Tag Archives: Joanne C. Hillhouse

Reading Room and Gallery 40

Things I read that you might like too. Things will be added – up to about 20 or so – before this installment in the Reading Room and Gallery series is archived. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

REPORTS

“James uses vibrant colors and draws on Ethiopian Christian iconography in her work, an influence evident in the wide, almond-shaped eyes of the people she depicts.” – Antigua-descended, Bronx-artist Laura James work discussed in Fordham News’ Behind the Cover: Together We Rise by Laura James

“In an effort to fight conoravirus fears, Antigua-rooted artist Laura James posted a painting powered message of hope on Facebook …” – read more about it in the NY Daily News.

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“I knew I wanted magic and I knew I wanted magical realism.” – Leone Ross discusses her new book Popisho/This One Sky Day with Alicia O’Keeffe in The Bookseller. Read in full.

STORIES/SHORT FICTION

How to Marry an African President by Erica Sugo Anyadike – Wasafiri Magazine

“Your husband is no longer the authoritarian figure he was, tall, forbidding, back ramrod straight. His shoulders droop now, he falls asleep at the dinner table. Still he is respected and revered. What he says counts and he has crowned you his political heir.” – How to Marry an African President by Erica Sugo Anyadike

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“Carnival is much more than a show.” – Mario Picayo’s It Takes a Village read by Chef Julius Jackson

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“When she wakes up, she is alone on the back of a float, pieces of her costume missing and other pieces askew, and the mas yard is all but abandoned.”

This is an audio recording of my (Joanne C. Hillhouse) story Carnival Hangover as prepared for posting on the intersectantigua.com platform. It is read by Nneka Nicholas. Pay attention to the trigger warning.

INTERVIEWS/CONVERSATIONS

“I can’t think of any one favorite poem now. At present, I love the poetry of Dionne Brand, who is in many ways different from me politically. You know, she is an activist, LGBT, and we get on well, we talk well, I love her work. Somebody would want to know, how come I, kind of a conservative Christian, and this activist LGBT connect but we admire each other’s work. Our connection is the literature and writers we look to. I admire the vision and movements of her poetry.” – John Robert Lee in conversation with Andy Caul

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“I like to think of myself as a superhero.” – Ibtihaj Muhammad in conversation with Jewell Parker Rhodes (and vice versa)

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“I remember just really resenting how much my little body was policed as a child.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the birth of her feminism in this conversation on Bookshelfie.

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“I’m proud of this. I’m proud that I keep getting asked about the food… the challenge was to find different ways to make food beautiful, accessible, interesting, magical, multilayered.” – Leone Ross of Jamaica and Britain in conversation with American author Amber Sparks about her book Popisho/This One Sky Day.

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“I wasn’t able to kind of bring out those nuances enough but I hint at them. The idea that the urban gay person has access to a culture and support network that the rural Indian boy…does not have. …and it really does seem to spin on socio economic factors.” – Trinidad born author Ingrid Persaud in conversation with Grenada born author and editor Jacob Ross about her book Love After Love.

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“We have a governor who is attempting to sell the magic and again, they push it away; again, society says we will not have it.” – Jamaican writers Leone Ross and Marlon James in conversation about Ross’ new book – Popisho in the US; This One Sky Day in the UK.

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“My journey is my own and once I’m learning from it and growing from it, then it’s a success.” – Cherie Jones, Barbadian, author of How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, during the US Embassy celebrates World Book and Copyright Day with a Writers Book Chat featuring Cherie Jones ‘Inspiring Eastern Caribbean Female Writers’

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“The beautiful thing about the creative arts, isn’t it, if you’re doing the thing you’ve always done, then you’re not really creating. For me, as challenging as these new endeavours are, because I always like to experiment, you’re always trying to discover the boundaries not only of your talent, of the ideas that are in your mind, of your potential, of your ability to imagine the world…. as a writer, you don’t get to see the side work as much, but I feel that we do that as well…it’s always about challenging yourself, push your boundaries technically but also express, …for me the things that I’m trying to understand, or the things that I’m trying to explore.” – me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) in conversation for World Book and Copyright Day with artist and award winning poet Danielle Boodoo Fortune, of Trinidad and Tobago, who has illustrated my books Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and The Jungle Outside. We discuss the process of creating together.

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

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Mark the Date

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March 30, 2021 · 2:04 pm

A Little Christmas Present for You (From the Mailbox)

I haven’t shared a lot From the Mailbox since I started doing the Carib Lit Plus series incorporating a lot of stuff received in the mailbox(es) but I so enjoyed the interview below from Myriad Publications’ October 2020 mailing – an installment of its My Bookish Life series…this one with Canada based Jamaican poet (most recent poet laureate of Jamaica) Lorna Goodison, that I thought I’d share it in full (hope Myriad doesn’t mind – I’ll link you their website). Consider it a present to the loyal readers of the blog. Merry Christmas.

