Tag Archives: Ivory Kelly

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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Carib Plus Lit News (Late August 2019)

CARIFESTA

Antigua and Barbuda met up with the rest of the Caribbean in Trinidad for CARIFESTA (the largest showcase of its kind for Caribbean talent) – and, in case you didn’t know, Antigua and Barbuda is the venue for the next CARIFESTA (in 2021). I have very few details but I  got the image of the passing of the baton from the last venue to the next (via proxys Trinidad and Tobago’s Culture and Arts Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister responsible for Culture, National Festivals and the Arts, Daryll Matthew) from the Antigua and Barbuda CARIFESTA facebook page and  believe you can link up  there for things related to AnB and CARIFESTA as plans evolve. You already know my thoughts and that of some other writers in our community on the (non/under/limited) presence of Antigua and Barbuda literary arts in CARIFESTA over the years, and Mark Brown – one of Antigua and Barbuda’s top artists – expressed concern re the (lack of) visibility of visual arts at this year’s event as well on his social media. Granted, there’s a bit of the grass is greener dynamic at play as well as I’ve seen countries which do better on arts generally weigh in with similar complaints via social media; and from the images and videos generally Trinidad and Tobago and the participating countries put on a good show. I’ve tried to share what I could on my social media (because I still support Antigua-Barbuda, and Antigua-Barbuda arts every time, notwithstanding my criticisms [or my haterade/grudgefulness/badmindedness, for those who choose to see said criticisms that way]) – highlights like the Antigua and Barbuda delegation enthusiastically singing Burning Flames ‘Swinging Engine’ in the opening parade (minus the “in she gear box” part), and Hell’s Gate performing a medley of tunes by one of our Big Three calypsonians, Swallow, with infectious youthful enthusiasm. I know a number of our soca stars – Ricardo Drue, Menace, CP, Tizzy – performed, as did the national youth choir, and, I believe, the Antigua Dance Academy (founder of which, Veronica Yearwood, I spotted in some of the images). Shout out to our community of artists, always! And, a personal note, shout out to TnT writer and illustrator of my children’s picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure who presented our book during a session with children and shared on social media – so that I had a small presence there, in spirit. Pardon any oversights in the mentions – it’s not intentional. To that point…I note that a film I worked on as associate producer HAMAfilms The Sweetest Mango, Antigua and Barbuda’s first feature length film (released 2001) also showed – for the record, as you know from our data base/s we are all about the record here at Wadadli Pen, and because I’ve caught this error in a few reports, the film was produced by Howard and Mitzi Allen, directed by Howard Allen, but written by D. Gisele Isaac (both this and HAMA’s second film, No Seed, on which I served as production manager, were written by D. Gisele Isaac, who before her current life in politics also penned the boundary shifting book Considering Venus, not to mention being a founding partner of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize). The record is important. And, for the record, I wish the hosting of CARIFESTA in Antigua and Barbuda well. Someone posted wondering if they would expect full participation from the artists who have been overlooked CARIFESTA after CARIFESTA (the 2019 edition was the 14th iteration, going all the way back to the 1970s); and they well might…and I venture that for the love of the arts, our artists will show up; still, it is cynical to expect support from the artists in an environment where support for the artists has been so lacking. Hopefully, the road to CARIFESTA will include some reflection and a renaissance that embraces all forms of artistic expression.

Art Conversation

I wrote before about the Rooted at Home and Abroad exhibition at the national museum featuring the works of Zucan Bandele and Walter J. Parker. The exhibition will run to the end of August. Meanwhile, last Friday (August 23rd 2019), the exhibitors invited the community in for a conversation around the art being displayed. Curator Mali Olatunji (who was fine arts photographer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for more than 20 years) also spoke about some of his own art (e.g. the dirty beauty of the polluted sea at sunset) and about other art made in Antigua and Barbuda. And as he showed works by Frank Agard (copper and brass craftsman whose displayed work was an image of the St. John’s Cathedral) and Freeston Wright (an image of his work on canvas – a scene from earlier Antigua), I couldn’t help lamenting, again, the lack of a national art gallery (as a repository of Antigua and Barbuda’s art past and present, a creative space to encourage new artistic expressions, and a showcase with potential commercial value). Too often we find ourselves rediscovering what should never have been lost and not recognizing, embracing, celebrating, and encouraging what is.  A space for discussions like this. One young girl stood and spoke about her own art, and about what she saw in Parker’s art, and in some ways a connection she saw between them: “I totally get that he would make these beautiful things and not be caught up in exposing them.” Yes, among the things discussed was why the artist makes art, and how we interpret art – with attendees noting that sometimes the artist’s intention is clear and sometimes “the persons who look at it will get different interpretations” (Olatunji). Bandele spoke about his masks series and about the African deities he had captured on canvas – the former, poetic pieces inviting the viewer to look in to the head of the masquerader and the latter embodiments of goddesses like Yemojah (Mami Wata) who has dominion over the water. The works of the two exhibitors – Bandele and the deceased Parker whose paintings were of people in different poses and scenarios, all colourfully masked – seemed to be in conversation with each other.

CARNIVAL WRAP

Speaking of Art conversations there are one or two stories from the Antigua Carnival season that ought not be purely seasonal – a few really – but I’m just going to drop a couple. One has to do with panorama which was adjudged a success despite a too drawn out show and the absence of one of Antigua and Barbuda’s top bands, Halcyon due to lack of sponsorship (so Babu told me when I asked him on Carnival Tuesday – as Halcyon was in the parade). I heard a media report in which when it was pointed out to our PM that the band, Halcyon, had given lack of funds as the reason for their non-participation he jested that they were just running scared. Winning band Hell’s Gate is from the PM’s community so this response was likely some of that ages old rivalry between the seasoned bands and their respective communities, no harm no foul. The rest of the comment though, that a couple of other bands had checked him for funds and Halcyon could have done the same misses the point though in my opinion that arts development is continuous, that the arts developers need systems put in place to access philanthropy, investment, and/or sponsorship – that one of the top bands bowing out due to lack of any of these is …not a good look. even as we compliment not only the winners but the growing youth participation in pan – even as we remember that not too long ago pan was all but gone from the Carnival line-up and its resurgence is owed in great part to the pan fraternity and to the advocacy and attention given to it in Culture during the tenure of culture officer Barbara Mason. This is not my area of arts, obviously, so maybe I’m missing something, but those are some of my general observations. As for the other issue that will likely continue to bubble, copyright and use of artists’ work, stay tuned, I guess.

(Source of newspaper clippings: Daily Observer Antigua)

Pengereng

‘“Pengereng” is a Belize Kriol word for the noise made when something, especially a metallic object, falls to the floor. Figuratively, it refers to a great disturbance or upheaval. Hence, the title of my new book of short stories in which each protagonist experiences a life upheaval that forces him or her to make extremely difficult choices.

Kriol activist Silvaana Udz describes the book as a “ground-breaking” publication as it includes the first major work of fiction written entirely in the standard Belize Kriol spelling system. The 74-page collection contains two relatively long stories, one of which is presented in both English and Kriol, plus an essay in which I discuss why Kriol should be used more extensively by Belizean writers and should be made Belize’s second official language alongside English.’ – Belizean writer Ivory Kelly is fresh from representing her country at CARIFESTA (August 2019) in Trinidad. Shortly before that she debuted her latest book, Pengereng. Click here to read more about it.

(Ivory, right, 2014 in Glasgow at the Aye! Write lit fest – where we met)

Rocket Mama Set to Rock the Literary World

One of our favourites on the track is Jamaican sprinter Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce – long known as the pocket rocket for her diminutive size and the way she breaks out of the blocks like a bullet. The multi-Olympic gold medalist has not let motherhood slow her down and is preparing to drop a children’s book this September.

(source of newspaper clippings: Daily Observer Antigua)

Other new book announcements include: the second edition of my teen/young adult novel Musical Youth, former Caribbean media association president and TnT columnist Wesley Gibbings second collection, Passages, and Escape by former Wadadli Pen finalist Rilys Adams (to be uploaded to the data base of Antigua and Barbuda writings as soon as I get the time – but teasing the cover here for now).

 

 

 

 

 

RIPs

The literary world was still reeling from the passing of our mother of modern African American literature, Nobel Prize Winning African American author Toni Morrison (Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Tar Baby, Sula, Paradise, Jazz, and other classic works including my personal favourite Song of Solomon) when Barbadian-American writer Paule Marshall passed as well. She won’t get as much press but the author of Praisesong for the Widow, Browngirl Brownstones, and other classic Caribbean works is a giant in her own right.

Participants in the 2016 BIM Lit Fest: front row, left to right, Olive Senior, A-dZiko Gegele, Selma James, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Tanya Shirley, and Evan Marshall (son of Paule Marshall who was there to collect a lifetime achievement award on her behalf). Middle row, left to right, me (Joanne C. Hillhouse), Mrs. Foster, and Esther Phillips; back row, Cecil Foster, Bernice McFadden, and Mervyn Morris.

Paule Marshall with her award from BIM.

As we mourn their deaths, we celebrate their lives and their words which have enriched, uplifted, revealed our lives.

If I missed any big news or commentary, apologies, this is just a labour of love.

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 which has a Spanish language edition). 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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Reading Room and Gallery 35

Here I share things I like that I think you might like too. But not just anything. Things related to the arts – from the art itself to closer examination of the art to the making of the art…like that. There have been 34 installments in this series before – use the search window to the right to find them; and there’ll be more additions to this installment before it too is closed – so come back.

