Tag Archives: Independence

And the Winner is…

No, you didn’t sleep and miss another season of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge, but you did miss your opportunity to win a copy of my new book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (a children’s picture book).

The winner had to play to win by responding to trivia questions launched during Independence season and spotlighting local artists. You may remember that this was triggered in part by discussions about the arts (in which I participated) during the Antigua and Barbuda Independence season.

The winner got all but two of the questions correct. She is FAYOLA JARDINE (who is also a 2017 Wadadli Pen Challenge finalist). Peep her answers (and the correct answers) below.

This person won the Dan David prize for Jewish writers
Fayola’s Answer: Jamaica Kincaid
Correct Answer: Jamaica Kincaid
Jamaica Kincaid (born Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson) is a convert to Judaism. The Ovals, Antigua born, US based author of many books, including Annie John and Lucy, won the Dan David Prize in 2017

This person is the founder of Moondancer Books
Fayola’s Answer: Floree Williams
Correct Answer: Floree Williams
Floree Williams Whyte already had two books – Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses and Through a Window – to her credit when she launched the independent press Moondancer Books to publish her children’s book The Wonderful World of Yohan in 2017.
Yohan book

This person wrote ‘An Interview with hurricane Luis’
Fayola’s Answer: Joy Lawrence
Correct Answer: Joy Lawrence
The 1995 hurricane unleashed Joy Lawrence‘s poetic voice though in the years since she’s become known as a folk historian thanks to books like The Way We Talk and Other Antiguan Folkways, and several village histories.

This person participated in the Pan Am Games
Fayola’s Answer: Edison Liburd
Correct Answer: Heather Doram
Heather Doram is a celebrated Antiguan and Barbudan artist, Carnival costume designer, and former Culture Director. Her piece, Rootedness, was one of several from around the world featured at the Textile Museum of Canada as a partner project to the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Heather's image

This person runs an art camp for kids
Fayola’s Answer: Heather Doram
Correct Answer: Edison Liburd
In 2011, Edison Liburd, another talented Antiguan and Barbudan visual artist actually offered a scholarship to one of Wadadli Pen’s art challenge winners to participate in one of his summer camps.

This person has degrees in physics and chemistry
Fayola’s Answer: Dorbrene O’Marde
Correct Answer: Dorbrene O’Marde
Dorbrene O’Marde Dorbrene O'Mardeis best known as a playwright, calypso writer, author (including the biography of the Monarch King Short Shirt) and cultural activist, but has degrees in physics and chemistry from the University of the West Indies.

This person is a UNESCO award winner
Fayola’s Answer: Sylvanus Barnes
Correct Answer: Sylvanus Barnes
Barnes, a beloved local poet, is one of several writers to receive an honour award for contribution to literacy and the literary arts from the local UNESCO body in 2004

This person had a sister named Ethlyn
Fayola’s Answer: King Obstinate
Correct Answer: King Obstinate
King Obstinate’s heartfelt calypso Who Kill Me Sister, queries in direct address to the then police commissioner, the (alleged) murder of his sister, Ethlyn.

This person is a 2007 Hurston Wright award nominee
Fayola’s Answer: Marie Elena John
Correct Answer: Marie Elena John
Marie Elena John’s debut novel Unburnable was nominated for the 2007 Hurston Wright Award (a prestigious US award for writers of African descent) for best first book.

This person wrote How the Starfish got to the Sea
Fayola’s Answer: Althea Prince
Correct Answer: Althea Prince
This children’s book was written by a then Althea Trotman in 1993. Her other books (as Althea Prince) include How the East Pond got its Flowers and Ladies of the Night.
how the starfish

I’ll be contacting Fayola to collect her prize (and look forward to her posting her reader review on Amazon, Goodreads, or even here on WordPress); in the meantime why don’t you get to know these Antiguan and Barbudan artists and support all our work as much as you can. Bless.

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, and Oh Gad! ). All Rights Reserved.

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Arts and Antiguan-Barbudan Independence: a Discussion

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October through to November 1st (Independence Day) is Independence season in Antigua and Barbuda. Of course, if you’re Antiguan and Barbudan, you already know this; and if you’re a blog subscriber, you’ve already seen the 2017 Independence programme.

This post is about some back and forth that first erupted on social media and then made its way on to traditional media concerning the Harriet Tubman activities – three of them on the programme. The gist of the criticism was that Independence should spotlight Antiguan and Barbudan history and that while Harriet Tubman – a hero who shepherded many blacks to freedom in America – was not without relevance to a majority black country with its own history of enslavement and rebellion, the workshops and theatrical production (reportedly proposed by the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Committee) would have been a better fit for Black History Month while Independence focused on our own icons. I do think the media should have sought (or maybe they did and it wasn’t reported, or it was reported and I missed it) the perspective of the group that proposed it. But the only official explanation came from the Culture Minister, Chet Greene, who was quoted in the Daily Observer media as saying, among other things, “There are no plays that are written on the lives and works of Nellie Robinson, George Walters and Prince Klaas King Court…The offer that was made to us was on a play, which has value to a Black Civilization; value at a time of rebuilding and uniting, and value in exposing our young people in terms of who we are in time and space…I would want to throw an invitation out to some playwriter, or poet in our space, perhaps, for next year or as part of work beginning now, to seek to provide short plays or skits on the lives and works of Antiguans and Barbudans.” The Minister in particular rebuked Senator Aziza Lake, herself an artist, activist, and media producer, for a facebook comment in which she was quoted, in the same article, as saying, “Tubman is an African American hero who risked her life to free slaves, but she has no place in the country’s Independence celebrations with three separate events.” His quoted comment: “Harriet Tubman’s name is an important name in the history of Black people. And to make an issue of having her name surfacing at Independence time, at Carnival time, or at any time of year in Antigua and Barbuda, by someone who is supposed to be a leader of the nation, it really is disconcerting…When I see comments like that coming from persons like the good Senator Aziza Lake, it makes me wonder if people are aware of their own history. I find that she is just using the opportunity to make mischief.” The article also quoted Carol Hector-Harris, an African American journalist, as saying, “I really appreciate the fact that Harriet Tubman is going to be included in this year’s Independence celebration. In the States, we look to our Caribbean brothers and sisters to celebrate a variety of things in our history…And every achievement that is made by our Caribbean brothers and sisters, we consider them to be our achievement too. And the achievements that we make are your achievements too. We are the same people. We just got off the ‘ship’ at a different port.”

