Tag Archives: Glen Toussaint

Wadadli Pen Diary – 2020 Judges – It’s Not Easy Work But They’re Up to the Challenge

Our judging pool has shifted year to year since Wadadli Pen’s 2004 launch; the only constant since our core team was put in place in 2016 has been chief judge/judging coordinator Floree Williams Whyte.

We wanted to share info re our respective 2020 judges currently hard at work assessing the 57 submissions to the Wadadli Pen 2020 Challenge.

Danielle Boodoo Fortune Hackshaw is a Trinidad-Tobago poet; she is also a returning Wadadli Pen judge, having initially served on the 2014-2015 panels, and having contributed her custom notebooks and bookmarks to past prize packages. Her connection with Wadadli Pen founder coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse goes back to 2008 when they were both on a panel in Barbados Celebrating Caribbean Women Writers. Since then Danielle’s literary fortunes have only continued to rise. She’s been published in several local and international journals such as Bim: Arts for the 21st Century, The Caribbean Writer, Small Axe Literary Salon, Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing, Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, Dirtycakes Journal, Blackberry: A Magazine, Room Magazine, and others. Her accolades include a prize from The Caribbean Writer (2009), a Pushcart nomination (2010), a Small Axe poetry prize (2012), the Hollick Arvon prize (2015), and the Wasifiri Prize (2016). She was twice short listed for the Montreal Prize (2013 and 2017). Twenty nineteen though was her most celebrated year as a Caribbean creative force. Her acclaimed book Doe Songs was the poetry prize winner at the Bocas literary festival. In addition to being a sublime poet, Danielle is a talented artist – her retail pieces and commissioned work are in many a private collection. Her murals (for example her work with the Urban Heartbeat project, a street art project across Central America and the Caribbean) tell unique stories and through her workshops she helps young people begin to tell their own stories. Her original pieces have featured in shows in the UK, Canada, Grenada, Latin America, and her home country Trinidad and Tobago where she debuted her solo show Criatura in 2013. She is also known for illustrations like the ones in Hillhouse’s Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure In many ways, Danielle is as much a part of the Wadadli Pen family as any one from Wadadli. Given that she has always been willing to serve and is well positioned to bring a knowledgeable eye to both the art and lit side of our Challenge, we are delighted to have her on board.

Glen Toussaint works as a supervisor at the Best of Books bookstore so it’s no surprise that he’s an avid reader; he’s also a writer – primarily a poet who has featured at local open Mics such as August Rush’s Expressions Open Mic and Spilling Ink’s Poetry in the Park in addition to running his own Best of Books’ monthly Wadadli Pen Open Mic. Glen said in a 2019 interview on Spilling Ink’s Facebook page that his writing really began  in 2008, shortly after he started working at the bookstore, when he “wrote a poem called ‘Ode to Love’ as a response to reading Joanne Hillhouse’s ‘Dancing Nude in the Moonlight”. That poem is now published in the 10th anniversary edition of the book released in 2014. But this publishing-link-up (via the author who is also the founder-coordinator of Wadadli Pen) is not Glen’s only connection to the programme. He has more often than not hosted the awards ceremony in the years (2011 to present) that Best of Books has partnered with the project, and has served as a judge (2016-2017). Glen is also published in the anthology So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End: an Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing edited by Althea Prince. He blogs at Because I love Words and Dat Bwoi for Jackie.  One of the main reasons Wadadli Pen wanted to bring Glen back on board this year was his knowledge of comic art (given the addition of our three-panel-comic art Challenge for 2020). One project Glen was recently involved in launching was 2019’s first time ever Antigua-Barbuda Con which included an art competition. In the referenced Spilling Ink interview, Glen said, when asked about advice to artists, “practice, work at your craft, learn to take criticism and learn when to apply it, study others in your craft.” Sound advice. With his wealth of knowledge in both comic art and literature, passion for the literary arts, mix of excitement and grounded-ness, Glen is a welcome re-addition to the Wadadli Pen judging panel.

Floree Williams Whyte is an independent publisher (Moondancer Books) and the author of one non-fiction book (Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses), one adult book of fiction (Through the Window), and one book of children’s fiction (The Wonderful World of






Yohan). Yohan first appeared in the story Yohan! published in 2010 in Anansesem, the Summer Edward edited and published online Caribbean children’s literary journal. Floree has also been published in Carnival is All We Know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and Souls of My Young Sisters: Young Women Break Their Silence with Personal Stories that will Change Your Life edited by Dawn Marie Daniels and Candace Sandy.

Floree works as a marketing communications executive. She has been a Wadadli Pen prize donor over the years,  a judge since 2012, and a member of the core team since 2016 in recent years taking on the role of judging coordinator and chief judge. Floree’s no drama focus is part of what makes her a great part of the team, and a steady leader of perhaps the most challenging part of the entire Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge.

The team is at work; we look forward to the outcome.

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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.


“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


“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



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


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…”



“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 . . .”


“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!?


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


“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 XI

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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


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.


On Describing Love by Danielle Boodoo Fortune


Lost Love by Alfred Lord Tennyson.