VISUAL

“I’ve worked with so many artists, but I’ve seldom experienced such an ebullient, rich, and massively productive creative process,” Mouly told Artnet, later adding, “The goal for both of us was not just a resemblance but something that emotionally evokes her person, because Morrison is deeply complex. [The artwork] works in a cathartic way for the artist and the viewer and the reader…I’m very grateful that Kara was willing to put herself through this process.” – ‘Quiet As It’s Kept’: Artist Kara Walker Creates the New Yorker’s Cover Tribute to Toni Morrison

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BLOGS

“Our last poetry and prose collection was published in 2014 and we are overdue for another.” – Althea Romeo-Mark blogs about Writers’ Works’ Bern in Switzerland

NON-FICTION

“As an adult, when I was estranged from my mother, my father would ask me to recall those holidays where my mother labored in the kitchen for hours. He would ask me to think about why my mother went to such pains and expense. Was it just for her friends, he’d want to know? Of course not. He would tell me that my mother always felt an astute guilt at raising me away from my extended family. For all those holidays absent of grandmothers and aunts and uncles and cousins. Instead of allowing me to feel that loneliness, she filled up our house with guests. She feared that I would never know family as they knew it, that even though I professed not to feel that sense of loss, I had inherited it nevertheless. Her failure to teach me those values, my mother believed, extinguished in this world a way of love.” – Give Hostages to Fortune by By Mehdi Tavana Okasi

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“Since my 30s, I’ve hated those birthday cards with their black balloons and messages of doom: How does it feel to be over the hill? Don’t collapse your  lungs blowing out candles!” – Judith Guest

POETRY

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At sunset,
when sunlight morphs into dusk,
slaps start: mosquito roulette.” – Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming’s Writer’s Digest winning Weekend at the Beach

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“LVDB: My first novel was in the first person, and that felt like working from the center to the exterior in that I feel like I had such a deep understanding of that character from the start. And it was more about how to write this character in such a way where what I understand about her is accessible to a reader who is not me. With The Third Hotel it was sort of the opposite in the sense that there was a lot that I actually didn’t know about Clare and didn’t understand about Clare and so hard to work from the outside in. One bit of latitude that you get in the third person is that you can see into a character and you can also see around them. That roundness of perspective felt important for The Third Hotel, given how much instability there is in both Clare’s POV and the world at large.” – Crystal Hana Kim and Laura Van Der Berg in conversation

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“For fiction written in the past tense, here’s a technique for tackling flashbacks that I stumbled upon years ago, and writers I’ve shared it with have tended to get highly excited: Start off your flashback with, let’s say, two or three standard-issue had’s (“Earlier that year, Jerome had visited his brother in Boston”), then clip one or two more had’s to a discreet “’d” (“After an especially unpleasant dinner, he’d decided to return home right away”), then drop the past-perfecting altogether when no one’s apt to be paying attention and slip into the simple past (“He unlocked his front door, as he later recalled it, shortly after midnight”). Works like a charm.” – Are These Bad Habits Creeping Into Your Writing? by  Benjamin Dreyer

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“Rule No. 10: Revise, revise, revise.” – Colson Whitehead, Rules of Writing

INTERVIEWS

“The importance of controlling the image answers the question of why there are very few black films from that time. The hostage-taking of the image is something that happened because of a lack of access to tools, because of a lack of access to exhibition and distribution, because of a lack of access to the tools that captured who we were, and because of how images were distributed falsely with a different and untrue narrative. Every time a filmmaker of color makes a film, it is a rescue effort. It is an act of resistance and defiance to use tools that were kept away from us, tools that were used to harm us for so long. When I get to a film like this, where there are so very many black people in it, every frame becomes a vitally important demonstration of freedom.” – Ava Duvernay in conversation with vulture.com re her mini-series When They See Us

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I don’t make any such decisions as my poems come to me as the first few lines come into my head, and any language that it comes in I just continue in that language. Sometimes it breaks in the middle of the poem and goes to Jamaican or breaks and goes to England but from when the first few lines come into my head that is the language it comes in
and I don’t make that choice in advance.” – Jean Binta Breeze talking to Jacqueline Bishop. Read the full interview which was published in Jamaica Observer’s Bookends column edited by Sharon Leach: BOOKENDS MARCH 24

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“I resisted buying a scrapbook-like biography of Charles Dickens put together by Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, his great-great-great-granddaughter, on the occasion of his bicentenary (1812-2012). The book has photographs and facsimiles of documents: letters, his will, theater programs . . . I have the same birthday as Dickens (February 7th), and when he turned 200, I was a mere 60. A friend heard me talking about the book and surprised me with it.” – Brooklyn Book Fair pre-event interview with Mary Norris

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“I was an avid reader when I was a pre-teen, so my mother would come home from work with Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High novels. It felt like Christmas each time. I would inhale the newness of the books, running my fingers across the pages, refusing to put creases in them. I was shocked when I came to America and found out that people leave books on sidewalks to take for free! I discovered The God of Small Things, The Alchemist, and 1984 this way. I had considered it an abomination to leave books on street corners, but I remember grabbing every one of those titles as if I were in a contest and grabbing gifts.” – Brooklyn Book Fair pre-event interview with novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn

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“I daresay that as Caribbean writers, we are extremely fluent in the shapes and short story procedures absorbed largely from an English-focused curriculum; and later, from our exposure to narratives outside the Caribbean. In fact, we excel at them, much as we used to in cricket. If people don’t know it yet, the Caribbean is the producer of world-class contemporary short fiction in the Commonwealth, I’m thinking in particular of Trinidad and Jamaica. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I do contend that the caribbeanness of the Caribbean short story remains underexploited, though I’ve begun to see the emergence of writers who are reaching past the creole language to explore ‘folk’ tropes and structure.” – Jacob Ross in conversation with Jacqueline Bishop. Read the full interview: Ross 1Ross 2Ross 3Ross 4

FICTION

“I continued to go to the interviews, to prove that I was still alive, but I no longer expected anything.” – The Golden Bough by Salman Rushdie

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“It is an awkward thing to buy fish from another vendor. It’s like horning your partner, or switching to a new barber or hairdresser. Be guaranteed that your regular vendor will find out about your clandestine purchase, because the new vendor will be sure to gloat that they were able to ‘tek yuh sale from yuh’, and the next time you go to the market, your regular vendor’s glare will follow you all the way back to your house. Even those dead fish eyes will stare at you with scorn, and that normally tender flesh will fight you all the way down from your throat to your colon.” – A Hurricane and the Price of Fish by Shakirah Bourne

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“I’m Mildred 302.0” – Mildred by Robin Burke

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‘Humph,’ Mavis say in her usual grunt: ‘Nuh worry. Mi find some US dolla under the dresser when mi clean it last week that mi aggo keep. But mi have something fi har though, man. De wretch nuh know sey is her toothbrush mi use clean the toilet.’  – Son-Son’s Birthday by Sharma Taylor

Antiguan and Barbudan fiction and poetry here and here.

REPORT

“Born in 1892, Savage would often sculpt clay into small figures, much to the chagrin of her father, a minister who believed that artistic expression was sinful. In 1921, she moved to Harlem, where she enrolled at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. A gifted student, Savage completed the four-year program in only three and quickly embarked on a career in sculpting. During the early to mid-1920s, she was commissioned to create several sculptures, including a bust of NAACP leader W.E.B. Du Bois and charismatic black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey — two key black leaders of the period who were often at odds with each other. Both pieces were well received, especially in black circles, but the racial climate at the time hampered wider recognition of her work. Savage won a prestigious scholarship at a summer arts program at the Fontainebleau School of the Fine Arts outside of Paris in 1923, for instance, but the offer was withdrawn when the school discovered that she was black. Despite her efforts — she filed a complaint with the Ethical Culture Committee — and public outcry from several well-known black leaders at the time, the organizers upheld the decision.” – from The Most Important Black Woman Sculptor of the 20th Century (Augusta Savage) deserves More Recognition by Keisha N. Blain  

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“I write, and I take my writing seriously,” he said. “Awards affirm this. But were I to write for awards, I would be a failed writer.” – Kwame Dawes in article in The Daily Nebraskan

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“Winning the regional prize for the Caribbean means everything to me. It means that I made the right choice. After my first semester in college, I had to make a difficult choice between doing what was expected of me and what I wanted. It seemed to be a selfish decision. I come from a struggling family and a struggling island, so as a girl with potential, I was expected to prepare myself for a lucrative career in the traditional professions: law, medicine, architecture. However, I chose to write. I got a lot of criticism for that choice. Many people asked me what I could do with a Literature degree: write children’s books; teach? I could, and there is nothing wrong with either. I make my living using my degree, and I am happy, but I still felt as if the true purpose behind my decision had not been realized. It has now.” – Alexia Tolas, of Bahamas, Regional winner (for the Caribbean) of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story prize. Other regional winners are from Zambia, Malaysia, Cyprus, and New Zealand

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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Pepperpot – New Review****

Date Read: November 10th 2017 Published: 2014 Publisher: Peekash Press / Akashic Books Pages: 224 The Blurb Akashic Books and Peepal Tree Press, two of the foremost publishers of Caribbean literature, launch a joint Caribbean-focused imprint, Peekash Press, with this anthology. Consisting entirely of brand-new stories by authors living in the region (not simply authors […]

via Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean edited by Olive Senior — African Book Addict!

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Blogger on Books lll

UPDATE! (October 4th 2016) I’ll be moving the Blogger on Books series (really just my take on books I’ve read and liked enough to write something about) to Jhohadli (my personal blog) with the next book. This archive will remain here on the Wadadli Pen blog. It’s the second major move for this series which began on my Myspace – remember that?

This is the third installment of Blogger on Books where I talk about books I’ve read and have something to say about. Usually if I’m posting about a book, I either liked it or liked something about it. You can read Blogger on Books l and Blogger on Books ll here.

