Tag Archives: jhohadli summer youth writing project

Register for the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project Pre/Teen Creative Writing Workshop

As with all of my workshops, the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project is demand-driven. This means that as long as there’s interest, I will proceed. Signal your interest and commitment by registering – register by August 13th 2018 to receive a discount. Sessions have been re-scheduled – in light of late start, and low and slow registration – to August 20th – 24th 2018. If you wish to see this go forward, register today.

Read about previous installments of the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project here and here.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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A Note of Encouragement

One of the motivations for the programmes I do, notably the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize and Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project, is giving young people a voice…or helping them realize the power of their voice; it’s about beginning to articulate their place in the world and, as I continue to do in my own writing life, interpret and express the world around them through the creative arts. It doesn’t matter whether they aspire to be a writer or not, that capacity for self-awareness and self-expression, which I continue honing in my own life, will serve them whatever their path, and if I can have even a tiny tiny part in inspiring that then the development goals of the programmes would be fulfilled. If writers emerge from the programmes, gravy.

It’s why this bit of feedback posted to my public facebook page by the mom and aunt of two of the participants in the summer programme means so much.

“When she (my daughter) got in the Jhohadli Writing Project, I was more thrilled than she was. But, you know what? At the end of it all … she couldn’t stop talking about it. You have also helped her to realize the field she should be in as an artist and I am really happy for that. That’s all I need…and I love the work she produced while she was in the program. As for my niece, the program gave her confidence. She is usually quiet and withdrawn. But just being involved in the program she has now pushed herself to try new things like playing pan, trying out for netball because she realizes that there’s nothing wrong with trying something new. …I hope new and existing sponsors continue to support your Jhohadli Writing Project because of the emerging talent that will be realized by our Antiguan youth.”

It’s a fine line when blogging your experiences as a writer and all the related things, but I’m not sharing this to be self-serving but by way of encouragement to myself and to others. Because we all need it sometimes as we ask ourselves if what we’re doing matters. As you read this, I’m preparing for the new Wadadli Pen season, by turns excited and overwhelmed by the prospect but never doubting that it is a meaningful endeavour and one I’d like to find the resources to continue. The JSYWP, I’m less certain of, to be honest; for various reasons but notes like the one above encourage me to find a way to continue.

If you’re reading this and you wish to contribute to either of these programmes, don’t hesitate to contact me.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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When JSYWP Meets Wadadli Pen

Was nice to see some familiar faces from past Wadadli Pens at my first ever Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project (August 12th t 16th 2013); loving their commitment to improving their craft.

Wadadli Pen 2012 Second runner up 12 and younger Chammaiah Ambrose, author of How  Tigers Got Stripes, is the youngest of the JSYWP group but she’s always willing to try; like her spirit.

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2013 finalists Asha Graham and Michaela Harris were also there, always willing to share and give feedback – admire their maturity.

Asha and Michaela by Joanne C Hillhouse

Asha won the whole Wadadli Pen kit-n-caboodle with Revelations Tonight and snagged a runner up prize with Remembrance.

Michaela by Kurne

Michaela meanwhile was a runner up in the 13 to 17 age category with Secret of de Mango Tree.

OriqueFinally, there’s Orique Gordon, he’s 2011 winner of the 12 and younger category and an overall finalist with The Lost Coin. He still has quite the imagination.

Was happy to see them all again, to be able to encourage and guide them and to provide feedback on their new writing.

For highlights of our week together as well as their assessment of the work we did together, go here for the last of five entries – click the links at the bottom of that page for the other four. Also, check this out:

*with photos by Kurne Williams for Silston Library

*Tuition sponsors of the JSYWP were: Anonymous, Brenda Lee Browne, Caribbean Water Treatment, Dr. Jillia Bird, Paperclips, Sanhall Trademarks Ltd., Shirley Heights Lookout, and Townhouse Mega Store.

*The following also provided patronage and/or assistance: The Best of Books, Koren Norton, Silston Library, St. John’s Cooperative Credit Union, Carol Mitchell, Marie Elena John, friends and family.