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My Bookish Life with…
LORNA GOODISON

Every week we’re talking to one of our writerly or bookish friends, getting a little insight into their daily lives.
This week we’re joined by Lorna Goodison, author of nine collections of poetry, three collections of short stories and an award-winning memoir. Her first-ever collection of essays, Redemption Ground (Myriad), interweaves the personal and political to explore themes that have occupied her working life.



Have you been writing during these strange times, and are you generally managing to stay creative?
My husband Ted and I returned from London on March 9th and went straight into self-isolation. Except for my recent visit to see relatives in Jamaica, we’ve been at home in Halfmoon Bay, British Columbia ever since. For the first six weeks I mostly read books I’d been meaning to read and re-read for a while. I fell asleep many nights reading sections of William Wordsworth’s Prelude and Derek Walcott’s Another Life, hoping some of the pastoral settings in those poems would find their way into my anxious dreams. But then I began to feel uncomfortably full of words and images and that for me is always a signal that I should start paying attention to my own work. Since then I’ve written seven or eight new poems, and I’ve done extensive revisions to a new collection that I hope will be out in 2021. I’ve also done a few small watercolours, so I guess I am managing to stay creative.

Do you have advice for anyone feeling creatively, or mentally, squashed right now, and what’s helping you to focus?
Everyone I know is simply doing the best they can to keep going through these dread times. Some days are more difficult to get through than others, and at the end of those really difficult days I tend to feel as if I’ve completed a heroic set of tasks if I manage to make lunch and dinner, do laundry, write a poem, watch some TV, listen to music, speak to friends or family on the telephone, and eventually fall into bed having managed to wash up and change into pyjamas. Yay! Made it through another day. I recommend lashings of gratitude as an antidote to feeling mentally squashed. Gratitude and sending cards and letters and emails and such to anyone you think might be in need of a word of kindness right now.

What are your small daily comforts?
Small daily comforts include sitting by the seaside if the weather is reasonable and just breathing in the clean salt air. I like to cook, and so most days I try to make something delicious that will fill the house with good smells and cause us to look forward to dinner. We have an excellent fish shop in the town of Sechelt, and the couple who run it are good friends of ours. Most evenings we are blessed to have really fresh fish. I miss Jamaican food, so most mornings I make myself some green banana porridge with coconut milk. Very comforting. Maybe I’ll try to write a cookbook.

Do you have a good view from your window?
It’s a toss up between the view of the front yard where Ted grows gorgeous roses, and there is a wonderful marble carving – titled the Apuan Buddha done by Canadian sculptor Kent Laforme – and the back yard which faces the sea. The sea where we sometimes see whales go by, and where seals come and keep me company when I sit down by the shore to write. Both views are amazing.

What are you looking forward to, either in the world of writing and books or the wider picture?
I am looking forward to hugging and hugging and hugging everyone that I have not been able to hug, especially my son, Miles. Kisses too. Looking forward to giving and receiving hugs and kisses. I am also looking forward to going to the theatre, to museums and art galleries, to being able to give readings of my work and to attend readings and performances by writers and artistes I admire, like the wonderful writers in New Daughters of Africa, edited by my dear friend Margaret Busby, and published by Myriad.

With thanks to Ted Chamberlain for the photo of Lorna’s desk.

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The email asks, what does your bookish life look like right now and, honestly, this week has been a struggle. I lost traction on a client edit when my computer went in to the computer doc – reinforcing the fact that after only a year, I need a new one (and these manufacturers are slipping or maybe they’re doing exactly what they want by making and selling computers with a half life at best). I couldn’t focus enough to read much of anything, so I managed only a few pages (or maybe the same page over and over) of my book in progress. Faye Kellerman’s Cold Case (which I am mostly sure is a re-read). But, perhaps because writing pulls me in when I’m spiraling, I filled almost an entire notebook with words after not writing consistently for many months (beyond inch by inch edits to my short story collection in progress). I don’t know what it is yet, if anything, as I’ve had false starts before, but these characters have been doing what characters do when they mean to stick around. Fingers crossed. By the way, this happened in the week that news dropped that my book Musical Youth, a Burt award winning title, was named by Kirkus Reviews, which previously gave it a starred review, as one of the top 100 indie books they reviewed this past year, and one of its top (much shorter list) indie romances.