The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 9 Number 1 Fall 2016
The Bibliography of St. Lucian Creative Writing    Poetry, Prose, Drama by St. Lucian Writers   1948-2013 with related supporting material compiled and edited by John Robert Lee with assistance from Anna Weekes
The Boy who loved Batman: the True Story of How a Comics-Obsessed Kid conquered Hollywood to Bring the Dark Knight to the Silver Screen by Michael Uslan
Broo ‘Nansi and the Tar Baby (a US Virgin Islands Story) collected and written by Dr. Lois Hassell-Habtes Story as told by Ector Roebuck
Brown Pelicans (Caribbean Natural History Series) by Mario Picayo
The Caribbean Writer Volume 29
Do You Know Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay
Littletown Secrets by K. Jared Hosein
Point of Order: Poetry and Prose by Ivory Kelly (foreword by Zee Edgell)
A River of Stories: Tales and Poems from Across the Commonwealth, Natural Elements Series, Volume 4 – Fire (compiled by Alice Curry)
Sugar by Bernice L. McFadden
Susumba’s Book Bag (the erotic edition)

Time to Talk by Curtly Ambrose with Richard Sydenham

I felt bereft when Bernice McFadden’s Sugar ended. I’m still trying to decide if the ending was unsatisfying storywise or if the story was so successful that the leaving was inevitably melancholic. Either way, it’s certainly a reminder that as much as we’ve been conditioned by fairytales, we very (very) rarely get the endings we want. There’s no denying though that Sugar was a compelling read anchored both by a compelling title character and a convincing if unlikely bond between two women that was the heart of the story. I’m talking about church going elder Pearl, who’s been grieving the violent death of her daughter for 15 years, and Sugar, who the short answer would say is a whore, given her profession, but who on closer examination of her very complex life, is really a woman who never got a fair shot – not since her mother abandoned her without a name, not since she was raised in a whore house, not since her every attempt to break with the trade goes fubar. Sugar at times seems like her own worst enemy, her survival armor so thick, nothing, not even well meaning efforts, can penetrate, and certainly her own heart can’t break out. Except it does, thanks to Pearl – seriously, their relationship is easily my favourite part of this book – and she does let something like love in, but she doesn’t trust it, doesn’t trust herself, and the pattern that’s marked her life to that point re-asserts itself. You’ll root for Sugar and your heart will break for her, you’ll be warmed by the bonds she forges with her substitute mothers especially Pearl and realize that she’s hungry for that most essential of relationships. And I suppose my frustration in the end is I wanted that for her too. In the ways that she makes me care, in her detailed and layered characterizations of her essential characters, in the way she colours in the world of the story and roots it in its time and place, in the descriptions and the mood and atmosphere that she crafts so well, McFadden has rendered one of those books that you could see transferring really well to film because it paints pictures in your mind and makes an impression on your soul. But there are things about the plot that feel improbable to me and in fact there are time when the clues dropped about Sugar’s history kind of leave me floundering so that certain essential connections are not made (in my mind) and certain other connections when they are made feel…unlikely…like what are the odds. It didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book which had some emotionally powerful moments not in an overwrought way but in simple, simple gestures that pack a punch.top

Broo ‘Nansi and the Tar Baby like Brown Pelicans below is from Little Bell Caribbean. As with that one, I had the boy read it aloud; this time instead of asking him to write a review, I just asked his opinion. Here’s what he said: “That was a nice story.” Actually that first part was spontaneous and then I asked what did you like about it, to which he responded: “I like the part with the song. I like when the part with tar baby and when Bro Tukuma say ‘Brer Nancy les go’ and Brer Nancy say ‘I’m not finished yet’. I just don’t understand; he not listening. Why doesn’t  he listen?…I like the end; it rhymes.” After further consideration, he added spontaneously: “So, basically, this is just about two spiders, a tarbaby, and brer nansi almost being killed.” I should add that after the main story, there’s an explanation of who Anansi is and his place in African and diasporic lore; when I tried to add to the explanation he held up his hand (wait, wait, wait) and continued reading. So, I’d say it’s a good book to grab and hold even the interest of a reluctant (and boy is he reluctant) reader.top

Brown Pelicans (Caribbean Natural History Series) by Mario Picayo – this glossy book seems a good blend of nice visuals, history (the bit on Caribbean monk seals and why they became extinct, for instance), geography (maps), art (there’s some pelican inspired poetry), and science (all the pelican facts). But as I did with Pippi Longstocking (scroll down for that), I’m deferring to my nine-year-old on this one since this is more for his age group and reading it aloud to me and then writing what he thought was part of my strategy to pull him away from his ipad for five seconds. Here’s what he wrote: “The title is Brown Pelicans. I like the story because pelicans are my favourite birds and how they catch fish. I don’t like the story because they didn’t say why their feathers are oily and why they have webbed feet and why their beak is long. I know that pelicans are big, they can measure water depth and circle in the air to stop fish. The author is Mario Picayo. I like them because of their big beaks, oily feathers and webbed feet.” Okay, then.top

The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books (Volume 9 Number 1) very little space to the purpose suggested in its title, reviewing Antiguan and Barbudan books. The bulk of the volume publishes papers from the 2015 conference and some papers from a couple of decades ago – all, or mostly, with an economic theme. For people who understand that talk, those articles will be of interest and maybe in another platform they would be for me too …but when I crack the Review of Books, I really want to read book reviews and, Lord knows, there are more than enough books by Antiguans and Barbudans that have not been given critical treatment. So, that’s my gripe with this edition. That said, of the non-book-related articles, the one I found of particular interest was Juno Samuel’s The Making of the University of Antigua and Barbuda, because the re-purposing of a new secondary school into a university is very topical, controversially so, in Antigua and Barbuda right now (Fall 2016). Samuel’s piece reminds us of Antigua and Barbuda’s long tradition as a leader in education and that this university business is not a new idea, nor the opposition to it a new issue, but what his careful accounting of the work that’s been done and the thought that went in to the work by the original committee underscores is that it takes more work than simply re-purposing a building; and given the work already done, one has to wonder where’s the continuity. If this is an issue you are concerned about, you ought to read Samuel’s article which basically moots that a university is not only doable but necessary…but not this way. The unasked (and perhaps rhetorical) question as ever is can we (ever) look past the politics on such things? The actual reviews now get only pages 181 to 230 of the Review but they make for compelling reading. Natasha Lightfoot’s Troubling Freedom is on my to-read list and Review editor Paget Henry’s review has me even more convinced that this is a rendering of an unexamined area of our Antiguan history with a fresh approach to the reading of that history. Beyond that, there are three reviews, one by me, of Mali Olatunji and Paget Henry’s The Art of Mali Olatunji, each with a different angle on what each review agrees is a significant contribution to the Caribbean artistic, philosophical, and literary canon. I liked Jane Lofgren’s artistic insights on the book but then I also found intriguing associations Ashmita Khasnabish makes to Indian mysticism. So my request to the editor is more reviews, please.top

Time to Talk by Curtly Ambrose with Richard Sydenham – Curtly Ambrose, for the uninitiated, is a knighted former West Indies fast bowler from Swetes, Antigua. He first played for Windies in 1986 – there for the latter part of its days of dominance; his grit providing sparks of brilliance and hope during the team’s tumble from the top. Read the full reviewtop

>A River of Stories: Tales and Poems from Across the Commonwealth, Natural Elements Series, Volume 4 – Fire compiled by Alice Curry . Some entries feel out of place in this and, honestly, I’d count my poem Under Pressure among them. In fact, I’d say, in general, that this type of collection favours the folk tale. As a collection of writing from around the Commonwealth, it is at its best when it is sharing folk tales that tap in to the soul of the culture – you feel like you’re learning something about the people from whom the story came, about what informs the way they approach life. That said even among these, some of these tales end abruptly while others do a better job of coming to a point (and perhaps making a point). I found it a fascinating read overall. I like the idea of it and the execution, apart from whatever nitpicks I’m making here, was pretty good as well. I wasn’t in love with the art work and I did wish there was a bit more on the countries and the individual writers – a couple of lines. But I do appreciate the colossal amount of work that would have gone in to this; and I largely enjoyed engaging with so many different countries in a way I don’t get to do outside of an Olympics opening ceremony. Some standouts for me: Son of the Sun from Tonga, About a Chief and his Beautiful Wife from Botswana, The Beginning of Smoke from Brunei Darussalam, The Land Crab in the Kitchen from Maldives, The Gifts of Months from Malta, How to Share Five Cakes from Sri Lanka, The Tricky Invitation from Malawi (sidebar: I found an interesting Anansi oral/video/animation version of this that I used in one of my workshops alongside this version – a workshop focused on giving teachers tools and inspiration for bringing creativity into the classroom), Compere Lapin pays a Price from St. Lucia, Bhadazela and Mningi from South Africa, the Glass Knight from the United Kingdom, The Spear that Brought Fire from Zambia, the Burning Heads of the Susua Hills from the United Republic of Tanzania, and A Ball of Fire from Trinidad and Tobago. I don’t want to sound like I didn’t like the poetry, some of it just didn’t seem a good fit for a collection of this type but some did the job well – e.g. Fire from Namibia, War Song from Papa New Guinea, Creole Woman from Belize, and because, of course, it’s Paul Keens Douglas and his poems are always tales of the folk – Banza from Grenada.top

Do You Know Pippi Longstocking? by Astrid Lindgren – This is a children’s book so though I read it first, after my second to last nephew read it, I asked what he thought of it with the intention of sharing his review instead. It’s succinct: “I’m surprised she is a little girl and so strong. I really liked it.” Yes, I realize we have some work to do regarding his conditioning already at such a young age re what girls cannot do…especially since no one, girl or boy, could lift a horse like Pippi does in this story.top

