Tag Archives: Kei Miller

Reading Room and Gallery 44

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

VISUAL ART

This is a link to an article on must-see Antiguan and Barbudan films, according to Caribbean Loop news. HAMA, producers of the country’s first full length feature, The Sweetest Mango, dominates the list with four features but click to see who else made the list. Speaking of Antigua and Barbuda’s first full length feature, here’s a making of that I recently came across on YouTube.

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This is a link to several animated shorts (or trailers for shorts) by women from all over the world – although not, alas – the Caribbean (though not, I’m sure, through lack of ideas). There are seven shorts. Three of the ones you can watch all the way through are Paper or Plastic, dir. Nata Metlukh of the Ukraine and the US, Albatross Soup, dir. Winnie Cheung from Hong Kong, United States, and Japan, and The Opposites Game, dir. Lisa LaBracio & Anna Samo from Germany, Russia, and the United States.

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‘Cinematography, per Britannica.com, is “the art and technology of motion-picture photography. It involves such techniques as the general composition of a scene; the lighting of the set or location; the choice of cameras, lenses, filters, and film stock; the camera angle and movements; and the integration of any special effects.”’ – this post frames and links to a Variety article entitled ‘Contenders: How Cinematographers played with Elements to convey Director’s Vision’

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The cinematographer of the Small Axe anthology series was Antiguan and Barbudan Shabier Kirchner. Director Steve McQueen is British of Grenadian and Trinidadian descent. – “You need to see it hurts.”

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BEFORE SILENCE: Afghan Artists in Exile.

POETRY

“To be born is to be ushered in to noon’s brightness…” – from ‘Spirit of Labyrinth’ by Wilson Harris, read by Ian McDonald

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“So you try not to act too muscular not to look too big
muscular looks very threatening on your skin
you want to walk hard jog hard
be hard
but today you think about your mother

you owe it to her to protect her from this
what you can do what can be done to you” – from ‘Place de la Nation (III)’ by Jason Allen Paisant in Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters

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My 2022 World Poetry Day live includes readings of poetry found right here in the Reading Room and Gallery series. Including poems by Grace Nichols of Guyana, Juleus Ghunta, Claude McKay, and Safiya Sinclair of Jamaica, Yvonne Weekes in Barbados, Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming of Trinidad & Tobago, US poet Lucille Clifton, Stanley Humphreys in Antigua-Barbuda from the song lyrics data base, and some of my poetry as found in A & B Writing in Journals, Showcases, and Contests

The audio is not as clean and clear as I had hoped, but the poems are linked on my jhohadli blog; so you can read along.

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“play my body like a dub riddim” – from ‘Yes‘ By MOON in Rebel Women Lit digital literary magazine

CONVERSATIONS

The Tim Tim Bwa Fik podcast focusses on Caribbean romance literature and I’m pointing you there specifically to check out a series of conversations with Caribbean authors who have written in the genre. The line-up begins and continues with the British Virgin Islands’ Eugenia O’Neal (Jamaica Dreaming), Trinidad and Tobago’s N. G. Peltier (Sweethand), Barbados’ Callie Browning (The Vanishing Girls), and Antigua and Barbuda’s Joanne C. Hillhouse (Dancing Nude in the Moonlight) and Rilzy Adams (Twelve Dates of Christmas).

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“I am talking to super compassionate, people who are interested in nuance, people who are intelligent, but people whose emotional intelligence is off the charts, but importantly, people who I can trust with these things.” – Kei Miller

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“There’s a Stephen King novel called 11.22.63 about a man that goes back in time to stop the Kennedy assasination, and one of the main characters in that is a librarian named Mimi Corcoran who is a best friend of this character who goes back in time. When Bridget Carpenter was writing that series, she felt very strongly that she did not want to do a series set in the 60s where the only roles that Black people played were shoeshine people; even though that was quite a reality of the time, she didn’t want her series to reflect that. So she decided that she was going to take Mimi Corcoran and cast it as a Black woman.” – Tonya Pinkins during this very interesting panel with a number of African-American actresses including the legendary Diahann Carroll

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“It’s difficult to find an edge on me; my spine is a valley” – Bones by Lisa Ann Cockrel, Kenyon Review workshop (online)

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“I thought you know, my mom and dad are particularly ridiculously crazy about each other…you’d go out with them to a store and you’d catch them stealing a kiss…in a way, my parents were the first pushing back…the ways in which they creatively circumvented disciplinary measures to pursue pleasure.” – Andil Gosine

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“Trust that people will meet you where you are and if they’re not there on their own, give them a map so that they’ll meet you there.” – Stacey Abrams with Merriam-Webster’s Book Thing

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“When you’re that young, you’re so clear eyed about how stupid these rules are…” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“Being under water, swimming, keeping an eye on things under water, trying to get the best shots possible in such a foreign environment, I was really excited by the challenge.” – Arati Jagdeo, past Wadadli Pen finalist, make up artist and art director on Yemoja’s Anansi

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“This is the world in which I’m creating.” – Christal Clashing on her Anansi series for my (Joanne C. Hillhouse) CREATIVE SPACE column

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This is actually creatives creating. The Beatles working out ‘Something’. It’s from the 2021 Peter Jackson directed docu-series, The Beatles: Get Back.

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This is how it was adapted about a book cum film that the whole film making academy slept on in the 2022 awards season. Read my review of the book and of the film over on my blog.

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Elijah Wood on his Lord of the Rings experience –

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“I love creating characters…I create my characters from every body I’ve ever known.” – Bernadine Evaristo

ARTICLES

“There’s a deep irony to the parallels: an outraged white Texan succeeds at getting a novel about Mexican American experiences removed from schools, and she does it with a distorted reading of a passage about a group of white Texans, in 1937, venting their outrage at the presence of a Mexican American in their school.” – from ‘A Texas School District Banned My Book. Then Things got Really Ugly.’ by Ashley Hope Pérez, author of Out of Darkness, a historical novel chronicling a love affair between a teenage Mexican American girl and a teenage African-American boy in 1930s New London, Texas, occurring right up to the 1937 New London School explosion.

