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. Share by excerpting and linking, so to read the full story or see all the images, or other content, you will need to go to the source. No copyright infringement is intended. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 32nd one which means there are 31 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. – JCH
Reading (1995) at the University of Miami as part of the Caribbean Fiction Writers Summer Institute by Brittany Wivell, Nicola Johnson, Maritza Stanchich, Eugenia O’Neal, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Beatrice Gardiner, Kezia Page, and Omar Garcia. This was my first public reading of my work (ever!) – I come in at about 56:35-ish, but watch the whole thing. (click on the image)
A “If editing is key to writing, persistence is key to publishing.” – editors’ roundtable w/Jennifer Wortman, Megan Giddings, Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, and Robert James Russell.
“Sink into writing. Then when it’s written, come up for air and publish, because if you think about publishing before you finish the book, you’ll be outdated in your thinking by the time the book is complete. Just enjoy writing the story for now.” – C. Hope Clark
“This article is all about the trends I have observed in the publishing industry – in terms of manuscript publishers, self-publishing, and literary journals – over the last year or so. The key word in the previous sentence is “I”. This article reflects my personal opinion, and what I have noticed. I write a new/updated version of this article every year.” – Emily Harstone
“I think it’s a general misunderstanding, not just his. It’s as if we imagine an old book to be a time machine that brings the writer to us. We buy a book and take it home, and the writer appears before us, asking to be admitted into our company. If we find that the writer’s views are ethnocentric or sexist or racist, we reject the application, and we bar his or her entry into the present.
As the student had put it, I don’t want anyone like that in my house.
I think we’d all be better readers if we realized that it isn’t the writer who’s the time traveler. It’s the reader. When we pick up an old novel, we’re not bringing the novelist into our world and deciding whether he or she is enlightened enough to belong here; we’re journeying into the novelist’s world and taking a look around.” – Brian Morton
‘She had told Mr. Peebles things. Not indecent, but personal things. About herself. Her life. How could she not? There they were in her house, in her den, elbow-to-elbow at her family table. To her left: the upright piano at which she’d taken lessons until her teacher quit, citing “personal issues.” (I think I was the person he had issues with, she’d told Mr. Peebles. Said he: Not every pair’s a match.) To her right, a photo gallery of Pam and her brother as babies, as toddlers, as brace-faced pre-teens, photos in front of which Mr. Peebles paced while Pam retrieved his weekly payment from her father.’ – Peanuts aren’t Nuts by Courtney Zoffness
“The devil liked being a woman, because in a woman’s body, it could feel the truth. The things the body did when no one was watching, the way it could swallow things, drown parts whole, hide and house people. In a woman’s body, it could feel the weight of her kindness; the restraint it takes to know exactly how easy it is to raze a man’s life but still choose not to—and yes, there was something delicious about being that close to being good. But its patience was running thin.” – Night Wind by Eloghosa Osunde
“It must have been a gunshot. I’d know the sound of a .45 anywhere. And it came from upstairs. But I wasn’t going to let my curiosity get the better of me, like my captain in Afghanistan used to warn me.” – from “Our Dirty Little Secrets” by Geoffrey Philp
‘Girls do not climb coconut trees,’ he said, tossing the belt over his shoulder. ‘It spoils the nuts.’ – Matalasi by Jenny Bennett-Tuionetoa
“More than 20,000 submissions came in representing all genres of travel photography, from street scenes to wildlife. AFAR’s highly respected panel of photography judges selected the winners, whose work we’re proud to present here.” More here.
“Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!” – If we must die by Claude McKay
“and every deployment
is a Talking Heads song
and every morning
is an invitation to dance
in a pill bottle
and you’re not interested
in keeping busy
and you don’t want
more group texts
and you don’t want
your daughter learning
to shoot a rifle
with the other kids
who aim at a silhouette
of someone’s son
tied to a haystack” – Asking for a Friend by Abby E. Murray
CREATIVES ON CREATING
“After having a baby and becoming a mom, I was super-raw at that point in my life. It was the first time that I would work in the studio during the day. I was about to breast feed and I would put her down for a nap and then come back. It was very kind of daytime-y sober. I felt really present making that record, because normally we’d open a bottle of wine and shit-talk and record at one in the morning. It just wasn’t that anymore.” – Pink discussing her various albums
“In a sense, the poem is again about gratitude. There is no regret or there is no even wishing it had not happened. It’s just a realization that we lost ten years of making frittatas together. As a mother and a daughter who loved each other and who love each other, that’s a lot.” – Alice Walker
“I think I always write with the Caribbean in mind. My voice comes from Grenada and, in my head, that’s my first audience. In reality, I have to face the fact that my books are often not available in Grenada. I write for everyone who cares to read, wherever in the world they may be.” – Merle Collins
“There was this place in Antigua, The Point, that’s always attracted me. It’s a really fascinating neighborhood. Not only was it a slave burial ground in the 1700s, it was one of the first places in Antigua where slaves started a revolt that led to a big uprising. It’s one of the only tenement yard systems left in Antigua. On top of that — being one of the poorest areas in the island — it shares walls with St. John’s, the capital and a duty-free port for cruise ships.” – Shabier Kirchner, Antiguan and Barbudan filmmaker discussing his short film Dadli. For this and more Antiguan and Barbudan artist interviews, go here.
