Tag Archives: Cuba

Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid October 2022)

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

Accolades

Cuban born Ada Ferrer’s Cuba: An American History is on the Cundill History Prize 2022 shortlist.

Already a Pulitzer Prize winner for history, Cuba “provides us with a front-row seat as we witness the evolution of the modern nation, with its dramatic record of conquest and colonization, of slavery and freedom, of independence and revolutions made and unmade.” (Source – Literary Hub email)

Events

The annual Antigua and Barbuda Conference takes place October 13th and 14th 2022. This is the full programme. It will be virtual. I don’t have link-up information at this writing (October 11th 2022), sorry. (Source – email from the project assistant)

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Two dozen acclaimed Caribbean writers will be in residence at the British Library on October 29 for a day-long programme of stories, poems and music. There will be other events in Leicester, Norwich, Leeds, and Belfast.

Click this link for more and to book tickets if you are in the UK. (Source – Bocas email)

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The Bridgetown International Arts Festival (in Barbados) is produced and curated by artists. It’s a space to display new and contemporary work in the performing and visual arts. Artists can share new work, build their own audiences, and develop collaborations.

Go to the social media links to register or for more information. (Source – N/A)

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The Dominica Antigua Connection presents its first ever Kweyol in the Park on November 6th 2022, 12 – 10 p.m., on the Department of Environment grounds. It has been advertised as a day of music, cuisine, dance, art, and various cultural presentations. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper/Antigua and Barbuda)

Opportunities

There’s still time to get your submissions in for the annual Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Prize info here. (Source – N/A)

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Antiguan and Barbudan young scientists Teyanna Nathaniel, Deshini Charles, Leyla Reid, and Ethan Bailey will be among participants from 180 other countries facing off in Geneva, Switzerland in what’s described as a major robotics competition. From the Daily Observer, “Every year, FIRST Global invites nations to compete in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)-themed game that is focussed on addressing various challenges facing the planet, including the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering, in an effort to foster understanding and cooperation among students 14 – 18.” This year’s theme is Carbon Capture. The event runs from October 13 – 16. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper/Antigua and Barbuda)

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The October session of the Jhohadli Writing Project workshop has been rescheduled to October 21st 2022 which means more time to register. This and other opportunities in Opportunities Too.

(Source – Me)

Books

The Stranger Who Was Myself by Barbara Jenkins “is the kind of story best read in solitude to propel the beauty of its prose and of its wisdom from off its pages to land straight into your heart. One is sure to emerge a better mother (for the women who read it), a more astute observer and a kinder human when the last page of this novel is turned. The places, people, architecture, community, societies and culture were so wonderfully recalled and accurately outlined in stunning detail, it’s easy to believe that Barbara’s entire life and memory were preparing her for the act of writing this memoir, proving that the best storytellers, in fact, are born and not bred. This is a must for lovers of memoir or those who are seeking a first foray into the genre.” It is published by Peepal Tree Press. (Source – Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival on Facebook)

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US based Antiguan and Barbudan writer and artist Iyaba Ibo Mandingo has released a second edition of his last book Fu Yuh Tongue Heavy Laka 56. ““It has been four years since its original release. My baby sister Nicole lost her battle to cancer three days after the book signing. I tried, in her memory, to push on, but eventually the weight of the ‘whys’ took a toll on my enthusiasm, and a project I believed in with my everything slowed to a halt”. (Mandingo in an instagram posting) Despite the lag, the book is now getting a new berth. Mandingo described it as “more than a collection of poetry of thirty years of poetry. The first third is a look back at the work from the first poem in an Iowa jail, to my ‘Mykus’ reflecting on the fifty-five days with homeland security after my 9-11 poem. The rest of the book is my discovery of the joy of writing in my native tongue.”

Fu Yuh Tongue Heavy Laka 56 has been added to the Poetry page and the main data base of Antiguan and Barbudan writers. The previous edition was issued in 2018. (Source – Author DM)

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Trinidad and Tobago writer and editor Andre Bagoo has two new collections out since summer this year: The Dreaming, which is a collection of stories, and Narcissus, a poetry collection. From publisher of The Dreaming, Peepal Tree Press: “At one level, Andre Bagoo’s stories have the very real virtue of taking the everyday lives of his gay Trinidadian characters utterly for granted in their searches for sex, adventure, pleasure, self-realisation and all the enrichments of loving contact. There’s a neat balance between a highly enjoyable sharpness of perception and a relaxed and engaging personal voice, and room for humour in several of these stories. …The narrator of several of these stories is a writer who wants to focus on the personal satisfactions and inner dramas of these lives as the truth about gay experience. But at the back of his mind are the stories of the brutal murders of gay men reported with coy innuendo in the press. …Bagoo’s stories offer a witty and acutely drawn portrait of contemporary Trinidad in all its intersections of race, class and gender politics.” Narcissus, meanwhile, is described as “In this powerful collection, Bagoo examines the varied dynamics of the body and mind with the narcissism of the soul, while fully embracing the work of art as a critical reflection on the human condition.” The Broken Sleep publication is his sixth collection. (Source – Andre Bagoo on Twitter)

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English literary critic, novelist, and biographer Miranda Seymour earlier this year published I used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys about the famed Dominican writer (author of Wide Sargasso Sea). It is published by W. W. Norton & Company.