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“The two people who vouched for Moore’s birth and life experiences in Antigua with the most depth were Black women who had until recently been enslaved themselves, her half sister Hester Blackstone and her friend Mary Hughes. Moore did not know her own date of birth, and the retelling of her early life in Antigua rested on the estimates of women who were equally unsure about details of Moore’s biography and the exact moments when she was taken from and returned to the island. But the women speaking on her behalf skillfully figured out how to circumvent their inability to provide exact dates. Hester and Mary used imperial events in their 1838 depositions, a tactic manifested in their testimonies in so similar a fashion as to suggest deliberate coordination. Hughes and Blackstone linked important moments in Moore’s life with notable British imperial administrative and military events at the turn of the nineteenth century, such as the installation of a new governor in Antigua or the outbreak of war in the Caribbean. Their use of imperial time made their affirmation of Moore’s birth and life in Antigua as a child more legible to the powerful administrators hearing testimony from these formerly enslaved women. Their success, however, should not obscure the reality that the strategy they adopted out of necessity calls our attention to yet another dehumanizing aspect of enslavement: the negation of enslaved people’s sense of themselves as beings in time, and thus as autonomous participants in their life stories. Their inability to know time intimately and the denial of the privilege to preserve a record of important dates in their lives, such as their own birthdays and the births and deaths of loved ones, helped to compound the exploitation deeply embedded within enslavement. The depositions of Blackstone and Hughes nonetheless underline the crucial function of community in slavery as the support system that facilitated both survival during bondage and individual enslaved people’s acts of fugitivity and claims to freedom. The British government would not have taken Moore’s case seriously if these women had not vouched for her. Eliza’s first point of self-presentation was to invoke her Antiguan-born mother, Sally Carr, which both Blackstone and Hughes reiterated. Proclaiming her birth to an enslaved mother in Antigua and demonstrating her sisterhood and friendship with formerly enslaved Antiguan women all grounded Eliza in that British colony and contributed to the colonial administrators’ serious consideration of her case. These details subtly show how enslaved people fostered and deployed loving relationships even over time and distance.” – from “So Far to Leeward”: Eliza Moore’s Fugitive Cosmopolitan Routes to Freedom in the Nineteenth-Century Caribbean by Natasha Lightfoot in The William and Mary Quarterly, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Volume 79, Number 1, January 2022

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This links to CREATIVE SPACE 1-10, 2020 – 2022 on my Jhohadli blog. It is an anniversary check-in of the top performing installments of the column since it began its Observer run in 2020. This image is from CREATIVE SPACE #28 OF 2021 – CARIBBEAN CHRISTMAS. CREATIVE SPACE is an Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean art and culture column by Joanne C Hillhouse.

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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Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late February 2022)

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).

Transitions & Remembrance

I wasn’t going to write about Calvin Holder. This letter I came across in Guyana’s Staebrok News when googling to see if news of his passing was true (it was, February 7th 2022) changed my mind. Mr. Holder was a teacher of mine and one of the mentors along the way to me becoming the writer that I am. His English classes (at the Antigua State College) drew me out, I shared my writing with him and received feedback, I wrote plays for the college drama group he led. After college we lost touch – though we reconnected from time to time, though not in a long time. The writer of the February 21st 2022 letter, Roy Brummel, referenced Mr. Holder’s PhD thesis, Victim and Vehicle: The Political, Cultural and Intellectual Contexts of Martin Carter’s Poetry, which he successfully defended on April 5th 2007: “Calvin had served as a teacher in different parts of the hinterlands and, after graduating from UG, he returned, giving more years before being transferred to work as an education official on the East Coast of Demerara. Calvin migrated to Antigua to teach, but he came back to UG to read for his Masters in English and later completed his PhD at the University of the West Indies, with his thesis being on Martin Carter….I have been informed that Dr. Gemma Robinson of England has written a thesis on Martin Carter, but I don’t know of any Guyanese besides Calvin who has written a PhD thesis on Guyana’s national poet. Therefore, Calvin’s work is very significant. I’ve asked people whether they have knowledge of a Martin Carter biography, and they said no. Assuming there is no Martin Carter biography, the works of Drs. Robinson and Holder are even more important as they are the closest to that biography.” Sounds like a good idea to me. Rest in Peace to Mr. Holder. (Source – a friend)

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Sarah White, who was the co-recipient of the first Bocas Henry Swanzy Award in 2013, has passed. She was described by Bocas as co-founder of New Beacon Books with her partner John La Rose, and “a true and practical friend to generations of Caribbean writers, artists, and activists…Her death is a great loss to Caribbean and Black British publishing and bookselling, writers and readers.” Sarah was born in 1944 and died in 2022. (Source – JRLee)

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On Thursday, February 3, 2022, the Rex Nettleford Foundation celebrated Professor Nettleford’s life and legacy with a viewing of “Renaissance Man” A Documentary of the Life of the late Jamaican professor. Nettleford (full name Ralston Milton “Rex” Nettleford) was a scholar, social critic, choreographer, and vice chancellor emeritus of the University of the West Indies.

(Source – JRLee email)

Conversations

This recent addition to the A & B Artistes Discussing Art page:

Tim Tim Bwa Fik podcast discussion with Rilzy Adams part 2 (2022) – “When writing, where this was concerned, the one thing that I really wanted it to feel like and be like was Antiguan… I was very intentional with everything from the food choices to the music…but I also wanted them for the most part to be not necessarily heartwarming but …my general brand, for everything I write…Antiguan, full of love, and spicy.” She added that while so much of our Caribbean fiction deals with our historical trauma she just wants to write about people meeting, falling in love, and having sushi.

Click here to watch the full Tim Tim Bwa Fik series by podcaster Maëlla K on Apple podcasts. It includes interviews with several Caribbean writers. (Source – WordPress feed)

Training

(Source – Me)

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You can now view ‘The Journey of a Book’, a webinar co-organized by The Antigua and Barbuda Intellectual Property and Commerce Office and the World Intellectual Property Organization, online. The presenters were Antigua and Barbuda’s Barbara Arrindell, Award winning authof of Love after Love Ingrid Persaud, Barbados’ Erica Smith, CEO of COSCAP – a collective management organization, and Brian Wafawarowa of South Africa, chief content and product officer, Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd.

Pictured during the webinar, above, are, left, Ricki Camacho, registrar of Intellectual Property and Copyright, and, right, Ingrid Persaud.

“Own your work and find your voice…voice is the key,” – Ingrid Persaud said during the webinar, held on February 10th 2022, giving the writer’s perspective. Arrindell, an author and bookseller, spoke about practical resources for writers (what we have and what we need in Antigua and Barbuda). Camacho hinted that one of the things writers have been asking for, the ability to legally copyright their writing locally, may be in the works. But don’t take my word for it. Watch the entire video. Follow this link and use this password (&F9+t1&r). Thanks to the organizers for making this available. (Source – Me)

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The Filmmakers Collaborative of Trinidad and Tobago has announced an online workshop with Los Angeles based South African writer/director Phumi Morae. It will cover screenplay titles, loglines, taglines, and short impactful synopses. Dates February 22nd and 23rd 2022. More here. (Source – Ministry of Culture, Trinidad and Tobago on Facebook)

Events

The PEN Out Loud series which has booked a number of Caribbean and/or Caribbean diaspora writers for conversations over the years has Aida Rodriquez who is American of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent coming up on March 22nd 2022.

