Tag Archives: Ian McDonald

Reading Room and Gallery 36

Things I read that you might like too. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

READING

INTERVIEW

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“The different sides of freedom was another thing that was always interesting for me to see.” – Alice Yousef on Poetry Influence on Origins: the International Writing Program Podcast

CREATIVES ON CREATING

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“Photography is not just about what you put within an image but what you choose to leave out of that frame.” – Nadia Huggins

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“Even Jesus had to pass through a punnanny” – Staceyann Chin talking about her life and work, and in conversation with Nicole Dennis-Benn

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Through the edit, we wanted to give the suspense and a little bit of hope. That was achieved by letting the scene breathe.” – How Spencer Averick Built Suspense Through Editing Ava DuVernay’s ‘When They See Us’

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‘The questioner said he was a journalist and had trouble making his mind switch from the journalistic style of writing to fiction. “I have students who have this same problem. I understand you. There is one thing you can do; interview the character/person you want to write about. Ask him anything, then you will have enough information to move them forward,” answered McFadden.’ – by Maryam Ismail writing on the Sharjah International Book Fair and specifically a session by African American author Bernice McFadden

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“Imagine Hirut on the top of a hill, rifle ready, prepared to ambush the enemy. Along the way to this war, she is forced to contend with sexual aggression and then rape by one of her own compatriots. The smoky terrain of the front lines has expanded to engulf Hirut herself: her body an object to be gained or lost. She is both a woman and a country: living flesh and battleground. And when people tell her, Don’t fight him, Hirut, remember you are fighting to keep your country free. She asks herself, But am I not my own country? What does freedom mean when a woman—when a girl—cannot feel safe in her own skin? This, too, is what war means: to shift the battlefield away from the hills and onto your own body, to defend your own flesh with the ferocity of the cruelest soldier, against that one who wants to make himself into a man at your expense.” – Writing About the Forgotten Black Women of the Italo-Ethiopian War: Maaza Mengiste on Gender, Warfare, and Women’s Bodies By Maaza Mengiste

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‘But she was a reader, in the fiercest sense. Susan knew exactly what she wanted. When I finished my last book, she said, “I love that Paris chapter. I want more. Could you please turn it into a novel?” She said it again and again, so often that I began writing the book in my head. Last month, when Susan fell ill, I asked what I could do for her. The reply came shooting back: “The best gift would be to write me that book.”’ – ‘I Think You Need to Rewrite It’: Ruth Reichl on What Makes an Editor Great

THE BUSINESS


FICTION

“This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of The Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre’s own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo! Starting now, we couldn’t soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night. . . so we did the best next thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears, and utterly destroyed the C. B. S. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn’t mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian. . .it’s Hallowe’en.” – from the script of the 1938 radio broadcast of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds which you can also listen to (I recommend listening to it first)

VISUAL ART

“We do not need permission nor expensive equipment to play the game or make art” – video essay re Steven Soderberg and his film High Flying Bird which was shot entirely on an iPhone

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Flow presents the results of its 2019 amateur mobile short film contest

POETRY

“You feel like is fire inside you
a fire twisting you insides into ash
a fire that sucking the earth beneath you dry
But you watch her dancing” – Tricia Allen

“…it almost I who came
back out of each punishment,
back to a self which had been waiting, for me,
in the cooled-off pile of my clothes? As for the
condition of being beaten, what
was it like: going into a barn, the animals
not in stalls, but biting, and shitting, and
parts of them on fire? And when my body came out
the other side, and I checked myself,
10 fingers, 10 toes,
and I checked whatever I had where we were supposed
to have a soul…” – How it Felt by Sharon Olds from her collection Arias

‘Fool neber ‘fraid w’en moon look bright,
Say, “Crab and jumbie lub dark night.”
Jumbie like moon as well as we—
Dey comin’ waalkin’ from de sea.
Deir foot tu’n backward w’en dey tread,
Dey wearin’ body ub de dead
Dat fisher-bwoy dat wu’k on sloop,
He watch dem waalkin’ from Guadeloupe.
Dey waalk de Channel, like it grass;
Den, like rain-cloud, he see dem pass.
Dey comin’ steppin out ub Hell,
Wit burnin’ yeye an’ a sweet smell.’ – Lullabye by Eileen Hall from her 1938 collection

