Tag Archives: Danielle Boodoo Fortune

Reading Room and Gallery 22

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier iterations of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 22nd one which means there are 21 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one.

AUTHOR PROFILES

‘Goodison, who is married to the author and academic J. Edward Chamberlin, divides her time between Toronto, British Columbia, and Ann Arbor, where she teaches Caribbean literature at the University of Michigan. Though she no longer lives in Jamaica, the country, she insists, will always be the focus of her writing. “Part of it has to do with the sort of ways in which I feel a lot of people don’t know Jamaica,” she says. “They only have one image of Jamaica, from the news, or from meeting some Jamaican person who’s a creep or something, and they think all Jamaicans are like that.” She describes the Jamaica of her childhood as “a very complicated, complex, rich place” but concedes things have gotten worse. Does she feel a responsibility to correct the misconceptions? “I don’t know that I can do that, but I can just tell you — I can be a witness. I can say, ‘In my life I saw this, and I knew this about Jamaica. If it doesn’t exist now, believe me, it used to exist, and hopefully it can exist again.’ ”’ – from She comes through: Lorna Goodison is one of the best writers you’ve never read by Mark Medley

NON FICTION

“I had no way of knowing then the extreme ways we’d learn to hurt one another.” – Give Hostages to Fortune by Mehdi Tavana Okasi

***

“I had this image of throwing yourself out into the water, only to have it spit you back out, over and over again. I didn’t need to ask why he’d kept trying, what he was looking for, because the answer was apparent. If there is nothing where you are coming from, then you are looking for something, for anything. No matter what you find, it will be better than what you had before, it will fill your empty hands. It was like casting a net out, if you were the net, your life unfurling out into an unknown adventure, falling over danger, looking for something to pull back in. I couldn’t imagine the kind of leaving that entailed—where your family faded into a previous life—what home could mean then, if every ship-taking was a search for somewhere else to belong.” – The Texture of Joy: A Stowaway Story by Akwaeke Emezi

CREATIVES ON THE BUSINESS

“While my own experience as an editor informs my approach to my writing, as a writer I’m still learning about working with other editors. Having your personal essay red-inked by someone at The New York Times is a different experience than having your roundup of local Irish pubs tidied up by your regional paper. And working with a professional on a novel you’ve labored over for years is another thing entirely.” – Jessica Strawser on 4 Truths that will Change Your Perspective on the Writer/Editor Relationship

***

“Mastering other things taught me that one becomes something not by wishing to be, but by learning to be. Mastery is the result of hard work. And ardor.  And the slow accretion of knowledge that comes from study and from practice.”- Mary Jo Bang

VISUAL

“After each morning run, we would come home and raid the mango tree.” – go here to view Danielle Boodoo Fortune’s Mango Morning

***

tpa-islandEric Fischl’s A Visit To/A Visit From/The Island uses two adjoining large canvases to contrast vastly disparate groups of people seemingly in the same setting. On the left he depicts what appears to be a white upper-middle-class American family of four vacationing at a sunny, holiday resort. The second panel portrays a frantic scene in which a group of black men and women, who appear to be refugees, try to pull themselves from a bluish black churning sea. Rendered in much darker, ominous hues than those of its counterpart, the frenzied image was based on a photograph of Haitian refugees arriving on the Florida coast. While the two canvases depict jarringly different scenes, the similarities between the images also emphasize their polarity. For instance, both depict foreshortened naked bodies lying diagonally in the foreground, highlighting the stark shifts in color and context between the panels. The relaxed laziness of the tourists pitted against the desperation of the Haitians emphasizes the inequalities between the two groups and the irony in the choices that racial difference and privilege allow—the whites are paying to visit an island that the residents risk their lives to leave.
Artist: Eric Fischl
Image: “A Visit To / A Visit From / The Island,” (1983)
Source: The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York website

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“I haven’t managed to draw my main character yet because even her image is giving me trouble…With Kieran, I learned that he was more than just a warrior and a prince but he has plans of his own.” – Want to know your characters? Try a character sketch by Dana Nuenighoff

***

“Good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognise them when they show up.” – Stephen King and his big desk

***

“Normally I enjoy the writing process, but in this case it was making me miserable. I would spend most of the day procrastinating before sitting down and forcing myself to hit my word count (1000), and even then I would find myself adding adjectives to beef it up. More than once my mother commented on how I’d clearly lost my love for writing, which she found alarming. But I didn’t listen to her because I thought I could get through it and turn my uninteresting story into something worthy of publishing. I was wrong.” – Maria Murnane on When to pull the plug on your book

***

‘We need to be humble and dedicate ourselves to a lifelong study of the craft of writing. What I think he meant by “contempt” is trying to take shortcuts. Becoming a writer must involve reading widely, learning techniques from others and committing to a daily practice of developing the craft. If you don’t do this, if you just write something and publish it, then write more and publish that, then you’re showing contempt for writing.’ – Andrew Blackman reporting on a workshop he attended at the BIM lit fest

***

“Currently completing the fourth draft, stalling somewhat as I approach the last eight passages that I believe need to be added in; experience has taught me that determining the end of a draft is rather like running towards the end of the rainbow.” – Louise Mabey blogging What an Unfinished Novel Looks Like

***

“You have to learn how to interpret and not just imitate” – Jake Gyllenhall, breaking down his process

***

“Don’t tell anyone the story until you’ve written it.  At least this is advice I wish I’d heard and listened to, early on.  I’ve found that if I tell my friends about any story or book I’m working on, I begin to lose enthusiasm for it – not because of their reaction or anything they’ve said but because, having said it, it’s like I feel less need to actually write it.  That’s difficult to explain but perhaps other writers will understand.” – Eugenia O’Neal blogs ‘My Top Writing Tips’

***

“A slight girl with fawn’s eyes offers a plastic cup of water-angels to my mother. A fallen bamboo ceiling swallows the moon whole. There is so much wonder, awe and terror in every gesture, every movement. The moon washes the dust from her face, becomes her true self in the forest. Then it solidifies, comes together…” – Danielle Boodoo Fortune blogging on her Moon Water series of paintings

***

“Here I was trying to get my daughter to stick to a specific formula for writing, and she was forging her own path. What worked best for her was writing by the seat of her pants, starting on the computer and editing as she wrote. The funny thing is, it is the same method I use.” – from One Size Fits All by Jewel Amethyst

***

“On my way home from work tomorrow, I will bring myself to stop at Kinko’s and print out all one-hundred and seventy pages of my crappy first draft. I will hole-bunch the pages, stick it into a three-hole binder and get up Saturday morning, procrastinate a lot, curse out my editor, and then bring myself one step closer to the sweet pain of publication.” – Kara Stevens on what you need to know if you’re serious about becoming an author

POETRY

“Brown men crowd an island hilltop,
voice French-Creole and Spanish,
not the English patois of generations
assembled there before them.” – The Nation Builders by Althea-Romeo Mark, read it on her blog at Aroma Productions or view her reading of it (above) at the Medellin Poetry Festival in Colombia. Romeo-Mark was born in Antigua, grew up in the USVI, and has lived in the US, Africa, the UK, and now Europe.

***

“Unexpectedly,
The street light began
To malfunction,
Coming on and off,
Plunging me into bouts of
Darkness and light.

Buzz, crackle, darkness,
Buzz, crackle, light.” – From Kimolisa Mings’ Dark Warrior

***

***

“What if I told you
I’d never made love before” – from What the Spirit Knows by Soyini Ayanna Forde at SX Salon

***

“I was left there, tutu shredded,

I couldn’t dance

anymore.” – This did not happen by Thylias Moss

INTERVIEW

“Many of my poems start with an image, but these started with language and weaved through images bringing me places I hadn’t been in a while.” – Angela Voras-Hills at the KR Conversations

***

“One thing that I went in to Yale with was to make to sure I left exactly how I came in, because that’s who they accepted. Take what you need, get what you need for your tool belt, but don’t lose the essence of who you are. I think I did it.” – Atlanta’s Bryan Tyree Henry (aka Paper Boi)

***

“The revolution for all Black lives starts in the mind and manifests in the physical, so I hope this book that contains so much true history mixed in with fiction can help people understand that nobody gets free unless we’re all free.” – Brooke Obie

FICTION

“This supposed to be our country. You shouldn’t have to sell your soul to feed yourself.” – Nassau Burning by Keisha Lynne Ellis

***

‘For long minutes he forgot his knobby knees, scars and grizzled body hair. He forgot his big flat feet and narrow buttocks. Her gaze gave him beauty and grace. Her soft eyes pulled him out of his role as Cowboy and into the role of sweet pure lover. “Come, let me bathe you.”’ – The Cowboy’s Mermaid, or, A Story of Wet Love in the Dry World by Shannon Barber

***

“She had looked him down, vaguely surprised and annoyed, with the air of those who are never asked where they are going.” – from Le Silence de Chagos by Shenaz Patel

***

“Sometimes I’d stare in the mid-darkness at how white he was. If I pressed his skin, he’d bruise deep fuchsia and you’d be able to see it even in the dark. I was very dark compared to him. He was so white it was freaky, sometimes. Othertimes it was kind of cool and beautiful, how his skin would glow against mine, how our bodies together looked like art.” – from Gideon by ZZ Packer

***

“You’re in this together now, and some part of you hopes you die together for the sake of simplicity.” – Last Chapter on Hotel Stationary: a Short Story by Ursula Villarreal-Moura

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Caribbean Writers Online

Links to artiste/writer pages from our region

Please note, this page is a work in progress – I’ll add links as I remember or discover – please link back

Antiguan_writers_group_with_Caryl_Phillips_2[1]

From left, Antiguan and Barbudan writers S E James, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Brenda Lee Browne, Akilah Jardine, Marie Elena John w/Kittitian author Caryl Phillips at the Calabash literary festival in Jamaica.