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After a two-year break due to the pandemic, Antigua’s Carnival is coming back. No, the pandemic isn’t over (at February 17th 2022, our dashboard shows 135 lives lost to date , 76 active cases, 75 isolated, 5 new, and blessedly only one hospitalized, with vaccine numbers around 60 percent) but (keeping in mind that a vaccine is not a get out of COVID unscathed card, we can still get it and transmit it) hopefully we’ll find ways to party safely to avoid a post-fete surge. (Source – Antigua Festivals Instagram)

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‘Dreadness: the Mystic Power, Philosophy and Performance of Shadow 1941-2021’, in celebration of Trinidad calypsonian the Mighty Shadow’s 80th birthday, is a virtual symposium announced for March 3rd and 4th 2022. Organizers are the Groundation Foundation and the University of the West Indies St. Augustine. Go here for details and registration information. (Source – Amilcar Sanatan email on this issue of Tout Moun Caribbean Journal of Cultural Studies)

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The NGC Bocas Lit Fest has been set for April 28th 2022 to May 1st 2022. The events will be live streamed. Stay tuned. (Source – Bocas email)

Accolades

The short list of books for the Bocas Prize has been announced.

They are Cuba: An American History by Ada Ferrer (Cuban-American), Things I have Withheld by Kei Miller (Jamaican), The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, & Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (American of Barbadian descent) contesting for the Non-Fiction prize; Pleasantview by Celeste Mohammed (Trinidad and Tobago), How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones (Barbados), What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J. A. Chancy (Haitian-Canadian) competing for the Fiction prize; Thinking with Trees by Jason Allen-Paisant (Jamaican), What Noise Against the Cane by Desiree C. A. Bailey (Trinidad and Tobago), Zion Roses by Monica Minott (Jamaican) in the running for the Poetry prize.

The judges will announce the winners in the 3 genre categories on 27 March. These will go on to compete for the overall #OCMBocasPrize2022 of US$10,000, to be announced on 30 April, during the 12th annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest. Each category winner will receive US$3,000. (Source – Twitter)

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Late last year the Antigua and Barbuda JCI Youth Empowerment Programme recognized a number of young people. They are humanitarian award winner and Red Cross volunteer Daniela Mohamed, entrepreneurship award winner and Dadli Dose juice brand owner Kwesi Jarvis, sports awards winner and professional bikini fitness athlete Kimberly Percival, agriculture award winner and beekeeper Jamaul Philip, music award winner and pannist Jah-fari Joseph-Hazelwood, education award winner whose sede project is Eat ‘n Lime Tours Tiffany Azille, mental health activist awardee and associate clinical psychologist Regina A. Apparicio, leadership award winner and history teacher Kamalie Mannix, and culture award winner and translator Alfonsina Olmos.

(Source – Facebook)

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Guyana born British based writer John Agard in late 2021 became the first poet to win the Booktrust Lifetime Achievement Award. “I feel happy that I’ve stuck with this craft since I was a 16-year-old boy writing in a classroom in a Caribbean ex-colony. It’s not just me receiving this award, but all the people that inspired me,” Agard said. Read the full article here. (Source – Repeating Islands blog)

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Jamaican writer Kei Miller (Things I have Withheld) was on the Baillie Gifford Prize long list late last year. The prize ultimately went to Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Industry by Patrick Radden Keefe. The prize recognizes the best in non-fiction. (Source – JRLee email)

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Twenty early-career writers from seven different Caribbean territories have been shortlisted for the 2022 Bocas Emerging Writers Fellowships, to be awarded in two genre categories for poetry and prose. Scheduled to run for a period of six months, and offering tangible support for emerging writers to advance or complete a body of work, the two Bocas Emerging Writers Fellowships will include a cash award of TT$10,000, six months’ mentorship from an established author, participation in an intensive online workshop hosted by the UK literary organisation Arvon, and publication of a chapbook by Peekash Press. From a total of over 100 applicants, the shortlisted writers are, in alphabetical order:

POETRY

Topher Allen (Jamaica)
Xan-Xi Bethel (The Bahamas)
Neala Bhagwansingh (Trinidad and Tobago)
Johanna Gibson (British Virgin Islands)
Ubaldimir Guerra (Belize)
Jannine Horsford (Trinidad and Tobago)
Jay T. John (Trinidad and Tobago)
Gillian Moore (Trinidad and Tobago)
Ruth Osman (Guyana/Trinidad and Tobago)
Allyson Weekes (Trinidad and Tobago)

PROSE

Tracy Assing (Trinidad and Tobago)
Heather Barker (Barbados)
Ayrïd Chandler (Trinidad and Tobago)
Rachael Amanda Espinet (Trinidad and Tobago)
Amir Denzel Hall (Trinidad and Tobago)
Michelle John (Trinidad and Tobago)
Garvin Tafari Parsons (Trinidad and Tobago)
Rajiv Ramkhalawan (Trinidad and Tobago)
Ark Ramsay (Barbados)
Alexandra Stewart (Trinidad and Tobago)

The shortlists were selected by authors Andre Bagoo of Trinidad and Tobago (whose essay collection The Undiscovered Country was the winner of the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction) and Ann-Margaret Lim of Jamaica (whose book of poems Kingston Buttercup was shortlisted for the 2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry).

“Caribbean Lit is in good hands,” remarked Lim of the fellowship applications. “Good, serious writers from the Caribbean, unafraid of subjects traditionally ‘taboo’ in their countries, are writing their truths, and doing so beautifully and as well as any international poet or fiction writer…. The voices are not stilted or affected. They are bold, true, and indeed shaped by skill and attention.”

“These writers all demonstrate a mastery of language in service of an artistic vision or point of view,” added Bagoo. “Their writing samples provide glimpses of a future in which Caribbean literature is bolder, more exhilarating than ever.”

The call for fellowship applications asked for writers working in innovative, genre-crossing forms, exploring themes of individual and personal identity, and ideas of belonging, displacement, and home.

The two successful fellows, selected from the shortlists, are expected to be announced in late March 2022, and will present their work in progress during the 2022 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, running from 28 April to 1 May.