In a follow up article in the same paper, creative artist Alister Thomas pushed back. He was quoted as saying, “There should have already been commissioned individuals who could write the history of this country. There should have been various publications as far as the personalities who would have made contributions from slavery, colonialism, post- colonialism to independence. That would have been helpful…I don’t think we should be, in 2017, saying that we do not have drama featuring local personalities who would have made invaluable contribution to our development, our growth and where we have progressed from slavery…These things should have been an integral part of the education system from first form and even from pre-school. We need introspection. Those things should have already been in motion.” He did not seem, as reported, to object to the inclusion of Harriet Tubman, remarking that “It (Independence) is traditionally the time of year when the nation and its people seek to celebrate its accomplishment from post-colonialism to present. But if a decision is being made to feature a Black personality, who would have made an invaluable contribution in writing our history, I could not be critical of it in any sort of way…I would have preferred [however] that personalities here…, because there are Antiguan and Barbudan descendants of slaves here who are not featured who should be featured, not just at Independence time.”

I then received a call from Big Issues, a Sunday news-discussion programme on the paper’s sister station Observer radio. That panel, hosted by Kieron Murdoch, also included playwright and novelist Dorbrene O’Marde

Dorbrene O'Marde

Dorbrene, also a calypso writer, publisher of Calypso Talk magazine, and biographer of calypso legend King Short Shirt, seen here presenting at a 2007 Calypso Association conference.


visual artist and former Culture Director Heather Doram


Heather Doram, 2005, as Culture Director at the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize awards.

writer and book store owner Barbara Arrindell

Barbara Arrindell

Barbara Arrindell, pictured here at the 2012 Wadadli Pen awards ceremony is a Wadadli Pen partner, former coordinator of the Independence Literary Arts Competition, playwright who has written and produced a play on national hero King Court/Prince Klaas, and the author of The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Oher Stories and Antigua My Antigua.

and me
Joanne C_ Hillhouse
I didn’t want to be a part of any bashing of Harriet Tubman or of the group which reportedly proposed the project, nor of discrediting our intersection as black Caribbean people with African-Americans, but I did have opinions on the role that arts could play in our society and in our Independence (I have been very vocal on this site on the ways in which arts could be better served and used in service in Antigua and Barbuda). The latter was largely the focus of the conversation. Here are some excerpts (I would have liked to share the audio clip of the entire programme or transcribed all of it but this is the best I could do in the time I had and within fair use boundaries):

Heather Doram
“I’m a firm believer that we need to be pushing more of our own, we need to establish who we are as Antiguans and Barbudans, we need to support…all of the artists a little bit more…and those persons should be supported to produce (pieces on local culture)… I don’t think we have touched the tip of the iceberg yet when it comes to us digging in to our culture, our history.”

Barbara Arrindell
“Let’s take one of our national heroes Prince Klaas, I know of three plays that have been written in the last 20 years about him…but in general these pieces that we’re looking for should be encouraged and commissioned by the government and the best opportunity to do that would be independence, when better…we need to be celebrating these people so that our young people understand who we as a people are, that we are not Americans, we are not, we are Antiguans and Barbudans, (and) we have a proud history and heritage.”

Joanne C. Hillhouse
“I do feel that Independence should be specific to our journey as Antiguans and Barbudans. But I don’t want us to take that to mean that we’re not a part of the broader global community, broader African diasporic community. For me, Harriet Tubman is somebody who I respect and admire, I think she’s iconic. I do take issue with that being the central theatrical production of our Independence when we have, as Barbara just said, several plays that have been written, no commissions that have gone out for these artistes to produce these plays, because art is expensive, and this is the thing that is missing from the minister’s comments, this understanding that artists toil day and night in Antigua and that the greatest gift you can give an artist is time. Time to write, time costs money because artists have bills just like everybody else…putting on productions costs money and a lot of the time the artists are doing what they can but then they need someone else to help them get, whether it’s grant funding, whether it’s state commissions, whatever, to help them push things across the line, but artists are creating in Antigua every day. I remember a few years ago attending a street theatre production put on by the Antigua Dance Academy…it was a production centred on the story of Prince Klaas…it was our story…I don’t know that a production like that couldn’t have a place in our Independence.”

Dorbrene O’Marde
“Just to go back a bit, the whole idea that nothing exists, the 1972 Antigua Carifesta production was a play called the Legend of Prince Klaas that was written by Oliver Flax…we have Rick James Exif JPEG…who years and years ago… staged a one act piece about Olaudah Equiano, and I think he enlarged that subsequently and did a large production in the King George grounds… (Montserratian) David Edgecombe just within the last three or four years wrote and produced a piece called Book-Front-Cover-Lady-of-Parham-300dpi-184x300The Lady of Parham about the human tragedy surrounding the legend of the ghost of Parham; so material exists, and even though material doesn’t exist in …theatrical form…we’ve had a large number of writers in this country who have written biographies…or have put together a whole set of stories…there’s a lot of material that if the festivals commission or the whole ministry of culture etc. was interested, and let’s assume that they are, in really getting these things on stage…there’s space for leadership here, there’s space for commissioning such works, there’s an opportunity, a golden opportunity to support the writers in this country…we need to give that credit to understand the process of writing and to understand the challenges that we as writers face in this country…there is material there, converting the material to stage is, of course, the challenge and that is what needs the support of the commission..”

Heather Doram
“My feeling is that I have lived under several administrations and I really do not get the feeling that there is that widespread support for the visual and performing arts…you just use them when you need them…we do not even have a national gallery in Antigua and Barbuda so we the artists are there producing work in sort of isolation. I’ve seen it in many other countries where the national gallery would commission work; this sort of spurs the whole generation and activity of work and then the artists start to feel that sense of involvement and that their art work can actually support them…the same thing I’m sure applies to the literary artist…something like the cultural development division should be that nexus of that sort of leadership, this is where the cradle is…I would really like to see more support for the arts generally.”