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…



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


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


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

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

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The Paula Show

the paula show by eef

Well, I missed this, the recording of it anyway but was back on island in time to catch as much of it as I could from the pounding in my head through the flu. They talked about books and reading mostly from what I saw, about Jamaica Kincaid and Jean Rhys and about encouraging young people to read just by making it fun again, not tethered to anything, just for fun; and the participants (overall 2014 winner and 13 to 17 winner Asha Graham, winning teacher Margaret Irish, and winner 12 and younger Vega Armstrong accompanied by Glen Toussaint of the Best of Books) did get the opportunity to read from their winning stories. Media coverage has not been at the desired levels this 2014 season so we are thankful for the interest shown by Paula Show host and proud of the way our writers articulated their love of the literary arts reinforcing that far from a chore it’s a pleasure, a life affirming, life enriching pleasure.

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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Literary Artistes and Other Young Achievers Shine at the 2013 National Youth Awards

The Youth Awards is one of those programmes I wholeheartedly support for several reasons:

  • It rewards positive youth accomplishment
  • By so doing, it has the potential to encourage positive youth accomplishment
  • It debunks notions of youth being wholly lost as the stories that make the front page would have us believe
  • Because it reminds us that there are young people striving, achieving, doing all around us – and that’s something to be celebrated
  • And that spirit of celebration makes for a feel good evening

That without fail has me wishing that there was a way to share these young people’s stories with the wider community in a way that transmits those positive vibes to Antigua and Barbuda as a whole. I remember leaving last year’s Youth Awards and firing off proposals to businesses and agencies I thought would be keen to get behind sponsoring video profiles of these young achievers. Yeah, the night fills you with that kind of optimism; and then reality bites. Still, it’s nice to feel those good vibes, to celebrate these young people if only for one night.

I didn’t make it this year but I’ve seen the pictures and it looks like it was as usual a thrilling evening; kudos to Youth Director Cleon Athill and her team for pulling this off year after year with what I know must be limited resources but a whole lot of let’s-do-this.

2013 Awardees include two of the Wadadli Pen family (I count them as such), literary prize winners Linisa George and Glen Toussaint.

This is Glen with our 2012 Wadadli Pen winner Rosalie at the  Best of Books, a project partner and his employer. Rosalie is holding the challenge plaque sponsored by the Best of Books and other gifts.

This is Glen with our 2012 Wadadli Pen winner Rosalie at the Best of Books, a project partner and his employer. Rosalie is holding the challenge plaque sponsored by the Best of Books and other gifts.

Linisa George is a past Youth Award winner (3x winner if I’m not mistaken, once with August Rush for their work in the literary arts, once as a part of Women of Antigua for their activism, once as Linisa for her work in the literary arts).

Flashback: Linisa George accepting her 2012 National Youth Award for contribution to the Literary Arts.  (This is a Eustace Samuel Photo from the Observer newspaper facebook page)

Flashback: Linisa George accepting her 2012 National Youth Award for contribution to the Literary Arts. (This is a Eustace Samuel Photo from the Observer newspaper facebook page)

Her 2013 win, I believe is all hers, in a year where she published two poems in So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End: An Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing (edited by Althea Prince); published a poem that had been selected as the entry from Antigua and Barbuda for the Poetry Parnassus at the 2012 Olympics in The World Record: International Voices from Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus; and also launched the online magazine Black Girl in the Ring http://www.blackgirlinthering.com Linisa is founder of the Young Poets Society of Antigua and Barbuda, co-producer of the Expressions Open Mic held every second and fourth Tuesday at Heavenly Java, and co-producer/co-writer/c0-director/co-performer in When a Woman Moans and the local production of the Vagina Monlogues – the former two August Rush projects, the latter two Women of Antigua projects. As of 2012, she’s also a Wadadli Pen partner as part of our team of judges.

Glen Toussaint also has two poems published in Layout 1So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End: An Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing (edited by Althea Prince). He works at the Best of Books where his love of stories, story making, and story telling shines through – for instance in the in-store story time and the readings he does on Observer Radio’s Our House with Auntie Debbie and on school visits. Glen is a popular  Open Mic regular, both at Expressions and at the Wadadli Pen Open Mic – which he runs at the store, the second Saturday of every month.  That he encourages young people to read and get excited about reading will go a long way toward nurturing another generation of readers and writers.

There is often an activist element in George’s writing, particularly as relates to gender, race, and social justice; Glen, meanwhile, favours speculative fiction and poetry that’s alternatively provocative and earthy. And for all their accolades, the most inspiring thing about them may well be that they’ve really only just begun.

