beyond the usual cliches – I especially found endearing the details about the elderly going to the lagoon at 5 a.m. to “sap their knees” and ease arthritic ache, or about how that same lagoon feeds the people with lobster, conch, and fish – and keeps them independent. And, like a dark anti-chorus: “Today, after Independence, the lagoon has become an environmental collateral damaged site.” A reminder of the tensions between Antigua and Barbuda, the exploitation of the latter by the former. The author, Darlene Beazer-Parker also includes a poem that has a roll call of Barbudan people, “Bo Ram Bo, Boxer, Tomack, and Dada”, and places, “Hog Hole, Five Springs, Darby Cave, Ann Pass”, and a glossary of Barbudan expressions, like “tikka yah dome”, that reminds that Barbuda is not just a playground for tourists, or even Antiguans, but home to those who “smell the mud after the rain.” (another phrase I liked).

The article on recently deceased national hero Sir Lester Bird was an interesting read – especially his early athletic exploits – if sanitized as such things inevitably are. Speaking of, I like that the Paul Quinn op-ed touched on the tensions in the build-up to Independence, which was not a foregone conclusion (nor initially, the piece suggests, a popular one). Shout out to the ad for Antiguan Homemade Fudge in this section because e bang good.

I like the issue’s engagement with young Antiguans and Barbudans doing awesome things in a substantive way; such as former junior calypsonian A’shante and her multiple enterprises including Amplify Caribbean with other young Antiguans and Barbudans, and mental health advocate Chaneil, recently featured in my CREATIVE SPACE series.

Nice to see the nurses styling in their national dress fabric.

Now we just need to support them by doing everything we can to keep our COVID-19 numbers down.

I’ll admit to skipping through the sections on COVID (though I’m glad it’s in there) – and am all vaxxed and boostered up, wear my mask etc. That said, I liked the approach in the article by Dr. Cleon Athill, looking at the socio-economic vulnerabilities exposed by the virus on the national and individual level, and ending with call for dialogue on several key areas including the importance of critical thinking, the balance between personal and community rights, and the roles of various stakeholders in the event of a national crisis.

Space was made for the work of the diaspora – shout out to the Friends of Antigua Public Library in New York.

There was an article on our only living national hero accompanied by this picture.

…and of the first Antiguan and Barbudan to be called up to the West Indies Cricket Team (Andy Roberts). “Being the first Antiguan to play and the first to make the headlines, I realized that I cannot fail because this is opportunity for people to know there is a small island named Antigua.” He remarked how even in Jamaica they didn’t know Antigua and while Jamaicans knew the name Antigua by the time I studied there (thanks to cricketers like Viv and Andy) and there were already a lot of Jamaicans living in Antigua, I did get some questions that exposed the huge gaps in information and massive misconceptions about the “small islands” like mine. So I can relate.

It was nice to see the sports section make space for one of the greats off the field (Gravy), who for 12 years made entertainment of spectacle during cricket matches – and going deep in to his formative years, like the time he was clowning in front of the class and in retaliation the principal “beat everybody else all to me.” A reminder that growing up Caribbean could be brutal. But could also be charming, like the story about how he got his nickname the time he asked his mom to take back the meat and give him more gravy. Make no mistake, what Gravy did was performance art (his grand finale in a wedding dress for instance, as a bride walking down the aisle) and like any artist his chief regrets are related to the artistic expressions he either didn’t achieve or didn’t complete. “Up to now I am at home, I think about things I should have done on the Double Decker, from one end to the other end. There is a steel beam that runs across Double Decker from one end to the other end and I always see myself going up there and walking across the Double Decker stand in mid-air.” His wish, to the powers that be, take care of the disabled and less fortunate, and, to the public, “remember me”.

In the CREATIVE SPACE entry in the Independence issue, I remember some of my favourite Antiguan and Barbudan protest songs (my spin being that protest songs are some of the most patriotic). You can still listen to the playlist. You should also check out DJ/broadcaster Dave Lester Payne’s Independence top 10 in the Daily Observer Independence issue.

There is also…

An article on cryptocurrency chastising those of us lagging behind to catch up or, “delusional”, be left feeling like we’re in “a galaxy far, far away” – there is an explanation of the explosion of cryptocurrency but no crypto for dummies which some of us need.

An article on cha-cha dumpling, ostensibly, but really on the cut and contrive nature of the Caribbean culinary experience – and a hint of the enterprise necessitated by the pandemic (subject Caesar is a taxi driver but…the pandemic).

An article on popular Antiguan sayings (only fair as we had some Barbudan ones earlier). I will admit though that I’ve never heard “you lip shine lakka dog seed” (gross).

An article on children’s games, primarily from a boy’s point of view so lots of street cricket and marble lore, but not a deep dive on hand games, ring games (with the exceptions of Ring-a-rosie and Brown Girl in the Ring), and especially jump rope games (this was one of the popular past times when I was a girl. I don’t remember us doing double dutch though; that was more of an African American skipping style). I liked the article but I’m now thinking I need to do that deep dive on Caribbean jump rope games – maybe for a future CREATIVE SPACE.

A flour feature. Like flour day which I recently found out about, this feels like an odd thing to boost given certain lifestyle diseases that have likely ‘helped’ the ballooning health bills (referenced elsewhere in the publication) but flour is not without cultural context (it is one of the foods that has sustained us – droppers to ducana). Interesting choice to include cornmeal here, which I don’t think of as flour but, I guess. It is referred to as corn flour which on technicality allows for the inclusion of cornmeal pap and national dish (or half of) fungee.

An article on superstitions which was a resonant retelling of the folklore I grew up on or heard about growing up – jackolantern, soucouyant, jabless/diablesse, jumbie (the article also says duppy but that was terminology I only read about in stories set in Jamaica) with mention of obeah (not a connection I instinctively make but…okay).

What’s left? Fashion of course and I guess we can officially call Amya’s the queen of Independence, with the label’s independence accessories getting a whole feature. Nice.

This issue is triggering memories as I’ve interviewed a lot of the people featured over my journalism career – Goldsmitty which has a jewellery feature based on the bread and cheese bush (again, interesting) and Amya whom I first interviewed many years ago and most recently included in a piece in CREATIVE SPACE among them; been cussed out by a couple of them too (not Hans or Louise though) in the course of my reporting.

Among the standard fair (articles on governance, patriotic songs, nostalgia pictures) in the closing pages, a highlight for me was the picture of my primary school alma mater at the youth rally – seeing us (well not me, I didn’t march, but us) was dope (especially since people, including Catholics, hardly seem to remember we existed).

Verdict: definitely worth a read.

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 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.

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Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late September 2021)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here)


I don’t know how to write this. I just learned of the passing from COVID of a past Wadadli Pen patron. In life, they didn’t want public credit and I don’t want to break trust with them now. So I will say, in their memory, thanks and walk with God. Gone too soon. Because this wasn’t an old smadee (for those who think youth will protect them and they don’t need to think about others). I guess I’m going there… stop playing with this COVID (double figures – 20+ people – dead in 108 square mile Antigua from one disease in one month? That we know of? Hospital so stressed that people can’t access any kind of non-COVID lab testing except for emergency surgery, other services impacted as well? and we still playing?!) Wear the mask. Social distance. Sanitize. and most importantly #getvaxxed (just as we have for polio, rubella, small pox etc). And please don’t be selfish, if COVID is in your home don’t take it out in to the community – tap home. (Source – Facebook)


I didn’t think I’d be writing about Lil Nas X on this site but here we are. I was listening to a book vlog on booktube matching songs from his new album with books, and when the vlogger said Dominica (actually she said Dom-in-ik-a not Dom-in-eek-a as it’s actually pronounced but) my radar went up (I have a radar for all things Caribbean). So I wondered, wait, does this kid shaking up the industry and societal norms have Caribbean roots? Yes, yes, he does. Per Loop, his dad Robert Stafford is from Dominica. Okay, but what’s the ‘Dominica’ connection to the song? The song is pretty bleak after all, not a sign of the nature isle in sight. But, again, according to Loop, though not named ‘Dominica’ exists in the artist’s mind in opposition to the bleak reality in the song. ‘He explained that he choose to name the track Tales of Dominica “because I feel like Dominica is like that beautiful place.”’ So, there you have it, that’s why there’s a Lil Nas X song in this round up – catchy beat, melancholic lyrics, my kinda song.

(Source – Booktube)


The Kingston Culture Forum.

Register here. (Source – Twitter)


What a charmed journey this book (Love after Love by Ingrid Persaud) has had. Keeping up with the awards has been a challenge. This one is from June.


My next workshop will be with the Bocas lit fest and its focus will be writing children’s lit. Register from anywhere.

Go here to register. (Source – Bocas)


Barbados-based, multi award winning writer Sharma Taylor, whose first novel recently sold at auction and is forthcoming in 2022, is for the first time offering writing courses and you can register from any where in the world.

(Source – email from Ayesha Gibson-Gill, Barbados Cultural Officer – Literary Arts + from the author )

See other Opportunities and Opportunities Too.

New Books

No Ruined Stone by Jamaican writer Shara McCallum was published by Peepal Tree Press this past July. It is described as “a story of slavery and colonialism, challenging the historical archive’s sheer, unyielding wall by going not over or around it, but fearlessly through”. Specifically, “her poems imagine the what-if-that-almost-was of Scotland’s best-loved Bard, following Burns into the life he might have lived as a plantation overseer in Jamaica—then seeing his enslaved granddaughter back to Scotland to claim a life reserved for white women.” – Peepal Tree Press (Source – John R. Lee email)


West Indies cricket legend and sports commentator Michael Holding of Jamaica dropped a new book this past summer, a timely book. “Through the prism of sport and conversations with its legends, including Usain Bolt, Adam Goodes, Thierry Henry, Michael Johnson, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Makhaya Ntini, Naomi Osaka and Hope Powell, Michael Holding explains how racism dehumanises people; how it works to achieve that end; how it has been ignored by history and historians; and what it is like to be treated differently just because of the colour of your skin.” Ironic that the book has a ringing endorsement from Piers Morgan but maybe a testimony to how good it is. Especially as the book seems to be a part of the conversations around #BlackLivesMatter – specifically the 2020 uprising fuelled by the murder of George Floyd in the US. “Rarely can a rain delay in a cricket match have led to anything like the moment when Holding spoke out in the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter protests about the racism he has suffered and has seen all around him throughout his life. But as he spoke, he sought not only to educate but to propose a way forward that inspired so many. Within minutes, he was receiving calls from famous sports stars from around the world offering to help him to spread the message further.” This birthed Why We Kneel, How We Rise, in which Holding shares stories from some of the world’s most iconic Black athletes. “To say I was surprised at the volume of positive feedback I received from around the world after my comments on Sky Sports is an understatement,” Holding is quoted on the site of publisher Simon & Schuster as saying. “I came to realise I couldn’t just stop there; I had to take it forward – hence the book, as I believe education is the way forward.” Holding’s previous books are his autobiography No Holding Back and Whispering Death: the Life and Times of Michael Holding written with Tony Cozier. (Source – Twitter announcement from Kingston Bookshop initially, additional information from S & S website)

Arts news

Local designer Kevon Moitt partnered with Digicel to release a documentary (‘Own It – Our Festival; My Passion’) on his creative journey this past summer. Moitt told the Daily Observer (p. 3 of its August 4th 2021 issue), “I find that we don’t have much documentation in regards to Carnival, culture, designers, and designing processes, so I thought that being in the industry and having so much involvement in it that I needed to start the documentation process.” The doc is available in two parts on YouTube.