Antiguan and Barbudan Writers on the Web

Barbados

Shakirah Bourne

Nailah Imoja

Sandra Sealey

Belize

Felene Cayetano

the B. V. I.

Richard Georges

Eugenia O’Neal

the Dominican Republic

Junot Diaz

Guyana

Maggie Harris

Ruel Johnson

Jamaica

Jacqueline Bishop

Diane Browne

Colin Channer

Kwame Dawes

Jonathan Escoffery

Yashika Graham

Diana McCaulay

Kei Miller

Geoffrey Philp

Leone Ross

Olive Senior

St. Kitts & Nevis

Carol Mitchell 4 by Joanne C Hillhouse

Carol Mitchell is pictured here as a guest presenter at Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Jhohadli Summer Youth Project writing camp in Antigua, 2013.

Carol Mitchell

Caryl Phillips

Suriname

Rihana Jamaludin

Karin Lachmising

Trinidad and Tobago

Lisa Allen-Agostini

Vashti Bowlah

Danielle Boodoo Fortune

Summer Edward

Marsha Gomes-McKie

Sharon Millar

with Sharon Millar

Sharon Millar, left, makes a point at the V I Lit Fest 2015 as Joanne C. Hillhouse listens.

Paula Obe

Leshanta Roop

Lawrence Scott

Liane Spicer

U. S. V. I.

Tiphanie Yanique

 

 

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Reading Room and Gallery XVlll

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms (1, 11, 111, 1v, v, v1 , v11, v111, 1x, x, x1, x11, x111, x1v, xv, xvi, xvii), click the links or use the search feature to the right, to the right.

ON PUBLISHING

“#3 Not following guidelines.
Double check all guidelines before submitting to a magazine. Is there a word count requirement? Should your name be removed from the piece? Should your document be in Word, pdf, or rich text format? If it’s an email submission, do they want the document attached, or pasted into the body of the email? Do they accept simultaneous submissions? Don’t risk getting your piece being tossed out because you didn’t follow the rules.” – (here at Wadadli Pen I know this one well) – read the rest of the list of mistakes writers make when submitting.

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“My advice for young writers is to keep reading widely and for pleasure. And don’t get discouraged! So much of it is just mule-like persistence. That’s what I feel I learned this time around. There were many times when Swamplandia! failed and I had to pick it up and try and write it again. There were stories in my collection that were just duds, they’ve been voted off the island, and it was only because I had this material commitment to getting them out the door that I was willing to keep working at them. I really do think that’s the best advice—to keep at it.” – Karen Russell

***

“An interesting insight into the process came when the pair considered how they had arrived at rather different descriptions for the location of the windmill-giants – Jull Costa has them ‘on that same plain’, whereas Bush situates them ‘in the nearby field’. It transpired that, rather than seeking a literal translation of the Spanish ‘en aquel campo’, each had pictured what they read the original to mean and then found a way to render the image in English.” – Ann Morgan on dueling translations of Don Quixote

***

“Not only do I not see movies as I write, I can’t visualise, well, anything. At all. I don’t even dream in pictures. I have absolutely no concept of what it would be like to see things that no one else can see.” – Jo Eberhardt

***

“It happens too often that beginning fiction writers fail to give their characters jobs or occupations. Weak stories by beginning writers often feature adults who are wealthy without any discernible means of income or who perform the indiscernibly ambiguous task of “work.” Characters are described as working each day, but the reader is never told what they do or how their daily jobs affect them or their interactions with others. Characters do not earn money; they simply have it. There are no bills, no expenses, and, of course, no financial struggles.” – Amina Gautier

***

“So here you have a man at the beach, but he can’t enjoy it; he has to sit, because of his paranoia, with his back to the water, sitting in a chair; he wears a Hawaiian shirt but there’s a bullet proof vest under it; he likes a red wine spritzer but it tastes like Skittles which is very loaded…Trayvon Martin had a pack of Skittles.” – Rowan Ricardo Phillips, born in New York to Antiguan parents, reflecting on his poem News from the Muse of Not Guilty after a reading of the poem, from his collection Heaven, on CBC Radio.

***

“You start from building this world with their rules, and then you just follow logic in order to come up with the rest of the details. So once you have this simple fact that you’re treating couples in a certain way and single people in another way—and there’s a bit of a concept that this is almost like a prison drama or something, at least in the first half of the film—then you pick up on those things and you borrow things from other kinds of situations … We tried to get into the heads of people that would be in charge and what they would come up with.” – Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos on the making of his film The Lobster

***

Writing other…Mary Robinette Kowal provides some insight to culturally sensitive approaches to doing so.

***

“The second thing is reminding myself: You don’t have to write anything that you’re not deeply interested in. Every time I remember this, it’s a relief and a surprise.” – Rita Mae Reese on curing the affliction of not-writing.

****

“I use traditional women’s techniques, such as sewing, beading and applique. I incorporate found objects in my work; they are clues towards understanding my story and that of women in general.” – Heather Doram

***

“So much of what the filmmakers did in creating and then editing their work is what we writers strive for when polishing a manuscript: pinpoint the heart of the story and stay true to it, cut what can be lost, and always direct conflict and pacing.” – Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton w/ Elena Greene discuss The Lord of the Rings’ adaptation from book to film and what writers can learn from the choices the filmmakers made. It’s a five part series that begins, here.

***

A long form interview on the arts is a rare thing, especially in a Caribbean print publication, so kudos to Jamaica’s Observer for this series of poetry month features, this one spotlighting American Tim Tomlinson, co-founder of the New York Writers’ Workshop, in conversation with Jamaican-American poet and artist Jacqueline Bishop. Tomlinson’s book Yolanda, an Oral History in Verse, is focused on the Phillipines but his connection to the Caribbean – his time spent visiting and diving in various islands and countries but most especially the Bahamas is explored as well. Essentially, this interview is about both his journeying as a person and how that has informed his writing, how he creates, generally, and specifically in the case of Yolanda. W/thanks to Jacqueline Bishop for sharing, here have a slow as you sipping your iced tea kind of read:

Tim Tomlinson 1Tim Tomlinson 2Tim Tomlinson 3

***

“That was one of those magic moments. That came out pretty much whole cloth. Every now and then you ride the tiger. Most days the tiger rides me, but every now and then I ride the tiger. That’s my favorite chapter in the book. The opening chapter of The Given Day is another example. It’s my favorite chapter in The Given Day. It was written in two nights. It was rewritten extensively for prose, but it just came out.” – Dennis Lehane

***

“When I closed my eyes, I could smell flue-cured tobacco. I could feel the hot sun beating down on me. I could hear the southern accent of a teacher whose voice reminded me of poetry.” – Shannon Hitchcock on the inspiration for her book Ruby Lee & Me

VISUAL ART

Online gallery of Netherlands artist Marijke Buurlage.

***

***

Technically this is musical and literary art (lyrics) shared via a visual medium but that’s not the point. RIP, Prince.