Littletown Secrets reminds me of, those sort of fantastical children’s books from back in the day, books like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series – you know what I mean, those books about normal children interacting with the abnormal world in a way that to our childish brains seems totally plausible and fun. Like, of course, there’s a talking rabbit who’s in a hurry and a giant, magical tree. Of course. Some of us never quite outgrow that and for us magical realism and, really, the many branches of speculative fiction exists (big up to all the adults who never lose sight of their inner child). Anyway, the point is, I really enjoyed Littletown Secrets – and my nephew enjoyed Littletown Secrets. In fact, he read it first, in 2014 after I bought it at Bocas. Yes, it’s that kind of book – the kind of book to lure a reluctant reader, a boy no less, and apparently they’re the archetype of reluctant reader, into the magical world of storytelling. The story is set in a small indeterminate town in Trinidad – I’m not sure they say that specifically; but the author K. Jared Hosein is a Trini and the book does mention the Savannah (which admittedly is located in the capital but) as a community space where kids play cricket and old friends re-connect. The organizing principle of the book is that the central narrator is the town’s secret keeper – which he becomes when instead of a lemonade stand, he sets up a Secret Keeper stand as his summer hustle – and each chapter is a different secret, each reflective of the ‘deadly sin’ that introduces it. The author uses the known deadly sins but gives his own definitions. Wrath, for instance, is the “the trait of setting oneself on fire and colliding in to others”. The redefinition of the sins sets up its own set of expectations – a darkly humorous tone and an entertaining and instructive tale in which lessons are learned, though maybe not always by the participants in the tale – and it delivers. It is totally invested in the madness it sets up – the world under the well, the magic mirror, the ghosts in the clock tower, mechanical bats…why not. And it invests you, the reader, in that world and in the lives of the characters – rooting for the good guys, hoping that the lazy and badminded get their comeuppance or learn the error of their ways, hoping that the good guys win. And they do, for the most part, this is the realm of they all lived happily ever after after all. Except this is not a fairytale and so we meet the keeper of tales as an adult – emotionally restless – who gets the opportunity to have his dreams of becoming a writer come true, if he would just give up his secrets. This sets up an opportunity to show how you can take life and make story without betraying life. That exchange at the end between the secret keeper/storyteller and one of his former clients tickled the storyteller in me. And I think the book as a whole will peak the interest of the young reader in your life – boy, girl, reluctant, avid – and may call to the child in the adults in your life, too…even if that adult is you. I can safely say that I’ve never read another Caribbean book QUITE like this one and now that I have I’m even more eager to read his second book, The Repenters.top

The Bibliography of St. Lucian Creative Writing    Poetry, Prose, Drama by St. Lucian Writers   1948-2013 with related supporting material compiled and edited by John Robert Lee with assistance from Anna Weekes – this is not something you read cover to cover, though I did flip through it; it’s a resource – a valuable one. And in this digital age a resource that works best with a companion digital version that is readily updatable. The print version can become dated very quickly – which is the case here as I read, for instance, Vladimir Lucien’s single entry in the Poetry section (Fathoms of Sunset and Other Poems, 2009) knowing that he’s since gone on to win the Bocas prize for Sounding Ground. But such is the limitation of print in an era where just about any information you can think of is at your fingertips. But recordings like this are still absolutely necessary for the record, and there’s no denying the work and the patience involved in putting this together especially as the author said “many publication, even those produced by reputable local printing houses, lacked basic bibliographic information. Many carried no date of publication. I found a publication with no author’s name, no title, no date!”  If I was to do something like this for Antigua – which I guess I sort of have been doing with the bibliography (and its sub-lists) of Antiguan and Barbudan writing – I would take the approach of having a print version covering a particular time period, as this did, with a plan to update it every five years or so with a readily accessible and steadily updated digital version as companion. All of this takes time and money, of course, so all a researcher can do really is what they can. I’ve done fiction, poetry, non-fiction, children’s fiction, screenplays/plays, songwriting, short stories/poems, awards, blog, and review lists on this site (slower than I’d like and investing more time than I have to give because nobody’s paying me to do this), and even I’m impressed with the breakdowns this author takes the time to do – there are primary lists broken down by genre, then an extensive list of supporting material, then author indexes broken down by genre, selected articles, index of literary periodicals, international anthologies with St. Lucian writers, dissertations etc. background readings – plus an appendix of Caribbean blogs (Wadadli Pen even gets a shout-out). As comprehensive as I’ve tried to be here on the site, the inclusion of unpublished and oral pieces would be a step too far for my individual resources; not for Lee though and he needs to be applauded for his meticulousness. I hope the St. Lucian arts community and government and people appreciate what he’s pulled together here (and support both the digitization and periodical updating of the print version). As for why this matters, think only to that proverb re the lion and the hunter and the importance of having a record of our lives in our words.top

The Boy who loved Batman: the True Story of How a Comics-Obsessed Kid conquered Hollywood to Bring the Dark Knight to the Silver Screen by Michael Uslan – the site I won this book from doesn’t exist anymore; that’s how long it’s been since I’ve had it. I’m a bit of a fangirl so I’m fairly sure that’s why I threw my hat in the ring but I had no idea what to expect when I opened it. It has been a good read for the most part – part memoir, part inspirational, part how-they did-it, part fanboy/fangirl fantasy. It is, as the title said, the story of the boy who loved and revived The Batman – specifically Michael Uslan is the one who brought my era Batman (Michael Keaton) to the screen but, yeah, he also executive produced your Batman (Christian Bale) too. Essentially, the dark, tortured Bruce Wayne who has eclipsed the sort of pop art ’60s era version of Batman is all his doing. And in this book he tells how he did it. It began with his love of (read: obsession with) comics as a kid, with teachers who encouraged his creativity and rebel spirit, with parents who supported even if they didn’t always understand, with mentors, with doubters and self-doubt and setbacks and despair and compromises, and luck and preparation meeting opportunity and all that jazz. For a writer, an artiste, like me I was especially keen on tracking how he held on to his dream of creating something while circumstances conspired to stick him in life’s cubicle. The how-he-did-it part in the end was the bit I obsessed about as I looked for clues to my own journey. I gained some insights but I also learned there’s no magic to it, just holding to your dream even if life does necessitate some detours and pauses. An interesting read for the movie buff, the comic obsessed, Batman lovers, and just anyone whose ever held a dream they felt impassioned by in spite of the odds – and as I am all those things, I quite enjoyed it.top

Point of Order by Ivory Kelly is an easy read. Which is not to say it’s a shallow read – quite the contrary. What I mean is that it’s a pleasurable read but it can be like that unexpectedly steep drop into the deep end at the beach. Only the drop here is into matters of politics, gender, and identity. Neatly organized into poetry and prose with sub-categories of the former, the collection opens strong with WMD – and, on reflection, was fair warning that a collection that references a leader (Dubbya?) “spending soldiers like loose change” wasn’t here to make nice on serious issues. From Crayons in which a mother commits to a quiet rebellion to reverse her daughter’s rejection of self (conjuring the doll test); to Heart of a Dragon in which she tries to get beneath the hard scales to the heart of the dragon, stand in for police and more specifically police overreach, really insisting that the dragon look at himself; and beyond what quickly becomes clear to me is the running theme of tension between opposites – things as they are, things as the poet would like them to be, each sandbox-tree-like dig a rejection of the way things are. It’s there in pieces like Contradictions (the warring opposites threaded together with irony as it comes hard at the community’s ongoing battle to reconcile itself with itself); in Writer’s Block (where the warring impulses are within the writer, and specifically the feminine writer who wonders “how can I write this poem/with all those voices in my head?” except she is writing the poem, making the act of writing an act of rebellion, a feminist act); in Perspectives and Schoolbooks (where the tensions/contradictions are cultural); in Time and the Sittee River (where nature and wo/man war); in Public Service (where it’s the frustrating push and pull between the Public and the ones it claims to serve, all evidence to the contrary). It also needs to be said that though very, very Belize specific, much of what Kelly writes is Caribbean relatable (there are even a few “jacks” in there – thought that was an Antiguan thing) and, now and again, thematically universal. I liked almost everything in part one; in the second poetry section, my likes were a bit more spread out (Vocabulary Lesson, Unshackled, Fences, Civil Disobedience – a sharp reminder that the pen is mightier than the sword with its pointed line “some braved Jeffries’ gun/Threw missiles at policemen/Me? I drew my pen.”). Coming from that it was a bit hard to switch gears to the third section of poetry – which dealt with affairs of the heart but Mr. Write did make me laugh out loud on the bus – try that without getting funny looks. Did I mention the humour built in to the situations is part of the book’s appeal? Far from being abstract, a lot of the poetry is rooted in specifics, situations, that help give the reader a sense of connection. My favourite poem in the fourth and final section of poetry for instance was A Bouquet of Pencils, which, with this very specific line “No more half pencil/(the good half for your brother)”, stirred memories of having to share mangoes with my sister – how she would get the seed and I would get the sides – and spoke to a time where you didn’t have a lot, but you had enough.

On to the stories. I had already had a taste of Ivory’s storytelling skills thanks to her story in Pepperpot and the opportunity to hear her read from it in 2014 when we both participated in a session at the Aye Write! festival in Scotland– that’s how long this book has been sitting on my shelf and me too shame though there are just more books than time (there are books that have been waiting longer – read me! read me!). I liked all the stories – tout monde sam and baggai. The first ‘If You kyaa ketch Harry…’ will resonate with any adult Caribbean person who has been through at least one election cycle, ‘Andrew’ will strike a familiar note for anyone who has been to school in the Caribbean – though its tensions are very Belize specific; and ‘Family Tree’ might throw you for a curve until you consider the non-nuclear family model with all its stray branches pervasive throughout the Caribbean (you’ll not only find its not that far-fetched, you might be moved to wonder why it doesn’t happen more). ‘The Real Sin’ was the weakest of the stories in my view simply for being a little too-heavy-handed with its messaging, but even so it had some strong moments – the quiet moment of two friends laid out side by side not looking at each other, absorbing life changing  news was one such moment, the infuriating meeting to discuss that life changing news with administrators who have more sanctimony than empathy was another well executed scene.

