Tag Archives: Eric Jerome Dickey

Reading Room and Gallery XVl

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), click the links or use the search feature to the right, to the right.

VISUALS

No this is not just an excuse to post the Formation video. This is, as all links in this section, a how they made it post. And this is the it that they made – so much to unpack with the visuals (video directed by Melinda Matsoukas with footage from 2014 documentary That B.E.A.T. directed by Abteen Bagheri) and as I said on my facebook, I’m kind of digging politicalBey.

***

“What are you going to do with this kind of thing?” – initial response to Dorothea Lange’s street photography during America’s Great Depression (sidenote: for more art on the Great Depression you can’t go wrong with the film The Grapes of Wrath and the book it’s based on)

POETRY

“Poems for me often come in a flash—and then there is the intense crafting that begins in getting at the poem that is hidden within that first draft.” – Jacqueline Bishop

***

‘To add to the insult, my father reminded me that “Tonto” means dumb-dumb in Spanish. Perhaps I became a writer the very night I became an Indian dressed as a fake Indian named Dumb-Dumb.’ – Natalie Diaz on Hand-me-down Halloween

BIOGRAPHIES

‘”He wrote back to me saying ‘Michael Anthony, promise me you will never write another poem. But the short story has promise,'” recalls Anthony in remarkably good humour.’ Read more on this Trinidadian author.

BLOGGED

“The ballet that inspired the maswork is about the inevitability of death (the title gives that away, right?). It’s a classic Minshall move to have taken this exemplary work of European ‘high’ culture and translated it via two traditional Carnival characters, the moko jumbie and the Dame Lorraine. And through a minimalist but rigorously considered form, a deceptively simple performance by the masquerader, a touch of self-awareness and self-parody (it’s a burly dude in drag, after all), to have made something that his audience can plainly delight in, while feeling the little emotional quiver of recognition that this is an artist’s elegy for his art.” – Nicholas Laughlin in a social media discussion quoted on Annie Paul’s blog re Peter Minshall’s controversial 2016 King costume The Dying Swan – Ras Najinski in Drag as Anna Pavlova in The Dying Swan

***

“It really does take me back to childhood; hearing (but not listening to) the weather report at the end of the 7pm evening news, sitting at the dining table with my brother eating supper of bread and… (bread and peanut butter or sardines or potted meat or corned beef or fried bologna or cheese or guava jelly or maybe just butter.. but always bread) and drinking ovaltine from my Minnie Mouse mug. The bread would be wood-bread (forever the BEST bread ever to be made!) and the ovaltine would be hot, sweetened with sugar (or condensed milk if there wasn’t any sugar) and creamy with milk. The adults would usually be talking about any and everything – politics, the number of times the “current lock off” that day (power outages were very common then), the happenings at school or work; they never seemed much interested in the weather report except when a hurricane was about to hit, then they weren’t interested in anything but the weather report.” – reminiscences… at SimplyNatural blog.

***

“It appears that the local writer needs to begin to consider publishing her work in regional and international presses. Such an endeavor, though daunting, will begin to establish the readership necessary to establish regional relevance as an author and then hopefully territorial significance in the landscape of our local literature. Poets need to start publishing their poetry in established online and print journals, novelists need to start publishing short stories, and so on. The obvious benefit to the individual is that arduous process of creation and revision sharpens her skills and hones her craft, meaning that when the next great Virgin Islands novel is published it can be a text that stands up to and against the contemporary novels of the region.” – Richard Georges, BVI

***

“Everything you hear me saying on this record is at least the fourth or fifth draft. I would write a verse and then rewrite it and rewrite it. I don’t sit down and write a song, and then slam down the phone like, ‘We got another one!’ and pop some champagne. It’s like if someone’s writing a novel: You write a series of drafts.” – Black Thought of the Roots as quoted in this posting about the greatest hip hop band of all time.

***

NON FICTION

‘“Naipaul instructed Theroux in writing. He rejected anything false or showy or mannered; he insisted on clarity and simplicity and hard work. “The truth is messy,” he told Theroux. “It is not pretty. Writing must reflect that. Art must tell the truth.” He decided that a writer’s duty is to be wholly honest to himself, without compromise, and to tell the truth as he sees it, never mind the consequences.’ – Jeremy Taylor writing on V. S. Naipaul

***

“My face is a mama’s face to my daughter. She holds my face and says Mommy, you’re pretty. My husband has only known me with this face. My co-workers have only known me with this face. I have many friends who know me only with this face. It is a good face. Next year will be half a life with this particular face.” – Latoya Jordan

***

“With this heightened sensitivity to the Caribbean space and spirit, the ethos of Plantation, Kamau exists as a kind of sage, but in a society that still has not been able to consistently decide what to do with him, he can be more accurately likened to a figure in Roman law and society, known as the homo sacer, a status that may fall upon oath breakers as well as persons who threatened the hegemony in that society.” – Vladimir Lucien writing on Kamau Braithwaite

***

Okay, so this isn’t riveting prose; but it is riveting research into youth career selection among a select group of students in Antigua and Barbuda, and revealing in what it says about the disconnect between available subjects and career goals and national agenda. Give it a read.