***

“Nature is completely indifferent to the human endeavours whether they are good, evil, otherwise, whatever.” – Lori Landey and Beth Harris discussing Joseph Mallard William Turner’s Slave Ship

NON FICTION

“How many times over the years
I have explained
This.
Celie and her “prettier” sister Nettie
are practically identical.
They might be twins.
But Life has forced on Celie
all the hardships
Nettie mostly avoids…” – Is Celie actually Ugly? By Alice Walker

***

“Why, I asked my brother, did you like the film so much? So many messages. Look at the title. Everyone has problems underneath. Just because you are smart doesn’t mean u can work everything out yourself.” – Sejal Shah writing on Ordinary People

***

“You must read to develop a deeper understanding of literary elements, such as character arc, subtext, voice, and narrative distance.” – Chuck Sambuchino in his article The Pros and Cons of getting a Creative Writing MFA at Writer’s Digest

***

Kei Miller’s essay in this BBC piece resonates with me – it’s truthful and thoughtful and bold as so much of his writing is even when speaking of his tentativeness writing the issue of race -how our whiteness and blackness mediate our interactions. That said, I feel that same prickle of disagreement I feel stir in me whenever a black person, black writer (especially if they’re from colonized or formerly colonized places like I am) say, I didn’t know I was black until… because it’s not my truth (my blackness didn’t limit my sense of possibility but the reality is that, like class and other things, our blackness or shades of blackness was and remains a way of separating ourselves from ourselves) even in the predominantly black places I have lived (including Kei’s Jamaica). The Caribbean is not insulated from these issues, though they are not as starkly or sharply or consistently experienced in whiter places like the US and UK. Beyond my own experiences (some touched on in my February 2016 Essence article Mirror Mirror and issues of colourism/shade-ism explored in my book Musical Youth), this fairly recent memory comes to mind: being in a roomful of children of different shades of black, in a public child-friendly space, right here on our predominantly black island, only to have another adult, call out to one of the children, “black boy, black boy” with a tone and cadence that suggested “bad boy, bad boy” and to have him look up, in full acceptance of this (internalizing it). My aside aside, give the audio clip a listen; it’s a really engaging and touching reflection from one of the Caribbean’s best.

INTERVIEWS

“A writer always benefits from being a kind of outsider. That is why I try not to belong to anything too much. [Alienation] makes you an insider-outsider . . . sharpens [your] sense of observation. You look at things with detached eyes. Even some words. Pondering these English words with your Creole eyes. . . . There always is a sort of dialogue going on [within] most artists anyway. They just soak things in that they ultimately try to reproduce some other way. I think having this dual lens has been very helpful.” – Edwidge Dandicat

***

“Grounded in the realities of our history and geography, but unbounded in their imaginative possibilities” – Philip Sander describing the work of Nalo Hopkinson jumped out at me as the very thing I’ve been trying to define when I speak of a Caribbean aesthetic as a criterion for (but not a limitation of) Wadadli Pen submissions.

***

“Shorter doesn’t mean faster or easier! Short story writing is a very different art from that of the novel, from pacing to character development. So for a novelist, it can actually take longer and be more of a stretch to try her hand at writing a short story. A rewarding challenge, certainly, but definitely a challenge.” – Lauren Willig

***

“I remember myself as a young child, my mother had books inside here, and one of them dealt with the Haitian Revolution. I was ever so proud of Toussaint L’Ouverture. I was just proud. I mean, there he was, sitting in the same book with Napoleon and all of these other great men. So, for me, the Haitian Revolution was very significant. I don’t know how it is in popular memory, because right now everybody’s sorry for the Haitians—and “sorry for” in the sense of, “We’re better off” or “They can wear our old clothes.” So I don’t know about it in the popular memory. But certainly historically, Haiti served to frighten late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century governments. Frightening them, and as a matter of fact, had them even more repressive towards their black enslaved workers because their fear of Haiti was so strong. So, I don’t know that it has popular resonances, but certainly for nineteenth-century politics, it did.” – Erna Brodber interview at SX Salon, a Small Axe Literary Platform

***

“What’s interesting to me is that of the women who have read this, every single one thinks that it is absolutely sexy and totally horny. Then I was like, ‘oh, so this is erotica’. And I was reminded again that erotica does not need to be explicit. And, of course, what is erotic and what we find sexy and will respond to viscerally in that way is entirely subjective.” – Leone Ross

***

“The fiction writer in me likes gaps in stories because I can jump into that gap and try to suggest something.” – Marlon James’ Vogue interview

***

“There’s a place for everything…” – says Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne in this NIFCA interview:

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“To move past the ugly parts of history, you have to acknowledge them, on all sides, and this is what I think historical fiction can do so well: show how we got from there to here, but told through characters who see themselves not as history but as completely modern.” – Andrea Mullaney, author of The Ghost Marriage, 2012 Commonwealth Short Story winner for Canada and Europe

***

“The area where I spent my childhood years was surrounded my trees, and always seemed just on the edge of wilderness. That area has changed so much, but there is still that space in my imagination that’s the same…” – Danielle Boodoo Fortune, Woman of Colour interview

***

“What I’m trying to bring out is the power of words themselves, the power and musicality of words.” – Clifton Joseph

***

“Reading was such a sanctuary when I was a teenager, I wanted to see if I could tell a Jamaican story, a Caribbean story, that would interest even an urban teenager.” – Diana McCaulay re her new book Gone to Drift

FICTION

“In April of 1945, after facing only minimal resistance, Rhett was part of the Allied force that liberated a concentration camp named for the beech forests that surrounded it. The day was damp and overcast, with a heavy ground mist that sometimes hid the heaped bodies and sometimes revealed them. Living skeletons stood at the fences and outside the crematoriums, staring at the Americans. Some were horribly burned by white phosphorous.” – Cookie Jar by Stephen King

***

“In death, we live far more richly than we do in life. Our lives are pale shadows in which we are preoccupied with the business of living. It is in death that we take on nuance and colour. We seep through the floorboards of houses, spread out and nestle there. We whistle through windows, ruffle curtains and inhabit the minds and memories of others. We take on a resonance that only memory provides. We become deities. We become ancestors.” – from Ayanna Gillian Lloyd’s Walking in Lapeyrouse

***

“There was no rebuttal. She ended the call. From the decanter on side board, she poured herself a drink. The rum quelled the chill in her stomach — a chill reminiscent of rain-fly wings brushing against her skin. Where did they find him? They were hunting him for so long. Did he put up a fight? Errol had a point: There was really no need for her to kill him herself. But she wanted to.” – H. K. Williams’ Celeste in Moko

***

“They’ve taken you, in the rolling melody of their steps and song, to the river Aripo inside the forest, and when they sit and beckon you to come join them, their feet, you notice, are not as they’re supposed to be. It’s a peculiar thing to miss, really, backwards feet. You sense that your own feet have been treading air when they come into contact once again with the marshy forest floor. You look back into the bush where you think you came from, and you want to go home.”- Wenmimareba Klobah Collins

***

Edwidge Dandicat reads and discusses Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl and her own Wingless. And here’s Girl, so you can read along.

***

“My wife is happiest on Sunday afternoon, when I leave the house. We have been married five years – too soon for us to take pleasure in each other’s absence.” – from Radio Story by Anushka Jasraj – Commonwealth Short Story winner for Asia

***

“After years of working like a dog, clawing his way to fame and fortune—forfeiting family in the process—Desiree and the people of the island had broken down his mighty reserve and rewarded him with passion, friendship and the happiest times he’d ever experienced. He loved living in a place where everyone was aware of who he was, but not impressed or intimidated by what he had done. He admired the lack of social divides, that the Chief Minister played dominoes with ‘The People’, and that his best friend and “liming partner” was her cousin, and his Captain.” – Trudy Nixon’s Anguilla Boat Race, part of Akashic’s Mondays are Murder series

***

Mary Akers said about ‘Viewing Medusa’ after it had been posted at The Good Men Project: “For all you writers out there, this story’s publication is a testament to persistence. It won the Mary Mackey Short Story Prize, it was the story I submitted for my successful Bread Loaf waiter application, but for ten years, I tried unsuccessfully to get it published. I submitted it to 101 journals, 100 of whom rejected it before Matthew Salesses believed in it and brought it out into the world.” Here’s an excerpt from the story:  “I found myself unable to look away as she slurped her soup, dipping the pieces of dasheen in the broth and sucking them dry after each dip. When the soursop was served, she peeled away the bumpy green skin and slurped the fruit into her mouth, rolling it around until the smooth brown seeds were free, spitting them onto her plate. Soursop juice ran down her wrists and dripped off her elbows to the floor. I thought of Miss Connie, later, on her hands and knees, wiping up the stickiness while shaking her head at the lack of manners displayed by scientists.” – the voice/point of view and descriptions work well together to create a clear picture of the part of Dominica in which the story (which feels less fiction and more here’s how it happened) is set – the beauty and ruggedness in the landscape and the character of the people as compared with the visiting (presumably white) scientists, to create as well a certain mood of foreboding, and to suck the reader in…even if it spits that reader out the other end with questions, or rather one lingering question: so wait, she nar go do nutten? – Read the whole of Viewing Medusa here.

