Tag Archives: Grace Nichols

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late March 2022)

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

International Books (that caught my eye)

The shafted NFL player and social justice activist has found a number of ways to tell his story, notably in the Ava Duvernay produced and co-directed Colin in Black and White, a must-watch on Netflix. Now, this children’s book – forthcoming in April. (Source – Twitter)


Academy award winning actress Viola Davis has written an autobiography, Finding Me, and recently posted this book tour, much of it virtual, which means there’s a chance folks could dip in from anywhere. (Source – Twitter)


Grammy winning Jamaican reggae artist Jah Cure – who has collaborated with Antiguan and Barbudan artists – will be doing six years in prison in the Netherlands, after stabbing a promoter over a pay dispute. This will be his second stint in prison. He previously served eight years for raping and robbing a woman at gunpoint. (Source – Daily Observer)


The seventh season of Bocas’ BIOS & BOOKMARKS began this March with Trinidad and Tobago’s Andil Gosine, a really tender and bold conversation about sexuality as it emerges in the very particular space of a Catholic Caribbean school, with violence and fear, in ignorance and uncertainty, and how it finds voice across the geographies of home and abroad. Hosted as ever by Shivanee Ramlochan.

I’ve also added it to Reading Room and Gallery 44 which I’ll take as an opportunity to remind you to go see what I’ve gathered there. See also the BIOS & BOOKMARKS YouTube playlist.

(Source – YouTube)


I did a Women’s History Month installment of my CREATIVE SPACE column and wanted to share here as I did about 9 edits of this collage and it includes a number of creative artists. Can you name them?

Here’s the article. (Source – me)


The Playing to Inspire series of classical music fundraising concerts featuring the Kanneh-Mason clan, a musical family, the most famous member of which is in-demand and award winning cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, based in Britain but with Antiguan roots, returns on April 16th 2022.

Time and venue: 7:30 p.m. at the SJPC House of Restoration on Lauchland Benjamin Drive in Upper Gambles. The series was on pause for two years due to the pandemic. The concert will feature, in addition to the musical family, American conductor Jonathan Heyward, Ahok Klouda from the UK, and from Antigua-Barbuda panorama winning pan arranger (and current Culture director) Khan Cordice, along with the Inspire choir. The fundraising concert will be the culmination of a week of activities that will include workshops, smaller performances, and the launch of a book. That book: House of Music – Raising the Kanneh-Masons by Dr. Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, mother of the talented classical musicians. The concert provides a showcase and raises funds for the Antigua Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra. A bit of synchronicity, my CREATIVE SPACE art and culture column was revived in 2018 when I felt moved to write about Playing to Inspire 2 after attending with my sister and nephews. You can read that experience here. (Source – Daily Observer)


The Marcia Weekes Show will feature a discussion with women across various fields (including local filmmaker Mitzi Allen) as Women’s History Month winds down. The show, taglined ‘Mobilising Africa & the African Diaspora-Exploring Issues that affect People Globally’ airs, per its facebook page, Wednesdays at 1 p.m. AST on Facebook live and Caribvision and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. AST on Caribvision. (Source – Facebook)



The UWI Cave Hill presents Barbados’ poet laureate Esther Phillips in conversation with poet Adrian Green for World Poetry Day. Join via zoom. See flyer for details. (Source – JRLee email)


How great is this?

Teachers at Villa Primary School took on the daunting task of making Math fun while giving a taste of Carnival which Antigua and Barbuda has been without for two years. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)


The USVI Literary Festival returns April 8 (online) and 9 (in person) under the theme ‘Theme: Disruption, Disguise & Illuminations’. This is the 8th annual iteration of the festival. Registration and tickets are required. Here’s the evite link.

Headlining the festival this year is Pulitzer Prize winning author Nikole Hannah-Jones of the 1619 Project. Among the international and regional authors who will present their most recent publications are: Alecia McKenzie a Jamaican author based in France with her latest novel, A Million Aunties (2021); From El Salvador and based at the University of Toronto, Professor and global scholar Dr. Clelia Rodriguez with her book: Decolonizing Academia (2020) facilitated by Chenelle John-Heard; Philosopher and Scholar Lewis Gordon with his new book: Fear of Black Consciousness (2022) facilitated Pagett Henry; and Marva Maclean author of From the Middle Passage to Black Lives Matter: Ancestral Writing as a Pedagogy of Hope (2019). Other authors scheduled include Antiguan and Barbudan historian Natasha Lightfoot (Troubling Freedom), Trinidadian and Tobagonian poet Andre Bagoo (The Undiscovered Country), British Virgin Islands poet laureate and Bocas Prize winner Richard Georges (Epiphaneia), US VI sci fi author Cadwell Turnbull (The Lesson), Grenadian New York Times bestselling fantasy and sci fi author Tobias S. Buckell (Halo: The Cole Protocol), US VI author and poet Tiphanie Yanique (Monster in the Middle), and Antiguan and Barbudan author (and Wadadli Pen’s own) Joanne C. Hillhouse (Oh Gad!). That’s just a sample of the packed programme of panels, readings, workshops, and more. (Source – email)


