Tag Archives: Junot Diaz

Caribbean Writers Online

Links to artiste/writer pages (websites and/or blogs) from the Caribbean region – artistes listed here are either Caribbean born or Caribbean descended (in the latter case, they are listed under their country of lineage). I’ve opted to list per country of birth or origin, though the writer may have grown up on elsewhere.

Please note, this page is a work in progress – links will be added over time – if you have a link you would like added, email wadadlipen@gmail.com for consideration – if linked or if sharing this post, please link back.

Antiguan_writers_group_with_Caryl_Phillips_2[1]

From left, Antiguan and Barbudan writers S E James, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Brenda Lee Browne, Akilah Jardine, Marie Elena John w/Kittitian author Caryl Phillips at the Calabash literary festival in Jamaica (2007).

 Antiguan and Barbudan Writers on the Web

group photo

This image is from a fiction editing workshop in Guyana and participants included some of the writers listed on this page – Joanne C. Hillhouse, first left back is listed among the Antiguan and Barbudan Writers on the Web; and below Shivaneee Ramlochan (Trinidad and Tobago), second from left, front; Richard Georges (BVI), second from left, back; Nailah Imoja (Barbados), third from left, front; Ruel Johnson (Guyana), third from right, back; Felene Cayetano (Belize), front, right. (2016)

Barbados

Shakirah Bourne

Babara Ann Chase

Nailah Imoja

Karen Lord

Sandra Sealey

Edison T. Williams

Belize

Felene Cayetano

Ivory Kelly

Bermuda

Yesha Townsend

the British Virgin Islands

Richard Georges

Eugenia O’Neal

Dominica

Celia Sorhaindo

the Dominican Republic

Junot Diaz

Grenada

Tobias Buckell

Oonya Kempadoo 

Guyana

Imam Baksh

Maggie Harris

Ruel Johnson

Yolanda T. Marshall

Caribbean Writers Congress with Marin Bethel and Leone Ross 2013

Leone Ross, right, shows up in the Jamaica section. Pictured here at a writers’ conference in Guadeloupe with Joanne C. Hillhouse and Bahamas’ Marion Bethel.

Jamaica

Raymond Antrobus

Tanya Batson-Savage (publisher and editor Blue Banyan Books)

Jacqueline Bishop

Amina Blackwood-Meeks

Diane Browne

Colin Channer

Carolyn Cooper

Kwame Dawes

Jonathan Escoffery

Yashika Graham

Diana McCaulay

Alecia McKenzie

Kei Miller

Opal Palmer Adisa

Annie Paul

Geoffrey Philp

Leone Ross

Olive Senior

Safiya Sinclair

Renaee Smith

Puerto Rico

Lisa Paravisini-Gebert

Ivette Romero-Cesareo

St. Kitts & Nevis

Carol Mitchell 4 by Joanne C Hillhouse

Carol Mitchell is pictured here as a guest presenter at Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Jhohadli Summer Youth Project writing camp in Antigua, 2013.

Carol Mitchell

Caryl Phillips

St. Lucia

John Robert Lee

Derek Walcott

Suriname

Rihana Jamaludin

Karin Lachmising

Trinidad and Tobago

Lisa Allen-Agostini

Vashti Bowlah

Danielle Boodoo Fortune (see also this link to her various past blogs)

Summer Edward

Marsha Gomes-McKie

Nicholas Laughlin

Sharon Millar

with Sharon Millar

Sharon Millar, left, makes a point at the V I Lit Fest 2015 as Joanne C. Hillhouse listens.

Paula Obe

Ingrid Persaud

M. Nourbese Philip

Shivanee Ramlochan

Leshanta Roop

Lawrence Scott

Liane Spicer

U. S. V. I.

Tiphanie Yanique

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

READING ROOM Vlll

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

This one is uncategorizable (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that’s not a word; not the point). It’s the PEN World Voices
online anthology 2014 and I’m sharing the whole thing because I still can’t believe that I got a chance to be a part of this wonderful and prestigious activity. For me a highlight will just be sitting in the audience and listening to the greats read and discuss; but getting the chance to do my own salon style reading was pretty damn cool too. I want you to get the chance to experience some of what I did by sharing some of the other writers who participated via these anthology excerpts. It covers poetry, fiction and non-fiction and includes a piece of my Amelia and all of my Ah Write! as well as, from other Caribbean writers, who I’m happy to say I got along really well with, Barbara Jenkins and Sharon Leach.

INTERVIEWS

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

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Elizabeth Nunez being interviewed about her book, the memoir Not for Everyday Use.

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What is the last book you read?
“The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. – Jus Bus. Read more of this Texas born, Antiguan-Barbudan raised producer-artiste’s interview with Luxury Locations. And just a reminder about this interview with him right here on Wadadli Pen.

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Opal Palmer interviews Jacqueline Bishop in Moko.

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Jack Neely interviews Nikki Giovanni for New Millennium Writings.