***

“The fuel tank was empty. He’d collapsed from sunstroke and dehydration. He’d been raving incoherently. When he finally recovered he’d lost all memory of where he’d left his men. A Lysander was sent out to look for them but nothing was ever found. The unforgiving maw of the Sahara had simply swallowed them up.” – Bully Beef and Biscuits by Guy Carter – this was the 2015 winner of the Mogford Prize for Food & Drink Writing

POETRY

“In Trinidad, everyone knows

the Pitch Lake but few have been

few have seen the dark and strange

surface, the vast dirt a mind of its own:

asphalt lake as constant as change.” – from La Brea. Read that and other poems by Andre Bagoo in Moko.

***

“No one sees my tears
wafting through the branch clusters
weeping airy patterns into the jungle silence.” – from Mangrove Armour by April Roach in Moko

***

“We read menacing messages in the scowls
of passers-by. Some circle around,
mark the territory with treads of footprints,
count down days to our departure.” – Camp by Althea Romeo-Mark in Moko

***

“…crushed lemongrass
overcooked tourist flesh sizzling in the noonday sun
barnacled, rusted boats off Devonshire Dock
my neighbour’s garbage ripped open by feral cats
overpriced perfume – from Trimingham’s, I think
‘mountain fresh’ detergent scent of laundry drying on the line
frying fish and sun-ripened fish guts
Baygon and stale beer
overripe cherries
Limacol and sweat..” – from Kim Dismont Robinson’s Scents of Bermuda: Or, All De Smells That Accosted My Nose One Day When Ahs Ridin My Bike From My Momma’s House on Norf Shore To My House in Smif’s Parish

***

‘In the roaring of the wolves the doctor said “Do you feel tenderness”
She was touching me’ – Niina Pollari, sharing and discussing her poem Do You Feel Tenderness

***

“There’ve always been Sunday mornings like this,
when God became young again
and looking back you see
that childhood was a Sunday morning.” – Kendel Hippolyte (Sunday) – be sure to also check out the Dunstan St. Omer Red Madonna that accompanies the poem.

BLOG

“I think I had a very different vision of myself when I was young, and definitely thought I’d have a family and be a loving parent by now. Instead I’ve birthed books” – Zetta Elliott

***

“Neglected authors fascinate me. While the particulars for their disregard may vary over time and from culture to culture, one thing remains constant: their perseverance despite official recognition. Such is the case of Eliot Bliss, a ‘white, Creole, and lesbian’ Jamaican novelist and poet whose collected poems have been resurrected by Michela A. Calderaro in Spring Evenings in Sterling Street.” Geoffrey Philp

***

“Getting to the place in yourself that is beyond influence is the radical edge.” – Brooke Warner

***

“…exploring a new space is a thing of wonder and an entirely individual experience…” – Sonia Farmer, blogging her Fresh Milk residency in Barbados

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Reading Room XIV

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms, use the search feature to the right, to the right.

CREATIVES ON THE PROCESS

“Calypso provided lessons in how to play, teasingly, with language.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse

***

“These days, I meet far too many young writers who try to start off with a novel right off, or a trilogy, or even a nine-book series. That’s like starting in at rock climbing by tackling Mt. Everest. Short stories help you learn your craft. They are a good place for you to make the mistakes that every beginning writer is going to make. And they are still the best way for a young writer to break in…” – George R. R. Martin

***

“Be careful to stay consistently in one verb tense unless your narrator is a person who might switch tenses.” – Crawford Killian

***

“As I’m sure you know, Time is never a neutral, abstract thing. Nor merely a clock-ticking-on-the-mantlepiece thing. Time for writing your novel is time not for other occupations, not for other people. It’s time stolen from your loved ones; time they will probably resent you not devoting to them. Time is closing the door behind you and not answering when people knock – not unless they knock very hard, and shout words like ‘Fire’ and ‘Bastard’ and ‘I’m leaving – I really am’.” – Toby Litt

***

“I should be clear: there are plenty of times when the thought of reading my own story one more time makes me want to vomit.” – Max Barry

***

“I do think that as a society, even though my work is valued in the tertiary system as a text, writers are often seen as artists. And artists are often connected with entertainment, and seen as not scientific and not affecting evidence-based decisions.” – Oonya Kempadoo

***

I almost passed this one over because I’d never read Anne Lamott but there was too much good insight here to overlook…and now I want to add Lamott to my very long and ever growing reading list. Here’s Theo Pauline Nestor on things you can learn from reading Anne Lamott.

***

“One Wednesday night, while Pastor was telling us that blessings were five miles upstream so we should, like Enoch, wait on the Lord, I started reading Salman Rushdie’s “Shame,” hiding it in the leather Bible case. I had never read anything like it. It was like a hand grenade inside a tulip. Its prose was so audacious, its reality so unhinged, that you didn’t see at first how pointedly political and just plain furious it was. It made me realize that the present was something I could write my way out of. And so I started writing for the first time since college, but kept it quiet because none of it was holy.” – Marlon James

***

“But for those of us who are called to this craft, we know we must write. Because it’s true, your mother, father, brother, sister or cat could end up hating you, but if you don’t write, you’ll end up hating yourself. Ultimately, we write not for the world but for our own souls.” – Bushra Rehman

***

“This is how I know that the symbols we write and read about are as real as flesh, and are one of the only means of remembering ourselves and our personal and ancestral stories.” – Danielle Boodoo-Fortune. Read and see her Amazona and And Other Winged Creatures.

***

“We recognize, in their faces—in their actions—their fearlessness. They haven’t yet been anesthetized by the daily grind of adult life. They still think they have a puncher’s chance at beating everything.” Interesting post by Matthew McGevna, my co-panelist at the Brooklyn Book Festival, about the genesis of his book, Little Beasts. Read his full post.

***

***

“Editing can also lead to moments of humor. At some point, when two of my main characters, an older female scientist and a working mom who grow very close over the course of the book, clasped hands for something like the fifth time, I almost cried out with irritation, and wrote ‘There is way too much hand clasping in this book! Stop it!!’” – Kamy Wicoff

***

“You are not imagining it, my art has become darker over the last couple years. For so long my attitude was that I just wanted to paint upbeat, joyful images to increase the beauty in this world, and not dwell on negativity, which would just be feeding it.

At the time, that meant bright, vibrant, ‘sunny’ colours … sometimes I literally painted on yellow canvases.

But the times we live in have a dark undertone, and I am not immune to it. As artists, it is not just our nature, but our job to FEEL, and to be a channel – through our art – to make others FEEL.” – Donna Grandin

POETRY

“How could his daily toil
of hammer, saw and nails;
an old lady’s reckoning
of last month’s window
against the patching
of her roof this week —
how could her life of sacrifice
and his of labour, sweat
and boiling sun
be totalled up
in this small word?” – Word (on teaching an adult male to read) by Esther Phillips

***

“She was stabbed in a bar in Kingston.
Only men attended her funeral, extra drunk.” – Ishion Hutchinson, Prudence from Far District

***

“There’ve always been Sunday mornings like this,
when God became young again
and looking back you see
that childhood was a Sunday morning.” – Kendel Hippolyte, Sunday

***

“And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:” – Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

***

“…the beach say, This him. John Goodman
he name, originally Jean-Paul Delattre,
brother of Stephen Dillet, first coloured man

in Parliament. Come here on a boat
from Haiti back then, back again,…” – Goodman’s Bay ll by Christian Campbell

***

“…their lines uneven, their slow step out of sync
marching with wrinkled faces to commemorate
a war they didn’t start, majesty’s ship that didn’t sink
distended necks show a conceited attitude

for having served mother England.” – from Memorial Day by Reuel Lewi

VISUAL

DSCN4639

Danielle Boodoo Fortune working on a mural project in Trinidad… when I bookmarked this a while ago, my note to myself was why can’t we have something like this in Antigua… turns out, we do, sort of; check out the Antigua Graffiti series.

***

Heather's image

Heather Doram’s Rootedness and other art pieces from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Canada, showed during the Pan Am Games, featured in this showing at the Textile Museum of Canada. See all the pieces here.

***

i want

This beautiful painting (I want it soooo bad) is Gardener of Small Joys, 2015 by Danielle Boodoo-Fortune (artist). Danielle is a Trinidadian-Tobagonian artist (and a Wadadli Pen ally having served as a judge in 2014 and 2015); she is superbly talented in both the visual and literary medium. Here’s a link to her work. And to a review of her work in the Arc.