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

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JSYWP, on planning city stops and engaging with history

So I realized today (the day before the Day) that in identifying city-stops for the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project walkabouts, I had omitted to include anything at the centre of the African experience which is backwards but not wholly surprising given that so much of what remains (as far as historical-scapes go) has to do with European impact – the Georgian style buildings, the Anglican church with the eagle-eye view etc. I found myself returning to a spot I’d dropped because it was too far outside of the city for our daily walkabout I told myself. But, in this 11th hour, I found myself, ashamed of my omission, squeezing it back into the schedule. That spot is the Prince Klaas/King Court monument designed and built by Sir Reginald Samuel. It was an inexcusable omission as one of the few sites of public art/sculpture crafted by a native son and as an example of interpretation of moments; how do you capture all a person was and all they are meant to represent in a single moment; the sculpture must hint at character but also give a sense of the larger-than-life-ness that the person is representative of/symbolizes. But it was also true that King Court/Prince Klaas, though an African freedom fighter in the Caribbean, was not separate from that tale of European impact, after all it was them he was martyred for rising up against (or plotting to anyway) in 1736. Besides wasn’t it too late to include this, too late to find some way to make his story relatable to a group of young Antiguans and pull from his story something that could be made into a literary activity appropriate to their age group? Maybe. But I couldn’t let it go. Then I remembered reading something about the Akan Shield Dance in which the revolutionaries engaged on the eve of their revolt. I put my Google-fu to work and found these excerpts from David Barry Gaspar’s Bondmen and Rebels (full disclosure: a book that’s been on my to-read list for entirely too long):

Gaspar

(sorry folks that’s where the available excerpt ends…guess like me you’ll have to read the book). Apart from being struck by the desire to see a re-enactment of the dance live, maybe during Independence or Carnival (hint hint Culture Department or Antigua Dance Academy), I liked that it had movement, action, a distinctly African link…and from all that I got an idea for how to use it in a literary activity. See, part of what I’m trying to do in the JSYWP is re-enforce that there is rich fodder for inspiration and our imaginations in our own history, lives, world. And that is the tentative link (apart from having the same leader and investment in the youth and the literary arts) between that project and Wadadli Pen because Wadadli Pen’s core is all about Caribbean-centric stories. What I hope to show is that these don’t have to be clichéd stories, that’s where your imagination comes in. So I’m hoping I can use this bit of their history to fire up their imagination and I’m really glad I revisited the idea of involving Klaas/Court in some way…even if his monument is some distance away from the city proper, writers need to get out and stretch their legs to stretch their imaginations sometimes.

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

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Closed for Carnival

..not us but as a visiting writer from the US anxious to get involved in the local literary scene recently discovered, everything kind of stops for summer and Carnival in Antigua and Barbuda. Notably Expressions is on hold (not sure of the return date but sometime in September no doubt); and the Best of Books Wadadli Pen Open Mic is on hold until September 14th. Even the Cushion Club is on break. As I told our literary traveler, the next summer spark that I’m aware of literarily is the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project. That’s my baby. My second baby after Wadadli Pen (don’t get jealous, Wadadli Pen). Jhohadli is me (that’s a pen name of mine bestowed on me by a Trini-block-mate during my UWI days and happily claimed by me as my literary alter ego (so no stealing); Summer is when it is (specifically August 12th to 16th); Youth is who it’s targeting (I can confirm 10 successful applicants between the ages of 8 and19; with  four others still to be confirmed); Writing (that’s what it’s about; we’ll be reading and writing and exploring to feed the writing because it’s a hungry beast); Project (I call it a project because that’s what it became when I decided to take it from the idea phase. And the idea grew out of this urge to do more than an annual challenge but needing to find a way to make it self sustaining and targeted at those who need and want it whether they have the money to access it or not).

As I wrote in another post APUA does not accept thank yous and as a working writer I had to find a way to cover my time and material costs, so I asked several businesses to sponsor tuition for participants. Those who agreed to do so are:

Anonymous
Brenda Lee Browne
Sanhall
Paperclips
Townhouse Mega Store
Caribbean Water Treatment
Dr. Jillia Bird (couldn’t find a link to her business so this is a link to her major activist cause)
Shirley Heights Lookout

with the Best of Books, Koren Norton, Silston’s Library, and St. John Cooperative Credit Union kicking in support as well.