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“This was my main problem when I was just starting out: I was trying to say something. When I began to write, I was deeply self-conscious. I was writing stories hoping they would say something thematic, or address something that I was wrestling with philosophically. I’ve learned, for me at least, it’s a dead road. It’s writing from the outside in instead of the inside out.
But during my very early writing, certainly before I’d published, I began to learn characters will come alive if you back the f*ck off. It was exciting, and even a little terrifying. If you allow them to do what they’re going to do, think and feel what they’re going to think and feel, things start to happen on their own. It’s a beautiful and exciting alchemy. And all these years later, that’s the thrill I write to get: to feel things start to happen on their own.
So I’ve learned over the years to free-fall into what’s happening. What happens then is, you start writing something you don’t even really want to write about. Things start to happen under your pencil that you don’t want to happen, or don’t understand. But that’s when the work starts to have a beating heart.” – read more of this Andre Dubus lll interview.

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Loved so much about this interview, but, I’m biased, as I love all things Edwidge Dandicat…well, all things Edwidge Dandicat’s writing…don’t know her personally at all. Among the things I liked in this Guernica interview, the phrasing of the questions (How did you find her? – about Dandicat’s main character); the insight that Dandicat reads and re-reads to re-immerse herself in the world of the story and the sense she has of eavesdropping on her characters because I do that too; the judgments about certain writing choices e.g. English or Creole – I’m not an immigrant (she contextualizes it as a problem of immigrants writing in English) but I can relate to this: “people think it’s primarily a commercial choice. But for many of us, it’s a choice that rises out of the circumstances of our lives. These are the tools I have at my disposal, based on my experiences” – yep; her take on book reviews and categorizations and the burdens put upon fiction and her point that “fiction is not journalism or sociology or anthropology. Every story is singular. The way we get depth is by putting a bunch of singular stories together to tell larger more complex and sometimes even contradictory stories”… and more… I also find her description of her book as a hybrid between a story collection and a novel interesting and her references to books like it will be added to my reading list because one of my current writing projects seems to be veering into this hybrid territory. Anyway, reading interviews with great writers is always a master class for me, and Edwidge is one of the best in my opinion. Check out the full interview here.

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Michael Anthony, a Caribbean favourite, talks about his favourite meal, his favourite calypso, and more in this interview.

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New Orleans writer and journalist Missy Wilkinson about how being a journalist fuels her fiction and being a shape-shifter. Found this very relatable. Read the whole thing at Grab the Lapels.

VISUAL

Sandra Sealey talks about her journey as a writer.

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This Pinterest link is all visuals of Caribbean writers of fiction for children, teens, young adults. The clip, lifted from the site, features Tamarind publisher sharing in a very personal way why such diverse books are absolutely essential.

FICTION

“She breathes deep like she learned from the weekly yoga classes she paid for but eventually dropped. Deep breathing makes her dizzy. Too slow. Too many text messages buzz in the time it takes to exhale.” – from Empty by M. M. De Voe. More here.

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“And you!” Adele said “I raised my quivering arms on high; I laughed and laughed into the sky…. Edna St. Vincent Millet. You were so romantic!” – from Time Capsule by Carol J. Arnold. Read more.

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“We pushed north, praying for the aurora borealis, a whale breaching, something. An eagle dropped fish entrails on the deck. We studied the water’s flotsam for glass floats and fished out styrofoam cups.” – from The Famous Writer by Norma Shainin. Read more.

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“Najua had been in the room one night and Kate had asked Seth if people went to heaven when they died. Seth hadn’t hesitated to tell her yes, and to go on to say what he remembered from his childhood Sunday school lessons: heaven was a place of pure eternal happiness and joy, where no one suffered and no one got sick or hurt. He’d felt a twinge of guilt as he told his girl what he did not himself believe, but Najua smiled and nodded her reassurance that he was doing the right thing, her dark eyes moist and full of admiration. At the time, he’d taken it for more than that; he’d thought she might be falling for him too.” – Hush Little Baby by Vic Sizemore. Read the full.

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‘Cerberus closes both eyes, dreaming of the old man’s future, death waiting in the threshold to cradle him as it will never cradle Cerberus. He twitches in his sleep, wakes to the sound of Alma’s footsteps running through the front door, across the hardwood floor, out of breath, “Hi, Cerberus,” passing him like a warm, Aegean breeze.’ – from Cereus Sleeps by B. K. Loren. Read the full.

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“He is looking at her, has no wings to flick and she has none to fly off with and she knows from one moment to the next that nothing can get her out of the situation without leaving some sort of residue.” The tension is palpable and, unfortunately, if you’re a woman, all too relatable in Doro Boehme’s Thief Knot, Fastening at Canopic Jar.

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Coo Yah by Tammi Browne-Bannister, an Antiguan writer who now resident in Barbados, captures the shifting, dark poetry of a hurricane lashed landscape.

POETRY

Esther Phillips reppng for Barbados on the BBC’s Poetry Postcards.

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Alone by Maya Angelou. May she rest in peace.

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“Nothing understands the ecstatic wine
of this music like your body” – from Shostakovich: Five Pieces by Pamela Uschuk. Read also her poem Learning the Theremin.

NON FICTION

An interesting and important conversation and one of relevance to writers like us, far far far off the map of mainstream publishing. NPR’s To Achieve Diversity in Publishing, a Difficult Silence beats Silence.