Here’s the short list for at the moment the Caribbean’s most in-demand literary prize, Bocas. Congrats to the finalists – Jamaicas’s Kei Miller (non-fiction) and Jason Allen-Paisant (poetry), Trinidad and Tobago’s Celeste Mohammed (fiction). Can’t link you the books but I can link you Wadadli Pen’s Reading Room and Gallery 44 where you’ll find a link to one of Jason’s poems from the latest issue of Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters, and CREATIVE SPACE 3 OF 2022 about the Rebel Women Lit’s readers choice awards in which I caught up with Celeste about her win. And love for Kei’s writing is spread across both blogs – just search.


This blog reported last December that Guyana-born, Britain-based poet Grace Nichols was to receive the Queen’s gold medal for poetry. Well, here it is.

She collected it at Windsor castle this week (I’m writing this update on March 18th 2022).

Read more about Grace and hear some of her poetry here. This is the one (not found in the link) that introduced me to her voice, though I don’t remember where or why or anything other than that I was very young and completely bowled over as much by the poem as by the idea of it not having been exposed to much Caribbean poetry or writing to that point. It remains a favourite and because of it I remember being a little star struck when Grace guested at the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival. If I had had presence of mind, I would have requested she read it.

Unforgiving as the course of justice

Inerasable as my scars and fate.

i am here

a woman…with all my lives

strung out like beads

before me

It isn’t privilege or pity

that I seek

It isn’t reverence or safety

quick happiness or purity


the power to be what I am/   a woman

charting my own futures/      a woman

holding my beads in my hand

(Source – The Poetry Society on Twitter)


Antiguan and Barbudan artist (daughter of award winning artist-commercial videographer Lawson Lewis, proving that the mango doesn’t fall far from the tree) Mene Tovi Lewis created this winning piece for the I am Grenada website’s Caribbean artist competition.

It was visitor voted and Lewis receives US$500 for her efforts. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)


The Anthony N. Sabga Awards 2022 laureates have been announced. They are Jamaican writer Marlon James, Arts and Letters, Guyanese businessman Shyam Nokta, Entrepreneurship, Barbadian ophthamologist Dr. Kim Jebodhsingh, Civic and Contributions, shared with Suriname entrepreneur Anuskha Sonai, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Professor Christine Carrington, Science and Technology. The Anthony N. Sabga Awards is the first recognition programme of its kind for the Caribbean. It is privately funded, free of political and other influence, and offers tangible, significant benefit to the Laureates. Laureates receive TT$500,000 – to support their work and professional development. The goal of the ANSA Caribbean Awards for Excellence is to recognize significant Caribbean achievement, and to encourage and to support the pursuit of excellence by Caribbean persons, for the benefit of the region. (Source – via google)


Speaking of the Anthony N. Sabga Awards, there’s still a small window of time for submission for the next round of laureate consideration. See Opportunities Too for details and remember you can self-nominate. Don’t wait for someone to pick you, pick yourself. It’s for mid-career people in various disciplines and can give you the resources to do more of the good work you’re already doing.


Bocas in Trinidad continues to draw on regional talent and roll out workshops to help build the literary arts in the region. Scheduled for their last session of March 2022 is one of Antigua and Barbuda’s own, romance writer Rilzy Adams (check our current banner for some of her titles).

For more on this and other opportunities, visit Opportunities Too here on the blog. (Source – Bocas email)

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. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Grace Nichols to be awarded Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, 2021 — Repeating Islands

Buckingham Place has announced that The Queen has approved the award of Her Majesty’s Gold Medal for Poetry for the year 2021 to Grace Nichols. [For full article, see Bloodaxe Books.] Grace Nichols will be the 52nd recipient of this award instituted by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate […]

Grace Nichols to be awarded Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, 2021 — Repeating Islands

I actually added this to the current Carib Lit Plus bulletin earlier today but it rates its own post too, don’t you think? The poem that introduced me to Grace Nichols’ writing is ‘Holding My Beads’:


“I am here

a woman…with all my lives

strung out like beads

before me”

And it still resonates.