The fellowships are made possible by generous donations from Canisia Lubrin, winner of the overall 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature; Dionne Brand, winner of the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize in the fiction category; Christina Sharpe, judge for the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize in the fiction category; and Allyson Holder, Friend of the Bocas Lit Fest. (Source – Facebook)

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Motion, Wendy Braithwaite, a Canadian writer of Antiguan and Barbudan descent, is a Canadian Screen Awards nominee for her writing on the drama series, ‘Coroner’. From Motion’s Facebook: “Wow! So much of our heart and souls went into this one! To see Ruby (played by talented Avery Grant) on screen. To write a story inspired by the culture. To integrate the sounds and the artwork of our artists in this city. To tell a story about art, family, legacy and a courageous girl – young, creative and Black. To work with an awesome room of writers, and create/collabo once again with visionary Charles Officer! 10 Canadian Screen Award noms for Coroner, and 2 for this special episode – DRAMA SERIES, BEST WRITING and DRAMA SERIES, BEST DIRECTING!” Motion’s nomination is for the episode ‘Eyes Up’. (Source – Facebook)

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Shouting out artrepeneur Barbados’ Nikisha Toppin, winner of the MicroPitch Best Female Entrepreneur Award at Micro Pitch Caribbean with her business Elaine’s Caribbean Crochet – “a registered social enterprise that provides Caribbean crochet artists with the knowledge, tools and resources needed to help their businesses be sustainable”.

Image from @elainescaribbeancrochet instagram

MicroPitch is a combination of entrepreneurship trainings and a business plan competition that gives entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) of the Caribbean region the opportunity to boost their business by offering them capacity building and a platform to present (“pitch”) their business plans, solutions or ideas to a jury and audience, receiving personalised and instant feedback. Other finalists (more in the entrepreneur lane) are Jamaica’s Venice Irving, winner of the MicroPitch Export Award with her business Happy Teachers and Kavelle Hylton, winner of the MicroPitch Jamaica Award with her business STEM Builders Learning Hub; Dominica’s Jodie Dublin Dangleben, winner of the MicroPitch Best Entrepreneur Award with her Jaydie’s Naturals; Belize’s Miguel Huertas, winner of the MicroPitch Audience’s Favourite Award with his business Apilife and Mark Jacob, winner of the MicroPitch Belize Award with his business DML Foxtail Bamboo Straw; and Haiti’s Joseph Kendy Jules, winner of the MicroPitch Haiti Award with his business Haispot. (Source – N/A but finalists pulled from Micropitchcb Facebook)

Books

Rise up, Sista by Kristine Simelda came out late last year. It tells the story of a Jamaican reggae artist and a British rocker who meet in London in 1963, sparking a powerful story of friendship and cultural revolution. . It is dedicated to the life of Nelly Stharre, a Dominican reggae artist who passed away in 2015 and explores the amazing diversity of music written and broadcast during the 1960s and beyond—rhythms that served as a uniting force during times of change and political unrest. The book was published by Simelda, an American who has lived in Dominica since the mid-1990’s, River Ridge Press.

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Horizon, Sea, Sound: Caribbean & African Women’s Cultural Critique of Nation by Andrea A. Davis was released in January 2022. Calling for new affiliations of community among Black, Indigenous, and other racialized women, and offering new reflections on the relationship between the Caribbean and Canada, Davis articulates a diaspora poetics that privileges our shared humanity. In advancing these claims, she turns to the expressive cultures (novels, poetry, theater, and music) of Caribbean and African women artists in Canada, including work by Dionne Brand, M. NourbeSe Philip, Esi Edugyan, Ramabai Espinet, Nalo Hopkinson, Amai Kuda, and Djanet Sears. Davis considers the ways in which the diasporic characters these artists create redraw the boundaries of their horizons, invoke the fluid histories of the Caribbean Sea to overcome the brutalization of plantation histories, use sound to enter and reenter archives, and shapeshift to survive in the face of conquest. The book will interest readers of literary and cultural studies, critical race theories, and Black diasporic studies. (Source – Twitter)

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Rohan Balkin and The Shadows by Juleus Ghunta with illustrator Rachel Moss was an end of year Caribbean Reads release.

Rohan Bullkin is haunted by sinister Shadows that fuel his fear of reading. He hates books so much that he often rips their pages. But when the Shadows become intolerable, Rohan accepts an offer of friendship from a special book. This marks the beginning of a remarkable journey during which he not only learns how to conquer Shadows but also develops a love of books and life. (Source – Caribbean Reads email)

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You know we’re all about promoting Antiguan and Barbudan books via our book lists, including Antiguan and Barbudan children’s literature. You know that we also promote Caribbean literature. Here’s a new one (or new to us), Jako Productions’ listing of St. Lucia Children’s Books. Just scrolling through it, I’m fascinated by Talking Talia Tattles or Tells – do I know the difference between tattling and telling? do you? this may be a book not just for children; lots of adventure tales – go Wyetta; love the use of the French creole – sak sa…sa ka fet…did I use those right?; the folklore – compere lapin to soucouyan… who looks as frightful as I remember from childhood tales in Antigua (my mother’s family is French creole from Dominica). Anyway, check out the listing of books for children and #readCaribbean (Source – Jako Productions email)

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This is book news more than books, and the news is that American author of Haitian descent Roxane Gay has a new (new in 2021) imprint and a fellowship programme to provide opportunities to publish and/or learn the business, respecitively, to underrepresented voices. Read the announcement in this article in Poets & Writers, and then do your research. (Source – Poets and Writers email)

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US based Trinidad and Tobago author Danielle Y. C. McClean’s The Whisperer’s Warning is the second book in her Secrets of Oscuros series after the Burt Award winning The Protector’s Pledge. It is illustrated by Rachel Moss and published by Caribbean Reads Publishing. Twelve-year-old JV has discovered that he’s one of a select few entrusted with preserving the balance between the world’s natural and unnatural realms and is now more driven than ever to know who his birth parents are. But there’s another mystery in the usually quiet village of Alcavere that he can’t ignore. He and his friends, Carol and Riaz, have received a cryptic warning from a supernatural being who dwells in the Oscuros Forest, launching them into a high-stakes mission. (Source – BCLF email)

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The second book in Jamaican writer Marlon James’ Dark Star Trilogy Moon Witch Spider King landed in February. It follows on National (US) Book Award Finalist Black Leopard, Red Wolf. In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sogolon the Moon Witch proved a worthy adversary to Tracker as they clashed across a mythical African landscape in search of a mysterious boy who disappeared. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon takes center stage and gives her own account of what happened to the boy, and how she plotted and fought, triumphed and failed as she looked for him. It’s also the story of a century-long feud—seen through the eyes of a 177-year-old witch—that Sogolon had with the Aesi, chancellor to the king. It is said that Aesi works so closely with the king that together they are like the eight limbs of one spider. Aesi’s power is considerable—and deadly. It takes brains and courage to challenge him, which Sogolon does for reasons of her own. Moon Witch, Spider King delves into Sogolon’s world as she fights to tell her own story. James is a US-based author whose many accolades include the Man Booker Prize (only one of two Caribbean authors to claim that coveted prize) for A Brief History of Seven Killings. (Source – BCLF email)