“It is far from here now, but it is coming nearer.
Those who love forests also are cut down.
This month, this year, we may not suffer;
the brutal way things are, it will come.
Already the cloud patterns are different each year.
The winds blow from new directions,
the rain comes earlier, beats down harder,
or it is dry when the pastures thirst.
In this dark, overarching Essequibo forest,
I walk near the shining river on the green paths
cool and green as melons laid in running streams.” – from The Sun Parrots are Late This Year by Ian McDonald

REVIEWS

‘The book starts with an epigraph from Jamaican blogger Paul Tomlinson’s reproach to the commissioner of police to “go inna the bush and catch” the criminals who “always escaping in nearby bushes.”’ – Vahni Capildeo on Kei Miller’s ‘In Nearby Bushes’

REPORTS

“She writes intuitively from her own rural Jamaican childhood through to her becoming a global citizen, and because she writes from a searing past of aloneness and pain, her self-discovery and choice of self makes her work relevant, not only to people of the Caribbean who appreciate that she deals sensitively with race, class hierarchies and cultural oppression ­ the legacy of colonialism – but to all sensitive people of the world who respond to her quiet assertion of personal identity.” – One on One with Olive Senior in the Jamaica Gleaner, 2004

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“Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and British author Bernardine Evaristo split the Booker Prize on Monday, after the judging panel ripped up the rulebook and refused to name one winner for the prestigious fiction trophy.” UK-based Evaristo is Ango-Nigerian though those of you who’ve read her previous novel Mr. Loverman might remember that it features an Antiguan character (I remember meeting her when she was here in Antigua researching that character). Her Booker winning book is Girl, Woman, Other; tied with Canada-born Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale sequel The Testaments. Read the judges’ reasoning 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, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure – Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe). All rights reserved. 

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Did you know?

Did you know that Ian McDonald, author of Caribbean classic The Hummingbird Tree (1969), has Antiguan roots. The Trinidad born Guyanese based writer is a descendent of Edward Dacres Baynes, his five times great grandfather who was a colonial civil servant in the Leewards in  the 1800s, eventually settling in Antigua, where he and his wife raised their 15 children. He is also the grandson of Hilda McDonald,  the first female member of the Antiguan House of Assembly. Both Baynes and McDonald are listed for their writings in the bibliography of Antiguan and Barbudan Writings.

McDonald though best known for The Hummingbird Tree has kept writing from his home in Guyana. His latest collection, via Peepal Tree Press, is New and Collected Poems.

mcdonald

Read more about it and him, here.

See also: https://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/features/02/01/‘i-shake-hands-with-you-in-my-heart

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,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com 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. Respect copyright.

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Reading Room and Gallery 23

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 23rd one which means there are 22 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one.

NON FICTION

“It wasn’t as bad as I make it sound now; it was worse.” – Jamaica Kincaid’s essay On Seeing England for the First Time

MISC.

‘We must never for a moment doubt that it is absolutely vital that a nation should foster and honour its writers. The good writer devotes his energy to searching for truth. And in the love of truth, straight and unvarnished, lies not only the hope but the safety of a nation. “The people need poetry,” the great Russian Poet, Osip Mandelstam, wrote, “to keep them awake forever.” The good writer, the true writer, as Cyril Connolly said in Enemies of Promise, “helps to unmask those pretenders which distract all human plans for improvement: the love of power and money, the short-sighted acquisitive passions, the legacies of injustice and ignorance, a tiger instinct for fighting, the ape-like desire to go with the crowd. A writer must be a lie-detector who exposes fallacies in words and ideals before half the world is killed for them.”’ – Ian McDonald

FROM THE BLOGS

“People think writing children’s stories is some simple, easy thing. You’ve heard that, right? It is not; children deserve that as much attention be taken with their stories as would be taken with an adult novel. The child doesn’t need to recognize the many layers in a story. The layers of meaning will come later, or not, but the layers create the finished picture. The child just needs needs to enjoy the story, just needs that satisfying feeling of reading a story where the ending spreads like joy from the tips of the toes to the tips of the fingers and creates a bubbling-up-joy in the heart and mind.” – Caribbean Children’s Literature Diane Browne