***

‘We run into an old lady.
“Children, tell me, can I drink milk from my cow?”
We look down at the ground, we have our orders—collect data, but don’t interact with the local population.
Finally the driver speaks up. “Grandma, how old are you?”
“Oh, more than eighty. Maybe more than that, my documents got burned during the war.”
“Then drink all you want.”
I understood, not right away, but after a few years, that we all took part in that crime, in that conspiracy.’ – Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich #riveting

WRITERS ON PUBLISHING

“Compelling reasons to carry your book include you (1) being a local author; (2) having strong publicity backing your book; or (3) proving that you will bring in the readers/buyers. If you don’t have any of these three things, you’re a tough sell.” Brooke Warner writing on why your book isn’t being carried in bookstores  

***

“By industry standards, I suppose I am a failed author. Since I started writing for young readers in 2000, only three of my thirty stories have been published traditionally. I turned to self-publishing as my only recourse, and now face the contempt of those who see self-publishing as a mere exercise in vanity.” – Zetta Elliott on Black Authors and Self-Publishing

WRITERS ON WRITING CREATIVES ON CREATING

“My friend James Patterson is a big believer in the importance of a great outline. These days, in fact, the outline may be the main thing he actually writes, while he turns over the actual writing to his stable of co-authors. This is how he manages to turn out three or four novels a year, and still fit in a few holes of golf most days. Still, James Patterson believes in hard work. Seven days a week, in his case—though Mr. Patterson doesn’t call writing work, because he loves it so much. This is a man with an unmistakable passion for what he does.” – Joyce Maynard after taking James Patterson’s masterclass. Two comments: 1, I always wondered how people churned out three to four novels a year. Mystery solved. 2, I won’t sign off on drafting outlines and leaving the actual writing to co-authors but I do like the belief in “hard work” and the “unmistakable passion”.

***

“Once I am done with a draft of a chapter, I am the only person who can read it. Pages are full of half sentences, doodles, arrows pointing here and there. Then, I complete sentences; I fix the grammar, and make the images understandable. Then that chapter is ready for an editor.” – How I Write My Graphic Novels: A Breakdown from Ozge Samanci

***

“To be honest, when I started with the pthalo blue background, I intended to let the wispy bits of the feathers fade into the blue … but then I mixed up a nice buttery colour and I just got carried away cutting away the negative shapes around the wreath shape.
That left me with a blue wreath floating on a light background. So then I got the idea to add a pattern, to help integrate the different elements of the image  … and I started with circles. How about a wreath floating, on a stoney riverbed?” – Donna Grandin as she creates.

***

“The other thing I would say is if you feel safe in the area that you’re working in you’re not working in the right area…go a little bit out of your depth…” – David Bowie

***

“Then one day I realized something. I realized that in the midst of all of the colourful leaves, there was the occasional stem covered in tiny white flowers, like little starbursts. I had seen the stems with the buds before, but for some reason I never noticed the flowers.” – Donna Grandin

***

“If your handsome, muscular, confident hero strides assertively and briskly into the dusty, spare, lamplit room, you’ve got a problem with excessive description—specifically, with the overuse of adjectives and adverbs.”  – Joseph Bates writing in Writer’s Digest the Five Cardinal Sins of Description

***

“A concert pianist practices twenty or thirty hours for every hour she’s on stage. That’s after she’s completed years of lessons and practice to master her craft well enough to be on stage in the first place. A champion athlete trains long and hard to prepare herself for an event that may last seconds. Everyone expects this of them, the athlete and pianist expect it of themselves. No one expects to succeed – or get paid – for their first effort. Except writers. Writing is a craft and a skill that requires constant work, constant practice to maintain. I took the book back down off the shelf.” – KeVin K (Kevin Killiany) blogging at NovelSpaces

INTERVIEWS

“Being laid off, having to live off the bare essentials didn’t detour him, as a matter of fact he didn’t mind at all. It was almost as if he was liberated and being forced into his calling. Attending writing workshops, classes, using his experiences, he has built characters that are so much like him and his experiences and characters that are nothing like him at all. He’s taken his readers from small country towns to international locations that would be any traveler’s dream. Speaking not just as an author but also as a fan I have seen his books grow and evolve; novels that aren’t just about sex or drama but novels that are meant to tell stories. To this day he still goes to writing classes and gets excited about taking notes and learning new things.” – re fAntiguan Eric Jerome Dickey

***

“Let’s take ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ by The Supremes. This is a hypothetical example, but, to me, the most important part of that song is the tenor sax part in the background. So while everyone will sing the lead — ‘Baby, baby where did our love go’ — I’ll start singing … the saxophone part that’s buried in the mix somewhere. I have no idea why [it is] that the small nuances of a song are more attractive to me than the actual song. [But] this definitely explains why I have zero pop sensibility.” – ?uestlove of The Roots on NPR. Listen to the full interview.