Barbara Arrindell
“It has survived so far without the support of government… or with very little support…but it’s surviving, not thriving…you have people like the Reverend John Andrew Buckley…the first black Moravian minister anywhere in the world, and he came from Antigua…you have Elizabeth and Ann Hart…free coloured women who helped first established the first system of education for enslaved people…in the hemisphere…the building at Bethesda…these sisters got people who had to toil all day to come out at night and early morning to put up this structure so that their children could have an opportunity for education, how could we not celebrate them. …let’s say she’s the subject of our next independence…we’re talking about building up our knowledge base, our understanding of who we are.”

Joanne C. Hillhouse
“What’s missing a lot of the times… is continuity…and that will continue to be missing if there’s no master plan; and development, you can invest in a major prize or you can invest in the development of the arts…literary arts development is not an annual competition, it is day to day programmes in the schools, in the communities which foster creative thinking, which foster the imagination, which then bleeds in to other things…if we had ongoing programmes utilizing the artists in the community…then we could say we’re actually having continuity, that we’re having investment in the development of the arts. I know, because I have and I’m sure others have to, have made proposals and have seen those proposals fizzle or stagnate and go nowhere…not only have the artists been doing, but the artists have been proactive about proposing things and those things have gone nowhere. So I do think  that we could be doing a lot more in terms of not just the big show pieces but in terms of actual investment in the development of the arts, in utilizing the talent that we had here on a continuous basis.”

Dorbrene O’Marde
“We’re definitely not doing enough…you talk to groups today and mention Tim Hectorbuhlebook…in schools, the name is not know; what he does has not been heralded…my interactions with young people…points to this particular void…history clearly is the subject of interest here, that we know who we are…the decisions about where we’re going will be made on the basis of that knowledge…if you understand the history of how we came to own these lands…then we wouldn’t behave the way we’re behaving, for example, with our land…”

Heather Doram
“I think a government has a responsibility number one, to help develop these skills in the population…I don’t think in our developing of our young people we can just focus on the academic…and wouldn’t that (art) really enrich the lives of our people…I don’t think we’re developing these well rounded individuals…we need a balance.”

Joanne C. Hillhouse
“When Heather was culture director…I remember her starting a national collection where she commissioned pieces featuring Antiguan and Barbudan icons…what has become of that? What has been the continuity with respect to that national collection?… things like that, like you can have someone with a good idea start something


This painting of Short Shirt by Artist, part of the ‘national collection’ was included in this Carnival 50 anniversary anthology, which I edited for the Daily Observer.

…things happened before but there was no continuity, so if there’s no continuity it’s like you’re starting from scratch every time someone gets fired up and passionate about something so that’s the whole point…if you have that continuity then this person’s efforts will connect with that person’s efforts and we’ll have progression instead of starting from scratch every time…one of the things I do on the Wadadli Pen website is I have a project where I record the books that are put out and the plays and the songs that are put out by Antiguan and Barbudan creatives and there’s no shortage of stuff in the last 10 or so years, there’s a lot of people just feeling inspired and doing their own thing… there is stuff happening independently by artistes who feel inspired and creative but not by any system that’s giving them foundation or supporting their efforts.”

Barbara Arrindell
“Nellie Robinson, Dame Nellie Robinson is listed somewhere in our history as being the first chairperson of the artists association of Antigua and Barbuda, but so is a lady named Elizabeth Pickney…back in 17something… I found one in the 18th century too… we’ve had an artists association here many times and it’s been so far apart that each person thinks of themselves as the first chairperson of… in terms of history, there’s a book called A Brief History of Antigua written by Brian Dyde. Brian Dyde wrote brief histories for about four or five islands around the Caribbean, if it was five, four of them are still in print, guess which one is not in print, the other four were taken on and used in the school systems in the other islands, guess which one they couldn’t even sell one print run for…?”

Dorbrene O’Marde
“We must be thinking about the journey that brought us to that point in 1981…what does that mean to us…1981 is really just the start of a journey, the start of a process…the discussion we’re having here is the absence of guidance from our institutions, the ministry of culture…what independence in this particular world means, what it must mean, how we protect it, and the role clearly that artists, those of us on this panel, that artists have in doing that, that that role must also be encouraged, must also be supported, must also be helped, be guided in many ways…this is where we must be.”

That’s just some excerpts and here’s some post chat coverage in the paper:

And that’s that. Or it was, because now (October 20th 2017 update) there’s this our country I saw this play when it was staged in the King George V grounds in 2007 – I remember thinking it was quite ambitious, especially as James was the only cast member (really) with professional theatrical background and given that it spanned pre-Colombian times to the then present. If you missed it, this is an opportunity to catch a screening of it inspired, I understand, by that Big Issues episode; so that’s something.

Oh, one last thing, on the Observer programme, I mentioned that you could find here on this site the open letter read by Barbara Arrinell when she resigned her post as literary arts comp coordinator at the 2011 awards ceremony, the last time any type of literary arts anything (to my knowledge) was held during Independence until last year when there was a lit arts forum and an essay competition. There is no 2017 lit arts activity – apart from the Harriet Tubman workshops and play listed on the programme – and no visual arts activity apart from the fashion competition and show. You can, of course, double check the link to the programme linked earlier in this post.

I think that’s everything.

p.s. the slide show at the top is some of the works produced or co-produced – and/or projects with which they were involved – by the panelists quoted in this post.

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). 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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A & B Arts Round-up – October 4th 2017—>

November 26th – December 2nd 2017 – Caribbean Secondary Schools Drama Festival 2017. Details here.

November 16th & December 14th 2017 – 23319127_1298551176915861_6313581533831861762_n

November 4th 2017 – In Celebration of Ourselves, Our Journey, and Our Stories To Be Told – a writers’ workshop organized by Just Write. Details here.

October 26th 2017 – 7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – The Legacy of Prince Klaas – an educational digital presentation – Museum of Antigua and Barbuda.

October 22nd – November 1st 2017

Independence programme  22008119_961084467363254_3152077473436315934_n







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A & B Arts Round Up October 9th 2016 —>


From the Wadadli Pen Challenge 2016 Awards ceremony: Akeilah Hillhouse presenting to Chammaiah Ambrose, the 12 and younger winner, on behalf of Frank B. Armstrong.

