Tag Archives: Joy Lawrence

Dawtas of the Soil

dawtas(I’ll add pictures to this post when I get them but in the meantime) I wanted to share some moments from an event I was honored to be a part of yesterday (March 25th 2018), Queens’ Collaboration presentation of Empress Menen’s Dawtas of the Soil Appreci-Love Day, which was held at the Nyabinghi Theocracy Church School Grounds.

Dawtas

Queens’ Collaboration, as radio host and Queens member Nikki Phoenix explained at the event, is a movement of women supporting each other and doing positive things. “If we unify, we learn how to give love and support to our sisters, and to love ourselves more.” (this quote might have been from Kai Davis – I wasn’t in reporter mode so I didn’t note as carefully as I should have but, either way, it speaks to the ethos of Queens’ Collaboration)

Empress Menen, we learned during a presentation and slide show, was the wife of Emperor Haile Selassie and a formidable woman in her own right (e.g. as founder of the first all-girls school in Addis Ababa) and survivor (having first been married at 11 and married three times before, at age 20, marrying the ruler who is seen by Rastafari as the returned messiah). The presentation on Empress Menen emphasized her belief that “we be unified as women”.

The Nyabinghi Theocracy School and Church Grounds is a home and gathering place for one section of Rastafari in Antigua, and Kai Davis, a member of the community and teacher at the school, is one of the Queens behind Sunday’s event.

Dawtas of the Soil Appreci-Love Day was the first event of its kind, though indicators are that it won’t be the last. The first Dawtas were Edith Oladele, Joy Lawrence, and me (Joanne C. Hillhouse). Using an adapted song and spoken word version of Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman, accompanied by live drumming and pre-recorded music, young women from the community shared the achievements of the selected honourees – including Oladele’s missionary work in Africa and advocacy work with the African Slavery Memorial Project, National Award recipient Lawrence’s research in to the folk history of Antigua and Barbuda, a mission that has yielded several books and is still ongoing, and my publications (including 6 books) and literary arts advocacy (e.g. Wadadli Pen). Oladele did a presentation in which she reminded of the reason why we do the work we do. “It’s not for fame or popularity but it’s in order to serve others.” Her words were steeped in Christianity (“I never write before asking God to write, that’s how I write”) and Afro-centricity (“The ancestors speak to us if we allow ourselves to be open to them”).

It’s fair to say that the ancestors spoke to us through the young people and their performances – such as the little ones singing the Garnett Silk classic, ‘Hello, Mama Africa’.

Beautiful day: good  positive vibes, good ital food, good uplifting music, and much love for the Appreci-love.

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, Oh Gad!, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Musical Youth). 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 a Joy!

The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize extends big, BIG congratulations to new national awardee, one of our own Joy Lawrence. One of our own as in a past volunteer with Wadadli Pen – she participated in the 2006 Wadadli Pen fundraiser Word Up!

JoyLawrencebyGemmaHazelwood

Joy Lawrence reading from her book, the Way We Talk and Other Antiguan Folkways at Word Up! – a joint Wadadli Pen fundraiser with the Museum in 2006. (Photo by Gemma Hazelwood/do not re-use wihout permission)

and she was our schools’ ambassador taking our message to the schools for the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge season (visiting schools between 2013 and 2014 to encourage students to participate and assisting with getting flyers printed to help spread the word beyond that), also donating copies of her books.

Trinitysecondary School Class

Students at Trinity Academy pictured with Joy Lawrence. Do not re-use without permission.

She is also one of our own as in a vital part of the Antiguan and Barbudan literary community since the 1996 publication of her first book, the poetry collection Island Spice. In addition to her own publications she’s been involved in literary arts development, some we’ve captured here on Wadadli Pen in the past, such as initiatives like the Antigua State College UNESCO-sponsored poetry writing competition (which ran from 2002 to 2006), her visit to the Cushion Club reading club for kids (we tried to get local and visiting authors in as much as possible) – one of many such engagements for her as an in demand presenter.

joyatcushionclub2

Joy during a visit to the Cushion Club. Do not re-use without permission.