So all in all, big up to mi sistren from Belize; an easy read on uneasy issues.top

This edition of Susumba’s Book Bag is Rated R. Not actually but with its focus on the erotic, it’s fair to say it falls in to that category – even if it didn’t at once tickle your fancy and your Muse (and it does; both). My favourites are Sharon Leach’s Her and Him which counterbalances the coldness that has settled in to a 20 year marriage – “She thought about the morning after the last child, Astrid, her baby had left home for college, how they’d both sat staring at each other over breakfast at the dining table, two strangers with no words to say to each other.” – with the heat that’s stirring between the partners in the marriage and someone outside it. Who might surprise you. It didn’t me, the big reveal more a confirmation of what I had suspected. The titillating details aside, this is really  a feminist unpacking of a relationship in which the wife is lost and searching, and on the verge of claiming something for herself, and the husband is arrogant and clueless, and on the verge of being cuckholded (and I can’t feel a lick of sympathy for him in he arrogant, selfish self!). In poetry, I was moved by Gillian Moore’s Oya All Over, mythical and messy at the same time (“she’s never learned to say no to what she really wants”). If  you think this has feminist overtones, you need to read Peta-Gaye Williams’ If You Lead I Would Follow, the poetic voice’s assertion of dominance over her own pleasure, by extension her own life (a criticism, intentional or not, of the dominant point of view that the man is the head of all things womanly, the home, the marriage bed etc. that counter-argues you can be the head if you know how to head things right, and only then):

“And can you touch me?
Oh sure! But with conditionalities attached
Cause if you’re gonna touch me without reaction
It is better you just watch me…”

Love it!

Her other poem of note (for me) is Navigating my Vagina which deals with the awkwardness of early self-exploration. I would share something from it but
“I flip through the pages eager and keen” was the only PG quote I could find. Be warned, this book is hot (so kids, this one nuh fuh yuh).

“Miss, Miss, yuh fat.
Yuh fat bodder me.
Yuh fat bodder me bad.” – that’s from Walking on the Street in Liguanea by Loretta Collins Klobah. If you’ve been to the reading room, you know I’m drawn to her poetry, having shared quite a bit of it here. But this series (which includes In the Bank at UWI at Mona Campus, Walking Montego Bay, Walking Below Sovereign, and In a Taxi) taking on the erotic through the lens of street harassment or creative, heavy-handed flirtation depending on your point of view resonated with me – taking me back to the streets of Jamaica which really could be anystreet, Caribbean, any public space where a woman is sexualized and, frankly, doesn’t always know how she feels about it – embarrassed, flattered, disgusted, harassed, threatened, a mix-up of these?

I’ll say this, lots of people do the erotic – it’s taboo and risqué and fun – but not a lot of people do it right, and these writers, the ones that stirred a reaction in me reminded that it’s not just about how raw can you be but how real (and I don’t mean in a throw away keeping it real sense but in making the moment matter, in tying it in to character, in giving it significance beyond the meeting of body parts…while making it hot).top

Gone to Drift – Remove the sub-text about the larger environmental issues and you still have a pulse quickening drama, and a poignant social narrative, at the  heart of which is a boy you come to not only root for but love. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Lloydie managed at least twice to bring tears to my eyes. Read more.top

After reading The Caribbean Writer (Volume 29, the 2015 edition), which I read almost every year, I like to share the pieces I liked even if I didn’t love the issue. I think this year’s write-up falls in to that category. I didn’t love it cover to cover but I did like…
10 Reasons why My Brothers like White Girls …intriguing title right?…plus the poet Felene M. Cayetano, I’m now realizing after the fact, is someone I met this past January (2016) in Guyana…there’s a dry wit I recognized in her when I met her that comes through in this poem from its opening lines …there’s also a rootsiness, an earthiness that pervades the ironic lines, the contrasting impulses within the black body as detailed in this poem…
I, also, liked Dike Okoro’s stuff (After Edwidge Dandicat and Rituals) well enough as well…Althea Romeo-Mark’s Now Massa Loved Some Hunting, Aprille L. Thomas’ Silver Anniversary, Khalil Nieves’ Guantanamera: Se Fueron, Dario R. Beniquez’s Ode to a Platano, D’Yanirah Santiago’s Boy: A Futuristic Take on Kincaid’s ‘Girl’…that’s it in Poetry…
In Fiction…Her Story, My Regret by Bibi Sabrina Donaie…actually I feel fairly certain I liked Bibi’s other story The Bakers as well (though I can’t be sure without re-reading)…but Her Story, My Regret definitely, for me, made a stronger impression dealing as it does with the still too prominent reality of the monster in your home…Nena Callaghan’s A Hanging has me reflecting meanwhile on the region’s dalliances with totalitarianism (with Big Brother’s complicity) and stirs a vague prickling of concern at how easy, with each infringement on our freedoms, it would be for any of us to sink in to such a state…and she does it with powerful passages like this:

“I still remember when Trujillo was killed, the secret celebratory handshakes among the adults, amidst the fear of what was to come, and me jumping on the bed trying to smash Trujillo’s picture, a mandatory effigy that all Dominicans had to display in their homes as if its very presence would protect them from Trujillo’s wrath. Trujillo’s picture not only told Dominicans who was boss, but also served as a reminder to anyone who considered taking actions against his totalitarianism, that he not only ruled the nation, he ruled their homes from afar as well.”

The Right Hand of God by Justin Haynes was a sad account of receding memory amidst internalized trauma…and then there’s Mona George-Dill reflecting on the pains (such as whipping days) and pleasures (mangoes for days) of a Caribbean childhood in Stonin de Mango…I used Neala Bhagwansingh’s Jumbie Daddy in a workshop this past summer (2015)… Haitian Boy meets Mommy by Isnel Othello and almost a counterpoint to it Heirs by Jonathan Escoffery…another enjoyable tale from a child’s perspective was Twanda Rolle’s The Sunday School Teacher, God and a Little Girl, Tim W. Jackson’s When the Sea shall give up the Dead was an immersion for both reader and character… Robbery at Rendezvous Restaurant by Niala Maharaj was suspenseful…while still on the subject of crime Dwight Thompson’s Haitian Carpenter proved quite the rapscallion, shout out to Antiguan Tammi Browne-Bannister and her Wee Willie Winkle on winning the Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for short fiction …Christine Barrow’s Evelyn  was a subtle tale that lands hard in its exploration of class, privilege, and moral compromises…and also on the subject of class and privilege the less subtle The Lives of Kenneth and Ramesh by Vashti Bowlah was also an interesting read…though the little boy especially was well written…Highlow’s Cricket Bat by James Baisden was highly entertaining… The Exhibition by Darin Gibson was a favourite…in part because it sits in the world of art and the pretentions it elicits …and Crab Girl by Ashley-Ruth M. Bernier was relatable…
In non fiction, I like Blake Scott’s read on tourism in revolutionary Cuba – very topical, recent events considered…the Jamaica Kincaid and Tiphanie Yanique interviews were insightful reads…in book reviews, I was surprised that Bethany Jones Powell’s review of  Vybz Kartel’s  Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto made me want to read the book when I am not a fan of the artist…that’s about it…
Oh, my CW award winning Flash fiction When we Danced and my poem Election Season ll are in this issue, as well.top

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Reading Room X

Like the title says, this is the tenth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Nine came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.

POETRY

“De sun come idlin’

over de hills,

removin’ de shadows

from de tree limbs…” The poetry of Antiguan born poet Althea Romeo Mark, from her collection Palaver. Read more.

BLOG

“Reading inspires me and reminds me how much I love everything about literature. It makes me eager to join in the conversation.” – Tayari Jones. Read the full at her website.

INTERVIEWS/DISCUSSIONS

“Stories are incredibly powerful. They shape our understanding of history, culture, and ourselves. It’s why readers of all ages clung to the viral hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks recently: Seeing an honest representation of someone who looks like you when the world reflects a different norm can be life affirming. It says that your story matters. This is a fact that Andrea Davis Pinkney, an award-winning, bestselling children’s author and a vice president and executive editor at Scholastic, knows.” Read the profile and interview with Pinkney here.

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“In st lucia to a large degree the artiste has to create the kind of society that appreciates art” – Vladimir Lucien interview at The Spaces between Words.

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“I always wanted to be a writer. I did want to be a great violinist, too, but I had no ear or talent for it.” READ MORE of this Anne Rice interview.

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As well as directing The Coming of Org, you were also responsible for shooting, editing and scripting it. Will you continue to oversee every element of your work like this, or does it get quite exhausting?

It is quite exhausting, but I am a control freak, which is not good all the time because you don’t get enough distance from the project. Now, as I have stepped away, I see areas where I could have made the film much better. It is my first narrative film so I hope to learn from this experience; in follow up projects I want to focus on directing and writing… maybe editing too, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t shoot as well.

READ The Missing Slate’s full interview with Davina Lee.

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“My challenge to other publishers of Caribbean children’s titles would be: try and make books available throughout the region and beyond, make them affordable, translate as many titles as possible, and especially help create a literature with the readers in mind, not in a monolithic sense of “Caribbean,” but rather giving margin to different forms of expression that might work at regional levels. That means taking chances on local unknown writers and illustrators who may do well connecting with and inspiring their communities, if given a chance to reach them.” – Mario Picayo, publisher, Editorial Campanita/Little Bell Caribbean, participating in a discussion over at Anansesem on Broader, Better Conversations for Caribbean Children’s Literature

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Oonya Kempadoo interview on her book All Decent Animals.

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“She would later reveal that for her, writing was the pursuit of the perfect sentence and as well as an attempt to bring something new into the world. The laughingly stated that the hated learning that someone else had thought of something before she had.” – Read more of Kwame Dawes interview with Jamaica Kincaid at Calabash on the Susumba website.

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10 x 10 podcasts, a series of 10 minute podcasts with presenter and journalist Rosie Goldsmith. In each podcast Rosie spends 10 minutes talking to authors from five different parts of the world. This includes from the Caribbean region Jamaican writer Lorna Goodison and Belizean writer Ivory Kelly.

