Tag Archives: Joy Lapps

A & B Artistes Discussing Art

Primarily, in this space, I’ll be sharing discussions, in Question and Answer format, of craft, and insights to not only the author/artist’s journey but the story of the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. This is a Work in Progress. The main criteria, so far, for inclusion, apart from the Q & A structure and the arts/art history focus, is that these are interviews not conducted by someone who is part of the artistes’ publishing and/or promotional team, and are interviews that are in the public sphere on a platform independent of the artistes and/or their publishing and promotional team. Beyond that, it’s what I come across and you can also link me interviews that fit the very broad stated criteria by emailing wadadipen at gmail dot com

A

“One of the early writings I did was a play called Dreams…Faces…Reality…and that play was actually performed over 25 times in Antigua and Barbuda… it was used as a tool to help students in the schools understand everything concerning HIV/AIDS.” – Barbara Arrindell with ABS TV (2020)

“Nellie Robinson, Dame Nellie Robinson is listed somewhere in our history as being the first chairperson of the artists association of Antigua and Barbuda, but so is a lady named Elizabeth Pickney…back in 17something… I found one in the 18th century too… we’ve had an artists association here many times and it’s been so far apart that each person thinks of themselves as the first chairperson of… in terms of history, there’s a book called A Brief History of Antigua written by Brian Dyde. Brian Dyde wrote brief histories for about four or five islands around the Caribbean, if it was five, four of them are still in print, guess which one is not in print, the other four were taken on and used in the school systems in the other islands, guess which one they couldn’t even sell one print run for…?” – Barbara Arrindell in conversation with Dorbrene O’Marde, Heather Doram, and Joanne C. Hillhouse on Observer Radio (2017). Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.

“I don’t really have a routine, I just take advantage of times when I don’t have anything to distract me, when I can get stuck into writing for as long as I want. I like to write with my feet cocked up on a comfortable sofa, and a good view in front of me. We have a small apartment in the old walled city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, which looks out onto a plaza with trees, a few birds singing, passing salsa music, and sounds of people chatting and relaxing. That’s my spot. When I am researching, of course, it’s different: if I’m not working online on the above-mentioned sofa, I’m usually sitting at a table in a research library somewhere in the Caribbean, or in Cornwall.” –  Sue Appleby, author of The Cornish in the Caribbean (2019) 

“If I was to specify what path I’m on and what matters to me the most I think it would be inspiring people…I have a reservoir of information that I could then pass on.” – Sonalli Andrews, graphic designer in conversation with Joanne C. Hillhouse for her column CREATIVE SPACE (2020)

“At the time we did not know we were doing pioneering work in film. There was no pressure to get everything right. It was only after we began doing the film festival circuit did we learned it was not only the first indigenous feature film for Antigua and Barbuda but in fact the Eastern Caribbean. Some intellectuals thought our first film should have had more ‘grit’ dealing with social issues.” – Mitzi Allen in discussion with Karukerament about The Sweetest Mango, written by D. Gisele Isaac, directed by Howard Allen, with Allen as producer and Joanne C. Hillhouse as associate producer. The Sweetest Mango was Antigua and Barbuda’s first feature length film. 2020.

‘I was literally born into the theatre. My parents met each other through the Antiguan drama company “Harambee Open Air Theatre”… and since then they have both always nurtured the love and appreciation for the arts, exposing me to varying types of performances, including visiting ensembles to the island, and performances whenever I traveled. I remember my father taking me to see Cats on Broadway at a young age…it was exciting, and just cemented the fact that that was what I wanted to do with my life … perform and create productions that would make people feel the way I felt as a child sitting in that theatre. My mom then enrolled me in a drama programme called Child’s Play, under renowned Jamaican dramatist and storyteller Amina Blackwood-Meeks.’ – Zahra Airall talking to The Uncaged Phoenix (2018)

Glenroy Aaron participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Heather Doram, Emile Hill, Mark Brown, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): “To be honest, I have learned a lot more about the Antiguan aesthetic from this conversation than from my years of observing art in Antigua. I say this because there is so little indigenous Antiguan art to observe, and historic recording of it is also quiet faint. My art is basically an attempt to capture the beauty around me and the moments in which they occur. My techniques and methods continue to evolve as exploring New continues to excite. Forays outside my comfort zone to explore deeper emotions have produced interesting results; with some apprehension as to the commercial viability of such ventures. The balance between creativity and viability is tricky but can be done, as others have found ways to make it work. Themes and scenes indigenous to an artist’s place of birth will ultimately make its way onto an artist’s canvas but considering the fusion of influences and cultures that have existed on the islands for some time now, an Antiguan aesthetic may be a bit difficult to define. Further, holding that many view art as a visual expression of the artist’s thoughts and emotions, we can appreciate that some of these ideas and emotions may not be “local” in scope.” Read in full.

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“When I climbed down into the landing craft, my sketchbook was out, I was sketching men climbing down the ladder. And when we were on the beach I was drawing the men in the foxholes.” – Ashley Bryan talking about being an artist while doing active duty during World War II on The Story on American Public Media. 2013.

“When I was growing up there was the WPA…a programme the government set up for free schools in art and music for all the communities throughout the United States and my parents with six children…sent us all out to the free classes, so we were all painting and drawing and playing the piano… I was not able to get a scholarship (to art school) because they said it would be a waste to give a scholarship to a black person.” – Ashley Bryan talking to BBC Sounds about his early development as an artist.

Tammi Browne Bannister talking to David DaCosta (December 28th 2016):
“When I was little, I loved reading Aesop’s Fables and was attracted to the humor, the lessons, and the tragedies and of course the way these tales made me think about the characters long after reading. I’ve written a few.” Full interview.