This blog is maintained by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, and author Joanne C. Hillhouse. Content is curated, researched, and written by Hillhouse, unless otherwise indicated. Do not share or re-post without credit, do not re-publish without permission and credit. Thank you.

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Reading Room and Gallery 38

Things I read that you might like too. Things will be added – up to about 20 or so – before this installment in the Reading Room and Gallery series is archived. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

Read the winning entries Wadadli Pen Challenge entries, a mix of poetry and short fiction, with some visual art, through the years.

THE BUSINESS 

INTERVIEW/DISCUSSION

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– Joanne C. Hillhouse Catapult Caribbean Creatives Online #catapultartsgrant #AskMeAnything Q & A with readers

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Antiguan and Barbudan writers discuss To Shoot Hard Labour by Keithlyn and Fernando Smith as part of a month long reading series featuring the book. The series was produced by Beverly George for Observer Radio’s Voice of the People.

REPORTING

Excerpts, in no particular order, from Caribbean Time Bomb author Robert Coram’s A Reporter at Large: Ancient Rights in The New Yorker, 1989:

“Joseph, like most of the divers, is fond of having a drink now and then, and he is fond of rum, but he will not touch Cavalier rum, because it is made on Antigua.”

“And although the Barbudans had long ago learned to live together, so that there was little need for a judicial system, they were now technically bound by the laws of Antigua.”

“But the Antiguans, who saw Barbuda as a poor and backward island, did not want to finance medical facilities, schools, clergy, and courts on Barbuda.”

“The island is also ridiculed because the people are different; their quirky individuality standing out even in the Caribbean.”

“Barbudan slaves (enslaved Barbudans – my edit) even used Codrington boats to send their livestock and the fresh meat from their poaching to Antigua, and in 1829 the Codringtons’ island manager wrote of Barbudan slaves (enslaved Barbudans – my edit) wrote of Barbudan slaves, ‘They acknowledge no master, and believe the island belongs to themselves.’”

“Until 1961, when regular air traffic from Antigua began, it could take a week to reach Barbuda, even from Antigua.” – read the full article here: New Yorker 06 Feb 1989 

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‘It was in form four, he says, that his work began to acquire an especially grim, menacing glint, layered with violence, tones of the macabre, and an arsenal of baleful sexual suggestion. His father, who dutifully printed off copies of the stories at work, gave him a sage kernel of advice that Hosein has never forgotten: “Even if you writing smut, keep writing. Just be careful of who you showing it to.”’ – Shivanee Ramlochan on Kevin Jared Hosein in Caribbean Beat

ESSAYS/NON-FICTION 

– Yvonne Weekes reading from her volcano themed memoir

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“Georgetown is where some 90% of the population live today. We shouldn’t really be here. But in the 1700s, Dutch colonisers, bringing technology from their own low-lying country, decided to drain the swampy coast and install a ‘polder’ system of canals, sluice gates (known locally as kokers) and dams to cultivate sugar and other crops on the fertile land. Historian Dr Walter Rodney estimated that, in doing so, enslaved Africans were required to move 100 million tonnes of soil by hand. Ever since then, the sea has been trying to reclaim the land that was taken from it.” – Life on Stilts: Staying Afloat in Guyana by Carinya Sharples

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“We are unwitting victims of a larger global issue beyond our control.” – from After the Aftermath: Hurricane Dorian by Bahamian writer Alexia Tolas

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‘In “Winged and Acid Dark,” Hass tells us directly what happens to the woman in Potsdamer Platz in May 1945, but he does this direct telling circuitously. The poet approaches the idea, then “suggests” the rape. Note the second stanza: “the major with the swollen knee, / wanted intelligent conversation afterward. / Having no choice, she provided that, too.” The poem suggests the before by describing the “afterward” and by describing what the woman has to do “too.” Later in the poem, Hass describes the prying open of her mouth and the spitting in it, and lets these moments stand for much more. The lightning strike of this poem, the one we would expect at least, would be a graphic description of the rape, and yet, Hass soothes us on that front while delivering alternatively terrifying truths. The thing we prepare ourselves for, because we’ve heard that old war story repeated so many times, is only alluded to. Instead, Hass focuses on something else we are surprised by and therefore have to hear.’ – Tell It Slant: How To Write a Wise Poem by Camille T. Dungy

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“I wanted not simply to record but to interrogate what was happening and my response to it, to use poetry the way it can function at its utilitarian best: offering ways of seeing, of examining, of challenging complacency, and of contextualising the current situation within broader life considerations. …I am surprised at what I am doing because I normally spend a huge amount of time thinking about, writing, and then editing everything that I write before sending it into the world, so this speed of composing, followed by a click of Send and then almost immediate response is something new for me. I am less concerned with literary values or aesthetics than I am with memorializing the historic moment that I am living through. I want to capture the zeitgeist, literally, ‘the spirit of the time’.” – Cross Words in Lockdown by Olive Senior