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 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.

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Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid December 2021)

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


Rest in Peace and Power to media commentator and Rastafari elder King Frank-I who died on December 6th 2021.

Image: front page of the Daily Observer newspaper.

The Antiguan and Barbudan ambassador (to Ethiopia), whose government name was Franklyn Francis, was “a respected voice in sports broadcasting” (Caribbean Loop). Frank-I, part of the intellectual class as a graduate of the University of the West Indies and University of Glasgow (at a time when that level of tertiary education was not common in Antigua and Barbuda) was also renowned throughout local and regional media for his commentary on society, culture, current affairs, and history. He was a staunch advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana and for the constitutional rights of Rastafari generally (Caribdirect). (Source – Facebook)

Blog Love (drawing your attention to new blogs we’re following or blog posts we’ve read to share the love as we hope others will share our content)

Started following Women Writers Worldwide – as with most of these reading the world posts we’ve come across, for Antigua and Barbuda, they are reading Jamaica Kincaid (which makes sense as she is the best known and most acclaimed Antiguan and Barbudan writer, though we hope they’ll use our database to discover other voices from the #268)


Give the Tim Tim Bwa Fik playlist a listen – it has conversations in two parts with Caribbean romance writers like the British Virgin Islands’ Eugenia O’Neal, Trinidad and Tobago N. G. Peltier (a recent addition to the Wadadli Pen Reading Room and Gallery -see Site Updates below), and Barbados’ Callie Browning. Scroll and hit the playlist.


Pictured are children’s picture books by Antiguan and Barbudan authors who also happen to be Wadadli Pen team members, featuring Dance on the Moon, the latest from Floree Whyte (her previous book The Wonderful World of Yohan is also pictured). Congrats to Whyte (whom I will be interviewing shortly for CREATIVE SPACE) on this new release. Pictured as well is my The Jungle Outside and Barbara Arrindell’s Turtle Beach, both from Harper Collins’ Big Cat series. Whyte’s books are independently published by her own Moondancer Books. (Source – Best of Books)

For other new Antiguan and Barbudan books – like Kortright Davis’ We Belong to Big Church, Joan Underwood’s companion workbook for her Manager’s First Aid Kit: Bringing the Lessons to Life, and Floree Williams Whyte’s Dance on the Moon – see Site Updates. And there’s this new journal, Coffee and Violets, from Sally Davis:

(Source – author on Facebook)

Site Updates

Books added to Antiguan and Barbudan Writing, Antiguan and Barbudan Children’s Literature, and Antiguan and Barbudan Non-Fiction Writing.

Expired opportunities removed, forthcoming opportunities added to Opportunities Too.

Interview links have been added to Reading Room and Gallery 42.

A video has been added to the Wadadli Pen 2021 Challenge video gallery.

Wadadli Pen Storytime.


December 15th 2021 – Decides Antigua and Barbuda (a project of interarts, Women Against Rape, and UWI), has announced an opportunity to explore what gender equality, sexual identities, and inclusivity means to you. To win EC$1500, create something – a song, video, dramatic presentation, graphic design or other visual art – and submit by December 15th 2021. See Women Against Rape in Antigua and Barbuda for more information (or call 268-721-5553). (Source – WAR email)

Remember to see Opportunities Too on Wadadli Pen so you don’t miss anything.

Wadadli Pen-related

There’s some overlap as Floree’s new book (above) and my media award (below) could fit in to this category – it’s all evolving. So, not quite sure where to put this video, so here seems as good a place as any. It is my reading, for the ABS TV Book Club, from my latest book (this series of readings also included, though I don’t have the video or a link, as yet, another Wadadli Pen team member Barbara Arrindell and Desryn Collins, both of whom also have books in the Harper Collins Caribbean line of Big Cat books which also came out in 2021).


