Tag Archives: Interview

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late June 2021)

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

Arts News

This is an interesting one. African American actor (a personal fave) Michael B. Jordan has trademarked J’ouvert for use as the name of his new announced rum. It has raised issues of cultural appropriation, which is fair (if complicated), but the part that made this interesting to me and relevant to this site was the trademark issue (a google search of j’ouvert also turns up this other trademark claim …?). I read (e.g. in this Trinidad Express article) that ‘the trademark filing …claimed “J’Ouvert” has “no meaning in any language”.’ Not true. Not for any Carnival loving Caribbean person. Literally Day Open, it is historically the start of our mas and for us in Antigua is the start of Carnival Monday, Emancipation Day. I want to make clear that though Trinidad-American rapper Nicki Minaj was the one to raise this on social media, J’ouvert also does not belong to Trinidad – I speak this as the daughter of a patois speaking J’ouvert loving mother from the French Creole island-country Dominica whose earliest memories include being hugged against my mother and sister jamming during J’ouvert in Antigua whose Carnival, Calypso, J’ouvert, Mas, Music, and Pageantry is Carnival to me. This is a Caribbean t’ing not a Trini t’ing. To me. It has meaning to us, collectively. Per the Dothraki, it is known. This move though raises questions of legal ownership, trademark of so many cultural attributes – one of the things not documented in my recent CREATIVE SPACE (CREATIVE SPACE #13 Eat n Lime), for instance, from a conversation with the owner of the oldest family owned business, a rum distributor, on the island about the reason we can’t export Cavalier – our island rum – being a (failure to) trademark issue. There’ve been discussions around steelpan, as it’s become more and more international, and other things over the years. A product is one thing though but what of something that is part of the collective culture, like j’ouvert, who owns that? can anyone? I think we would agree that whoever it is, it probably shouldn’t be an African American actor? BUT What if a percentage of profits was put in to a fund for the preservation and development of Caribbean culture and art – since we know that is lacking in the region? Is that a discussion to be had? Re use of a word we claim but have no legal standing to so do, I’d be interested in an opinion from a Caribbean luminary on this. Just in general. I mean, Antigua is the name of my island. It means old in Spanish. It’s also been used as a fashion brand which, as far as I know, we don’t profit from. Where is the line? So that’s why I’m sharing this. To fuel that conversation around ownership of the things we consider our own. (Source – Caribbean Entertainment Magazine which is making a comeback after a three year hiatus – Read more)


Canadian artist of Antiguan descent Motion (Wendy Brathwaite) has announced the release of her feature film (she co-wrote it with director Charles Officer) Akillah’s Escape, which earlier premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Source – Email)

Remember you can check Antiguan and Barbudan Plays/Screenplays and Playwrights and Screenwriters (the Antigua-Barbuda connection) for more film writing credits.


A reminder that July 12th 2021 is Caribbean Literature Day. Will share details of activities as they become available and as time allows. But keep an eye out. (Source – email)


Wadadli Pen team member, local author and publisher Barbara Arrindell presented on the regional publishing industry at a World Intellectual Property Organization webinar. She crowdsourced responses from writers who talked about difficulties balancing the creative with the business of writing, the challenges with distribution, the strong emphasis on self-publishing and the greater ease of self-publishing in lieu of grappling with the gatekeepers in international publishing, the barriers to regional creative industries in terms of capitalization and taxation, “real money has to be put in in terms of grants, awards, …and angel (investors)” one of her respondents said, heralding initiatives like the Burt Award, the need for government investment, support, and promotion of local books, and Ministry of Education buy-in, were highlighted, as was the printing and publishing infrastructure, literature councils to gather and tell our stories was recommended. Could go on and on the full has never been told. The Antigua and Barbuda Intellectual Property has shared a link where the entire webinar can be viewed with the passcode Passcode: J.Smu26a (Source – ABIPO facebook page)


Post note: Olive Senior couldn’t make it. Ivory and I read our stories in full and fielded a number of thought provoking questions. Fruitful discussion. Good lime.