“I would sit and talk to them, get to the essence of who they were…because it would help me to figure out how to write for them.” -Babyface

FICTION

“On his knees, hands behind his head, he asked for a cigarette. I gestured that he be given one. Our eyes met, we held each other’s gaze. What was he thinking? He must have been the same age as me. The same dark skin and stature. In another time, another place, we might have been neighbours, colleagues, friends. But here, now, he is one of them. ” – from The Debt by Nicholas Kyriacou

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“In later years when he lying in bed all by he self…” – Levar Burton reads ‘A Good Friday’ by Barbara Jenkins. You can read this and other stories in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean

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“Sunny stayed up the entire night, mopping the floors of her living room and bedroom as the heavy winds forced water through the shutters and windows. It was silly, in hindsight. The water was coming anyway, and fast. But she had to pass the time. Once every half hour or so, she would run to the hallway, frightened by the loud crashing noises from outside, anticipating that one of the shutters would give way and the kitchen window would burst wide open. They never did that night.” – Four Women at Night by Schuyler Esprit

POETRY

“A mother has just lost her son
A mother has just lost her son
A mother has just lost her son.” – reading by Curmiah Lisette, from her poem ‘The Bandits’, part of the CaribCation Caribbean Author Series

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“Speaking to you from St. Lucia…we have a strong literary tradition, anchored by our Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott.” – John R. Lee reading and discussing his lit and more in the CaribCation Caribbean Author Series

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“Somewhere or other there must surely be
The face not seen, the voice not heard,
The heart that not yet—never yet—ah me!
Made answer to my word.” – from Somewhere or Other by Christina Rossetti

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“But grief,
it wrings out your soul-case” – Grief by Yvonne Weekes in Barbados’ Arts Etc.

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“My iPhone keeps me company.
Plays music for me, shows pictures
of friends, what they’re thinking.
Lights up the dark when I’m missing you,
brings other poets’ words with a touch.” – from ‘April 2020’ by Julie Mahfood (Jamaican in Canada) in the Jamaica Gleaner’s Meeting Ground: Poems in the Time of COVID-19

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‘Like other poets of the Harlem Renaissance, McKay, though a powerful advocate of black liberation, took the dominant “voice” of traditional culture, mastered it and made it accommodate his different ways of seeing, his visions and his anger. The fusion of urban realism with more traditional Romantic tropes in Harlem Shadows still leaves room for clear blasts of rage against “the wretched way / Of poverty, dishonor and disgrace”.’ – re poem of the week Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay (poem and analysis) 

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“She forgave grandma, then a single mother of six,
who fed her children with one hand
while choking them with the other.” – from Mother Suffered from Memories by Juleus Ghunta in Anomaly 28

This blog is maintained by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, and author Joanne C. Hillhouse. Content is curated, researched, and written by Hillhouse, unless otherwise indicated. Do not share or re-post without credit, do not re-publish without permission and credit. Thank you.

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Wadadli Pen Diary – Three Interviews

How are you doing out there? You okay? It is the kind of time you read about but never imagine you’ll live through  but here we are, and all we can do is hang in there, resolved that this too shall pass.

Meantime, if you’re looking for a bit of distraction, you’ve come to the right place. Not the 2020 Challenge results, not yet; though we hope you’ve checked out the short list to see who’s still in the running.

What we have here though is three recent media interviews with three members of the Wadadli Pen family. In case you missed it.

First up, D. Gisele Isaac, co-founder of Wadadli Pen and a long time patron. She got some really good news this past week after a 6 year legal ordeal; we’re hoping this means she can turn her attention to more literary works. Because her underrated Considering Venus was groundbreaking for its time – a 1990s Caribbean book that was really progressive on love, sexuality, and gender in its telling of the story of love between two women. She went on to pen Antigua and Barbuda’s first and second feature films, The Sweetest Mango and No Seed. Her interview is from her visit to ABS TV’s Tuesday series, the Book Reading Corner.

Second, Barbara Arrindell, manager of the Best of Books which has supported the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize from the earliest years, but, in addition, she has become a core team member/Wadadli Pen partner. But did you know she was also a writer – a playwright of one of the most produced staged plays (Dreams…Faces…Reality)  in Antigua and Barbuda, and of two books for children (Antigua My Antigua and The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories), among other things. The Listen to Me club leader, former Caribbean Optimist leader, and founding member of Trees Inc 2020, among other community activities, is also a recent Women of Wadadli awardee as a change maker. She talks about some of this (plus the contract she just signed for her first publisher-issued book, a huge milestone in #TheWritingLife) during her appearance on ABS TV’s Book Reading Corner (in this repeat-posting).