Former Wadadli Pen finalist and later (2017) intern Michaela Harris was in the local paper this week for the work of an NGO she apparently started in 2018 and, specifically during the 16 days of activism against domestic violence, its focus on young women. The non-profit is called Her Shine Theory and Michaela is quoted as saying, “Her Shine Theory is driven by a recognised need to support, guide and empower young women to define what authentically being their best self means, rather than succumbing to pressure and societal expectations of women at any given time; while acknowledging and respecting differences amongst women. Her Shine Theory advocates for fierce self-love, self-care and self-respect in its development of young women in our society and creates a sisterhood of support in this endeavour.” HST has reportedly been very active online and will be partnering (at this writing) with the Directorate of Gender Affairs on a candlelight vigil to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence. The HST has 15 ambassadors locally and regionally. (Source – Daily Obsever newspaper)


Twenty-three art teachers from public and private schools in Antigua and Barbuda have completed a three-month art teaching certification course, sponsored by the Halo Foundation and Jumby Bay Fund in conjunction with the Royal Drawing School in the UK, the Ministry of Education, and the G art gallery. Local artist counterpart, Anson Henry, assisted with the programme – which was developed after a needs assessment. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)


Commonwealth Writers has reported 6, 730 submissions for its annual short story prize. This is the most submissions to date. “Stand out countries included Antigua and Barbuda, Namibia, Mauritius and the Seychelles who saw a 400% increase in their number of entries compared to last year.” This is a sharp incline from just a few years ago when submissions from Antigua and Barbuda were such a cause for concern that concern was raised (with me) as recently as 2018 by CW and efforts were made through Wadadli Pen to encourage writer submissions from Antigua and Barbuda. CW reports, “The variety of themes within your stories also reached new levels. The most common themes were family drama, love and coming of age tales. Over 1,922 of you submitted stories on other diverse themes ranging from femicide, to mental health, racism, religion and the pandemic.” Judging is underway and longlisted writers will be announced in April 2022. (Source – CW email)


The Langston Hughes Festival honoured Jamaica Kincaid in November 2021 (I – Joanne C Hillhouse – was one of the writers invited to pay tribute) and now we have video –


Bocas’ Bios and Bookmarks welcomes Myriam Chancy –

(Source – Facebook)


Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival online reading group –

(Source – Facebook)


A quick round up of some recent book signing events at Wadadli Pen patron The Best of Books bookstore.

This has included (pictured above) 2021 Wadadli Pen patron Patricia Tully for her Pioneers of the Caribbean in November; preceded in October by Montserrat writer Marguerite J. Joseph’s Lady under the Stairs and in December by US based Antiguan writer Bridget Samuel Charles’ No Regrets: The Story of Elline Merle Derene. (Source – possibly Facebook…also Tully signing in-person)


This is from early in 2021 but still makes for essential viewing. Caribbean Women’s Writing: Celebrating 30 Years out of the Kumbla.

(Source – email…I think)


Trinbagonian Desiree C. Bailey is a 2021 National Book Awards for Poetry finalist for her collection What Noise Against the Cane – previously the winner of the 2020 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. ‘What Noise Against the Cane is a lyric quest for belonging and freedom, weaving political resistance, Caribbean folklore, immigration and the realities of Black life in America. Desiree C. Bailey begins by reworking the epic in an oceanic narrative of bondage and liberation in the midst of the Haitian Revolution. The poems move into the contemporary Black diaspora, probing the mythologies of home, belief, nation and womanhood. Series judge Carl Phillips observes that Bailey’s “poems argue for hope and faith equally. . . . These are powerful poems, indeed, and they make a persuasive argument for the transformative powers of steady defiance.”’ (book summary). The book was published in April 2021. Desiree is from Trinidad and Tobago, and Queens, New York. She lives in Providence, RI. (Source – instagram, I think)


Britain-based Guyanese poet Grace Nichols will be awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for her body of work.

‘“Over the past four decades, Grace has been an original, pioneering voice in the British poetry scene,” said (chair of the Poetry Medal Committee Simon) Armitage. “Her poems are alive with characters from the folklore and fables of her Caribbean homeland, and echo with the rhymes and rhythms of her family and ancestors … They are also passionate and sensuous at times, being daring in their choice of subject and openhearted in their outlook.”

“Above all, Grace Nichols has been a beacon for black women poets in this country, staying true to her linguistic coordinates and poetic sensibilities, and offering a means of expression that has offered inspiration and encouragement to many.”