“It took coming here to see that my voice was a voice that needed to be heard.” – Brenda Lee Browne, Real Talk with Janice Sutherland at Phenomenal Woman. 2018.

Mark Brown participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Heather Doram, Emile Hill, Glenroy Aaron, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): “I view art making as a human activity which cannot be defined as mine or yours, and this is based on the type of work which I engage in. My work, in my mind, is about responding to stimuli, that act of engaging with my feelings about my environment, religion, identity, sexuality, all of which most, if not every human being faces at some point in life. As a result, for me Antiguan Art, like Art elsewhere, is individual voices singing their own tune. Of course we may use objects specific to our culture [that have] distinct meaning but many times these same objects may have a different name in another culture and [be] used in different contexts, but then it is also specific then to that locale. How else do we explain lending your voice in paint or any other medium to a specific issue in a way that you deem visceral and then later on somewhere else, Google for instance, you discover another artist on the opposite side of the globe exploring the very same idea in very similar ways. To me it is just the act of discovering, in visual format, that which is buried deep within with the ultimate aim of finding out the real reason for my being “here” and at this time.” Read the full discussion here.

Mark Brown (2015) on Popreel, Swedish TV: “The main aim of the Angel in Crisis series was to bring a sort of humanness to people like her (the nun), priests, people who have to bear that burden of conforming to what society expects of them.” Interview begins at 7:35.

Jazzie B. talking with Chris Williams for Wax Poetics (May 14th 2014): “’Keep On Movin’ actually came about lyrically because we were at the Africa Center in Covent Gardens, and we were being put under a lot of pressure by the police. It was due to the fact that other clubs in the area were empty and ours kept being full. Every so often, we would get the squeeze put on us. At one particular moment, they threatened to close us down. The whole concept of this song came from there.” Full interview.

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A CREATIVE SPACE discussion on the domestic book market looks at which books are selling well and why.

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“In my current creative phase, I feel so invigorated, so inspired, so playful, and so expressive. As both an artist and a woman, I am exploring new spaces, taking on new challenges, transcending my past, and shaping my future.” – Heather Doram (2020 interview with findyello.com)

Heather Doram on Observer Radio in a discussion which also included Joanne C. Hillhouse, Barbara Arrindell, and Dorbrene O’Marde (October 2017): “My feeling is that I have lived under several administrations and I really do not get the feeling that there is that widespread support for the visual and performing arts…you just use them when you need them…we do not even have a national gallery in Antigua and Barbuda so we the artists are there producing work in sort of isolation. I’ve seen it in many other countries where the national gallery would commission work; this sort of spurs the whole generation and activity of work and then the artists start to feel that sense of involvement and that their art work can actually support them…the same thing I’m sure applies to the literary artist…something like the cultural development division should be that nexus of that sort of leadership, this is where the cradle is…I would really like to see more support for the arts generally.” Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.

Heather Doram participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Mark Brown, Emile Hill, Glenroy Aaron, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): “They were reactive and passionate. They were not satisfied with the realistic interpretation of the Antiguan landscape. They wanted to push boundaries, they wanted to produce work with the visual language of engagement with their audience. Many of their works responded to and explored social, political, gender issues and self. The younger generation sought to explore their roles as messengers in their visual language. I think artists like Mark [Brown], Emile [Hill], and Zavian [Archibald] can be included in this group. They are much more open to expressing themselves and exploring a range of media and techniques in their work.” Read the full discussion here.

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“Art is not just a commercial transaction. When an artist shows you their work, they’re showing you their soul, their heart, and what’s important to them.” – Debbie Eckert on Sweden’s Popreel (2018) – beginning roughly at 4:30

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Cray Francis talking with Good Morning Antigua Barbuda (April 5th 2016):
“I felt like I had to write my own stories.”

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“It’s always a burning passion but it’s not a fruitful burning passion. You do the arts cause you love it and you have something you want to say.” – Gayle Gonsalves (2020) on ABS TV

“I’m a Caribbean poet foremost, I was not born in the BVI. I was born in Trinidad to a BVIslander father and a Trinidadian mother. His mother is Antiguan, her mother is Grenadian. He grew up in Guyana, and I grew up in the BVI. Because of that chain of connections, I think that the vibrations that drive my work are deep in the currents of this sea, those currents that touch each island – I would invoke that famous image of Brathwaite’s from ‘Calypso’, ‘the stone had skidded arc’d and bloomed into islands’.” – Richard Georges in Pree. 2018.

“As far as my poetic horizons go, I try to let the tides tug me along, and trust that they will take me where I’m meant to go. I thought I’d write a book of poems and then move on to spend some time experimenting with fiction, but poems seem to keep coming. I think I have to trust that.” – Richard Georges in Caribbean Beat. 2017.

Linisa George reads and talks about ‘In the Closet’, which was the Antigua and Barbuda Poetry Postcard  for the UK series featuring works from the Commonwealth in time for the 2012 Commonwealth Games. “I’ve always been a poet…” she says, then explains the journey toward stepping in to that power. Link.

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“I wanted her to be blacker, I wanted her to be on the dark-skinned side of the spectrum and I wanted her to be natural, have natural (hair) …because part of it for me …in the world of children’s picture books we don’t see enough people at the darker end of the spectrum, especially as characters that children can feel affection for and love and recognize themselves in.”

Joanne C. Hillhouse in conversation with Trinidad writer-artist Danielle Boodoo Fortune in a World Book Day chat that involved audience questions.