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“he dipped his toe in the puddle
of her first words” – SimplyNatural1

STORIES

“Being a migrant is like living in a limboland where you never fully belong anywhere, the positive perspective being it also gives you a wider and deeper empathy and universality.” – Maggie Harris interview

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Commonwealth Writers site

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“In the lateness of the night, she rises from the table. After these many years, she has become attuned to the restaurant, and to her beloved. They work in tandem. She can hear the eaves sigh in the wind, feel the dining room chairs sag with relief as the frenetic energy of the day finally draws to a close.” – The Woman Who Lived in the Restaurant by Leone Ross

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“Across a field of short, sparse grass, she spied another group of aliens, facing each other in silence as usual, with their silver-stones piled in the center. Some were young—short with thick fur. Others were old—their scaly skin showing where hair had fallen out in patches about their body. She wondered if they considered this planet theirs. The family parrot, Rupert, considered the bell on his cage to be his property and pecked anyone who tried to move it. And the aliens of this world were certainly smarter than Rupert. Clara remembered her father’s stories about Columbus invading the Caribbean a thousand years before and declaring himself its discoverer. Maybe Clara and her family were the invaders now.” – from Clara in the New World, 2492 A.D. by Imam Baksh – See more here.

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“Placing one slender, manicured tip on the backspace key, she erased every word, every trace of what she’d been feeling. It was four in the afternoon, and Laurie was beginning to feel suffocated. She needed this meeting to end. The only consolation was that she’d chosen a seat with her back against the wall, so her screen was not easily seen. Today was not her day to present, nor did she have the energy to rebut the statements being made, so she blindly allowed her mind to wander – a dangerous pastime.” – The Looking Glass by Zahra Airall (also posted to A & B Writings in Journals and Contests)

INTERVIEWS

“I would say to young writers be true to yourself and go for what is deeply meaningful for you, ask yourself over and over: What do I want to say?   Be as authentic to yourself and your subject as you can be.  Write every day.” – Lawrence Scott

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“It’s scary out there, man. It’s so scary.” – Kendrick Lamar with Rick Rubin

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“My mantra is definitely slow and steady wins the race. I apply this mantra to a lot of things, but I think in terms of my business I really avoid the sensation of being overwhelmed.” – Holly Wren Spaulding

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Several Caribbean writers sharing their work and insights, including Jamaica’s Tanya Shirley – “Matter of fact which women really needs a head unless she’s proficient in giving head and keeping her mouth shut when she’s not”; St. Lucia’s Vladimir Lucien – “…no land, not enough last name to get the loan…”; and Barbados’ Karen Lord – “It appears that war, when deprived of one reason, simply seeks out another; we are still a people divided.” – listen to the full thing at the BBC.

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“…if you have just finished writing your first story, you may want to take some time honing it and your craft and ensuring that it is truly ready for publication before approaching publishers. Completing a draft for most writers is the first step in a long journey of becoming a published author.” – advice from agent Anna Ghosh

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“Every day I learn to write a better sentence.” – Ingrid Persaud and other Caribbean Commonwealth short story finalists interviewed by Shivanee Ramlochan

POEMS

“Bob Marley doesn’t know
His song has been hijacked
And drummed into heads
Knees weak from fear
Do not allow us to stand up.” – Althea Romeo-Mark’s Revolution and Reggae (Liberian Coup 1985) in Calabash

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“light      smoke      how to dance

disco ball blocked by bodies

the sun eclipsed by moons

men growing like trees

in this club we leap

we do not look” – After Oliver Senior, ‘Flying’ by Andre Bagoo in Cordite Poetry Review 

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“I think of you like a storm remembered—a marker in my life

Stalking my dreams and my memories like a phantom” – Stormy Night by Damian Femi Rene in Cordite Poetry Review

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“when I was eight, a priest came and flicked holy water

into the four corners of this wooden house

that kept my parents, two sons, a daughter,

and a darkening forest in its mouth.” – Exorcism/Freeport by Richard Georges in Cordite Poetry Review