***

“Soul II Soul was a collective and formerly a sound system. This is how we started. Making music together came about during our days as a sound system. Most traditional sound systems make their own music, which is what led to the genesis of the whole Soul II Soul forming. You can really relate back to songs like “Jazzie’s Groove” and “Fairplay” to get a full understanding of what we were trying to do musically. What I tried to do on the first album was to explain what Soul II Soul was all about. Technically, Soul II Soul is a sound system rather than a band per se, which is why we have a rotating lineup of different singers. This goes back to the origins of the old sound systems as well, because in a sound system, you would also have many different MCs or DJs. All of these things combined to form Soul II Soul.” – Jazzie B., British artiste with Antiguan roots reflects on Soul II Soul’s breakthrough album.

***

“It starts while I’m in the final editing phases of a novel—that’s when I begin thinking about what I’d like to work on next. I consider what would be fun and what excites me. Once I have a clear sense of where I want to go, I write a quick first draft, kind of vomit-style. This doesn’t take more than a couple months, and it’s usually a short manuscript, not more than 60,000 words. I let that draft sit for a while, then go through and hack out bits I hate and fancy up the bits I like. Once I’ve done this a few times and feel I’ve hit a wall, I send the manuscript to a couple readers. I incorporate their feedback and make more revisions and then hire a freelance editor. Right now I am working with Diane Glazman for my next novel, Spore Girl. Then I begin shopping the manuscript around. I went with a small press for Destroying Angel, and I hope to sign with an agent and release Spore Girl with a larger publisher.” – Missy Wilkinson on doubt, writing, and which book she’d like to live in.

***

“Talent is the tiniest part of a writer’s makeup. What counts is perseverance, good friends (writers and non-writers), a tough skin to ignore what others think about you–which is none of your business anyway–and a little bit of luck, which will help you on those days when you are down and thinking, ‘Why on earth am I doing this to myself?'” – JAmerican writer Geoffrey Philp on his writing journey and tools.

***

“…there’s no money in it…” – Linisa George, Antiguan and Barbudan writer, arts and social activist, and former Wadadli Pen judge, on her various arts projects. Listen to the full interview.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

Leave a comment

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

Reading Room XV

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.

FICTION

“So, Damian spent his time climbing trees in our backyard, acting like those TV monkeys. He mimicked them: jumping on me like those babies did their mommies. It’s cute when they do it. But when he did it . . . well, things broke. My arm, leg, and, once, he yanked so hard on me I herniated a spinal disc.” – Read Mindy Halleck’s full story.

***

‘“Did you pack a snack and a sweater?”

Charlisa pointed to her backpack. “They’re in my satchel,” she said, waiting to see if Sister Rita would notice she’d learned the word.’ –
Read the full award winning story by Brenda Scott Royce here.

***

I’m putting this in the fiction category though Moko’s Firing the Canon includes visual arts and poetry as well, because I mostly talk about the fiction here (you can and should read the whole issue though).

VISUAL

A new website, http://www.barrelstories.org launched in January following the successful Commonwealth Shorts’ film by Lisa Harewood, Auntie. Lisa’s idea is for the site to encourage conversations about the effects, both positive and negative, of migrants leaving their children behind in the care of others. It’s a place where we can listen to personal accounts of parents, children and carers.  You can also contribute your own story; to do so, email to submit@barrelstories.org

***

12278980_431263677078871_7958919509513440780_n

“A definite powerful conversation piece, the mural sends a strong message to our society and demonstrates what can be accomplished when youths are empowered and encouraged to affect change.” Read more about this mural, created by youths of Antigua and Barbuda.

WRITERS ON WRITING

“Although you the writer are indeed doing the writing, your narrator is the one telling the story. And that narrator is not you. Sure, your narrator could be a slightly more neurotic or jealous version of you, or someone very different from you, or somewhere in between, but he or she is not you. Yep, even when you’re using first person.” – Janelle Drumwright

***

“While too much detail and description can bog down the pace of a story, the reader still needs adequate description to frame the story.” – Zetta Brown, introducing How to Create a Fictional Setting by Michelle Gwynn Jones.