Part 1 begins here.

(Source – Facebook)


This isn’t arts news but it is news worth knowing and there is at least one artist involved.

The Environmental Awareness Group in Antigua and Barbuda has a new executive that includes (top to bottom) mindfulness coach Chloe Johnston, Inland Revenue deputy Jermaine Jarvis, data processing controller at the Antigua Public Utilities Authority Kerri Gore, Lawson Lewis – an artist and filmmaker I mentioned back in April when he won a regional prize for one of his commercials, civil engineer Phikwe Goodwin, lawyer Rushaine Cunningham, private sector project engineer Stanley Barreto, previous president Tahambay Smith, and sustainable tourism minister with the Ministry of Tourism Vashti Ramsey-Casimir. It’s interesting to see the continuing changing face of the EAG – the country’s main environmental advocacy group, started back in 1988 – and that sounds like a good mix of capabilities, and it’s certainly a youthful looking line-up. (Source – Antiguanice on twitter)


check out the two latest editions of my column CREATIVE SPACE, spotlighting marine culture in Antigua and Barbuda.


Papillote Press out of Dominica has announced a “glittering new website” which it says is mobile and user friendly. The new website was done by Dominica-based designer Petrea.


It is not yet known if a virtual option was considered nor when CARTIFESTA will return, and hosted by whom, as the Caribbean continues to struggle with the fallout from COVID-19 and its myriad variants including sharp economic decline, an overwhelmed healthcare sector, personal loss for those who have lost people to the pandemic, cancellation of other cultural markers like Carnival and beach days, and social turmoil. (Source – facebook)

Related PSA: Please inform yourself using verifiable and credible fact-based sources; and then, hopefully, get vaxxed. Meanwhile, care about the people around you enough to wear a mask, socially distance, sanitize, and seriously, think about getting vaccinated. (JCH)

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 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.

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Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid June 2021)

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)

Wadadli Pen News

Wadadli Pen has donated 4 copies each of the Collins Big Cat #ownvoices Caribbean titles to the Public Library. Donations were also made to the Cushion Club, and the Wadadli Pen Challenge winning author has received copies to contribute to a school of his choice.


The Wadadli Pen Awards were held on May 30th 2021. For the second year, it was virtual due to COVID-19 safety concerns. But you can see clips from the awards on this Playlist on the Wadadli Pen YouTube Channel, you can read all the winning stories from this and past years, You can read who won what?, and You can see our photo gallery of people collecting their prizes, as well as our video gallery.

Second placed writer Ashley-Whitney Joshua collecting her prizes at the Best of Books bookstore.

Congrats to our first ever father-daughter winners and all finalists; thanks to our patrons.

(Source for all Wadadli Pen news – in-house)

Other Awards News

Barbudan Go had an animation competition to raise awareness about fisheries regulations. Entrants were required to create an animation for their favourite existing ad, and post with #booyardfisheries. The announced winners are Eshe Mussington for a parrotfish closed season animation and Dell Dell for a special area fishing permit animation. The prize is $1000. Barbudan Go is a registered community non-profit. (Source – facebook) Per the Daily Observer, Barbudan Go also organized an exhibition at Barbuda’s fisheries complex for World Oceans Day, featuring students from the McChesney George Secondary School.


(Source – Prince Claus Fund website)

See Opportunities for more on the Prince Claus Fund.


At Night All Blood is Black has been adjudged winner of the International Booker Prize, given for the best work in translation. Written by David Diop and translated by Anna Moschovakis. It is “a short novel about a Senegalese soldier’s descent into madness while fighting for France in World War I”. Writer and translator will share the 50,000 pounds prize. Chair of judges Lucy Hughes-Hallett said during the virtual ceremony, “The whole of tragedy depends on the dichotomy between the awfulness of what you’re being told, and the beauty of the way it’s being expressed…You feel like you’re being hypnotized. It’s an extraordinary novel.” (Source – BookTuber Eric Karl Anderson and details from The New York Times)

Book + Art Events

Okay, the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival is a ways off but this promo poster debuted recently and I thought I’d share it (in great part because the art is by Trinbagonian Danielle Boodoo-Fortune, whom you may remember is the illustrator of my books Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and The Jungle Outside, with whom I participated in a Live chat on my AntiguanWriter YouTube channel about those projects and the creative process on World Book and Copyright Day). (Source – Don’t remember)


CARICON is described as a celebration of Caribbean Literature; it runs online from June 4th to 6th. The event is a diaspora-focused Caribbean American Heritage Month in Southern California. The line-up of participants includes, on June 4th, St. Kitts-Nevis Dr. Robertine Chaderton (One Caribbean Story event), Jamaica’s Dr. Amina Blackwood-Meeks (So You want to be a Storyteller! interactive workshop), Montserrat’s Myrle Roach (The Poetry Hour); on June 5th, Dr. Donna Aza Weir-Soley (a conversation on New Horizons among the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars) and Dr. Opal Palmer Adisa (a panel on Rebirth: a Journey of Political and Social Change, Renewal, Revival, and Cultural Identity) – both of Jamaica; and on June 6th, Jamaica’s Diana McCaulay (in a discourse on Confronting Climate Change in the Caribbean – Inside a Dry-weather House) and Guyana’s Fred D’Aguiar (a workshop on How to write a Winning Beginning). For more and to register for CARICON visit here. (Source – online somewhere)


The Barbados Art Collective is holding a fundraiser for St. Vincent and the Grenadines which has been disrupted thanks to volcanic activity. A number of artists have contributed pieces to an art auction running from June 4th – 5th. Cherise Harris who illustrated With Grace (my book) is contributing a development sketch (i.e. one of those pieces that didn’t make it in to the book). The exhibition is being held at the Art Splash Gallery in Barbados. (Source – Cherise Harris’ facebook)


Antiguan-Barbudan New York resident Carol Tonge Mack had a book signing event at the Best of Books bookstore for her memoir Being Bernadette: from Polite Science to Finding the Black Girl Magic Within. (Source – Best of Book’s facebook page)

See also the database of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing and Antiguan and Barbudan Non-Fiction.


Celebrating one of the great ones George Lamming who celebrated a birthday, his 94th, in early June. The Barbadian is one of the lions of the Caribbean literary canon.

“The depths of Lamming’s understanding of social, political and historical issues were soon revealed in his first four novels: In the Castle of My Skin, (1953), The Emigrants, (1954) Of Age and Innocence (1958) and Season of Adventure, (1960).” – read more at Barbados Today (Source – Facebook)


Here’s what you missed so far this year if you missed CREATIVE SPACE: Articles on arts support, fashion, books, gardening, cinematography, artisans and artrepreneurship, visual arts on canvas and in illustration form. (Source – Me)

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!, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and Spanish language edition Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, The Jungle Outside, With Grace, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved.

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Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid March 2021)

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)


While Antigua and Barbuda is not specifically named, Antiguan and Barbudan writer Jamaica Kincaid is on this USA Today list of 100 Black novelists and fiction writers you should read… (that includes other Caribbean writers like Marlon James of Jamaica and Edwidge Dandicat of Haiti). Read the full list.


The Wadadli Pen patrons list continues to grow in spite of challenging times – the latest pledges come from former Wadadli Pen finalist cum award winning writer Rilys Adams, Cedric Holder of the Cushion Club, and Diana McCaulay with her publisher Peepal Tree Press. They join celebrated Jamaican author Olive Senior, another past Wadadli Pen finalist Daryl George, new local writer Patricia Tully; plus Moondancer Books and the Best of Books. Additional books have also arrived from the year biggest donor to date Harper Collins UK. The Wadadli Pen Challenge gives writers and artists in Antigua and Barbuda until March 26th 2021 to respond to the Challenge to reflect and create. Readers also have to this time to #readAntiguaBarbuda and vote for their favourite books. Details here.

For more opportunities with pending deadlines check this link, and, because I’ve recently received requests for information re publishing, here too are links to the main Opportunities and Resources pages.


I wrote about the death in December 2020 of Belizean writer Zee Edgell in the first Carib Lit Plus of the year. I’m revisiting her life to share a link to the review I posted in February of her book The Festival of San Joaquin which was one of my picks for my Black History Month #abookaday project.

I want to thank Trinidad filmmaker (Banyan Ltd.) Christopher Laid for giving permission to share the following Zee Edgell interview from the Second Conference of Caribbean Women Writers (1990). Access it by clicking the image below and using the password ‘zee’.