January – February 2017 – Just a reminder that it’s not too early to start thinking about your Wadadli Youth Pen Prize submissions for the 2017 Challenge season. Teachers, youth workers, parents, start encouraging the young people in your lives to start creating; young people, start creating.

January 20th – 22nd 2017 has been announced as the dates of the 4th Just Write Writers Retreat at Mount Tabor, John Hughes, Antigua. Like the page for more updates.

November – December 2016 – Master artist Heather Doram is offering another workshop on the heels of her first successful one at the National Youth Enlightenment Academy:

November 2016 – Jhohadli Writing Project (by Joanne C. Hillhouse) will be offering a series of workshops in November – details to come – but contact jhohadli@gmail.com if you want to be on the mailing list for a first look at those details. Flashback to the first Jhohadli Writing Project workshop activity:

October – November 2016 – Independence stuff:


And about that big bank writing competition as the literary arts “step up inna life”! – This one’s from the local press – I don’t have any other details about this but there is a number you can call for more information (462-4707) – the information that’s in the press is that students attending primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions have an opportunity to win EC$10,000 (that’s for the upper level students) or EC$5,000 and prizes (for the primary students) for writing an essay on the Independence theme (Building an Economic Powerhouse Together) and submitting it by October 31 – either hand delivering to the National Festivals office on Market Street or emailing jennell.willette@ab.gov.ag

October 11th 2016 – Expressions: Poetry in the Pub returns, 8 p.m. – 11 p.m., at Heavenly Java 2 Go in Redcliffe Quay. Start to the new season and ongoing.

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

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A & B Arts Roundup

Linisa George’s Brown Girl in the Ring featured in Shakespeare in Paradise in the Bahamas. “Erin Knowles, one of the directors of Murder & Poetry, came across George’s piece as a feature in a 2014 Tongues of the Ocean issue that focused on art and literary works from Antigua and Barbuda. Knowles felt instantly connected to George’s poem and had this to say about her choice to have Brown Girl In The Ring included in her production, “The piece focuses on the element of identity and coming to terms with that which we should be proud of. I think it’s an excellent piece to be included in my production because of the language and references to the ring-play that we idolized as young children.” Brown Girl in the Ring is being performed in the round alongside other poems that align with the goal for Paradise Unmasked.” Read more.

Couple weds… “In lieu of gifts the couple requested monetary contribution in support of programs and services of the National Public Library in Antigua and Barbuda. A total of seven thousand-two hundred dollars ($7,200.00) was collected.” Read more.

Actress Francoise Bowen at Oktober Film Fest and launching acting and photography workshop. 12088521_10156134500480013_8342677097546161736_nSee her blog for details.

“I saw this as an opportunity to challenge myself.” – Antiguan and Barbudan artist Mark Brown on his participation in the “international collaborative organized by Shackles of Memory, a cultural tourism program that seeks to call attention to slave trade sites and encourage artists to create pieces for exhibition…part of TOSTEM, the French acronym for Cultural Tourism through the Footsteps of Slavery.” Read more.

“The two day workshop attracted 25 persons from the fields of design, writing, music and small businesses and covered the following areas: Overview of Crowd Funding and Social Media Marketing; Opportunities in e-Business for OECS SMEs; Crowd Funding Yesterday and Today; How to run a successful Crowd Funding campaign and the work of regional Crowd Funding platform Vision Funder based in Barbados.” Read more.

See which Antigua-based filmmaker made out at Caribbean Tales. See.

The Antigua and Barbuda Independence programme has been posted and the arts (visual, fashion, singing, music, drama, dance, pan, culinary etc.) are present-please (there’ll even be two days of car racing)…always happy to see the arts represented as they are the best representation of who we are (the arts are as necessary as air to me; yes, that’s how passionately I feel about it)… but no need to check it twice, the lit arts are in fact once again absent (the last lit art contest ended in 2011 with a stirring presentation by the then competition coordinator who recommended a way forward that seems to have fallen on deaf ears… and the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival which was near the head of the pack when it started in 2006 was rumoured to be returning this year after an absence of about five (?) years but like most rumours… well…peep the schedules for yourself) …meantime we can give props to Barbuda for the inclusion of poetry at least in its programme…might be time for a visit to the sister island). But, see below, it’s not formally a part of the programme but the groups and individuals which continue to hustle outside the system aren’t sleeping on the literary arts.

Stories Handed Down

Don’t forget, one of the things I try to do on this site is alert you to Opportunities (for grants, publishing, etc.) and taking it one step further, nag you re upcoming deadlines. This one, Stories Handed Down is specific to Antigua and Barbuda. Get on that.

Sharing some thank you’s from my blog re my participation in the Brooklyn Book Festival: thanks to “the organizers of the Brooklyn Book Festival for inviting me, Musical Youth publisher CaribbeanReads for making it happen, …Beverly George and the Friends of Antigua Public Library …, my co-panelists for a wonderful shared experience, Caribbean Cultural Theatre for all they do to promote the artistes from the region, everyone who came out, family, friends etc etc …and not just thanks but big big props to talented Antiguan and Barbudan designer Miranda Askie of Miranda Askie Designs for outfitting me (in jewelry and clothing) for the event…” Haven’t read the blog or seen the pictures yet? Check it out.

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, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, 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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Independence arts bulletin

Grabbed this one from the Expressions Poetry in the Pub page:


Grabbed this one from an event page posted by Art at the Ridge:

Art At The Ridge’s first exhibition of the season is a collection of paintings by Antiguan artist GLENROY AARON celebrating Antigua & Barbuda’s 33rd year of Independence. Entitled LOCAL the exhibition puts visual images to thoughts, ideas and concepts of what Antigua means to the artist.
After the preview evening the paintings will continue to exhibit for a month.

Kudos, Glenroy. You’re on a roll. First being featured in Tongues of the Ocean, now this.

Cover image Summer One by Glenroy Aaron inspired by Summer 1, a poem by Joanne C Hillhouse.

Cover image Summer One by Glenroy Aaron inspired by Summer 1, a poem by Joanne C Hillhouse.