The Commonwealth Short Story prize winner will be announced on June 30th 2021. Virtual attendees will hear readings from winning regional stories during the event being held in partnership with the London Library. Regional winner for the Caribbean is Roland Watson-Grant of Jamaica. Kei Miller, also of Jamaica, is one of several announced guest readers. Registration information here. One snag – it’s announced for 1 p.m. India Standard Time which is foreday morning in our Atlantic Standard Time time zone. (Source – CW email)


Antiguan and Barbudan artist Heather Doram has a live coming up on Untapped Potential with Dr. Simone Mathieu. June 19th, 5 p.m. Watch on facebook at @Pushpast10 and live on TDNtv.net See also http://www.pushpast10.com (Source – instagram)


Upcoming Bocas workshops include my own Writing for Children rescheduled to October 2021. Full line up here.

(Source – Bocas)


Webinar Opportunity! Are you an inspiring author or simply interested in publishing a book? If so, this webinar will be of much use to you! The World Intellectual Property Organization in collaboration with the Antigua and Barbuda Intellectual Property and Commerce Office will be hosting a webinar for authors and publishers.
Join our regional and international experts on June 21, 2021, at 10 am – 12 pm, as they walk us through the ins– and- outs of publishing a book! This session will cover the foundational strategies that govern:

• State of the industry in the Caribbean region (Speaker Ms. Barbara Arrindell, Writer and Manager, Best of Books)
• ISBN identifier (Speaker Ms. Ms. Stella Griffiths, Executive Director of the International ISBN Agency)

• The landscape and opportunities for publishing. Why do you need a publisher? (Speaker Mr. José Borghino, Secretary General of IPA)
• The author –publisher relation (Speaker Mr. Luke Alcott, International Author’s Forum)

Join the Zoom at: https://wipo-int.zoom.us/j/65607210845

(Source – National Public Library via Facebook)


A recent addition to our Opportunities Too page is the Bocas Lit Fest Children’s Book Prize. Chapter books by Caribbean writers for readers 7 – 12, roughly 6000 words, are eligible. Details here and here:

(Source – social media and direct mail)

Remember to check for more pending opportunities here.


Third Horizon Film Festival has posted its schedule which runs from June 24th – July 1st 2021, and includes virtual screenings, preceded by three evenings, June 21st – 23rd 2021, of free keynote and masterclass conversations. RSVP here for discussions on the Caribbean cinematic aesthetic, film financing, and distribution.

Book News

I met Audrey Edwards at the Anguilla Lit Fest in 2015. She moved to France after the 2016 US election and actually the day before the inauguration of he who shall never be named on this site in 2017. Here she discusses her book American Runaway: Black and Free in Paris in the …Years. Her father is from St. Croix and he is described as coming from “a line of proud West Indian men who tolerated no bad behavior from Blacks or whites…”


Joy James, whom you may remember as the owner of the Art at the Ridge gallery and a patron of Wadadli Pen, has announced the release of 101 Black Inventors and Their Inventions, a crowdfunded self-publication. The book is targeted at late primary and early secondary school ages. The author, Joy, recently started writing non-fiction children’s books to help educate and inform curious, young minds. She and her husband, whose family originates from Antigua & Barbuda, raised their own children on our twin island nation. “This book was an idea long before I started writing it,” Joy said in an exclusive to Wadadli Pen. “When my children were younger, I wanted a book about Black role models to help inspire them and expand their minds. I knew this information was out there somewhere, but I couldn’t find anything in an organised format or in the form of a children’s book. I hope that everyone young and old will enjoy reading about the many Black inventors in our world and their wonderful contributions that help to improve our lives. I hope that they will be heartened by this. Our world has certainly benefitted from these amazing inventions!”

From Gerald Lawson’s home video game console that led to the Xbox and PlayStation to Annie Malone’s haircare products which led her to become a millionaire, the book narrates how “these real-life superheroes” overcame adversity, including discrimination, in achieving their goals.

The book is now available online. Joy has a book on the same theme, this one for ages five and younger, scheduled for an October 2021 release. Congrats, Joy. (Source – Joy James via facebook and direct mail)

Programmes and Projects

Look up. There’s a new R & D page hereon the Wadadli Pen blog. The R is for resources and the D is for Databases. All gathered in one place.