***

“Very often your dialogue can become stilted unless you are a good listener, and if you listen you’ll discover that people interrupt each other.” – Maeve Binchy – Secrets from the Writing Club

***

“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything. Or a broken billboard. Or weeds growing in the cracks of a library’s steps. Of course, none of this means a lot without characters the reader cares about (and sometimes characters—‘bad guys’—the reader is rooting against).” – Stephen King, read more at Writer’s Digest.

BLOG

From Antigua to London to the US to the Bahamas…Linisa George’s Brown Girl in a Ring is indeed well-travelled. In this post, a Bahamian actress reflects on performing it in the country’s annual Shakespeare Festival. Check out what she had to say about the experience in this posting – You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do on her blog The Little Lady’s Diary.

AUTHORS ON PUBLISHING

“Most writers I know continue to work on their submissions for years, even after acceptance, feeling they can always improve. So don’t get egotistical about what you want to stubbornly believe is your final draft. Accept that most writing is never final, even amongst the best.” Read more of Ralph Monday’s article : The More Lines Cast Into the Water, the More Fish That Will Bite (and Other Tips on Submitting to Lit Mags)

***

“Never give up” plus *bonus* Supernatural gifs. Read more on self-publishing after publishing by Jennifer Armentrout here.

***

“Instead of sending the manuscript out to other potential markets, I waited…and waited…and waited for a response from Arabesque. I eventually got despondent and put the whole publishing idea on indefinite hold. (Pro tip: DO NOT DO THAT!)” – Liane Spicer at Novel Spaces

VIDEO

“Books have an extraordinary power to take you out of yourself and into someone else’s mindset, so that for a while at least you look at the world through different eyes.” – Ann Morgan talking about her journey Reading the World. (click on the image for the vid)Ann MorganFor For my thoughts on the book that her journey birthed, check Blogger on Books ll

POETRY

“And somewhere inside him, he wanted/ to be here for all of it: all the repeating shapes and pegs/ of that life-long game where the more things changed,/ was the more they stayed the same.” – Vladimir Lucein’s Overseer: Detention

***

“It’s not your fault, no
I blame those boats
I blame the coast
Hell, I blame the tide
I blame the sea for not picking a side
I blame the slave traders and sellout chiefs alike
But it seems like you blame me
For being born in a former British colony
I sound white?
As opposed to what?
Sounding American?” – slam poet Maya Wegerif, Why You talk so White?

***

This one started showing up in my social media timeline after the November 2015 Paris attacks. I decided to look it up and share it. It’s by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire:
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

Read all of What they did Yesterday Afternoon

***

by David Crawley.jpg

by David Crawley

INTERVIEWS

w/David Baldacci:

‘A former lawyer, Baldacci still attacks his writing career as if preparing for a high-stakes defense. His typical day currently involves a few hours of work on his second Decker thriller, another few hours drafting Book 3 of Vega Jane, and another few hours on a screenplay. “During the course of the day I might work on three or four different projects, but only when I run out of gas on one do I move on to another,” Baldacci says. “I write until my tank is empty each day. I don’t count words or pages or whatever—that seems like an artificial goal for me.”’

w/Claudia Rankine:

‘“Because white men can’t/ police their imagination/ black men are dying.” What was in your mind when you wrote that line?

When white men are shooting black people, some of it is malice and some an out-of-control image of blackness in their minds. Darren Wilson told the jury that he shot Michael Brown because he looked “like a demon”. And I don’t disbelieve it. Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people.’

w/Brenda Scott Royce:

“When I struggle to think of ‘what’s next’ in a story, I draw a blank. But then I’ll be listening to NPR or shopping for groceries or having a random conversation with a stranger, and something sparks an idea. Meeting someone with an unusual occupation always makes me wonder, could one of my characters do that for a living?”

w/Marlon James:

“At some point you have to accept writing bad on the way to getting good. That you can write one hundred pages and only use twenty. I’m at the stage where that is no problem for me. I’m a very sloppy writer and I don’t rewrite, I don’t reread, until I’m done. I write everything straight to the end.”

Pamela Taivassalo Wikholm travelled from Sweden to Antigua in 2015 and interviewed a handful of local artistes – Joanne C. Hillhouse (writer), Tian Winter (singer), Mark Brown (painter); see interview links for all three below.

w/Tian Winter (Popreel TV):

“If it’s singing, just sing; someone will hear you, something will happen.”

w/Joanne C. Hillhouse (on Popreel radio):

“The writers from here that I knew and I have great respect for them were the calypso writers people like Shelly Tobitt and Marcus Christopher because when I was coming up calypso was the literature that I would hear that had some relevance to my community,, the other literature that we read was mostly from America or from Britain.”