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Sabine, the first short story collection from Hazel Simmons-McDonald, St. Lucia-born linguistics professor emerita, first head of the UWI Open campus, and poet, was published in December 2021. The book presents a deft exploration of class, of how values are shaped by religion, and of the tensions that undergird family life. She makes a place for voices hitherto not heard and creates characters who closely guard the secrets of their hearts but who through her narrative dexterity come to experience moments of truth and clarity of memory. Sabine is published by UWI Press. (Source – JRLee email)

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Co-founder of gender activist group Intersect Antigua and Barbuda Sarah Gresham has created a free online library. The purpose, to share reading recommendations from the Intersect team on each theme of the Caribbean Feminist Stories project. Access podcasts, articles, videos, blog posts, and books that illuminate the themes Resilience in the Face of Natural Disasters, Critical Green Theory, and Black in Environment! As the weeks progress, more resources will be added. (Source – Twitter)

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Ana Portnoy Brimmer’s To Love an Island came out in late December 2021. Portnoy Brimmer is a poet and organizer from Puerto Rico. To Love An Island begins with the aftermath of Hurricane María and spans the summer insurrection of 2019 and subsequent earthquakes in Puerto Rico. It was originally the winner of the YesYes Books 2019 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest. (Source – N/A)

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A Lantern in the Wind: A Fictional Memoir was released in 2021 by Hansib. It was written by Ameena Gafoor and offers rare insight in to Muslim life in Guyana. Additionally, her description of being an immigrant in London is a relatively rare revelation of the female experience. Ameena Gafoor is the Founder of The Arts Forum Inc; the Founding Editor of The Arts Journal; and author of Aftermath of Empire: The Novels of Roy A.K. Heath (2017). She has received two National awards as well as recognition from the Guyana Indian Commemoration Trust and the Guyana Cultural Association of New York for her outstanding contribution to the literary arts of Guyana and the Caribbean. She has also received an award from Caribbean Voice for her social work with Support for Vulnerable People through The Gafoor Foundation. Her critical articles are published in selected Journals. (Source – Hansib email)

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One Day, One Day, Congotay by Trinidad and Tobago’s Merle Hodge is described, on the website of publisher Peepal Tree Press, as ‘A novel, like George Elliot’s Middlemarch that celebrates the small, hidden lives that make the world a better place. Like any richly documented historical novel, it has much to say, by implication, about the present’. It was released in January 2022. (Source – JRLee email)

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St. Lucian writer Mac Donald Dixon’s A Scream in the Shadows launches this month. It is a crime story set in the rural Caribbean where traditional allegiances and a flawed criminal justice system provide a backdrop to the rape and murder of a young girl. When her father is accused of the crime, her brother joins the police to try and clear their father’s name. While the suspect languishes in jail on remand, the young detective makes some alarming discoveries. (Source – Jako Productions email)

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Olympic swimmer and Atlantic rower from Antigua and Barbuda Christal Clashing has written a water-based photo-illustrated (coffee-table-ish) book of fiction entitled Yemoja’s Anansi: A Short Story. It has been added to Antiguan and Barbudan Writings and Antiguan and Barbudan Fiction Writings here on the blog. Read about it in CREATIVE SPACE and Blogger on Books; also check our interview on my AntiguanWriter YouTube channel. (Source – Me)

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. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid December 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).

RIP

Rest in Peace and Power to media commentator and Rastafari elder King Frank-I who died on December 6th 2021.

Image: front page of the Daily Observer newspaper.

The Antiguan and Barbudan ambassador (to Ethiopia), whose government name was Franklyn Francis, was “a respected voice in sports broadcasting” (Caribbean Loop). Frank-I, part of the intellectual class as a graduate of the University of the West Indies and University of Glasgow (at a time when that level of tertiary education was not common in Antigua and Barbuda) was also renowned throughout local and regional media for his commentary on society, culture, current affairs, and history. He was a staunch advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana and for the constitutional rights of Rastafari generally (Caribdirect). (Source – Facebook)

Blog Love (drawing your attention to new blogs we’re following or blog posts we’ve read to share the love as we hope others will share our content)

Started following Women Writers Worldwide – as with most of these reading the world posts we’ve come across, for Antigua and Barbuda, they are reading Jamaica Kincaid (which makes sense as she is the best known and most acclaimed Antiguan and Barbudan writer, though we hope they’ll use our database to discover other voices from the #268)

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Give the Tim Tim Bwa Fik playlist a listen – it has conversations in two parts with Caribbean romance writers like the British Virgin Islands’ Eugenia O’Neal, Trinidad and Tobago N. G. Peltier (a recent addition to the Wadadli Pen Reading Room and Gallery -see Site Updates below), and Barbados’ Callie Browning. Scroll and hit the playlist.

Books

Pictured are children’s picture books by Antiguan and Barbudan authors who also happen to be Wadadli Pen team members, featuring Dance on the Moon, the latest from Floree Whyte (her previous book The Wonderful World of Yohan is also pictured). Congrats to Whyte (whom I will be interviewing shortly for CREATIVE SPACE) on this new release. Pictured as well is my The Jungle Outside and Barbara Arrindell’s Turtle Beach, both from Harper Collins’ Big Cat series. Whyte’s books are independently published by her own Moondancer Books. (Source – Best of Books)

For other new Antiguan and Barbudan books – like Kortright Davis’ We Belong to Big Church, Joan Underwood’s companion workbook for her Manager’s First Aid Kit: Bringing the Lessons to Life, and Floree Williams Whyte’s Dance on the Moon – see Site Updates. And there’s this new journal, Coffee and Violets, from Sally Davis:

(Source – author on Facebook)

Site Updates

Books added to Antiguan and Barbudan Writing, Antiguan and Barbudan Children’s Literature, and Antiguan and Barbudan Non-Fiction Writing.

Expired opportunities removed, forthcoming opportunities added to Opportunities Too.

Interview links have been added to Reading Room and Gallery 42.

A video has been added to the Wadadli Pen 2021 Challenge video gallery.

Wadadli Pen Storytime.

Opportunities

December 15th 2021 – Decides Antigua and Barbuda (a project of interarts, Women Against Rape, and UWI), has announced an opportunity to explore what gender equality, sexual identities, and inclusivity means to you. To win EC$1500, create something – a song, video, dramatic presentation, graphic design or other visual art – and submit by December 15th 2021. See Women Against Rape in Antigua and Barbuda for more information (or call 268-721-5553). (Source – WAR email)

Remember to see Opportunities Too on Wadadli Pen so you don’t miss anything.