Third and last, me, Joanne C. Hillhouse. I appeared on Antigua Today to discuss my Women of Wadadli Award for literature, my career as a writer (of books like The Boy from Willow Bend, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, among other things) and as the founder and coordinator of literary projects like the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize.

Videos shared under fair use terms. No copyright infringement is intended.

 

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WADADLI PEN 2020 CHALLENGE PATRONS

Revised between May 9th 2020 (the day the winners were announced) and May 11th 2020

The Wadadli Pen Challenge is the flagship project of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize which launched as a project to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda in 2004. It invites young Antiguans and Barbudans to tell their stories and rewards them for their efforts thanks to the philanthropy of individuals and the corporate community.  We couldn’t do this with out these patrons which change from year to year, though some have been consistently with us through the years. In 2020, we acknowledge and thank the following (plus unnamed patrons) for prizes contributed to the 2020 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge:

Barbara Arrindell
best-of-books-colouring-book-1

bestThe Best of Books Bookstore 

 

Brenda Lee Browne

 

 

 

 

 

CR_logo_transparent_large

Caribbean Reads

 

 

Cindys Cindy’s Bookstore

 

logo The Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda

The Cushion Club

dav

D. Gisele Isaac

Dr. Hazra Medica

Floree Williams Whyte
Yohan book

 

Seven SeasFrank B. Armstrong

 

 

 

Friends of Antigua Public Library – NY Inc.

HermitageHermitage Bay Antigua

Jane Seagull

Joanne C. Hillhouse
MUSICAL_YOUTH_Cover_FRONT_Final with-grace-cover Musical Youth

Juneth Webson

Webson gift

Lawrence Jardine

Paradise Vision Center Paradise Vision Center

Photogenesis

 

Sean Lyons

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). 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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Antiguan and Barbudan Author and Wadadli Pen Founder/Co-Ordinator on Young Adult Literature Panel at the Sharjah International Book Fair

“Sharjah 24: Young adult literature dominates bookstores these days. While the genre only began to gain momentum in the 1970s and ‘80s, but it has definitely gone through a growth spurt since then.

Deliberating on the topic was Science Fiction Writer Noura Al Nouman, and author of Ajwan, and Antiguan and Caribbean writer Joanne C Hillhouse whose penned several books in this genre like, The Boy from Willow Bend.

While the discussion reflected on concerns surrounding the current reading patterns among children and young adults, it also touched on the overriding influence of the digital media. While today’s teens have come of age with smartphones in their pocket, compared to teens a couple of decades ago, its equally true that the way they interact with traditional media like books and movies is fundamentally different.

Sharing her thoughts on the issue was Joanne who said, “Internet to video games, there is a lot more that’s pulling children’s attention now. If you find the right story, then any young person would be inclined to sit there and take it in, because film, television, movies, video games they are all stories and I am yet to meet a child who doesn’t like stories”.

(Read the full article at Sharjah24.ae Also read at the official SIBF websiteGulf  News and UAE News).

Joanne also visited the Gulf Model School (pictured below first with the principal then with the students) and participated in a panel on the New Daughters of Africa book with editor Margaret Busby and co-contributor Ella Wakatama Allfrey (third picture below):

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Antigua & Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed X

This picks up where the previous installments of Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed pages left off (use the search feature to the right to dig them up). As with those earlier pages, it features reviews about A & B writings that I come across as I dig through my archives or surf the web. You’re welcome to send any credible/professional reviews that you come across as well. They’re not in any particular order, I just add them as I add them; some will be old, some will be new. It’s all shared in an effort to underscore, emphasize, and insist on Antigua and Barbuda’s presence in the Caribbean literary canon.