Her enduring contribution though is the leg work she’s done researching and documenting our folk history. You’ll see in our non-fiction listing that her publications include perenniel favourite and, she says, her best selling book (which recently had its third printing) The Way We Talk and Other Antiguan Folkways, Colours and Rhythms of Selected Caribbean Creoles, The History of Bethesda and Christian Hill: Our History and Culture (chronicling her home village of Bethesda), The Footprints of Parham: the History of a Small Antiguan Town and Its Influence, and Barbuda and Betty’s Hope: the Codrington Connection. At a recent Independence panel (2016), she also revealed that she’s at work on Villa – leave her to it she might tackle the entire country given enough time and resources. This is the kind of work, if I might venture an opinion, that you’d expect a Culture Department research division (do we have one of those?) to be doing, or if not doing, then funding. I can’t speak to what kind of funding support Lawrence receives, but the documentation of our folk history seems to be in the national interest to me.

pARHAM COVER

Why does she do it? As she told us in a previous exclusive Wadadli Pen interview:  “I’m retired now and this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. It gives me a much satisfaction digging into the past. When I drive around the island I don’t see beautiful houses, I see relics of the times our enslaved ancestors struggling to survive under inhumane conditions, and I try to imagine how they felt.  My reward is in recording our history for everyone to read and appreciate.”

Before her retirement turn to folk research and writing, Lawrence was a career educator, a senior lecturer at the Antigua State College, with certification from the College of Arts, Science, Arts & Technology in Jamaica (BA, Education), the University of Leicester (MA Communications Media and Public Relations), and Moray House/University of Edinburgh, Scotland (Diploma, Special Education). Since venturing in to writing, she’s mostly focussed on the research side but as she said in that interview “I’m and will always be a poet.  Poetry is rhythmic and dramatic; as a folklorist I’m also dramatic and rhythmic. I tell the history of our African ancestors. Once you have African ancestry you’re rhythmic. We walk with rhythm, we like to sing, dance, use our limbs to make gestures. We are poetry in motion. In short, there’s no separation between my poetry and the folktales and history I reproduce.” She does continue to produce poetry; and most recently her poem, The Whirlwind, was published in A River of Stories (Volume 3 – Air), a 2016 publication of the Lift Education/Commonwealth Education Trust.

Lawrence received a 2004 UNESCO Honour Award for her contribution to the literary arts and can now add to that her OH – Officer of the Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage, one of 11 National Awards conferred during the November 1st 2016 Independence Ceremonial Parade.

As you know, if you’ve been following us over the years, we’re happy whenever national recognition goes to anyone in the arts, and especially so the literary arts. Big up, Joy, and we know that your work is not done.

FYI: the other 2016 National Awardees are Curtis Charles, Rueben Duberry, George Henry, former commissioner of police Wright Fitz-Henley George, Selwyn James, Graeme Johnson, Florita Kentish, Cosmos Marcelle, Dr. Percival Perry, and Constacia Thomas.

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, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Fish Outta Water, and forthcoming With Grace). 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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Coming Soon – A River of Stories

A River of Stories

The editors of this series sought out work from writers all over the Commonwealth. Including from right here in Antigua, Joy Lawrence whose The Whirlwind will appear in book 3, Air; and me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) whose poem, Under Pressure, will appear in book 4, Fire. Lawrence reports that her poem dates back to 1996. My poem, Under Pressure, previously appeared in my self-published poetry collection On Becoming which had a very limited, very limited run back in the early aughts (around 2003-ish) so when I received the initial email from Lift Education I thought it was spam. And acted accordingly. But in the end it came together; so it’s all good. Look forward to receiving the books…and I wonder if any other Antiguan and Barbudan writer is featured. If you are hit me up so that I can update your listing on the site.

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Sips and Verses Photo Gallery

Kim

Last month, I wrote about Sips and Verses at my other blog (and about how Kimolisa Mings, pictured above, was my favourite of the night). More recently I wrote on this blog about an upcoming photography exhibition.

The thing tying these two events together is the venue and the purpose…which is related to the venue: Government House. The historical site is in need of an US$8 million (yes, million dollar) rehabilitation and a series of arts events – including a black tie dinner and art show earlier in the year – have been had (have been had?) to draw public attention and interest and raise some funds. Ramble ramble. Click the links to relive those highlights and find out how you can support. Meantime check out these great pictures by Photogenesis courtesy of the folks at the Government House. You’ll notice there are no pictures of me…I’ll try not to take it as a commentary on my photogenic…ness (?)

Enjoy…and, yes, you should feel bad that you weren’t there! You missed some good readings. Let that be a lesson to you. *smile*

Claudia Elizabeth Ruth Francis is holding up the Tides that Bind, but she actually read a very powerful piece from Missing. You should know that these books are international thrillers - kidnappings, family dynasties, continent hopping, big money, terror...