***

The film Ah! Hard Rain is the story of a fishing village struggling to survive due to over fishing by huge trawlers from, Europe, China, etc. The film sponsored this special performance at the British Museum, on Saturday 15th August, 2015 by providing two of the amazing Moko Jumbie performers, all the way from Trinidad & Tobago, who feature in the soon to be released film Ah! Hard Rain. Photo is from the Ah! Hard Rain facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AhHardRain

The film Ah! Hard Rain is the story of a fishing village struggling to survive due to over fishing by huge trawlers from, Europe, China, etc. The film sponsored this special performance at the British Museum, on Saturday 15th August, 2015 by providing two of the amazing Moko Jumbie performers, all the way from Trinidad & Tobago, who feature in the soon to be released film Ah! Hard Rain. Photo is from the Ah! Hard Rain facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AhHardRain

INTERVIEWS

w/John R. Lee:

“…how the literature has developed through personages and work, I’ve always been conscious of that; I’ve always been conscious of the cultural context of our literature and our arts…”

***

w/?uestlove:

“I don’t mourn the bad, I don’t celebrate the good, I just walk forward.”

***

w/Attica Locke:

“We exist in the middle: We’re not demons or angels — we’re human beings. And so that is what needs to be reflected in the art of our nation.”

***

w/Anne Germanacos:

“As writers, we live double lives: lived once in the world of others, and again, in the quiet of our own minds. It takes a certain amount of will and courage to leave with regularity the circle of humanity in order to enact a kind of theft, which is one aspect of what the writing life seems to be.”

***

w/Diana King:

“As for me, I just was not the type of Jamaican singer that was ‘hype’ at the time so no attention or encouragement was given. Dreams can die like this.”

***

w/Marlon James:

“Of course I’m intimidated, but I’m also protected by social and artistic privilege. You can be immune if you’re a Rex Nettleford, or a rich gay dude, but for a poor or middle class person, not so much. And nobody is ever really immune. Gay men are still getting shot in the face in New York, there is still too much stigma against HIV for no reason. Job discrimination. Some stores want a legal right to discriminate. It isn’t over.”

***

w/Justin ‘Jus Bus’ Nation:

“I think that if we help to support this type of creative behaviour, musically and artistically, our culture in the music and arts sector can evolve greatly. A lot of people get discouraged because from a young age they are being told that they can’t succeed at their dream because it’s not the normal doctor or dentist stereotypical job that their parents see fit for sustainable income. If the government and more people took it seriously and equally took risks and chances then an infrastructure could be made for year-round arts and music on a more realistic economic level for people – instead of this fairytale, ‘movie star’ illusion that’s being fed to young kids through TV and internet.”

***

w/Yiyun Li:

“I used to keep this journal…and I knew my mother would read my journal (so) my journal was just negative space; so if there was a bird, I would not say there was a bird – I would describe the cloud around, trees, skies, just leaving a blank space of the bird. So if my mother read it, she would not see the bird.”

***

w/Joanne C. Hillhouse:

“The analogy in my head is like I’m driving down a lane, a bumpy lane like so many of the off roads in Antigua, and I’ve never been on that road before and there’s a bend and I don’t know what’s around the bend but I want to find out so I keep going, even though it’s a little bit scary…”

***

w/Diane Chamberlain:

“I wish someone had told the very young me that good writing is the ticket to success in nearly everything. I didn’t learn that until my junior year of high school when a history teacher taught us how to research and organize our essays and term papers. Suddenly, I realized I could use my writing skills in every subject (except math, unfortunately). My grades soared. It’s those skills that got me through college and graduate school, and it’s those skills I still use today as I outline and work on my books. We can do our young people a big favor by helping them learn to write well.”

***

w/Jamaica Kincaid:

“More immediately, I’m trying to earn a living in the way that is most enjoyable to me. I love the world of literature, and I hope to support myself in it. I come from the small island of Antigua and I always wanted to write; I just didn’t know that it was possible. I would pretend when I was a child that I was Charlotte Brontë, because I’d read Jane Eyre when I was ten and, although I didn’t understand it, I loved the idea that this woman had written a book. I wanted to be her.”

***

w/Jamaica Kincaid:

“I was up all night long, working on a sentence,” she said. She hadn’t finished it yet.

***

w/Michael Anthony:

“I realized I liked words, the sound of words” – Listen to the full interview 

***

w/Colin Farrell …yes, that Colin Farrell…Colin is officially the first Hollywood actor in the Wadadli Pen Reading Room…as if Hollywood actors need more publicity, right?…But whatever, I like this interview and love his accent…no apologies….besides it’s always interesting hearing artists, from any area of the arts, talking about their craft…and always refreshing to see the ways in which their journey and sensibility is not that foreign from your own:

Interviewer: Was that the last time that you were on stage?
Colin Farrell: …other than struggling to be myself on things like this.

***

w/Oonya Kempadoo:

What’s the best advice on writing you ever received? “Just write.”

***

w/John Robert Lee:

“Firstly, more creative arts education programmes are needed at all levels of our education system. The arts will evolve when young people come to a better, informed understanding of the arts. This education also creates an audience for the arts, an audience that is informed, understands what is being presented to them, and so they are better able to appreciate and evaluate creative arts.”

***

w/Tamara Ellis Smith:

“Well, the idea for Hurricane came when my son — who was four at the time — asked me from the back seat of the car, ‘Who is going to get my pants?’

This was August 2005, and we were driving a few bags of clothing and food to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort. What a great question! Of course I didn’t know, but I began to imagine who would get his pants — and then I began to actually IMAGINE who would get his pants. And I was off and running . . .”

STORIES

“But it’s getting weird lately; some nights as he rocks on top of me, I start to imagine that I’m Her…” – Starfish by Randy Triant

***

“He always cooked his pepper pot on their Oh Gad, claiming coal fire gave a better flavor, but Nora knew that it wasn’t the fire that made the dish unforgettable, it was him. It was the way they would sit on the veranda, with a bowl of the aromatic stew and listen to him recount the tales of his youth, stories of climbing mango trees and oil pan cook out by the dam. Of adventures in the sugar cane fields, and of jumbi, and sokuna and all the things that made up the lore of the country side. All their legends told in his base voice, punctuated by belly laughs and mouthfuls of pepper pot.” – The Grave Digger’s Wife by Random_Michelle (Michelle Toussaint)

***

“Legend states that the Moss is a creature hatched from a chicken egg layed on Good Friday after three months of incubation. The egg is placed under the arm of the person wishing for the Moss and has to stay there until the three months have passed. Once it begins to hatch, at the moment it emerges from the shell, one must say: ‘Mweh seh mette ou’ (I am your master) before it can say it to you, needless to say what happens if you fail. If you accomplish this then the Moss is charged to fulfill your every desire not unlike the Djinns of Persia. However it seems that a Moss comes with a terrible price…” – Glen Toussaint, Tale of the Moss.  Read more.

***

“He is taking the back way to town so that he can look at this man’s corn and consider the way in which his corn looks better.” – listen to Austin Smith’s Friday Nigh Fish Fry

***

“Outside, I see a million butterflies flitting about in the golden sunlight. He once told me that there’s a place in Kingston where, in butterfly season, you can see them falling out of trees like golden rain. We’d made plans to marry beneath one of those trees. But those plans, like Isaiah, have all disappeared. Suddenly, an image of Peter and Denise appears before me, the money they have promised me for one night.” – Read all of Sharon Leach’s Sugar.

***

“Miss lady house burn down, everybody outside. Not even the moon out but everybody out.” – Read all of Glen Toussaint’s Is Obeah dat burn down di house or Goat Mout!?

WRITERS ON PUBLISHING

The only part of this Andrew Lowe article I didn’t like was “He said no. Something about how he never allows his images to be used for commercial reasons.” which, to me, felt vaguely dismissive/mocking of the photographer’s choice but overall I thought it was an interesting and insightful take on the process of cover design… something, incidentally, we’ve tried to tackle with the Wadadli Pen Challenge.

***

If you’re out here freelancing, this article actually has a lot of stuff I’ve tried and continue to try …with mixed results.

***

“Build relationships with your readers as best you can. Building a loyal following of readers who are willing to pay for your books is your most effective way of personally combating piracy.” – if you’ve written and been published, chances are you’ve come across some site purporting to offer your book for free at some point. As with any theft, it feels like a violation…and it’s cutting in to your royalties. This article provides tips for writers on dealing with piracy.