“The Boy from Willow Bend is by any measure growing up in abject poverty and in an abusive situation, and yet there is laughter and yet there is love and yet there is hope and yet there is dreaming and fancifulness because that is life. Life is not just one thing. It’s a myriad of things, and so that’s what I try to capture of this young boy coming of age in Antigua in this particular time.” Joanne C. Hillhouse is the first National Public Library Author of the Month in January 2021

“For me they were people first and, of course, I had to research just how the world of the underwater would move, what I would need to know about arctic seals, what I would need to know about jellyfish, what I would need to know about sea turtles. So there was a lot of research in that regard. But in terms of the voices of the characters, they were children. They wanted to play and explore the ship, and, of course, Dolphin the Arctic Seal wants to get back home so he can tell his own adventuring grandmother about his own Caribbean sea adventure.” Joanne C. Hillhouse in 2020 self-made video on her own platform but with audience submitted questions for the #Catapultartsgrant (specifically a Catapult Caribbean Creative Arts Online grant). She answered questions submitted via social media about story, craft, theme in Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and all her books

“Songs are universal and you don’t even have to know the lyrics sometimes to feel it.”  –  Joanne C. Hillhouse discussing Musical Youth with gender advocacy group Intersect (2020)

“The first storytellers I knew were the calypso writers the Shelly Tobitts of the world,these were the people that taught me how to tell a story and how to tell Antiguan stories in particular.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse, ABS TV (2020)

Joanne C. Hillhouse interview on Caribbean Literary Heritage (June 2018): “Honestly, the first thing that flashed in to my mind is Antiguan and Barbudan calypso and Paul Keens Douglas – especially Tanty and Slim at the Oval – on the radio. Neither of which qualify as reading but which were foundational to my introduction to Caribbean literature. It’s there in Antigua and Barbuda’s King Obstinate’s Wet You Hand – a song which was fun and funny to me as a children and which I’ve used as an example of scene building and character description in my workshops, or in the way he knits the story of Anansi stealing the birds’ feathers into another of his songs – songs that did what Calypso did which was be bold-faced and satirical and reflective of our lives and our truth (especially the truths we didn’t dare speak) while bearing our unique brand of humour and matter of factness about life’s tragedies. It’s there in the writings of Shelly Tobitt – named for Romantic era poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; though I wouldn’t see the connection until college. A romantic idealist in his own right, or so his lyrics would suggest, as a child Shelly, the calypso writer and frequent collaborator of Antigua and Barbuda’s best calypsonian and inarguably one of the best the region has ever produced the Monarch King Short Shirt (who Dorbrene O’Marde writes about in his Bocas longlisted biography Nobody Go Run Me), was to me a poet who used the frustrations of the people to comment on economic, social, and political issues in a way that was deeply and enduringly philosophical, with melodies that captivated. So, the calypsonians and the oral tradition (including the jumbie stories) would have been my first reading of Caribbean writing.” Full interview.

“When Heather was culture director…I remember her starting a national collection where she commissioned pieces featuring Antiguan and Barbudan icons…what has become of that? What has been the continuity with respect to that national collection?… things like that, like you can have someone with a good idea start something… but there was no continuity, so if there’s no continuity it’s like you’re starting from scratch every time someone gets fired up and passionate about something so that’s the whole point…if you have that continuity then this person’s efforts will connect with that person’s efforts and we’ll have progression instead of starting from scratch every time…one of the things I do on the Wadadli Pen website is I have a project where I record the books that are put out and the plays and the songs that are put out by Antiguan and Barbudan creatives and there’s no shortage of stuff in the last 10 or so years, there’s a lot of people just feeling inspired and doing their own thing… there is stuff happening independently by artistes who feel inspired and creative but not by any system that’s giving them foundation or supporting their efforts.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse in conversation with Heather Doram, Dorbrene O’Marde, and Barbara Arrindell on Observer Radio (2017). Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.

Joanne C. Hillhouse talking to The Culture Trip (July 2017): “in The Boy from Willow Bend, Vere’s mother leaves Antigua for better economic and personal opportunities in the U.S., and Vere himself leaves at the end; in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Selena and her sisters move to Antigua from the Dominican Republic for better opportunities, and at some point one of the sisters moves away from there as well; in the story, ‘The Other Daughter’, the title character moves to the US for educational purposes. I don’t know if it holds significance to me (there are many stories in which people don’t leave) so much as being a reflection of the reality that movement is a part of the Caribbean existence—whether it’s to seek higher education, economic opportunities, or a different kind of life—the Caribbean diaspora (i.e. the number of Caribbean people no longer resident in here or in the Caribbean country of their birth) is significant. We are a region of small islands with intelligent and talented people, sometimes the desired opportunities to recognize our full potential or even the cover needed to brave the economic storms stirred up in bigger places isn’t there. So, it’s just a reflection of the reality, I think (but just one part of the reality that I write).” Full interview.

Joanne C. Hillhouse in the Meet the Writer series at Grab Life by the Lapels: “I just enjoy experimenting within the story writing form, short and long. Much of what I write is character driven and distinctively Caribbean with (I like to believe) universal resonance – because I do believe the stories that are about the human condition can cross over without having to be diluted.” Full interview. 2016.

Joanne Hillhouse in conversation with book blogger Geosi Gyasi (2015): “I don’t think about it like that. I just tell the story. Sometimes the protagonist is a child, sometimes a teen, sometimes an adult, sometimes an old person, sometimes a jelly fish named Coral. The writing is always character first, not audience. During the editing process that’s when I’m challenged, often by the assigned editor, to think about things like can the target age group for this picture book understand abstract thinking, do I maybe need to be more literal, more detailed, more specific, provide clearer resolution, like that.” Read the full interview.