Nichols, who moved to Britain aged 27, will become the 52nd recipient of the award, and the second in her own household – her husband John Agard won it in 2012. She is due to be presented with the medal in 2022.’ (The Guardian)

(Source – Twitter)


Jamaican writer Kei Miller was earlier this year named one of the Society of Authors’ Awards 2021 winners, specifically one of five recipients of the Cholmondeley Awards to distinguished poets. The prize is based out of the UK where Miller, who has recently relocated to the US, lived for many years. “In his acceptance speech, Kei Miller described his Cholmondeley Award as ‘a wonderful reminder that we belong to so many societies and so many countries’.” (Source – One News Page)


This is kind of a full circle moment really. I’ve blogged about the outcome of the OECS Journalist Challenge before – this was the formalities. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)


Robyn Rihanna Fenty – international superstar – is Barbados’ new national hero. This honour was conferred during the country’s formal conversion to a parliamentary republic.

Previously, Barbados like many other former British West Indian territories was an independent nation within the Commonwealth realm with the Queen of England still the titular head of state. Within these constitutional monarchies, the Governor General acts as the Queen’s representative, a largely symbolic role, with the governance of the country vested in the executive branch and the legislature – elected by the people. With this move, Barbados has removed the symbolic relationship with the crown and the former governor general has now been made president. Other parliamentary republics among the English speaking Caribbean countries are Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago. Rihanna, one of a handful of single name recognition pop artists, is a Grammy winning, multi-million (reportedly 250 million) selling global superstar, who has also made inroads in Hollywood and in the worlds of fashion and beauty – notably through her Fenty lines of cosmetics and clothing. She is reportedly a billionaire and the richest woman in music. Her Clara Lionel Foundation, named for her grandparents, contributes millions to health causes, including cancer and COVID-19. She was previously an ambassador of Barbados. As the country’s tenth national hero she joins politicians Errol Barrow, Grantley Adams, Hugh Springer, and Samuel Prescod, slave rebellion leader Bussa, activists Sarah Ann Gill and Dr. Charles O’Neal, trade unionists Frank Walcott and Clement Payne, and international cricketer Garfield Sobers. (Source – Linkedin)


Among the Caribbean authors listed among NPR (US National Public Radio’s) Best Books of 2021 are Barbadian Cherie Jones’ How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House and Haiti’s Myriam J. A. Chancy’s What Storm What Thunder. Those are the ones I caught; if I missed any books by Caribbean authors, let me know. (Source – 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, 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 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.

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Reading Room and Gallery 34

Here I share things I like that I think you might like too. But not just anything. Things related to the arts – from the art itself to closer examination of the art to the making of the art…like that. There have been 33 installments in this series before – use the search window to the right to find them; and there’ll be more additions to this installment before it too is closed – so come back.



Keanu Reeves: Reading From Paul Gauguin’s ‘Noa Noa’


“I didn’t know much about publishing, so I reached out to several local writers who had been published but didn’t get much response. It was only when Rosalind Carrington replied that I was able to gain some traction. She would introduce me to Sharon Miller and these two women were the only ones who gave me the time of day. So many people just didn’t even respond! So I am grateful, everyday, that they did,” she details. In the course of editing her novel with the mentorship she received, she would come to realise that though she had the basic novel idea down in words, it was her craft of writing that needed something more. She explains further, “People think that in writing — well we all learn to write, so a writer simply puts words to paper, crafts a story and then goes out there, gets published and wins an award right?” she says with a laugh. “There probably should be another word for what we do — but it’s not as simple as ‘writing’ implies. It’s a different craft altogether; a very solitary profession that requires hours and hours of work and a certain disposition. As a writer you not just have to be able to tolerate solitary confinement but also somehow enjoy it.” – re Celeste Mohammed. Read more.


‘“Micah, you know you white too, right?”
“I tell you to stop that shit. I not white.”
Keisha snorted.
Micah’s face got a little redder despite his tan “You know is the expats I talking about Keisha – the foreign kinda white, the rich peoplekinda white. Acting like if the place belong to them.”’ – Ayanna Gillian Lloyd


“When time come for food to share, she take out she KFC and start to eat.” – from The Cook by Lisa Allen-Agostini in New Daughters of Africa, presented as the Bocas Lit Fest


“Climbing the tree was easy, the sequence of steps and grips was like recalling a once-forgotten language. As I maneuvered along the branch to my old window, surprised it could still bear my weight, the backyard lights next door came on. I stopped moving, the pillowcase of pills swinging to a silence. The justice let out two of his goldendoodles to pee. Every summer when I was a boy, the justice and his wife had paid me twenty dollars a week to walk their dogs. Then he gave me the clerking position. Everything in my life had been handed to me.” – The First Bed by Matthew Socia


‘It feels cold at first but that is the wind on the waves. Take a deep breath and fall to me.’ – from Part 4 of Paul Andruss’ The House by the Sea


“The next letter, an H, took a few weeks to appear, made by juxtaposing the calf of our fire chief with the pinkie finger of the oldest woman in town. Some accused them of copycatting, writing on their skin in marker for the attention it would bring, but those who saw in person knew the sheen of the marks in the light—the matte finish of a coffee bean—and all soon admitted it was authentic.” – The Marks by Chris Haven

Antiguan and Barbudan fiction and poetry here and here.