(Source – Papillote Press via instagram)

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Three authors launched their trio of books in Montserrat this summer. Titles above. (Source – N/A)

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Dominican writer Celia Sorhaindo has a new book after her critically acclaimed poetry collection Guabancex. Her Radical Normalization was published by Carcanet Press in September 2022.

(Source – JRLee email)

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I mentioned in the previous Carib Lit Plus that there was a new Penguin edition of New Daughters of Africa as of August 2022. I’ve since finished reading the book (the original Myriad edition published in 2019) and uploaded a review to Bloggers on Books in addition to talking about it in my CREATIVE SPACE column (Headlined: Claiming Our Space by Telling Our Stories)

Also, as seen above, CREATIVE SPACE which is my art and culture column currently platformed in the Daily Observer newspaper, made the front page for a second straight week – here’s the previous front page article. (Source – Me)

Arts and Culture

October is Black History Month in the UK and a project called The World ReImagined has been part of this year’s rollout. Quoting from KnowYourCaribbean on instagram “a community of Artists, Activists, Community Workers, Historians, Educators, Poets and all round kick ass committed believers – come together to change the world and how we view ourselves.” One of the more visible projects is the commissioning and scattering across the English landscape of 103 globes with artistic interpretations (including by some Caribbean-resident artists) of Black people’s legacies of slavery, resistance, resilience, and revolution.

The website includes a map allowing you to locate the marble looking art installations while also adding to the public knowledge of the history of Black people. It is an opportunity for learning. (Source – Know Your Caribbean on instagram)

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It’s October and Trinidad and Tobago writer and editor, and founder of the Caribbean Books Foundation, which platforms books by Caribbean writers, has, for another year running, branded it Caribbean Folklore Month. The calendar includes Jumbie Night, October 9th 2022; plus folklore features, book launches, author interviews, and book reviews. With the growing influence of America’s Halloween in the region, Caribbean Folklore Month is a reminder that we have our own traditions. The month in its premiere year, 2021, featured douens, papa bois, soucouyant, and more. You can get involved by sharing what’s posted by the Caribbean Folklore social pages and others, you can post about your folklore experiences and tag them. You can even read my jumbie story “Papa Jumbie” (published by Akashic Books online) or my zombie story “Zombie Island” (published in Interviewing the Caribbean), share the video of you reading it – I’d enjoy that as long as you credit and tag me. Use the hashtags #CaribbeanFolkloreMonth #JumbieNight (and if you’re reading one of mine #gyalfromOttosaAntigua). You can create a folklore video, artwork, event or celebration around a folklore theme. You can buy, read and recommend books on Folklore and share your reviews – Authors will appreciate this. If you are a Caribbean author or writer, you can add a folklore character or theme to your next novel or story.

Marsha Gomes-McKie’s newest title.

(Source – Marsha Gomes-McKie social media)

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Les Trajó Aquí by Jemelia Pratt

Honourable Mention in the 18 to 35 age category – Wadadli Pen Challenge 2016

Author’s comment: “Life in the time of dictatorship.  In this creative non-fiction piece, a young boy speaks of Cuba during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and the men who stopped it all.”

Judge’s comment (positives only*): “I liked the Spanish infusion and the style of writing. The short sentences gave it a punchy rhythm. …it was an interesting piece.”

Note: Though only the positives are highlighted here, in keeping with the development goals of Wadadli Pen, all long listed entries are returned to the author with the judge’s note  – both positives and negatives – for revision. Congrats to Jemelia. Keep working on your craft; keep valuing your voice and your art. And hope to see entries from your students next year as well. – JCH

Here now is Les Trajó Aquí by Jemelia Pratt, a teacher of Spanish and Accounts at McChesney George, and, our records suggest, the first finalist from our sister island Barbuda:

¡Para veinti-cinco años, les trajó aquí! For 25 years, he brought them here. That dictator, Fulgencio Batista, brought them to our home.

Mama said he showed promise.  He gave us schools, yes. Mama got work, fair work.  Life in the time of Fulgencio Batista was like a game of serpientes y escaleras, and we saw nowhere to go but up.  But then he left us. Señor Batista ran off to Florida in 1944, and our Cuba was never the same.

Oh, how mama rejoiced when he came back! But little did she know that Señor Batista had brought the snakes with him.  In 1948, he lied to mama.  He promised to make life even better, pero nos mentió.  ¡Les trajó aquí, los yumas!  He brought the foreigners here! And the new name of the game was Monopoly. They bought our lands. They gambled away their money. They lived like kings in our country, and Señor Batista joined them.

He forgot about us.  The country’s money never reached to us, but we could not speak about it.  That was the worst part.  We could not speak.  And trust me, there were many tried.  Mario Kuchilán: he talked and they got angry. Los soldados came for him in the dark of the night; they dragged him from his home.  They tortured him and bludgeoned him half to death.  That is the price he paid for breaking the silence. So no one else spoke.