Claudia Elizabeth Ruth Francis is holding up the Tides that Bind, but she actually read a very powerful piece from Missing. You should know that these books are international thrillers – kidnappings, family dynasties, continent hopping, big money, terror…

Reading Roy Dublin's poetry. Roy Dublin is the late author of Tomorrow's Blossoms. And this is his...daughter (?)

Reading Roy Dublin’s poetry. Roy Dublin is the late author of Tomorrow’s Blossoms. And this is his…daughter (?)

Dorbrene O'Marde read a timely Carnival story.

Dorbrene O’Marde read a timely Carnival story.

Michelle Toussaint read from her book, Now Taking a Lover.

Michelle Toussaint read from her book, Now Taking a Lover.

Fashionable Joy. Joy Lawrence.

Fashionable Joy. Joy Lawrence.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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Barbuda and Betty’s Hope, the Joy Connection

Joy Lawrence remains a woman on a mission, earlier this year releasing the latest of her village histories…and you can bet she’s not done yet. When last we caught up with her, she’d just written about Parham, on the heels of her history on Bethesda and Christian Hill. Well, she’s been busy since her April launch promoting Barbuda and Betty’s Hope, including a stop over in the sister island.

Barbuda-Covers

Per her launch release: “This latest publication chronicles the history of Barbuda and the Betty’s Hope Estate beginning with review of the mutual factor, the Codrington connection.

“The book is littered with references to support the historical facts mixed with lively first person recounts of special events and daily events from individuals who experienced life in both communities from a variety of socio-economic perspective. …”

We’re late but as we always say around here, books don’t have a limited shelf life; so we want to take this opportunity to say congrats to Joy who volunteered with the Wadadli Pen programme in 2014 and who has also been a patron of the programme.

Copies of her books are available in all major bookstores across the island. Copies are also available for international delivery.  You can also find Joy on facebook or email her at antiguapoet@yahoo.com

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Ready to Launch

Joy

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March 30, 2015 · 7:25 pm

Joy’s Schools Tour

Joy Lawrence has been delivering as schools ambassador for the Wadadli Pen 2014 Challenge season. It is the folk historian and poet’s first year with the programme and she has jumped in with both feet, visiting a number of schools to promote the literary arts in general and Wadadli Pen in particular.

“I had such wonderful times at the schools,” she’s informed me, noting that even schools she visited unofficially were happy to see her. I and other Wadadli Pen volunteers have visited many schools over our 10 years and have had finalists (i.e. top writers and artists) from 16 schools* and entries from more, but as Joy is discovering programme awareness could still be a lot better…a lot better. So, it’s good to have someone dedicated to the task, especially someone who is as available and enthusiastic as Joy has proven to be. “I can’t tell you how I would be happy to have something like this offered when I was going to school as well as when I was a young teacher,” she said. Hope her enthusiasm is catching.

Here are images from her visits to Kids Unlimited, St. Michael’s and Trinity Academy.

Joy with students from Trinity Secondary School.

Joy with students from Trinity Secondary School.

Joy with students at St. Michael's Primary.

Joy with students at St. Michael’s Primary.

Kids Unlimited students listen to a presentation by Lawrence.

Kids Unlimited students listen to a presentation by Lawrence.

For the Wadadli Pen Challenge of 2014, our 10th year, we will be inviting submissions from writers and artists 12 and younger, 13 to 17, and 18 to 35, as well as teachers of any age; we’ll also reward the school with the greatest number of submissions.

Go here for Guidelines, here for Terms, and subscribe or listen out for the launch of the 2014 season. Spoiler alert: it’ll be in January 2014.

*School performance on Wadadli Pen 2004 to 2013 – i.e. how many finalists have there been from how many schools again? – N.B. the number in brackets represents one person but that person may have been a repeat finalist which means the school may have shown up more than the number actually suggests.
Antigua Girls High (7)
Antigua State College (9)
Antigua Wesleyan Junior Academy (3)
Buckleys (1)
Christ the King High (2)
Clare Hall Secondary (1)
Foundation Mixed School (1)
Golden Grove Primary (1)
Irene B. Williams (1)
Island Academy (1)
Minoah Magnet (1)
Ottos Comprehensive (1)
Princess Margaret (1)
St. Andrew’s (1)
St. Nicholas (1)
Sunnyside (1)