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‘The hit or miss nature of words is well suited to navigating in the dark, and this story proves that words have great power even if the speaker knows they only have a 50% chance of being true. And even when the speaker knows they are 100% untrue, pragmatic words get a person past the gatekeeper and into the circus. Or, words can be thrown out into unknown territory like hooks on a line. Our friend Judith, who spoke Hebrew and Dutch before learning English advised my husband, “If you want to find your way in a foreign language, you must guess a thousand times a day. Be bold—guess!” Words infused with longing and thrown like dice—left, right, or straight ahead—can get you home.’ – from The Resiliency Gene by Ellen Graf. Read the full.

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Martin Scorcese on the difference between plot and story. You know, I just finished watching his film Shutter Island before posting this and, though he references other filmmakers, it’s as illustrative as any of them of the point he makes in this short clip. Watch and learn.

BLOG

From Shakirah Bourne’s Get Write! – On Dialect: How Caribbean People Supposed Tuh Talk In A Story, Eh?

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So when did you begin falling in love with books? Read Kamy Wicoff’s blog here – and feel free to share your responses in the comments section below.

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One writer’s journey to publication. She Writes.

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Antiguan and Barbudan Leonard Tim Hector is one of the greats of Caribbean thought (i.e. among those who researched, observed, analyzed, and offered insight to our lives, in his case, various areas of our lives – politics to sports to the arts). JAmerican writer Geoffrey Philp acknowledges as much in his preamble to a re-posting of a Hector piece on Caribbean literature and why it matters. Read here.

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Writers Read by Jeff Goins.

*NEW* REVIEWS
A section for books I haven’t necessarily read as yet but, thanks to these reviews, now kind of want to.

Annie Paul reviews Jamaican writer, and fast Wadadli Pen patron, Diana McCaulay’s Huracan.

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

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

Quotables ll

I didn’t think I had posted so many quotes but apparently I’ve posted enough to warrant creating a new Quotables page. Apparently I do collect more quotes than I realize. To see some of the earlier ones, go to the first Quotables.

“The ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.” – The Autobiography of Malcolm X 

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“I spent three days a  week for ten years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better  than college. People should educate themselves—you can get a complete  education for no money. At the end of ten years, I had read every book in the  library and I’d written a thousand stories.” – Ray Bradbury

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“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

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“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” – Audre Lorde

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“I think, too, that the novel is a quagmire that a lot of younger writers stumble in to before they’re ready to go there.” – Stephen King on the short story

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“No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new fashions nor regret the loss of expensive diversions or variety of company if she can be amused with an author in her closet.” — Lady Montagu, providing advice on raising her granddaughter, 1752

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“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.” — Marilyn Jager Adams

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“The beginning is generally the end; (it) sets up the promise of what will unfold later.” – Maaza Mengiste (on writing – at Callaloo)

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“What I really want is that intimacy in which the reader is under the impression that he isn’t really reading this; that he is participating in it as he goes along.” – Toni Morrision, The Site of Memory, P. 121 of Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir

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“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
Emilie Buchwald

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“The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.” – Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

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“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” — Stephen King, from an interview in the London Independent (March 10, 1996)

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“When I started writing Disposable People the story came out with such violence that I thought of it as therapy and catharsis rather than art. I knew from the outset that the novel was unorthodox; because of this, and the fact that it was self-published, I worried about whether it would be accepted by a mainstream audience. I am so encouraged by this recognition.” – Jamaican author Ezekel Alan after his book, Disposable People, won the Regional Prize – Caribbean in the Commonwealth Writers Prize annual competition.

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“It’s exhausting for every artiste, to feel the world’s projection onto you of what you should be” – Lady Gaga

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“I think it’s important to be open for surprise, to surprise yourself every stage of the way and it doesn’t have to happen at the beginning. It may happen when you’re working over material and something jumps out at you. Then you reorganize everything around that insight.” – Robert Hellenga, in Quiddity, 2008

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All Writers are midwife of a kind, standing between those who have a capacity to persecute them and the people.” – J.O.J. Nwachukwu-Agbada, in Quiddity, 2008

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“People have no problem telling writers exactly how they think the writers have screwed up. I don’t think people realize it’s something you’ve produced.” – Brock Clark, in Quiddity, 2008

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I haven’t read Kevin Stein’s poetry but his 2008 interview published in the journal Quiddity makes me want to. Here’s some of what he said:

“Writing a poem is a wonderful thing to do. It’s like making a table or making a chair. And I love that aspect of ‘making.’ When I sit down to write, however, even if I had the wood in front of me, I wouldn’t know if I were going to end up building a table or a chair or an ottoman. But I start putting things together and if I’m lucky, the mind, the imagination, the muse, or whoever that is, helps me make something I didn’t know I was going to make in the beginning. To me that’s the most important element of a poem.

Part of what I like about writing and being a writer is being surprised by where I go. I like being surprised by how others influence me as well as how my own experiences influence and change me.

It was Wallace Stevens who said that poetry is what you turn to when God is dead. I don’t know that I agree with Wallace Stevens in that regard, but I do think that working with language and thinking about one’s life and one’s connection to others is a way of redeeming the self and others and one’s relationship with others.