***

“I thought back over the many interactions I’d had with agents – all but two of them white – before I landed with mine. The ones that said they loved my writing but didn’t connect with the character, the ones that didn’t think my book would be marketable even though it was already accepted at a major publishing house. Thought about the ones that wanted me to delete moments when a character of color gets mean looks from white people because “that doesn’t happen anymore” and the white magazine editor who lectured me on how I’d gotten my own culture wrong. My friends all have the same stories of whitewashed covers and constant sparring with the many micro and mega-aggressions of the publishing industry.” –  on Diversity is not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing

NON FICTION

“After colossal effort and countless attempts to acclimate myself to them, I focused on changing my way of seeing them. I pulled the curtain from the other side and started to explore the depths of their world. It took me a while, but I came to the conclusion that criminals laugh, too”. – from 1000 Lashes Because I Say What I Think by Raif Badawi. Translated by Ahmed Danny Ramadan. Read more.

***

“When I was a little girl I was sent to mass every Sunday, but I did not pay much attention to the mass, which was mostly in Latin.  My interest was drawn to the ceiling of the church where there were hundreds of paintings of pink-faced cherubs, angels and saints. There was not one black face on that ceiling!  I deduced that black people did not go to Heaven. I was a child, how was I to know that those paintings were some artist’s depiction of The Great Beyond?” – Daisy Holder Lafond, I could have been a terrorist

***

Storytelling by Jamaica Kincaid, Josh Axelrad, and Sebastian Junger from the Moth Radio series: link.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad!, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. And using any creative work without crediting the creator will open you up to legal action. Respect copyright.

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Reading Room Xl

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms, use the search feature to the right, to the right.

AUTHORS ON PUBLISHING

Honest. Is the loss of control worth it when you publish with a big five by Tracy Slater.

***

“These near-acceptances taught me that my work couldn’t be terrible, and so I kept trying. But eventually, I got tired of all the striving and rejection. I’d been calling myself a writer for years, yet hardly anyone had ever read my work! It was time to change gears– not give up, but just try a different approach. This post is my attempt to retrace the path I’ve taken, and to share what I’ve learned along the way. If you, like me, are tired of rejection or don’t know where to begin submitting, here are a few ideas to consider…” Read Anne Liu Kellor’s ideas, and consider, here.

***

“Publishing is one of those industries where, for better or worse, if the job’s done well, most of it is invisible. Most people will only remember the job of the proofreader if they find a typo that slipped through, for example. When you consider how many people are involved at each stage of a book’s development (editing, copyediting, designing, typesetting, proofreading) and how many other books each of them are juggling, you start to see why each book takes the better part of a year to work its way through the system.” – Jonathan Eyers, author of The Thieves of Pudding Lane

***

“I teach what I call ‘active description’, which is what I write, and which is the only way I’ve found to get people to actually read description rather than skimming over it while searching for the next ‘good stuff’. Active description requires the writer to think hard about the objective of the scene he’s writing, create conflicts based on the setting or other descriptive elements, and then write the conflicts INTO the description.” – Holly Lisle talking matter of factly about her writing practices…but I’m posting it here because of her extensive commentary on her publishing experience. Read the full here.

***

“I submitted SIX well over a hundred times to various poetry book contests, and in its eight years of circulation, the book was a finalist 36 times. … You must be relentless.” – Julie Marie Wade. Read more about submitting smart, submitting relentlessly from her and others at A Room of Her Own.

STORIES

This particular story is as much folk legend as fiction making Glen Toussaint not so much its writer as its chronicler, in the spirit of the Brothers Grim and Chaucer. He acknowledges as much in his introduction: “story is Geography, History, Truth and Lies, Fact and Fiction, Myth and Legend all rolled into two words that light up the eyes of folks old or young enough to know.” It is the story of the Slapping Hands. Read on.

VISUAL ART

This film (Maybe Another Time) is one minute long…does that make it a flash film? Which reminds me, be sure to check out the winning pieces from the 2015 Wadadli Pen Flash Fiction Challenge after you watch the film…TRIGGER WARNING Don’t want to spoil it for you but the ending was, for me, like a punch to the gut.

***

This could be placed one of two places – in poetry for Esther Phillips’ Feathers…or here for Danielle Boodoo Fortune’s Wonder. It’s from the Missing Slate; check it out.

AUTHORS ON WRITING

Paule Marshall writes about what she learned from the Poets in the Kitchen. An interesting read. From The Poets in the Kitchen (merged)

***

“In my play, I speak about the tragedy of being voiceless, of the fear that stops you from letting your voice be heard, and also the power that words have to shape your path.” – Ana Gonzalez Bello on Finding My Voice

***

“As female artists, when we create in an environment like this, we are constantly aware of the politics of going against the grain. Women are permitted to dabble in the arts as a hobby but when you brand yourself as a serious artist, when you have the audacity to exhibit your work and to spend countless hours creating art, it means that you run the risk of being perceived as a ‘bad’ woman, one who is perhaps neglecting the more important work of contributing to society via traditionally prescribed roles.” – Tanya Shirley. Read more.

***

“The problem with passing information through a POV character comes when you use the wrong one. When you funnel information through someone who should already know it, the audience gets wise to what you’re doing. In the film Gravity, George Clooney’s character keeps telling Sandra Bullock how satellite debris behaves in space, I kept expecting her to say, ‘You do know I’m an astronaut too, right?'” – Drew Chial

***

“I have Derek Walcott at my bedside…He reminds me that poui yellow blossoms are as valid as daffodils dancing in the breeze,” – Barbara Jenkins in Susumba.

***

“If you have anxieties about your writing, and you’re waiting for them to go away before you properly begin, my advice is to stop waiting and begin now. You won’t feel ready. Writing is difficult, and your doubt won’t dissipate overnight. Be patient with yourself. What will happen is that you’ll become accustomed to the doubt and difficulty. You’ll accept it as an intrinsic part of the writing process, and this preparedness will help you eventually ignore it. So acknowledge to yourself that writing is rarely easy, and that time doesn’t make it easier. Brace yourself for the hard slog, be brave and do it anyway. After all, it is writing’s difficulty which makes it beautiful. Don’t expect it to be anything else. Just keep calm, carry on, keep going.” Read more of Hannah Kent’s rules. I think I’m going to check out her book Burial Rites.

***

“Fiction writing is totally dependent on your imagination, so all the daydreaming I used to do as a child was good practice.” – Vanessa Salazar

***

“A writer needs to go out into the world. There aren’t that many things that can be written about on your own, in isolation.” – Monique Roffey

***

“How much of the world’s fiction can readers explore in English? Shamefully little, according to Ann Morgan, whose latest project took her on a reading trip around the globe. According to Morgan, a substantial number of the world’s 196 independent nations can’t even claim a single novel available in English translation. She joins us to talk about the challenges and delights of literary travel.” – from the Guardian’s audio interview with British writer Ann Morgan and South Korean writer Han Kang.

***

“There are all these stories swirling around in the Universe, and you just take a deep breath, close your eyes and grab one.” – Leone Ross

***

“Sam Selvon kept his distinctive Trinidadian or West Indian voice intact in his literary self and manner as he depicted what was authentic. His stories are his ‘ballad’ (he calls it), reflecting what’s quintessentially oral and a literary ground-breaker, as he captures the foibles of West Indian immigrant life at home and abroad. In re-reading his stories it’s as if one has never left home – everything is captured in each brush-stroke of the pen” – Cyril Dabydeen on Sam Selvon on Writing

***

“Learn to look at your work as if it isn’t your work. Be as hard on yourself as you would anyone else.” – Brian McDonald on judging your own work.

***

“A friend of mine is a reader for the New England Review and he told me that typos are an indication to him that a story hasn’t been cared for enough. If the lines aren’t right, chances are the story isn’t either. And even though we know this isn’t necessarily true, it is true that our work has only one shot to make an impression on an editor.” – Emily Lackey on the process of submitting.

***

“I write every day and see it as a way of life rather than a job.” – Monique Roffey. Read More.

***

“Word by word.” – part of Paul Beatty’s answer when asked how his book (The Sellout) came to be. Read his full interview here.

***

Jane Austen road tested novels by reading them aloud. More on the BBC.

***

“The greater difficulty isn’t in avoiding autobiographical elements; the greater difficulty is to consciously craft the raw ore of your life into fiction, to transmute the glaringly real into a thing of (hopefully) accomplished artifice.” – Ruel Johnson in an interview with Shivanee Ramlochan.

***

I’m currently reading Sharon Millar’s The Whale House and Other Stories and discovering how textured the spaces she imagines and/or reflects are; it’s an immersive experience. This Arc interview provides interesting insights on how she approaches her craft.

***

“…for that is what writing is. It needs to become a habitual practice.” – Monique Roffey on developing a writing lifestyle and more.