La vida estaba dura. In other words, life was hard.  500,000 of us lived in miserable shacks.  Now Mama only worked four months a year and we starved for the remaining eight. With no water, no electricity, and the scarcity of kerosene oil, the darkness surrounded us and the darkness consumed us.  Each wretched day that we managed to survive, we had no more than 25 cents to buy food, clothing and shoes.  And as for the schools Señor Batista started, now only 44% could go.  La vida estaba dura.

We remained silent until those two men. Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara:  two men who spoke differently, and fought fearlessly.  They had a plan. Su deseo era poner fin a todo.  Their wish was to put an end to it all.  They fought in the name of political and economical freedom.

There were spies, eyes everywhere. Señor Batista trusted no one. But that did not stop our saviours. Señor Castro and the rebels attacked the Moncada army in 1953. They took prisoners, by the 20s, by the 50s; but then they were outnumbered and out-gunned.  The rebels tried to retreat, but Señor Batista captured them.  He was angry that his men died. He said, “Ten prisoners must be killed for each dead soldier”.  That diablo killed them! The walls were painted and the lawns were watered with their blood. Then, for many long hours their mangled corpses were left there, like animals!

They captured Señor Castro and sent him to jail for 15 years. Quince años!  In 1955 they exiled him to Mexico.  Our people suffered.

But then he returned, and with him he brought Ché, his brother and a boat load of people.  The rebellion was not easy.  Señor Batista did not make it easy. Within two years I saw it all.  They descended from the mountains like warriors. They fought, they conquered, and Señor Batista fled.  He ran to the Dominican Republic but I wanted him dead.

Oh, how things changed! Fidel Castro: that was the man’s name.  Ché Guevara: that was the man’s name. Patria o muerte, venceremos!

For earning honourable mention in her age category, Jemelia received:
 A certificate and book sponsored by the Best of Books.
EC$150 from Frank B. Armstrong
Anna In-Between by Elizabeth Nunez, Turn Thanks by Lorna Goodison – courtesy Pam Arthurton of Carib World Travel

Thanks to all partners and patrons for making the Wadadli Pen 2016 Challenge possible. Here at Wadadli Pen, we encourage you to support the businesses and individuals who support the arts.

Please respect the writer’s copyright. And while we welcome feedback, please be constructive.

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Dreaming of Havana

The Havana Book Fair is coming up in February. I’d actually like to attend (scratch that, really like to attend). In part because I have a book coming out in 2012 and a little advance publicity never hurt but mostly because I’m a lover of books and I’ve found events of this nature to be a joy, even with the inevitable hiccups; events like Breadloaf in Vermont to which I applied for and won an international fellowship in 2008 (and don’t ask me how much I’d like love to do the 2012 Breadloaf in Sicily…and not just for the opportunity to return to lovely Italy), Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival (which I’ve been active in since it started in 2006) and the Calabash International Literary Festival (2007). Mostly because they allow for (in fact, encourage) total literary immersion. You lose yourself in books and engagements with writers, you open yourself to learning,you slow down and feel the world again, and you have so much fun (that’s right, writers know how to party too). The fact that I’ve never been to Cuba and would absolutely love to go would be a possible bonus of the experience. The challenge is always money and sometimes information and access. In fact, funding (to cover airfare, accomodation and other expenses) and for the writer hoping to get mileage out of the experience (visibility) are often stumbling blocks even with festivals closer to home (Dominica, Montserrat, Trinidad). With Calabash, in Jamaica, we (in Antigua) put a group of writers together and applied for donor funding from the Commonwealth in order to attend. It was a remarkable experience (huge understatement).

With the 2012 conference of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars, to be held in Suriname, much as I did with the BIM Conference on Caribbean Women Writers in 2008, I submitted my credentials (such as they are…something along the lines of pick me! pick me!) and was happy to be invited as a featured writer from the English Speaking Caribbean (more on that no doubt as it draws closer…including the inevitable panic). I’m looking forward to a return to Suriname, the country is always part of the experience, but I’m also looking forward to being in the company of people who write and people who love to read and write.

And so I’d like to figure out a way to make Cuba happen, not just for me but for other writers. But, of course, February’s just around the corner… I had the idea once I heard about the conference to reach out for information and maybe assistance in making this happen; I’ve tried but so far that has been a disappointing (at times, frustrating) dead end. It’s time like these I do think an Arts Council which could, among other things, access and provide funding (a la an endowment for the arts) would, as I’ve been discussing with fellow artists and writers lately, be a Godsend…too many missed opportunities, too much little tangible support for the arts on our piece of the rock.

So, all I can say at this moment, if not this year, then next or the next or next… (independently, if necessary). I always like to have something to shoot for, and a tour of all of these literary festivals (and more around the world) is definitely on my to do list. It should be on yours too if you’re a book lover and/or writer (and if you have the resources). The opportunity to step out of the world of distractions into the world of the Word is ah-may-zing. And there are the stolen moments too…getting up early to walk the beach in St. Elizabeth, sitting on a rock by the river in Vermont…at each one, you make your own. And, I’ve found, you wake up every day, writing.

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