Joanne

w/Joanne C. Hillhouse:

“The characters come to me. They don’t always reveal their stories fully, so for me writing is a journey of discovery. Like I can’t always see where it’s going but I’m kind of wandering my way through it and trying to figure out what is it all about.” – Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse on Sweden’s Popreel TV.

w/Tian Winter:

“If you have a dream, don’t let anybody, no one, not your mother, not your brother, no one, kill that vibe, kill that dream out of you, don’t let them out that fire.” – Antiguan and Barbudan soca artist Tian Winter on Sweden’s Popreel radio.

w/Mark Brown (on Popreel radio):

“I need to paint things that people are not saying enough, and people find hard to say, and hrd to encounter, and hard to read, and hard to speak about.”

Untitled

w/Mark Brown:

“At that time I didn’t know what it was called but I knew that I lived in a very imaginary world.” – Antiguan and Barbudan artist, Mark Brown’s interview on the Popreel TV programme on Swedish TV.

 

w/Eric Jerome Dickey :

“I walked from the undergraduate degree in Computer Systems Tech, but I carried the knowledge with me. Every class I had taken at the University of Memphis to complete those requirements; from English, to Physics, to Sociology, to Latin, to Electronics, to kicking it in karate class with Bill Wallace, it all went with me.”

w/Nalo Hopkinson:

“The Caribbean region. Writers from there are producing wonderful literature that takes language, story and form and bends them into creations you would never have believed possible.”

w/Carol Ottley-Mitchell:

“CaribbeanReads is a small publishing company dedicated to serving talented Caribbean authors. Our aim is to make publishing more accessible to potential Caribbean authors and to increase the number of high-quality books about and for the Caribbean.”

w/Ision Hutchinson, Tanya Shirley, and Christian Campbell:

“I know there are some people who are just born with exceptional talent, but for the rest of us, I recommend workshops with reputable poets, constant revision of the work, an openness to criticism and an insatiable desire to read poetry.” (Tanya Shirley in S/X Salon interview)

NON FICTION

“The self-governance of trees is mysterious and moving, though not always elegant.” – read all of Summer Edwards’ descriptive and reflective Fairmont Trees

***

“When someone dies their silence becomes a sort of held note, a key on the piano pressed down for so long it becomes an ache in the ear, a new sonic register from which we start to measure our new, ruptured lives. A white noise. Maybe this is why there is so much music in dying: the funerals, the singing, the hymns, the eulogies. All those sounds crowding the air with what the dead can’t say.” – Read all of Ocean Vuong’s The Weight of Our Living: On Hope, Fire Escapes, and Visible Desperation

***

“…getting a whooping from her was like getting a beating with fresh plucked feathers. I cried mostly because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings…” – Yvonne McBride, The Ballad of Broad Street

Leave a comment

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

Find!

Literally, I just found this on my hard drive. It’s a pic of me and Eric Jerome Dickey sharing a panel a few years ago at the ABILF.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literary Gallery

Antiguan and Barbudan literary works reviewed

As I come across reviews or dig through archived reviews, I’ll add them – first to last, and not necessarily in the order they were written. Been finding so many, I had to tie off this list and continue here (so read here then go read there, okay?)

Tameka Jarvis-George’s film, Dinner, based on her poem of the same name and directed by Christopher Hodge of Cinque Productions premiered in 2011 at the Reggae Film Festival in Jamaica, where it received the following review:

“Featuring an attractive pair of lovebirds, Dinner is a sweetly poetic and vivid 12-minute verse-to-screen clip from an Antiguan writer/director with an appealing, if slightly provocative, voice. It’s a small film with a big heart that explores intimate love, employing a slyly clever approach – cloaked in the guise of meal preparation. While getting dinner ready a radiant young lady (played by Jervis-George, who also provides a lyrical voice-over) is surprised by the early arrival home of her virile Rastafarian man, and before you can say ‘Come and get it’ a dining of a totally different variety plays out on-screen. Shot in vibrant hues by a surprisingly steady camera, Dinner is romp that ends all too quickly, but it was tastefully delightful while it lasted. B”

***

The Devil’s Bridge is an evocative work that will establish itself as another classic of the Caribbean and particularly Antiguan writing. It walks confidently, making its own path somewhere between Jamaica Kincaid and Wilson Harris. Because of its powerful visionary and ego-transcending achievements, this work will be compared to Harris’s Palace of the Peacock and Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John.”

Professor Paget Henry,
Sociology & Africana Studies
Brown University

***

Just came across this mention of my Boy from Willow Bend at Behind the Marog Kingdom listing it alongside Flying with Icarus by Curdella Forbes and the Legend of St. Ann’s Flood by Debbie Jacob as “useful stories for discussion” in getting Caribben boys to deal with their feelings. That’s kinda cool. It’s also listed as recommended books for boys here.

***

“The beauty, economy and precision of Kincaid’s prose transports even the most curmudgeonly and aloof reader into the abject state of gushy fandom.” – Saidiya Hartman, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia university, introducing Jamaica Kincaid for a reading.