Joanne C. Hillhouse on Popreel, Swedish TV (2015): “The characters come to me; they don’t always reveal their stories fully, so for me writing is a journey of discovery. I can’t always see where it’s going but I’m kind of wandering my way through it and trying to figure out what is it all about.” Interview starts here at 8:50.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t know any writers from here, from Antigua, until I discovered Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid; the writers from here that I knew, and I have great respect for them, were the calypso writers, people like Shelly Tobitt and Marcus Christopher, because when I was coming up, calypso was the literature that I would hear that had some relevance to my community, the other literature that we read was mostly from America or from Britain. So it was a while before I could wrap my mind around this idea that this was what I was called to do.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse (2015) on Bookworm, Swedish radio 

Joanne C. Hillhouse talking to M. J. Fievre at the Whimsical Project (November 21st 2014): “Calypso, the calypso at that time, sang the things people were afraid to say and reflected the concerns and reality of the folk, authentically, in their voice, in a way that stirred spirits. I think there’s a part of me that strives for that in my writing.” Full interview.

Joanne C. Hillhouse talking to Commonwealthwriters.org (2014): “I use a lot of detail, a lot of specificity in rendering the world, and I write from a very character-driven place – Who are they? What do they want? What is their truth (don’t compromise on telling their truth)? Why should we care?” Full interview.

Joanne C. Hillhouse is interviewed by Jamaican publisher-writer for Susumba (2013): “Honestly, I think it comes down to the material. I see publishing as the end game not the first step. Develop your craft, read a lot, experience life, write; these are more important. And when you’re ready do your research… take your shot, and don’t give up.” Full interview.

Emile Hill participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Heather Doram, Mark Brown, Glenroy Aaron, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): ‘Ok so I’m a bit of a texter (cell phone, social media etc.) and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself engaged in several conversations, all completely different subject matter and all requiring a different “Emile” to deal with each of them. And I think, in this day and age, this happens to most persons at some point in time. The series I’m working on presently deals with the “multi-sidedness” of human interaction and relationships. It’s caused me to ask myself some questions, looking at whether this is a means of masking the true self and why? Is Survival a reason? What makes us accommodate each other so, switching faces? Is the face we see real, fake (and sometimes, does it even matter)? With regards to the Antiguan and Barbudan aesthetic, I think that every artist’s contribution is one that continues to make up the grand tapestry of who we are and so I think it fits simply as a local artist’s perspective on things… another thread in the tapestry.’ Read in Full.

73297806_1482817935189902_5047018221308215296_n“I wanted to bring the element of sound to my piece. If you saw my design in a room (by itself), I wanted you to hear the waves crashing on the shores…that’s why I did the ruffles on the bottom (and the peplum at the waist).” – Nicoya Henry, winner of the 2019 A & B Independence fashion competition, interviewed for CREATIVE SPACE

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‘Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to tell other types of stories. For HaMa Films I wrote “No Seed”, which is a political drama (set on the fictional island of St. Mark) that mirrors the political reality of Antigua & Barbuda. It shows the dark side of “paradise,” where money, greed, manipulation, self- interest, and even murder are played out. I have also written “Considering Venus”, the story of a relationship between two women – one gay, the other straight – that is set in New York and Antigua. It acknowledges what was taboo (in 1998): not only same-sex love but same-sex love among Caribbean people. It speaks to how the relationship affects the families of each woman and what people are prepared to sacrifice – or embrace – to find emotional fulfillment. It is my absolute best work!’ – D. Gisele Isaac being interviewed by the Karukerament website about writing The Sweetest Mango, one of two films produced by HaMa Films Antigua, which she wrote, the other being No Seed – Antigua and Barbuda’s first and second feature length films. 2020.

“No it was not difficult getting started because I was always writing” – D. Gisele Isaac on ABS TV. 2020. Full interview below.

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Clifton Joseph talking with Andy Williams: ‘…the first person to really encourage me into the writing/performing arts was an older man in my village of New Winthropes in Antigua, Mr. Murray, probably, visually, the most black, blackest person in “Blizzard” as we called our home on the northern coast of the island. I think I was around ten years old and in addition to singing the Antiguan calypso songs we heard on the radio, Mr. Murray would actually pay me a penny, or sometimes two-pence (we were still using the British colonial currency at the time) to make up my own “calypso” verses. The only snippet I remember from then are three lines: “in January they called me clinky, then in February they start to call me sebassie, and in June they start to call my cousin boone”…I have to give Mr. Murray maximum props for sparking that early interest in writing and performing.’ Full interview.

Clifton Joseph talking with Ian Ferrier (2007): “Hip Hop, Dub Poetry, Dancehall, Reggae all sort of come out of the same African inspired, Caribbean, American, emphasis on words, rhythm, repetition; all of those things pull from the same pool of stylistic influences.”

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Tameka Jarvis-George interviewed about her comic series August by Jump magazine: “I wrote to escape everything I didn’t like and anything that made me uncomfortable. I love my fictitious world.” Full interview. 2018.

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Shabier Kirchner’s Love Letter to Antigua, an interview with Penelope Bartlett on Criterion Collection: “We are very proud people and yet we are so underrepresented on-screen by ourselves. I think Ousmane Sembène said it best: If we continue consuming images solely from abroad, and telling the stories of other people or absorbing others’ perspective of us, we will eventually lose our identity—and I truly believe that. The Caribbean is my home. Our people are the most interesting to me, and I just want to share the truth of who we are through local eyes.” Full interview. 2020.

Shabier Kirchner talking to Caribbean Beat magazine about his film Dadli: “While I was shooting this test footage, there was no agenda. I wasn’t looking for a main character. We weren’t recording sound, so there weren’t any interviews. I was just walking around shooting things that were interesting. It wasn’t until many months later that we realised there was this boy who kept appearing in the footage. So Tiquan became the force behind the narrative. After we had an idea of what we wanted the film to be, we tracked him down and interviewed him.” Full interview. 2019.