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This is one of my favourite writers Edwidge Dandicat (whose Farming of Bones and Create Dangeroulsly are among my all time favourite books) talking about another of my favourite writers Jamaica Kincaid (whose Annie John, My Brother, and Lucy are must-reads in my book). She also reads two Kincaid shorts including a personal favourite which I have actually used in workshop, Girl. Listen here.

NON FICTION

The essay featured in this post is the Texture of Fiction and in this excerpt you get to sample the texture of Kei Miller’s writing: “I remember a tree in Jamaica that bore as its fruit, prophecies. That’s what it seemed like to me. The tree was in a dust bowl right outside of my high school and there must have been a man or woman who used charcoal to write words like ‘Repent’ or ‘The Prime-minister must fall’ or ‘Know ye this day who you shall serve’ on squares of cardboard. These cardboard signs were hung up in the tree, and the branches had become overburdened with them, like a mango tree in season. Sometimes the wind would rattle these words, the cardboards would hit against each other, such a strange and terrible sound, as if angels were crowded together, back to back, and were beating their wings.”

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This edition of Antigua and Barbuda’s Historical and Archeological Society’s newsletter has information on early villages, traditions, why Guiana Island is an ecological gem (something to think about, all things considered), and the Silston Library – have a read: HAS Newsletter 2015 FINAL

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“What am I supposed to say to her?” I ask. “That it will get better twenty years from now? It sure didn’t get any better for me.” Read all of Saving April by M. J. Fievre.

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“To permit a book, to read a book, is not enough. We must engage with its history. Ask who challenges a text and for what reasons. When we read a book, let’s read with a mind for its censors: what is that thing inside The Things They Carried that stirs a parent’s need to protect?” – See more at: On Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried | PEN American Center

INDUSTRY TALK

“Write the best short story you can, submit to competitions and be ruthless about the quality of the piece. Of the millions of short stories written, there are a handful that are good enough to catch the attention of readers, and if they are good enough to do that an agent will be interested. Practice is essential – not every short story written, even by an experienced writer, will be good enough to be published, so working through any idea until you feel it can be held up to the light is part of the process.” More from literary agent Lucy Luck.

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First there’s this “It felt like possibility. It felt like hope” and then there’s this “I thought about where I submitted my work and what the editors would think. I imagined how the piece would fit in with the journal’s aesthetic. I wondered whether or not my work was too experimental or too trite or too coy. I worried that my work was too wrong for the journals I submitted to, too wrong for any journal, really, too wrong to be read by anyone at all.” Eventually, you realize though “(it’s) out of our hands.” – Emily Lackey on submissions.

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“I’m not sure where the idea got seeded that author platform equals social media, but it’s time to dislodge that from your head if you believe it to be true. Social media alone is pretty ineffective at moving people to action.” Read what else is needed.

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“Before I started working on the editorial side of the publishing industry myself, I had no idea how long it took for the publishing cycle to complete its orbit around a book.” – Jonathan Eyers on Understanding the Publishing Process.

ABOUT WRITING

“You give your character opinions, needs, likes, and dislikes; you give him fears, joys, anxieties. Let’s call these ‘personality markers.’ What are her pastimes, fantasies, hopes, memories, and preoccupations? Be sure that some of these are not connected directly to theme and story. Diversify. That’ll avoid creating a character who seems controlled by the needs of her creator, simply a representation of a type. A protagonist might be a lawyer, but certainly not all her waking hours will be spent thinking about the law. These personality markers serve to add surprising and interesting layers to your characters that may indirectly connect to the needs and movement of your story and the themes that compel you.” Read More.

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LIke Bridgett M. Davis infers in this piece, there’s no rush; you finish your novel when you finish it. So ease up on yourself. And keep writing.

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Writing Advice from C. S. Lewis.

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On building a collection and breaking with old habits, by Abby Geni.

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“The opening line is a promise to your reader of the type of tale about to unfold.” Read more of Opening lines: Rules of Engagement by Shelley Jones.

 

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love

READING ROOM IX

Like the title says, this is the ninth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Eight came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.

INTERVIEWS

Haitian American writer M. J. Fievre, who interviewed me for her website recently, has this really cool interview of her own.

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My work is never finished. Even as I read something that’s published, I still want to change it.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Read full interview here.

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“I don’t chase what I hear on the radio. I try not to compete with anybody. And even though I’m a musician, I don’t necessarily follow a certain set of rules. Sometimes my mistakes turn into interesting music because I do things that aren’t supposed to be done. Really it’s more about a state of mind. I grew up with a certain standard of music, watching my father and his peers. For them, music had a deeper purpose than one’s own selfish gain. It was never just a business.” – Ziggy Marley, full interview here.

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“I am inspired by kindness. When I see ordinary people practicing kindness in ordinary ways—smiling at strangers, getting up to give a seat to someone else on the bus, helping someone with their luggage, stopping to speak to a homeless person—I am inspired because I am reminded of humanity.” – Dena Simmons. Read more.

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – funny, as many interviews as I’ve seen and read with her, I never realized I’d been pronouncing her last name wrong. So, thanks for that Tavis Smiley. And thanks to both the Nigerian writer (Adichie) and American interviewer (Smiley) for an interesting conversation on the things people would rather not talk about. Here’s to uncomfortable conversations.

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Commonwealth podcasts featuring writers from across the Commonwealth including, from the Caribbean Lorna Goodison (Jamaica) and my girl Ivory Kelly (Belize).

That's Ivory, to the right, with me in Glasgow, 2014.

That’s Ivory, to the right, with me in Glasgow, 2014.

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I hope you didn’t miss this one, but in case you did, Jamaican writer (poet, fiction writer, essayist) and professor Kei Miller in 2014 won the Forward Prize. It’s kind of a big deal, made bigger still by the fact that he’s the first non-white poet to take the British-based prize in more than 20 years. For that, you get two links: his interview/profile in the (UK) Guardian and the Forward Prize announcement.

That's Kei to the right - hanging in Glasgow (with me and others), 2014.

That’s Kei to the right – hanging in Glasgow (with me and others), 2014.

Bonus, peep Kei in this British Poetry Book Society line-up of 20 poets to watch. And listen to the poet talk about his work and journey as a writer, here.

Another bonus: Kei’s Carcanet interview.

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Renaee Perrier (now Smith) was one of my block sisters during my UWI days. Check out this interview about her writing life.

FICTION

“Gramma had told me stories about jumbies—people who had died but could walk about in the night. They lived in dark shadows and all the bad scary places. But my jumbie daddy was different.” Read all of Neala Bhagwansingh’s Jumbie Daddy.

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Audio clip of A-dZiko Gegele and Roland Watson-Grant reading at Bocas 2014 – good stuff.

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Love this story (The Headstrong Historian by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), first because it’s a good story well told…and a good example of a story having an epic span…but also for its view of pre-colonized Africa and the slow process of that colonization and the deliberateness of that/the trade off and of the decolonization of the mind…it resonates… it really does in unexpected ways… “Nwamgba was alarmed by how indiscriminately the missionaries flogged students: for being late, for being lazy, for being slow, for being idle, and, once, as Anikwenwa told her, Father Lutz put metal cuffs around a girl’s hands to teach her a lesson about lying, all the time saying in Igbo—for Father Lutz spoke a broken brand of Igbo—that native parents pampered their children too much, that teaching the Gospel also meant teaching proper discipline.” Makes you wonder, what’s really our culture (as once colonized descendants of Africa), a culture we defend so arduously, and what was thrust upon us until we didn’t know how to separate ourselves from it. Colonization is a hell of a thing. When people say get over it, it’s in the past, they don’t know. Anyway, you can also find this story in The Thing Around Her Neck, an Adichie book I highly recommend.

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“This story moves. With each stop and each passenger, the reader becomes more invested the bus driver—and more worried about the pig. The final line is satisfying in way that made me want to cheer.” – Kenyon Review on why it selected Karen Lin-Greenberg’s Care  

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Wanna hear something weird? While reading this story, which I really liked by the way, I pictured everybody in it as black, and specifically African American – the man, the sick woman, the angel, all black. There was no detail in the story (or none that I found on first read) to contradict me and yet there was detail enough to make these people – and angel – fully realized beings. It didn’t occur to me until I got to the end, and saw the picture of the author, that they may or may not be. Hm. That’s the funny thing about reading sometimes, how we project our reality or a context that makes sense to us (since my reality while black is not African American) unto the characters. It defaulted to what was famliar. But it just goes to show, though, that details of a character’s race, hair colour, eyes (details that, like any other, should really be used only in so far as they serve the story) may or may not be necessary to seeing the characters and the world of the characters. Maybe we see them as we’re meant to see them. Like I said, black or white, I found these characters to be really interesting (for the things unsaid between her and her lover, for the angel’s other worldliness and bewilderment with our world, and oddly enticing sensuality, for what it says about the nature of living and dying). Read Amy Bonnaffons’ Black Stones here.

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This excerpt of Roland Watson-Grant’s Sketcher tickled me in all sorts of ways. First, New Orleans. Been enamoured with New Orleans in literature since my Anne Rice college years. Second, born in the 70s myself, I laughed out loud at the narrator (also a child at the 70s) rolling his eyes about the 60s:  “It must have been the time o’ their lives, the Sixties, what with all that music and bell-bottom tight pants and lots of free love and everything. But I bet they still had headaches and mosquitoes and taxes, so I don’t know what all the fuss was about.” Third, intriguing characters, setting, scenario…and the CB craze of the early 80s…I remember that…remember my brother was into that too. Fourth, the writing…this isn’t just a nostalgia trip for me…the writing is alive and has the music and magic and sweltering energy of the landscape it describes. Moving this book up my to-read list. You will want to, too, after reading this.

NON FICTION

Poetry notes from my former mentor and teacher, Mervyn Morris.

“Poems work not just by what they say but by how they say it.” – See more here.

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The Pain of Reading is all kinds of heartbreaking. Read it here.

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“Read publishing contracts carefully before signing them… When selling rights to any work, remember that the fewer rights you sell, the better.” Read more.