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“Their point guard calling an illegal pick

as we double teamed, breathing like dogs

on a leash. I was staying in the spare room

of your house. Living below the line

like denominators until I learnt Algebra;

from the word Al-jabr – the reunion

of broken parts. Your nephew the third man,

floated by (a silver shadow) and drained

a three crunch through the chains.” – Pythagoras Theorem by Nick Makoha in Adda

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“Nennen’s toothless smile

Granny lifts her skirt high

before plunging them back between her thighs

and a laugh from deep within bellows joy

Another aunt tears streaming from her face

thumps a table and gasps for air

and a laugh escapes

peeling sorrow away from the wooden walls

of the house

in Salem” – Chadd Cumberbatch, Norene’ s Laugh

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“Beautiful man, you are

the ocean churning inside a skull. Every cuss

a broken piece of bottle. You never left

the island but long to. Fingertips smelling

of tobacco or herb, always ready

to fight someone or something.

Thrusting a gun finger

into the air, rigid—

a brown beacon; I will you

to life: fuse sinew, blood

tendons, bones, memories.” – Poem for a Gunman by Soyini Ayanna Forde

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“I am the last in the line of the man Massa bury.

My great- grandmother run to the hills

same day, with Papa in her belly. Papa

was a wild one, kill plenty backra. Each time

he kill one  him say, ‘Massa me no dead yet.’” – Penny Kill Shilling by Monica Minnot 

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“Because to him
Giving in
Is the only real sin” – Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Differences (also posted to A & B Writings in Journals and Contests)

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“Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart.” – Love after Love by Derek Walcott (read by Tom Hiddleston)

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“I felt sleepy, bored by the mundane,
the usual conversation and the continual beauty
of sun and sea” – from The Day The Sea Turned Brown by Tania Haberland in Adda

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“I had this image of a woman grieving the illness of her lover, but yes, the lover is not-quite-human. He’s a construction or a creation or a person who has been made in our own image. I was thinking of love as a double helix between attraction to the other, the opposite; and attraction to some unarticulated part of ourselves that we recognize in another. And then, out of the blue, I could see Jin and Naomi dancing together, and the perspective was that of child, a neighbor, watching this love affair unfold, and interpreting that otherness, that not-quite-humanness, in a very different way. So that was the beginning.” – Five Questions for Madeleine Thien

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“You learn about the objective art of rhetoric, more specifically about the structural choices that bad and good men have made in speeches to lead us down certain garden paths – not by magic, but by repetition and specific diction and verb choice.” – Leone Ross on The Answer to that Question: Where do I get Ideas from

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“The reason an inciting moment matters is that it determines what the story is about. It’s like a snowball that is pushed down a hill. It will gather it’s own momentum, and direct the story to its conclusion unless you put obstacles in the way (like a rock) to throw it off track and into another direction. If you don’t want your story about Cinderella to hinge on the prince’s ball, you might not want to include the invitation in the plot in the first place.” – Andrea Lundgren

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Solange Knowles jam sessions and creative process for Seat at the Table.

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“When I sat down to write Ashael Rising, I knew very little about KalaDene. In fact, it didn’t even have a name until the third draft or so. My world-building was all done as I went along. I once heard an excellent description of the process; it explains just what it feels like to me so I’m going to share it here. World-building is like walking through a tunnel (the world) with a torch (the story) so I can see as much of the world as the story shines a light on and a little bit around the edges but everything else is just fuzzy shapes in the darkness, with maybe a puff of cool air indicating that there might be a door to somewhere else off to the left.” – Shona Kinsella talks world building

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“Here’s the catch: More than one type of character arc exists. Our characters can change for better or worse. Or, perhaps they might not change much, except in strength of resolve. So, how do writers determine what kind of arc a character is following, or which arc fits our story best?” – Fantasy writer Sara Letourneau blogging on character arcs

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“People think writing children’s stories is some simple, easy thing. You’ve heard that, right? It is not; children deserve that as much attention be taken with their stories as would be taken with an adult novel. The child doesn’t need to recognize the many layers in a story. The layers of meaning will come later, or not, but the layers create the finished picture. The child just needs needs to enjoy the story, just needs that satisfying feeling of reading a story where the ending spreads like joy from the tips of the toes to the tips of the fingers and creates a bubbling-up-joy in the heart and mind.” – Jamaican author Diane Browne blogging Children as Heroes/Heroines of Their Own Stories