Many of my poems have autobiographical elements I cook into some other weirder soup. And, like most poets, I’ll lie if I can make a better poem; I’ll lie because poetic truth supersedes factual truth. Imagination is the lie that tells the truth, as Picasso suggests.

To find a way to live one’s life fully is probably the best obligation of a poet.”

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Filed under Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, Workshop

Reading Room lV

Yep, it’s a new Reading Room; lots of stuff to share so it was time to expand from Reading Room and Gallery, Reading Room and Gallery II,  and Reading Room and Gallery III. But I still hope you’ll check them out.

DISCLAIMER: By definition, you’ll be linking to third party sites from these Links-We-Love pages. Linked sites are not, however, reviewed or controlled by Wadadli Pen (the blog, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize nor coordinator/blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse); and Wadadli Pen (the blog, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize and coordinator/blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse) disclaims any responsibility or liability relating to any linked sites and does not assume any responsibility for their contents. In other words, enter at your own risk.

Here you’ll find stories, interviews, reviews, poems; you name it…a totally subjective showcase of (mostly) Caribbean written (sometimes visual and audio visual) pieces that I (Joanne) have either personally appreciated or which have been recommended (and approved) for posting/linking. If you’re looking for the winning Wadadli Pen stories (and I hope you are!), check Wadadli Pen through the years. You can also see the Best of Wadadli Pen special issue at Anansesemwhich has the added feature of audio dramatizations of some of the stories.

POEMS
This poet acknowledges that her English is broken an not by accident. The poem’s a quick read but it will stick with you.

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Tanya Shirley’s poetry is vivid and steeped in the rhythms of rural Jamaica and the tensions between the characters that inhabit it…if these three  (Matey*Shall not Conquer, Waiting for Rain (Again), and Every Hoe have him Stick a Bush) are any example.

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I had mixed feelings about the poems in Aloud Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café Nicole Breedlove’s An Open Letter to Myself was one I liked. Also her ‘Front Page or Bust’ but I can’t find a link to that one. Also on my must-read list
Diane Burns’ Sure You Can Ask me a Personal QuestionTough Language and American Sonnet by Wanda Coleman;
Martin Espada’s Two Mexicanos Lynched in Santa Cruz, California, May 3 1877  and Latin Night at the Pawn Shop ; Pedro Pietri’s Telephone Booth Number 905 ½ , La bodega sold dreams , the Book of Genesis according to St. Miguelito , and the Records of Time by Miguel Pinero; Born Anew at Each A.M. by Piri Thomas; Asha Bandele’s In Response to a Brother’s Question about what he should do when his Best Friend beats up his Woman; and For the Men who still don’t get it by Carol Diehl.

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When Antiguan and Barbudan folk history writer and poet Joy Lawrence said this is her favourite poem, I had to look it up. Like she said it has a force that impresses on all the senses.

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W. H. Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts is one of my all time favourite poems. I also like Stop all the Clocks.

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“My beauty was never the common beauty of a pampered and petted whore
Whoever seeks such beauty deserves whatever uselessness he finds.
Tepid and tasteless like watered down coffee.
My beauty is so fierce,
so dark, so thick
so ancient, so strong,
you will have to grow new eyes to drink it in.” – love these lines from Donna Aza Weir’s Uncommon Beauty in the Afro Beat Journal… in fact I love the entire Haiti-themed poem.

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Opal Palmer Adisa writes of

“Obedient daughters.
Patient women.
Compliant wives.
Loving mothers.”

in Watching and Waiting.

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Poetry posting by Althea Romeo Mark – I especially liked ‘Whisperer’ and ‘Because I am Woman’.

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She by Eric Merton Roach – posted to the Caribbean Writers tumblr.

SHORT STORIES

NON FICTION

West Virginia native Natalie Sypolt writes of her struggle with writing what she knows in a way that resonates as both powerful and true: “My decision to move away from ‘what I knew’ to safer stories also had to do with the rejections I’d been receiving from literary journals, the models I’d been reading in class (which were nothing like my stories), and, ultimately, the old fear that who I am and where I’m from is seen by the rest of the world as a joke.” The last one is what really bites. Read the whole piece here.

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What to call this? A reverse rejection letter? Not throwing any shade but it’s fun when writers are able to get their own back now and again. Here’s the End of the World of Books from Letters of Note – a pretty cool site with letters of note like that. Such as the letter exchange re the evolution of the Outsiders, a movie I remember for its beautiful sunsets and poetry (nothing gold can stay…) and music (Stevie Wonder’s ribbon in the sky), the delightful teenage angst and suburban style class warfare, across the tracks romance, the epic rumble at the end and all the Rob Lowe-Matt Dillon-C. Thomas Howell-Ralph Macchio hotness; a movie both my sister and I loved back when we were tweens crushing on Pony Boy and Soda Pop.