Wadadli Pen-related

There’s some overlap as Floree’s new book (above) and my media award (below) could fit in to this category – it’s all evolving. So, not quite sure where to put this video, so here seems as good a place as any. It is my reading, for the ABS TV Book Club, from my latest book (this series of readings also included, though I don’t have the video or a link, as yet, another Wadadli Pen team member Barbara Arrindell and Desryn Collins, both of whom also have books in the Harper Collins Caribbean line of Big Cat books which also came out in 2021).

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Former Wadadli Pen finalist and later (2017) intern Michaela Harris was in the local paper this week for the work of an NGO she apparently started in 2018 and, specifically during the 16 days of activism against domestic violence, its focus on young women. The non-profit is called Her Shine Theory and Michaela is quoted as saying, “Her Shine Theory is driven by a recognised need to support, guide and empower young women to define what authentically being their best self means, rather than succumbing to pressure and societal expectations of women at any given time; while acknowledging and respecting differences amongst women. Her Shine Theory advocates for fierce self-love, self-care and self-respect in its development of young women in our society and creates a sisterhood of support in this endeavour.” HST has reportedly been very active online and will be partnering (at this writing) with the Directorate of Gender Affairs on a candlelight vigil to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence. The HST has 15 ambassadors locally and regionally. (Source – Daily Obsever newspaper)

News

Twenty-three art teachers from public and private schools in Antigua and Barbuda have completed a three-month art teaching certification course, sponsored by the Halo Foundation and Jumby Bay Fund in conjunction with the Royal Drawing School in the UK, the Ministry of Education, and the G art gallery. Local artist counterpart, Anson Henry, assisted with the programme – which was developed after a needs assessment. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)

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Commonwealth Writers has reported 6, 730 submissions for its annual short story prize. This is the most submissions to date. “Stand out countries included Antigua and Barbuda, Namibia, Mauritius and the Seychelles who saw a 400% increase in their number of entries compared to last year.” This is a sharp incline from just a few years ago when submissions from Antigua and Barbuda were such a cause for concern that concern was raised (with me) as recently as 2018 by CW and efforts were made through Wadadli Pen to encourage writer submissions from Antigua and Barbuda. CW reports, “The variety of themes within your stories also reached new levels. The most common themes were family drama, love and coming of age tales. Over 1,922 of you submitted stories on other diverse themes ranging from femicide, to mental health, racism, religion and the pandemic.” Judging is underway and longlisted writers will be announced in April 2022. (Source – CW email)

Events

The Langston Hughes Festival honoured Jamaica Kincaid in November 2021 (I – Joanne C Hillhouse – was one of the writers invited to pay tribute) and now we have video –

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Bocas’ Bios and Bookmarks welcomes Myriam Chancy –

(Source – Facebook)

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Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival online reading group –

(Source – Facebook)

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A quick round up of some recent book signing events at Wadadli Pen patron The Best of Books bookstore.

This has included (pictured above) 2021 Wadadli Pen patron Patricia Tully for her Pioneers of the Caribbean in November; preceded in October by Montserrat writer Marguerite J. Joseph’s Lady under the Stairs and in December by US based Antiguan writer Bridget Samuel Charles’ No Regrets: The Story of Elline Merle Derene. (Source – possibly Facebook…also Tully signing in-person)

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This is from early in 2021 but still makes for essential viewing. Caribbean Women’s Writing: Celebrating 30 Years out of the Kumbla.

(Source – email…I think)

Accolades

Trinbagonian Desiree C. Bailey is a 2021 National Book Awards for Poetry finalist for her collection What Noise Against the Cane – previously the winner of the 2020 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. ‘What Noise Against the Cane is a lyric quest for belonging and freedom, weaving political resistance, Caribbean folklore, immigration and the realities of Black life in America. Desiree C. Bailey begins by reworking the epic in an oceanic narrative of bondage and liberation in the midst of the Haitian Revolution. The poems move into the contemporary Black diaspora, probing the mythologies of home, belief, nation and womanhood. Series judge Carl Phillips observes that Bailey’s “poems argue for hope and faith equally. . . . These are powerful poems, indeed, and they make a persuasive argument for the transformative powers of steady defiance.”’ (book summary). The book was published in April 2021. Desiree is from Trinidad and Tobago, and Queens, New York. She lives in Providence, RI. (Source – instagram, I think)

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Britain-based Guyanese poet Grace Nichols will be awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for her body of work.

‘“Over the past four decades, Grace has been an original, pioneering voice in the British poetry scene,” said (chair of the Poetry Medal Committee Simon) Armitage. “Her poems are alive with characters from the folklore and fables of her Caribbean homeland, and echo with the rhymes and rhythms of her family and ancestors … They are also passionate and sensuous at times, being daring in their choice of subject and openhearted in their outlook.”

“Above all, Grace Nichols has been a beacon for black women poets in this country, staying true to her linguistic coordinates and poetic sensibilities, and offering a means of expression that has offered inspiration and encouragement to many.”

Nichols, who moved to Britain aged 27, will become the 52nd recipient of the award, and the second in her own household – her husband John Agard won it in 2012. She is due to be presented with the medal in 2022.’ (The Guardian)

(Source – Twitter)

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Jamaican writer Kei Miller was earlier this year named one of the Society of Authors’ Awards 2021 winners, specifically one of five recipients of the Cholmondeley Awards to distinguished poets. The prize is based out of the UK where Miller, who has recently relocated to the US, lived for many years. “In his acceptance speech, Kei Miller described his Cholmondeley Award as ‘a wonderful reminder that we belong to so many societies and so many countries’.” (Source – One News Page)

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This is kind of a full circle moment really. I’ve blogged about the outcome of the OECS Journalist Challenge before – this was the formalities. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)

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Robyn Rihanna Fenty – international superstar – is Barbados’ new national hero. This honour was conferred during the country’s formal conversion to a parliamentary republic.