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, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Antiguan and Barbudan Plays/Screenplays

N.B. This is specific to items written for the stage or screen which have been published in book form (not including screen/plays excerpted in journals which will be posted to the journals list). It’s short but I decided to share it anyway. The list of produced plays and films is longer (though still comparatively short). Use the search feature to find it. This list is also cross-posted to the main list of Antiguan and Barbudan writing which I started building in 2005 for the Independence Literary Arts exhibition at the National Museum. Use the search feature to find that. For other genre specific listings , search for fiction, non fiction, poets, children’s literature, songwriters, or whatever else. This list is all books all the time, but you can also search this site for publications by Antiguans and Barbudans in journals, contest wins, and performances. Chances are it’s somewhere here on the site. Some listed books are traditionally published (i.e. the rights acquired by trade publishers for sale with writers receiving an advance and royalties per contract), published with a small or independent press (still traditional but on a different scale), published via a hybrid press (a mix of traditional publishing and self-publishing), or self-published (including vanity press or any mechanism through which the author pays to publish). If you’re looking for Wadadli Pen winners, use the drop down menu on the right or search Wadadli Pen by year, name, story or other feature. Do your own research re the quality of any books posted here (we even have some reviews posted to the site) and if you share, credit. Hope you find what you’re looking for.

PLAYS/SCREENPLAYS

Name: Zahra Airall

Book:

Over the Hill and Through the Wood in She SexShe SEX – Prose and Poetry: SEX and the Caribbean Woman. Bamboo Talk Press. Trinidad. 2013.

About the Book:

Sex, Prose and Poetry, SEX and the Caribbean Woman has been described as “an important gathering of women’s voices” (Tiphanie Yanique, author of How to Survive a Leper Colony). Airall’s story, “Over the Hill and Through the Wood” is about an older woman finding sexual gratification for the first time.

About the Author:

Zahra is an educator, photographer, spoken word artist, poet, and stage and TV writer, director, and producer. She is a part of the following teams: Women of Antigua (which brought The Vagina Monologues and When a Woman Moans to the Antiguan stage), August Rush (producer of the Expressions Poetry series), and the team that brought the first TEDx event to Antigua. She’s also put on several well-received productions under her Sugar Apple Theatre and Zee’s Youth Theatre banner, in Antigua and abroad, and has racked up several awards as writer-director in local and regional secondary schools theatre competitions. She is, also, a teacher, writer, and photographer.

Wadadli Pen connection: Zahra was part of a small grouping of Antiguans who organized a week of Black History Month activities culminating with the Wadadli Pen Challenge awards. This was the return of the Wadadli Pen Challenge after a three year break and the first year of the Wadadli Pen visual arts challenge. The Wadadli Pen/BHM week of activities included a national Museum exhibition of visual art by Antiguans and Barbudans including Zahra/byZIA Photography, who, also directed ‘Word Up! 2010’ (sequel to ‘Word Up! 2006’, a joint Museum-Wadadli Pen fundraiser and literary arts showcase) which was a mix of fashion, poetry, calypso, theatre, with Zee’s Youth Theatre headlining, and the Challenge awards. 2010.

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Name: Edson Buntin

Book:

Anu Bantu: Treasure Island and Haunted Park. Antigua Printing and Publishing. Antigua. 2007.

About the Book:

“The format of this book is that of both a novel and a play rolled into one”–p.324.

About the Author:

Edson Buntin is a dramatist and an instructor in French at the Antigua State College. His contributions to theatre are both onstage and off, as an actor including serving as a cast member in the 1979 production of Dorbrene O’Marde’s Tangled Web and as founder of the Scaramouche Theatre and overseeing several productions at the College, such as Conjugal Bliss. Plays written by Buntin include Con Man Sun Sun, Mr. Valentine, and Wedlock. He has also acted in local films such as Once in an Island.

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Name: David Edgecombe

Book:

Book-Front-Cover-Lady-of-Parham-300dpi-184x300Lady of Parham. Caribbean Reads Publishing (second edition). St. Kitts. 2014.