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This is actually very similar with what I’m trying to do with the Jhohadli Writing Project – it gives me hope. Read, how I built my own literary scene and saved myself by Julia Fierro.

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Hell is my own Book Tour by Adam Mansbach made me laugh out loud and also strangely envious, as in at least you got to go on a book tour… ah the writing life, it’s not all glitz and glamour…in fact, often there’s no glitz and glamour at all… just four people at a book reading whom you nonetheless give your all.

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“The other way to escape the curse of knowledge is to show a draft to yourself, ideally after enough time has passed that the text is no longer familiar. If you are like me you will find yourself thinking, “What did I mean by that?” or “How does this follow?” or, all too often, “Who wrote this crap?” The form in which thoughts occur to a writer is rarely the same as the form in which they can be absorbed by a reader. Advice on writing is not so much advice on how to write as on how to revise.” – read more of Steven Pinker’s article on The Curse of Bad Writing.

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Kwame Dawes talks about how he writes. One of my favourite bits…

“My brain is a kind of cesspool that collects material unfiltered – or it may be filtered. I’m not conscious that I’m putting things into it. I may remark that something as interesting, but in truth what I’m doing is pulling something into that pool. When I make the decision to write a poem, I don’t know what is going to come from that pool. The act of writing brings together various and complex things. What I may access from that pool might happen immediately, or it may take years.”

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I’ve been given and received feedback, edited the works of others, been edited…and as I ruminate on both sides of that journey, I think it bears remembering that if you’re either hired to edit or just asked to give feedback on a piece of writing, “You’re being asked to consult—not commit a hostile takeover”, “Think of your reading mission as understanding the piece,” and “Don’t sacrifice feeling for critical thinking. Don’t forget to feel the piece.” Editing, like writing, is not paint by numbers. As writer, I try to listen to my characters and try to tell their tale authentically and insightfully. As editor, I try to come to each piece open to what the piece is trying to say and how the author is trying to say it, and hopefully guide them toward saying it clearly yet in their unique and distinct way. As I said in this article, it’s a delicate dance. Ten Essentials of Reading for Writers is an interesting read for those who’ve ever been asked to give feedback on a writer’s work in terms of striking the necessary balance.

REVIEWS

Black-ish – initial thoughts:My first requirement of a comedy is that it make me laugh. I can forgive a lot of things if you make me laugh. Black-ish, which debuted this Wednesday on ABC, made me laugh, sometimes. I run hot and cold with series star Anthony Anderson but found myself liking him in this role. His high pitched humour works here; and it better, as his perspective – his real moments and hyper real fantasies – are what drive the plot. It’s a family drama but, at least in the first episode, it’s the story of Anderson’s character struggling with the idea that the price of success is losing your blackness/your identity (as if there’s a simple definition of what blackness is) while at the same time, on the job at least, rebelling against being defined solely by his blackness (see the irony?). The show could do with more nuance, but I’d watch it again. Because it made me laugh; even if the humour wasn’t always fresh nor cuttingly funny. This is network television after all; the edge was a bit blunted and the message was laid on a bit thick. The performances are solid; the somewhat underused Laurence Fishburne’s dry wit balancing out Anderson’s hysterics, and Tracee Ellis Ross is a more natural fit as his wife than his last TV wife – I love you Vanessa (of the Cosby show) but I wasn’t buying the chemistry. The kids don’t really stand out yet, only in the general sense that they “don’t see colour”, which makes for some easy laughs. The challenge the show faces going forward, I suppose is being fresh and daring with both its humour and commentary, foregoing tired tropes and the easy laugh for laughter that makes you not only cut-up but consider and –re-consider your own prejudices. In that sense, it has the perfect lead-in in Modern Family, a show that’s all about challenging your assumptions while making you laugh out loud. And if it imprints the way Modern Family has, it’ll not only be a funny half hour comedy but ground breaking television. Time will tell.

POETRY

“And maybe in their eyes

it may seem I got punked out

‘cause I walked a narrow path

and then went and changed my route

But that openness exposed me

to a truth I couldn’t find

in the clenched fist of my ego

or the confines of my mind

or in the hipness of my swagger

or in the swagger of my step

or the scowl of my grimace

or the meanness of my rep

‘Cause we represent a truth, son

that changes by the hour

and when you opened to it

vulnerability is power.” |

Saul Williams

http://loquence.tumblr.com/

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“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft agley” – Robert Burns’ To a Mouse is copied here in Scottish and explained.

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When I read Scottish writer Liz Lochhead’s Kidspoem/Bairnsong, I was immediately drawn in. On the surface, an innocent scene – a mother prepping her daughter for school; an structurally almost a round, like those songs and poems we did as children. But it’s commentary on how we lose our mother tongue is deep and for the Caribbean person deeply relatable.

“…the first day I went to school

so my mother wrapped me up in my

best navy-blue top coat with the red tartan hood

twirled a scarf around my neck

pulled on my bobble-hat and mittens

it was so bitterly cold

said now you won’t freeze to death

gave me a little kiss and a pretend slap on the bottom

and sent me off across the playground

to the place I’d learn to forget to say

it wis January

and a gey derich day

so my Mum happed me up in ma

good navy-blue napp coat wi the rid tartan hood

birled a scarf aroon ma neck

pu’ed oan ma pixie an my pawkies

it wis that bitter.”

Here’s Liz Lochhead reading the poem and talking about the genesis of the poem and the importance of writing our reality in our way, which, you know, is a foundation of the Wadadli Pen Challenge.

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This Tom Leonard poem immediately appealed to me for its defiant claiming of its mother tongue (Scots) – something we can relate to as Caribbean people, yes? Because as he writes “all livin language is sacred”.

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Ego Tripping – Nikki Giovanni

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“I sit and wring my hands,
at last old enough and sad enough,
and pathetic enough in my impotence
to do this” – Talking to Hamas by Alice Walker

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Beauty by Bermudian poet Dane Swan:

Bag lady, your eyes tell stories
of glory, despair, success, failure
deceit, withdrawn ineptness.

BLOG

The Art of Submission…or how to handle rejection without becoming bitter.

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So, you know how in Julie and Julia, a young writer undertakes the challenge of cooking and blogging Julia Child’s recipes for a year, and gets a book deal out of the experiment? Well, British writer Ann Morgan had a similar experience reading the world. Here’s an update re her book deal…and a big of inspiration for others laboring in the blogosphere.

VISUAL

Music video featuring Promise No Promises and directed by Jus Bus …very artistic visuals…very resonant lyrics…and a good bounce

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This is a film by Francoise Bowen. Filmed in Antigua, it re-imagines a moment of island history:

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cricket

This image of women playing cricket in St. Lucia, circa 1905 is one of my favourites from Rastas, Royals, and Revolution: 100 Years of Photography in the Caribbean. I was actually flipping through to see if there were any Antigua and/or Barbuda images and this one caught my eye. Good stuff. See more images in the series here.

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This film short is out of Barbados…summary: Auntie is a middle-aged seamstress and respected caregiver in her rural Barbadian community. 12-year-old Kera is her latest ward and a special child to whom she has grown uncharacteristically close. Seven years after Kera’s mother emigrates to England in search of a better life, Auntie is confronted with the day she long dreaded when the plane ticket arrives that will reunite Kera with her mom.

For more films of this type, visit AfroPop TV.

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Disbanded by John Pettie.

Disbanded by John Pettie.

The Starz series Outlander and my visit to Glasgow early in 2014 probably have something to do with this one catching my eye but the truth is I’ve always had an interest in Irish and Scottish culture and history. I came across this image while reading The Other Tongues: an Introduction to Writing in Irish, Scots Gaelic and Scots in Ulster and Scotland and looked it up online. According to this site, this is an image by John Pettie of a Scottish Highlander after his defeat at the Jacobite rebellion of 1746.

Here’s a bonus Scottish image from that same book(c) The Fleming Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationIt’s ‘Lochaber No More’, an 1863 image painted by John Watson Nicol. The title ‘Lochaber No More’ forms part of a popular 17th century Scottish folk song

“These tears that I shed, they are all for my dear,
An no’ for the dangers of attending or weir;
Tho’ borne on rough seas to a far distant shore.
Maybe to return to Lochaber no more” (full lyrics here)

The song is a lament. Lochaber, based on my research, was where Bonnie Prince Charlie recruited the first clans to his cause, sparking the Jacobite rebellion. The mournful nature of the song reflects the rebellion’s defeat at Culloden Moor in 1746.

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“… it was while dancing and touring the nation and European continent that he chanced to visit The Louvre Museum in Paris that he “met his Muse”. As he walked the halls there, he was consumed by what he saw. Looking at the work of the Masters in The Louvre, he was reminded of what he had unconsciously reached for in his sprawling graffiti pieces; he recognized realms of color, style, passionate expression and possibilities that he had never before imagined.” – from About Frank Morrison at Morrison Art

I see a Queen in Me by Frank Morrison

I see a Queen in Me by Frank Morrison

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Some good insights here….

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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.

Glenroy Aaron’s Summer One is the cover image of the Tongues of the Ocean Antigua and Barbuda issue. Here’s his bio from the site: Glenroy Aaron has always had a passion for anything artistic. Drawings and doodling captivated him in his childhood years and this love of the arts was nurtured in primary and secondary school and later honed under teachers in the Cambridge art programme at the Antigua State College. Upon leaving school he continued with his passion, branching into oils, which is currently his primary medium. He strives to capture the beauty in nature and human emotion.

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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Filed under A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Workshop

READING ROOM VII

Like the title says, this is the seventh reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Six came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.

BLOG

Monique Roffey (Trinidad and Tobago), author of The White Woman on the Green Bicycle -a book I recommended in my Blogger on Books a while back – shares writing advice and recommended reads in this post. I also want to mention that another Roffey post sparked a most interesting discussion re Caribbean literature – check out this post (also this) and this one from Vladimir Lucien (St. Lucia) for more on that.