I am happy with the response though I have more participants than sponsors. I had some rough patches, some misunderstandings, some bad feelings, some I don’t need this @#$&! moments but I also enjoyed receiving the application letters and preparing the programme of activities. So I’m doing this, and hoping for the best and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the applicants…

Snippets from some JSYWP application letters, pulled at random

“I’ve always desired to be tutored and mentored by a published author and the fact that you are an local author makes it much more appealing.”

“When I write I write from my heart. I express the way I feel, think and my emotion spills over into my writing.”

“My other hobbies are drawing, writing stories and I am now working on a comic …hoping it would become a cartoon one day.”

“I want to learn more about the art of writing so that my compositions can improve.”

“This opportunity will give me the chance to take my writing to another level and put to paper the many thoughts that constantly invade my imagination.”

“In my spare time, I enjoy reading books by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Lemony Snicket. I enjoy reading books in general.”

“I am a thirteen year old Antiguan poet.  I have been writing poetry for a year and a half… In my spare time I like to read mystery books.”

“I have never attended a workshop like this and I am not sure what to expect.  One of my favorite things to do to pass time is read.”

“When I first began to write, my poems were scribbles at the back of all my school exercise books.”

“I am extremely interested in taking part in the jhohadli summer youth writing project, as I am very passionate about creative writing…”

“The thrill that I get when a new idea pops into my head coupled with my vigorous imagination are key factors that I believe that such a programme like this could benefit me tremendously.”

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

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One Model of Effective Parenting

This post began as a spark during a primary school graduation. I drafted and submitted it as an article for consideration. I decided to publish it here today after receiving an application letter to the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project from the young man, Keondre, featured in the article. He began in his letter by saying that he doesn’t want to be a writer but that his parents thought my workshop might help him develop his writing skills in preparation for high school. I hesitated…was this something he-himself genuinely wanted? But reading on about his love for reading and his uncertainty but openness to seeing what the workshop had to offer, I decided to offer him a spot. That his letter was clear and articulate and honest was a good sign. I publish the post here for the same reason that I wrote it, while there is no single way to parent and we are in this day and age sometimes in danger of over-parenting, there is so much negative written about young people, when I come across the opposite (and I do more often than the headlines suggest), I like to spotlight it. I initially headlined this piece ‘How to Raise a Remarkable Child’. I’m changing it for this post though and adjusting the text accordingly; to ‘one model of effective parenting’ because it is just that – ‘one model’ in a world where there is no single model but lots of opportunity.

All children are, of course, remarkable gifts to their parents, families, and all who love them. It’s all relative. But I’d watched Keondre collect 8 achievement trophies at his graduation ceremony and deliver a pitch perfect valedictory speech. And though I see some version of the ‘remarkable child’ at every graduation, there was no denying that he was among them. The question that lingered, perhaps because it’s a counter-point to the current narrative: who is this child and what are his parents doing right? So, I decided to ask them.

Keith and Julia Herbert are young professionals. He works in insurance and she works in banking. They have two sons. Keondre is the older of the two. When he graduated St. John’s Catholic Primary, it was with an average hovering somewhere between 97 to 98 percent, and with 52 merits and no demerits on his record.

Julia and Keith, both, initially gave most of the credit to Keondre. “What child does this?” she said. “I don’t know if it’s something we’re doing right,” he said. Both described Keondre as very self-disciplined, very competitive, and very organized. They don’t have to push him, he pushes himself.

Keondre Herbert, fourth from right, won the local competition in 2011 and finished second in Regionals.

Keondre Herbert, fourth from right, won the local competition in 2011 and finished second in Regionals.

But whether it’s winning performances at zonal math quizzes, Spellbound, the Rotaract Haliborange Spelling Bee (see above image from the Regional Bee), or a track meet, or reciting two lines in a school production, Julia said it’s important to her to be in the audience, supporting. Which kind of reinforces the point that no matter how much natural spark there is, there’s definitely more to the story; Julia breaks it down to balance, support, healthy eating, and listening.

Keondre’s family, including his extended family, created an environment that supported learning. “It’s not about things; it’s about time spent,” Julia said.

Support, though, should not be confused with pushing. Support is about being there for the child, pushing can be more about the parent. “I am there,” is how Julia describes her brand of support. Support should also not be confused with doing the heavy lifting for the child. I mentioned earlier that Keondre’s speech was pitch perfect; and Julia gives all credit to Keondre. Both parents looked over the speech and did some mild editing, but he had to write it.