About the Book:

Lady of Parham, set in Antigua, introduces the audience to five revelers who have come together to form a Carnival troupe but settle for dramatizing the tale of the Parham ghost. In the telling of the ghost legend, Justin, Tulip, Sauna, Kyle, and Mabel must confront the demons that threaten to derail their lives. Lady of Parham is based on a local Antiguan legend. The play has been staged, including an eight night run at the Little Theatre, University of the Virgin Islands.

About the Author:

Edgecombe’s inclusion on this list is due to the Antigua-specific nature of this play. He hails from neighbouring Montserrat where he was the founder of touring company, the Montserrat Theatre Group. He has written over a dozen plays which have been staged throughout the Caribbean, in Canada, and in Nigeria. He joined the faculty of the University of the Virgin Islands in 1990 to teach English and was artist-in-residence in 1991. He also taught Journalism, Speech Communication, and Theater before becoming Director of the Reichhold Center for the Arts. He went on to become a full-time professor in the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, University of the Virgin Islands. He has published several of his plays with Caribbean Reads Publishing; but, notably, Lady of Parham was shortlisted for the Guyana Prize for Literature Caribbean Award.

*****

Name: Gus Edwards

Books: gusThe Offering & Other Plays by Gus Edwards.

Black Heroes in Monologues (ed.). Heinemann. US. 2006.

50 African American Audition Monologues (ed.). Heinemann. US. 2002.

More Monologues on Black Life (ed.). Heinemann. US. 2000.

Monologues on Black Life (ed.). Heinemann. US. 1997.

Classic Plays from the Negro Ensemble Company (w/co-editor Paul Carter Harrison). University of Pittsburgh Press. US. 1995.

The Offering. Dramatists Play Service Inc. US. 1978.

Old Phantoms. Dramatists Play Service Inc. US. 1969.

About the Books:

Black Heroes in Monologues – What is a hero? How is one defined? When Gus Edwards discovered that the majority of the young actors, playwrights, and teachers he encountered didn’t know who Nat Turner was—nor many other key men and women in black history—he summoned the power of theatre to correct the situation. Black Heroes in Monologues brings these and other influential African Americans to life once again. As he did with Monologues on Black Life, Edwards offers black actors and actresses a host of new, original audition and performance pieces. Black Heroes in Monologues features twenty-seven monologues in the voices of heroes from every walk of African American life. From Civil Rights-era leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X to freedom fighters Harriet Tubman and Joseph Cinque; from Hall of Fame sports figures Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis to influential artists Paul Robeson, Mahalia Jackson, Hattie McDaniel, and Oscar Micheaux. Heroes come from all walks of life. Some we recognize easily; others are unknown or forgotten. With Black Heroes in Monologues, we can not only return them to our consciousness, but bring them to life for people of every color to cherish and enjoy.

50 African American Audition Monologues – Finding authentic African American material has never been easy for actors. Gus Edwards continues to remedy that situation with this third collection of powerful, original monologues for African American men and women. The pieces offer a refreshing alternative to recycled standards. And they showcase the language and frame of reference that are immediately recognizable, both emotionally and culturally, to the people who will perform or view them. Edwards has arranged the monologues by performance length, a key component in auditioning. Need a 30-second or a 3-minute piece? No problem. Just turn to these pages to find honest, vibrant material.

More Monologues on Black Life – Gus Edwards returns with a second collection of probing and practical monologues on Black life. Whether you are an African American seeking audition and performance material written in contemporary language or an educator trying to offer students of color something more than tired, hand-me-down monologues, this collection presents fresh material written in a voice that reflects the modern African American experience. The collection offers the complete text of Gus Edwards’ remarkable Lifetimes on the Streets, in a volume with another collection of monologues entitled Reaching for the Dream. Together, these two sets of monologues are a vital resource for actors and actresses looking for honest, vibrant material. The characters in Lifetimes on the Streets range from a woman on her way to her hairdresser who enters into a strange relationship with a painter who invites her to have a cup of tea with him, to the Common Man, an old man carrying a bag who warns that Harlem is entering a new ice age, to a businessman who, on the death of a homosexual friend, wanders into a porn movie and is forced to confront his own discomfort and lack of confidence. The rest of this volume is a collection of monologues for men and women, ranging in age from 15 to 50. We meet Kiana, 15, who wonders why boys are such jerks, Jaims, 16, who wants to know why it’s so hard to talk to girls, Harold, 30, who has four wives and is about to cop an insanity plea, Lisata, in her 20s, who encounters a man with strange eyes on the subway, and a host of other people making their way as best they can in this last part of the 20th century.