***

“I know what I’m trying to do: I’m trying to write a book and trying to write an original book. Those are the things that concern me. I’m always trying to write an original sentence or trying to figure out why I can’t grow blue poppies in Vermont or how to keep a woodchuck out of my garden or something like that.” – Jamaica Kincaid in 12 Reasons Why Jamaica Kincaid is a Badass at the Huffington Post.

***

“There’s an assumption about writing sci fi and fantasy that you can just make up any old thing as you go along, but that’s no more true than it is of historical fiction. The world of your story must have its own internal logic, rules and constraints. What makes writing historical fiction perhaps even harder than writing sci fi and fantasy is that the constraints are historical facts – and you probably won’t know all of them…Whilst you have to know the period better than your readers do, you should reach around your writing, not write around your research. Let the characters and the plot lead the way.” – Jonathan Eyers, author of The Thieves of Pudding Lane, on The Importance of Research.

***

Ann Morgan: “When I graduated from my creative writing master’s course and had to face the reality of earning my keep, I made a deal with myself: wherever I was working and whatever I was doing, I would always get up early and spend an hour or so on my own writing before I left to go and work for someone else. For the next few years, through a series of varied and sometimes rather strange jobs (administrator, campaigns officer for a charity, invigilator for school exams, assessor of doctors’ surgeries, freelance choral singer, professional mourner – don’t ask), I stuck to my bargain. Give or take the odd duvet day, I got up at around 6am, sat at my desk and wrote. I produced a lot of nonsense. Still, when I became a professional writer, I carried on with my regime. Before commuting into London to edit articles on planning applications for Building Design or write about the latest opportunities for international students for the British Council, I would spend an hour or so on my own (usually not very promising) projects.” Read how it’s all beginning to pay off.

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“I’ve been haunted by these memories for a long time. I guess I just decided it was time to let it out, all of it. There comes a time in your life when you say to yourself that if you continue to act normal and don’t go mad then your entire life has been a waste. I felt I had reached that moment, when I was tired of keeping it in, tired of the ordinariness, the routine, the boredom, and seeing the same ugly people every day. I went mad and wrote. A part of me wanted it to be a tribute to my family; the other part knew it was an expression of who I truly am.” – Ezekiel Alan, author of Disposable People.

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“Characters. It’s all about the characters.” – you had me at characters, Millie Ho.

POETRY

So much drama and tension in these lines…
“We arrive, and my daughter jumps out to snap a photo of Laguerre’s grave.
A car is parked in the circle drive in front of the closed mansion.
The trunk lid is open, and a man is bent over the trunk.
A teen on a motorbike holds out an open messenger’s bag to him.
The man is filling the bag with plastic packets.
I get it. Coño. I understand the frog-boy.

I calculate the footsteps necessary for my daughter
to return to the car, and the distance of that isolated drive back to Moca.
I wave her over, and she runs, already equally weirded-out.
Las entregadas, deliveries to be made by delivery boys of the cañavernal.
A perfect desolate spot for transactions after dark, who comes out here?” – from Yerba Mala by Loretta Collins Klobah. Read the full poem.

Interesting relationship here between the subject of the painting and the artist…and inevitably between the writer of the poem and them both…and now, the reader and the whole…
“Our boy does not look to the ship at his back,
nor to the sky, nor even to the sailors, who now have locked onto his arms.
Rather, he turns to look backwards, over his shoulder at Campeche, his blue eyes
gazing directly into those of his creator, neither grateful nor pleading.
One boy at the mercy of the sea— Campeche could dip a paintbrush, like an oar,
into the water to pull the boy out, but he does not.” – from The Salvation of Don Ramón Power by Loretta Collins Klobah. Read the full poem.

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On Describing Love by Danielle Boodoo Fortune

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Lost Love by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

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Congratulations to friend of Wadadli Pen Danielle Boodoo Fortune who served as a judge in 2014 and 2015 on her win of the 2015 Hollick Arvon prize at the Bocas literary festival in her homeland, Trinidad. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving artist. Here’s a sample of her work…

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Cranberry Sauce Provides An Improper Dressing For the Modern Turkey by Natasha Kochicheril Moni at Verse Daily.

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“At school they line children up. Aliens must stand aside to show themselves.” – Exposed by Althea Romeo Mark.

LISTS

Sharing this Culture Trip list of Jamaican writers mostly FYI; it’s always good to expand our knowledge of the Caribbean literary canon.

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Been meaning to post this…

I try to share news of interest to and/or involving Caribbean writers when I come across it. This has been bookmarked for a while now but I never got around to posting. It’s the finals of the Wasafiri 2013 writing contest. Wasafiri is a UK based publication open to global writing but known to be of a high standard and exceedingly difficult to get into. So, kudos to Danielle Boodoo Fortune, my writer friend from Trinidad and Tobago (who actually interviewed me once in a post featured elsewhere on this site), who was shortlisted in its 2013 contest for her poem For Difficult Daughters. No surprise there, Danielle is a double threat with poetry and art that is distinctive.

Here she is among the full list of 2013 poetry finalists …

‘Isabella’ by Ron Carey

’38 to Islington’ by Liz Bahs

‘A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Stealing Love’ by Anita Pati

‘Kama Sutra’ by Amali Rodrigo

‘For Difficult Daughters’ by Danielle Boodoo-Fortune

 

The poetry winner was Anita Pati for ‘A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Stealing Love’

And here’s the full list of finalists including fiction and life writing categories.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C.
Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!), founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

 

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Reading Room lV

Yep, it’s a new Reading Room; lots of stuff to share so it was time to expand from Reading Room and Gallery, Reading Room and Gallery II,  and Reading Room and Gallery III. But I still hope you’ll check them out.

DISCLAIMER: By definition, you’ll be linking to third party sites from these Links-We-Love pages. Linked sites are not, however, reviewed or controlled by Wadadli Pen (the blog, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize nor coordinator/blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse); and Wadadli Pen (the blog, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize and coordinator/blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse) disclaims any responsibility or liability relating to any linked sites and does not assume any responsibility for their contents. In other words, enter at your own risk.

Here you’ll find stories, interviews, reviews, poems; you name it…a totally subjective showcase of (mostly) Caribbean written (sometimes visual and audio visual) pieces that I (Joanne) have either personally appreciated or which have been recommended (and approved) for posting/linking. If you’re looking for the winning Wadadli Pen stories (and I hope you are!), check Wadadli Pen through the years. You can also see the Best of Wadadli Pen special issue at Anansesemwhich has the added feature of audio dramatizations of some of the stories.

POEMS
This poet acknowledges that her English is broken an not by accident. The poem’s a quick read but it will stick with you.

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Tanya Shirley’s poetry is vivid and steeped in the rhythms of rural Jamaica and the tensions between the characters that inhabit it…if these three  (Matey*Shall not Conquer, Waiting for Rain (Again), and Every Hoe have him Stick a Bush) are any example.

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I had mixed feelings about the poems in Aloud Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café Nicole Breedlove’s An Open Letter to Myself was one I liked. Also her ‘Front Page or Bust’ but I can’t find a link to that one. Also on my must-read list
Diane Burns’ Sure You Can Ask me a Personal QuestionTough Language and American Sonnet by Wanda Coleman;
Martin Espada’s Two Mexicanos Lynched in Santa Cruz, California, May 3 1877  and Latin Night at the Pawn Shop ; Pedro Pietri’s Telephone Booth Number 905 ½ , La bodega sold dreams , the Book of Genesis according to St. Miguelito , and the Records of Time by Miguel Pinero; Born Anew at Each A.M. by Piri Thomas; Asha Bandele’s In Response to a Brother’s Question about what he should do when his Best Friend beats up his Woman; and For the Men who still don’t get it by Carol Diehl.

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When Antiguan and Barbudan folk history writer and poet Joy Lawrence said this is her favourite poem, I had to look it up. Like she said it has a force that impresses on all the senses.

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W. H. Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts is one of my all time favourite poems. I also like Stop all the Clocks.

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“My beauty was never the common beauty of a pampered and petted whore
Whoever seeks such beauty deserves whatever uselessness he finds.
Tepid and tasteless like watered down coffee.
My beauty is so fierce,
so dark, so thick
so ancient, so strong,
you will have to grow new eyes to drink it in.” – love these lines from Donna Aza Weir’s Uncommon Beauty in the Afro Beat Journal… in fact I love the entire Haiti-themed poem.

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Opal Palmer Adisa writes of

“Obedient daughters.
Patient women.
Compliant wives.
Loving mothers.”

in Watching and Waiting.

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Poetry posting by Althea Romeo Mark – I especially liked ‘Whisperer’ and ‘Because I am Woman’.

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She by Eric Merton Roach – posted to the Caribbean Writers tumblr.