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Have you read any of these Caribbean women writers?

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Love everything about this post and Shakirah Bourne’s gushing nervousness and excitement over meeting her literary hero. READ MORE.

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“Make no apology for your language, and nobody will expect one.” Bajan Shakirah Bourne speaks about the write to use our natural, our mother, our heart language in life and on the page. Sidebar: that bit about Dickens struck me about him training his ear and his hand to write what people said, and how they said it; as a reporter, who writes what some people think is short hand but is actually Joanne-warp-speed-hand, I’m beginning to see how my life tracking down stories and interviewing people shaped and shapes the stories I tell and how I tell them. Still figuring it out, but yeah, that resonated with me. Plus I love Dickens. Sidebar over. Substantively, Bourne writes about Scottish author Irvine Welsh and what we can learn about how he uses dialect, unapologetically. Read the full here.

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I was tempted to put this art-heavy Althea Romeo Mark post in the visual category but it’s an art blog,  in which she reminds us that “art is part of our everyday life” and shows us too. Read and see here.

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Food for thought: 5 Reasons to Wait and Slow Down when it comes to Publishing your Book.

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In this post, Jamaican writer Diane Browne wonders, what is it about Calabash, the literary festival that leaves us all a little bit drunk on words. Dr. Carolyn Cooper also had some musings about the magical festival.

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What Makes a Writer ‘Caribbean’? asks Lisa Allen-Agostini

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Creative people can be oddities…but that’s a good thing…really…and daring to be a little odd can be good for anyone. Embarrass Yourself. It’s Good for the Heart by Elaine Orr.

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“I think you have to work hard, and you have to place yourself in the light somehow – whether it is at readings, by writing online, by submissions, by reaching out to people as you have just done – and if you stand there long enough and nicely enough (i.e. as part of a bigger picture, not as the star of your own show!), then good things do happen.” – RU FREEMAN RESPONDS TO A ASPIRING WRITER

FICTION

I’ll confess I haven’t fully read Gateway – a Caribbean Sampler in the Missing Slate as yet but somehow I have no qualms about recommending it. When you’re done, check out the first issue of Susumba’s Book Bag.

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“You wake to see the sunrise exactly once a year. The cock’s crow which normally signals the start of the day alerts you that you are late.

Kadooment Day is here.” READ MORE OF THIS BARBADOS FESTIVAL FROM THE UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE OF SHAKIRAH BOURNE’S PEN IN ‘THE FOOT IS MINE’

INTERVIEWS

Elizabeth Nunez being interviewed on NPR about my book Oh Gad!

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Kei Miller interview.

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John Robert Lee’s interview with the ARC has some interesting insights about the arts scene in St. Lucia which some may find also mirrors the scene in their territory. Read the full here.

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Audio interview – my girl, Belizean writer Ivory Kelly on the BBC.

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“The IDEA is key. Get your IDEA straight and you can execute it in a thousand ways. But the IDEA must always be singular and original.” – Read more of Jamaican Roland Watson-Grant’s interview with Annie Paul.

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“There’s been a kind of amnesia,” he says, “or not wanting to focus on this, because of it being so painful. It’s kind of crazy. We can deal with the second world war and the Holocaust and so forth and what not, but this side of history, maybe because it was so hideous, people just do not want to see. People do not want to engage.” More from the director of 12 Years a Slave here.

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“My father recited poetry all the time, spasmodically and loudly in the house. But there was a method to his madness. He read with a compelling rotundity: Neruda’s ‘United Fruit Company’, Wilfred Owen’s ‘Exposure’, Martin Carter’s ‘This is the Dark Time My Love’, Derek Walcott’s ‘As John to Patmos’, Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do Not Go Gently Into that Good Night’. He also wrote and was very modest about doing so.” – Read more of the Arc’s interview with St. Lucian poet Vladimir Lucien.

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“In a way Island Princess in Brooklyn celebrates my father’s family and their journey. Interestingly enough, Cordelia Finds Fame and Fortune celebrated the fact that fame and fortune can be found here at home (no need to migrate). However, Princess is forced to migrate and forced to make a new life or return home. Is this back story then part of the journey, a journey in which I am now able to look outwards from our island to our people overseas? This circle of family, of story, fills me with wonder.” – Diane Browne, Read the full interview at the Brown Bookshelf.

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“My greatest fortune has come from the people who believed in me who have allowed my writing to flourish, and from the many individuals who I’ve come into contact with during the creative process of writing. However I have yet to walk into a bookstore and see my books there, that remains a dream!  So – a mixed life, and at the age of 60 I know I have much to be thankful for and hope when and if my writing is read, that it will bring inspiration to others.” – Read more o Arc magazine’s interview with Commonwealth short story prize winner for the Caribbean region.

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Carib Lit interviews Ezekiel Alan, a self published Jamaican novelist who claimed the Commonwealth book prize. Now that’s inspiring. How’d he do it?

“Get honest feedback, from people not too close to you. Do as professional a job as possible — get your book properly edited and proofread.”  Alan also encourages writers to develop and stick with a writing routine and to think outside the box in selecting story ideas. “It is tougher to compete by producing what everyone else is producing.”

Read more.

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Writer-colleague and Burt Award Winner A-dZiko Gegele told me on facebook “Your ‘Island SisStar’, Jamaica Kincaid was at Calabash Jamaica this year – what a fabulous soul – she was witty, and full of humility and grace – highly rated by the audience.” Here’s Susumba’s coverage of that interview.

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So much inspiration to pull from in this interview, it was hard to excerpt just one but in the end I went this: “Whatever work we do, we must work from the heart.” Dena Simmons is an American educator and activist with Antiguan and Barbudan roots. I know because I was at a literary conference in the USA where among the very few black people there, there was one other Antiguan or so she introduced herself to me and I’m happy to have made the connection. Read up.

NON FICTION

Zadie Smith’s 10 rules for writing.

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“I write because the island I live in is small, and I feel a sting each time the people who ask where I am from, then cut short their attention when they realize just how small it is, cut short their attention because the island is not on the radar of much-of-the-world, unless one sharpens the gaze.” – Jonathan Bellot. Read more.

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I hardly know where to excerpt, there’s so much wisdom here but…how about this:

“If you like fantasy and you want to be the next Tolkien, don’t read big Tolkienesque fantasies — Tolkien didn’t read big Tolkienesque fantasies, he read books on Finnish philology. Go and read outside of your comfort zone, go and learn stuff.”

Incidentally, I remember a professor making a similar point about being a journalist, he suggested that we needed to spend less time in the bubble of learning about media and communications and more time just learning about…well, everything.

Read more from Neil Gaiman here.

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“As a child being educated in Guyana, English Literature was an invitation to other worlds, an invitation which has never lost its appeal…” read more of Maggie Harris reflecting on a literary journey which most recently spiked with her 2014 win of the Commonwealth Short Story prize for the Caribbean region.

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If you’re thinking of publishing especially in the children’s market and you live in the Caribbean, you should read this article by Kellie Magnus.

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“In the first draft I sometimes found my characters being mouthpieces for me and my good intentions, and that made the writing weak and bland. In the second draft, I shut up and let the characters do their own talking, and the story improved considerably. The struggle of the protagonist to come to an understanding of herself beyond victimhood was also much clearer when I didn’t try to impose a social justice agenda on her. She became not merely a representative of all children and adults who have survived child sexual abuse, but a real character, with hopes and fears and wants and needs she tries to meet in the way she knows how to, and I had to let her speak for herself in order to give her the agency her history had denied her.” – READ MORE OF LISA ALLEN-AGOSTINI’S ATTEMPTS  TO NAVIGATE THE TERRAIN BETWEEN NON FICTION HORROR AND FICTION WITH BOTH A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE AND A REAL HEART BEAT.

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“I want to write poetry that is alive, fresh, vibrant, contemporary in feeling, readable, thought-provoking, playfully subversive, powerful, and yet still tender. I want it to be full of the energy, culture, history, music, natural beauty, spirituality, and social struggles of Puerto Rico, and other islands of the Caribbean where I have visited or lived… I don’t write love poetry, and I don’t rhyme. I write because I want to communicate with readers in a way that matters, makes an impact, or makes some kind of beneficial difference in the reader’s thoughts and in the society. Can poetry do that? I still believe in the power of the word…If there is any “must” for a poet, from my perspective, it is to widely read other poets and thus develop the ability to sort out your own place as both an innovator and a member of an ongoing literary community and tradition that you will nourish and be nourished by.” READ MORE INSIGHTS FROM PUERTO RICAN POET LORETTA COLLINS KOBLAH

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Plagiarists, Muses and ‘Stalk-home’ Syndrome by Farzana Versey.

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Never give up…plus, yay, supernatural gifs: Jennifer L. Armentrout on Why I’m not the Person to ask about self-publishing.

POETRY

Antiguan and Barbudan Linisa George’s Poetry Postcard on the BBC, In the Closet.

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St. Lucian Vladimir Lucien’s Poetry Post Card on the BBC, Ebb 1.

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“In Carnival season, he is Lord and often Monarch, but at his day job, he is a squire at White Knight Laundry, where hotels and restaurants hire linens for special occasions, and employees wash, iron, mend, pick-up, and drop off.” This line captured for me that split between real life and the larger than life calypso persona of the Carnival season. Read the full poem – What He Brought For Me by Loretta Collins Koblah – in the July 2014 edition of Caribbean Beat.

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“Tonight I want to offer you
this moonlight cupped in a purple
flower …” sigh, right? Swoon to the rest of this Esther Phillips poem, And Yet Again, here.

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Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Elizabeth Frye

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Poetry Parnassus – “verse from each Olympic nation

VISUAL

Calypso is storytelling… check out this Sparrow classic for a brief lesson. Don’t forget to dance.

Other calypso video posts on this site include: the Latumba post, the King Obtinate post, and the Short Shirt post.

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Something I’ve long wanted to do with the Wadadli Pen stories.

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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