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

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An impossible question

A visiting grad student interviewing me for her thesis (which is focussed on Antiguan and Barbudan writing) put me on the spot yesterday, asking me to name my favourite Antiguan author (not the only impossible question she asked). Althea Prince (with books like How the East Pond Got Its Flowers which did such a good job of sharing aspects of our history and imprinting certain values in a child friendly way by just telling a good story, Loving this Man, Being Black and the Politics of Black Women’s Hair) was in there; Gisele Isaac (with her taboo breaking Considering Venus was in there)…she asked me what about Joy Lawrence and I noted that her work documenting especially Antiguan expression in The Way We Talk and Other Antiguan Folkways had served me as a teaching aid in my Communications classes when exploring, well, the ways we talk…and that got me thinking about her research into island folk history which led me to the book that laid the foundation within that post slavery folk memory genre in terms of the Antiguan and Barbudan literary canon and isrequired reading because of it in my view if you want to understand the Antiguan, and especially the African-Antiguan, Smith and Smith’s To Shoot Hard Labour…I may have mentioned that the first writers I was exposed to, enjoyed and learned from were the calypso writers, which would put Shelly Tobitt (the pen behind so many of my favourite calypsos) easily at the top of my list of favourite Antiguan writers…but in the end I went with the writings of our most renowned international literary celebrity Jamaica Kincaid because of the boldness of her writing, the way her stories though rooted in the particular are universal and timeless as a result, the poetry and layers of meaning in each of her lines, and because of memorable works like Annie John, Lucy, and for lifting the lid off of a taboo much like Isaac’s book My Brother  (yes, we discussed A Small Place too…everyone who wants to discuss Kincaid wants to discuss A Small Place, right?). But perhaps most significantly because I think when I discovered Annie John (a first since I would not have known there was such a thing as an Antiguan novelist before much less one breaking through at her level), I would have been able to begin to admit, if only to myself (it would be a while more before I could say it out loud), that this was what I wanted to do and maybe with hard work, persistence, and talent, it could be so. Maybe. Even for a then teenage girl from the working class community of Ottos, Antigua who’d been writing for a while and knew she wanted to keep writing but didn’t know what to make of this wish that didn’t fit the reality of her world, much less how to make it her reality.

And so I come to Kincaid’s latest book. It’s See Now Then. No, I haven’t read it yet (yet!). But here’s what Publishers’ Weekly had to say:

“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. Particularly touching is Kincaid’s rendering of motherhood. The immediacy of Mrs. Sweet’s small son’s toys—Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers—creates a significant foil to the ethereal interior echoes. Such is the reality of parenting…” Read More.

We have more on Kincaid on this site as well, if you want to check some of that out:

One of a Handful Still Alive: Strains of Resistance in the Fiction of Jamaica Kincaid by Dr. Carolyn Cooper

Reading Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother as Testimonium by Victoria Bridges Moussaron

Spotlight – Jamaica Kincaid

Reflections on Jamaica by me

She has written a lot and remains at the forefront of a growing list of fiction and non fiction writers from Antigua and Barbuda.

Still, hate having to pick a single favourite of almost anything, though. So don’t ask me what happened when she asked about my favourite books and authors in general. I think in the end I told her to read the blog.

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

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Wadadli Pen 2014 update – laying the groundwork

Something I’ve tried to do over the years to promote Wadadli Pen is liaise with the schools: visiting schools, emailing and phoning and talking in person with teachers; sending letters through the Ministry of Education; delivering letters directly to the schools and following up; doing workshops with young people in and out of schools; posting flyers on noticeboards. It can be a time consuming task (and challenging because of it given work and personal obligations) but it can create greater awareness among the schools and more importantly the young people who are the target of our annual Challenge. I have never been able to plan a full on schools awareness campaign the way I’d like but I’ve been to schools and other members of the Wadadli Pen team (past winner Devra Thomas who did some work in this regard a couple of years ago comes to mind). This year, Antiguan writer and folk historian Joy Lawrence decided to take up this ball and run with it, and, boy, is she running. Her latest correspondence informs me that she has already made contact with the schools and has “some enthusiastic invitations which I’ll confirm soon”.

She’s (so far) confirmed for

  • Kids Unlimited, Scotts Hill on 28th October 2013
  • Glanvilles Secondary on 29th October 2013*
  • Trinity Academy, Christian Valley on 8th November 2013
  • and St. Michaels, private primary, on 6th November 2013

*(Incidentally, this and my invitation to speak at St. John’s Catholic Primary on 29th October 2013 are Independence related but still an opportunity to put forward our message and promote expression among the young people)

I know Joy was a little overwhelmed when she realized the scope of this role but she’s leaping into it and (having done this myself for many years I appreciate how overwhelming it can be and as such appreciate her taking the bull by the horns).  She won’t be able to visit all the schools or even all the classes of the schools she does visit, but where she does touch down I believe it will make a difference. I thank her for stepping up and getting the ball rolling on this.