Grabbed this one from Antigua Chronicle on facebook:

Are you an art enthusiast, a lover of all things beautiful perhaps?
Here’s a pre-independence treat for you.
On Sunday 26, October from 9 to 5 there will be a street art event themed Revive the Past at Dredgebay Playing Field (in the Point/Villa area)
Come see our young Antiguan artist (such as Douvert Burnes, Anson Henry, Zana Kentish, Roxanne Reid, and William Simpson) in action as they paint their interpretations.
Come hear our young poets speak their flow.
Come. Experience the arts this independence.
Interested persons are asked to call/whatsapp 724 1401

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Samantha’s Last Independence Concert

She hadn’t been to an Independence show in years but she was always up for an opportunity to see the big Three – Obsti, Short Shirt and Swallow – back on stage. To her, cut ‘way all the fat and that was Antigua music right there, and, with her at least, the sight of the three of them on a poster still had drawing power.

Different posters and different ads had been done for different demographics – one to lure the Party Monarch crowd, one to attract the church people, and then there was the one for people like her, a pensioner on paper but in her heart of hearts, somewhere way past her aching bones and slower gait, still a young woman who remembered pulling all-nighters from calypso monarch to j’ouvert, home to pick up the kids who would have been waked and prepped by her mother, God rest her soul, then back to j’ouvert where once the music hit them sleepy eyes would open fully.

Her daughter, Jolene, was with her, and her daughter’s daughter, Gemma, and the three of them being here together like this felt like the start of a new tradition. They had only just settled into their seats and before the teen could disappear into her cell phone and said teen’s mother start to gripe about Antigua time, the show started, right on time.

No announcement or anything either. Just, the lights went down, and from behind them somewhere, a voice that had Gemma perking up next to her, thank God because she wasn’t in the mood for annoyance and agitation this good night. Claudette Peters, voice gentle as a lullaby, sang, “God Bless Antigua, land so dear to me, where first I held a mother’s hand and learned to bend a knee…”

Upfront, on the stage, draped in all the colours of the flag, a choir, what looked like the Cathedral Youth Choir, joined in on the next line, and you know they never came at a song straight on, so there was something like blues and flavouring as they sang, “…where land and sea make beauty let every man be free…”

The concert had begun. Just so. And just so a still fell over the audience as the lyrics of the Bobby Margetson classic touched something essentially Antiguan and Barbudan in all of them. It wasn’t something Samantha could name but it was a feeling that made her want to laugh and cry at the same time and made her feel full like she’d just had a daddy-sized helping of fungee and snapper.

CP was on the stage with her old choir by now, the soca embattled voice a revelation on something requiring a gentler touch, and the crowd hummed along, dipping in and out as the memory of the words from many-a-childhood came and went.

“Please stand for the national anthem…” someone said over the PA system as the song ended, and there was shuffling and only some minor grumbling as they did just that. A section from the National Youth Pan Orchestra, off to the side, was their accompaniment as they sang first the first…then the second…wait, the third verse too?… with decreasing confidence from one verse to the next except on the last two lines “ever striving, ever seeking, dwell in love and unity…each endeavouring, all achieving, live in peace where man is free….never failing, all enduring, to defend her liberty.”

If they were feeling restless again by the end of the anthem, which recalled the rigidity of morning assembly, they were soon moving in their seats, some already on their feet as El A Kru siren, Tizzy stormed the stage, flag, as ever, in hand, singing the soca group’s super hit, Antigua Nice.

“Whoever programmed this show understand pacing,” her daughter leaned over and whispered but Samantha didn’t have time for analysis just then; the music was too sweet.

Like a whirlwind, Tizzy was gone, and the audience was re-settling when a choir, a huge choir made up of what looked like every choir on the island, entered singing, getting into position on stage, to the strains of an organ – the kind of instrument that called to mind cathedrals with their high ceilings and stained glass windows. They did a medley of songs perfect for voices broken into parts – descant to bass – Where land and sea make Beauty, Antigua Land – she kind of liked that one, the way the voices skipped like a child at play over the lines “thy hills and vales, thy flowerets in the dell”, even if the lines did take her back to reciting lines of English poetry in primary school.

Just at the point where it might have begun to overstay its welcome, the choir began its exit, and another unlikely voice sounded. Not that Tian Winter’s presence was unexpected given the posters and other pre-publicity paraphernalia, and, if there was any doubt the sound of screaming girls now filling the auditorium served as a reminder. He was probably the only reason some of  them were there. Old folks digged on him too…she just didn’t see the need to scream about it. But who could resist the way his smooth vocals wrapped themselves around Island in the Sun like the folk classic was an old lover. It was a welcome reminder that though he was now a favourite of the rambunctious soca crowd, he was a crooner at heart. And boy did her old heart melt as he wandered through the crowd, pausing to hold her hand, on bended knee, staring into dimmed eyes like he was proposing. If she was only 50 or so years younger, I-sah, she’d be one of those screaming girls. He had something of Harry Belafonte about him in truth.

“Oh land of peace, haven of rest…”

The sound of the classic King Obstinate tune, Believe, one of her favourites, drew all of their attention back to the stage where a group the big screen announced as Sanctuary was now in place. Like the earlier youth choir, they didn’t come at the song head on, and though Believe was special enough to her that she didn’t like it being tinkered with, she had to admit they were good tinkerers. She was smiling and teary-eyed by the end, and the hush around the room told her she wasn’t the only one. There were some songs that just made you want to forget all the partisan BS and do better for Antigua and Barbuda, and Believe was one of them.

“…believe in yourself most of all as one people, marching together …”

If only.

They next sang, Baba Blaize’s Antigua is My Home, a song that at first used to feel to her more like a tourism jingle than a calypso but which had wormed its way under her skin and into her heart. It was a love song to Antigua, and she realized now that her initial rejection of the song was her failing, a reflection of this idea, fuelled during the halcyon days of black power and Antiguan calypso, during tumultuous political times, when calypso was the voice of the people before there was such a thing as Voice of the People, that calypso had to be anti-establishment and combative. Maybe she had mellowed in her old age because the song’s chorus “in Antigua, we wake up to the sun…” felt like a spiritual salutation to her these days, an affirmation that she had lived to see another day, in a time of her life when, she couldn’t do nothing but accept it, her days were numbered.

The arrival of a dashiki wearing Fiah, singing “if progress is a must, let the nation come fus’”, was a signal that the programme was changing tide, and a reminder that calypso might have matured enough to wax poetic about the land that birthed it, but it was still bold enough to hold the powers that be-perpetually-messing-up-the-country’s feet to the fire.