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I found this to be an interesting read. It includes references to teaching Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy and other Caribbean books in college/university level courses in the US where the culture of the book is so different from the students’ lives; how do you access and understand the nuances of that culture without having a knee jerk sort of superior response. Here’s an example:

‘One of the things students often say when I teach a book like      this (Lionheart Gal) is “Oh, my gosh, their lives are so rough. They’re      so mistrustful of men. It’s supposed to be nicer than that.”      And “Why can’t they just get along?” I ask them to      answer the same questions that the women in Sistren were asked      to answer in order to create these stories. Questions like “When      did you first realize that you were oppressed as a woman?”      not just “What is your life like?” I ask my students,      “If you were to ask the same questions, what would your      story come out sounding like?” That is often a very good      way to make them understand the parallels between the issues      they are dealing with and the commonsense wisdom, the women’s      wisdom, articulated in these stories.’

Beyond the themes, it also talks about the challenges surrounding how students (including creole speaking students socialized to reject the creole in an academic space) engage with the language in these texts. For these and the other issues it explores, I found this article by Professor Rhonda Cobham-Sander to be share-worthy.

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So I’m intrigued by this Lorna Goodison interview for a few reasons. Because she’s a kick ass poet. Because of what she said about measuring (or not measuring) yourself against others. Because she always comes across like a cool down to earth Caribbean sister in spite of the lofty heights to which her talent has taken her. Because she loves Keats. And because of the question and answer re Antigua at the end.

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Beware self censorship…that’s the moral of this story.

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“These days, I have been learning to write with optimism. The kind of writing that enjoys life, whether it’s a talk on the phone, sunlight on a pier, or the wild joy of a rumba.” This is from Summer Edward’s article, On Writing for Adults. It’s a novel idea for too many of us writers who write from such dark spaces. I like this idea.

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Two things…what she said here… but also how our stray words can sometimes stifle an emerging creative light… one of the things Wadadli Pen urges is to write/draw/express your truth freely…if you can’t be free in the imagination, then where.

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“It isn’t personal. It feels personal, you’re sure it’s personal, how could be anything BUT personal…but it isn’t. The work is simply a widget, and this particular widget didn’t fit. So try again. If it comes back, re-examine your widget and edit as needed. Then try again.” Yeah, you guessed it, this is about processing and handling rejections (the bane of every writer’s existence).

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“Truth be told, some of my most rewarding research didn’t feel like research at the time I was experiencing it; it just felt like life.” Read more.

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Rex Nettleford wrote of dance:

“So, you know, the power of the body, it’s your instrument, it doesn’t  belong to anybody else, and you can use it to carve designs in space — by  which I mean create a vocabulary. I learned from early that just a turn of  the head, the drop of a shoulder, can say a thousand words.”

Read More.

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Words can be powerful deterrents; this blog post by Danielle Boodoo Fortune is a reminder that we should be about using our words to encourage our young people to express not repress.

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That fine line between when it’s still yours and when it isn’t anymore is not an easy one  to walk. But the writing is still… you just (just, ha!) have to learn how to switch gears.

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Publishing may be changing, and this article breaks down how, but it also says in simple terms that what we do remains the same – tell good stories.

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What I like about this article (Extended Family: When Fictional Characters show up in your Living Room by Nancy Kricorian) is how it illustrates what a slow, subtle, deliberate process writing often is. Ten years sounds like a lot especially compared to the “six months” or less spouted by other writers but this is a reminder that it’s not about time but about space, about worlds inhabiting each other. And that’s not to say that that can’t happen more quickly than 10 years; after all Zora Neale Hurston wrote one of the classic works of literature Their Eyes were watching God over seven weeks while on a trip to Haiti. But there’s no rush (publishing deadlines notwithstanding). I haven’t read Nancy’s book (All the Light There was) but the author’s attention to detail in building the world of her characters makes me want to. Plus I can relate to the need to steal time from the demands and expectations of your life, time to write.

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“That is how I feel sometimes with my art, that you have ideas but to some persons, it looks like nothing. But to me…nothing is something.” That’s a quote from Bajan artist Sheena Rose’s first performance piece (if you don’t count this intriguing Sweet Gossip project). I like this review because it gives enough of a play by play that you can kind of see it but it also provides an interpretation of the actions that it’s not simply a play by play. As a long distance fan of Rose’s, I’m liking the daring suggested by this brave new step. I had an online discussion with someone who wondered if the nudity was necessary to communicate all the piece hoped to. Necessary? Perhaps not…but gratuituous, I sense not…there is substance behind the artifice and figuring out what that is is the interesting bit.

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This is an interesting piece on publishing from the Caribbean Book Blog. It addresses what to do if your book goes out of print. This is something I’ve actually had to deal with with my first two books which were originally published with Macmillan and which despite positive response didn’t sell as well as the publisher anticipated and as such were allowed to go out of print. It was a low point for me, but I rebounded when after seeking the reversal of rights, I was able to get The Boy from Willow Bend so far back in print with Hansib. This article deals with one of those things writers need to consider about publishing contracts when it comes to rights. Now, it would be ironic if I posted this and found myself, despite my best efforts to be well researched and well advised each time before signing on the dotted line, ensnared in the very things it warns against down the road…but I won’t let that possibility stop me from sharing this because if you’re thinking of publishing, you need to be mindful of the pitfalls and the potholes. We all need to be.

INTERVIEWS

Emily Raboteau on memoir writing and her book Searching for Zion.