I also wanted to share an announcement from her daughter Holly, received via email from St. Lucian writer John Robert Lee (excerpted): ‘ST. LOUIS, Missouri — Zee Edgell, Belize’s foremost author of fiction, has died at the age of 80. She passed away on December 20, in her home after a battle with cancer. Born in Belize City, British Honduras in 1940, Mrs. Edgell was the daughter of the late Clive Tucker and Veronica Tucker (nee Walker). She was married to the late Alvin Edgell for 52 years. Together they raised two children: journalist Holly Edgell, 51, and physician Randall Edgell, 45. …Mrs. Edgell authored four novels and five short stories set in Belize, the only Belizean writer of fiction to do so. Her first book, Beka Lamb (Heineman 1982), is beloved in Belize and throughout the Caribbean. It has been part of school and examination curricula in the region and in other parts of the world since its publication. Mrs. Edgell received an honorary doctorate in literature from the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados in 2009. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies degree from Kent State University and earned a diploma in journalism from Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster). In 2007, she received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II, for her services to literature and the community. Among Mrs. Edgell’s many services to Belize was her founding of the “The Reporter” newspaper in 1967. In addition, she served as director of the Women’s Bureau (later the Women’s Department) under the People’s United Party and the United Democratic Party in the 1980s. Later, she was a lecturer at the University College of Belize (now the University of Belize). …After retiring from Kent State University as a tenured English professor in 2009, Mrs. Edgell moved to St. Louis, Missouri with her husband.’ (Source – re additional content – John Robert Lee via email)

New Books

The Caribbean Literature in Transition series from Cambridge University Press has dropped – electronically in December 2020 and hard copy in January 2021. Its authors are:

Evelyn O’Callaghan, professor of West Indian Literature, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, and author of writings on women’s writing, early Caribbean narratives and more recently, ecocritical readings of Caribbean landscapes in visual and scribal texts. She has edited early Caribbean novels such as Antiguan and Barbudan writer Frieda Cassin’s With Silent Tread. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of West Indian Literature.

Curdella Forbes, professor of Caribbean Literature at Howard University and award winning fiction and non-fiction writer. She serves on the editorial advisory board of JWIL and Anthurium. Her most recent work of fiction is A Tall History of Sugar (Akashic 2019, Canongate 2020).

Tim Watson, professor of English at the University of Miami and author of several books on Caribbean culture and writing.

Raphael Dalleo, professor of English at Bucknell University whose most recent book, American Imperialism’s Undead: The Occupation of Haiti and the Rise of Caribbean Anticolonialism (2016), won the Caribbean Studies Association’s 2017 Gordon K. and Sibyl Lewis Award for best book about the Caribbean. He serves on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of West Indian Literature.

Ronald Cummings, associate professor of Postcolonial Studies in the Department of English Language and Literature at Brock University. He is co-editor of the Literature Encyclopedia volume on Anglophone Writing and Culture of Central America and the Caribbean.

Alison Donnell, professor of Modern Literatures in English and Head of School of Literature, Creative Writing and Drama at the University of East Anglia, who has published widely on Caribbean and Black British writings, with a particular emphasis on challenging orthodox literary histories and recovering women’s voices. She is the author of Twentieth Century Caribbean Literature (2006) and Caribbean Queer: Creolized Sexualities and the Literary Imagination in the Anglo-Caribbean (2021), as well as co-editor (with Michael A. Bucknor) of The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature (2011). She leads a major project funded by the Leverhulme Trust: ‘Caribbean Literary Heritage: recovering the lost past and safeguarding the future’.


Some people got creative and busy during the pandemic; Jamaican writer Olive Senior got so busy and so creative she got a whole book of Pandemic Poems: First Wave out of it.

“Early in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Olive Senior began posting her series of Pandemic Poems on social media. The project was a way of bearing witness to the strangeness of it all and forging a reassuring connection with readers. Each poem is a riff on a word or phrase trending in the first wave of the pandemic – an A to Z of the lexicon newly coined or quickly repurposed for our historic moment. By presenting these words and phrases in sequence, Senior offers a timeline of the way events unfolded and how the language and preoccupations kept changing in response. In this accessible collection, Senior captures the zeitgeist of 2020.” (Repeating Islands) (Source – posting by another author on facebook)

p.s. Olive is a Wadadli Pen 2021 patron. So, buy her book!


Visual artist Heather Doram has turned her talents to publishing with a new series of colouring books.

A variety of Heather Doram merch can also be found exclusively at her online store. (Source – Heather Doram, artist, on instagram and/or facebook)


The latest release from Caribbean Reads, its first book of 2021, is The Talking Mango Tree by A. H. Benjamin of the UK with illustrator Daniel J. O’Brien of Trinidad. The mango tree, so says the plot, begins demanding a performance from each animals who wants its fruits and as one child reader reveals below Papa Bois is not happy.

This link includes various Caribbean booksellers that carry Caribbean Reads books but also see online and wherever books are sold. (Source – Caribbean Reads on instagram)



I previously posted this book in 2020 – not sure if pub was delayed or if I got the date wrong but I just learned that it was actually published this year, January 28th 2021, by Peepal Tree Press. So I did something I don’t normally do (deleted it from that 2020 Carib Plus Lit to re-post here). Shout out to Jacqueline Bishop whose The Gift of Music and Song: Interviews with Jamaican Women Writers has been described as a “beautiful collection of interviews, conducted by journalist, poet, novelist and artist Jacqueline Bishop, features insightful and entertaining conversations with many of Jamaica’s most significant writers including Olive Senior, Lorna Goodison, Marcia Douglas and many more.” A Peepal Tree press release, also, said, “Beginning at childhood, each interviewee narrates their fond memories of the Caribbean country with a nostalgia and yearning for a place that is complex and freighted with political, social and racial difficulties. The Gift of Music & Song is a space for these writers to talk deeply about writing back to their homeland; about being female voices from Jamaica, how one should represent the country, its rhythms and cadences, and what it means to be a female writer in the world today.” (Source – update via email from John Robert Lee)


Observer Media Group (Antigua and Barbuda) reporter Shermain Bique-Charles has published a romance novel, Jasmine: Shedding My Skin. According to the Daily Observer newspaper, “the story follows the life of a young woman who is teased in school and considered to be unpopular. In a series of intriguing developments, a young man teams up with his friends planning to violate her. Instead he falls in love with her, putting aside all his wealth, pride and ego to gain her trust and love.” The veteran journalist is originally from Dominica. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)

Shedding My Skin is just outside the publication window for the #readAntiguaBarbuda 2021 initiative (which closed in January 2021) but remember to vote for your favourite among the books that are in contention. (Source – the Daily Observer newspaper)

Congrats Due To…

Eric Barry of Trinidad and Tobago, regional winner of the International Playwriting Competition of 2020 with ‘Delisa Brings Home the Rainbow’. The full list of winners here.


Richards Georges. Don’t remember if I mentioned this but, hey, it’s worth mentioning twice or thrice…Richard Georges is settling in to his role, announced late last year, as the first poet laureate of the Virgin Islands. Richard, who has Antiguan and Trinidadian roots, is a BVI author, most recently celebrated for his Bocas best book win. Speaking of Bocas, Georges is, at this writing, participating in a celebration of Black Britain that’s a collaboration between Bocas and Penguin Books UK. “Linking current voices with their past influencers, the partnership will criss-cross the Atlantic to celebrate the re-publication of six previously out-of-print works by Black British authors, including James’s fictional masterpiece, and newly-commissioned work by a younger generation of Black British poets and writers, including Malika Booker, Richard Georges, Keith Jarrett, Hannah Lowe, Maureen Roberts and Roger Robinson.” – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday (Source – email, various)


Aishah Roberts on her appointment to director of film development – Europe & UK at Fandomodo Films. Aishah is from Antigua and is the daughter of another film vet Conrad Roberts. Sidebar – Conrad Roberts‘ name was familiar to me as someone growing up in Antigua and Barbuda in the 1980s as he was maybe the only local working in Hollywood (e.g. Mosquito Coast, Miami Vice) I was aware of at the time.


Shabier Kirchner who has been collecting nominations and awards this season for his work as cinematographer on Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series. Read all about it in the latest installment of my CREATIVE SPACE series – Small Axe, Big Talent.


Edward Baugh and Mervyn Morris, joint announced recipients of Bocas’ Henry Swanzy Award.

“Baugh and Morris are widely considered pioneers of the study of West Indian literature, over careers that each span half a century. …

The Award, established in 2013, is named for the late BBC radio producer Henry Swanzy. Irish by birth, Swanzy worked as producer of the influential Caribbean Voices radio programme — originally founded by Jamaican Una Marson — from 1946 to 1954, becoming an essential figure in the development of modern West Indian literature.

The Bocas Lit Fest founded the award to honour and celebrate the contributions of the editors, broadcasters, publishers, critics, and others who have shaped the evolution of Caribbean literature behind the scenes.” (Repeating Islands) Personal congrats to my former mentor, Mervyn Morris. Well deserved. (Source – Facebook)


Sharma Taylor.

Sharma Taylor whose debut novel, What a Mother’s Love Don’t Teach You, has been acquired Virago at auction, part of a two-book deal. Via this March 1st 2021 article on thebookseller.com, ‘Described as “a powerful story of belonging, identity and inheritance”, the novel brings together a host of voices to evoke 80s Jamaica’s ghetto, dance halls, criminal underworld and corrupt politics, and at its heart, a mother’s unshakeable love for her son.’ About the book: “At 18 years old, Dinah, a Jamaican maid, gave away her baby son to the rich American couple she worked for before they left Jamaica. They never returned. She never forgot him. Eighteen years later, a young man comes from the US to Kingston. From the moment she sees him, Dinah never doubts—this is her son. What happens next will make everyone question what they know and where they belong.” The first of Taylor’s books are to be published in July 2022. Use the search feature to find the other times Sharma Taylor has shown up here on the blog (and there’s this exclusive interview on my other blog); it’s a lot as she’s been having breakthrough after breakthrough in recent years. I first met the Jamaica-born, Barbados-resident lawyer and writer when she participated in a 2016 workshop I co-facilitated at the BIM Literary Festival (we were co-participants in a 2018 Commonwealth workshop in Barbados). In the time I’ve known her, it’s been a meteoric rise including being shortlisted twice for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (in 2018 and 2020) and winning the 2020 Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Prize and 2019 Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize for emerging writers. Her short story “How You Make Jamaican Coconut Oil” won the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize. In 2020, ‘The Story of Stony’ (which I wrote the author was “heartbreaking”) was longlisted for the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean. An earlier version of What a Mother’s Love Don’t Teach You was awarded second prize in the 2020 First Novel Competition (organized by Daniel Goldsmith Associates). “I wrote this book to showcase Jamaican culture and to explore the relationship between mothers and their children. I was captivated by Dinah’s voice the moment she came to me in the kitchen of my apartment in Barbados.” (via email and social media – from the author)


From left, Jamilla Kirwan, Marcella Andre, and NIA Mentor inaugural winner Nissa Butler.