When he left, pre-recorded music stepped into the gap, pumping Antigua Nice – what ah lively song, eh – and she wondered if Tizzy was coming back? But it was the old El A Kru that followed, the El A Kru of Lethal Batty and Helicopter days, or at least a recording of them as Antigua Dance Academy brought Africa to the auditorium dancing to “Born in Wadadli” “uh, nobody go, uh nobody go, uh nobody, nobody go run me”. Oh she hoped Short Shirt did that classic later in the show – one of those hip producers should do a mash up of that and this, old and new, that would be fun. They did it in America all the time, look at that Baby got Back-Anaconda mash up that was so popular with her granddaughter, Gemma, these days. She smiled to herself that she even knew that, and found herself wishing as the dancers leaped like gazelles and wined like they had wire in their waists that Gemma hadn’t lost interest in dance …and everything …as soon as she’d become a teenager. She missed her. Physically, yes, but also the way she used to jump into life with both feet, now she lounged around with her ears plugged, ever distracted by a virtual world when her real world was right there.

Samantha noticed her perk up again though when Onyan hit the stage with his usual spark and high pitched wail – “ah yah me baaaaaarn!” Burning Flames she mused to herself as she, like everyone else sang the chorus of the Stand up for Antigua song that had won him one of his still heavily debated calypso monarch crowns, was truly generation-less. She remembered that first year rocking left to right, her daughter with her, because she never left her behind, as the crush of people around them danced on weariless feet behind the band that had more magic than the Pied Piper. She’d lived to see both her daughter and granddaughter seduced by the music as if the jam band existed in some musical bubble where time lost all meaning.

But then came the part of the programme that took her back to her time, and she was so excited she didn’t know what to do with herself. She might be old now, but when Swallow’s soaring voice, a voice which bore no comparisons, launched in to One Hope, One Love, One Destiny she felt like she was in her springtime again. It wasn’t just his sartorially splendour, or the way he moved; it was also the sense of promise and possibility the song ignited in her, taking her back to a time when the country felt young and uncorrupted. She knew it was the deceptive romance of nostalgia, at least in part, but the musical reminder almost made her weepy, again, for what her beloved country had become in the decades since. She knew it was inevitable, everyone lost their way in their youth, but, oh she wished, she so wished her country would hurry up and find its way.

And as if reading her thoughts, Swallow launched in to Dawn of a New Day, and in spite of herself, her heart lifted.

The oddest thing happened next, a dramatized reading apparently of King Obstinate’s Wet You Hand. It had them all cackling, to hear the melee rendered in such a cultured tone as though Crazy Ellie and Big Foot Maude were Jane Eyre or Janie Crawford, women on epic yet relatable journeys of self-discovery, which, she supposed, they were. She didn’t read much anymore with her eyes the way they were and she doesn’t think she’s had a story told to her, apart from neighbourhood gossip since childhood days of jumbie stories and anansi tales under the full moon, so it was nice to have the quintessential Antiguan calypso rendered in this way, a reminder, intentional or otherwise, that calypso, too, was literature. As a retired teacher, she could appreciate that.

But back to the music, and the arrival of the Undefeated himself. He was wheeled out to centre stage and the brass band, giving the young people a taste of the old Oscar Mason days of unparalleled live Antiguan instrumentation, struck up the opening bars of Antigua Independence. It had taken some time to get used to this stroke-slowed version of King Obstinate, a once vibrant showman, this year in pig tails and diapers, that year in an elephant suit, another year leaping from a coffin. But the voice was still strong and the measured presentation turned the performance into a history lesson – a history lesson punctuated by the “freedom forever” the audience couldn’t resist singing every time he returned to the chorus.

“Today, in memory of their task, we remove the colonial mask,” Obsti intoned and it took her back to to Independence Day, November 1, 1981, a time when tout monde sam and bagai had been exultant and purposeful in a way they probably hadn’t been since August Monday 1834. She sighed, Lord this show had her on a emotional roller coaster; she wasn’t sure she could take much more of this pensive introspection not when the reality had become so stark and depressing. But, what was it Jolene, had said about pacing, because here was Obsti, head nodding, foot shaking, as the music livened up and he prepared to lift everyone’s spirits.

And then he sang:

“Antigua and Barbuda ah wey me bury me nabel string

And at an early age in the cane field ah start to sing

I’m from a family of 13 and you know that’s a lot of mouth

So I decided to go away to help Papa out

But I’ll always come back to you

I’ll always come back to you

And if I can’t come back and cry

To nyam fungi

I’ll die

I’ll always come back to you

I’ll always come back to you”

She remembered now a Christmas spent overseas one year when Jolene was in New York studying. They’d stayed with her old childhood friend Hyacinth who hadn’t lived in Antigua since she was 17 and still sang that song like a promise every Saturday when she cleaned her apartment. In the cold and frigidity of winter in the frost bitten apple, Samantha supposed it was warm comfort, if a promise destined to remain unfulfilled. Hyacinth had in fact died in Uncle Sam’s country.

Long water was running down her face proper as she thought of her old friend, and she couldn’t even bother to be embarrassed anymore. They were all on some kind of journey in that room; music had that power.

Obsti ended with a sharp “you’re fuh me!” just after he was wheeled off, and she couldn’t help thinking that that was the point of the song: returning physically, like repatriating to Africa wasn’t necessarily to be taken literally, it was about claiming the space in the world where you belonged, in your heart and soul. Hyacinth had done that, and Obsti during his time away, and she could only hope that all of them in the room were doing the same.

The next song, by the artiste she’d been waiting for, felt like an extension of her thoughts.

“time for reconstruction in our little island…time to regenerate the morality of the state … no hatred no fear only peace and happiness” – a utopian ideal to be sure but Short Shirt’s call to “put our backs to the wheel” had the resonance for her in that moment of pre-first-term Barack Obama’s Yes we can.

“do a little more than your best is all we ask” indeed!

As with so many Short Shirt songs, she felt like dancing and deep thinking at the same time.

Short Shirt being Short Shirt paused, his signature towel around his neck, to grind one of his old rivals. “That one talking ‘bout he goin’ always come back,” he joked. “Some of us been here, all along. Nuh so?”