***

Re Unburnable

“John expertly weaves history and fiction into an integral narrative that takes the reader on a fascinating journey where instincts, magic, intuition and, above all, love are the real protagonists.” – from this blog.

“UNBURNABLE is good, if not great. It is a magnificent attempt on a very large theme: recognizing and releasing the sins of the fathers (in this case, mothers, in a matriarchal society) to embrace one’s own destiny.” – from this blog.

“Marie-Elena John graciously takes you inside the history and lives of the people in Dominica. You will visist the island’s original Carib people, who discovered Columbus when he arrived in 1493. Yes, be careful because you may actually learn something by reading this novel. Don’t worry. Marie-Elena weaves a wonderful tale that will also feed some of your thirst for sex and action, while simultaneously increasing your knowledge of Africa and the Caribbean.” – from this blog.

“The diversity of the African diaspora is often overlooked in modern African American literature, and this page-turner fills in some gaps.” – from Booklist, found here.

“Strong writing and interesting supporting characters should keep readers occupied through the end.” – from Publishers Weekly, found here.

***

Re Considering Venus

“An interesting thing about Considering Venus is that Lesley’s sexuality is never defined. It’s just love between two women–with no barriers.

Isaac has written a lovely book, with just the right fusion of prose and poetry make it a joy to read.” – this from Sistahs on the Shelf in 2008.

***

Encouraging review (September 2011) of unFRAMED, a play by Antiguan born, American based Iyaba Ibo Mandingo:

“Artist and performer Iyaba Ibo Mandingo is undeniably talented. Though he describes himself “as a painter and
a poet,” in unFRAMED, Mandingo also demonstrates his abilities as a singer, dancer, performance artist, standup
comedian and storyteller…Visually, unFRAMED is a treat. Mandingo’s painting is colorful and expressive, and lighting designer Nicholas Houfek does an excellent job enhancing the various emotions that Mandingo conveys throughout his story. UnFRAMED is also very funny at times, especially in a sequence in which Mandingo makes light of his own name. Best of all, unFRAMED is worthwhile because it shares a different perspective on America, one that stands in stark contrast to most people’s naïve notion of a land of equality and opportunity.”

***

Life as Josephine comments on Dancing Nude in the Moonlight:

“There is no way an Antiguan or an individual who lives on the island cannot relate to this story. The island is too small and the story too concise to be shortsighted. As a returning national, I found it answered many questions as to the cultural dynamics of present day Antigua.”

***

Amos Morrill’s children’s book Augusta and Elliott received some positive feedback from readers and reviewers, such as:

“…there is much on the page to delight the eye, both in color and in content. The
text is simple but the message to children (and their parents) is clear: help
save our oceans.” – Charlotte Vale-Allen @ Amazon.com

“This simple storybook is filled with colorful drawings to tell the tale. Without harping on negativity, the fish throw a party to drum up support and start implementing change…This would be a great gift for anyone with kids. Amos would love to know that future generations will be more conscious of the fragile nature of our ecosystems and our need to minimize human impact.” – Kimberley Jordan-Allen

***

“…it’s often thought that there  was next to no literature produced in the Caribbean until the mid-20th century.  It makes Frieda Cassin one of the region’s first recorded woman writers, and it makes her novel the first such book to be published in Antigua. But much more interesting than these historical details is the novel itself,  a distinctly dark and disturbing look at West Indian society…

There is much that is bad about this book. The dialogue is at times excruciating,  and the familiar clichés of Caribbean life rather trying. But, as an insight into some of the phobias surrounding small-island society a century  or so ago, it is fascinating. And what makes it all the more bizarre is that  this dark indictment of a racist and neurotic world was written by a respectable  lady who was probably a pillar of that very society.” – Caribbean Beat review, in its November-December 2003 issue, of Freida Cassin’s With Silent Thread.

***

A mixed review of Althea Prince’s Loving this Man from January magazine begins:

“Toronto author Althea Prince writes with such sensuality and grace that it creates a heady spell, drawing the reader into the center of the story. If only this were all a novelist needed to do, Loving This Man would have been a triumph. The fact that the novel does not come together as a satisfying read is connected to technical things like structure and voice, and even deeper underpinnings such as intent.”

Do you agree? Read the book, read the rest of the revew here and decide for yourself.

***

From my own review in Volume 3 Number 1 Summer 2010 edition of The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books, of Althea Prince’s body of work:

“By writing not only plentiful but plenty-plenty of who we are beyond skin and bones and the condition that landed us here, by rebelling with polite but persistent resolve against the hegemony that would box us in, by writing with heart and hardiness, with poetry and compassion, by nudging writers like myself to trust what we intuit, Prince continues to be an example to Antiguan writers yet becoming.”