A local, UNESCO-funded “culture mapping project … will see information gathered to assess the sector’s economic impact in Antigua and Barbuda. The aim is to highlight the contribution creative industries make to national development, identify ways to increase participation in them, and lobby for more funding, among other things.” Details here. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)

Prize Winners

The National Cultural Foundation, Barbados, offers hearty congratulations to writer Linda M. Deane who won the $10,000 top prize at the 23rd Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Competition on Sunday, February 14.
Her collection of poems, An Ocean Away; My Mother Smiling: Tales of Migration and Memory, was selected the best over 60 other entries. Linda is a British-Barbadian writer, editor, publisher and graphic designer. She is also a NIFCA Governor-General Awardee, having won the award in 2017. She is also co-editor of the on-line journal ArtsEtc. (Source – JR Lee email)


Antigua-Barbuda-born Dionisia Diaz, 20, has won Digicel’s Regional BIP Mascot 3D Design Challenge and US$10,000. The Challenge was to create a 3D mascot for the BIP messaging app. Entries came from 10 countries and Diaz won with a robot-themed design.

(Source – the Daily Observer newspaper)

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

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Sharon Leach: the Wadadli Pen Interview

So, a little back story. I met Jamaican writer Sharon Leach April-May 2014 at the PEN World Voices Festival – she and I were two of three Caribbean writers invited to participate in the prestigious event; the other was Barbara Jenkins of Trinidad and Tobago. All three of us were nominated for the programme by Akashic which had compiled stories by us and other Caribbean authors in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean, released in 2014.

The three of us hit it off. Sharon subsequently interviewed me for her Jamaica Observer column, Bookends, and I offered to interview her for this site. Apologies to her for the delay in posting – life caught up with me. But here it is finally. Happy reading.

First, a bit about the author…

Sharon Leach was born in Kingston, Jamaica, She was educated at St Hugh’s High School (1976-1983) and the Faculty of Arts and General Studies at the University of the West Indies (1983-1986). She works as a columnist, copy editor, proofreader and freelance writer for the Jamaica Observer, as well as editor for Bookends, the paper’s weekly literary arts supplement. Also a fiction writer, over 100 of her short stories have appeared in the newspaper’s Literary Arts magazine since 2000. Her stories have also been anthologised in Bearing Witness 2000, 2001, 2002, publications of the newspaper. In 2001, she received a Certificate of Competence from The Writers’ Bureau, and in 2002, a Certificate of Merit in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s (JCDC’s) Creative Writing Competition (Adult Category). Her short fiction has also appeared in Kunapipi, Journal of Postcolonial Writing; Iron Balloons: Fiction from Jamaica’s Calabash Writer’s Workshop; and Blue Latitudes: An Anthology of Caribbean Women Fiction Writers, the Jamaica Journal, Caribbean Writing Today, Calabash: A Journal of Arts and Letters, AfroBeat journal and most recently in Pepperpot: Best New Stories From the Caribbean. Her essays have also appeared in Air Jamaica’s Skywritings magazine and The Caribbean Voice newspaper. She was also one of the first recipients of a scholarship to the Calabash Writing Workshop in May 2003.

What You Can’t Tell Him: Stories, a collection of short fiction, her first book, was published in 2006 by Starapple Publishers (Trinidad). A second collection of stories, love it whenLove It When You Come, Hate It When You Go, has recently been published by Peepal Tree Press (Great Britain).

In 2011, she was a recipient of the Musgrave Bronze Medal from the Council of the Institute of Jamaica for distinguished eminence in the field of Literature.

She has participated in the NGC Bocas Lit Fest 2012 in Trinidad, and in 2014, the PEN America World Voices Festival in New York.

Now, the good stuff…

Joanne C. Hillhouse: Tell me a little bit about your journey as a writer – including is it what you always wanted, and the question every aspiring writer wonders, how did you get published?

srl37 (2)Sharon Leach: Thanks, Joanne, for accommodating me in this way.