Previously, Barbados like many other former British West Indian territories was an independent nation within the Commonwealth realm with the Queen of England still the titular head of state. Within these constitutional monarchies, the Governor General acts as the Queen’s representative, a largely symbolic role, with the governance of the country vested in the executive branch and the legislature – elected by the people. With this move, Barbados has removed the symbolic relationship with the crown and the former governor general has now been made president. Other parliamentary republics among the English speaking Caribbean countries are Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago. Rihanna, one of a handful of single name recognition pop artists, is a Grammy winning, multi-million (reportedly 250 million) selling global superstar, who has also made inroads in Hollywood and in the worlds of fashion and beauty – notably through her Fenty lines of cosmetics and clothing. She is reportedly a billionaire and the richest woman in music. Her Clara Lionel Foundation, named for her grandparents, contributes millions to health causes, including cancer and COVID-19. She was previously an ambassador of Barbados. As the country’s tenth national hero she joins politicians Errol Barrow, Grantley Adams, Hugh Springer, and Samuel Prescod, slave rebellion leader Bussa, activists Sarah Ann Gill and Dr. Charles O’Neal, trade unionists Frank Walcott and Clement Payne, and international cricketer Garfield Sobers. (Source – Linkedin)

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Among the Caribbean authors listed among NPR (US National Public Radio’s) Best Books of 2021 are Barbadian Cherie Jones’ How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House and Haiti’s Myriam J. A. Chancy’s What Storm What Thunder. Those are the ones I caught; if I missed any books by Caribbean authors, let me know. (Source – Facebook)

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 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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Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late August 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)

Passings

Jamaican dub legend, Lee Scratch Perry, has passed. He was 85 years old. Details of his life and passing in this Pitchfork article. (Source – twitter)

Book Recs

In Issue 5 of Caribbean Reads’ Passport, in August 2021, Rebel Women Lit recommended five Beach Reads. They are Come Let us Sing Anyway by Jamaican author Leone Ross – “This collection shows her range as she tackles multiple worlds that brush up against the one we know”, Stick No Bills by Trinidad and Tobago’s Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw – “Walcott-Hackshaw shows how memory, bitterness, and pain can help us find power to see the light after tragedy”, The Sun’s Eye by various Caribbean writers, compiled by British editor Anne Walmsley – “It’s a brilliant way to sample the work of many stellar Caribbean writers like Olive Senior and Lorna Goodison (Jamaica), John Robert Lee (St Lucia), Earl Lovelace (Trinidad), Frank Collymore (Barbados), and so many more”, Motherland by Wandeka Gayle of Jamaica – “With characters that are equally as diverse and complex as the themes, we see women taking risks, having unexpected adventures daily, and finding their way as immigrants in their new worlds”, and A Million Aunties by Jamaican writer Alecia McKenzie – “a witty title that plays on the Caribbean’s culture of showing respect to older women who look out for you”. (Source – Caribbean Beat email)

New Books

“Yanique calls on themes from some of the best American, Caribbean and international fiction, using her signature lyrical writing style. This historical fiction travels throughout America, from California and Tennessee to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It explores intimacy through a generational, historical and societal lens. It provides a rare look into post-colonialism in America as well as the divergent experience of being black in America over the last 50 years.” – The St. Thomas Source writing on Virgin Island’s own Tiphanie Yanique’s latest novel Monster in the Middle. Though the book isn’t due out until October 2021, it has reportedly already won The Best American Short Story Prize and The O. Henry Prize. Selections from the book have been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Harvard Review, and The Yale Review. Yanique’s previous prizes include the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Poetry, the Forward/Felix Dennis Prize in the UK, the Phyllis-Wheatley Award for Pan-African Literature, among others. (Source – N/A)

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Celebrated Jamaican writer Kei Miller (latest publication Things I have Withheld) paid it forward on his social media some time ago by spotlighting new and upcoming Caribbean releases in what he described as “a bumper year of exciting publications”, and I thought I’d pay that forward by passing it on. Books mentioned in fiction included Popisho/This One Sky Day by Leone Ross (“a super lush, super expansive feat of imagination”) of Jamaica, How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House (“the most gorgeous title ever”) by Cherie Jones of Barbados, Fortune by Amanda Smyth of Trinidad and Tobago (“seriously her best novel yet”), The Bread the Devil Knead (“so present and grounded”) by Lisa Allen-Agostini of Trinidad and Tobago, All The Water I’ve Seen Is Running by Elias Rodrigues of Jamaica, Dangerous Freedom by Lawrence Scott by Trinidad and Tobago, One Day, Congotay by Merle Hodge of Trinidad and Tobago (“everyone is looking forward!”), and Monster in the Middle by Tiphanie Yanique of the US Virgin Islands. Books mentioned in poetry included Mother Muse (“it sounds exciting!”) by Lorna Goodison of Jamaica, Thinking with Trees (“quietly beautiful”) by Jason Allen-Paisant of Jamaica, Like a Tree Walking by Vahni Capildeo of Trinidad and Tobago, Zion Roses by Monica Minott of Jamaica, and No Ruined Stone by Shara McCallum (“get back to reading her right now!”) of Jamaica. Books mentioned in non-fiction included The Gift of Music and Song (“a great resource for anyone interested in Caribbean Women’s Writing”) by Jacqueline Bishop of Jamaica, Invisible to Invaluable co-authored by Carol Russell, and Indo-Guyanese poet Rajiv Mohabir’s Antiman. (Source – Kei’s facebook)

Accolades

Various recipients of Antigua and Barbuda Gospel Media Awards, to be conferred in October, have been announced. They are Clephane ‘Mr. Terrific’ Roberts, a well known media personality, and Everton ‘Mano’ Cornelius, an athlete – both receiving legacy awards for education and athletics, respectively; Guyanese national Malika ‘Nikki Phoenix’ Moffett, a radio host across several stations in Antigua and Barbuda, Mario ‘DJ Bless’ Connor, a disc jockey, Thalia Parker-Baptiste, an activist – receiving impact awards, respectively, for activism, arts, and humanitarian work. These are only some of the announced awardees which includes Jamaicans Onika Campbell, known in Antigua and Barbuda as a former journalist with the Daily Observer newspaper and current honorary consul from her home country, another Jamaican, coach and therapist Jermaine Gordon, and Americans James C. Birdsong Jr. and Lillian Lilly, both singers. Announcement of competitive media awards is also scheduled for the October 22nd event, with music awards scheduled for October 23rd. (Source – The Daily Observer newspaper)

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Sharifa George has been announced as a 2021 recipient of one of a handful of coveted British Chevening scholarships and will use it to pursue a Masters in strategic marketing. Sharifa was part of the 2017 Wadadli Pen judging pool. The application deadline for the next round of Chevening scholars is November 2nd 2021. (Source – The Daily Observer newspaper)

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Daughters of Africa and New Daughters of Africa editor Margaret Busby is set to receive the 2021 London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award in September. (Source – personal email invite)

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Gayle Gonsalves My Stories have No Endings has placed second for the Colorado Independent Publishers Association and CIIPA Education and Literacy Foundation’s award in the Women’s Fiction category. The book was previously a finalist at Canada’s National Indie Excellence Awards. “I was so thrilled to learn of the award. …Special thanks to the cover designer (Lucy Holtsnider) for representing the book at the Awards. I feel blessed that the book continues to find new readers who enjoy Kai’s story. I’m thankful to the Universe for these blessings.” (Source – Gayle Gonsalves’ instagram)

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Bocas has this amazing contest for young writers and the people get to choose the winner. That’s an inspired approach to the popularization of reading and writing, and both the prize and the young writers, and you, the voters, deserve all the accolades.