(Shabier) Kirchner: That’s Antigua’s old sugar factory. It’s been abandoned for many years; I used to go there as a kid. It was like Tarkovsky’s Stalker. You could completely lose yourself there, let the imagination would run wild. I always loved that place. Visually, I’ve been shooting it for years, and I knew I had to shoot it on 16. It’s a coincidence that Tiquan was talking about running away from home and finding a place where he could just let loose. It wasn’t that specific place for him, but I’m assuming it was similar. What he described was what the sugar factory was for me.” Full interview. 2018.

JamaicaJamaica Kincaid talking with the BBC (in an interview which also included Jacob Ross and Claire Adam, 2018): “I didn’t know I wanted to tell stories. I knew I wanted to write and I thought I wanted to write about my mother and me, and a lot of my writing is about mother and daughter. But really I could early on see before any critic, I may have pointed it out to critics, that I was really writing about imbalance of power. And the mother country and the domestic mother is quite intertwined. If you really give a cursory and then thoroughly investigation into colonialism, you will see how much the colonial world has to do with the domestic and the domestic is almost always the female domain.” Full programme.

Jamaica Kincaid talking with Mother Jones (January/February 2013): ‘I think I was trying to understand how, short of an accident—you know, you pick up the phone, he says, “Your mother is dead. Her car. The Earth fell”—I never expected the everyday to suddenly become an accident. Suddenly you go downstairs and the pine floor is a gravel pit. I was trying to understand how the everyday suddenly becomes the unexpected.’ Full interview.

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Natasha Lightfoot talking with Renee Goldthree for Black Perspectives (April 4th 2016): “In the UWI archives, there was an almanac for the West Indies in the nineteenth century, and it contained an entry in the year 1858 for Antigua. The entry mentioned that there had been a riot and that the island’s jails were completely full, but it also claimed that the riot was nothing of any political significance. The entry suggested that the rioters were basically rabble in the streets causing trouble—and not at all political. That entry raised my antenna so to speak. I thought that the way the entry was written was a sign that whatever had occurred was very political: there had been a riot in the streets for several days and the jails were full of rioters. I wanted to figure out what happened and why.” Full interview.

JoyLapps1Joy Lapps talking with Joanne C. Hillhouse (December 2nd 2012): “I think that my strengths lie in composition and writing lyrics for music composed by others and by myself. My inspiration comes from my lived experience and some things I read about or see on the news, my spirituality and love of God, falling in love with my husband, the everyday challenges of life…etc.” Full interview.

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Jelani ‘J-Wyze’ Nias, author of Where Eagles Crawl and Men Fly, talking about following his path to publication: “The biggest wall I encountered, not that there weren’t others, but the biggest was my own fear. And once you get through that fear/feeling of will people understand this, will people accept this, are people gonna see my vision, once you go through that then everything else tends to be a lot more easy to deal with.”  – Watch the video.

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Dorbrene O’Marde in conversation with Heather Doram, Joanne C. Hillhouse, and Barbara Arindell on Observer radio’s Big Issues (2017): “We’re definitely not doing enough…you talk to groups today and mention Tim Hector …in schools, the name is not know; what he does has not been heralded…my interactions with young people…points to this particular void…history clearly is the subject of interest here, that we know who we are…the decisions about where we’re going will be made on the basis of that knowledge…if you understand the history of how we came to own these lands…then we wouldn’t behave the way we’re behaving, for example, with our land…” Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.

Dorbrene O’Marde talking with Judd Batchelor at Batchelor of Arts Theatre Online (2016): “And one of the comments I made -which seemed to rattle some of the young writers, was the total absence of socio political concerns in this region, at this particular point in time when there is so much need for concern and there is so much need for understanding the post-colonial independence bind that we find ourselves in, that our leaders find themselves in that we as persons trying to inform leadership have not really clarified for ourselves. And my view of the role of the artist is to help in that clarification.” Full interview.

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Rupert Littleman Pelle, final interview, with the Cultural Development Division Research Department (2021): “I never believe I write a good song until I hear somebody criticize it. If I write a song and we can’t sit down in a group and discuss the song, and add and subtract, something wrong with the song, something definitely have to wrong with the song. And you can’t just change a line in a song like that. You write a song and somebody take it and they change a line can destroy the whole song. Because you na know what is leading up to the second verse or the third verse that have to do with the line in the first verse that you interfere with.”

Althea Prince talks about her research and her writing with A Different Booklist bookstore in Canada: “We need to hear from women about their experiences, their creative journeys, so The Black Notes brought together older and younger women. The contributors include some young girls who are just reaching the age of maturity. The book seeks to bring together the two generations. We have then the viewpoint – not a complete cross-section of those, but as far as I was able – of those women and girls from the African-Canadian community. So the same objectives: the same business of giving equity, giving voice, allowing space for these voices to express their creativity. Some of it is non-fiction, some of it is fiction and some of it is poetry.”

Rowan Ricardo Philips talking with Deadspin about his tennis themed book The Circuit: a Tennis Odyssey: “Carribeans love racket sports. My dad played a lot, so I started out going to his matches and serving as a terrible ballboy. The only thing we watched as a family on television was tennis, Breakfast at Wimbledon was big in my house. I had forgotten about those days, but I am fond of them. I never would’ve written the book without it. Here’s a good example: My dad rarely calls with breaking news, but one day he rang me up and said, ‘Turn on the TV, there’s a tennis poem being read on the air.’ It was Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated encapsulating his time at one of the big tournaments. Dad wanted to make sure I saw my personal Venn Diagram becoming one circle.” 2019.

