Tag Archives: Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming

Reading Room and Gallery 35

Here I share things I like that I think you might like too. But not just anything. Things related to the arts – from the art itself to closer examination of the art to the making of the art…like that. There have been 34 installments in this series before – use the search window to the right to find them; and there’ll be more additions to this installment before it too is closed – so come back.

VISUAL

“I’ve worked with so many artists, but I’ve seldom experienced such an ebullient, rich, and massively productive creative process,” Mouly told Artnet, later adding, “The goal for both of us was not just a resemblance but something that emotionally evokes her person, because Morrison is deeply complex. [The artwork] works in a cathartic way for the artist and the viewer and the reader…I’m very grateful that Kara was willing to put herself through this process.” – ‘Quiet As It’s Kept’: Artist Kara Walker Creates the New Yorker’s Cover Tribute to Toni Morrison

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BLOGS

“Our last poetry and prose collection was published in 2014 and we are overdue for another.” – Althea Romeo-Mark blogs about Writers’ Works’ Bern in Switzerland

NON-FICTION

“As an adult, when I was estranged from my mother, my father would ask me to recall those holidays where my mother labored in the kitchen for hours. He would ask me to think about why my mother went to such pains and expense. Was it just for her friends, he’d want to know? Of course not. He would tell me that my mother always felt an astute guilt at raising me away from my extended family. For all those holidays absent of grandmothers and aunts and uncles and cousins. Instead of allowing me to feel that loneliness, she filled up our house with guests. She feared that I would never know family as they knew it, that even though I professed not to feel that sense of loss, I had inherited it nevertheless. Her failure to teach me those values, my mother believed, extinguished in this world a way of love.” – Give Hostages to Fortune by By Mehdi Tavana Okasi

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“Since my 30s, I’ve hated those birthday cards with their black balloons and messages of doom: How does it feel to be over the hill? Don’t collapse your  lungs blowing out candles!” – Judith Guest

POETRY

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At sunset,
when sunlight morphs into dusk,
slaps start: mosquito roulette.” – Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming’s Writer’s Digest winning Weekend at the Beach

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“LVDB: My first novel was in the first person, and that felt like working from the center to the exterior in that I feel like I had such a deep understanding of that character from the start. And it was more about how to write this character in such a way where what I understand about her is accessible to a reader who is not me. With The Third Hotel it was sort of the opposite in the sense that there was a lot that I actually didn’t know about Clare and didn’t understand about Clare and so hard to work from the outside in. One bit of latitude that you get in the third person is that you can see into a character and you can also see around them. That roundness of perspective felt important for The Third Hotel, given how much instability there is in both Clare’s POV and the world at large.” – Crystal Hana Kim and Laura Van Der Berg in conversation

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“For fiction written in the past tense, here’s a technique for tackling flashbacks that I stumbled upon years ago, and writers I’ve shared it with have tended to get highly excited: Start off your flashback with, let’s say, two or three standard-issue had’s (“Earlier that year, Jerome had visited his brother in Boston”), then clip one or two more had’s to a discreet “’d” (“After an especially unpleasant dinner, he’d decided to return home right away”), then drop the past-perfecting altogether when no one’s apt to be paying attention and slip into the simple past (“He unlocked his front door, as he later recalled it, shortly after midnight”). Works like a charm.” – Are These Bad Habits Creeping Into Your Writing? by  Benjamin Dreyer

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“Rule No. 10: Revise, revise, revise.” – Colson Whitehead, Rules of Writing

INTERVIEWS

“The importance of controlling the image answers the question of why there are very few black films from that time. The hostage-taking of the image is something that happened because of a lack of access to tools, because of a lack of access to exhibition and distribution, because of a lack of access to the tools that captured who we were, and because of how images were distributed falsely with a different and untrue narrative. Every time a filmmaker of color makes a film, it is a rescue effort. It is an act of resistance and defiance to use tools that were kept away from us, tools that were used to harm us for so long. When I get to a film like this, where there are so very many black people in it, every frame becomes a vitally important demonstration of freedom.” – Ava Duvernay in conversation with vulture.com re her mini-series When They See Us

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I don’t make any such decisions as my poems come to me as the first few lines come into my head, and any language that it comes in I just continue in that language. Sometimes it breaks in the middle of the poem and goes to Jamaican or breaks and goes to England but from when the first few lines come into my head that is the language it comes in
and I don’t make that choice in advance.” – Jean Binta Breeze talking to Jacqueline Bishop. Read the full interview which was published in Jamaica Observer’s Bookends column edited by Sharon Leach: BOOKENDS MARCH 24

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“I resisted buying a scrapbook-like biography of Charles Dickens put together by Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, his great-great-great-granddaughter, on the occasion of his bicentenary (1812-2012). The book has photographs and facsimiles of documents: letters, his will, theater programs . . . I have the same birthday as Dickens (February 7th), and when he turned 200, I was a mere 60. A friend heard me talking about the book and surprised me with it.” – Brooklyn Book Fair pre-event interview with Mary Norris