“Some days the body is a clenched fist. At other times it is a door knob leading out.” – Enzo Serin, Haiti, reading from forthcoming book ‘When my body was a clenched fist’, poem ‘Born to Triggers’





“I have always loved the image-making power of poetry.” – Grace Nichols. Read her full interview with Jacqueline Bishop: Nichols 1, Nichols 2, Nichols 3, Nichols 4


‘I get a lot of questions from people that are How did this person do this thing? And I’m like, “Well, in chapter blah, blah blah, they said they were going to do this thing that way.” One thing I’ve noticed is that people tend to not read accurately. People read fast these days, so they don’t catch all the details, and I tend to write in a lot of detail.’ – N. K. Jemison


‘We can’t know how long the book, or any of us, will live but … “something remains”’



‘John Robert Lee: Papillote Press, “the small and invaluable Papillote Press,” has made a significant mark in small press publishing regionally and internationally with the important authors you have published and the awards that some of the books have garnered. As a result, are you overwhelmed by manuscript submissions, budgetary and other constraints? Have you set yourself a tight selection policy and publishing schedule?

Polly Pattullo: I am essentially a one-woman band, so I do have some difficulty in making sure that manuscripts don’t pile up. I am well aware how frustrating it is to have to wait for a response, and I would hate to have such a reputation.

Even so, I welcome manuscripts – in a way you can never have too many, because you might miss a gem and I always ask someone else to get a second opinion.

It is very much a labour of love and I think I am a bit choosy, but you have to be true to yourself.’ – read the full interview


“Carribeans love racket sports. My dad played a lot, so I started out going to his matches and serving as a terrible ballboy. The only thing we watched as a family on television was tennis, Breakfast at Wimbledon was big in my house. I had forgotten about those days, but I am fond of them. I never would’ve written the book without it. Here’s a good example: My dad rarely calls with breaking news, but one day he rang me up and said, ‘Turn on the TV, there’s a tennis poem being read on the air.’ It was Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated encapsulating his time at one of the big tournaments. Dad wanted to make sure I saw my personal Venn Diagram becoming one circle.” – Rowan Ricardo Philips


“Who are our most important writers today?

I don’t think this is a useful question for a creative writer to consider (at least not for me). What’s more crucial for me to think about is: How can I do my best work yet?” – Thomas Glave


“Anancy, for example, is the kind of figure who endures in the imagination because he represents many conflicting aspects of the self in one vessel – he is often selfish and greedy, so in that regard offers a cautionary tale of the baser aspects of our nature. And yet, here is this tiny creature who routinely outwits others with far more power and who often is the cause of so much that happens in the stories, good and bad. The twinness in his nature is where his appeal lies for me.” – Bocas winner Shara McCallum interviewed for the Jamaica Observer’s Bookends by Jacqueline BishopShara Book 1Shara Book 2Shara conclusion


“I write, seeking an art that will last as the shadows lengthen, one that braids the lyric to the political without sounding like a jeremiad from the sidewalk or a piece of propaganda that will live only for a moment. I seek a political, nuanced, understanding, beautiful, blood-incarnadined art that brings all of us, no matter our differences, to life.” – Gabrielle Bellot


“The story of why my own family came to be in the Caribbean had been blurred over time: it was something to do with the British, something to do with slavery, but that was all that was shared. Decades later the Guyanese-American journalist Gaiutra Bahadhur published the seminal book Coolie Woman, which brought much insight, but there have been few other notable works. Guyana doesn’t feature in the history books or the school curriculum in Britain. Consequently, when I tried to explain to my schoolfriends where my family was from – ‘What Ghana?’, ‘No, Guyana in South America’, ‘What like Ossie Ardiles?’, ‘No, he’s Argentinian’. When the Falklands War began in 1982, there were even more questions to navigate.