I grew up loving to write and tell stories—I loved entertaining my mother with little stories I’d make up for her and write on yellow legal pads she brought home, and I also loved to summarize our favourite radio serials for her in the days when she went to work—but becoming a writer when I got older never seemed to be an option. Meaning, becoming an author was a concept very far removed from me because, I suppose, in my mind, authors, funny as it sounds, were dead people. So there I was, finishing sixth form and wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life because there didn’t seem to be any occupation I was particularly suited to. So I figured I would study Language and Literature with Social Sciences and, like everybody who did, go ahead and teach English after. But it became obvious, with each passing day, that I really was not cut out to be a teacher. So I ended up going to work in my family’s business—car parts, of all things—and settling for a life of boredom. However, I’m apparently not the kind of person who settles and, long story short, I ended up seeing a therapist, who, thank God, made me realize the suffocation I was feeling was as a result of not doing the thing I was put on Earth to do. Well! Talk about your aha moment! He said, ‘Don’t think, just answer: When are you happiest?’ And without thinking, I said, ‘When I’m reading or writing.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘There it is.’

He was the one who recommended The Writer’s Bureau, a correspondence course out of England, from an ad he’d seen in one of our local newspapers and my sister pointed out the literary supplement in the other newspaper—edited by the man who would become my dear friend and mentor, the late Trinidadian scholar Wayne Brown—which would become an outlet for my work, and which today, some 15 years Iater, I now edit.

I remember I sent Wayne a short story for publication after I’d started the Writer’s Bureau, and he wrote me back to say he thought I had talent and that I should be a part of his workshop. That’s how I was first published, which would have been quite OK. But imagine my delight when Wayne called to say the Jamaica Observer had paid me for the story. I remember that day as being one of the happiest I’ve ever been: I slept with the cheque in the bed beside me!

JCH: I remember reading your story in Pepperpot and thinking, wow, she goes there, and then I was watching your reading from the PEN festival on youtube and there’s a certain grit to your writing, whether writing of people uptown or downtown, there’s a sense that you’re pulling back the curtain on something kind of ugly but with no hysteria or even judgment about it, rather a matter of fact acceptance of it… am I seeing things? How would you describe your writing?

SL: I’m not sure I know how to categorise my own writing. I only know that there’s a kind of writing I don’t like reading and I try to keep away from it. I don’t like a sanitized way of writing, you know, one that says oh, look at me, I’m West Indian and there’s a certain way I’m supposed to write, to tell a story. Or writing that’s judgmental, that says, oh my God, this character is such a sinner and I want you, reader, to see that I don’t approve. Bullshit. Who am I to sit in judgment of anybody, anyway? I want truth when I read and I suppose I tend to write that way. I remember my mother, before she passed, once shared a concern with me about my use of profanity in my stories. She was a proper Christian woman who probably wondered where she’d failed as a parent since she’d produced a daughter who cussed as much as I do in my writing. But I remember telling her that—and this was in my early writing career—that I needed the writing to be real, to reflect authentically what I was trying to get across. I said to her, ‘Mummy, if I’m writing about a prostitute, I’m not going to make her sound like a church girl.’ To her credit, my mother got it.

I’m not the tourist board; I’m not interested in painting touristy pictures about sun, sea and sand in paradise. I’m not a priest. I’m simply a storyteller who facilitates these characters’ stories to come out on the page in a truthful way. Once I was set on that it was OK to take my writing anywhere because the judgment isn’t there; it’s just a story I’m telling, and so it frees me to tell a story about an uptown girl involved in an incestuous relationship with her father that she doesn’t at all see as twisted, or a poor country girl working at a resort who provides sexual favours for rich foreign guests in order to help her mother patch her roof.

JCH: With your own column you’re something of a tastemaker certainly as relates to the literary arts and culture, what does a writer/book have to do to get your attention?

SL: Tackle a story, even if it’s one that’s been told a thousand times before, in a new, fresh, different way that doesn’t make me want to abandon it before the end.

JCH: How important in your view is literary criticism and why is there so little of it as relates to Caribbean literature in the traditional media?