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Paul ‘King Obstinate’ Richards: “We’re prophets; a lot of things we write about comes true.” (King Obstinate on calypso, September 2013)

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“One of our goals was to have the Cultural Division of Government fully support this organization and work alongside us and our artists. A fraction of that goal has been achieved as the Festivals Division recently came on board to sponsor our signature event, The Ink Project.” – Spilling Ink, for CREATIVE SPACE. 2020.

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“What I’d like to see really is, to be honest, is not just for Halcyon but steelband in general, especially at Carnival time apart from panorama, the bands, they not that important. …You know before time steelband used to dominate the road and be an integral part of the whole Carnival thing. Now apart from panorama, after panorama, nobody waan here no pan again. …steelband will have to move to a next level, they will have to amplify the bands an’ dem.” – George ‘Scenty’ Thomas, former captain of Halcyon Steel Orchestra, on the occasion of the Grays Green band’s 50th anniversary, 2021

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Amber Williams-King talking to the Toronto Arts Foundation: “The reality is that the voices, experiences and identities of those who are not a part of the dominant culture are often erased and disappeared away. As a Black femme who grapples with suicidal ideation, disability and the medical industrial complex, imagining myself in the future has, at times, been almost impossible. Art offered me the space to name these parts of myself, connect with others, and help build a world that does not thrive on the absolute destruction of me and my people.”

PHOTO credits: Pictures of Joanne C. Hillhouse and Joy Lapps are from the 2011 event Telling our Stories at the University of Toronto – event photo; of Tameka Jarvis George is from the 2006 Wadadli Pen/Museum literary showcase Word Up! – event photo/Laura Hall; of Jamaica Kincaid is from the 2014 University of the Virgin Islands literary festival – event photo; of Jelani Nias is a screen grab from a televised interview.

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, Fish Outta Water, 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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The Joy Lapps Interview

Joy Lapps Photo by Carlos Ferguson (Photo by Carlos Ferguson)

Prompted by her Independence tribute song, I  did an interview a while back with Antiguan-Canadian pannist-vocalist-composer Joy Lapps for an article in the Observer newspaper. I thought I’d post the full text  of the interview here. Enjoy!

Me: I know the song is on You Tube, but is it available for sale or download anywhere?

Joy: Yes the song can be downloaded for free at www.joylapps.com.

Me: Who was involved in the creation of the song?

Joy: I composed and wrote the lyrics and melody for the song. My husband Larnell, who is an accomplished musician, is my springboard for all of my compositions and arrangements. He definitely helped to tweak things when I first wrote the song last year. And when we had gone to the studio in late September everyone involved Andrew Stewart (the bass player) and Elmer Ferrer (the guitarist) also made a few suggestions to change a few of the chords.

Elmer Ferrer: Guitar – http://www.elmerferrer.com/
Andrew Stewart: Bass –http://www.myspace.com/stewbassart
Percussion: Larnell Lewis – www.larnelllewismusic.com
Composer, Lyricist, Steel Pan and Vocals: Joy Lapps-Lewis: www.joylapps.com

Me: The song has an easy breezy quality to it and very positive vibrations – what were you thinking of when you created it?

Joy: Musically, I was hoping the song would feel like it was recorded on the veranda of my Grandma Morrissey’s house in St. John’s, Antigua…. minus the speeding cars… lol. She lives on the main road in St. John’s. I was also thinking of how I feel when I’m just relaxing near the rocks that hug the shore of Turner’s beach near my Dad’s family home in Johnson’s Point. I wanted it to be simple, acoustic, raw and fun! I wanted it to feel like a familiar calypso, but was also open to letting the other musicians involved participate without putting them in a stylistic or genre-specific box. I think music doesn’t always have to be technically over complicated, but no matter what you have to feel it and connect with it.

Me: You sing and play pan on the track – and do both beautifully – can you speak to were you think your creative strengths lie and what fed/feeds it?

Joy: Well, thank you. I think that my strengths lie in composition and writing lyrics for music composed by others and by myself. My inspiration comes from my lived experience and some things I read about or see on the news, my spirituality and love of God, falling in love with my husband, the everyday challenges of life…etc. I’m currently in Houston for the week and spent last weekend in New Orleans. Just being in a space that has such a rich history especially as an African descendant and a musician and not to mention the tragedy of Katrina is really heavy. That travel experience is a source of inspiration,… at least I think it will be once I get over the shock of the entire experience.

Me: Tell me about your Antiguan roots?

Joy: Well I have 100% Antiguan heritage, not something that is very common to first generation Canadians living in Toronto. My mother is Mauline Morrissey Lapps, daughter of the Vilma Morrissey and the late Ossey Morrissey. My father is John Lapps, son of the late Jim and Edna Lapps. I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and raised in a town just east of Toronto and recently moved back into the city. I can definitely say that my parents made a consistent effort to ensure that my sisters and I knew where we came from. We were made very aware of our Antiguan heritage and African roots. Even though I lived in Ajax, my parents would have the Observer website as the homepage on our computer so every day, I knew what was making headlines back home. They would also blast the radio shows from Observer and ZDK. I knew about elections, celebrations and the potholes that people would call in and complain about… lol. Not to mention attending and being involved in activities put on by the Antigua and Barbuda Association of Toronto and the Antigua and Barbuda Consulate in Toronto.

Me: When and how did you start playing pan? Singing?

Joy: I started playing pan in 1997 under the direction of Vince Cato at the Anglican Church of the Nativity, whose Senior Pastor at the time was Rev. Donald Butler (another Antiguan). They offered lessons to the congregation and community. My godmother offered to pay for my first set of lessons and my parents continued to nurture my love for the instrument.