Nissa Butler emerged winner of the first NIA Mentor Award. The initiative, launched and funded by NIA Comms founder Marcella Andre and media relations specialist at the Ayre Group Jamilla Kirwan, is intended to invest in and boost an Antiguan and Barbudan female entrepreneur – providing her money ($7,000) and mentorship (from seven women in business) for a year. Nissa’s business is Butler Inscriptions and Butler Graveside Concierge service. Novel (and creative) ideas to be sure. In her publicly posted thank you, Nissa pledged to do just what the NIA Mentor Award is poised to do for her. “I will continue my efforts to pay it forward and I await, with pleasure, the bringing about positive development and opportunities for my personal growth, business and for you, my fellow female entrepreneurs.” We share this because we recognize and applaud creativity and in an environment starved for opportunity, Marcella got creative. (Source – Observer newspaper, Antigua and further research via facebook)

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen 2021, Wadadli Pen News

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late February 2021)

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)


Follow, if you will the WADADLI PEN 2021 page for news upcoming re the launch of the 2021 Challenge (yes, we are late), for the latest on patronage and how you too can become a patron, and to vote for your favourite Antiguan and Barbudan book of recent years. (Source – me)


Listen, if you haven’t already to Sunday 21st February 2021’s Sessions in Steel on Observer Radio on the station’s facebook page, for a full reading of Jim Nanton’s reflections on his time with the Harmonites International Steel Orchestra. It is, as they said, very poetic in its use of language, comprehensive in its recollections, and incisive in its reflections. It wasn’t my first time ‘reading’ this longform essay as its author James Nanton had hired me to edit it some time ago (see JN, client, longform essay in Performance Reviews) but when he contacted me today to let me know that the piece had found a home, I gladly listened and I think you should too. I do hope it gets printed at some point for all the invaluable pan and cultural history it contains. Sam Roberts’ superb reading of it though was surely bountiful in terms of the essay’s reach. (Source – James Nanton)


Read, if you will, the latest installments of my column CREATIVE SPACE, a column covering local (Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean) art and culture, the latest headline of which is How does Your Garden grow?

(Source – me)


Clarvis Joseph of CaribSeas was an arts philanthropist as a backer of Point steel orchestra Harmonites for a considerable time. News of his passing circulated on February 20th 2021 – I don’t have a full obit but I did want to acknowledge his contribution.


The deaths of local and global cultural icons since the start of the year has been almost too much to keep up with – from beloved African American author well known to us here in the Caribbean Eric Jerome Dickey, a fAntiguan who had been a regular at our local literary festival and lived and wrote in Antigua and Barbados, to legendary Hollywood actress of Nevisian descent Cicely Tyson to Trinidadian calypso barrier breaker Singing Sandra to star with Antigua and Barbuda’s legendary musical Mason family Tyrone Mason. Read about the passing of the latter in this Daily Observer article:


“A people are known by their culture
A people are known by their past
The past determines the future
From the present we could forecast
And that is why in Antigua
We must rectify our history
And remove all dem false heroes
Retarding our destiny
So that is why we must now
Proclaim our own
And drop all those false names
That aliens imposed upon we
Let’s reclaim our own history”

If you’re familiar with our song lyrics project, or if you are Antiguan and Barbudan, these lyrics should ring a bell. They are from King Obstinate’s True Heroes (Sons of the Soil) and they seem relevant again in light of global anti-racism #BlackLivesMatter FedUprising that recently peaked in 2020. The recent publication of a letter dated 2019 from the Reparations Support Commission to the Minister of Culture

adds to the conversation on a part of this discussion – reclaiming and renaming spaces named for colonizers. We’ve seen the likes of the ceremonial removal in 2020 of the Nelson Statue (as in Admiral Lord Nelson) in Barbados. Antigua and Barbuda’s own Nelson’s Dockyard is a World Heritage site but the conversation has been happening here as well and this letter serves as a reminder of that, and this 40 or so years old song reminds that, at least in Antigua and Barbuda, it is not a new conversation. I was a child when I saw King Obstinate perform these songs at Recreation Grounds (which Obsti’s song suggested be renamed “Vivi Richards Recreation Ground”) and witnessed not long after as several streets in St. John’s City, whether coincidentally or consequentially, renamed for national heroes – streets like “Drake, Hawkins, and Nelson streets” previously named for enslavers became (and I don’t remember which was which) the likes of Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, and Nellie Robsinson street, and Coolidge Airport did indeed become V. C. Bird International Airport (as Obsti recommended). With the passing of one of Obsti’s contemporaries, Swallow, in 2020 talks of how to honour him saw renaming his village of Willikies in his honour in the conversational mix (though poo-pooed by some) – a fitting tribute in my view. And per this once again timely song, Obsti would go even bigger. He sang in the latter part of the verse opening this section, shouting out the other two calypsonians who, alongside him, are known as the Big Three of Antiguan and Barbudan calypso,

“English names like St. George and St. John,
Falmouth, Willikies, and Codrington,
they don’t reflect our background,
call dem Short Shirt village or Swallow t’ung (town).”

(Source – Daily Observer newspaper)


There are always Opportunities (such as the Collins Big Cat Writing Competition for chidlren) being added for writers and artists of all ages; so don’t forget to visit our Opportunities Too page. (Source – Big Cat, via email from Collins; Opportunities Too)


UK-based Trinidad writer Monique Roffey landed atop the Times (UK) bestseller list even as her Mermaid of Black Conch continues to pick up awards (such as the Costa best novel prize).

(Source- the author’s social media)


Former Wadadli Pen finalist (2005, 2006)and one of our 2021 patrons Rilys Adams, who has been exceedingly prolific in the romance and erotica genres has won the Ripped Bodice Awards for Excellence in Romantic Fiction for Go Deep. How prolific is Adams? She keeps me very busy when it comes to keeping up with published Antiguan and Barbudan books. She published Go Deep (which is in the running for the #readAntiguaBarbuda 2021 readers choice book of the year prize launched back in January 2021) back in June 2020, and since then has released Birthday Shot which was a nominee for the Rebel Women Lit Caribbean readers choice of the best Caribbean novels of 2020, Ate: an Erotic Novelette, Ho! Ho! Ho!, Deeper: Navaya and Xander Tie the Knot (Unexpected Lovers), and most recently Love Scammed. Adams, who publishes as Rilzy Adams receives US$1000 and the opportunity to gift US$100 to a charity of her choice; she chose The Asha Project, an organization in Wisconsin which provides support to Black women who are survivors of domestic violence, trafficking, and sexual assault. (Source – the author’s facebook page)


Son of the Antiguan and Barbudan soil Shabier Kirchner continues to receive praise for his work, and most recently for his work on the Steve McQueen anthology series Small Axe. He was named Best Cinematographer in the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. “I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d ever receive anything like this,” Kirchner said in his acceptance video. He credited McQueen, an Academy Award winning director for 12 Years a Slave, for “being a teacher, a friend, a collaborator, …(who) really encouraged me and gave me the opportunity to put the biggest part of my soul into something that will outlive us all.” His final word: “I really want to thank my home, the West Indies, my family, the culture, I see you. I love you. Bless up.” Full video here. (Source – online generally, awards scrolling)


Jamaican Renaee Smith, my former block sister at Taylor Hall at the University of the West Indies, made Yahoo! News with her latest series of children’s books. In an article headlined ‘International Award-Winning Author Renaee Smith Launches Entertaining and Informative Children’s Book Series’, we’re told that “Renaee Smith, prolific author of the Freddie series, is pleased to present a series containing four of her celebrated children’s books in a single collection. With stunning full-color illustrations and educational messages that will inspire young readers, Smith’s work is an engaging way to teach children about their own power as agents of change. This 4-part series is the perfect way to experience the series as a whole and follow Freddie’s adventures in different environments and situations. In the first book, The Great Compost Heap, Freddie introduces the concept of recycling. Next, in Freddie’s First Race, he learns to follow his dreams of being a track star by putting in the hard work. Smith’s series also covers important interpersonal concepts like empathy for others in Freddie’s Good Deed and spending time with family in Freddie Goes to the Beach.” Read the full article. (Source – the author’s facebook page)

New Publications

Barbadian writer Shakirah Bourne’s next book, Josephine Against the Sea, her first with one of the US publishing industry’s big houses is due this year and is, as you read this, available for pre-order.

Read about Josephine.


New magazine, Fu Arwe, landed in the first quarter of 2021. The 22-page magazine is a publication of the Department of Culture. I haven’t read it yet but a scan reveals articles on The Relevance of Moko Jumbies by Silvyn Farrell, Copyright Royalties and Their Importance in the Music Industry Within Antigua and Barbuda Part 1 of 4 by Vanesa Mortley, Art: Not Just a Subject, But It’s Importance to the Development of the Student by Alvin Livingstone (whom you might remember as our 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge art winner), and Q & As with performing artists Abi McCoy and Zahra Airall. The magazine is intended to be quarterly. Contributions can be emailed to Culture at CDDANU.INFO@GMAIL.COM (Source – Zahra Airall’s facebook)


I signed 60 copies of The Jungle Outside, my latest book (with illustrator Danielle Boodoo Fortune) – my seventh published book overall, third children’s picture book – at the Best of Books bookstore Antigua; so limited edition signed copies are now available at the bookstore. The Jungle Outside and Turtle Beach by (Wadadli Pen team member) Barbara Arrindell with Zavian Archibald, both Antiguan and Barbudan, both launched in the UK in January and are now both available here. They are also available for pre-order online in other markets like Canada and the US where they will shortly become available. See Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold. (Source – me)


For the duration of the readers choice book of the year initiative, we will continue to encourage you if you’re reading this to take a minute and go to over to vote in the #readAntiguaBarbuda 2021 installment of the initiative. The goal is to spotlight our local publications and the tangible reward goes to a local school – selected by the winning author – to receive books as made possible by whatever patronage we receive. Remember, you can give to both this and the Wadadli Pen challenge 2021 by emailing wadadlipen@gmail.com (Source – me)


Leading Antiguan and Barbuda artist, Heather Doram, who has been exceedingly prolific during the pandemic, is an independent artist creating amazing designs for great products – canvas, t-shirts, stickers, posters, phone cases, and more. This is a new venture for Doram and we love to see it. You can now by her work from anywhere in the world and with any budget via the Redbubble online retail platform. We checked with the artist and items have to be ordered online, cannot be sourced directly from the artist.

(Source – the artist’s facebook; image from the artist’s redbubble.com account as an example of some of the artist’s merchandise)

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen News

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late December 2020)

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)

Last Farewell

To Rupert ‘Littleman’ Pelle, prize winning calypso writer from Antigua and Barbuda. Trevaughn ‘Lyricks Man’ Weston wrote on facebook on the occasion of his passing in late December “RUPERT “LITTLE MAN” PELLE has won the Junior Calypso Monarch Competition for EIGHT CONSECUTIVE YEARS. His 8 songs were well written and were well executed by three Calypsonians. Lady Challenger, Princess Thalia and Lyricks Man, respectively.