SL: Criticism is extremely important but there probably isn’t enough of it in our region and in our literature. I can’t be sure why that’s so but it could very possibly have something to do with a hyper-sensitivity that remains one of the vestiges of our shared history of colonialism. I’ll read the New York Times and read a review that savages a book (Michiko Kakutani does NOT pull any punches!) and think, That could never happen in Jamaica. I remember my former book reviewer for Bookends, the late Mary Hanna, would pass on books that would necessitate negative criticism because, as she used to say, ‘Sharon, this place is too small to make enemies.’

JCH: How does the business of writing, and the day to day rhythm of what you do, affect your ability to write?

SL: Honestly, it shouldn’t but it so does. I remember when I just started out, I’d get up each morning and write for a couple hours before I went to work. Now, God bless. The world we live in has become so high-stress and so on, it’s difficult to find the time or even the inclination to be creative.

JCH: You’ve done the Calabash Writers Workshop – one of the first – do you recommend writing workshops? How would you suggest writers make the most of the experience?

SL: Can I tell you, I don’t like them at all! But I completely understand their value. When you’re thrown together with a random group of people who may not necessarily have your best interest at heart, or are dealing with their own petty jealousies, insecurities and crap, it’s sometimes unpleasant. Who wouldn’t prefer sitting in front of their computer alone in a room somewhere? But I think the young writer has to understand that these groups are sort of a microcosm of the wider reading world, so if you can take on a writers’ workshop and come through it, negative reviews won’t faze you. Also, the discipline you gain from them—writing on any given subject at will—is priceless. The truth is that they help more than harm.

JCH: Of all the books you’ve read, what books would you recommend everyone read at one time or other?

SL: I don’t know that there are books I feel everybody should read at one time or another because reading is such a personal experience and everybody connects with different stories at different points in their lives. Also, there are people who glean more from memoirs or other forms of non-fiction and those who do better with fiction. I’m a fiction person, myself. Story collections or novels, it doesn’t matter. That said, I just recently finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. OMG, I loved it. Thoroughly enjoyed it. But then, I enjoy everything she writes. I also had the same feeling when I finished Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and her short-story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. That feeling you get when you read the last sentence and you mourn the loss of the world you were only recently part of. She’s probably who I’d recommend, anything she’s written. She exemplifies the idea that simple doesn’t necessarily mean simplistic: it can actually be very profound.

JCH: What are you working on now?

SL: I’m attempting a novel. LOL. Short stories are so in my wheelhouse, and the longer form really outside it.  I don’t know if I can actually write something long-range. It seems like such a long-term commitment. I don’t know how it’ll go. Let’s see how that shakes out. I also wrote a weekly observational opinion column for a few years, and I’m thinking about collecting the best of those, too. At the same time, I’m collecting more short stories for a third collection; I have short stories galore. Maybe I’m destined to be the Jamaican Alice Munro!

srl37 (2)

Reviewing Sharon’s responses, it occurs to me that one of the reasons we hit it off is because she’s the realest – down to earth as they come in life and on the page.

If you liked this interview, here are some other Wadadli Pen interviews you may find of interest.

Jus Bus (American born, Antiguan and Barbudan artiste/producer)

Melissa Gomez (American based, Antiguan and Barbudan documentary filmmaker)

Joy Lapps (Canada based, Antiguan and Barbudan pannist)

Joy Lawrence (Antiguan and Barbudan folk historian and writer)

Diana McCaulay  (Jamaican writer and activist)

Ann Morgan (British writer)

Eugenia O’Neal  (BVI writer)

Lynn Sweeting (Bahamian writer)

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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…are you comfortable encouraging young people from the region to aspire to a writing career?

That’s a question put to me in a recent interview. As I continue to get the word out about my new book, I thought I’d share that interview on Caribbean Book Blog; and an earlier one on Caribbean Literary Salon. As I share these, I have to admit that a part of me does so reluctantly… this process of self promotion doesn’t come easily to me. But I want the book to find readers and do well so I’m doing my best to step out of my comfort zone and hope I don’t put my foot in my mouth.

Perhaps you’ll find the interviews of interest, sufficiently so to share them in your network. More than that I hope you purchase and read the book; I hope you post reviews on Amazon and such places when you do (especially if they’re good reviews). The book is Oh Gad! It’ll be available for sale as of April 17th 2012.

And because my mom raised me right, please and thank you.

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