I used to sing in school choirs and would participate in musicals at school and at church. More recently I’ve done some vocal training. I love to sing and on occasion insert it into my performances.

It usually enhances a performance. And sometimes you just need words to tell a story and that’s what I do tell stories through melodies, mostly with my pan, and sometimes with my voice.

Me: What do you consider to be your major accomplishments?

Joy: Major accomplishments –

– I would say finding my voice and developing the ability to express myself in my personal relationships as well as creatively

– Receiving the Access and Career Development Grant from the Ontario Arts Council

– Being nominated for a Harry Jerome Awards as well as a Caribbean Music and Entertainment Award

– Being invited to play in Moods of Pan 2004 and being invited to play in various festivals in Toronto, including Island Soul, Afro Fest, Muhtadi’s International Drumming Festival etc.

– Winning Pan Alive with Pan Fantasy in 2005, 2006 and 2012 under the direction of Al Foster

– Releasing my three CDs (How Great Thou Art, Make a Joyful Noise and It’s Christmas Time)

Me: Where does this song ‘Happy Anniversary’ fit in terms of those accomplishments?

Joy: This tribute song is really important to me. I mean what I say in the song. And although I wouldn’t typically compose in this style, it’s very important to recognize the type of music that has come from Antigua and Barbuda and the greater Caribbean and honour it.

Me: What are you creating these days? What’s next?

Joy: These days I am writing music for my trio and larger music project. I’m hoping to release an EP by early Spring and then release a full length album in 2014. I was very fortunate to record songs written by others in the past, and really look forward to recording my original works. I’m also working on different arrangements of more popular songs for the purpose of teaching the students I work with on a weekly basis.

This next year is really focussed on professional development from my musical skills to the business side of things. I’m also trying to support my husband in his musical career. I’ve been doing work in the arts over the last few years but more teaching and administration and so I didn’t put as much time into practice that I would have liked to, so now is the time for that. I plan to be in Trinidad in late January to early February to play in my first Trinidad Panorama. I was also awarded an Access and Career Development Grant from the Ontario Arts Council to study with Andy Narell in Paris next Spring. I’m really excited to study with Andy and chose him because he has carved the career path as a musician, producer, clinician and arranger that I would most like to emulate.

I’ll be back in Toronto for the summer and hopefully performing at many of our local festivals. I’ll also be preparing for Pan Alive with Pan Fantasy, the steelband I play with in Toronto.

I’m really hoping that by the summer of 2014 I will be able to tour with my band.

I’m thinking I might apply to Grad School in the next few years and somewhere in there have a baby or two.

Me: When will we get a chance to see you perform this song in Antigua?

Joy: My dream is to bring my band to Antigua to play for the Moods of Pan Festival; because it takes place in November, I think the event and the time of year would be perfect.

Me: As a member of the Antiguan diaspora working in the arts and in arts education especially what would you like to see happen in terms of exchanges and sharing between home and the diaspora in terms of the creative arts?

Joy: Well I think that the dialogue needs to stay open and remain relevant and I would definitely like to see more musicians, band and artists of various disciplines from Antigua and Barbuda visiting Toronto and other international destinations and vice versa.

It’s so easy for pop culture to dominate especially when you live in a place like Toronto. And so my generation is almost forming a new cultural identity taking into consideration our roots, but also the norms of where we live and who we are exposed to. In a situation like this my generation and the generations after me can end up having little interest in being engaged in activities and events that celebrate the Antiguan and Barbudan culture.

Me Why do you think the creative arts are important – especially in these times when they tend to get sidelined for more bread and butter economic concerns?

Joy: The creative arts are crucial because this is one of the primary ways that we are able to tell our stories and telling our stories is crucial in itself. Furthermore, I’ve spent the last 6 years freelancing as an arts educator as well as working with Drum Artz Canada, an arts and music charity committed to making arts and music education accessible to all especially children and youth in priority neighbourhoods. So I know what kind of results the right kind of arts education can yield. I work at a school where last year alone, I showed up at work and was turned back by the cops because someone had been shot at the school. At that same school, I had a student whose brother had been shot and killed. The following week I took all the youth in the program out to dinner to celebrate the year and to my surprise this student really wanted to come to take her mind off of the tragedy she had experienced. My work is done in a non traditional classroom setting, no credits. But the arts provide an opportunity for our youth to experience success, success that they might not otherwise experience in a classroom setting. But the success they gain when playing pan or participating in other artistic disciplines help to build self-esteem, they take it right back to the classroom and to their daily lives and become our beautiful and positive young leaders. The creative arts provide a vehicle through which we can invest in and positively engage our youth. And investing in and positively engaging our youth should be considered the bread and butter of our economic concerns, we just haven’t all clued in.

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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What Happens in Canada…

My trip October 2011 to Canada was quite stimulating and not just because of the brisk weather, or gastronomic adventures, the opportunity to catch up with old friends, or even the day spent at Niagara …no the good vibes began with  Telling Our Stories, an Evening Showcasing Antigua and Barbuda’s Writing. For me, it was a sigificant night and not just because I dread readings.  But I’d upped the ante by deciding to read, for the first time, ever, from my forthcoming book Oh Gad! – my first with a major American publisher, my first full length novel … a lot was riding on the audience’s response to the reading. Not least of which whether an audience would be able to connect with this world and these characters that have consumed my writing life these past several years, through more drafts than I can remember, and more rejection (and finally acceptance) than I like to think about. Now, I look back on that night fondly because there was so much love and acceptance in that room; I shared Ah Write and Da’s Calypso,  two sections from Oh Gad! plus The Arrival and Scenes from a Caribbean Childhood before ending with From Ottos. The mood was good, the response was good, and Oh Gad! had made its debut. Here are some highlights:

The event was held in the William Doo Auditorium at the University of Toronto; here is a partial of the audience.