Monologues on Black Life – In acting classes all over the country, African American students are routinely given monologues either from old Black plays like A Raisin in the Sun or contemporary Anglo plays, prompting them to ask, “Where are the new works aimed at us?” Students need material that is fresh and authentic, material that speaks in their language and to their concerns.

Classic Plays from the Negro Ensemble Company – This anthology celebrates more than twenty-five years of the Negro  Ensemble Company’s significant contribution to American theater.  Collected here are ten plays most representative of the eclectic nature of the Negro Ensemble Company repertoire. The Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) was formed in New York City in 1967 with support from the Ford Foundation to aid in the establishment of an independent African-American theater institution.  Under the artistic directorship of Douglas Turner Ward, the NEC offered a nurturing environment to black playwrights and actors who could work autonomously, guaranteeing authenticity of voice, full freedom of expression, and exploration of thematic views specific to the African-American experience. Since its inception, the NEC has introduced audiences to more than 150 theatrical works.  Classic Plays from the Negro Ensemble Company allows scholars to review a diversity of styles which share common philosophical, mythic, and social ideals that can be traced to an African worldview.  A foreword by Douglas Turner Ward and an afterword by Paul Carter Harrison and Gus Edwards assess the literary and/or stylistic significance of the plays and place each work in its historical or chronological context.

The Offering – The scene is a shabby basement apartment on New York’s West Side, where Bob Tyrone, an aging black, lives with his young wife, Princess. Now on welfare, Tyrone spends most of his time dozing, or glass in hand, watching television. Unexpected visitors arrive in the form of Martin, an obviously prosperous young black man, and Ginny, his beautiful white girlfriend. Martin offers Tyrone a large sum of money, but Tyrone declines and invites his visitors to stay the night. In a series of highly atmospheric scenes, it develops that Martin, a hired killer, had known Tyrone when he too was a power in illegal activity, and he still regards him with awe. At first the action seems to be concerned with Martin’s desire to help his former mentor. But gradually, as the sense of menace deepens, we are aware that a struggle for sexual dominance has now become the focus of their relationship – as Tyrone seduces Ginny, and Martin, suddenly powerless, yields to the psychological battle of wits to which his now reinvigorated master has subjected him. Successfully produced by New York’s renowned Negro Ensemble Company, this arresting first play blends menace and humor, with unique stylistic originality, as it details the confrontation between a young man, his aging mentor and the women with whom they share their lives.

About the Author: Gus Edwards was born 1939 in Antigua and raised in St. Thomas. He moved to New York in 1959. His plays have been showcased by the Negro Ensemble of NY among other companies across the US. Initially, a protégé of Stella Adler, he worked as an actor in films and on stage. But limited by his accent, he began writing his own material. These included The Offering (1977), Black Body Blues (1978), Old Phantoms (1979), These Fallen Angels (1980), Weep Not for Me (1981), Tenement (1983), Manhattan Made Me (1983), Ramona (1986), and Louie and Ophelia (1986). Most of his plays are reportedly set in “the slums and ghettoes of New York…his characters often exist outside of the boundaries of what is thought to be appropriate behavior in society.” (Notable Caribbeans and Caribbean Americans: a Biographical Dictionary, p. 157). His works for television include Aftermath (1979) and a TV adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel Go Tell It on the Mountain. He also wrote narration on the Negro Ensemble Company for PBS. Though self-taught, the critically acclaimed playwright has taught theatrical writing at several US colleges and became associate professor of theatre at Arizona State University, directing  where the multi-ethnic theatre and teaching in the film studies programme. In 2000, he was appointed artistic director to the Scottsdale Ensemble Theatre in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Gus Edwards is one of the first Caribbean writers  to contribute to American theatre.” (Notable Caribbean and Caribbean Americans: a Biographical Dictionary, p. 158)

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Name: Fransene Massiah-Headley

Books:

Pepperpot…A Caribbean Woman’s Story…Poems for the Stage. Dominica. 2008.