Full review Althea Prince Writing What She Intuits by Joanne C. Hillhouse.

***

Just found this fleeting but delightful reference by Jamaican Helen Williams to Ashley Bryan’s Beautiful Blackbird, referencing a reading of the book to a grade four class:

“This delightful story, with its rhythmic prose and adequate repetition, is adapted from a tale from ‘The Ila-speaking peoples from Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia)’ by Edwin Smith and Andrew Dale, (1920). The bold illustrations could be seen by the children at the back of the class. (Thanks to Pam Witte for sending me this book.) Several children asked me to read the story again…”

***

Referencing the writings of Althea Romeo-Mark:

“The gusting, twisting, reaching complexity of Romeo-Mark’s poetry and narrative matches the twisting, gusting complexity of her thought. And yet, the poems and narratives are not insistently complex. The rhythm and the ideas are both simple and matter of fact. Romeo-Mark’s wit is neatly carried by a direct cadence and where enjambment occurs; she states her case plausibly, clearly developing a seamless organization without falling into monotony.” – Review of If Only the Dust would Settle, P. 341 – 342, The Caribbean Writer Volume 25, 2011

“The voice of African-American writing” –  Poetry@Suite101, 2011

“This book is also interesting…for the insight it offers to the immigrant experience.” – Daily Observer, 2010

“Romeo-Mark’s knack for connecting the inner and outer world, shifting easily between moods, and making connections across time and space, coupled with vivid imagery, make this a thoroughly engaging read.” – customer review, Amazon.com, 2010

and this review of her earlier work:

“The relationship between Romeo-Mark and the persona in her poems is complex. The poet seems to maintain a psychic distance from her persona. The voice in her poetry describes the ironies of the human experience in the Caribbean, North America, and West Africa.” – Vincent O. Cooper, JSTOR, 1994

***

Cris on Facebook on Considering Venus:

“If D. Gisele Isaac wrote “jiggy poo poo” on a piece of paper, I’d want to read it. She
has one of those writing styles that just draws you in and wraps you up in the
flow of her words. I felt like the characters in the book were real people that I could actually
bump into if I went down to the road in the supermarket. Now lemme tell you
bout the book: Considering Venus explores the lives of a heterosexual widow, who finds herself
falling in love, and teetering into a relationship with an old school friend
who just happens to be a lesbian female. The pair undergo the typical battles of a new “same sex” relationship
as the story unfolds. Now I have two BIG problems with this book. Number one: the book actually had
an ending, I wanted to stay in Cass and Lesley’ lives forever (no homo lol) and
number two: WHEY THE SEQUEL SO LANG WOMAN!”

***

Cris also said about Floree Williams’ Through the Window, also on Facebook:

“I really enjoyed this book. What I loved most about it was the author’sability to get you to ‘see’ the characters, and the places the
characters in the book went.”

***

Finally, her reader-review of my book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight (yep, on Facebook) said, among other things:

“What stood out to me the most was that Joanne managed to “flesh out” such real characters and spin such a realistic story line into such a small book.”  Thanks, Cris.

***

See a short write-up on Tameka Jarvis-George’s Unexpected at 365Antigua.com. Excerpt:

“‘Unexpected’ is a poignant, true-to-life tale that reflects a Caribbean-inspired ‘voice’ but is easily transferable and relatable to other cultures.”

***

Came across this old(ish) write up of young writer (and Wadadli Pen alumna) Rilys Adams’ first spoken word CD, Laid Bare. Excerpt:

“Her poetry is timely and captures the urgency to preserve the culture that is  left, to uplift the nation, and savour memories with loved ones.”

***

Search Antigua has been making its pick of essential Summer reads. On its non fiction list, you’ll find Keithlyn Smith’s To Shoot Hard Labour (“a book every Antiguan should read”) and Symbol of Courage, and Monica Matthews’ Journeycakes. On its fiction list, you’ll find Marie Elena John’s Unburnable (“a suspense novel with many twists, turns and secrets”), my (i.e. Joanne C. Hillhouse’s) Dancing Nude in the Moonlight (“a nice, light, summer read for the romantics”), and Tameka Jarvis-George’s Unexpected (which “will have you curled up on the couch for a while”). Teen picks include my Boy from Willow Bend, Akilah Jardine’s Living Life the Way I Love It and Marisha’s Drama, Marcel Marshall’s All that Glitters, and Floree Williams’ Through the Window (“a great read for older teens and young adults”); while on the kids’ list are A Day at the Beach (“beautiful illustrations and the charming story of two children’s day at the
beach”) by writer Calesia Thibou and illustrator Gail M. Nelson, Floree Williams’ Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses, and Rachel Collis’ Emerald Isle of Adventure.