“So many of us writers keep returning to our history of slavery. Why do we keep doing this? It’s because there’s still something to understand and retrieve from that past. Storytelling is a medicine and we are not yet healed.” – Marcia Douglas with Loretta Collins Klobah
“‘Not only do black women authors have to find other routes to market their books to mainstream audiences, often times they are even left out of conversations of classic novels within genres like fantasy, horror, science fiction, romance and even cooking. Why do you think black women authors are not recognized in all literary genres?’
‘I think it’s just we get overlooked at times, and it becomes this thing. Like science fiction — apparently black women do not like comics or sci-fi. We know that is not true. But it’s another stereotype that is placed on black women, and we can tell because we have been ignored from these spaces. It’s as if there can’t be any black elves in a story or something that is reflective of our existence.
I’m really proud that we have authors that push against these stereotypes, and can really show what it means to be a black woman in these spaces. I read an incredible science fiction book by Rivers Solomon called An Unkindness of Ghosts. Now, you would think by looking on television or reading books that black women don’t belong in [outer] space, and that’s not true. It’s just a reflection of the limited imaginations people can have, and what we see as futuristic.
All of these genres, like mystery and romance, have incredible writers like Beverly Jenkins. There are so many writers that we just don’t acknowledge in these spaces. But they exist.’ – Glory Idim being interviewed about her book Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves
“By the early 70s, we’d moved away from the politics of black power, purely, to a more class based politics.” – Linton Kwesi Johnson
“I was inspired to write Caribbean characters into the work I was doing by the fact that I grew up in the islands, and my biological father was Grenadian. I had a wide variety of friends and family who had Caribbean roots growing up. SciFi didn’t have a lot representation of that. As someone who was light-skinned but bi-racial, I was used to being in a culture with a wide variety of skin tones, but wasn’t seeing that in my SciFi much. I didn’t, much to my shock, realize this until I was much older. I had a scales-falling-from-the-eyes moment when I read Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling. He was a white American cyberpunk (a subgenre of SF) writer who set a book in Grenada. When I encountered it, I was so stunned because it exposed a whole gap in mind’s eye: why shouldn’t there be SciFi with Caribbean settings and heroes? And I saw all the stuff that I felt Bruce should have added! After that, I started drawing pictures of starships docked in St. Thomas. I later read Octavia Butler, and that confirmed to me that SciFi could be different than a lot of what I was reading.” – Tobias Buckell
“I write for an ideal reader — an actual person who is now dead, but who still sits on my shoulder asking certain questions about authenticity and truth. This ideal reader was a renowned, respected and important author and critic, and he became my friend. I write for him because he represents for me the best in literature, in thinking, in humanity and because I always want to write something that he would like to read.” – Tessa McWatt
“How you wear the environment is the key to auditioning” – Mahershala Ali
‘Atticus is the quintessential emblem of the “good white Southerner,” of “moral white America.” What I hope that my book will do—by providing the historical context for understanding what Lee was battling with and what she was trying to do with the character of Atticus—is help us be more well-informed about the political struggles that shaped not only her, but also the South and the nation more broadly. Whatever you may think of To Kill a Mockingbird as a piece of fiction, I think that understanding Atticus and critically engaging with how we’ve long been taught certain romanticized notions of racial morality are important for all of us.’ – Joseph Crespino
Q. What if you were in a room with aspiring writers? What advice would give to them?
Francie Latour: Read read read read. The best way to become a better writer is to read, and to study the architecture of every good piece of writing you come across.
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder, coordinator, and blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace). All Rights Reserved.