This is astonishing when you think that the British had such a role to play in that nation’s birth and how central that colony was to the United Kingdom’s industrial wealth and growth in the nineteenth century. Unlike the Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad, it is possible that Guyana’s unique geography (being attached to the South American mainland) has rendered it and its history all but invisible from the collective British consciousness. Perhaps fittingly, it was the inspiration for Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.” – The Forgotten World: How Scotland Erased Guyana from Its Past by Yvonne Singh



“I’ve learned to listen to them when they argue with me.” – C. S. Marks


“I lay my head on the pillow at night purposefully with a scene in my mind so that my subconscious will work out the kinks. I often pop awake with ideas. Or maybe I don’t, but when I sit to write, more ideas still happen to flow.” – C. Hope Clark


“You have to leave room for the story to grow unexpectedly.” – Cecelia Ahern


“People say, I write for myself, and it sounds so awful and so narcissistic, but in a sense if you know how to read your own work—that is, with the necessary critical distance—it makes you a better writer and editor. When I teach creative writing, I always speak about how you have to learn how to read your work; I don’t mean enjoy it because you wrote it. I mean, go away from it, and read it as though it is the first time you’ve ever seen it. Critique it that way. Don’t get all involved in your thrilling sentences and all that . . .” – Toni Morrison


“I am writing this now on a laptop in central Mexico, in a region where my ancestors lived for centuries. My office is a leather equipal table and chair on a covered terrace. On either side of me, a Chihuahua snoozes. Next door a palm tree rattles like a maraca, and down in the town center a church bell gongs the hour.” – re Sandra Cisneros. Read more.



“I was one of a number of writers invited to Finland in the late 1980s as part of a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Finnish book. The trip really resonated with me, even though it didn’t occur to me at the time that I might use small details I picked up during my time in Finland in a novel. But of course, given the nature of the celebration itself, it makes sense that I did, and I’ve now generally come to be more aware, whenever I travel, that something I see or feel might make its way, in a transformed form, into my fiction.” – Meg Wolitzer discusses the writing of The Wife


‘The Southern writer Rosemary Daniell once looked at me as we sat on a panel at an early Atlanta Book Festival and murmured with wonder, “Hmm, a writer with a happy childhood.” Well, of course, it was not all happy. We all have our own bag of rocks, and a writer of color in this country has more than her share. But it was my childhood.’ – Tina McElroy Ansa



“She’s still being sexually abused but now she also has three children to watch and a farm to keep, and he’s just brutally beating her constantly.” – the Margos discuss movie vs. book, The Color Purple (Alice Walker)


Discussions of Antiguan and Barbudan art by the artistes can be found here.

Discussion of Antiguan and Barbudan art by critics can be found here.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator 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. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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What’s up for ABILF 2010? UPDATED!!!

The Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival is around the corner, back after a one year hiatus. The festival was held for the first time in 2006. It attracted numerous authors including

(Photo by Susan Noyce)

(pictured left to right) Dr. Althea Prince (author of Loving this Man), Elizabeth Nunez (author of Prospero’s Daughter), Verna Wilkins (founder of Tamarind publishers), Nalo Hopkinson (author of Brown Girl in the Ring), Marie Elena John (author of Unburnable), and me, Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend).

This year’s line-up includes John Agard, Jason Cole, Zee Edgell, Lorna Goodison, Bernice McFadden, Macka Diamond, Grace Nichols, Elizabeth Nunez, Verna Wilkins, and me. I believe I’m on a panel (and need to get to planning what I’m going to do or say 🙂 ) and I should be working the children’s tent with other members of the Cushion Club.

The festival headliner will be Pam Grier, star of Foxy Brown and author of the memoir, Foxy, which I had the opportunity to read and review for the Daily Observer newspaper. I’ll have lots to report, I’m sure, from the dinner and a movie fundraiser (looking forward to that…but what shall I wear :-))

Here’s the festival programme:


Thursday, November 4, 2010

10 a.m.-Noon    Multipurpose Cultural Centre, St. John’s

Children’s Reading Convocation

With John Agard, Grace Nichols, Jason Cole, Dawne Allette, Verna Wilkins and other children’s authors

 2:30-4 p.m.   Multipurpose Cultural Centre, St. John’s

Workshop on Encouraging Young Children to Read

For primary school teachers, with Verna Wilkins

 8 p.m.  Halcyon Cove by Rex Resort

An Evening of Poetry

Featuring Esther Phillips, Lorna Goodison, Grace Nichols, John Agard, and Carolyn Matthew-Nation, in conjunction with the Antigua & Barbuda Young Poets Society