Check out others who are helping to make Wadadli Pen 2014 possible.

 

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Joy Lawrence explores The Footprints of Parham

Joy LawTHE FOOTPRINTS OF PARHAM is the name of folklorist/poet Joy Lawrence’s new book: pARHAM COVERIt follows on The History of Bethesda and Christian Hill: Our History and Culture, signaling a commitment to chronicling the folk history that is a departure from the creative roots of her first publication, Island Spice. Though given the two books that fall in between The Way We Talk and Other Antiguan Folkways and Colours and Rhythms of Selected Caribbean Creoles hardly a surprise. Increasingly she has focused less on creative works and more on research based works rooted in the Antiguan and Barbudan culture. Her books have as a result become valuable resources for anyone seeking to know that culture. Congrats to her on the new release and thanks for agreeing to this exclusive interview. Read on.

Joanne C. Hillhouse for Wadadli Pen: First, congratulations on the new book.

Joy Lawrence: Thank you very much.

JCH: Why’d you want to do it?

JL: I’m retired now and this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. It gives me a much satisfaction digging into the past. When I drive around the island I don’t see beautiful houses, I see relics of the times our enslaved ancestors struggling to survive under inhumane conditions, and I try to imagine how they felt.  My reward is in recording our history for everyone to read and appreciate.

JCH: You’re a trained educator who, as far as the literary arts is concerned, first came to the fore as a poet – a creative artiste, but in recent years you’ve become more of a historian and folklorist. Do you ever see yourself going back to poetry? What is it about folk history that attracts you? Do you see these roles – i.e. educator, poet, historian – as overlapping ones or do you think of yourself as one more than the other?

JL: I’m and will always be a poet.  Poetry is rhythmic and dramatic; as a folklorist I’m also dramatic and rhythmic. I tell the history of our African ancestors. Once you have African ancestry you’re rhythmic. We walk with rhythm, we like to sing, dance, use our limbs to make gestures. We are poetry in motion. In short, there’s no separation between my poetry and the folktales and history I reproduce. In fact in my latest book The Footprints of Parham I introduce each chapter with a Creole poem. Not only my skin colour tells me I’m of African origin. A recent DNA test reveals  that I share paternal genetic ancestry with Umbundu people living in Angola. In 1755 Antiguan planters bought all 500 Angolans offered for sale although they did not like them regarding them lazy, weak and sickly coming from a more temperate climate from those of Ghana and other West African countries. I cannot separate myself from the rhythm of my homeland. Showing interest in other areas does not in any way diminish my interest in poetry. I think we need to tell our story – from our perspective –  to show how despite the injustices meted out to our forefathers we have lifted ourselves up. Being a folklorist and a historian is extending my pride in wanting to preserve what is uniquely African; to show the passion our ancestors had for their way of life despite a desperate attempt by their enslavers to rid them of anything African.

JCH: An Interview with Hurricane Luis is on record, from what I’ve read as your first public performance. Can you tell me about that? And had you been writing for a long time before? What does the literary arts mean to you?

JL: Without even realizing it was my hobby I’d been writing poetry before Hurricane Luis. In fact I won second place in a national competition maybe a few months before that but when Hurricane Luis unleashed its fury on Antigua and Barbuda in 1995 it prompted me respond to him – to pose questions to him I needed answers to; my poetic nature came out in my questioning and that got public attention when I placed it in my first book.

JCH: The investigation of folk history – its language, food, personalities, experiences – requires skill and tenacity, I would imagine – can you talk a little bit about what’s involved in the research aspect of what you do? What were some of the challenges?

JL: You as a novelist know it take a lot of skill and dedication to provide characterization, so too in non-fiction you have to be careful in preserving language, personalities, way of life of a people. Much research is involved. What you write must be true and accurate and carefully referenced. Some periods for various reasons are lost to historians. Some plantation people’s handwriting can be difficult to decipher and so some stories are not told. In my situation, writing as an outsider about Parham I had to depend on the Parham people for 20th century and contemporary history which in some instances are conflicting or downright wrong. You have to do a lot of leg work to get the truth.  People sometimes don’t come forward with their stories until the book is published then they complain, “Wha mek she na min come to me? Me coulda min gee she more information,” or  “How come me na ina de book? Me used to sing pan Choir.”