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Maya Angelou’s poetry and prose are legendary; so too the woman herself. Here’s a recent interview. In it she talks about her writing rhythms, heartwarming encounters, Martin Luther King, James Baldwin and much more. Part of what stood out for me was the challenges of the writing process itself because sometimes you imagine that it comes easy for the greats while you struggle to find the right word. She said: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” and every writer, every writer struggling for the right word, feels the truth of that. I was struck by the condescension with which one writer spoke of her decision to write for Hallmark. To quote Rick Santorum (and I never thought I’d say that), what a snob. Glad to have Maya confirm that not only does a well worded greeting card have the power to affect people as surely as a work of great literature, it’s just as difficult to find the right word: “I would write down a paragraph that expressed what I wanted to say, and then try to reduce it to two sentences.”

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Recently someone who knows Edwidge Dandicat indicated that she’s just as warm and generous as she appears to be in her interviews. All that and talented too. She remains one of my literary inspirations. Check out her frank discussion on women writers, tokenism, and more hard truths from the world of publishing…don’t worry, while she doesn’t sugar coat, she still manages to inspire. Oh, and like her, I, too, think Alice Walker’s In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens should be required reading especially for black women writers. As for Dandicat’s books, for my money you can’t go wrong with the Farming of Bones and Create Dangerously.

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Junot Diaz interview at the Caribbean Literary Salon. If you haven’t read Diaz yet, you should; meanwhile, go read this interview.

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Zadie Smith on The Root, frank discussion on a lot of literary issues including reviews …my favourite line on the question of multiculturalism “We are people; we exist.”

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My interview at PhD in Creative Writing; a blog that asks writers in five not so easy questions, how’d you become a writer.

VISUAL ART

The relationship between sisters is so much a part of my writing, how could I not share Claudette Dean’s Sisters? One of the things I find beguiling about it is how at first glance you see the obvious similarities – notably the shape of the face and eyes but that the longer you look you see that each of those eyes tell a different story. I find myself wondering what those stories are. It’d make a great writing prompt.

Love this! (Requiem for Haiti by Chantal Bethel)

N.B. For some of my stuff, visit http://jhohadli.wordpress.com

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Reading Room and Gallery lll

The stacks were overflowing at the original Reading Room and Gallery and Reading Room and Gallery ll; I decided to expand. Read on at Reading Room and Gallery IV.

DISCLAIMER: By definition, you’ll be linking to third party sites from these Links-We-Love pages. Linked sites are not, however, reviewed or controlled by Wadadli Pen (the blog, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize nor coordinator/blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse); and Wadadli Pen (the blog, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize and coordinator/blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse) disclaims any responsibility or liability relating to any linked sites and does not assume any responsibility for their contents. In other words, enter at your own risk.

Here you’ll find stories, interviews, reviews, poems; you name it…a totally subjective showcase of (mostly) Caribbean written (sometimes visual and audio visual) pieces that I (Joanne) have either personally appreciated or which have been recommended (and approved) for posting/linking. If you’re looking for the winning Wadadli Pen stories (and I hope you are!), check Wadadli Pen through the years. You can also see the Best of Wadadli Pen special issue at Anansesemwhich has the added feature of audio dramatizations of some of the stories.

POEMS

Claude McKay is a Jamaican born writer though my favourite book of his Home to Harlem is actually set in the U.S. where he was a pivotal part of the Harlem renaissance. Another of his novels from that period was recently discovered. And while this poem isn’t a new discovery, it’s definitely one of my favourites. If you’ve heard of Claude McKay’s If We Must Die.

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Exile by Geoffrey Philp …and another one by the esteemed Jamaican-American poet; you can feel the anguish in this one, Oshun.

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Lorna Goodison is a mistress of the pen, no two ways about it. Here’s another one I recently came across: Some of my worst wounds

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Sharing Kimolisa Mings’ She Wanted a Love Poem…because I like it …and because sometimes a girl kinda does.

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This is priceless …Langston speaks… and the negro speaks of rivers

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The Preachers Eat Out by Camille T. Dungy and the same, audio-visual version. Speaking of audio, the first link takes you to the poem’s posting at From the Fishouse, a free online audio poetry archive featuring emerging poets (cool idea) and co-founded by Dungy.

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Still sharp, Wadadli Pen alum posted this Untitled poem to her blog and I just had to share it (it’s sort of an un-love poem):

I cannot not love you, yet,
I cannot explain it anymore than I can explain my existence
or the state of the universe before God spoke it into being”

SHORT STORIES

This Helen Klonaris story, Addie’s House is sensual, seductive …and sad.

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From the forthcoming (at this writing) Womenspeak collection out of the Bahamas comes The Serpent and I, ariveting revision of the Creation story told, by Keisha Lynne Ellis, from the female (the Eve) perspective as she becomes self aware and discovers her world. Interesting twist on the Serpent as well, a decidedly more interesting character than the male (the Adam of the tale).  Here’s an excerpt from her painful first sexual encounter between ‘Eve’ and ‘Adam’: “My muscles contracted and with each of his movements a deep, throaty cry moved up my stomach and escaped from my mouth.” Read more.