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“I was an avid reader when I was a pre-teen, so my mother would come home from work with Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High novels. It felt like Christmas each time. I would inhale the newness of the books, running my fingers across the pages, refusing to put creases in them. I was shocked when I came to America and found out that people leave books on sidewalks to take for free! I discovered The God of Small Things, The Alchemist, and 1984 this way. I had considered it an abomination to leave books on street corners, but I remember grabbing every one of those titles as if I were in a contest and grabbing gifts.” – Brooklyn Book Fair pre-event interview with novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn

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“I daresay that as Caribbean writers, we are extremely fluent in the shapes and short story procedures absorbed largely from an English-focused curriculum; and later, from our exposure to narratives outside the Caribbean. In fact, we excel at them, much as we used to in cricket. If people don’t know it yet, the Caribbean is the producer of world-class contemporary short fiction in the Commonwealth, I’m thinking in particular of Trinidad and Jamaica. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I do contend that the caribbeanness of the Caribbean short story remains underexploited, though I’ve begun to see the emergence of writers who are reaching past the creole language to explore ‘folk’ tropes and structure.” – Jacob Ross in conversation with Jacqueline Bishop. Read the full interview: Ross 1Ross 2Ross 3Ross 4

FICTION

“I continued to go to the interviews, to prove that I was still alive, but I no longer expected anything.” – The Golden Bough by Salman Rushdie

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“It is an awkward thing to buy fish from another vendor. It’s like horning your partner, or switching to a new barber or hairdresser. Be guaranteed that your regular vendor will find out about your clandestine purchase, because the new vendor will be sure to gloat that they were able to ‘tek yuh sale from yuh’, and the next time you go to the market, your regular vendor’s glare will follow you all the way back to your house. Even those dead fish eyes will stare at you with scorn, and that normally tender flesh will fight you all the way down from your throat to your colon.” – A Hurricane and the Price of Fish by Shakirah Bourne

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“I’m Mildred 302.0” – Mildred by Robin Burke

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‘Humph,’ Mavis say in her usual grunt: ‘Nuh worry. Mi find some US dolla under the dresser when mi clean it last week that mi aggo keep. But mi have something fi har though, man. De wretch nuh know sey is her toothbrush mi use clean the toilet.’  – Son-Son’s Birthday by Sharma Taylor

Antiguan and Barbudan fiction and poetry here and here.

REPORT

“Born in 1892, Savage would often sculpt clay into small figures, much to the chagrin of her father, a minister who believed that artistic expression was sinful. In 1921, she moved to Harlem, where she enrolled at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. A gifted student, Savage completed the four-year program in only three and quickly embarked on a career in sculpting. During the early to mid-1920s, she was commissioned to create several sculptures, including a bust of NAACP leader W.E.B. Du Bois and charismatic black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey — two key black leaders of the period who were often at odds with each other. Both pieces were well received, especially in black circles, but the racial climate at the time hampered wider recognition of her work. Savage won a prestigious scholarship at a summer arts program at the Fontainebleau School of the Fine Arts outside of Paris in 1923, for instance, but the offer was withdrawn when the school discovered that she was black. Despite her efforts — she filed a complaint with the Ethical Culture Committee — and public outcry from several well-known black leaders at the time, the organizers upheld the decision.” – from The Most Important Black Woman Sculptor of the 20th Century (Augusta Savage) deserves More Recognition by Keisha N. Blain  

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“I write, and I take my writing seriously,” he said. “Awards affirm this. But were I to write for awards, I would be a failed writer.” – Kwame Dawes in article in The Daily Nebraskan

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“Winning the regional prize for the Caribbean means everything to me. It means that I made the right choice. After my first semester in college, I had to make a difficult choice between doing what was expected of me and what I wanted. It seemed to be a selfish decision. I come from a struggling family and a struggling island, so as a girl with potential, I was expected to prepare myself for a lucrative career in the traditional professions: law, medicine, architecture. However, I chose to write. I got a lot of criticism for that choice. Many people asked me what I could do with a Literature degree: write children’s books; teach? I could, and there is nothing wrong with either. I make my living using my degree, and I am happy, but I still felt as if the true purpose behind my decision had not been realized. It has now.” – Alexia Tolas, of Bahamas, Regional winner (for the Caribbean) of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story prize. Other regional winners are from Zambia, Malaysia, Cyprus, and New Zealand

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, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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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

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‘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

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“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

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“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

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“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.

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“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.”

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‘“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

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“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

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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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

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“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

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“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

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Harmonium by Michael Klein first partHarmonium by Michael Klein second part

Harmonium by Michael Klein

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