(Little Man Pelle, centre, with Lady Challenger, left, in her crown)


I’m glad to finally have at least partial credits as Pelle was one of the artists whose credits I had requested of the artist some time ago, for the songwriters data base and song lyrics data base. I know there’s more as he was a prolific and respected contributor to the art form. But it’s a start and I’ll be adding this info to the database as soon as able. I’m sorry that this is the season for it; sorry that we have lost another cultural mover and shaker, and icon in his own right. And 2020 has already taken so many of those.

Lyricks Man concluded, in his post, “Thank you LittleMan. You were ONE of the persons who help moulded me into the exceptional Artist that I am today. You have encouraged me and has always looked out for me. I Will Miss You! Thank You RUPERT LITTLEMAN PELLE!!!
REST IN PERPETUAL PEACE” (Source- facebook)

New Content

Myriad Editions shared an interview with the Lorna Goodison (the most recent poet laureate of Jamaica) that we decided to gift readers of the blog for Christmas. Enjoy. (Source – email from Myriad)


Remember to check the Reading Room and Gallery as that’s where new (or new to me) content will be posted for the most part. But I did want to share that the last (of 2020) CREATIVE SPACE (my column on Antiguan and Barbudan/Caribbean art and culture) has been published (in the Daily Observer newspaper and online) and for the first time a video version has been posted. I’m really happy with this series overall and can hardly believe that it’s 22 installments in with Daily Observer and continues to grow – two developments being it’s been monetized (Observer pays for the first print rights in Antigua and Barbuda and the editor assures me that they’ve had great feedback and I know the images have made the front page twice) and it’s now with this installment leapt from print and online written to online video – the latter two versions I’m still working to monetize. But in the meantime, I’ve been enjoying creating it and I have a long lead list of subjects still untapped. As for the first video, I worked hard on it and I’m hoping you’ll check it out, like, comment, subscribe, share. Here it is.

(Source – me)


Congrats to former Wadadli Pen arts challenge winner, Shem Alexander, who is a 2020 graduating senior from MSU Texas Juanita and Ralph Harvey School of Visual Arts. He won the main Wadadli Pen arts prize in 2010 and was honourable mention in the 10 year anniversary arts challenge in 2014. His new work can be seen in this video of the finals exhibition posted by his art professor. We, at Wadadli Pen, look forward to his continued arts evolution. (Source – Shem’s facebook page)


Eleven-year old Josse Franco and eight-year old Josh Hansraj topped their age categories in Dragonzilla’s Short Story Writing Challenge in Trinidad and Tobago. Their prizes: laptops – courtesy the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest. In addition, People’s Choice Awards, determined by the number of social media likes and shares towards each video, were presented to Nivaan Ramjattan in the 5-8 age category, and to Tahlia Ramsamooj in the 9-12 group. For details, go here. (Source – Bocas email)


The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize has gone to Sharma Taylor, of Jamaica but long resident in Barbados. Sharma won for ‘How You Make Jamaican Coconut Oil’ in the fiction category alongside Sharanya Deepak of India for life writing and Yasmine Seale of Turkey for poetry.

This image of Sharma is from a hike during a Commonwealth Writers workshop we both participated in in Barbados in 2018.

“Framed as a recipe, this story’s beguilingly playful opening sets the scene for a compassionate, nuanced portrait of family life. ‘With enormous vigour and zest and skill it introduces you to a voice, to a setting, to a family, and it does it absolutely beautifully’ said fiction judge and Penguin editor Simon Prosser. ‘This story just totally leapt at me and gripped me from the first moment.’”

The prize gives 1000 pounds to the winners and publishes the winning works in the 35-year old Wasafiri magazine, the premiere publication for writers of colour in the United Kingdom. It is open to writers all over who have not published a book in their chosen genre. Here’s the announcement.

If you’re a blog regular, you may recognize Sharma’s name as she’s been on quite the winning streak. She was a finalist for the Elizabeth Nunez Award in the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival’s Caribbean Fiction Writers Competition 2020, shortlisted for the 2018 and 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, in addition to being longlisted for the prize in 2019, and won the 2019 Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize and 2020 Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award for an unpublished collection of short fiction. Re-acquaint yourself with her by reading, if you haven’t already, the interview with her posted on my Jhohadli blog early in 2020. (Source – originally John Robert Lee email blast followed by independent research)


Antiguan and Barbudan Burt Award winning book Musical Youth received international recognition in December when it (actually the second edition released in 2019) was named to Kirkus Reviews’ list of best indie books. ETA: it’s also been named to Kirkus’ list of best indie romances. Musical Youth is published by indie press Caribbean Reads Publishing out of St. Kitts-Nevis. Musical Youth had received a coveted starred review from Kirkus earlier this year with a review posted online in September and in their print publcation in November. (Source – me via my publisher)

Remember to Vote

As noted in the previous December 2020 Carib Lit Plus, voting is open to the end of December, following the completion of the reader nominated cycle, for the Caribbean Readers’ Awards in which the People! get to choose the best Caribbean books of the year. There are Antiguan and Barbudan nominees in several categories (including Wadadli Pen alum Rilzy Adams among several canon heavyweights for novel of the year) – so look out for those. But vote sincerely for the books, stories, and writers who inspired and entertained you. Here’s where you go. (Source – social media, various)

New Books

Joan H Underwood, Antigua and Barbuda’s former Ambassador to Venezuela and an internationally certified master trainer and professional coach, has put her pandemic downtime to good use, rolling out her first book, described as a must-have guide for managers and would-be managers. Managers’ First Aid Kit: A Practical Guide to Remedy the Three Most Common Managerial Challenges will likely also resonate with entrepreneurs and others – as between media and in-store appearances there has already been considerable interest in the December title. “Regarding her motivation to write the book, Ambassador Underwood says that, during her career as an HR Professional and Executive Coach, she encountered numerous high performers who struggled with the transition from individual contributor to manager. The difficulties encountered are not unique to Caribbean managers. In fact, published data reveal that as many as 60% of new managers either fail outright or underperform during their first two years. Managers’ First Aid Kit is a practical guide to remedy the three most common challenges faced by new managers – namely, managing self, managing others, and managing systems and processes.” Underwood has herself transitioned from laboratory technician to a hospital administrator to general manager to talent and leadership development specialist. “She is a former chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Employers’ Federation (ABEF) and has been a lecturer/facilitator with the Cave Hill School of Business/UWI for two decades. Further, her contributions to the business sector in Antigua and Barbuda and to the wider Caribbean resulted in her being recognized with the 2001 Caribbean Employers Federation Employers Champion Award and the ABEF’s 2011 Award for Sterling Contribution toward the Growth and Development of the Business Community in Antigua and Barbuda.” (Source – author press release)


One tangible thing former Jamaican poet laureate Lorna Goodison left as she exited the role in 2020 was a collection entitled New Voices: Selected by Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica, 2017-2020.

The collection includes poems by the following emerging writers: Christopher Allen, Jovanté Anderson, Rojae Brown, Khadijah Chin, Kaleb D’Aguilar, Lauren Delapenha, Rohan Facey, Remone Foster, Delano Frankson, Britney Gabbidon, Kacy Garvey, Trevann Hamilton, Jason Henry, Gail Hoad, Rozan Levy, Demoy Lindo, Romardo Lyons, Rhea Manley, Delroy McGregor, Nardia Reid, Shannon Smith, Lisa Gaye Taylor, Teddense Thomas, Kiseon Thompson, Peta-Gaye Williams, and Sadé Young. This was actually published early in 2020 but I only recently became aware of it – so it’s new to me and now you too. (Source – originally John Robert Lee email blast followed by independent research)


Stick No Bills, which is one of two books on the Caribbean Readers’ Award 2020 Short Story (Collection) Shortlist, by Elizabeth Walcott Hackshaw was released by Peepal Tree Press in October. Hackshaw is a University of the West Indies french literature and creative writing professor. “Stick No Bills confirms Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw’s lethal talent for inventing characters – like the journalist who has been pursuing a famous writer at a literary conference in Haiti, or the would-be writer who is finding a workshop less than rewarding – who have only a partial awareness of their ability to deceive themselves, or see the painful humour of their situations.” – Peepal Tree (Source – originally John Robert Lee email blast followed by independent research)

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.


Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late August 2020)

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.


Carnival Hangover, a short story by Joanne C. Hillhouse, was excerpted as part of advocacy group Intersect (intersect.anu) ‘Carnival Bodies’ instagram series. This and other excerpted stories will be published on the Intersect website when it goes live in September/October 2020.


Caribbean authors Curdella Forbes, Lauren Francis-Sharma, Marlon James, Claudia Rankine, and likely others I’m missing (with apologies for any omissions) are included in the line-up of the September 28th to October 5th 2020 Brooklyn Book Festival. It will be as virtual as everything this year of pandemics and protests 2020. Catch all the action here.


Darlene Beazer-Parker’s Summertime Fun, published in 2020, has been added to our lists of Antiguan and Barbudan Writings and Antigua and Barbuda Children’s Literature. Partial summary: “Darlene Beazer-Parker celebrates the island home where she grew up in this children’s book filled with beautiful photographs. The story starts with a bright blazing sun and children running down to swim in the Codrington lagoon to cool off. There, they are free to play all day. Some children learn how to swim while others watch quietly in the shade. Jumping from a wharf or the side of a boat, the children become fast friends. Swimming styles may differ, but they all celebrate being together in such a beautiful place. At the end of the day, the children plant mangrove seedlings to preserve their lagoon for future children. They go home wishing summer will never end. Join the author as she looks back on an idyllic summer in Barbuda where anything seems possible.”

Earlier this summer, Caribbean Reads Publishing announced the publication of The Fight for Belle Vue and The Field of Power by St. Lucian Travis Weekes. Per a Caribbean Reads release, “Family feuds, forbidden romance, political corruption, colonialism, racism, and magic are some of the themes packed into these plays. The plays are set in St. Lucia and reflect the cultural landscape of the Caribbean.” Funding for the project was provided by the UWI St. Augustine Campus Research and Publication Fund Committee. Copies available in Trinidad as of August 2020 and the book is available in kindle and paperback at various outlets across the Caribbean and beyond.