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Some of the wonderful short stories I discovered at the Callaloo Writers workshop (2012) are Edward P. Jones’ The First Day – of course we didn’t have the benefit of the author reading it as he does here, Sherman Alexie’s What You Pawn I will Redeem – we read two of his; this was my favourite, and Junot Diaz’s How to date a Brown Girl – which weirdly I preferred reading for my self over listening to this audio 🙂

NON FICTION

Not sure this is the best spot for this but not sure where else to put it. Still, it spoke to me today because as any freelance writer knows, as the pendulum swings, you sometimes doubt yourself and your choices especially on the days when you just feel burnt out, tapped out, just plain out of energy, motivation, and ideas.

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I can relate to Andre Bagoo’s post at Exit Strata about notebooks, to the desire to keep journalistic and other ‘work’ writing separate from my creative writing, and to the reality that they sometimes overlap. I can’t say, like he does, that “I find I have rejected the separation” I still feel a bit like George Costanza on Seinfeld – my worlds are colliding, my worlds are colliding! But I guess I’ve begun to realize that that’s not always a bad thing.

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Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of Ninth Ward, writes about the angst and ecstacy…The Rhythms of a Writing Life. One of my favourite lines: “Writing a novel is an impossible dream. Like Don Quixote, we tilt after windmills.”

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Permission to write (from yourself and others) – Anton Nimblett gets personal on this topic, here.

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Andrew Blackman’s posts from the BIM Literary Festival on Earl Lovelace, Derek Walcott, and Austin Clarke; also check out his reviews of the poetry readings which formed part of the festival while there.

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Discussing the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel starring a who’s who of British geriatric thespians and Dev Patel with an associate recently, the question of stereotypes came up. We both agreed that the film was charming but where he was over the moon about its portrayal of India, I shared with him that some with first hand experience of India expressed displeasure at the the outsider perspective (let’s call it the Western gaze) and the way the film stereotypes India. He dismissed these concerns and you’ll have to judge and see for yourself. I think you’ll find it both charming and at the same time stereotypical. But then most stereotypes kind of start from a bit of truth or a solid impression that loses authenticity and nuance in repetition and overuse, don’t they; stereotypes are lazy and overly simplistic and where they appear in art often under-serve the group or culture they hope to illustrate. So, while black athletes dominate the NBA, it’s stereotypical to assume that all black boys are good at or have a natural affinity or inclination for basketball. Tennis or golf, as it happens, may be their sport; or they may not be into sports at all. I googled common Caribbean stereotypes and in this article and other places came across things like hard working and (paradoxically) laid back, religious and (perhaps connected to this) homophobic, love to party and yet loves/values education; plus there’s some stuff about voodoo… and do you know anybody that actually says “Hey, Mon”? Now there might be a bit of truth here and there in some of these assumptions but it would be silly to think that this is reflective or even representative of Caribbean society. If you’re Caribbean and you don’t talk like a walking stereotype you might even be asked if you’re actually from the Caribbean or have maybe lived somewhere else. So, why am I saying all of this. Because it strikes me that that adherence to stereotype about African culture, certainly as presented in literature/art, is at the heart of this biting commentary by Binyavanga Wainaina. By now you’ve seen Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s TED talk on the danger of a single story and Wainaina’s Granta article, in a much more sarcastic (much much much more sarcastic) way makes a similar point; challenging people engaging with (and yes writing about) a culture to abandon the stereotypes – the starving African, the loyal servant, the resplendent African sunset – for a richer experience. Check it out.

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“‘Til Shiloh was a decisive turning point in the artist’s stellar career.  It marked his transition from dancehall DJ to roots reggae Rastafari icon,” writes Dr. Carolyn Cooper in her blog posting Happy Birthday all the same, Buju. I agree wtih her about Til Shiloh – one of my favourite albums by my favourite dancehall artiste; an artiste whose musical insights evolved as he matured, evolved beyond the single song that has hung over and, in the minds of some, defined that career. Looking forward to more great music…someday. Read the rest of Dr. Cooper’s thoughts re Buju his music and his incarceration, here.

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“There is a Haitian saying which might upset the aesthetic images of most women. Nou led, Nou la, it says. We are ugly, but we are here. Like the modesty that is somewhat common in Haitian culture, this saying makes a deeper claim for poor Haitian women than maintaining beauty, be it skin deep or otherwise. For most of us, what is worth celebrating is the fact that we are here, that we against all the odds exist. To the women who might greet each other with this saying when they meet along the countryside, the very essence of life lies in survival. It is always worth reminding our sisters that we have lived yet another day to answer the roll call of an often painful and very difficult life. It is in this spirit that to this day a woman remembers to name her child Anacaona, a name which resonates both the splendor and agony of a past that haunts so many women.

When they were enslaved, our foremothers believed that when they died their spirits would return to Africa, most specifically to a peaceful land we call Guinin, where gods and goddesses live. The women who came before me were women who spoke half of one language and half another. They spoke the French and Spanish of their captors mixed in with their own African language. These women seemed to be speaking in tongue when they prayed to their old gods, the ancient African spirits. Even though they were afraid that their old deities would no longer understand them, they invented a new language our Creole patois with which to describe their new surroundings, a language from which colorful phrases blossomed to fit the desperate circumstances. When these women greeted each other, they found themselves speaking in codes.<!–

How are we today, Sister?
-I am ugly, but I am here.”