Congratulations to them both. In fact, congratulations to all the winners, listed in full below, and to the Youth Department for another successful instalment of a very valuable and inspiring programme:

Achievers in Education
Khira Christopher-Education
Michael Zouetr -Education
Thea Davis-Education
Amaya Athill-Outstanding Scholarship

Media Achievers
Kyle Christian* -Media practitioner
Martina Johnson-Young Journalist
Radio Observer -Youth Friendly Media House

Achievers in Agriculture
Jamaul Phillip-Young Farmer
PMS Agrcultural Science Programme-Honourble Mention

Achievers in Sports
Tamiko Butler (cyclist)- Young Sports woman
Jyme Bridges (cyclist)- Young sports man

Achievers in Business
LCP Industries- Young Entreprenwur ( D. Chastanet, W. Laville& Phillip)
Kevin Williams-Young Professional
Jeremy Abraham-Tourism-Management
Stephen Georges- Tourism – Service

Artistic Achievers
Quincy Etinoff (music)-Cultural and Performing Arts
Rameez Mascall-Young Artisan
Linisa George (literary arts)
Glen Toussaint (literary arts)

Barbuda’s Best
Dr. Jeremy Deazle

Jon Whyte*–Young pioneer

Sasha Gay Middleton Community Service- Individual
Red Cross Youth Group-Community Service -Group

Corporate Awards
Mill Reef Club

Youth Development Partner
Medical benefits Scheme
Curtain Bluff Hotel

Lifetime Service Award
Ingid O’Marde- Youth and Ecumenism
Gordon George- Literacy
Felicity Aymer- Reproductive and Sexual Health of teens and Youth
Pat Whyte-Sports
Sheila Roseau- Gender advocacy-empowerment of girls/young women

Special Awards–support of work of the Department of Youth Affairs
Jeannette charles

The featured speaker for the evening was Carlon Knight*.

*FYI, talk about young people doing things, a National Youth Forum has been announced for January 9th 2014; its purpose to bring representatives of the country’s major political parties together to address the issues of concern and interest to young people. It is invite only and will be hosted by Marcella Andre-Georges and streamed online and carried live on several local stations. For more information contact the Organizing Committee (which includes NYA 2013 winners Kyle Christian, Jon Whyte, and speaker Carlon Knight) via social media on twitter.com/nyfanu2014, search for our facebook.com event, or e-mail us at nyfanu2014@gmail.com.

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!… and former NYA literary arts honourable mention and special award recipient for support of the work of the DYA). 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. 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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You feel dat?

These two pieces – ‘Black’ and ‘Dat’ – from the Wadadli Pen Open Mic series are written by series host Glen Toussaint:

This Gemma Hazelwood photo of Glen Toussaint was actually taken at August Rush's Expressions ... yep, he's a regular there, too.


I must not

I cannot

I shall not

I will not

I refuse to shed tears

I will make an example of

Will become the example to
allay all fears

I must not bend or break

The film is gone from my
eyes and I can see you

Smaller, weaker, slower,

I will be that light

Your weapons do not
impress me

Whips, chains, guns

I break them all, my will
is MY weapon

I cannot bend or break

My mind is focused

My thoughts are my own

The fool is dead and so is
the monkey and the jester

Dats how we’s do good right

My mind is clear, take
your fog and your haze

Set to blaze, I possess a

I shall not bend or break

My bones are iron

My flesh is rock

Skin like obsidian quilt

Hair like whip cord

Evolved into something not

This is what I’ve become

The end result of your
psychological sodomy

Your spiritual alchemy

LOOK at me

I will not bleed

I refuse to cry

I reject pain

I will not die

My heart has known fire

My heart is on fire

My heart owns fire

Call on the gods ancient
and new

I rebuke you

All that was me, lay dead
and ashen

All that is me has awoken

My will is my weapon, I
will live for freedom’s sake

I will not bend or break

Glen Toussaint 2011 ©


You feel dat…?

You doh feel dat garca????


Tell me you can hear dat den.

What you mean hear what?


Well at least you can see dat, right?


Garca ou ka fet blag, garca

You joking if you tell me you doh feel dat



You foolin if you can tell me you doh hear dat



Garca, you mad if you tell me you kya see dat




Padna, is feel you feeling dat long before you hear dat,
you know

You really mean you don’t know what ‘dat’ is


It’s the lapou-kabwit, the steel pan, the iron band

It’s the Nyabinghi, the Cannoes, the Conch shell


More than that,

It’s the earth, and the sea

It’s the wind, rain, sun, heat

Shaleh, garcon, from your feet go up

Shaleh, garcon, when your woman get hot


Its still more than that

Its movement and years

It’s the rhythm, the riddim

The ebb and flow

Of life, of colour, of vibe, of contrasts

Between distinct and indistinct

You hear dat boy! Hai sah, you hear me little while

Dat – make me sound like a poet chile’

Like I educated and ting

But wait…

Aha you starting to feel it

Yes watch your face, man, is dat

Yes man, chain break, you feel it

In your ches’ right dere, you feel it

Hai…it sweet not true

Dats de ting man,

Watch you, it sweet.

Fling back and jump

Sweat and shout,

It building force,

Move, move, MOVE garca

Turn around, fall down, roll, get up padna

Twist and bend,

Buss’ out again

Yeah man

You feel dat now

Yeah garca

You hear dat now

Yeah padna

You see it now

Yah man, DAT
is de ting man,

DAT is it.

Glen Toussaint© 2011

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