Keondre seems to live a well ordered life. When he gets home from school, he does his home work. “You get it done and you get it over with, and then you can play.” Playtime includes a bit but not too much TV time, bed by 8, weekends free; and given how ordered the school year is, she believes in keeping summers virtually free. Keondre plays the keyboard, runs track – placing second, plays video games with his brother, goes biking with his dad, and so on. “I believe in balance, always,” Julia said.

She also believes in pacing. For instance, many parents grapple these days with technology; how much is too much, how much will they be exposed to once they hit the world wide web and so on. Some parents opt out as the children tend to be savvier with the technology anyway. Julia takes a different approach. “I gradually introduce them to technology so that they’re up to speed with it,” she said. She monitors it closely and isn’t afraid to roll it back – deactivating her son’s facebook when she became concerned with the online language, for instance.

“We pep talk him a lot, find out what he wants to be in life,” Julia said. “I’m not going to force him into something he doesn’t want to do.” The interesting thing about that statement: the finding out what he wants to do part, because it suggests that there’s listening involved. It’s important, Julia said, to “find out what they’re interested in and nurture them from there.”

At one point, speaking of what she wants for her sons’ future Julia said, “I’m going to put in the effort to make sure that they become something in life. I just want them to be successful, well rounded.” Our follow up, though was how do you define success; if it’s about listening to what they want, what they want might take them off the well beaten path. Julia insisted she would still support…but, the banking executive says she’d just want to be sure they’ve figured out how they’re going to support themselves, which is fair considering that parenting is a build-up to them being able to stand on their own two feet. “Happy and independent,” as she puts it.

Of course, the Herberts now have high school to look ahead to, the place where social pressures can lead a child astray. But Keith said, “I’m not overly worried because I’ve seen a sort of strength in him, a sort of determination that he is not easily influenced by others.” I suspect that having laid the ground work, if their premonition proves true, they’ll be able to take some credit for that as well.

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Developing your writing skills – lessons from Wadadli Pen

In 2004, the Wadadli Pen winner was Gemma George for her story Stray Dog Prepares for the Storm. According to judge D. Gisele Isaac, selection was far from easy; her emphasis was on rewarding creativity. The winning story had, she said, “the best combination of writing skills and storytelling …a good mix of philosophy, social commentary, humour…all the elements of a good story and added to the creativity, it was well written.”

Good, quality writing is always a plus in a writing competition. Isaac described 2005 winner Sandrena Martin’s The Torturer as an example of “smart…intelligent writing”.

In 2006, she urged the young writers to focus on our distinctiveness so that there is not a feeling of ‘anywhere’ and ‘anyone’ about (their) work.” She encouraged them to “give free rein to their imagination”.  It was a year in which she commented on the dip in creativity. “Many of you decided to play it safe and rein in your imagination,” she chastised. “That is not what you should be doing.” The winning story Angelica O’Donoghue’s Road Trip to Paradise did not play it safe.

A reminder that it’s all in the details comes via Isaac’s comment on 2004 runner up Lia Nicholson’s story Tekin Ahn Dey. “I actually saw the event, I smelt, I heard the music, I felt it. It was very evocative. She managed to put me there.” The story is not just in what happens but how it is reported. The 2011 winner Devra Thomas’ Sands and Butterflies had chief judge Brenda Lee Browne praising the “natural dialogue” and “lovely pace” and in the case of the best story under 12 Orique Gordon’s The Lost Coin, the “nice rhythm”.

The flaw singled out in 2012 in the case of several entries was clichés and over writing.

I mention these notes re the good (creative, well written, grounded, imaginative, evocative, smart, surprising, well layered, well paced stories with rich detail and believable dialogue) and the could be better (playing it safe, being too vague, clichés, overwriting) because that’s how we grow.

It’s one of the reasons I’m doing the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project to work with interested young writers on building their skills, not just so that participants can do better in Wadadli Pen but so that they can better express themselves in life. I’m doing my best to ensure that cost is not an obstacle to participation and encourage you to take up the opportunity.

*Disclaimer: the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project is not a Wadadli Pen Project but both are run by the same person and both are concerned with empowering young people through the literary arts.

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

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