About the Books:

Pepperpot is a Look at the Antigua culture. It documents a  Caribbean woman’s life story while revealing some of Antigua’s rich history employing the Antiguan Nation Language to tell the story of the characters.

About the Author:

Fransene Massiah—Headley is an Antiguan educator, writer and dramatist. Writer and Dramatist.

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Name: Ian McDonald

Books (select):

The Tramping Man (one-act play) in A Time and A Season (a collection of eight Caribbean plays). UWI’s School of Continuing Studies. 1976.

About the Books:

Tramping Man was performed in Guyana in 1969, broadcast by GBS in 1972, and published in A Time and A Season ed. Errol Hill, 1976. It is about a Dionysian carnivalesque figure, a spirit of unquenchable freedom who is seen by the state to challenge its power. The play has been frequently staged.

About the Author:

McDonald is the author of several books of fiction and poetry, including Caribbean Classic The Hummingbird Tree – which has been made in to a BBC production. He has described himself as “Antiguan by ancestry, Trinidadian by birth, Guyanese by adoption, and West Indian by conviction.” Ian McDonald’s Antigua connection is through his father (who is of Antiguan and Kittitian extraction, while his mother is Trinidadian). He himself was born in Trinidad in 1933 and went to Guyana in 1955. He has lived there ever since. From a white West Indian family, he worked in the sugar industry, pre-and-post retirement.  He wrote a weekly newspaper column and worked to revive the seminal literary journal Kyk-over-Al. His writing began in the 1950s with publications in BIM and New World. He has considerably more publications than mentioned here, including appearances in The Caribbean Writer, Poui, and the Caribbean Review of Books. He has received an honourary PhD from the University of the West Indies. Adept at sports – specifically tennis – he was Guyana’s 1957 Sportsman of the Year. His backstory includes a five times great-grandfather Edward Dacres Baynes, 1790 to 1863, who served as a soldier in Jamaica just after emancipation and after that a colonial civil servant in the Leeward Islands including the post of President of the Council of Montserrat, who eventually settled in Antigua with his wife and fifteen children. Baynes published a poetry collection entitled Child Harold in the Shades. His family line also includes a great-uncle Donald McDonald, an Antiguan trader, businessman and Assembly member who also wrote verse and published a volume in London in 1917. His grandmother, Hilda McDonald was the first female member of the Antiguan House of Assembly and author of a small booklet of verse, Sunflakes and Stardust.

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Name: Motion

Books: 

Aneemah’s Spot (pg. 181 – pg. 207) in Give Voice: Ten Twenty Minute Plays from the Obsidian Theatre Company Playwright’s Unit (edited by Rita Shelton Deverell). Playwright’s Canada Press. 2011.

About the Books:

Aneemah’s Spot is a riveting dramatic duet set over one night in the Toronto mega-city. The real-time tale is a stealthy mix of dialogue, rhyme and spoken word that follows two childhood friends – Aneemah and Wan – left to deal with the fallout of a tragedy that comes too close to home. The murder of “G” brings them together to mourn and share histories as they are forced to let go of the past, and decide how they will navigate life from this moment on – apart or together. Written by Motion, the most recent award-winning production (up to this posting in 2018) was directed by Charles Officer, starred Amanda Parris and Shomari Downer, and featured an infectious sound-scape by DJ L’Oqenz.

About the Author: 

Motion is the daughter of an Antiguan mother. She is an award winning artist whose accolades began when she became the first female Hip Hop artist to be nominated for MuchMusic’s Best Rap Video. Her pioneering presence continued when her commentary on urban life and love in Toronto made her the winner of the CBC National Poetry Face-Off with her nationally acclaimed poem ‘Connect the T.Dots’. Motion is the first Hip Hop artist in Canada to publish a collection of writings, Motion in Poetry, with the companion album, the Audio Xperience. She’s performed at Russell Simmonds Def Poetry Jam on HBO and is a member of the Obsidian Theatre’s Playwrights Unit. She’s written for stage and screen.

Wadadli Pen connection: Motion and her publisher Women’s Press (Canada) contributed copies of her debut collection Motion in Poetry, a poetry book/CD combo, to the Wadadli Pen Challenge prize package. 2005.

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,Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace). 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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