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Over at my personal author blog, the two regularly updated series are Blogger on Books and CREATIVE SPACE. Be sure to check them out. I’m still talking about To Shoot Hard Labour but turning fresh soil.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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CARIB Plus Lit News (late June 2020)


Your opportunity to interview me via my youtube channel, AntiguanWriter. I’ve promised to do a live AMA if I reach a certain number of subscribers. Check the channel’s discussion tab for the details.

Reading Recommendations 

pleasure Big up to Antiguan and Barbudan writing juggernaut Kimolisa Mings’ latest book, her 21st by my count, is a bestseller. Having climbed as high as 11th in the top 100 Amazon rankings, which is based on sales and updated hourly, The Pleasure is Mine (currently kindle only though I believe a print edition is pending) is, at this writing, 24th on the Amazon African American Erotica Bestsellers Books list and 28th on the Amazon African American Erotical Bestsellers Kindle list. The Pleasure is Mine is subtitled as A Caribbean BWWM Romance (Sapodilla Resort & Spa Romance Book 1). See the Antigua and Barbudan Writings and Fiction lists for Mings’ complete bibliography; she’s also listed in our data base of professional services.

I want to say thanks to the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority’s CaribCation Caribbean Author Series for tapping me for a spot in June 2020. You can view it on CaribCation’s social media and I’ve also uploaded it to my AntiguanWriter YouTube channel

I’m reading from Musical Youth, a Burt Award winning teen/young adult novel. I also encourage you to check out other authors featured in the series. I have been and I have added Dr. Tanya Destang Beaubrun’s Of Bubbles, Bhudda, and Butterflies to my TBR after listening to her reading.

New Daughters of Africa, published by UK’s Myriad press and by Harper Collins in the US NEW_DAUGHTERS_HIGH-RES-670x1024was recommended by Olivia Adams writing in Marie Claire about Books to Educate Yourself and Your Children about Racism: “Showcasing the work of more than 200 women writers of African descent, this major international collection celebrates their contributions to literature and international culture.”

At my author blog, where I blog on books among other things, my most recent recs are not really recs as I haven’t yet read the books (in full) but I recently listened to an audio abridged version of one Booker prize winner, watched a stage adaptation of an Orange prize winner, and read excerpts from a print edition of a book that includes Antigua and Barbuda, and specifically the Hillhouse family. If you want to see which books I’m talking about, go here.

Interviewing the Caribbean

We previously shared news of the publication of Volume 5 Issues 1 and 2 of the Opal Palmer Adisa and Juleus Ghunta edited ‘Interviewing the Caribbean’, an annual literary magazine. We wanted to update to let you know that both issues are available as ebooks through BookFusion. The UWI Press is also working to place the books – and these literary magazines are at least as thick as a short novel – with regional bookstores.  If you’re a bookseller looking to acquire the books, reach out to UWI Press. Issue 1 includes articles/art by and/or interviews with Polly Pattullo, Geoffrey Philp, Phillis Gershator, Oonya Kempadoo, Esther Phillips, Yolanda T. Marshall, Merle Hodge, Paul Keens Douglas, Diane Browne, Diana McCaulay, Tricia Allen, and from Antigua and Barbuda and Wadadli Pen specifically 2018 finalist Rosie Pickering and me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) – I’d been asked to rec some Caribbean books for the youth market, so I did. Pickering’s poem ‘Damarae’ is actually the same poem that earned her honourable mention in 2018 and, per the magazine’s format, she’s also interviewed about the poem. Issue 2 has as its cover image (above) the cover image of my book With Grace, art by Cherise Harris, used with permission of Little Bell Caribbean. It includes articles/art by and/or interviews with Summer Edward, Kei Miller, Tanya Batson-Savage, A-dZiko Simba Gegele, Tanya Shirley, Olive Senior, Pamela Mordecai, Linda M. Deane, Marsha Gomes-McKie, Carol Ottley-Mitchell, Yvonne Weekes, and from Antigua and Barbuda, and Wadadli Pen, Barbara Arrindell (Create Stories that Remind us of What We went Through) and me, again (an interview headlined Caribbean Children need as Many Stories as there are Tastes)


The Caribbean Development Bank’s Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund is crowd sourcing for information towards building a “compendium of cultural policies, practices,, resources, and trends in the Caribbean.” Why? “To best support Creative and Cultural Industries across the region, we need the right data to make the right decisions. As such, CIIF is developing a series of Country Profiles that showcase data and information about the cultural landscape in each of our Borrowing Member Countries, in order to help cultural practitioners and policy-makers make data-driven choices.” The process will take 15 to 30 minutes; here’s the link.

Awards and Accolades

The winner of the inaugural Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, awarded to a full length book of poetry published in 2019, will be announced in July 2020. The 13-person shortlist, announced in May, includes Jamaica Kei Miller (In Nearby Bushes) and Trinidadian Roger Robinson (A Portable Paradise) – the latter collection having already won several major prizes. The prize includes a $1,000 cash award, along with a reading at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, the publication of a limited-edition broadside by Arrowsmith Press, and a week-long residency at Derek Walcott’s home in either St. Lucia or in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Read more here.

Antigua and Barbuda’s acting culture director is also an award winning pan composer/arranger with Hell’s Gate and noted soloist in his own right. He proves his proficiency with his performance in Pan Ramajay, an international pan soloist competition started by Exodus Steel Orchestra since 1989, this year held virtually.104288255_1819636641493573_2262030051999680067_n

As you can see, he’s  the leading contender going in to the finals after the preliminary and semi-final rounds. The finals are Saturday 27th June 2020. If he wins, he’ll pocket $2000 (not sure which currency). ETA (290620): He did not win but he did place second overall.

The Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards is the flagship of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, a project launched in 2004 to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, and the reason this site, launched in 2010, exists. This year was a challenging year for Wadadli Pen as it has been and continues to be for all the world, due primarily to the global COVID-19 pandemic which literally shut down the world. We had to rethink how to do the awards – going in the end with a live announcement and efforts to connect the winners with the patrons directly so that they could make arrangements to collect their prizes. The latter has proved to be a drawn out process and I have had to find a way to make peace with not being able to really control any of it though I did my best to make the connections and follow up. One upside is that weeks out images like this one continues to trickle in – this is a picture from the mother of 7 to 12 honourable mention Sienna Harney-Barnes (A New World) who is shown collecting the contribution from the Cultural Development Division, a contribution volunteered during our live awards announcement by the director Khan Cordice who is shown delivering the prize to our young writer.

Two of our other writers, Cheyanne Darroux (Tom, the Ninja Crab), winner 7 to 12 and tied winner overall, and D’Chaiya Emmanuel (Two Worlds Collide), winner 13 to 17, made appearances to share their stories on ZDK radio – and we have video.

Caribbean Literary Heritage

June is Caribbean Heritage Month in the US. Online, this has sparked campaigns like the #CaribAThon on #booktube (youtube for bibliophiles) and #readCaribbean on #bookstagram (instagram for bookies). I’ve been happy to see some of my books (The Boy from Willow Bend, Musical Youth, and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight) show up in both challenges, and I jumped in as well, really to share (finally) my contribution to the #MyCaribbeanLibrary campaign that Bocas announced some time ago. But it all intersects.

The Caribbean literary love will continue if St. Martin’s House of Nehesi publishers, co-organizers of the St. Martin’s Book Fair, has its way. HNP used the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the Fair – largely virtual this year due to COVID-19 – to call for July 12th to be Caribbean Literature Day. “We envision this day as the first pan-Caribbean literature day, celebrating the roots, range, and excellence of writings and books across the language zones of our region. Celebrate the day by reading the works of your favorite Caribbean authors; buying Caribbean books, published in the Caribbean and beyond, and by Caribbean authors; and presenting Caribbean books as gifts. Celebrate the day with books, recitals, and with discussions about books, of poetry, fiction, drama, art, music, and all the other genres by Caribbean writers.” The date was chosen because it is the day in 1562 when the writings of the indigenous people were destroyed by their colonizers. (Full release here)


Antigua and Barbuda said goodbye to two time Calypso monarch and one time road march winner (as lead singer of the Vision Band) Tyrone ‘Edimelo’ Thomas. He was laid to rest June 19th 2020 at St. John’s Cathedral. “Antigua and Barbuda has lost one of its brightest lights, and we are all the poorer for it. But his wonderful life and legacy lives on; none of it will be interred with his bones. Whenever we hear DON’T STOP THIS PARTY (a remix with the Mighty Swallow) or IN DE PAN YARD (an encomium to the joys of pan music), we will remember Edimelo,” said the June 20th Daily Observer newspaper editorial. We daresay, Carnival and party lovers will most remember him for the way the music made them “dress back” (the Road March winning tune) while Calypso lovers will surely pour out one every time they intone “the more things change/the more they remain the same” from arguably his best known calypso.

Caribbean Creatives Creating

I hope you’ve been keeping up with my CREATIVE SPACE series covering local art and culture. It continues to run in the Daily Observer newspaper every other Wednesday with an extended version on my site. Latest spotlights have included singer Arianne Whyte talking about her career and her Sip ‘n Stream online series and Chavel Thomas and his conceptual art which is about challenging and redefining gender, race, maybe even reality. It’s the first time the series has gotten the front cover since it switched platforms to the Daily Observer in 2020 – issue 9.

Cover Chav

In case you missed any of the previous installments in the series, including  on previous platforms, they are archived on the Jhohadli website.

Trinidadian Kamella Anthony’s Krea8ive Kids Show was spotlighted in T&T Newsday all the way back in the strictest part of COVID-19 curfew in the region. In it, the former librarian cum storyteller is quoted as saying, “Ultimately, I want to have creative centres locally, regionally and internationally. I have travelled and seen several types of centres and it’s been awesome. I like to see children learning and having fun. Not just from a book, but from nature, from people.” Here’s the link to her YouTube Channel.

This content is curated by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Additions may be made between now and the end of June 2020.  If used, please credit or link back.


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CARIB LIT Plus Mid to Late May 2020


Have you been keeping up with my CREATIVE SPACE series covering local art and culture? I say local but there’s been some regional spillage. The second issue of May 2020 (the series as of 2020 is running every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer with an extended edition on my blog), however, covered Antiguan and Barbudan Art of the Century.  ‘Heather’s picks: Mark Brown’s Angel in Crisis series – a 2008 visual art show described in international publication The Culture Trip as “a provocative contemplation of the human condition”. She credited “the depth of the pathos”.’ That’s just one  of three picks by Antiguan and Barbudan visual artist Heather Doram. Read about her other picks, and picks from other artists. Tell me about your picks. In case you missed any of the previous installments in the series, they are archived on the Jhohadli website.