SHORT STORIES

NON FICTION

West Virginia native Natalie Sypolt writes of her struggle with writing what she knows in a way that resonates as both powerful and true: “My decision to move away from ‘what I knew’ to safer stories also had to do with the rejections I’d been receiving from literary journals, the models I’d been reading in class (which were nothing like my stories), and, ultimately, the old fear that who I am and where I’m from is seen by the rest of the world as a joke.” The last one is what really bites. Read the whole piece here.

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What to call this? A reverse rejection letter? Not throwing any shade but it’s fun when writers are able to get their own back now and again. Here’s the End of the World of Books from Letters of Note – a pretty cool site with letters of note like that. Such as the letter exchange re the evolution of the Outsiders, a movie I remember for its beautiful sunsets and poetry (nothing gold can stay…) and music (Stevie Wonder’s ribbon in the sky), the delightful teenage angst and suburban style class warfare, across the tracks romance, the epic rumble at the end and all the Rob Lowe-Matt Dillon-C. Thomas Howell-Ralph Macchio hotness; a movie both my sister and I loved back when we were tweens crushing on Pony Boy and Soda Pop.

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I found this to be an interesting read. It includes references to teaching Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy and other Caribbean books in college/university level courses in the US where the culture of the book is so different from the students’ lives; how do you access and understand the nuances of that culture without having a knee jerk sort of superior response. Here’s an example:

‘One of the things students often say when I teach a book like      this (Lionheart Gal) is “Oh, my gosh, their lives are so rough. They’re      so mistrustful of men. It’s supposed to be nicer than that.”      And “Why can’t they just get along?” I ask them to      answer the same questions that the women in Sistren were asked      to answer in order to create these stories. Questions like “When      did you first realize that you were oppressed as a woman?”      not just “What is your life like?” I ask my students,      “If you were to ask the same questions, what would your      story come out sounding like?” That is often a very good      way to make them understand the parallels between the issues      they are dealing with and the commonsense wisdom, the women’s      wisdom, articulated in these stories.’

Beyond the themes, it also talks about the challenges surrounding how students (including creole speaking students socialized to reject the creole in an academic space) engage with the language in these texts. For these and the other issues it explores, I found this article by Professor Rhonda Cobham-Sander to be share-worthy.

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So I’m intrigued by this Lorna Goodison interview for a few reasons. Because she’s a kick ass poet. Because of what she said about measuring (or not measuring) yourself against others. Because she always comes across like a cool down to earth Caribbean sister in spite of the lofty heights to which her talent has taken her. Because she loves Keats. And because of the question and answer re Antigua at the end.

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Beware self censorship…that’s the moral of this story.

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“These days, I have been learning to write with optimism. The kind of writing that enjoys life, whether it’s a talk on the phone, sunlight on a pier, or the wild joy of a rumba.” This is from Summer Edward’s article, On Writing for Adults. It’s a novel idea for too many of us writers who write from such dark spaces. I like this idea.

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Two things…what she said here… but also how our stray words can sometimes stifle an emerging creative light… one of the things Wadadli Pen urges is to write/draw/express your truth freely…if you can’t be free in the imagination, then where.

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“It isn’t personal. It feels personal, you’re sure it’s personal, how could be anything BUT personal…but it isn’t. The work is simply a widget, and this particular widget didn’t fit. So try again. If it comes back, re-examine your widget and edit as needed. Then try again.” Yeah, you guessed it, this is about processing and handling rejections (the bane of every writer’s existence).

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“Truth be told, some of my most rewarding research didn’t feel like research at the time I was experiencing it; it just felt like life.” Read more.

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Rex Nettleford wrote of dance:

“So, you know, the power of the body, it’s your instrument, it doesn’t  belong to anybody else, and you can use it to carve designs in space — by  which I mean create a vocabulary. I learned from early that just a turn of  the head, the drop of a shoulder, can say a thousand words.”

Read More.

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Words can be powerful deterrents; this blog post by Danielle Boodoo Fortune is a reminder that we should be about using our words to encourage our young people to express not repress.

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That fine line between when it’s still yours and when it isn’t anymore is not an easy one  to walk. But the writing is still… you just (just, ha!) have to learn how to switch gears.

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Publishing may be changing, and this article breaks down how, but it also says in simple terms that what we do remains the same – tell good stories.

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What I like about this article (Extended Family: When Fictional Characters show up in your Living Room by Nancy Kricorian) is how it illustrates what a slow, subtle, deliberate process writing often is. Ten years sounds like a lot especially compared to the “six months” or less spouted by other writers but this is a reminder that it’s not about time but about space, about worlds inhabiting each other. And that’s not to say that that can’t happen more quickly than 10 years; after all Zora Neale Hurston wrote one of the classic works of literature Their Eyes were watching God over seven weeks while on a trip to Haiti. But there’s no rush (publishing deadlines notwithstanding). I haven’t read Nancy’s book (All the Light There was) but the author’s attention to detail in building the world of her characters makes me want to. Plus I can relate to the need to steal time from the demands and expectations of your life, time to write.

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“That is how I feel sometimes with my art, that you have ideas but to some persons, it looks like nothing. But to me…nothing is something.” That’s a quote from Bajan artist Sheena Rose’s first performance piece (if you don’t count this intriguing Sweet Gossip project). I like this review because it gives enough of a play by play that you can kind of see it but it also provides an interpretation of the actions that it’s not simply a play by play. As a long distance fan of Rose’s, I’m liking the daring suggested by this brave new step. I had an online discussion with someone who wondered if the nudity was necessary to communicate all the piece hoped to. Necessary? Perhaps not…but gratuituous, I sense not…there is substance behind the artifice and figuring out what that is is the interesting bit.

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This is an interesting piece on publishing from the Caribbean Book Blog. It addresses what to do if your book goes out of print. This is something I’ve actually had to deal with with my first two books which were originally published with Macmillan and which despite positive response didn’t sell as well as the publisher anticipated and as such were allowed to go out of print. It was a low point for me, but I rebounded when after seeking the reversal of rights, I was able to get The Boy from Willow Bend so far back in print with Hansib. This article deals with one of those things writers need to consider about publishing contracts when it comes to rights. Now, it would be ironic if I posted this and found myself, despite my best efforts to be well researched and well advised each time before signing on the dotted line, ensnared in the very things it warns against down the road…but I won’t let that possibility stop me from sharing this because if you’re thinking of publishing, you need to be mindful of the pitfalls and the potholes. We all need to be.

INTERVIEWS

Emily Raboteau on memoir writing and her book Searching for Zion.

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Maya Angelou’s poetry and prose are legendary; so too the woman herself. Here’s a recent interview. In it she talks about her writing rhythms, heartwarming encounters, Martin Luther King, James Baldwin and much more. Part of what stood out for me was the challenges of the writing process itself because sometimes you imagine that it comes easy for the greats while you struggle to find the right word. She said: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” and every writer, every writer struggling for the right word, feels the truth of that. I was struck by the condescension with which one writer spoke of her decision to write for Hallmark. To quote Rick Santorum (and I never thought I’d say that), what a snob. Glad to have Maya confirm that not only does a well worded greeting card have the power to affect people as surely as a work of great literature, it’s just as difficult to find the right word: “I would write down a paragraph that expressed what I wanted to say, and then try to reduce it to two sentences.”

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Recently someone who knows Edwidge Dandicat indicated that she’s just as warm and generous as she appears to be in her interviews. All that and talented too. She remains one of my literary inspirations. Check out her frank discussion on women writers, tokenism, and more hard truths from the world of publishing…don’t worry, while she doesn’t sugar coat, she still manages to inspire. Oh, and like her, I, too, think Alice Walker’s In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens should be required reading especially for black women writers. As for Dandicat’s books, for my money you can’t go wrong with the Farming of Bones and Create Dangerously.

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Junot Diaz interview at the Caribbean Literary Salon. If you haven’t read Diaz yet, you should; meanwhile, go read this interview.

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Zadie Smith on The Root, frank discussion on a lot of literary issues including reviews …my favourite line on the question of multiculturalism “We are people; we exist.”

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My interview at PhD in Creative Writing; a blog that asks writers in five not so easy questions, how’d you become a writer.

VISUAL ART

The relationship between sisters is so much a part of my writing, how could I not share Claudette Dean’s Sisters? One of the things I find beguiling about it is how at first glance you see the obvious similarities – notably the shape of the face and eyes but that the longer you look you see that each of those eyes tell a different story. I find myself wondering what those stories are. It’d make a great writing prompt.

Love this! (Requiem for Haiti by Chantal Bethel)

N.B. For some of my stuff, visit http://jhohadli.wordpress.com

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