Friday, November 5, 2010

9 a.m-5 p.m.   Siboney Lounge, Halcyon Cove

Youth Day
Students selected from Antigua & Barbuda’s secondary schools meet with visiting authors 

3:00-3:30  p.m.   Halcyon Cove

Short Story Contest Award Presentation

Presented by the Friends of the Antigua Public Library 

3:00-5:00  p.m.   Halcyon Cove

The What, How, When and Why of Book Publishing

Publishing is a very mysterious industry, or is it? Be a part of the conversation with the people in the know.  This session will delve into the nuts and bolts of how to get your book published, and what to work towards once in it is in the marketplace.

With Linda Duggins from Hachette Books, Verna Wilkins from Tamarind Books, and Antiguan authors Floree Williams

Friday, November 5, 2010

Featuring Pam Grier and the film “Jackie Brown”
6-10 p.m.

Sandals Grande Antigua

Tickets: $250 EC per person,

includes movie, dinner, wine and a signed copy of Ms. Grier’s new book

Saturday, November 6, 2010

9:00-11:00 a.m.  Festival Village, Anchorage Inn

Students’ and Teachers’ workshops with CXC curriculum authors Zee Edgell, Lorna Goodison and Joanne Hillhouse

 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Festival Village, Anchorage Inn

Workshops with Visiting Authors

  • 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.  Main Tent

Bringing Out the Poet in You

It is often said that poetry, more than any other writing, springs from the soul. Hear how some noted Caribbean poets opened their souls and gave rise to published works that inspire others.

With John Agard, Esther Phillips, Grace Nichols, Carolyn Matthew Nation 

  • 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.  Conference Room

Is Self Publishing the Way to Go?

The publishing world was always very limited, especially for Caribbean authors.  Now with the advent of electronic publishing, Kindle and e-books, and publishing on demand, it is easier for local authors to bring their words to print.  Hear how some authors successfully created their own books and brought them to market.

With Floree Williams and  Marcel Marshall

  • 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m.  Main Tent

Creating a Novel from an Idea

Intrigue, romance, interesting lifestyles, and day-to-day emotional conflicts create novels that readers enjoy. How do writers keep readers coming back again and again?  Where do they get their ideas and then how do they build a story around them?  Get insight into the writing process from these successful novelists.

With Bernice McFadden, Elizabeth Nunez, Macka Diamond, and Zee Edgell

  • 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m.  Conference Room

Writing for Children

You may be reading with your children, watching them play, or just having imaginings—and it occurs to you that maybe you could create a children’s book.  What goes into the process, and what makes the idea into a selling proposition?

With John Agard, Verna Wilkins and Jason Cole

  • 3:30-5:00 p.m.  Main Tent

Our Lives, Our Stories, Our Voices

What is that drive that makes one write about oneself and others? Does everyone have a story within waiting to be published? This panel invites us to the table for a heart-to-to heart on the art of telling our stories and the importance of getting them published.

With Pam Grier, Grace Nichols and  Macka Diamond

Children’s reading activities – Western Union Children’s Tent

  • 11:00 a.m.-12 noon  Joanne Hillhouse
  • 12 noon-1:00 p.m.  Jason Cole and magic
  • 1:00-2:00 p.m.  Sharon James
  • 2:00-3:00 p.m. 
  • 3:00-4:00 p.m.  John Agard and Grace Nichols

 Author readings and book signings –Anchorage Inn Lobby

  • 11:00 a.m.-12 noon —   Bernice McFadden
  • 12 noon-1:00 p.m.  —  Macka Diamond
  • 1:00-2:00 p.m. —  Grace Nichols
  • 2:00-3:00 p.m. – Floree Williams and Marcel Marshall
  • 3:00-4:00 p.m.  —  Elizabeth Nunez
  • 4:00-5:00 p.m. – Zee Edgell
  • 5 p.m.  – Pam Grier

Sunday, November 7, 2010

6-10 p.m.  Splash Antigua Events Centre

Literary Festival After Sunset Party

Featuring Jamaican artiste Macka Diamond and local performers

Admission: $35 in advance, $40 at the door

For more, visit the festival website http://antigualitfest.com

ABILF co-founder Joy Bramble, left, pictured with honoree Dame Gwendolyn Tonge, host of the long running ABS TV show Cooking Magic and related cook book, and government minister (and one helluva cook) Hilson Baptiste

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