Musical Youth is beautifully written. It is a pride to Caribbean young adult fiction. Though it addresses a strong and very real social issue, the writer skillfully educates you while she takes you back to the innocence of school days in the Caribbean.” – Vanessa Salazar at Poui Publishing and Productions

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“This sweeping and engaging novel addresses a multitude of issues including the social, political, cultural, romantic, religious, economic, and indeed ideological and psychological understandings relating to the villagers of Sea View Farm….Speaking of men and women, Oh Gad! is populated with a brilliant and striking cast of characters.” – ‘Oh Gad! A Pastoral Panorama of Fictional Narratives’ by Mali Olatunji, aesthetician who worked for 21 years as one of three fine arts photographers at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; co-author of The Art of Mali Olatunji: Painterly Photography from Antigua and Barbuda – in the 2014 edition of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books

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“I give it an A+ for (among other things) capturing in a very interesting way the tentative attraction and growing relationship of boy and girl in the teen years, as well as affirmation of how friends can help one another over some of the uncertainties and humps of those turbulent years.” – children and YA author, Jamaican Hazel Campbell (RIP) re Musical Youth

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“Hillhouse’s authorial voice is lyrical and descriptive. The interactions of this extended and blended family, along with their respective communities in Antigua and the United States provide a range of interesting perspectives that are expressed in characteristic dialogue of their regions. The universe of this novel is not only populated with intergenerational and multi-cultural characters but also with connections to ancestors and newborns. Compellingly, the complexity and depth of Oh Gad! is well disguised as easy beach reading with the usual soap opera formula of romance, political intrigue, family feuds, and the like. In this way, Hillhouse masterfully transports us back and forth from our modernity into the mythic yet real seat of Antiguan culture. What we find there is fascinating.” – Leah Creque-Harris in Caribbean Vistas FULL REVIEW HERE

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“It’s well written, characters well drawn, all the things one would expect. I enjoyed it. Most important, I think the YA readers will enjoy it.” – Diane Browne re Musical Youth

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“I have to admit that I was once weary of reading Caribbean fiction because they tend to get dark quickly and I don’t read books to be depressed. I am pleased to say that Joanne’s Musical Youth was refreshing and uplifting.” – Marsha Gomes-McKie

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“If I had to qualify this story … I would say it’s authentically Caribbean.” –  my insaeng, my vie on Musical Youth

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“The story is fast paced and engaging, a writer doing an excellent job with her tools of trade…”- Petamber Persaud in the Guyana Chronicle on Musical Youth

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The relationship between Shaka and Zahra is fused by music, loss, and a search for personal identity. As a writer, Hillhouse brilliantly manages to weave their story of personal growth so effortlessly that the great energy between the two creates sparks.” – Camille L. Cortes Lopez, University of Puerto Rico in The Caribbean Writer Volume 30, 2016 (on Musical Youth)

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“I applaud her for her commitment to her roots, and while Elizabeth Nunez claims that Hillhouse is “a pretty brave soul” (NPR Books), I regard Hillhouse as the visionary who prepares the soil for Antigua and Barbuda’s future literary scene.” – from a 2017 paper presented at the Antigua Conference by Valerie Knowles Combie 

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“Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Musical Youth is an excellent portrayal of two young people’s coming-of-age in their native Antigua and Barbuda. Narrated through the author’s brilliance as an observer of youth and as a prose stylist, the book describes the collective involvement of cultural pride with commitment and leadership to produce a meaningful life for an island community.…This coming-of-age story is grounded and set in the author’s native Antigua and Barbuda, with its idiosyncracies and cultural activities, which are at the novel’s core.…The unforgettable themes, setting, language, and actions make this coming-of-age story a must read.” – Rite of Passage Enhanced through Community Involvement by Valerie Knowles Combie in the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 10 Number 1 Summer 2017

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Reviews of works by Jamaica Kincaid, Althea Prince, Marie Elena John, and Joanne C. Hillhouse en espanol (attempted translations of excerpts below).

“Never in my life have I met a female protagonist like the one in Autobiography of My Mother…I was fascinated.” (re Jamaica Kincaid)

“This author explores being Black and the political and social considerations that this entails. In fact, she edited a very cool book called In the Black: New African Canadian Literature that I have been using to select my authors…she has a book called Ladies of the Night. I really didn’t love it but I find it an interesting book. The stories revolve around women who are in very different social conditions and situations. Some of the stories are set in Antigua and Barbuda and others are located in Canada. Worth reading.” (re Althea Prince)

“When I approached this book, I came across a well done family saga…I really liked the aspects of miscegenation, mysticism…in general very good.” (re Marie Elena John’s Unburnable)

“It is a very cute little book about a seal that has an adventure at sea and it was very nice to find an author who doesn’t underestimate children in a way of approaching the subjects…it was quite refreshing to find in this book a little bit of that search for identity and find a place in this beautiful and vast world. It also talks about self-discovery and respect for differences. They are important issues.” (re Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Lost a Caribbean Sea Adventure)

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“In reality, however, much like “Girl,” Party has layers. It functions as a subtle message about what it means to witness horror to such a degree that we lose our language for it; it is a quiet story about coming of age, suddenly, as a young black girl because of what the world shows us. It is about the many words our silence can hold, the way our absences can ring as loudly and discordantly as the words we do feel able to say.” Party review at Lit Hub

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“Published in 2017, the short story ‘The Other Daughter’ by Joanne C. Hillhouse fits the literary movement we call Postmodernism. Postmodernist works can be recognised through themes, context, and narrative techniques. In ‘The Other Daughter’, we notice that the author explores the theme of feeling like an outcast, isolated from the world one lives in, which is often explored in postmodernist stories.