And though the dig wasn’t particularly sharp the audience roared, and propelled by that Short Shirt roared into Nobody Go Run Me, the entire audience singing along, no, shouting it, as though a dare to all the powers that be-malicious-and-down-putting-determined-to-squeeze-the-poor-man-for-the-benefit-of-the-rich, which, in modern Antigua could be red or blue depending on your leanings. Both camps were too fired up as they sang at the top of their lungs

“tell dem I say

I was born in this land, ah go die in this land

Nobody go run me from wey me come fram”

to see the irony.

Obsti was wheeled back as the song wound down, and he and Short Shirt mock sparred which was comical considering the circumstances. Then Swallow was there, the three men embracing and cameras flashing, nobody knew when it would be the last picture of them together so every outing was an occasion. Other performers from the night were also now filing back on to the stage but that wasn’t the audience’s only indication that they had come to the climax. That came in the form of the disembodied announcer, amped up like he was a hip hop hype man, or an emcee at a political rally, “on your feet! On your feet! For Antigua and Barbuda’s unofficial anthem.”

Before Samantha had time to wonder which song that could be, the music for Pledge sounded, and, oh yes, nobody needed prompting to sing, dance, salute, throw their arms around each other, celebrate Antigua and Barbuda after that.

“…if you really want to show your appreciation raise your voices with me and this pledge let’s sing along, we pledge to be good citizens from now on, casting away victimization, corruption will cease, nepotism decrease, throughout the whole nation, our country then will be not just a society, but a just society let this be our pledge!”

But though they said the right words, she couldn’t help thinking that somewhere along the way they had all lost the script.

“…please beware my country men of the trappings of false liberty”

Had they heeded?

“…for true liberation does not only lie in constitutionality”

Did they remember that?

“We have gained nothing if we all we do is pass from bondage to a subtler task

Where foreign sharks with their fangs exposed surround us with promises of a brighter world”

Were they not still falling prey to that?

But yet, even weighted by these questions, and she didn’t suppose she was the only one, she couldn’t stop dancing, as long as there was life there was hope, wasn’t there, and Antigua and Barbuda was still a-small-country-becoming in a big world. She might not live to see it mature into all it could be, but for now she could sing of the possibility.

“Gird up your loins

Ever vigilant be

To curb injustice, graft, and vagrancy

The rights of each one must be recognized

So that none will feel they’re ostracized

Equal opportunity for everyone

Each giving the other

A helping hand

We want no more exploitation

From either foreign or the local man

We need our land

For our children

Yet unborn

So Antiguans and barbudans lets pledge to maintain our freedom”

And they sang

“we pledge to be true, citizens from now on”

It was a nice dream.

A dream that followed Samantha into sleep, where she stayed, having lived the last independence concert of her life.

Jolene would later buy a DVD of that Independence concert, and she and Gemma would watch it every year on special occasions like her mother’s birthday, Independence Day, Heroes’ Day. Whether together or apart. It became a ritual of sorts; and every year, though the island was as hot as it ever was, they’d both swear they felt a chilly breeze blow through, pass between them just enough to raise gooseflesh and remind them that Samantha was still with them.

Author’s note: This is a rough draft of something I wrote on impulse as Antigua and Barbuda ventures into its 2014 Independence season. Song posts have become synonymous with Independence on this blog, probably because music is such a big part of my life. Always has been. And Antiguan and Barbudan music an intrinsic part of my childhood memories, especially so. I overheard part of a radio dialogue today, something about Antiguan and Barbudan artistes not being enough of a draw for a show, even during Independence season in Antigua and Barbuda. My brain sputtered at that and my spirits flagged because surely that couldn’t be true, and if it was surely we weren’t accepting it without a fight. Antigua and Barbuda may be a melting pot these days but surely our Independence should still be about us. These feelings prompted a post in the You Know You’re Antiguan… facebook group…a post that asked simply what’s your favourite song by Antiguans and Barbudans, about Antiguans and Barbudans. The responses came in fast and furious. I had hinted that I might do a blog post but I wasn’t sure what I’d be posting exactly. In any case, I recorded all the songs and determined to include them in whatever I wrote, assuming I wrote anything. Foreday morning this tale of a fictional concert came to me and I went with it. I enjoyed revisiting these songs through Samantha’s eyes – if any of your favourites are omitted don’t blame Samantha, blame me; I’m the one who either couldn’t remember or couldn’t find one or two songs. But most of them are here and with them a reminder of the beautiful and profound music that has come out of Antigua and Barbuda over the years. It took a few hours to write; it’s unedited (so blame me for any character inconsistenties, proofing errors or other flaws) but I was eager to share as my little contribution to our little island. It goes without saying that this is a fictional tale, any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental, with the exception of the artistes themselves who are, of course, real and belong entirely to themselves and in a way completely different no doubt than imagined in this tale. Finally, I would apologize for the length but ah aryu fault that with the ton ah song-song. And since me lub Antigua music bad sorry-not-sorry. Looocal!

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, 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 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. Respect copyright.


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Latumba and Liberation: an Independence Reflection

It’s Independence season as I post this, the 32nd anniversary of our Independence here in Antigua and Barbuda to be exact; and for some reason I’m in the mood for Latumba, that hoarse-voiced calypsonian of my early childhood. I think you’ll see why.

Culture must be Free is my all time favourite Latumba song. Perhaps because as a writer/an artiste, I aspire to live up to this ideal: “…I go sing what I see, I go mirror society, culture must be free, they can’t muzzle me”. Perhaps because of the poignancy of his perfectly imperfect voice and the potency and defiance in sentiments like “my heart cannot buy it, my conscience reject it” as he sang of offers to sell his soul for success. I related to this even before I knew/understood what it meant and to this day it breaks my heart the ease with which we and our leaders, and some of our calypsonians, sell our souls (and sell out our country) for a mess of pottage – short term returns at the expense of our long term sovereignty. In my imagination, Latumba, certainly the persona he projected in this narrative was above all that and one can hear the outrage in his voice as he sings of how “they lock teachers up in prison, and they beat them up without reason, innocently keep them in jail, and like slaves they refuse them bail…”. In that moment, what he’s saying to me is that some things are not for sale, certainly not his artiste soul. And “they don’t even bound to play my songs on none of them two radio station” – such a petulant sounding turn of phrase isn’t it? You can almost hear the childish “humph!” at the tail end of it and the childlike certainty of a world of right and wrong. Though I now understand that the world is all kinds of grey, the moral high ground that this song occupies is strangely appealing, certainly when it comes to the aspirations of freedom and fairness that are at the heart of our striving for Independence…and lately reparations.