JCH: Which of the books has been best received, most successful and why?

JL: The Way We Talk is my most successful book. It’s easy reading, familiar to locals and a treat and a challenge to visitors. Tourists buy this book more that any of the others. I always have to have that one in stock.

JCH: Why are you so determined to investigate our culture from the perspective of the folk?

JL: The history books we are familiar with are usually written from the European or American perspective. I want people to understand our story from our perspective – how we feel, our likes and dislikes, our goals and aspirations. No outsider can tell our story the way we can.

 JCH: You are from the Bethesda and Christian Hill area so it seemed a natural step for your investigation to begin there. How did you select the next village for your inquiry?

JL: My next selection after Bethesda and Christian Hill was Betty’s Hope, a large estate where my father worked. Once I settled on Betty’s Hope I thought to include Barbuda since they had common proprietors in the Codringtons. I  also tried to add Parham a nearby estate but the book was getting too large. Besides, I obtained some valuable documents on Parham pushing the Parham story in front of that of Barbuda /Betty’s Hope.

JCH: Have there been any surprises during this last investigation?

JL: I’m surprised how little people know about their ancient history and how much they yearn for more recent history in print – the history they have experienced themselves. I am pleasantly surprised about how much the people of Parham have embraced this book as their own – how much they went out of their way to make the launch a success. I must mention here a few: Bertsfield Smithen, Longford Jeremy, Suzette Gregory, Avon Williams, Gloria Benjamin, Charlene Samuel and Arlene Smithen and the many sponsors.

JCH: Tell me about the process of putting it together – from research to publication – how long did it take?

JL: It took a lot of digging for material, a lot of reading and a lot of understanding the material. Interviews took a lot of time having to go back for clarification and even expansion. Arguing with my editor and graphics designer took a lot of time, patience and compromise. Overall it took about five years on and off but two steady years to put the book together.

JCH: Tell me three teasers about the village that you think folks might be interested to learn?

JL:

How much money did the ghost of Parham Lodge bury in that area?

What was the name of the ghost of Parham Lodge?

Name the estates owned by the Tudways.

 (sidebar: are you curious? I am)

Joy LJCH: I want to talk a little bit about rural tourism and how exploring our literary landscapes might fit into that. Having written these books about our historical spaces do you see potential to ‘exploit’ the tourism potential of these rural spaces? Through educational tours or familiarization tours for instance?

JL: These books that I’m writing should serve not only to educate about our history but also to show those in charge of our resources – those in government – to see the need to do some sort of restoration of our heritage sites to enhance the tourism product. When I visit Betty’s Hope for example I see so much potential. They could put up model houses where the enslaved people, the managers, overseers and others lived, the factory and other structures. Pave the roads leading into Betty’s Hope and those leading to the different areas on the estate; have proper signage and labels; upgrade the visitors centre. Let us all see how it was and make some money from the effort.

JCH: I want to talk as well about our awareness as Antiguans and Barbudans about these spaces and about our own history. Do you see a need there as well to sort of deepen our understanding of who we are and where we come from? Is this the kind of thing you’d like to see a greater push from from government agencies like Culture? Speaking of which, do you get support for your research?

JL: I think the people of Antigua and Barbuda generally want to know about our history. There’s much talk about showcasing our history on talk shows and even by government when they want to sound interesting or important. Now here I am devoting my life to this very thing and I get no recognition from them, no financial or any support, no purchasing of the books for schools or even libraries; nothing on the local news. Nothing I get from the government.  School children are forced to go to the museum and copy from my books to complete assignments. This is so unfair and the leaders are so shortsighted.

JCH: How much more of this type of research do you hope to do?

JL: If I get governmental support I keep on going but on my own its too much in many ways.

JCH: What’s next?

JL: Barbuda and Betty’s Hope should be completed next year.

Joy’s book launched in June 2013, in the village it chronicles. She said, “The highlight for me were  Kwame Apata’s overview of the book and the honouring of Parham Town’s oral historian Myson James.” .

Lawrence at her book launch.<—–Lawrence at her book launch.

CHECK OUT OTHER WADADLI PEN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS WITH filmmaker Melissa Gomez, pannist Joy Lapps, writer and Womanspeak editor/publisher Lynn Sweeting, novelist Eugenia O’Neal, and novelist Diana McCaulay.

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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