In terms of postmodernist narrative techniques, ‘The Other Daughter’ plays around with the distinction between fact and fiction by letting the narrator tell two different versions of the same story, but at the same time letting the reader know that one version is fictional. Playing around with the ordinary rules of storytelling like this is very typical for postmodern works.” – this is not a review, it is, however, a summary, analysis, themes and messages, and perspectives of elements of the story and its structure at studienet.dk (related: Denmark has included the story as a question in its national assessment for secondary school); read the original story at Adda

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Joanne C. Hillhouse (author and Wadadli Pen founder, coordinator, and blogger) reviews Asha Frank’s Dreamland Barbuda: in her scripted Blogger on Books series

Excerpt: “Dreamland Barbuda is a quick read (very quick, with roughly 2/3s of it being taken up by the bibliography and appendices), and for this time in the history of Antigua and Barbuda, an essential one.”

And in her new vlog series #BookChat #Unscripted

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Meanwhile, in Good Book News

This past week we’ve reported on Caribbean poets Ishion Hutchinson and Kwame Dawes, both of Jamaica, winning the same lucrative literary prize; the broadcast of Angles of Light 2 ; and more good news for our community. But there’s even more great things like…

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posted by @waywivewordz on twitter.

The release of New Daughters of Africa, which includes my story Evening Ritual and 199 other writers from across the African diaspora – some well known, some of us lesser known (or a lot less known) but all thrilled to be a part of a publication which follows 25 years on from the original Daughters of Africa. “New Daughters of Africa has been a truly collaborative venture: writers steered me in the direction of others whose work they admire. Altogether, more than 200 writers from more than 50 countries contributed work to the new anthology, from Margo Jefferson to Ayòbámi Adébáyò, Malorie Blackman to Yrsa Daley-Ward. New Daughters of Africa begins with some important entries from the 18th and 19th centuries – a reminder that later generations stand tall because of those who have gone before.” – from an article by editor Margaret Busby (second from left in the image above) in The (UK) Guardian. Here’s an excerpt from a review in The Irish Times: ‘A major theme throughout the anthology is restoring a history of African feminist lineage. “When someone says that feminism isn’t African, we are reminded that we do not have the historical proof to show how continuous our presence is on the continent,” writes Finnish-Nigerian journalist Minna Salami. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, another Nigerian and the celebrated author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah, passionately describes her great-grandmother, who she is sure was a feminist, whether or not she used that word for it.’

The return of the Nobel Prize for Literature (which you’ll remember has been won by two recently departed Caribbean writers – Derek Walcott and V. S. Naipaul) announcing plans to announce two winners this year after taking a year to re-group. ‘In an effort to restore public confidence in the Nobel Prize for Literature, the academy has changed the system by which the Nobel Committee arrives at its decisions. The academy has appointed five independent external members to add a new perspective to the decision. The independent committee will participate in selecting Nobel laureates and submit its own joint proposal for the winner. The new system will be used to pick the 2018 and 2019 laureates. The foundation emphasized that the academy has “taken a number of important steps to deal with the problems that arose late in 2017, and more are planned.” According to the foundation’s release, “the organizational structure has been clarified and the Academy intends to practice greater openness, for example concerning its finances.” The academy also plans to study how to handle member expulsions in the future, as well as introducing time limitations on academy membership.’ – from an article in Publisher’s Weekly

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Ingrid Persaud reading from her book in progress at an event in Barbados in 2018.

News of a bidding war for the forthcoming novel of Trinidad born, Barbados and UK based writer, Ingrid Persaud, a recent winner of several major short fiction awards. ‘Faber has acquired the debut from BBC Short Story winner Ingrid Persaud to be a superlead for 2020 following a seven-publisher auction. Love After Love was described by Faber as “a major work of fiction”, to be published as a superlead for Faber, published in spring 2020. Louisa Joyner, editorial director at Faber, concluded a deal for UK and Commonwealth Rights to the debut following a seven-way auction with Zoë Waldie at Rogers, Coleridge and White (RCW) with Waldie securing several international deals ahead of the London Book Fair next week (12th-14th March) with deals with Gyldendal in Norway and Gyldendal in Denmark, offers in Italy and others expected shortly.’ – from thebookseller.com 

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, and author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Oh Gad!, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All rights reserved. Subscribe to this site to keep up with future updates.