Read more of this Edwidge Danidicat article.

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Interesting Toni Morrison interview. But then when is Toni Morrison not interesting, right?

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As writers, we sometimes feel stumped or blocked. Walter Mosely urges us in this NY Times article (For Authors, Fragile Ideas Need Loving Everyday) to write anyway: “You don’t go to a well once but daily. You don’t skip a child’s breakfast or forget to wake up in the morning. Sleep comes to you each day, and so does the muse.”

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This is from a 1979 interview with James Baldwin. What I think as I read this is we’re living in the future he speaks of. How do we measure up to his optimism in spite of all?

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“Hah,” he burst out, clearly tickled. “Yeah, sure, I don’t mind being considered a badjohn myself!” This is an excerpt from a report on a discussion in NY with Trinidadian writer Earl Lovelace. Read the full report here.

INTERVIEWS

The PhD in Creative Writing site is essentially a series of interviews with writers about why and how they write. Interesting reading. Yours truly was one of their September interviews.

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In this interview African American writer Ashley Bryan, whose parents are from Antigua, talks about making picture books in kindergarten and how this set him on track to become an award winning children’s story book writer and illustrator. Go check it out…and whatever their talent, dream, or potential, encourage a child you know every chance you get.

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Do you think that part of the role of the writer is to remember or collect history?

I have a very clear understanding that I write about what interests me. I write about whatever happens to be my focus, obsession, and preoccupation. I write for no one, not even myself. I allow the story, or essay to “arrive,” and recognise that I am an instrument for allowing the piece to take shape, rather than contriving a topic or focus that is not interesting to me. My freedom to focus on whatever is of interest to me supersedes any role that might be attributed to writers from outside of their creative vision. Read the rest of this interesting 2011 interview with Antiguan-Barbudan-Canadian author Althea Prince.

VISUAL ART

Gossip sweet bad, ent? Think so? Check out this innovative art project by Bajan Sheena Rose with Adrian Richards, Natalie McGuire, and Yasmin Espert. Sweet Gossip where visual art meets street theatre meets performance art meets the internet.

…AND HERE’S SOME OF MY STUFF

Excerpt from Oh Gad! (my new book released in 2012) and me reading from the book.

Friday Night Fish Fry (fiction) @ Sea Breeze – http://www.liberiaseabreeze.com/joanne_c_hillhouse.html

After Glow (fiction) @ Tongues of the Ocean – http://tonguesoftheocean.org/2009/11/after-glow

How to Make Cassava Bread and Other Musings on Culture (non fiction) @ Antigua Stories – http://antiguastories.wordpress.com/food-2/food

At Calabash (non fiction) @ Caribbean Literary Salon – https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/at-calabash

Defining Moments (non fiction) @ Geoffrey Philp’s blog – http://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/2010/12/defining-momentsjoanne-c-hillhouse.html

Off the Map (non fiction) @ Signifying Guyana –

http://signifyinguyana.typepad.com/signifyin_guyana/2010/12/guest-post-writing-off-the-map-by-joanne-c-hillhouse.html  and again at Blurb is a Verb

What Calypso Taught Me About Writing (non fiction) @ Caribbean Literary Salon – http://caribbeanliterarysalon.ning.com/profiles/blogs/what-calypso-taught-me-about

At Sea (fiction) @ Munyori – http://www.munyori.com/joannehillhouse.html

Pushing Water Up Hill (non fiction) @ Caribbean Literary Salon – http://caribbeanliterarysalon.ning.com/profiles/blogs/pushing-water-up-hill-one

Wadadli Pen – Nurturing Another Generation of Antiguan and Barbudan Writers (non fiction) @ Summer Edward’s blog – http://summeredward.blogspot.com/2010/08/guest-post-by-joanne-c-hillhouse.html

Cold Paradise (fiction) @ Women Writers – http://www.womenwriters.net/aug08/fiction_poetry/Hillhouse_ColdParadise.htm

Somebody! (fiction) @ St. Somewhere – http://visitstsomewhere.blogspot.com

Reflections on Jamaca (non fiction) @ Caribbean Literary Salon – https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/reflections-on-jamaica

Portent (fiction) @ Women Writers – http://www.womenwriters.net/aug08/fiction_poetry/Hillhouse_Portent.htm

Philly Ramblings 8 (poetry) @ Ma Comère – http://dloc.com/AA00000079/00004/36j

Ghosts Laments (poetry) @ Small Axe – http://smallaxe.net/wordpress3/prose/2011/06/30/poem-by-joanne-hillhouse

Benediction before the Essence (poetry) @ Women Writers – http://www.womenwriters.net/aug08/fiction_poetry/hillhouse_poetry.html

Prospero’s Education, The Arrival, Da’s Calypso (3 poems) @ Calabash – http://www.nyu.edu/calabash/vol4no2

Interview @ Caribbean Literary Salon – http://caribbeanliterarysalon.ning.com/profiles/blogs/interview-with-joanne-c

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 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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Filed under Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery