Tag Archives: Kei Miller

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late May 2021)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here)

Wadadli Pen News

Our annual awards were held on May 30th 2021. Read all about it here or catch clips on our YouTube channel.

It’s a family affair: Meet Wadadli Pen’s first father-daughter winners.

Events

New Writing

Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters has dropped a new issue with writing from John Robert Lee of St. Lucia, Lisa Allen-Agostini of Trinidad and Tobago, Lawrence Scott, also of TnT, and art from Nadia Huggings, among others. Read the full issue here.

Congratulations Due

Winners of the Antigua and Barbuda Halycon Steel Orchestra 50th anniversary facebook competition: soloist Emmanuel Joseph of Trinidad and Tobago and 5-piece Pantastick Music out of St. Lucia. View also this retrospective, also on facebook, on Petra-The Spectator’s page. It explores the birth and growth of the band, second only to the oldest continuous steelpan orchestra (Hell’s Gate) in panorama titles, and one of the prides of the Grays Green community.

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To the regional winners of the 2021 Commonwealth Writers short story prize. The Caribbean winner is the amazing Roland Watson-Grant of Jamaica (author of the novel Sketcher) for his short story ‘The Disappearance of Mumma Del’. Namibian Rémy Ngamije is the Africa winner; Sri Lankan Kanya D’Almeida is the Asia winner; UK writer Carol Farrelly is the Canada-Europe winner; and Australian Katerina Gibson is the winner from the Pacific.

One of the judges, fellow Jamaican Diana McCaulay (whose latest book is Daylight Come) said of Roland’s submission: “A wiseass, pitch-perfect teenager tells the story of a pear tree near to the rail tracks of a bauxite train in a rural Jamaican district – no one will eat from this particular tree – but why? ‘The Disappearance of Mumma Dell’ teems with lightly but perfectly sketched and familiar characters – a hellfire preacher, a scammer, community elders and shadowy politicians. Promises are broken, warnings are ignored, and the now power of social media supersedes the then magic of obeah. Rich, funny and deeply rooted in the Jamaican countryside, this story reverberates with the drumbeats of the ancestors and delivers an incisive commentary on what gets protected, by whom and why.”

Commonwealth Writers reports that they received a record 6, 423 entries from 50 Commonwealth countries this year, making judging very challenging. The overall winner will be announced on June 30th 2021, online for the second year in a row. This is the 10th year of the Commonwealth short story prize. And if you – like me – are from a small island, and wondering if you’ll ever crack this nut, here’s a bit of trivia: this is Namibia first time making the short list and they ran all the way to the head of the class as regional winner. (Source – Commonwealth Writers email and website)

Opportunities

Writing for Children with Joanne C. Hillhouse • Bocas Lit Fest

Capturing the attention and imagination of young readers can be challenging; join prize winning author Joanne Hillhouse for a workshop in writing for children.

For intermediate and advanced writers! Details here. (Source – Bocas)

Click for other Opportunities. ETA: This workshop has been postponed as a result of a surge in COVID cases in Trinidad and Tobago where Bocas is based. An announcement will be made at some point re the rescheduling.

New Books

As a fan of Kei’s last essay collection and his writing generally, I’m looking forward to reading this one, Jamaican writer Kei Miller’s Things I have Withheld, which Rebel Women Lit describes as a great artistic achievement and a work of beauty which challenges us to say the unsayable. Connect here to attend Kei’s upcoming launch event. (Source – initially, the author’s facebook page)

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Michael Joseph, pharmacist and former president of the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross and governing board member of the international Red Cross body, has a chapter in a the World Dream book project.

The editors are Taichi Ichikawa and Ibun Hirahara who conceived the idea of gathering dreams from across the globe after attending the One Young World global summit for young leaders. The book is published, in Japanese, by Iroha Publising. (Source – Michael Joseph’s facebook page)

Celebrating Books

The May 23rd issue of Lit Hub’s This Week in Literary History newsletter had a really cool story about John Steinbeck, his dog, and his iconic novella Of Mice and Men. But I’m really sharing because of its shout out to Antigua-born writer Jamaica Kincaid whose birthday week it reminds us is this week. Here’s the quote:

“One of the things that young people need to know when they go into writing is that they ought to stop writing these stupid books that please people. They should write as if they might fail at it. To succeed at something mediocre is worse than to fail at something great.”

It being Jamaica Kincaid birthday week, I’ll list my faves, top to bottom, from her bibliography in the order of my love for them (this list will obviously be limited to what I’ve read and will clearly disagree with how others might order them – hence, my list):

Lucy
Annie John
See Now Then
A Small Place
My Brother
Mr. Potter
The Autobiography of My Mother

*I linked some of the places I’ve shared my thoughts about Jamaica Kincaid and/or her named books – anything unlinked was read before I started sharing my book thoughts online.

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The National Public Library of Antigua and Barbuda has for a while now been celebrating books via its Author of the Month series. The most recent guest of the series has been Turtle Beach author and bookstore manager Barbara Arrindell who spoke about her own books, the role of libraries, and why Antiguans and Barbudans should be building their library of local books.

Previous guests in recent months have included self-help and business guru Janice Sutherland who was in October 2020 the first online/virtual Author of the Month when the series returned after the COVID lockdown began; Floree Williams Whyte, author of three books beginning with Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses, who made a return trip to the platform; the first author of the month for 2021 Joanne C. Hillhouse, author of seven books and more; Shawn Maile whose book How to work Six Jobs on an Island the library describes as “a most interesting read”; another non-fiction author (of three books and counting) T. Lerisa Simon; and Jo-Ann Carr, author of Broken to be Blessed: My Life Story. For these and more library content, including their Career and Entrepreneurship: Tips and Tricks series, visit their facebook and youtube platforms.

The National Public Library of Antigua and Barbuda has a very storied history. The building above (by Mali A. Olatunji), on lower High Street, was destroyed during the 1974 earthquake and eventually torn down in the 1990s while the library continued to operate from upstairs a store front on Market Street, in the main commercial district of St. John’s City. The cramped space meant that the country was without full library services for at least two generations as the new library building project didn’t reach completion until 2014. The new library, pictured below, is at Hailes Promenade, near the East Bus Station, just outside of St. John’s City.

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The Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival celebrates Trinidad and Tobago writer Lisa Allen-Agostini’s The Bread the Devil Knead.

Lisa will also be participating in an event at Books and Rhymes on May 21st 2021. Virtually, of course. Here’s where you register.

(Source – Lisa Allen-Agostini’s facebook)

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ireadify.com, a new platform for diverse, including Caribbean, audio and ebooks has announced its top April 2021 reads. We can’t promise we’ll be sharing these every time (or any other time, really) but we’re sharing it this time in order to celebrate these books:

Black Girl Magic Sprinkles is by a mother and daughter duo, Chaunetta and Trinity Anderson, who founded the publishing company Black Girl Magic Books out of their home base in Maryland. The illustrator is Nana Melkadze.

Munna and the Maharaja, by Fawzia Gilani Williams with illustrator Deepa Balsavar, is a product of India’s Tulika press.

Abigail’s Glorious Hair (see image below from ireadify’s twitter), a book by veteran Jamaican children’s book author and blogger Diane Browne, with illustrator Rachel H. Moss. Publisher is Jamaica’s Blue Banyan Books.

(Source – ireadify.com email)

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

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Reading Room and Gallery 36

Things I read that you might like too. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

READING

INTERVIEW

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“The different sides of freedom was another thing that was always interesting for me to see.” – Alice Yousef on Poetry Influence on Origins: the International Writing Program Podcast

CREATIVES ON CREATING

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“Photography is not just about what you put within an image but what you choose to leave out of that frame.” – Nadia Huggins

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“Even Jesus had to pass through a punnanny” – Staceyann Chin talking about her life and work, and in conversation with Nicole Dennis-Benn

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Through the edit, we wanted to give the suspense and a little bit of hope. That was achieved by letting the scene breathe.” – How Spencer Averick Built Suspense Through Editing Ava DuVernay’s ‘When They See Us’

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‘The questioner said he was a journalist and had trouble making his mind switch from the journalistic style of writing to fiction. “I have students who have this same problem. I understand you. There is one thing you can do; interview the character/person you want to write about. Ask him anything, then you will have enough information to move them forward,” answered McFadden.’ – by Maryam Ismail writing on the Sharjah International Book Fair and specifically a session by African American author Bernice McFadden

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“Imagine Hirut on the top of a hill, rifle ready, prepared to ambush the enemy. Along the way to this war, she is forced to contend with sexual aggression and then rape by one of her own compatriots. The smoky terrain of the front lines has expanded to engulf Hirut herself: her body an object to be gained or lost. She is both a woman and a country: living flesh and battleground. And when people tell her, Don’t fight him, Hirut, remember you are fighting to keep your country free. She asks herself, But am I not my own country? What does freedom mean when a woman—when a girl—cannot feel safe in her own skin? This, too, is what war means: to shift the battlefield away from the hills and onto your own body, to defend your own flesh with the ferocity of the cruelest soldier, against that one who wants to make himself into a man at your expense.” – Writing About the Forgotten Black Women of the Italo-Ethiopian War: Maaza Mengiste on Gender, Warfare, and Women’s Bodies By Maaza Mengiste

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‘But she was a reader, in the fiercest sense. Susan knew exactly what she wanted. When I finished my last book, she said, “I love that Paris chapter. I want more. Could you please turn it into a novel?” She said it again and again, so often that I began writing the book in my head. Last month, when Susan fell ill, I asked what I could do for her. The reply came shooting back: “The best gift would be to write me that book.”’ – ‘I Think You Need to Rewrite It’: Ruth Reichl on What Makes an Editor Great

THE BUSINESS


FICTION

“This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of The Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre’s own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo! Starting now, we couldn’t soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night. . . so we did the best next thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears, and utterly destroyed the C. B. S. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn’t mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian. . .it’s Hallowe’en.” – from the script of the 1938 radio broadcast of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds which you can also listen to (I recommend listening to it first)

VISUAL ART

“We do not need permission nor expensive equipment to play the game or make art” – video essay re Steven Soderberg and his film High Flying Bird which was shot entirely on an iPhone

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Flow presents the results of its 2019 amateur mobile short film contest

POETRY

“You feel like is fire inside you
a fire twisting you insides into ash
a fire that sucking the earth beneath you dry
But you watch her dancing” – Tricia Allen

“…it almost I who came
back out of each punishment,
back to a self which had been waiting, for me,
in the cooled-off pile of my clothes? As for the
condition of being beaten, what
was it like: going into a barn, the animals
not in stalls, but biting, and shitting, and
parts of them on fire? And when my body came out
the other side, and I checked myself,
10 fingers, 10 toes,
and I checked whatever I had where we were supposed
to have a soul…” – How it Felt by Sharon Olds from her collection Arias

‘Fool neber ‘fraid w’en moon look bright,
Say, “Crab and jumbie lub dark night.”
Jumbie like moon as well as we—
Dey comin’ waalkin’ from de sea.
Deir foot tu’n backward w’en dey tread,
Dey wearin’ body ub de dead
Dat fisher-bwoy dat wu’k on sloop,
He watch dem waalkin’ from Guadeloupe.
Dey waalk de Channel, like it grass;
Den, like rain-cloud, he see dem pass.
Dey comin’ steppin out ub Hell,
Wit burnin’ yeye an’ a sweet smell.’ – Lullabye by Eileen Hall from her 1938 collection

“It is far from here now, but it is coming nearer.
Those who love forests also are cut down.
This month, this year, we may not suffer;
the brutal way things are, it will come.
Already the cloud patterns are different each year.
The winds blow from new directions,
the rain comes earlier, beats down harder,
or it is dry when the pastures thirst.
In this dark, overarching Essequibo forest,
I walk near the shining river on the green paths
cool and green as melons laid in running streams.” – from The Sun Parrots are Late This Year by Ian McDonald

REVIEWS

‘The book starts with an epigraph from Jamaican blogger Paul Tomlinson’s reproach to the commissioner of police to “go inna the bush and catch” the criminals who “always escaping in nearby bushes.”’ – Vahni Capildeo on Kei Miller’s ‘In Nearby Bushes’

REPORTS

“She writes intuitively from her own rural Jamaican childhood through to her becoming a global citizen, and because she writes from a searing past of aloneness and pain, her self-discovery and choice of self makes her work relevant, not only to people of the Caribbean who appreciate that she deals sensitively with race, class hierarchies and cultural oppression ­ the legacy of colonialism – but to all sensitive people of the world who respond to her quiet assertion of personal identity.” – One on One with Olive Senior in the Jamaica Gleaner, 2004

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“Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and British author Bernardine Evaristo split the Booker Prize on Monday, after the judging panel ripped up the rulebook and refused to name one winner for the prestigious fiction trophy.” UK-based Evaristo is Ango-Nigerian though those of you who’ve read her previous novel Mr. Loverman might remember that it features an Antiguan character (I remember meeting her when she was here in Antigua researching that character). Her Booker winning book is Girl, Woman, Other; tied with Canada-born Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale sequel The Testaments. Read the judges’ reasoning here.

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, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure – Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe). All rights reserved. 

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Reading Room and Gallery 27

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 27th one which means there are 26 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one. – JCH

NON-FICTION

“I am a black woman writer from Trinidad and Tobago. I was born here to Trinidadian parents. I have lived here all my life. I do not have an escape route to Elsewhere, whether the route is through money, family connections or non-TT citizenship.” – Lisa Allen-Agostini, A Black Female Writer’s Story

VARIOUS

Read the winning Wadadli Pen Challenge entries through the years and across several genres here.

POETRY

“…But
this too is disputed – not the flowers – rather, the origin
of bananas; they may have come here with Columbus on
a ship that in 1502 slipped into Orcabessa the way grief
sometimes slips into a room. …” – Place Name: Oracabessa by Kei Miller

INTERVIEWS

“Which is to say, it wasn’t easy for me.  And it wasn’t easy for the professors, agents, editors, publicists and publishers who each took a risk and supported my work in first getting published. But fucking miracles of miracles—it happened. I deserved it, for sure. But so do a shitload of others for whom the miracle hasn’t happened as yet. We’ve got to try and do right by those writers and those books. And even those of us who have one or three books published—we have to keep proving ourselves and the industry has to keep taking a chance on us.” – Tiphanie Yanique

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“Why does the land speak your poem?

The land is doing what all good poets do, it is speaking for people – the Taino who were the original inhabitants – who have no voice.” – Lorna Goodison speaking on her poem “Reporting Back to Queen Isabella”; also read the poem.

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“We don’t see you. The future is not you. The future is not your story. And the future is not black sci fi. So if we don’t exist in the future, where do we exist? Only in the past.” – Canadian film director Sharon Lewis on her film Brown Girl Begins, based on Nalo Hopkins’ Brown Girl in the Ring

FICTION

“Sometimes I listen outside closed doors, a thing I never would have done in the time before. I don’t listen long, because I don’t want to be caught doing it. Once, though, I heard Rita say to Cora that she wouldn’t debase herself like that.” – excerpt from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

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(Audio reading by Ali Smith of Grace Paley’s A Conversation with My Father) “Story here is a matter of life and death; the father is old, ill and dying; they both know it, and so does the reader. But this breathtaking, breathgiving short story, which never compromises on this truth or the admittance of inevitable tragedy, is profoundly, comically generous in its open-endedness, and leaves you both shaken and renewed by the heart, the fight and the life in it.” – link for full listen

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“I sharpened the knife on the bottom of a saucer and quartered the potatoes, and then fried them with the garlic and a fistful of coriander. My mother returned from the garden holding a cluster of beets, her hands black and her feet black, and she asked why we never had any napkins and she must always wipe her hands on the pages of English grammar books.” – from Waiting for the Electricity by Christina Nichol

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“Swami did not listen to the naysayers. He continued to sit and fast on his pulpit while the highway took shape around him and stretched further and further into the west. The road shone just like when Charlton Heston parted the sea to rescue the Jewish people and lead them to the Promised Land. Swami continued to chant while Friendship Village slowly disappeared. One by one, families succumbed to the generous compensation offered by the government for their feeble acres. Some agreed to relocate to more affluent areas in the west, to houses blessed with running water and electricity. Others even moved overseas to start a new life. Many bought second hand Japanese cars. The children who sat in the backseat often waved at Swami as they passed him on their way to the Promised Land of cineplexes, shopping malls, American chain restaurants and coffee shops.” – “How the Professor Made History” by Suzanne Bhagan

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“That was the day I learned you should never try to pull your fingers out of an eel’s mouth, not a live one or a dead one. Not if you want to have any skin left to carry him home with, and especially not if it’s a twenty-pound silver-belly.” – Eel by Stefanie Seddon

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“Still, he shut up and drank the tea, the sweet-milk making it go down more easily. Sweet milk was his favourite thing next to an ice-cold soursop suckabubby. As with the suckabubby, he would clamp his mouth to the opening and coax out the thick liquid when Tanty wasn’t looking. Tanty preferred to buy the sweet-milk since it lasted longer un-refrigerated than the evaporated sort, and their fridge did little more than take up space.” – excerpt from The Boy from Willow Bend by Joanne C. Hillhouse

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“When I tell you, I could only love you in England, I also mean that you could only love me here, as well, but I cannot say this because you would not understand, you would argue, and tell me that love conquers all. We speak in English, and I cannot tell you that I know this is not true.” – I am a Bird by Kathrina Haji Mohd Daud

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“Jules Poitevin is 54, he has three children, two sons of 17 and 14 and a nine-year-old daughter. He had felt that two children were more than enough, but his wife really wanted a little girl.

To keep a marriage running, you had to make sacrifices.” – Paxadol by Arnon Grunberg

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“Their memories had become muddled with what they had been told, and what they wanted to believe.” – Paddle to Canada by Heather Monley

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“But he did not touch her. Instead, as he watched her check the soup, he felt sadness for her, too. He felt awful that she had to make this soup base every Tuesday. He knew that years ago, she had a miscarriage. He knew that the daughter she did give birth to, the one who survived the pregnancy, didn’t call home often enough and that her son could only call collect from jail. Touching her breasts would make her less important than what she was, and she wasn’t important at all.” – DeMisty D. Bellinger’s French Fry Soup

CREATIVES ON CREATING

‘When I arrived at the gallery, I found other unsure-looking writers waiting for the salon to start. Unless we’re behind a desk and a mountain books, we writers often look lost. We spend much of our writing lives isolated, and we forget what it’s like to be surrounded by others who speak the same creative language…. When the salon ended, I walked up to the Great Hall where an opera singer gave “the gift of song” to visitors who accepted her offering. Her voice filled the vast hall as she sang to a little girl who sat on her mother’s lap. Afterward, I poured over images and artifacts from the “One Life: Sylvia Plath” exhibit. I might have missed it all had I decided to stay home that day.

Sometimes we must force ourselves into different environments and open ourselves to art outside of the modes we work in. I’ve written before about visual work that inspires my own craft, but I must continually remind myself to resist spending day after day in front of a computer screen. When we open a channel of inspiration, we enrich and broaden our work.

As spring (finally) arrives for many of us, let’s force ourselves into the sunshine, into worlds outside our usual routines to shift our perspectives, even when we don’t particularly feel like it. There is never a perfect time. To wait for a perfect time is to risk running out of time altogether, and that would be truly missing out.” – Dorothy Bendel, managing editor, Atticus Review (from their e-newsletter)

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“I wasn’t keeping it simple. By keeping it simple I don’t mean abandoning any intricate details of what I envisioned. I simply mean that I was leaving out some fundamental basic things that would strengthen the work I was doing. I had to revise my approach to these fundamental aspects of how I was working and keep it simple. In this case, keeping it simple meant, for me, not to overlook the fundamentals.” – from Levi King’s Emerging Director Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

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“The poem stalled here. I went back to my journal later and edited a few times, and you can see the lines I crossed out as well as how the final draft came to be. I think it is important for the poet to trust that first voice that a poem appears in, insomuch as that first voice often contains a several different possibilities that cannot all be explored. Now, I may try to split that voice and discover more than one poem, but more often than not, it is a process of whittling away and discarding to find the right direction and emotion that I need to capture.” – British Virgin Islands’ poet Richard Georges

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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Mailbox – Congrats, Kei

With thanks to St. Lucian poet John Robert Lee for bringing this to my attention, congratulations to Jamaican-born, UK-based writer Kei Miller on his win of this year’s Ansa prize in Arts and Letters. The Trinidad and Tobago company continues to award distinguished Caribbean citizens in several areas. Kei – whose work I have written about on this blog before and am a fan of – “is a poet, writer, scholar and blogger whose work includes three novels, four poetry collections, a short story collection and a book of essays and prophesies. He holds a PhD from Glasgow University and is now a professor of creative writing at the University of Exeter. Miller’s work engages Caribbean themes of race, identity and immigration. His book Augustown won the 2017 Bocas Prize, and his short story collection The Fear of Stones was shortlisted for the 2007 Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize.”

Congrats to Kei and all the winners. Read more here.

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Reading Room and Gallery 21

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artists by rippling the water together. For earlier iterations of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 21st one which means there are 20 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one.

INTERVIEWS

Judd Batchelor: What advice would you give to young writers
Dorbrene O’Marde: Two things. Firstly, I want them to write, keep writing it will get better as you write more – read the full interview

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“I just looking to give back, I looking to show that you can be some body, especially in the arts.” – Sheena Rose

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“I didn’t set out to write a faerie story, just write myself out of the headspace I’d landed in because of this unexpected negative encounter. As I wrote, I was drawn in by the challenge of doing something I hadn’t done, I enjoy experimentation, and something about taking this negative and working through it in a genre where typically good and bad are clear, and they all lived happily ever after, appealed. Also appealing was this idea of how passion for something can help it flourish, and how good can attract good, do good and good will follow you; and then the faerie was there awakened by, responding to the goodness that this girl was sending her way. It was an interesting development, and I enjoyed exploring it – and that this became a faerie story is the thing I’m most excited about. I like when something I’m writing surprises me.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse

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“The heart wants what it wants. But I chose to, and aspire to, becoming as good a writer as possible in the circumstances, given the relatively short space of time I’ve got left.” – Andre Bagoo

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“What I am coming to realize is that long before my preoccupations and obsessions become fully known to me, they are at play in my work.”  – Jacqueline Bishop in conversation with Loretta Collins Klobah

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“I am a writer first and foremost, but I did a lot of side jobs and odd jobs while I was writing my novel,” Islam says. “I freelanced. I wrote copy for Uniqlo. I modeled for an Al Jazeera campaign. But as I was finishing my book, it struck me. I was like, ‘What am I going to do next? I can’t sit in an office all day. I just can’t.'” She found her answer in her final revisions of Bright Lines. For starters, the patriarch of the story is an apothecary. And as she delved deeper into his persona during the decade she spent at work on the novel, Islam fell hard for fragrance. Besides, she adds, “Brooklyn is such a place to launch a brand. I was really inspired by other beauty brands that had started here. I wanted to have a part in that movement.” And, finally, Islam points to a scene at the end of the novel in which a trio of girls throws wildflower seed bombs into different areas of Brooklyn. The women want the crops to “grow up and into something.” – from Elle.com interview with Tanwi Nandini Islam

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“Lightfoot:  Chapter Five was difficult to write, but it was also incredibly revealing. It shows that even within such a homogeneous population of working peoples there was an added set of constraints on black women. Specifically, constraints around what women’s roles were supposed to be and the dangers of masculinized black women. And, of course, there was never the sense that black women in post-emancipation Antigua should have the right to stay home and be dainty ladies. Whatever stock ideas about femininity that might have been applied in the middle of the nineteenth century to white women certainly didn’t apply to black women, ever.” – Dr. Natasha Lightfoot, a historian of Antiguan and Barbudan descent, interviewed by the African American Intellectual History Society on her book Troubling Freedom: Antigua and the Aftermath of British Emancipation

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“The assumption was very real. And then it was actually named, ‘does Solange know who is buying her records?’ So it became a totally different conversation than what I was first approached to be a part of and then it became a conversation yet again about ownership. And here I was feeling so free, feeling so independent, feeling like I had ownership finally over my art, my voice, but I was being challenged on that yet again by being told that this audience had ownership over me. And that was kind of the turning point and the transition for me writing the album that is now A Seat at the Table.” – Solange Knowles talking to Helga on Q2 Music

***

INTERVIEWER
Do you have a reader in your mind when you write?
BALDWIN
No, you can’t have that.
-from James Baldwin, the Art of Fiction No. 78 in the Paris Review

***

“Writing a novel is like pulling a saw out of your vagina. Writing a memoir is like pulling a saw out of your vagina while others are looking on.” – 5 Questions for… Emily Raboteau

***

“It is a myth of my own invention. I am taken with the idea of creating new myths that speak to our current world in the same way that old mythology spoke to the world in its creators’ time.” – Lesley Nneka Arimah on Imagining a Universe of Handcrafted Babies  in her story Who Will Greet You at Home published in the New Yorker

***

“My mother also tells me that for Celeste different children and their various broods would be assigned various colours in her quilt-making schemata which is all quite interesting to me, one set of children being red, one being yellow etc. What I think is lost to us is the stories that my great grandmother was telling in her funky multi-coloured quilts about her family, because no one knows who was assigned which colour. I also mourn the fact that when my great grandmother died my cousin Mary told me that she was wrapped in two of her biggest and best quilts and taken to the morgue in Port Antonio Bay and no doubt those quilts were simply discarded. This is why I so appreciate your interest in this subject and you doing this interview Veerle because we might all be discarding and getting rid of quite valuable things.” – Jacqueline Bishop

***

“Is it lazy to look at the Caribbean as a unified whole rather than individual states?

I think it’s lazy to look at a country as a unified whole. But there are resonances and reasons why I think of myself as writing Caribbean literature more profoundly than Jamaican literature. The Caribbean isn’t a whole but there are aspects of unity and Jamaica isn’t a whole either, which is what this book is trying to say.” – Kei Miller

FICTION

‘But Theo never remembered that the pedal of the trashcan was broken. He would step on it without looking and drop the banana peel or the wet tuna-juicy baggie directly on top of the still-closed lid, and then walk away, leaving the garbage there for Heather to clean up, a habit that had finally caused her, just last night, to spit at him, in a voice that came straight from her spleen, “Pay attention, for Christ’s sake! Why don’t you ever, ever pay attention!”’ – Amy Hassinger’s Sympathetic Creatures

***

“I don’t know what gods watch me, or how it came to be that my fate brought me to an island in the Caribbean sea. It was miraculous, not least because, in the novel I am currently writing, there is a shipwreck in that same sea. I would not know how to write it if I had not found myself in a Jamaican fishing boat one wet and windy day in June, contemplating the whims of the sea and the alligators up the river. But it is equally miraculous to find myself in a humble neighbourhood in my own country, face to face with women who quietly go about their lives, walking between worlds, singing up salvation by connecting us with our own roots.” – ‘On All Our Different Islands’ by Tina’s Makereti, Pacific regional winner for the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

***

“It’s sick and it’s soulless but it’s one of the things I love about my job; here you can force the world to be something it’s not.” – audio reading of The November Story by Rebecca Makkai

***

“The blue plumes of the peacock’s tail were shot through with filaments of silver and, twenty years on, the ink hadn’t faded. It sat on her long slim body like a birthmark.” – from Peacock by Sharon Millar

***

“Now, listen to this next bit carefully: in the morning THE WHOLE KIPPS FAMILY have breakfast together and a conversation TOGETHER and then get into a car TOGETHER (are you taking notes?) — I know, I know — not easy to get your head around. I never met a family who wanted to spend so much time with each other.” – from Zadie Smith, On Beauty

***

“No, Pa, it really could happen that way!” – A Conversation with My Father by Grace Paley as read by Ali Smith

***

“I do not lie,” Crispín replied. “Adannaya is not only the most beautiful mulata of this hacienda and the best bomba dancer; she can also change brown sugar into white. Yes she can! And if I only had some brown sugar, I would prove it to you.” – from Adannaya’s Sugar, a fairytale by Carmen Milagros Torres

***

“We were surprised to find ourselves thinking again, it had been so long.” – from We by Mary Grimm

***

“Tantie Lucy had drunk from the cup of happy living and the shop was her world.” – Lance Dowrich’s In and Out the Dusty Window

***

“It was a joyous occasion in a young woman’s life when her mother blessed life into her child. The two girls flushed and smiled with pleasure when another woman commended their handiwork (such tight, lovely stitches) and wished them well. Ogechi wished them death by drowning, though not out loud. The congratulating woman turned to her, eager to spread her admiration, but once she had looked Ogechi over, seen the threadbare dress, the empty lap, and the entirety of her unremarkable package, she just gave an embarrassed smile and studied her fingers. Ogechi stared at her for the rest of the ride, hoping to make her uncomfortable.” – Who will greet you at home by Lesley Nneka Arima

***

“Some days I am alone, and I wonder whether I exist.” – Circus by Anushka Jasraj

***

“The three of us, smelly and itchy, clinging to each other, waiting for the gasoline and vinegar in our hair to start the killing. We had lice. Our heads were wrapped in bright turbans made from my mother’s old hippie skirts. She was reading my left palm to see if I was going to pass my math test. With one hand, my sister was holding my nose, and with the other she was drawing skulls and bones on my brother’s arm with a red pen. With his left hand he was holding her foot, and with his right, the table. We were always prepared in case somebody tried to separate us by force.” – from A Bunch of Savages by Sofi Stambo

***

“But what angered Zeke even more than the ancestors’ silence was the knowledge that he was helping Sonia to seduce a man who, sometime in the foreseeable future, would beat her for burning his dinner or create any other excuse he could think of to abandon her, as he done to all his other baby mothers after he had gotten what he wanted.” – Myal Man by Geoffrey Philp

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“I think, there’s a couple of songs.  I’m, I’m really proud of  “How far I’ll go.” I literally locked myself up in my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house, to write those lyrics. I wanted to get to my angstiest possible place. So I went Method on that. And really, because it’s a challenging song. It’s not ‘I hate it here, I want to be out there.’  It’s not, ‘there must be more than this provincial life.’  She loves her island, she loves her parents, she loves her people.  And there’s still this voice inside.  And I think finding that notion of listening to that little voice inside you, and, and that being who you are. Once I wrote that lyric… It then had huge story repercussions. The screenwriters took that ball and ran with it.” – Lin Manuel Miranda on writing songs for the animated film Moana

***

“…it comes down to cause and effect, but and therefore.” – Janice Hardy on plotting

***

‘So much as it is possible in a manuscript, every scene should be followed by another scene that dramatizes either a “Therefore” or a “But,” not an “And Then.” So if, in one scene, a girl has intimate eye contact with a beautiful male vampire, the next scene should either dramatize the consequences of that eye contact, which will likely raise the stakes or escalate the emotion—THEREFORE she kisses him; or introduce a complication/obstacle—BUT she remembers she hates vampires, so she drives a stake through his heart. If they continue to stare into each other’s eyes, or maybe they just get some tea, that’s an AND THEN—nothing new is happening, because it’s at the same level of emotion as the previous action, and so while movement is occurring in the plot, it isn’t necessarily dramatic action. And action is ultimately what keeps readers reading:  change, challenge, consequence, growth, for a character in whom they’re invested.’ – Trey Parker and Matt Stone

***

“Now this: mistakes are everything. Write, abandon, start again. But understand you will do this on your own, over and over.” –  Ellene Glenn Moore

***

“At one point, I got the idea to ‘set a clock’ in the Antarctica thread. Instead of making her time there quasi-borderless, I would limit her stay at the station to four or five days. This simple question about literal time led me to a host of new questions and discoveries: Instead of a scientist, she was now a civilian, which would account for why she, as a kind of interloper, would have limited access. From there, I wondered: what would a civilian want with an Antarctic research station? What is she in Antarctica to do? What will happen if she fails? Eventually I located the timeline that unfolds in the past, and explores the nature of the estrangement and how a secret shared between the narrator and her sister-in-law brought about an irrevocable fracturing. In this version, the past informed the way the narrator experienced the present; it helped the present to matter.” – from Inventing Time by Laura van den Berg

***

“3.Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” –Kurt Vonnegut’s rules of writing

***

“different works have different ambitions and, therefore, require different approaches” – Zehra Nabi

***

“I abandoned short stories and wrote a novel.  Maybe short stories weren’t my thing.  In a book, I had more elbow room.” – The Big Rush, or What I Learned from Sending a Story Out Too Soon by Julie Wu

***

“You have to do the work; you have to do your research. There are no short cuts.” – Justina Ireland in discussion on Writing the Other

POETRY

“Here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make” (from La-La Land. Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)

***

“That is how life is.

When you are placed in hot oil

be patient

keep going

you will be ready soon.” – Browning Meat by M. A. Brown in Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters

***

“My father
would not have imagined

seeing me here,
hearing of me fleeing a war.” – Althea Romeo-Mark’s A Kind of Refugee

***

“Maybe it is best
not to know.
Maybe it is
Inevitable.” – I am Unsure by Ashley Harris

***

“That’s one thing nobody tells you. Sometimes it’s okay to give up.” – Boys Don’t Cry

“give yourself a chance Andre
be open
love someone
do not fret, fete” – A Prayer to Andre

“When the nurse takes
blood you won’t have to be afraid
of her knowing you are afraid.
And then maybe you could tackle your
your fear of white cars next.” – Incurable Fears
from Poems by Andre Bagoo in Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters

***

“as I walk

people

stare and pass by

on the far side” – Madness Disguises Sanity by Opal Palmer Adisa

***

“The mirrors of their eyes only blind me.” – from Ivy Alvarez’s What Ingrid Bergman Wanted

***

“He is a writer a sensitive man
a thundering terrible intelligence” – from Pamela Mordecai’s Great Writers and Toads

***

“The new therapist specializes in trauma counseling. You have only ever spoken on the phone. Her house has a side gate that leads to a back entrance she uses for patients. You walk down a path bordered on both sides with deer grass and rosemary to the gate, which turns out to be locked.

At the front door the bell is a small round disc that you press firmly. When the door finally opens, the woman standing there yells, at the top of her lungs, Get away from my house. What are you doing in my yard?” – Claudia Rankine reading excerpts from her book Citizen 

***

“Another glittering day without you; take my hand
and bring me to wherever we were: the empty house
in Petit Valley or the city of Lapeyrouse
where headstones multiply like sails on a Sunday,
where a widower tacks under a pink parasol,
where people think that pain or pan is good for the soul.” – excerpt from Derek Walcott’s Lapeyrouse Umbrella published in Morning, Paramin

***

“I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to” – from God says Yes to Me by Kaylin Haught

VISUAL ART

Cloudrise from Denver Jackson on Vimeo which I discovered through the Wardens Walk blog  which I discovered through the Pages Unbound blog

***

team-painting-by-rachel-bento-commissioned-by-gov-gen

Painting by Antiguan artist Rachel Bento, on commission from the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, of Team Wadadli, which took the Talisker Whisky Challenge (2015-2016) rowing approximately 3000 nautical miles across the Atlantic – from the Canary Islands to Antigua – in 52 days. They set two world records – oldest team and oldest rower – in the process. Bento’s commission commemorates their historic achievement. See more of Bento’s work here.

MISC.

Speculative fans, I thought you might find this bibliography interesting. It’s a Bibliography of Caribbean Science Fiction and Fantasy.

***

‘I have not yet had a student turn me down.  Some of the ARCs came back after a few days with a negative review, but most of the time the readers would seek me out before school in the morning to tell me they had finished the book and thought it was, “GREAT!”  The readers who brought back the “GREAT” ARCs often brought a friend with them who wanted to be the second person in the building to read the book.  And before my eyes, dormant readers woke up!’ – teacher, librarian Mary Jo Staal on the Power of the Arc in stoking her students’ interest in reading

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Reading Room and Gallery 20

The reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artists by rippling the water together. For earlier iterations of the Reading Room and Gallery, go back to XVlll and follow the links for the previous ones from there. Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one.

MISCELLANEOUS

“The best career advice I can give is to stay flexible: When I was in grad school and teaching comp and freelancing—copyediting—I wrote my first book review for the Los Angeles Times.” – Carolyn Kellogg

***

“Don’t worry about failing. There’s a great video where Ira Glass explains that when you start in a new field, your work won’t be as good as your taste. It will take years for your taste and the quality of your work to intersect. (If ever!) Failure is essential. There’s no substitute for it. It’s not just encouraged but required.” – Mike Birbiglia’s Six Tips for making it Small in Hollywood. or Anywhere

***

“I quit my job, bought a one-way flight to Italy, and moved into a four-room farmhouse overlooking a valley. The Umbrian sun was as profound as it was supposed to be in pastoral Italy (after you quit your job, etc.). The valley was a patchwork quilt of olive grove and sunflower field; the row crops were bordered by copses of downy and turkey oak, as run through with pheasant and boar and stag, and, when seasonally appropriate, hunter. There was even an old paisano, Otello, who showed up now and again to instruct me on how to tend a newly-planted orchard of olive saplings. He spoke no English. I spoke no Italian. Va bene. Perfetto.” – Odie Lindsey, on becoming a writer…and a cliché

***

“Inspired by Anne Frank, she kept a diary, which her parents discovered and read aloud before other members of the family, an experience that deeply traumatized her and kept her from writing for decades. The incident provided the starting point for the title story of the collection ‘Bodies of Water’ (1990).” – on the passing of Michelle Cliff

MUSIC

Give Thanks –India Arie

***

08 Home Suite – Prelude No.1 & Mvt.1 – (Song For Loma) – Khan Cordice Live From a Music recital 2015.

FICTION

“Henry’s shoes were on his team, and they weren’t leaving him anytime soon.” – from Tonya Liburd’s Shoe Man

***

‘The next morning, Naga complained to her mother, “De man beat me and tear me up last night.”

“Yuh go have tuh get used to that. Yuh is a woman now,” her mother said, handing her a cup of hardi tea. “Drink this, yuh go feel better.”’ – “Naga” by Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming

INTERVIEWS

“It got me in a lot of trouble, that wanting to fit in…and so when that light bulb went off in my head that I could do something artistic and get paid at it…I gravitated…I found something that one, held my attention, and two, didn’t feel like work.” – Michael K. Williams being interviewed by Charlie Rose

***

“I have mentioned that the novel was born out of deep nostalgia. If I was back at home, and I saw my siblings every day, the space for the depth of reflection that birthed the story would not have happened. Since the work we do is imaginative, there is much value in trusting the power of hindsight. If I sat across from you at a cafe and I was to describe that moment on the spot, I would write about the obvious things you did. But if I lie down in my bed later that night, and the light was off, and I closed my eyes, the fine-grain details will trickle in. I will remember the unobvious things, the person scratching their wrist, or hawking into a napkin—those fine details that enrich fiction. That is, it is then, when the person is gone and the meeting is ended and the day is forgotten that things become closer, clearer.”  – Chigozi Obioma

***

“My grandmother was Caribbean and Caribbean folk are very private; they just don’t believe in sharing a lot of their personal history.” – Bernice McFadden on MPR talking about her Book of Harlan

***

“If most days are not filled with writing, they are filled with the thought of writing – the fixing of a sentence I haven’t even written yet, testing it on my tongue, trying to figure out its pauses or its cadence, or else the chasing of some strange idea, the way I imagine Jamaican maroons would have once chased wild hogs through the thicket. And always I want to grab hold of this idea, to wring its neck then flop it down on the table like some mad surgeon, as if to determine how many poems or stories or essays can be removed from its guts. I have a bad knee though, and seem to chase elusive and slippery things. Most days I do not grab hold of anything. Most days they slip away, grunting happily in the undergrowth. I go to bed most nights, disappointed, but I say to the sound in the bushes just beyond me, tomorrow! Tomorrow I will catch you.” – Kei Miller. Read the full Guardian interview.

***

“We shouldn’t have to travel to Ghana and visit this castle to have this history.” – Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing on The Daily Show. “If you want to paint a full picture of the slave trade , you have to include the African side of it.”

***

‘“I’ll give you two positions.  One is the position of these writers who feel that they will overtake me,” he says.  “That’s fine, if they’re going to write better work than me….  I assure them that I will be writing when I die.  The second position is my own.  I consider them to be competitors, and I’ve told them so.”’ Robert Edison Sandiford’s 1998 interview with Austin Clarke, the esteemed Bajan writer who passed in 2016

***

“Caribbean fiction writing has really been hit hard on the publishing end; I spoke to Macmillan Caribbean who noted that they were focusing only on textbooks at this time. Other Caribbean publishing may be doing the same. Even when they publish children’s books, you have to market your books yourself on the side so that it would get a second print. We are a textbook publishing region because there is money in it.” – Marsha Gomes-McKie, interview on her role as Regional Advisor, Caribbean South Chapter of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators and more

CREATIVES ON CREATING

Then (John) Ridley explained his secret: “If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to be a listener first.” – Sarah McCoy

***

“An artist in a studio, working.” – Antonya Nelson

***

“Once you’ve chosen a setting, be specific about its nature. Your setting should never seem vague or half-imagined. Some writers will draw landscape maps. Some will create a layout for the house in which their characters live. If your story takes place outdoors, be aware of the terrain, the season of the year, the foliage, the weather, the color and texture of the sky. If your story takes place indoors, be aware of the architecture, the kind of furniture, the feel of the room (stuffy, open, cozy, cluttered), the amount and quality of light, the smell of the air. This does not mean you must describe all these elements in detail, but the more aware you are of your setting, the more you will be able to capture it and integrate it into the story.” – Abby Geni

***

“I wanted to write about the life of children and the lives of their parents without everyone thinking it was about me and my children and their life,” she said. “And of course, everyone thinks it is. It is not. I maintain it is not.”  – Jamaica Kincaid speaking about See Now Then

***

“But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that only Romeo & Juliet would work. Middle grade readers know this play even if they haven’t read it or seen it performed; it’s embedded in our culture. My plan was to use the play as much as possible, plotting Star-Crossed on a track parallel to Shakespeare’s play: The Capulets and the Montagues became rival school cliques. Willow (Tybalt) throws a Halloween party but doesn’t invite Mattie, who sneaks in, disguised as Darth Vader. That’s where she meets and flirts with Gemma, who assumes that underneath the costume, Mattie is a boy. And so on.” – Barbara Dee

***

“Now that I’ve read through my manuscript a few times I’m starting to notice some little things that I never necessarily thought about during my first (or second or third) pass. I’m going through and carefully adding more layers to all of the characters so that they talk and feel like real people – complicated and varied the way we all know real people to be. During this process I can’t help but notice what may or may not be a big issue: I never described what my main character looked like.” – from Caitlyn Levin’s post ‘How do I look?’ at She Writes. In it, Caitlyn Levin notes that only at her third or fourth pass through her finished novel length manuscript did she realize she’d not described what the main character looks like. But does it matter, she asked. It’s a worthwhile read if you’re wondering how much or too little to reveal of character. Good insights in the comments section as well. Below, I’ll share excerpts from the ones I found most interesting (and perhaps most helpful to us all here at Wadadli Pen):

“If you choose not to describe your character, do make sure that’s an aesthetic choice used to maximum effect.  For example, Dickens’s narrator in ‘Bleak House’ is so unreliable that we never realize she is beautiful until the final chapter, a ‘minor’ detail that sends us reimagining the entire book and feeling even greater empathy for our heroine…You might think of Dickens’s choice as setting the bar.  If your reason is less compelling, less essential to the plot, consider going back through the manuscript to make one quick pass where you take an objective look at how much of your protagonist is truly on the page.” – ST

“I’m a visual person, so when I read a book, I flat out want to know what the character looks like. Our minds will always fill in the blanks, regardless. Tell me someone is blonde with blue eyes, and I will picture someone different than you. But at least it gives me enough to form a mental image to proceed. … She can twist a piece of her curly auburn hair around her finger, she can think of the size of her hips as she’s squeezing into a pair of jeans, someone can have an eye color just like hers.” – LGO

“Consider TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Scout doesn’t waste a word describing herself, but don’t we see her clear as day? She’s someone cantankerous tomboy we know from our past, the closest approximation in our lives, and that makes her personal to us. Neat trick, huh?”

This was my response:

“I think it comes down to what serves the story…what the character notices (or doesn’t notice) about herself and others says something about her. So I don’t have a problem with the author choosing to reveal or not reveal what a character looks like as long as it’s in harmony with the larger narrative. For instance, in my book Oh Gad! the main character’s struggles with her own place in things, her identity within her family is in part explored through the physical likeness and differences between her and other members of the family…that her mother largely exists in shadowed memory with a physicality that suggests an imposing persona is important to the narrative (and the understanding of that relationship) but what’s more important is her hands so that’s where the detail lies…that another characters’ peculiarities are illustrated often by his ‘strange’ physical appearance becomes important in the telling (as does her response to that ‘strangeness’)…in general, I tend to give something of the physicality  because there’s usually a visual in my mind from which these characters are drawn but I give to the extent that it serves the story.
Bottom line, I do like detail that add texture to the world of the story (including the characters), but not if it gets in the way of the story. It’s a balance I’m still working to master.”

BLOGS

“Read more and you will learn from your teachers in ink: Authors.” – Yecheilyah Ysrael

***

“A few weeks ago, I read a column by a young columnist in one of our newspapers. It was after The Olympics and we were just full up with gratitude to our athletes, and especially happy for our Usain Bolt. The writer said that he had read this book when he was in school about great sportsmen of the world, Mohammed Ali and Pele ( I think he mentioned those), and he wondered if he would ever see any greats like that again  in the world, and here he was seeing  our own Usain Bolt, as great an athlete as ever there was in the world. I was amazed.I wondered if he was referring to the Dr. Bird Series (he remembered the books arriving at his school in a box), provided by the Ministry of Education, and written by Peggy Campbell (of blessed memory), Karl Phillpotts and I.” – Diane Browne

***

“When I finished the novel I began to think about ways I could use the story with my fourth grade students.” – Patrick Andrus

***

“I am sun-smothered, round, smooth, quiet in my mind and spirit.” – Bernice McFadden writing from Egypt

***

Books can introduce children to tough topics in an age appropriate way. Kate Messner blogs her experience with one school after her book The Seventh Wish was deemed too tough for the kids to handle.

ON PUBLISHING

“Faced with seemingly infinite lists, calls for submissions, classified ads, databases, and fair-and-festival tables, how do I select which journals and magazines to send my work to with the hope that, after editorial review, my pages may indeed find proverbial “homes” online and/or in print?” – Erika Dreifus on 13 Questions to Ask Before Submitting to a Literary Journal

***

“Find databases of agents at Absolute Write, Query Tracker, Poets & Writers, and Lit Rejections.” – Eight Essential Tips for Getting Your YA Novel Published by Jenny Manzer

VIDEO

That’s Antiguan and Barbudan Arlen singing on this track. Big up.

POETRY

“More of one thing
Doesn’t rhyme with one thing.” – from Violins by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

***

Harmonium by Michael Klein first partHarmonium by Michael Klein second part

Harmonium by Michael Klein

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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

the Dominican Republic

Junot Diaz

Grenada

Tobias Buckell

Oonya Kempadoo 

Guyana

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

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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Reading Room and Gallery XVlll

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms (1, 11, 111, 1v, v, v1 , v11, v111, 1x, x, x1, x11, x111, x1v, xv, xvi, xvii), click the links or use the search feature to the right, to the right.

ON PUBLISHING

“#3 Not following guidelines.
Double check all guidelines before submitting to a magazine. Is there a word count requirement? Should your name be removed from the piece? Should your document be in Word, pdf, or rich text format? If it’s an email submission, do they want the document attached, or pasted into the body of the email? Do they accept simultaneous submissions? Don’t risk getting your piece being tossed out because you didn’t follow the rules.” – (here at Wadadli Pen I know this one well) – read the rest of the list of mistakes writers make when submitting.

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“My advice for young writers is to keep reading widely and for pleasure. And don’t get discouraged! So much of it is just mule-like persistence. That’s what I feel I learned this time around. There were many times when Swamplandia! failed and I had to pick it up and try and write it again. There were stories in my collection that were just duds, they’ve been voted off the island, and it was only because I had this material commitment to getting them out the door that I was willing to keep working at them. I really do think that’s the best advice—to keep at it.” – Karen Russell

***

“An interesting insight into the process came when the pair considered how they had arrived at rather different descriptions for the location of the windmill-giants – Jull Costa has them ‘on that same plain’, whereas Bush situates them ‘in the nearby field’. It transpired that, rather than seeking a literal translation of the Spanish ‘en aquel campo’, each had pictured what they read the original to mean and then found a way to render the image in English.” – Ann Morgan on dueling translations of Don Quixote

***

“Not only do I not see movies as I write, I can’t visualise, well, anything. At all. I don’t even dream in pictures. I have absolutely no concept of what it would be like to see things that no one else can see.” – Jo Eberhardt

***

“It happens too often that beginning fiction writers fail to give their characters jobs or occupations. Weak stories by beginning writers often feature adults who are wealthy without any discernible means of income or who perform the indiscernibly ambiguous task of “work.” Characters are described as working each day, but the reader is never told what they do or how their daily jobs affect them or their interactions with others. Characters do not earn money; they simply have it. There are no bills, no expenses, and, of course, no financial struggles.” – Amina Gautier

***

“So here you have a man at the beach, but he can’t enjoy it; he has to sit, because of his paranoia, with his back to the water, sitting in a chair; he wears a Hawaiian shirt but there’s a bullet proof vest under it; he likes a red wine spritzer but it tastes like Skittles which is very loaded…Trayvon Martin had a pack of Skittles.” – Rowan Ricardo Phillips, born in New York to Antiguan parents, reflecting on his poem News from the Muse of Not Guilty after a reading of the poem, from his collection Heaven, on CBC Radio.

***

“You start from building this world with their rules, and then you just follow logic in order to come up with the rest of the details. So once you have this simple fact that you’re treating couples in a certain way and single people in another way—and there’s a bit of a concept that this is almost like a prison drama or something, at least in the first half of the film—then you pick up on those things and you borrow things from other kinds of situations … We tried to get into the heads of people that would be in charge and what they would come up with.” – Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos on the making of his film The Lobster

***

Writing other…Mary Robinette Kowal provides some insight to culturally sensitive approaches to doing so.

***

“The second thing is reminding myself: You don’t have to write anything that you’re not deeply interested in. Every time I remember this, it’s a relief and a surprise.” – Rita Mae Reese on curing the affliction of not-writing.

****

“I use traditional women’s techniques, such as sewing, beading and applique. I incorporate found objects in my work; they are clues towards understanding my story and that of women in general.” – Heather Doram

***

“So much of what the filmmakers did in creating and then editing their work is what we writers strive for when polishing a manuscript: pinpoint the heart of the story and stay true to it, cut what can be lost, and always direct conflict and pacing.” – Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton w/ Elena Greene discuss The Lord of the Rings’ adaptation from book to film and what writers can learn from the choices the filmmakers made. It’s a five part series that begins, here.

***

A long form interview on the arts is a rare thing, especially in a Caribbean print publication, so kudos to Jamaica’s Observer for this series of poetry month features, this one spotlighting American Tim Tomlinson, co-founder of the New York Writers’ Workshop, in conversation with Jamaican-American poet and artist Jacqueline Bishop. Tomlinson’s book Yolanda, an Oral History in Verse, is focused on the Phillipines but his connection to the Caribbean – his time spent visiting and diving in various islands and countries but most especially the Bahamas is explored as well. Essentially, this interview is about both his journeying as a person and how that has informed his writing, how he creates, generally, and specifically in the case of Yolanda. W/thanks to Jacqueline Bishop for sharing, here have a slow as you sipping your iced tea kind of read:

Tim Tomlinson 1Tim Tomlinson 2Tim Tomlinson 3

***

“That was one of those magic moments. That came out pretty much whole cloth. Every now and then you ride the tiger. Most days the tiger rides me, but every now and then I ride the tiger. That’s my favorite chapter in the book. The opening chapter of The Given Day is another example. It’s my favorite chapter in The Given Day. It was written in two nights. It was rewritten extensively for prose, but it just came out.” – Dennis Lehane

***

“When I closed my eyes, I could smell flue-cured tobacco. I could feel the hot sun beating down on me. I could hear the southern accent of a teacher whose voice reminded me of poetry.” – Shannon Hitchcock on the inspiration for her book Ruby Lee & Me

VISUAL ART

Online gallery of Netherlands artist Marijke Buurlage.

***

***

Technically this is musical and literary art (lyrics) shared via a visual medium but that’s not the point. RIP, Prince.

***

“Nature is completely indifferent to the human endeavours whether they are good, evil, otherwise, whatever.” – Lori Landey and Beth Harris discussing Joseph Mallard William Turner’s Slave Ship

NON FICTION

“How many times over the years
I have explained
This.
Celie and her “prettier” sister Nettie
are practically identical.
They might be twins.
But Life has forced on Celie
all the hardships
Nettie mostly avoids…” – Is Celie actually Ugly? By Alice Walker

***

“Why, I asked my brother, did you like the film so much? So many messages. Look at the title. Everyone has problems underneath. Just because you are smart doesn’t mean u can work everything out yourself.” – Sejal Shah writing on Ordinary People

***

“You must read to develop a deeper understanding of literary elements, such as character arc, subtext, voice, and narrative distance.” – Chuck Sambuchino in his article The Pros and Cons of getting a Creative Writing MFA at Writer’s Digest

***

Kei Miller’s essay in this BBC piece resonates with me – it’s truthful and thoughtful and bold as so much of his writing is even when speaking of his tentativeness writing the issue of race -how our whiteness and blackness mediate our interactions. That said, I feel that same prickle of disagreement I feel stir in me whenever a black person, black writer (especially if they’re from colonized or formerly colonized places like I am) say, I didn’t know I was black until… because it’s not my truth (my blackness didn’t limit my sense of possibility but the reality is that, like class and other things, our blackness or shades of blackness was and remains a way of separating ourselves from ourselves) even in the predominantly black places I have lived (including Kei’s Jamaica). The Caribbean is not insulated from these issues, though they are not as starkly or sharply or consistently experienced in whiter places like the US and UK. Beyond my own experiences (some touched on in my February 2016 Essence article Mirror Mirror and issues of colourism/shade-ism explored in my book Musical Youth), this fairly recent memory comes to mind: being in a roomful of children of different shades of black, in a public child-friendly space, right here on our predominantly black island, only to have another adult, call out to one of the children, “black boy, black boy” with a tone and cadence that suggested “bad boy, bad boy” and to have him look up, in full acceptance of this (internalizing it). My aside aside, give the audio clip a listen; it’s a really engaging and touching reflection from one of the Caribbean’s best.

INTERVIEWS

“A writer always benefits from being a kind of outsider. That is why I try not to belong to anything too much. [Alienation] makes you an insider-outsider . . . sharpens [your] sense of observation. You look at things with detached eyes. Even some words. Pondering these English words with your Creole eyes. . . . There always is a sort of dialogue going on [within] most artists anyway. They just soak things in that they ultimately try to reproduce some other way. I think having this dual lens has been very helpful.” – Edwidge Dandicat

***

“Grounded in the realities of our history and geography, but unbounded in their imaginative possibilities” – Philip Sander describing the work of Nalo Hopkinson jumped out at me as the very thing I’ve been trying to define when I speak of a Caribbean aesthetic as a criterion for (but not a limitation of) Wadadli Pen submissions.

***

“Shorter doesn’t mean faster or easier! Short story writing is a very different art from that of the novel, from pacing to character development. So for a novelist, it can actually take longer and be more of a stretch to try her hand at writing a short story. A rewarding challenge, certainly, but definitely a challenge.” – Lauren Willig

***

“I remember myself as a young child, my mother had books inside here, and one of them dealt with the Haitian Revolution. I was ever so proud of Toussaint L’Ouverture. I was just proud. I mean, there he was, sitting in the same book with Napoleon and all of these other great men. So, for me, the Haitian Revolution was very significant. I don’t know how it is in popular memory, because right now everybody’s sorry for the Haitians—and “sorry for” in the sense of, “We’re better off” or “They can wear our old clothes.” So I don’t know about it in the popular memory. But certainly historically, Haiti served to frighten late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century governments. Frightening them, and as a matter of fact, had them even more repressive towards their black enslaved workers because their fear of Haiti was so strong. So, I don’t know that it has popular resonances, but certainly for nineteenth-century politics, it did.” – Erna Brodber interview at SX Salon, a Small Axe Literary Platform

***

“What’s interesting to me is that of the women who have read this, every single one thinks that it is absolutely sexy and totally horny. Then I was like, ‘oh, so this is erotica’. And I was reminded again that erotica does not need to be explicit. And, of course, what is erotic and what we find sexy and will respond to viscerally in that way is entirely subjective.” – Leone Ross

***

“The fiction writer in me likes gaps in stories because I can jump into that gap and try to suggest something.” – Marlon James’ Vogue interview

***

“There’s a place for everything…” – says Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne in this NIFCA interview:

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“To move past the ugly parts of history, you have to acknowledge them, on all sides, and this is what I think historical fiction can do so well: show how we got from there to here, but told through characters who see themselves not as history but as completely modern.” – Andrea Mullaney, author of The Ghost Marriage, 2012 Commonwealth Short Story winner for Canada and Europe

***

“The area where I spent my childhood years was surrounded my trees, and always seemed just on the edge of wilderness. That area has changed so much, but there is still that space in my imagination that’s the same…” – Danielle Boodoo Fortune, Woman of Colour interview

***

“What I’m trying to bring out is the power of words themselves, the power and musicality of words.” – Clifton Joseph

***

“Reading was such a sanctuary when I was a teenager, I wanted to see if I could tell a Jamaican story, a Caribbean story, that would interest even an urban teenager.” – Diana McCaulay re her new book Gone to Drift

FICTION

“In April of 1945, after facing only minimal resistance, Rhett was part of the Allied force that liberated a concentration camp named for the beech forests that surrounded it. The day was damp and overcast, with a heavy ground mist that sometimes hid the heaped bodies and sometimes revealed them. Living skeletons stood at the fences and outside the crematoriums, staring at the Americans. Some were horribly burned by white phosphorous.” – Cookie Jar by Stephen King

***

“In death, we live far more richly than we do in life. Our lives are pale shadows in which we are preoccupied with the business of living. It is in death that we take on nuance and colour. We seep through the floorboards of houses, spread out and nestle there. We whistle through windows, ruffle curtains and inhabit the minds and memories of others. We take on a resonance that only memory provides. We become deities. We become ancestors.” – from Ayanna Gillian Lloyd’s Walking in Lapeyrouse

***

“There was no rebuttal. She ended the call. From the decanter on side board, she poured herself a drink. The rum quelled the chill in her stomach — a chill reminiscent of rain-fly wings brushing against her skin. Where did they find him? They were hunting him for so long. Did he put up a fight? Errol had a point: There was really no need for her to kill him herself. But she wanted to.” – H. K. Williams’ Celeste in Moko

***

“They’ve taken you, in the rolling melody of their steps and song, to the river Aripo inside the forest, and when they sit and beckon you to come join them, their feet, you notice, are not as they’re supposed to be. It’s a peculiar thing to miss, really, backwards feet. You sense that your own feet have been treading air when they come into contact once again with the marshy forest floor. You look back into the bush where you think you came from, and you want to go home.”- Wenmimareba Klobah Collins

***

Edwidge Dandicat reads and discusses Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl and her own Wingless. And here’s Girl, so you can read along.

***

“My wife is happiest on Sunday afternoon, when I leave the house. We have been married five years – too soon for us to take pleasure in each other’s absence.” – from Radio Story by Anushka Jasraj – Commonwealth Short Story winner for Asia

***

“After years of working like a dog, clawing his way to fame and fortune—forfeiting family in the process—Desiree and the people of the island had broken down his mighty reserve and rewarded him with passion, friendship and the happiest times he’d ever experienced. He loved living in a place where everyone was aware of who he was, but not impressed or intimidated by what he had done. He admired the lack of social divides, that the Chief Minister played dominoes with ‘The People’, and that his best friend and “liming partner” was her cousin, and his Captain.” – Trudy Nixon’s Anguilla Boat Race, part of Akashic’s Mondays are Murder series

***

Mary Akers said about ‘Viewing Medusa’ after it had been posted at The Good Men Project: “For all you writers out there, this story’s publication is a testament to persistence. It won the Mary Mackey Short Story Prize, it was the story I submitted for my successful Bread Loaf waiter application, but for ten years, I tried unsuccessfully to get it published. I submitted it to 101 journals, 100 of whom rejected it before Matthew Salesses believed in it and brought it out into the world.” Here’s an excerpt from the story:  “I found myself unable to look away as she slurped her soup, dipping the pieces of dasheen in the broth and sucking them dry after each dip. When the soursop was served, she peeled away the bumpy green skin and slurped the fruit into her mouth, rolling it around until the smooth brown seeds were free, spitting them onto her plate. Soursop juice ran down her wrists and dripped off her elbows to the floor. I thought of Miss Connie, later, on her hands and knees, wiping up the stickiness while shaking her head at the lack of manners displayed by scientists.” – the voice/point of view and descriptions work well together to create a clear picture of the part of Dominica in which the story (which feels less fiction and more here’s how it happened) is set – the beauty and ruggedness in the landscape and the character of the people as compared with the visiting (presumably white) scientists, to create as well a certain mood of foreboding, and to suck the reader in…even if it spits that reader out the other end with questions, or rather one lingering question: so wait, she nar go do nutten? – Read the whole of Viewing Medusa here.

***

“The fuel tank was empty. He’d collapsed from sunstroke and dehydration. He’d been raving incoherently. When he finally recovered he’d lost all memory of where he’d left his men. A Lysander was sent out to look for them but nothing was ever found. The unforgiving maw of the Sahara had simply swallowed them up.” – Bully Beef and Biscuits by Guy Carter – this was the 2015 winner of the Mogford Prize for Food & Drink Writing

POETRY

“In Trinidad, everyone knows

the Pitch Lake but few have been

few have seen the dark and strange

surface, the vast dirt a mind of its own:

asphalt lake as constant as change.” – from La Brea. Read that and other poems by Andre Bagoo in Moko.

***

“No one sees my tears
wafting through the branch clusters
weeping airy patterns into the jungle silence.” – from Mangrove Armour by April Roach in Moko

***

“We read menacing messages in the scowls
of passers-by. Some circle around,
mark the territory with treads of footprints,
count down days to our departure.” – Camp by Althea Romeo-Mark in Moko

***

“…crushed lemongrass
overcooked tourist flesh sizzling in the noonday sun
barnacled, rusted boats off Devonshire Dock
my neighbour’s garbage ripped open by feral cats
overpriced perfume – from Trimingham’s, I think
‘mountain fresh’ detergent scent of laundry drying on the line
frying fish and sun-ripened fish guts
Baygon and stale beer
overripe cherries
Limacol and sweat..” – from Kim Dismont Robinson’s Scents of Bermuda: Or, All De Smells That Accosted My Nose One Day When Ahs Ridin My Bike From My Momma’s House on Norf Shore To My House in Smif’s Parish

***

‘In the roaring of the wolves the doctor said “Do you feel tenderness”
She was touching me’ – Niina Pollari, sharing and discussing her poem Do You Feel Tenderness

***

“There’ve always been Sunday mornings like this,
when God became young again
and looking back you see
that childhood was a Sunday morning.” – Kendel Hippolyte (Sunday) – be sure to also check out the Dunstan St. Omer Red Madonna that accompanies the poem.

BLOG

“I think I had a very different vision of myself when I was young, and definitely thought I’d have a family and be a loving parent by now. Instead I’ve birthed books” – Zetta Elliott

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“Neglected authors fascinate me. While the particulars for their disregard may vary over time and from culture to culture, one thing remains constant: their perseverance despite official recognition. Such is the case of Eliot Bliss, a ‘white, Creole, and lesbian’ Jamaican novelist and poet whose collected poems have been resurrected by Michela A. Calderaro in Spring Evenings in Sterling Street.” Geoffrey Philp

***

“Getting to the place in yourself that is beyond influence is the radical edge.” – Brooke Warner

***

“…exploring a new space is a thing of wonder and an entirely individual experience…” – Sonia Farmer, blogging her Fresh Milk residency in Barbados

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Reading Room X

Like the title says, this is the tenth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Nine 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.

POETRY

“De sun come idlin’

over de hills,

removin’ de shadows

from de tree limbs…” The poetry of Antiguan born poet Althea Romeo Mark, from her collection Palaver. Read more.

BLOG

“Reading inspires me and reminds me how much I love everything about literature. It makes me eager to join in the conversation.” – Tayari Jones. Read the full at her website.

INTERVIEWS/DISCUSSIONS

“Stories are incredibly powerful. They shape our understanding of history, culture, and ourselves. It’s why readers of all ages clung to the viral hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks recently: Seeing an honest representation of someone who looks like you when the world reflects a different norm can be life affirming. It says that your story matters. This is a fact that Andrea Davis Pinkney, an award-winning, bestselling children’s author and a vice president and executive editor at Scholastic, knows.” Read the profile and interview with Pinkney here.

***

“In st lucia to a large degree the artiste has to create the kind of society that appreciates art” – Vladimir Lucien interview at The Spaces between Words.

***

“I always wanted to be a writer. I did want to be a great violinist, too, but I had no ear or talent for it.” READ MORE of this Anne Rice interview.

***

As well as directing The Coming of Org, you were also responsible for shooting, editing and scripting it. Will you continue to oversee every element of your work like this, or does it get quite exhausting?

It is quite exhausting, but I am a control freak, which is not good all the time because you don’t get enough distance from the project. Now, as I have stepped away, I see areas where I could have made the film much better. It is my first narrative film so I hope to learn from this experience; in follow up projects I want to focus on directing and writing… maybe editing too, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t shoot as well.

READ The Missing Slate’s full interview with Davina Lee.

***

“My challenge to other publishers of Caribbean children’s titles would be: try and make books available throughout the region and beyond, make them affordable, translate as many titles as possible, and especially help create a literature with the readers in mind, not in a monolithic sense of “Caribbean,” but rather giving margin to different forms of expression that might work at regional levels. That means taking chances on local unknown writers and illustrators who may do well connecting with and inspiring their communities, if given a chance to reach them.” – Mario Picayo, publisher, Editorial Campanita/Little Bell Caribbean, participating in a discussion over at Anansesem on Broader, Better Conversations for Caribbean Children’s Literature

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Oonya Kempadoo interview on her book All Decent Animals.

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“She would later reveal that for her, writing was the pursuit of the perfect sentence and as well as an attempt to bring something new into the world. The laughingly stated that the hated learning that someone else had thought of something before she had.” – Read more of Kwame Dawes interview with Jamaica Kincaid at Calabash on the Susumba website.

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10 x 10 podcasts, a series of 10 minute podcasts with presenter and journalist Rosie Goldsmith. In each podcast Rosie spends 10 minutes talking to authors from five different parts of the world. This includes from the Caribbean region Jamaican writer Lorna Goodison and Belizean writer Ivory Kelly.

***

This is one of my favourite writers Edwidge Dandicat (whose Farming of Bones and Create Dangeroulsly are among my all time favourite books) talking about another of my favourite writers Jamaica Kincaid (whose Annie John, My Brother, and Lucy are must-reads in my book). She also reads two Kincaid shorts including a personal favourite which I have actually used in workshop, Girl. Listen here.

NON FICTION

The essay featured in this post is the Texture of Fiction and in this excerpt you get to sample the texture of Kei Miller’s writing: “I remember a tree in Jamaica that bore as its fruit, prophecies. That’s what it seemed like to me. The tree was in a dust bowl right outside of my high school and there must have been a man or woman who used charcoal to write words like ‘Repent’ or ‘The Prime-minister must fall’ or ‘Know ye this day who you shall serve’ on squares of cardboard. These cardboard signs were hung up in the tree, and the branches had become overburdened with them, like a mango tree in season. Sometimes the wind would rattle these words, the cardboards would hit against each other, such a strange and terrible sound, as if angels were crowded together, back to back, and were beating their wings.”

***

This edition of Antigua and Barbuda’s Historical and Archeological Society’s newsletter has information on early villages, traditions, why Guiana Island is an ecological gem (something to think about, all things considered), and the Silston Library – have a read: HAS Newsletter 2015 FINAL

***

“What am I supposed to say to her?” I ask. “That it will get better twenty years from now? It sure didn’t get any better for me.” Read all of Saving April by M. J. Fievre.

***

“To permit a book, to read a book, is not enough. We must engage with its history. Ask who challenges a text and for what reasons. When we read a book, let’s read with a mind for its censors: what is that thing inside The Things They Carried that stirs a parent’s need to protect?” – See more at: On Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried | PEN American Center

INDUSTRY TALK

“Write the best short story you can, submit to competitions and be ruthless about the quality of the piece. Of the millions of short stories written, there are a handful that are good enough to catch the attention of readers, and if they are good enough to do that an agent will be interested. Practice is essential – not every short story written, even by an experienced writer, will be good enough to be published, so working through any idea until you feel it can be held up to the light is part of the process.” More from literary agent Lucy Luck.

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First there’s this “It felt like possibility. It felt like hope” and then there’s this “I thought about where I submitted my work and what the editors would think. I imagined how the piece would fit in with the journal’s aesthetic. I wondered whether or not my work was too experimental or too trite or too coy. I worried that my work was too wrong for the journals I submitted to, too wrong for any journal, really, too wrong to be read by anyone at all.” Eventually, you realize though “(it’s) out of our hands.” – Emily Lackey on submissions.

***

“I’m not sure where the idea got seeded that author platform equals social media, but it’s time to dislodge that from your head if you believe it to be true. Social media alone is pretty ineffective at moving people to action.” Read what else is needed.

***

“Before I started working on the editorial side of the publishing industry myself, I had no idea how long it took for the publishing cycle to complete its orbit around a book.” – Jonathan Eyers on Understanding the Publishing Process.

ABOUT WRITING

“You give your character opinions, needs, likes, and dislikes; you give him fears, joys, anxieties. Let’s call these ‘personality markers.’ What are her pastimes, fantasies, hopes, memories, and preoccupations? Be sure that some of these are not connected directly to theme and story. Diversify. That’ll avoid creating a character who seems controlled by the needs of her creator, simply a representation of a type. A protagonist might be a lawyer, but certainly not all her waking hours will be spent thinking about the law. These personality markers serve to add surprising and interesting layers to your characters that may indirectly connect to the needs and movement of your story and the themes that compel you.” Read More.

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LIke Bridgett M. Davis infers in this piece, there’s no rush; you finish your novel when you finish it. So ease up on yourself. And keep writing.

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Writing Advice from C. S. Lewis.

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On building a collection and breaking with old habits, by Abby Geni.

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“The opening line is a promise to your reader of the type of tale about to unfold.” Read more of Opening lines: Rules of Engagement by Shelley Jones.

 

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READING ROOM IX

Like the title says, this is the ninth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Eight 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.

INTERVIEWS

Haitian American writer M. J. Fievre, who interviewed me for her website recently, has this really cool interview of her own.

***”

My work is never finished. Even as I read something that’s published, I still want to change it.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Read full interview here.

***

“I don’t chase what I hear on the radio. I try not to compete with anybody. And even though I’m a musician, I don’t necessarily follow a certain set of rules. Sometimes my mistakes turn into interesting music because I do things that aren’t supposed to be done. Really it’s more about a state of mind. I grew up with a certain standard of music, watching my father and his peers. For them, music had a deeper purpose than one’s own selfish gain. It was never just a business.” – Ziggy Marley, full interview here.

***

“I am inspired by kindness. When I see ordinary people practicing kindness in ordinary ways—smiling at strangers, getting up to give a seat to someone else on the bus, helping someone with their luggage, stopping to speak to a homeless person—I am inspired because I am reminded of humanity.” – Dena Simmons. Read more.

***

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – funny, as many interviews as I’ve seen and read with her, I never realized I’d been pronouncing her last name wrong. So, thanks for that Tavis Smiley. And thanks to both the Nigerian writer (Adichie) and American interviewer (Smiley) for an interesting conversation on the things people would rather not talk about. Here’s to uncomfortable conversations.

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Commonwealth podcasts featuring writers from across the Commonwealth including, from the Caribbean Lorna Goodison (Jamaica) and my girl Ivory Kelly (Belize).

That's Ivory, to the right, with me in Glasgow, 2014.

That’s Ivory, to the right, with me in Glasgow, 2014.

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I hope you didn’t miss this one, but in case you did, Jamaican writer (poet, fiction writer, essayist) and professor Kei Miller in 2014 won the Forward Prize. It’s kind of a big deal, made bigger still by the fact that he’s the first non-white poet to take the British-based prize in more than 20 years. For that, you get two links: his interview/profile in the (UK) Guardian and the Forward Prize announcement.

That's Kei to the right - hanging in Glasgow (with me and others), 2014.

That’s Kei to the right – hanging in Glasgow (with me and others), 2014.

Bonus, peep Kei in this British Poetry Book Society line-up of 20 poets to watch. And listen to the poet talk about his work and journey as a writer, here.

Another bonus: Kei’s Carcanet interview.

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Renaee Perrier (now Smith) was one of my block sisters during my UWI days. Check out this interview about her writing life.

FICTION

“Gramma had told me stories about jumbies—people who had died but could walk about in the night. They lived in dark shadows and all the bad scary places. But my jumbie daddy was different.” Read all of Neala Bhagwansingh’s Jumbie Daddy.

***

Audio clip of A-dZiko Gegele and Roland Watson-Grant reading at Bocas 2014 – good stuff.

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Love this story (The Headstrong Historian by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), first because it’s a good story well told…and a good example of a story having an epic span…but also for its view of pre-colonized Africa and the slow process of that colonization and the deliberateness of that/the trade off and of the decolonization of the mind…it resonates… it really does in unexpected ways… “Nwamgba was alarmed by how indiscriminately the missionaries flogged students: for being late, for being lazy, for being slow, for being idle, and, once, as Anikwenwa told her, Father Lutz put metal cuffs around a girl’s hands to teach her a lesson about lying, all the time saying in Igbo—for Father Lutz spoke a broken brand of Igbo—that native parents pampered their children too much, that teaching the Gospel also meant teaching proper discipline.” Makes you wonder, what’s really our culture (as once colonized descendants of Africa), a culture we defend so arduously, and what was thrust upon us until we didn’t know how to separate ourselves from it. Colonization is a hell of a thing. When people say get over it, it’s in the past, they don’t know. Anyway, you can also find this story in The Thing Around Her Neck, an Adichie book I highly recommend.

***

“This story moves. With each stop and each passenger, the reader becomes more invested the bus driver—and more worried about the pig. The final line is satisfying in way that made me want to cheer.” – Kenyon Review on why it selected Karen Lin-Greenberg’s Care  

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Wanna hear something weird? While reading this story, which I really liked by the way, I pictured everybody in it as black, and specifically African American – the man, the sick woman, the angel, all black. There was no detail in the story (or none that I found on first read) to contradict me and yet there was detail enough to make these people – and angel – fully realized beings. It didn’t occur to me until I got to the end, and saw the picture of the author, that they may or may not be. Hm. That’s the funny thing about reading sometimes, how we project our reality or a context that makes sense to us (since my reality while black is not African American) unto the characters. It defaulted to what was famliar. But it just goes to show, though, that details of a character’s race, hair colour, eyes (details that, like any other, should really be used only in so far as they serve the story) may or may not be necessary to seeing the characters and the world of the characters. Maybe we see them as we’re meant to see them. Like I said, black or white, I found these characters to be really interesting (for the things unsaid between her and her lover, for the angel’s other worldliness and bewilderment with our world, and oddly enticing sensuality, for what it says about the nature of living and dying). Read Amy Bonnaffons’ Black Stones here.

***

This excerpt of Roland Watson-Grant’s Sketcher tickled me in all sorts of ways. First, New Orleans. Been enamoured with New Orleans in literature since my Anne Rice college years. Second, born in the 70s myself, I laughed out loud at the narrator (also a child at the 70s) rolling his eyes about the 60s:  “It must have been the time o’ their lives, the Sixties, what with all that music and bell-bottom tight pants and lots of free love and everything. But I bet they still had headaches and mosquitoes and taxes, so I don’t know what all the fuss was about.” Third, intriguing characters, setting, scenario…and the CB craze of the early 80s…I remember that…remember my brother was into that too. Fourth, the writing…this isn’t just a nostalgia trip for me…the writing is alive and has the music and magic and sweltering energy of the landscape it describes. Moving this book up my to-read list. You will want to, too, after reading this.

NON FICTION

Poetry notes from my former mentor and teacher, Mervyn Morris.

“Poems work not just by what they say but by how they say it.” – See more here.

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The Pain of Reading is all kinds of heartbreaking. Read it here.

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“Read publishing contracts carefully before signing them… When selling rights to any work, remember that the fewer rights you sell, the better.” Read more.

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This is actually very similar with what I’m trying to do with the Jhohadli Writing Project – it gives me hope. Read, how I built my own literary scene and saved myself by Julia Fierro.

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Hell is my own Book Tour by Adam Mansbach made me laugh out loud and also strangely envious, as in at least you got to go on a book tour… ah the writing life, it’s not all glitz and glamour…in fact, often there’s no glitz and glamour at all… just four people at a book reading whom you nonetheless give your all.

***

“The other way to escape the curse of knowledge is to show a draft to yourself, ideally after enough time has passed that the text is no longer familiar. If you are like me you will find yourself thinking, “What did I mean by that?” or “How does this follow?” or, all too often, “Who wrote this crap?” The form in which thoughts occur to a writer is rarely the same as the form in which they can be absorbed by a reader. Advice on writing is not so much advice on how to write as on how to revise.” – read more of Steven Pinker’s article on The Curse of Bad Writing.

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Kwame Dawes talks about how he writes. One of my favourite bits…

“My brain is a kind of cesspool that collects material unfiltered – or it may be filtered. I’m not conscious that I’m putting things into it. I may remark that something as interesting, but in truth what I’m doing is pulling something into that pool. When I make the decision to write a poem, I don’t know what is going to come from that pool. The act of writing brings together various and complex things. What I may access from that pool might happen immediately, or it may take years.”

***

I’ve been given and received feedback, edited the works of others, been edited…and as I ruminate on both sides of that journey, I think it bears remembering that if you’re either hired to edit or just asked to give feedback on a piece of writing, “You’re being asked to consult—not commit a hostile takeover”, “Think of your reading mission as understanding the piece,” and “Don’t sacrifice feeling for critical thinking. Don’t forget to feel the piece.” Editing, like writing, is not paint by numbers. As writer, I try to listen to my characters and try to tell their tale authentically and insightfully. As editor, I try to come to each piece open to what the piece is trying to say and how the author is trying to say it, and hopefully guide them toward saying it clearly yet in their unique and distinct way. As I said in this article, it’s a delicate dance. Ten Essentials of Reading for Writers is an interesting read for those who’ve ever been asked to give feedback on a writer’s work in terms of striking the necessary balance.

REVIEWS

Black-ish – initial thoughts:My first requirement of a comedy is that it make me laugh. I can forgive a lot of things if you make me laugh. Black-ish, which debuted this Wednesday on ABC, made me laugh, sometimes. I run hot and cold with series star Anthony Anderson but found myself liking him in this role. His high pitched humour works here; and it better, as his perspective – his real moments and hyper real fantasies – are what drive the plot. It’s a family drama but, at least in the first episode, it’s the story of Anderson’s character struggling with the idea that the price of success is losing your blackness/your identity (as if there’s a simple definition of what blackness is) while at the same time, on the job at least, rebelling against being defined solely by his blackness (see the irony?). The show could do with more nuance, but I’d watch it again. Because it made me laugh; even if the humour wasn’t always fresh nor cuttingly funny. This is network television after all; the edge was a bit blunted and the message was laid on a bit thick. The performances are solid; the somewhat underused Laurence Fishburne’s dry wit balancing out Anderson’s hysterics, and Tracee Ellis Ross is a more natural fit as his wife than his last TV wife – I love you Vanessa (of the Cosby show) but I wasn’t buying the chemistry. The kids don’t really stand out yet, only in the general sense that they “don’t see colour”, which makes for some easy laughs. The challenge the show faces going forward, I suppose is being fresh and daring with both its humour and commentary, foregoing tired tropes and the easy laugh for laughter that makes you not only cut-up but consider and –re-consider your own prejudices. In that sense, it has the perfect lead-in in Modern Family, a show that’s all about challenging your assumptions while making you laugh out loud. And if it imprints the way Modern Family has, it’ll not only be a funny half hour comedy but ground breaking television. Time will tell.

POETRY

“And maybe in their eyes

it may seem I got punked out

‘cause I walked a narrow path

and then went and changed my route

But that openness exposed me

to a truth I couldn’t find

in the clenched fist of my ego

or the confines of my mind

or in the hipness of my swagger

or in the swagger of my step

or the scowl of my grimace

or the meanness of my rep

‘Cause we represent a truth, son

that changes by the hour

and when you opened to it

vulnerability is power.” |

Saul Williams

http://loquence.tumblr.com/

***

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft agley” – Robert Burns’ To a Mouse is copied here in Scottish and explained.

***

When I read Scottish writer Liz Lochhead’s Kidspoem/Bairnsong, I was immediately drawn in. On the surface, an innocent scene – a mother prepping her daughter for school; an structurally almost a round, like those songs and poems we did as children. But it’s commentary on how we lose our mother tongue is deep and for the Caribbean person deeply relatable.

“…the first day I went to school

so my mother wrapped me up in my

best navy-blue top coat with the red tartan hood

twirled a scarf around my neck

pulled on my bobble-hat and mittens

it was so bitterly cold

said now you won’t freeze to death

gave me a little kiss and a pretend slap on the bottom

and sent me off across the playground

to the place I’d learn to forget to say

it wis January

and a gey derich day

so my Mum happed me up in ma

good navy-blue napp coat wi the rid tartan hood

birled a scarf aroon ma neck

pu’ed oan ma pixie an my pawkies

it wis that bitter.”

Here’s Liz Lochhead reading the poem and talking about the genesis of the poem and the importance of writing our reality in our way, which, you know, is a foundation of the Wadadli Pen Challenge.

***

This Tom Leonard poem immediately appealed to me for its defiant claiming of its mother tongue (Scots) – something we can relate to as Caribbean people, yes? Because as he writes “all livin language is sacred”.

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Ego Tripping – Nikki Giovanni

***

“I sit and wring my hands,
at last old enough and sad enough,
and pathetic enough in my impotence
to do this” – Talking to Hamas by Alice Walker

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Beauty by Bermudian poet Dane Swan:

Bag lady, your eyes tell stories
of glory, despair, success, failure
deceit, withdrawn ineptness.

BLOG

The Art of Submission…or how to handle rejection without becoming bitter.

***

So, you know how in Julie and Julia, a young writer undertakes the challenge of cooking and blogging Julia Child’s recipes for a year, and gets a book deal out of the experiment? Well, British writer Ann Morgan had a similar experience reading the world. Here’s an update re her book deal…and a big of inspiration for others laboring in the blogosphere.

VISUAL

Music video featuring Promise No Promises and directed by Jus Bus …very artistic visuals…very resonant lyrics…and a good bounce

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This is a film by Francoise Bowen. Filmed in Antigua, it re-imagines a moment of island history:

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cricket

This image of women playing cricket in St. Lucia, circa 1905 is one of my favourites from Rastas, Royals, and Revolution: 100 Years of Photography in the Caribbean. I was actually flipping through to see if there were any Antigua and/or Barbuda images and this one caught my eye. Good stuff. See more images in the series here.

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This film short is out of Barbados…summary: Auntie is a middle-aged seamstress and respected caregiver in her rural Barbadian community. 12-year-old Kera is her latest ward and a special child to whom she has grown uncharacteristically close. Seven years after Kera’s mother emigrates to England in search of a better life, Auntie is confronted with the day she long dreaded when the plane ticket arrives that will reunite Kera with her mom.

For more films of this type, visit AfroPop TV.

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Disbanded by John Pettie.

Disbanded by John Pettie.

The Starz series Outlander and my visit to Glasgow early in 2014 probably have something to do with this one catching my eye but the truth is I’ve always had an interest in Irish and Scottish culture and history. I came across this image while reading The Other Tongues: an Introduction to Writing in Irish, Scots Gaelic and Scots in Ulster and Scotland and looked it up online. According to this site, this is an image by John Pettie of a Scottish Highlander after his defeat at the Jacobite rebellion of 1746.

Here’s a bonus Scottish image from that same book(c) The Fleming Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationIt’s ‘Lochaber No More’, an 1863 image painted by John Watson Nicol. The title ‘Lochaber No More’ forms part of a popular 17th century Scottish folk song

“These tears that I shed, they are all for my dear,
An no’ for the dangers of attending or weir;
Tho’ borne on rough seas to a far distant shore.
Maybe to return to Lochaber no more” (full lyrics here)

The song is a lament. Lochaber, based on my research, was where Bonnie Prince Charlie recruited the first clans to his cause, sparking the Jacobite rebellion. The mournful nature of the song reflects the rebellion’s defeat at Culloden Moor in 1746.

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“… it was while dancing and touring the nation and European continent that he chanced to visit The Louvre Museum in Paris that he “met his Muse”. As he walked the halls there, he was consumed by what he saw. Looking at the work of the Masters in The Louvre, he was reminded of what he had unconsciously reached for in his sprawling graffiti pieces; he recognized realms of color, style, passionate expression and possibilities that he had never before imagined.” – from About Frank Morrison at Morrison Art

I see a Queen in Me by Frank Morrison

I see a Queen in Me by Frank Morrison

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Some good insights here….

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Cover image Summer One by Glenroy Aaron inspired by Summer 1, a poem by Joanne C Hillhouse.

Cover image Summer One by Glenroy Aaron inspired by Summer 1, a poem by Joanne C Hillhouse.

Glenroy Aaron’s Summer One is the cover image of the Tongues of the Ocean Antigua and Barbuda issue. Here’s his bio from the site: Glenroy Aaron has always had a passion for anything artistic. Drawings and doodling captivated him in his childhood years and this love of the arts was nurtured in primary and secondary school and later honed under teachers in the Cambridge art programme at the Antigua State College. Upon leaving school he continued with his passion, branching into oils, which is currently his primary medium. He strives to capture the beauty in nature and human emotion.

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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