Covid Consequences

The country (Antigua and Barbuda), like much of the world, has been reopening – cross your fingers. Some are being real reckless; don’t be like them. COVID-19 is still very much with us; this is economic expediency not an all-clear sign.

Carnival remains cancelled – for the first time in my lifetime.

New music from local artist Rashid Walker

A little help from the Caribbean Development Bank for people in the creative industries who’ve suffered loss of income due to COVID-19. Specifically to the festivals sub-sector and the Carnival and Festivals sub-sector. The grant is for product development – to produce an online/virtual product, marketing – to promote new Caribbean content, digital – to support the further development of electronic solutions for revenue generation; projects should be community oriented. Details here.

Book Recs

Stay with me here. Margaret Busby OBE is Britain’s youngest and first Black female publisher. She was recently profiled in the 100 Pioneering Women of Sussex Blog series. Excerpt: “Margaret Busby was born in 1944 in Accra, Gold Coast (now Ghana) to Dr George Busby and Mrs Sarah Busby. She went to school in Sussex in Bexhill until the age of 15. She then went to London University to read English, graduating in 1964.” That had me saying, wow. because Margaret is a solid 29 years older than me and I had no idea when we met; her Black don’t crack for real but also she was just so cool – I never once felt out of place around her (which sometimes happens when you walk in to certain spaces). Here we are (her far right, me second from right) in Sharjah in 2019:

The article talks about New Daughters of Africa, the second global anthology in this series (this one 25 years after the original) which she edited. My interactions with her were always respectful and generous – even after all she  has achieved; I have enjoyed being a part of this project. “The 2019 anthology has been nominated for NAACP Awards for Outstanding Literary Work 2020 and a Lifetime Achievement in African Literature by Africa Writes in 2019. Each anthology compiles more than 200 women from Africa and the African diaspora.” So, the rec is New Daughters of Africa. Don’t sleep on it.


“Some of the earliest pioneers of crime fiction and mystery thrillers, who included Edgar Mittelholzer and John Morris (pseudonym of John Hearne and Morris Cargill), now find a worthy successor in Grenadian writer Jacob Ross.” – John R Lee’s review of new book Jacob Ross book Black Rain Falling

African American writer Jewell Parker Rhodes is a past Wadadli Pen patron (she donated copies of her book Ninth Ward in 2011) and we are happy to report this positive review of her latest book Black Brother, Black Brother. ‘Born of a white father and a black mother, Donte is extremely darker than his light-skinned brother Trey, and faces substantial discrimination at Middlefield Prep. His schoolmates label him “black brother” and even with Trey’s support he is treated like an outcast. Being one of the few black boys at his new school, Donte is framed and arrested for “throwing a pencil with intent to harm.” His society is constructed by whites for whites so those belonging to this race are considered lawful and civilized. Blackness, on the other hand, is viewed as a stain and is linked to criminality. This causes Donte to be seen as a “thug” who is responsible for any disruption that arises at Middlefield. He is left feeling defeated and confused as he highlights, “the uniform is supposed to make us all the same.” Uniforms at Middlefield Prep. do not guarantee uniformity and compassion, whiteness does, and this is something that Donte lacks on the outside.’ Sounds really interesting. Read the full review at the African American Literary Book Club.

Bocas Lit Fest’s #MyCaribbeanLibrary survey which invited people to share books that made them has yielded the following titles: Giant by Trinidad-born BVI author with Antiguan roots, recent Bocas winner (for another book) Richard Georges, Pynter Bender by Grenada born UK based writer Jacob Ross, US based Jamaican writer Orlando Patterson’s Children of Sisyphus, UK based Jamaican writer Kei Miller’s Augustown, He Drown She in the Sea by Shani Mootoo, a Canada based Trinidadian writer, Prospero’s Daughter by Elizabeth Nunez, Measures of Expatriation by Vahni Capildeo, of Trinidad, based in Scotland, Mad Woman by Jamican-American Shara McCallum, Uncle Brother by Jamaican Barbara Lalla, who is professor emerita from Trinidad’s UWI campus, Jamaica’s poet laureate Lorna Goodison’s By Love Possessed, Claire Adam’s Trinidad set Golden Child, The Art of White Roses by Viviana Prada-Nunez of Puerto Rico, UK based Trini Monique Roffey’s House of Ashes, Barbados’ George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin, Trinidad’s Michael Anthony’s Green Days by the River, Nobel winning Omerus by St. Lucia’s Derek Walcott, Dominican Jean Rhys’ Voyage in the Dark, Small Island by Andrea Levy, a British writer of Jamaican descent, Trinidadian V. S. Naipaul’s Miguel Street, and Guadeloupean writer Maryse Conde’s Segu.

The New York Public Library’s picks in April for Immigrant Heritage Week included Caribbean titles, including US based Trinidadian Elizabeth Nunez’s memoir Not for Everyday Use and Esmeralda Santiago’s When I was Puerto Rican.


The five regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize will be announced on June 2nd 2020 and the overall winner during a special ceremony on June 30th 2020. Click here for information on catching it live. In the running for the Caribbean prize are Jamaica’s Brian S. Heap (Mafootoo), Trinidad and Tobago’s Brandon McIvor (Finger, Spinster, Serial Killer), and Sharma Taylor (Cash and Carry), of Jamaica but resident in Barbados, whom I interviewed on my Jhohadli blog.

Jamaican writer Marlon James won the Ray Bradbury prize from the L. A. Times for his book Black Leopard, Red Wolf. The prize is for science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction generally.

Congratulations to all Wadadli Youth Pen Prize recipients. Here’s this year’s photogallery.


The Bocas Lit Fest, as part of its 10th anniversary, has rolled out a number of resources for readers and writers – e.g. a publishing consultancy and book network.

Remember to check the Opportunities Too page here on the blog for opportunities for writers and artists with pending deadlines.


Fans of the road march winning (Dress Back) Antiguan and Barbudan Vision band are mourning another loss. Founding member and vocalist (2 x Calypso monarch Edimelo) died quite suddenly recently and now so has another founding member, keyboardist Eric Peters. It was announced on May 20th 2020 that he had been found dead at his Browne’s Avenue home. A post mortem was scheduled to determine the cause of death.

Poet Cecil Gray died in March and was subsequently tributed by Peepal Tree Press with which he had a special relationship.

Guyanese playwright and director Michael Gilkes and cartoonist Samuel Rudolph Seymour – more casualties of COVID-19 from the Caribbean arts community – were remembered in the hometown press.


Compiled by Antiguan and Barbudan writer and Wadadli Pen coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse from various sources. 


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Carib Lit Plus Mid-April 2020

N.B. I usually try to upload all content in a single post but, since the early April 2020 post, I’ve been going easier on myself and treating the Carib Lit Plus less like a bulletin and more like a roll out – posting what I can and adding to it for a period of time when I can (as I do with the Reading Room series, for instance). So come back for updates to this post throughout the month of April. Content is pulled from different sources including local and regional news reports, social media, direct mailings, direct reporting, and more. – JCH, Wadadli  Pen founder, coordinator, and blogger

The Royal Society of Literature Short List includes Writer with Trinidad Roots

Roger Robinson born in England to Trinidad parents and raised in Trinidad, from ages 4 to 19, is a finalist for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize with his Peepal Tree published A Portable Paradise. The shortlist was announced on April 20th 2020 and Robinson is one of six writers still in the running. The Royal Society of Literature was founded in 1820 as the UK’s charity for advancement of literature. The prize is awarded annually to a publication that best evokes the spirit of a place. If Robinson wins, it would be a first for a Caribbean writer as the previous Caribbean-themed win (in 2010) The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica was by a Brit, Ian Thompson. The prize was first handed out in 2004.

Creative Space

My Creative Space art and culture series is (since February 2020) now being published with the Daily Observer newspaper every other Wednesday. To date (April 22nd), at this writing, issues have featured Spilling Ink, a reflection of Black History Month all year round, Art in Times of Trauma (a Guabancex review), Art, More Essential than Ever (a Heather Doram interview), and eReading on Lockdown (local ebook recommendations to encourage people to discover and support lit arts and to #stayhome). The entire series, including the articles from when Antiguanice.com was my publishing partner, are archived on my Jhohadli blog.

Former Calypso and Road March King Edimelo Passes

It was sudden and we still don’t have all the details but reportedly he was found in his office on April 17th 2020. Attempts to resuscitate him failed. Rest in Peace to Edimelo. Born Tyrone Thomas, he won the Calypso monarch title in 2006 and 2013. He is a founding member of Vision Band whose ‘Dress Back’ is a 1994 Road March winner and Antiguan-Barbudan soca classic. It was one of just two interruptions (the other being Burning Flames member King Onyan) to what would have been a 10-year uninterrupted title run (1989-1998) by Flames, the winningest road march band in Antigua and Barbuda. It was quite the upset at the time but nobody could deny the infectiousness of ‘Dress Back’ which still has the power to move the crowd. Read tributes from the likes of The Monarch King Short Shirt in this Daily Observer report.