Here’s where you go to listen and vote. (Source – Bocas’ twitter)

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The winners of the BLLF Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean and in the US, and honourable mentions have been announced. Main prize winners are both Trinis, Akhim Alexis for writers resident in the Caribbean and Patrice Grell Yuseik for those resident overseas, respectively.

See the short list below and the long list in the previous Carib Lit Plus. (Source – facebook, initially via Diana McCaulay who is one of the two finalists for the resident writer prize)

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The Legacy Award nominations – a project of the Hurston Wright Foundation in the US, named for Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright – are out, and include, in the fiction category, Book of the Little Axe by Lauren Francis-Sharma, born in the US to immigrants from Trinidad. (Source – Twitter)

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The Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival Caribbean resident and Caribbean American short story prize short lists have been announced. After the long list posted in the last Carib Lit Plus update, which included Antigua-Barbuda, the territories left standing are Jamaica (1), Trinidad and Tobago (2), Sint Maarten/Saint Martin (1), Guyana (1), Barbados (1), St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1), and Dominican Republic (1) for the prize for America-based Caribbean writers; and Trinidad and Tobago (4), Barbados (1), Jamaica (2), and Dominica (1) for the prize for Caribbean-based Caribbean writers. (Source – Facebook)

Book Publishing/Industry News

Caribbean Reads Publishing is promoting study guides for its titles – and they’re free. (Source – Caribbean Reads on instagram)

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Past Commonwealth Short Story Prize and Burt Award winner, Trinidad and Tobago’s Kevin Jared Hosein announced earlier this year that his forthcoming book, Devotion (his fourth), sold in a five way auction (wow) and is scheduled for release in August 2022. It will reportedly be released simultaneously in the US and UK, with Bloomsbury and Ecco/HarperCollins, backed by a major marketing campaign. (Now, that’s the dream!) It’s noteworthy that KJH did this all while being resident in TnT, one example that you don’t have to live abroad to make it internationally. For how he did it, we invite you to revisit his facebook post, republished, as ‘Hosein Breaks It Down‘, with his permission on this site. (Source – the author’s facebook)

Conversations

This is the latest addition to the data base of Antiguan and Barbudan Artistes Discussing Art, see who else is featured.

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Jazz vocalist, instrumentalist, and creator Foster Joseph talks jazz in the August 18 2021 CREATIVE SPACE. Watch

and read. (Source – Jhohadli)

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Joanne C. Hillhouse of Antigua and Barbuda and Wadadli Pen in conversation with M J Fievre, the Haitian-American author and host of the Badass Black Girl vlog, the second episode of season 5 after Nikki Giovanni (that and other interviews also worth checking out), has been added to the Antiguan and Barbudan Artists Discussing Art data base. (Source – YouTube)

Also ICYMI Hillhouse also has a recent interview with Andy Caul, both added to the Reading Room and Gallery, and has been longlisted for the BCLF short story prize for Caribbean writers resident in the Caribbean, as noted in the last Carib Lit Plus, now added to the Antiguans and Barbudans Awarded page.

Events

The Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival is almost here, September 10th – 12th 2021. This year’s theme: A Tapestry of Words and Worlds. Day 1 – Event 1 – Author’s Note with Tiphanie Yanique of the US Virgin Islands, Andre Bagoo of Trinidad and Tobago, and others; Event 2 – A Calabash of Wonder with contemporary writers of unapologetically Caribbean and African YA and children’s literature such as Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne and others; Event 3 – Laureates of the Caribbean: Our Common Heritage featuring the likes of St. Lucia’s Canisia Lubrin, Jamaica’s Velma Pollard and Tanya Shirley, among others. Day 2 – Event 4 – The Joys of Motherhood with Trinidad and Tobago’s Ayanna Lloyd-Banwo and Lisa Allen-Agostini, and Jamaica’s Diana McCaulay in the line-up; Event 5 – Espiritismo y Superstitions looking at Caribbean mythology; Event 6 – I belong to the House of Music with recent Commonwealth short story award winning Roland Watson-Grant of Jamaica among others talking about how music influences the creative consciousness. Day 3 – Event 7 – Women of the Resistance with Barbados’ Cherie Jones and others; Event 8 – Bards and Badjohns with Jacob Ross, a Britain-based Grenadian writer, Courttia Newland, a British writer of Jamaican and Bajan descent, and others explore masculinity in the region; Event 9 – Beti, which will comb through the thread of Indo-Caribbean womanhood. (Source – BCLF email)

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Joanne C. Hillhouse from Antigua and Barbuda was invited to participate in the Medellin International Poetry Festival, its 31st iteration, which has been going on all month, virtually, featuring writers from all over the world. Hillhouse’s panel included Ann Margaret Lim of Jamaica and Sonia Williams of Barbados.

See also AntiguanWriter. (Source – me)

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Jamaica-based Rebel Women Lit continues its Verandah Chats on August 21st with award winning speculative fiction writer Nalo Hopkinson who has Trinidadian roots. You can join from anywhere. Get your tickets here. (Source – RWL email)

You should know about

The Montserrat Arts Council facilitating songwriting masterclasses for local artists. “Local musicians joined more than 50 participants logged on to Zoom for Writers’ Delight – A song writing masterclass. Hosted by Trinidad-born and US-based Darryl Gervais, alongside Montserrat-born and UK-based Vallis ‘Shaker HD’ Weekes, the session ran for a total of five hours. Topics covered included Song Structure, What Makes a Good Song, Writing Better Lyrics, The 7 C’s of Song Writing and much more.” Read all about it here. (Source – Just Write facebook page)

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That the Opportunities Too page has been updated with opportunities for visual artists and writers alike, deadlines pending.

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A series of Conversations on Intellectual Property videos have been posted to the Antigua and Barbuda Intellectual Property and Commerce Office Facebook page. Check their video page for presentations by Carol Simpson, head of the World Intellectual Property Office in the Caribbean, parliamentary secretary Senator Maureen Hyman, magistrate Conliffe Clarke, and ABIPCO registrar Ricky Comacho and staffer Colleen Roberts. Beyond that it features eight business owners and their use of intellectual property: Andrew Doumith of ACT and AllMart; Gabby Thomas of The Vanilla Orchid; Debbie Smith of The Pink Mongoose; Terryl Howell also known as Guava De Artist; Writer, trainer, and Best of Books manager, Barbara Arrindell, Monique Sylvester- Rhudd of JMVI; Patrick Joseph of Stooge Co; and Kurt Carter of QuikServe.

This image of Wadadli Pen team member Barbara Arrindell is not from the Conversations series but from a World Intellectual Property zoom event in which she served as a presenter. I have asked but I haven’t been able to find the video for sharing. Sorry. (Source – Facebook)

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 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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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

“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

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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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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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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