She was mistress of ceremonies on this night but Wendy Brathwaite is Motion in Poetry every day of the week.

From the event programme:Wendy “Motion” Brathwaite is an award-winning poet, emcee and playwright. Motion spans the realms of music, theatre and spoken words, composing works for stage and screen. Lauded by NOW Magazine as a “multi-talented, truthful artist,” her published works include Motion in Poetry and 40 Dayz. Tune in to her latest words, sounds and drama at motionlive.com.

A phenomenal lady and our Consul General in Canada, Janil Greenaway.

Here she is again, welcoming everyone to what would prove to be an entertaining night.

D. Gisele Isaac, she wears many hats but she was there as author of Considering Venus, a reading which made the book feel as fresh as if it had come out yesterday and not, wow, 12 years ago.

Gis' reading.

From the event programme: Hon. D. Gisele Isaac-Arrindell is speaker of the House of Representatives in Antigua and Barbuda. She is the Executive Director of the Board of Education and a UWI Lecturer for the Cave Hill Undergraduate Programme at the Antigua State College. She is a graduate of St. John’s University, New York where she obtained an M.A. in Government & Politics with a concentration in International Relations. She has a B.Sc., summa cum laude, in Journalism with a concentration in Literature. She’s an active member of the Tyrells Roman Catholic congregation; President of the Professional Organisation for Women in Antigua & Barbuda (POWA). She writes a weekly column, “Agender,” in the Daily Observer newspaper. She was featured in “Women West Indies” TV documentary series, 2006. She’s the 2005 recipient of the CMA/PAHO National and Regional Award for “Best Feature in Health Journalism” and the 2004 recipient of the UNESCO award for contributions to literacy & literary arts. She’s a benefactor of the “Young Explorer Wadadli Youth Pen Prize” literary competition. She is author of Considering Venus, a novel, (Seaburn, NY, 1998). She is passionate about calypso music, reading, writing on social issues and watching Law & Order.

Jelani 'J-Wyze' Nias (and to his left Althea Prince) was one of my favourites of the evening.

For a hint of what I’m talking about checking this clip of J-Wyze’s Mr. Lucky.

From the event programme: Jelani “J Wyze” Nias is the quintessential hype man & emcee. Once a key member of the Soul Controllers, he has a radio background that includes 10 years as the dynamic voice of the Trauma Unit (Flow 93.5 fm) as well as stints in community & internet radio. J Wyze also has an unrelenting dedication to the community, which has earned him numerous awards including the “Arts Starts Upcoming Community Artist Award”, “Factor Demo Grant”, and “Toronto Arts Council Writers Grant”. Born to a jazz musician father who has toured North America, and Europe with greats like Toots and the Maytals, and a mother who still sings in an inspirational gospel choir, J-Wyze wanted to be an entertainer for as long as he could remember. After immigrating to Canada from Antigua via Bermuda in 1989 at the age of 12, J Wyze began performing at spoken word events in the mid 90s. He was winner of a Sears Drama Festival acting awards/scholarship, SLAM Poetry competition and is a published poet & writer.

From the event programme: Award winning author, Dr. Althea Prince teaches sociology at Ryerson University. During 2002 to 2005, she was Managing Editor of Canadian Scholars’ Press & Women’s Press. Her work in Community Education includes Creative Writing Workshops for youth in Antigua, and in Canada. In 2011, Dr. Prince served as ‘Writer-in-Residence’ at Newcomer Women’s Services, Toronto; and in September 2011, she was appointed Writer-in-Residence with the Toronto District School Board. Her awards include ‘The First Annual Award for Literary Excellence’ in 2007 from The Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival.

This was a treat, a live performance by Joy Lapps, including an original song befitting the occasion, the 30th anniversary of Antigua and Barbuda's Independence.

From the event programme: Joy Lapps began playing the steel pan in 1997 at Malvern’s Church of the Nativity under the direction of Vince Cato. As she realized her love for the instrument, her solo career soon came alive, earning her the title “Princess of Pan”. Her efficiency with the tenor pan and her diverse performance range have led to greataudience receptions, and flattering recognition from seasoned professional pannists. Joy performs primarily as a soloist and with her jazz trio, quartet or to an even larger musical ensemble. Joy has released three CDs of various gospel and Christmas songs. Thankful for the opportunity to record great songs written by other artists, Joy is currently focused on writing and arranging new music for her ensembles.

and me.

From the event programme: Joanne C. Hillhouse is the author of Oh Gad! – a novel scheduled for publication in 2012. A University of the West Indies graduate and international fellowship recipient to the Breadloaf Writers Conference at Middlebury College in Vermont, Hillhouse also participated in the Caribbean Fiction WritersSummer Institute at the University of Miami. There she began work on her first book, The Boy from WillowBend, which is on Antigua and Barbuda’s schools’ reading list. In addition to her second book, DancingNude in the Moonlight, Hillhouse has published in African, Caribbean, and American journals. She’s beenannounced as the 2011 recipient of the David Hough Literary Prize by the Caribbean Writer andpreviously won a UNESCO Honour award for her contribution to the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. That contribution includes her Wadadli Youth Pen Prize project –http://www.wadadlipen.wordpress.com. Joanne C. Hillhouse is a freelance writer and editor. For more visit http://www.jhohadli.com

For a comprehensive report on the Canada Independence anniversary celebrations; see this report.

MORE PICS HERE.

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