Bocas Lit Fest celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday covered it (the anniversary, not the event, which has been postponed) in a multi-part series. Part 1 was an interview with founder and director Marina Salandy-Brown. She said, “I observed that Caribbean writing was disappearing as a genre because in the UK it had been usurped by new, young writers who were children of Caribbean people, and they were writing about the experiences of diaspora people and not those of contemporary Caribbean people. In the US, there were more young Caribbean-born writers but they were not interacting much with Caribbean diaspora writers in the UK. Meanwhile, in the Caribbean there were no avenues for people to get their creative writing out to the market, and there appeared to be little literary activity – no workshops, festivals, prizes. The sum total of this was the obvious need to create a space for Caribbean writers and writing to meet, be nurtured and taken to the world, drawing on our much admired literary heritage. At the time we had two living Nobel Laureates for literature – (VS) Naipaul and (Derek) Walcott, and eminent writers like Earl Lovelace and recently deceased Kamau Brathwaite, were still writing but we weren’t leveraging all that recognition to build a new generation of Caribbean-based writers. It was necessary to reclaim Caribbean literature.We also believed that people want to read, in spite of that self-fulfilling prophecy that we don’t read here. It is not true. Lots of people here read and many increasingly want to write. Readers deserve to have the best of Caribbean literature and meeting the writers is one way to grow the market for books and interest in ideas. Reading for pleasure takes you to all sort of places and opens you up to an array of ideas and ways of seeing the world. You develop empathy and derive knowledge and you grow without ever leaving your home, and it is fun. Writers deserve good readers too. Readers are as important to us as writers, so we knew from the start that we had to get people reading more.” Bocas has done a lot in its short time. I do feel some need to say for the record that there was activity (a number of literary festivals pre-dated Bocas, including, to name just two, the one here in Antigua and Barbuda, which has fallen off due to financial challenges, and Calabash in Jamaica, which had its own financial stop-start moment) and there was also virtual communing via spaces like the Caribbean Literary Salon, which was also a workshop and networking space. But Bocas has definitely seemed to be more financially stable, relatively speaking, though I have no doubt they hustle hard to make it so and we have seen Bocas projects like Hollick Arvon and Burt hit funding bumps, only one of which has found alternative funding to date. In fact, Salandy-Brown said in part 2 of the Newsday article, “Sustainability. I have spent the last two years working on the future, putting steps in place for the next ten years. Funding and talent are the key issues. We are still underfunded for all that we want to do but we have a three-year strategic plan and therefore know how we would like to proceed.” Funding challenges notwithstanding, they have made a lot happen in a very short period of time, adding one of the few major literary prizes in the region at large and some key developmental small prizes, and collaborating on workshop, reading, and publishing activities, bringing with it a literary sea change. Are there still issues of inclusiveness and voices slipping through the cracks? No doubt. But Bocas has also facilitated a number of breakthroughs. Some of these (like Kevin Jared Hosein, Vladimir Lucein, and the last but hopefully not the last Burt winner Jeanelle Frontin) spoke in part 3 and part 4 of the Newsday article. Hosein from TnT spoke of his growth through Bocas. “When I first attended Bocas it was also to participate in writing workshops. The facilitators were always attentive and experienced. Seven years later, I felt privileged to host my own writing workshop on fiction.” And veterans like Olive Senior of Jamaica are appreciative of the space it has created for community: “It’s been a pleasure being associated with the Bocas Lit Fest in different capacities – as judge, participant and prize winner. More than any other organisation that I know of, Bocas had managed to create a friendly, nourishing space for Caribbean writers no matter where they happen to be located. More than a festival, it has been a fertile meeting ground for everyone who can lay claim to an interest in the region’s literature. The Bocas initiatives, including the various prizes, have been a major catalyst for promoting Caribbean literature beyond the shores of Trinidad and for generating and sustaining a new awareness of Caribbean writing on all the islands.” Congrats, on the Bocasversary, to Marina and team.

UNESCO ResiliArt

I’m still trying to get an understanding of this project which launched on April 15th 2020 with an online discussion and an invitation to flood social media with arts related posts on that day; but I’m reading-up. The summary is that UNESCO ResiliArt is a global movement to support artists and creators in continuing to share their creativity in the case of COVID-19 which has resulted in cancellations of concerts, festivals, launches, and other arts activities (some of which has been re-platformed to online stages). “Ultimately, we hope to kickstart a larger conversation on the cultural and creative industries, in particular on the need to establish a better safety net and protection mechanisms for creative workers in times of crisis, made clear by COVID-19.” The movement also seems designed to remind the world at large of the necessity of art and celebrate its resiliency. What I’m not clear on is how to get involved beyond the launch date but I’ll be emailing them for clarification and you can too – here’s the email address resiliart@unesco.org

An Author a Day

Beowulf Sheehan has photographed a slew of authors, just check out his book Author. AuthorSo, perhaps no surprise that his COVID-19 project is author-driven. It’s called An Author a Day and that’s just what it showcases. I’ve only spotted one Caribbean author, Antigua-Barbuda’s Rowan Ricardo Philips so far – it’s mostly US centric which makes sense given that that’s Sheehan’s homebase. So listed so far, you’ll find U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Elizabeth Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, Congressman John Lewis, and late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. All authors he’s photographed over the years – yours truly is included in Author, so fingers crossed. People can buy the photographs; proceeds go to benefit a fund for authors in the US.

New Books

ETA (040321) – Removed a book whose publication date I seem to have gotten wrong.

Also out in March 2020, Jamaican writer Maisy Card’s These Ghosts are Family. It lands with a lot of buzz: An Entertainment Weekly, Millions, and LitHub Most-Anticipated Book of 2020 pick; A Rumpus and Electric Literature Most-Anticipated Debut of 2020 pick; A BookRiot Best Book Club Pick of 2020; A Buzz Magazine Top New Book of the New Decade; and A She Reads Most-Anticipated Historical Fiction Pick of 2020…to name a handful. It is described as a transporting debut novel that reveals the ways in which a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations, in the tradition of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

Planting Seeds

One of the things we’ve been encouraged to do during this time is to grow our own for reasons of food security. But non-profit Trees Inc. 2020 in Antigua and Barbuda were actively facilitating the planting of trees of all types since 2019. While not sure of the current status of the project, we wanted to share their pledge form Trees 2020 Pledge form

Here’s a link to their facebook page.

Children’s Online Literary Journal Seeking Volunteers

This one comes via a mail chain sent out by St. Lucian writer John Robert Lee who you will remember researched and shared the Caribbean literary bibliography archived on this site – and which for a long, long time was the top rated post on the site. It is a call for volunteers from Anansesem, in the wake of the departure of its long serving editor Summer Edward, announced in a previous edition of this Carib Lit Plus series. The journal, focused on children’s writing and writing for and by children, including a special Best of Wadadli Pen issue some years ago and writing by me (here, here, and here) and by Wadadli Pen team member Floree Williams Whyte, is looking for country correspondents and an advisory board member. Correspondents can write anywhere from 3 posts per month down to one post every 2 months. For qualifications and to learn more about Anansesem, go here.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Second COVID-19 Death is a Pioneering Member of the Local Pan Community 

George ‘Macko, Nuni’ Weekes is a founding member of Harmonites, an iconic pan orchestra from the Villa/Point community which won the panorama title its first year out in 1968, the first of seven wins over the years. Fun fact: the band is also immortalized on the classic Short Shirt album 1976’s Ghetto Vibes (the one with his famous Tourist Leggo) in the eponymously-titled ‘Hands Offa Harmonites’ – protesting what the singer perceived as bad judging in a previous panorama. Harmonites co-founder Rupert ‘Teela’ Parker, speaking to the Daily Observer newspaper, described his fallen comrade as “a jack of all trades. He was a carpenter and also was an expert in building the steelpans.” Parker described Weekes as a friend and brother. “This is a big loss because of the kind of history he has within pan.”

Caribbean Literary Heritage

The Caribbean Literary Heritage project has been beating the COVID-19 lockdown blues by profiling some of the Caribbean’s literary heritage, an alphabet’s worth. At this writing, they’re up to O in a series that has covered Phyllis Shand Allfrey (Dominica), Vera Bell (Jamaica), Jesús Colón (Puerto Rico), Oscar Ronald Dathorne (Guyana), Gloria Escoffery (Jamaica), Alfred Fagon (Jamaica), Beryl Gilroy (Guyana), Roy A. K. Heath (Guyana), Lewis Osborne Innis (Guyana), Evan Jones (Jamaica), Peter Kempadoo (Guyana), Harold Sonny Ladoo (Trinidad), Edwina Melville (Guyana), Elma Napier (Dominica though originally from Scotland), W. G. Ogilvie (Jamaica though born in the Panama Canal)… more to come. Do you recognize any of those names? If not, read up on them at the CLH facebook page. If you have suggestions, reach out to them and make them (or maybe consider doing your own research project and consider creating a wikepedia page for a little known writer from your island who is worthy of more renown). I have made suggestions to the CLH re Antigua and Barbuda’s literary heritage pulling from the research I’ve done and posted here and on my jhohadli blog (e.g. re the likes of Elizabeth Hall) but I really do need to engage with platforms like wikepedia to share more of that content and boost more of our own. As with everything, it’s a question of time and resources (the chief resource being time).


Calabash in Jamaica (calabashfestival@hotmail.com/phone: 876-965-3000) and Bocas in Trinidad (info@bocaslitfest/phone: 868-222-7099) are arguably the two biggest literary festivals in the region, and festival season would typically be some where around now ish but COVID-19’S upended the world’s calendar. Word is that even Carnival in Antigua, a summer festival, has been pushed back to December (don’t quote me on that) and Sailing Week which usually closes out our tourist season is pretty much a wash what with Antigua and Barbuda being on lockdown what feels like indefinitely (re-opening’s been pushed back a couple of times now – understandably, notwithstanding how constricting it feels, given that no one has a handle on this just yet). The moral of the story is #stayhome

Speaking of …

The fallout to the book industry – which includes publishers and all of their staff such as editors, publicists, administrative staff, the mailroom; distributors and their network; book stores and their staff; and writers like me *waves* “hi” – is on the minds of all of us in the chain. In a recent promotional email that landed in my inbox, UK-based Myriad, publishers of New Daughters of Africa, said, “There’s a growing misconception that the publishing industry will boom in the face of the pandemic. Online sales continue, of course, but without bookshops, wholesalers and warehouses, without events, launches and festivals, we’re as stretched as everyone else. But we’re here, as are our terrific authors, rising to the occasion and thinking of creative ways forward.” Here in Antigua and Barbuda, our bookstores are among the businesses which have been deemed non-essential and closed these several weeks – not even deliveries, which would be ideal, especially outside of the city, I think, with children at home 24/7. The returns are less for online sales (in my experience) but buying books by whatever means they are available (e.g. ebooks, audio books) is one way of accessing a much-needed diversion while supporting the creative arts community. As a reminder, we have a bibliography of Antiguan and Barbudan books on this site, if you’re looking to #buylocal and, for my UK peeps, Myriad is offering a 25% discount as part of its read at home promo… more incentive to #stayhome and #read.

Daytime Emmy Noms

We spied a post by Wadadli Pen patron, NY-based Antiguan-Barbudan Junie Webson congratulating her son Samuel Daniel on his Daytime Emmy nomination for editing Seeing Yourself in US/Shades of U.S. for CUNYTV. proclaimed that this was the first of two nominations for Daniel as editor. The second nomination was for this profile of Trinbagonian Messiah Ramkissoon. Congrats to him on those nominations – I wasn’t able to find information on the outcome. But you know I never miss an opportunity to talk books and big up a regional artist. Three birds, one stone.

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