***

What did the late critic Tim Hector think of Dorbrene O’Marde?… Just came across this review of the latter’s last play (to date) This World Spin One Way…and it’s full of high praise indeed:

“Dobrene O’Marde is a valuable asset in a community with few valuable
assets. That is why this article was extended beyond the limits of a mere
review, proving that without the artistic integrity of the likes of Dobrene
O’Marde all dialogue is silenced, and we have only the tiresome monologue of
rulers.”

“…Let me say at once, that “This World Spins One Way” is Dobrene’s best written play, and probably the best play written by an Antiguan.”

***

A great resource for reviews of Antiguan and Barbudan books is The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books edited by Brown University Professor Dr. Paget Henry. The 2011 issue includes reviews of the late Dr. Charles Ephraim’s The Pathology of Eurocentrism (“a major work of Africana existensial philosophy andBlack existentialism” – Lewis R. Gordon); Emily Spencer Knight’s Growing up in All Saints Village, Antigua: The 1940s – the late 1960s (“history written in a personal style” – Bernadette Farquhar); Leon H. Matthias’ The Boy from Popeshead, Theodore Archibald’s The Winding Path to America, Hewlester A. Samuel Sr.’s The Birth of the Village of Liberta, Antigua, and Joy Lawrence’s Bethesda and Christian Hill: Our History and Culture (collectively described as “…a goldmine for those who want to learn about the culture and cultural practices of each period” – Susan Lowes); and Paget Henry’s Shouldering Antigua and Barbuda: The Life of V. C. Bird (“an enlightening narrative of the leadership style and philosophy of Bird…” – George K. Danns). I’m delighted that it also includes a review of my own Boy from Willow Bend by the esteemed Columbia University Assistant Professor and daughter of the Antiguan and Barbudan soil, Natasha Lightfoot:

“For its thoughtful rendering of complex issues such as
gender, class, migration and death, for the swiftness of Hillhouse’s prose, and
especially for the captivating personality with which she endows the title
character, readers will be instantly drawn to this narrative.

“Hillhouse has crafted a story that adult and young readers
alike can enjoy, that truly captures the spirit of Antigua’s recent past.”

***

Online review of  Dancing Nude in the Moonlight (“an honest depiction of attitudes toward cultural mixing and interracial dating”)…love the name of this blog, btw: lifeasjosephine.

***

U.S. (specifically Rawsistaz’s) review of The Boy from Willow Bend reposted by 365Antigua.com: three out of five stars, the reviewer had some struggles with the language but liked the descriptions (“I could picture myself walking down the dirt roads looking at the willow trees or listening to the street musicians as I walked down the street”).

***

Jamaican children’s author Diane Brown’s review of Antiguan S. E. James’ Tragedy on Emerald Island

“The descriptions of the eruptions beginning, the ash, the fright of not knowing
at first what it is, what was actually happening, and then once reality dawned,
the fear of what would happen next, grabbed me. I was sitting ‘scrunched up’ in
my bed (which is where I read) with fright.”

and other books for older readers.

***

Reader comments on Floree Williams’ Through the Window can be found at the book’s Facebook page including:

“beautiful novel ” (Eric Jerome Dickey, author)

“The storyline was good, albeit one that …is not uncommon, however the characters and the way they unfolded during the telling of the story was indeed interesting.” (Marcella Andre, media personality)

***

Unburnable, Marie Elena John’s book attracted wide acclaim and a Hurston Wright nomination. Follow this link and this to see what other critics have to say about the Antiguan authors debut novel. Here’s a teaser:

“wondrously intelligent” (Chimamanda Adichie)

“electrifying” (Essence)

“compelling” (Booklist)

***

“Vibrant and powerful” are two of the words that have been used to describe Women of Antigua’s When a Woman Moans first staged in 2010 as a successor to its stagings of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues. It was co-scripted and directed by Zahra Airall and Linisa George of August Rush Productions w/input from Marcella Andre, Carel Hodge, Floree Williams, Greschen Edwards, Melissa Elliott, and me (your Wadadli Pen blogger/coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse) in 2010 with the addition in 2011 of pieces by Tameka Jarvis-George, Salma Crump, Brenda Lee Browne, and Elaine Spires. Here’s what they had to say about the 2010 production over at 365 Antigua and see what audience members said at the When A Woman Moans group page on Facebook.

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, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

4 Comments

Filed under A & B WRITINGS

ABILF FLASHBACK 2

This one is from the 2007 edition of the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival. That’s me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) with Eric Jerome Dickey, easily the most in demand person at that year’s event and one of the most personable. With his celebrity and the demands on his attention, it would have been easy for him to be aloof. But he wasn’t.

Eric Jerome Dickey with me (Joanne C. Hillhouse)

Nah, he was the essence of cool and far from superficial, maintaining contact with the island and the writers he met there.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literary Gallery