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Antigua & Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed IX

This picks up where the previous installments of Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed pages left off (use the search feature to the right to dig them up). As with those earlier pages, it features reviews about A & B writings that I come across as I dig through my archives or surf the web. You’re welcome to send any credible/professional reviews that you come across as well. They’re not in any particular order, I just add them as I add them; some will be old, some will be new. It’s all shared in an effort to underscore, emphasize, and insist on Antigua and Barbuda’s presence in the Caribbean literary canon.

mr potter“As in her previous books, Kincaid has exquisite control over her narrator’s deep-seated rage, which drives the story but never overpowers it and is tempered by a clear-eyed sympathy.” – Publisher’s Weekly reviews Jamaica Kincaid’s Mr. Potter

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my garden“Kincaid (who last year edited the anthology My Favorite Plant) shuttles constantly and with ease between the practical, technical difficulties of gardening and the larger meanings it makes available.” – Publisher’s Weekly reviews Jamaica Kincaid’s My Garden

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see now then“In her first novel in a decade, Kincaid (Autobiography of My Mother) brings her singular lyricism and beautifully recursive tendencies to the inner life of Mrs. Sweet, who is facing the end of her marriage, and who, over the course of the book, considers the distinctions between her nows and her thens, particularly when recounting what was while the memories bleed with a pain that still is.” – Publisher’s Weekly reviews Jamaica Kincaid’s See Now Then

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Lucy“This is a slim book but Kincaid has crafted it with a spare elegance that has brilliance in its very simplicity. Lucy’s is a haunting voice, and Kincaid’s originality has never been more evident.” – Publisher’s Weekly reviews Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy

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June 4 2019“This send-up of the Nancy Drew mysteries by Kincaid first appeared as a 1980 New Yorker story about a gala celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first book’s publication. Here, Kincaid’s piece is recast as a picture book with dramatic artwork by Cortés…Detailed, almost photographically realistic portraits of girls and partygoers by Cortés, shown against marble architectural backdrops that suggest the New York Public Library, engage throughout…A gem.” —Publishers Weekly reviews Jamaica Kincaid’s Party: a Ministry

“From the first pages, we are witnessing the ravages of colorism. It plays on the perception we have of ourselves, it plays on our perception of others and on the perception that others have of us. The subtlety of Joanne Hillhouse has been to address the issue from several points of view by highlighting different aspects depending on the character involved.” – Musical Youth reviewed by My insaeng, ma vie (My insaeng, my life)

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TamekaViewfinder[1]“Featuring an attractive pair of lovebirds, Dinner is a sweetly poetic and vivid 12-minute verse-to-screen clip from an Antiguan writer/director with an appealing, if slightly provocative, voice. It’s a small film with a big heart that explores intimate love, employing a slyly clever approach – cloaked in the guise of meal preparation. While getting dinner ready a radiant young lady (played by Jarvis-George, who also provides a lyrical voice-over) is surprised by the early arrival home of her virile Rastafarian man, and before you can say ‘Come and get it’ a dining of a totally different variety plays out on-screen. Shot in vibrant hues by a surprisingly steady camera, Dinner is romp that ends all too quickly, but it was tastefully delightful while it lasted.” – Tallawah magazine on the Tameka Jarvis-George penned, voiced, and acted, short film, directed by Christopher Hodge and filmed and co-produced by Cinque Productions. Watch the whole film here.

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Dadli“an entrancing sensorial experience, an impressionistic assemblage of assorted shots of people, places, and things…Dadli draws its power from the cumulative effect of its imagery, the camera capturing everyone and everything it sees with a piercing empathy.” – Caribbean Beat on Shabier Kirchner’s short film Dadli

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the circuit“Phillips keeps the pages turning with an easy yet exacting style and keen observations.” – The Atlantic reviews Rowan Ricardo Phillip’s The Circuit

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Dancing Nude in the Moonlight ‘What makes the book a true pleasure is its political edge. Hillhouse arms the characters with larger social conflicts that far outshine the romance. Selena personifies the uphill struggle against sexism, violence, and stereotypes placed on Latin women in predominantly Black Caribbean countries: “that they all looked and dressed like whores, all wanted their men (as if…!) and were good for nothing more than a wild night.” Michael is the target of shadeism and anti-Black racism from members of Selena’s and his own family — all while struggling to keep employed amidst government corruption and few economic options on the island.’ – Broken Pencil reviews Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Dancing Nude in the Moonlight: 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings

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