The Love I Lost (which begins at 3:55) is perhaps my second favourite of his social commentaries, in part because there’s a memory at the edge of my memory of us kids acting out, in the way we play acted out the songs then, the “Papa stand up, Mama stand up, Sister stand up, and Brother stand up; we have got to unite, unite and fight, fight to regain what is our birthright”. Listening to it now, I realize it romanticizes some of our history, presenting Africa before our enslavement as a kind of Eden (where we lived in contentment and knew no fear and suffered no divisions tribal or otherwise). And while I understand that it was not perfect (nowhere is), it was our home and we were taken from it and it from us to such a degree that many of us still reject it and in some ways it returns the favour. What I appreciate about the song all these years later is how concisely and completely it narrates the history of what leaving did to us: “Then one day, we had to leave, for we were made slaves, yes we were made slaves, my country was conquered my people were captured, my sister was raped, my brother was raped. Then these proud people from that land so far which every body now knows is Africa, we were made to toil in the burning heat, in the sugar cane in the Caribbean…we were chained, chained and whipped, when we were tired, when we were tired. There was no rest, only our sweat to quench our thirst and wounds when we hurt… these proud people …have been brought to shame…have lost their country and have lost their name…” That rasp in his voice and the sadness it achingly captures (as he speaks not only of us who were taken but of those who stayed and were yet colonized while our continent was mined of all her riches, reminding us in doing so that we are part of the same family and part of the same struggle) will make you weepy if you let it…and especially if you consider how lost we still are 179 years into our Emancipation, 62 years into universal adult suffrage, 32 years into Independence.

Then there is Independence in which Latumba calls on Wadadli to arise (i.e. wake up, stand up not just exist “while all around us, the times are changing; men are determined to rise above their present status”).

“With our hearts and hands as one, our conviction must be strong, with a passion for the glory of our land,” he sang. How  have we forgotten this?

“The road may be dark, things may not be the way we’d like them to be, but let us push on, let us try,” he urged. How have we lost this sense of purpose?

I say this because while I know many of us love Antigua and Barbuda deeply, we can be too complacent and too motivated to fight for party over country when in reality no matter which party is in power this is our country; red or blue, her fate is our collective fate.

On Liberate Your Mind, Latumba begins, “how can we be liberated when we are so confused? This country is so divided; there are so many, many different views…shouting blame and crying shame, we all are guilty just the same”.

He urges us to liberate our mind and “rise to the occasion and demonstrate to the world that we all are one; that we in this little country could live in love and harmony, working for prosperity, prosperity, for you and me.”

Is this still too idealistic an ambition? Perhaps, there will always be differences of opinion and there’s nothing wrong with that (it’s desirable, even; checks and balances and all that) but we’ve seen how, as Latumba said, intractability can cripple the State (we saw it just recently with the government shut down in America, a pass to which our young democracy has not yet come …so perhaps things are not that dark). But at our worst wouldn’t it be nice if we could keep in mind that our common purpose is the forward movement of Antigua and Barbuda?

On a literary front, I love how these songs are constructed to tell us a story, make us feel, make us think, stimulate in us a desire to …move beyond who and where we are. It’s powerful writing in my view. And even if you throw out all the Independence (registration, and pre-election, and reparation) fuelled musings worth a listen just as words and music. There’s one other Do You Get the Picture that I’d love to listen to again and maybe share but Latumba’s music is hard to find.

Let’s end on an upbeat note, shall we; Latumba after all was well loved for his road march tunes like Carnival in LA, Supajam and…

Hit Man which not only made us dance (“when my music play, see them break away”) but served notice that small axe can chop down (or aspire to chop down anyway) big tree or the big three like Swallow and Short Shirt (“your time is up, I deeply regret”) and a country man can set the town on fire:

“They say I can’t dance
They say I can’t sing
They wanted to push me ’round
But just like a swarm of honey bee
Sweet and stinging I started singing


For Latumba’s discography, go here.

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!). 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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I Whisper by Jordée Josiah

I Whisper, “Forward On”

Author: Jordée Josiah
Winner Poetry 12 – 17 years

I chose to whisper
because it seems like the only form of the spoken word we listen to;

The only form we garner
our energies to appreciate.

The whisper says I’m
scared of the beginning, not the ending, because of the faith that is needed to
start every new journey.

Do I trust myself to
take the first step?

Or do I stay where I am
and keep wishing for the end?

Do I try to make a
difference, or do I follow my ancestors and sleep forever?

Do I become the coward
that hides in his own shadow?

Why choose to hold onto
the end of the rope dangling over a cliff when the rest of the rope is in

Why not hold tight and
climb to new heights?

Just like the moth is
not the death of day but the life of night,

So each of us is here
for a different time, season, and purpose.

We all hear the whisper,
“Forward On.”

We know it means to let
go of the past and step into a new era.

When are we going to
become the whisper and tell ourselves, friends, family and country,

To Forward On, and to
take only what we need to make a better future?

Winning pieces from the 2011 Independence Literary Arts Competition are published here, with the chairperson’s permission, for the purpose of showcasing the talent displayed during the competition. Copyright of these pieces remain the preserve of the writers and, as is the case with all Wadadli Youth Pen Prize/Wadadli Pen, content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders. All other site content is created by me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) or, in the case of winning Wadadli Pen stories, the specific authors unless otherwise indicated. The same rules apply.


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Independence celebration in Canada connects home and the Diaspora

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A stimulating experience, a good mix of genders and generations, a satisfying experience overall; all phrases that have been used to describe the two-day programme organised by, and targetting, Antiguans and Barbudans residing in Canada.

The event, held at the University of Toronto, was part of the Antigua & Barbuda Consulate’s programme of activities marking the 30th anniversary of Antigua & Barbuda’s Independence. Read the rest at Daily Observer.

I’ll share pics soon as they become available.


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