I’m calling this a love letter because love isn’t only romantic. In the note that follows, you’ll hear loud and clear Linisa Geroge’s boundless love for her sister in art, Zahra Airall, and the complicated love artists have to the journey, as well as passion (a kind of love) for the art that flows through her. I want to share the love as I felt it reading this, and so, with Linisa’s permission (from her social media):
“I’m feeling a bit emotional right now, so please allow me this moment to share something. As most of you know Zahra and I have partnered over the years to do quite a bit of creative projects in Antigua. Last year we made the very difficult and frustrating decision to take a year off from Poetry In The Pub. Many of you were sad and while we understood your emotions, we needed to step back and work on individual projects that needed our attention. There were things that we wanted to do that kept haunting us because we were not putting the time needed into getting them off the ground.
Today is the 27th June 2018, and well look at the universe responding to our hardwork. I revealed on Monday that my first book will be available in August and I founded a collective that will focus on fostering collaborative work between all creatives. Zahra is presently in Turks and Caicos with her Honey Bee Theatre on tour with her play ‘Light In The Darkness’ sponsored by UN Women through the Directorate of Gender Affairs.
In order to grow and evolve you must make hard decisions. You must step away from certain things and people and seek clarity. You must go silent. You must bite the bullet and prioritize. You must some times strip everything down and start over. I won’t get into all the frustrating tears of weariness that we’ve shed, or the times we were so close to calling it quits on our haunting dreams. I just wanted to share with you what it looks like when you push through in spite of surmounting obstacles.
I’m usually a very private person but in the past year retreating and focusing on my health and personal and professional development has allowed me to unlock new levels of consciousness. I don’t have any answers to success or financial freedom, but I do know the joy and peace that come with owning your greatness and living out your passions. Art.Culture.Antigua will be back next week and the Black Girl In The Ring Foundation is slowly tying up all its loose ends. There are other things in motion that I won’t share just yet, but know that I’m putting in a shitload of work. I’ve sacrificed a lot, some very personal. I’ve messed up and had to check myself and do better. The losses are tough to understand sometimes, but I’ve learned from every last one.
Thank you all for being supportive, whether you know me personally or not. Thank you for your kind words and deeds when I needed it most. Thank you for challenging me to do and be better. Thank you for every criticism and pat on the back. Thank you for supporting the arts and for supporting Zahra and I and all our many many initiatives.
A special thank you to my close circle, who may not always understand my process and why I do certain things and make certain decisions, but show up to cheer me on without me even asking. You all are the real MVPs and you each know how much I cherish your unwavering love and support.
For who much is given, much is expected, so I felt it necessary to share this with you. I am supremely grateful. Everything is not right, but I am right where I am suppose to be. Give thanks ALL-ways.”
Linisa has announced a forthcoming project The Black Exhibit and her first book ‘The Flowers In Her Hair – an ode to Afro-Caribbean Womanhood’, both due this August 2018. Linisa is a past Wadadli Pen Challenge judge and patron. Both Linisa and Zahra have built up a lot of goodwill in the arts community through the energies and time they’ve put in to local arts – on their projects and in support of projects by other artists. As their stagings of the Vagina Monologues and its local spin-off When a Woman Moans indicated they set the bar high. In an environment where the art DOES NOT get the support, investment, attention, or boost it needs, Linisa and Zahra have invested time they could have been putting in to their own art in to building an arts community – Young Poets Society to Poetry in the Pub. Creating art, while making a living, while being an arts advocate, while life-ing is tiring – I know – so kudos to them for having the courage to step back to come forward. This is Linisa’s Love Letter to Zahra and their journey as figurative twins (though not bound by blood they share the same birthday), but it speaks to me and my own journey (its trials and triumphs and, again, its trials) and I suspect it will you as well. We are, none of us, perfect, among the things Linisa testifies to above is that we are all flawed works in progress, but in many ways these sisters are #blackgirlmagic #repecttheirhustle #beinspired
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, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved.
Primarily, in this space, I’ll be sharing discussions, in Question and Answer format, of craft, and insights to not only the author/artist’s journey but the story of the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. This is a Work in Progress. The main criteria, so far, for inclusion, apart from the Q & A structure and the arts/art history focus, is that these are interviews not conducted by someone who is part of the artistes’ publishing and/or promotional team, and are interviews that are in the public sphere on a platform independent of the artistes and/or their publishing and promotional team. Beyond that, it’s what I come across and you can also link me interviews that fit the very broad stated criteria by emailing wadadipen at gmail dot com
Barbara Arrindell in Cacique magazine – January 2023
“We speak of this orange (creative) economy quite a bit these days, and we need a greater investment in the arts so that creatives and those involved in the craft can continue to create without worrying about being able to sustain themselves.”
Barbara Arrindell and Joanne C. Hillhouse discussing creative writing on ABS TV’s Antigua Today –
– (January 12th 2022)
Barbara Arrindell in conversation with Joanne C. Hillhouse for CREATIVE SPACE –
“One of the early writings I did was a play called Dreams…Faces…Reality…and that play was actually performed over 25 times in Antigua and Barbuda… it was used as a tool to help students in the schools understand everything concerning HIV/AIDS.” – Barbara Arrindell with ABS TV (2020)
“Nellie Robinson, Dame Nellie Robinson is listed somewhere in our history as being the first chairperson of the artists association of Antigua and Barbuda, but so is a lady named Elizabeth Pickney…back in 17something… I found one in the 18th century too… we’ve had an artists association here many times and it’s been so far apart that each person thinks of themselves as the first chairperson of… in terms of history, there’s a book called A Brief History of Antigua written by Brian Dyde. Brian Dyde wrote brief histories for about four or five islands around the Caribbean, if it was five, four of them are still in print, guess which one is not in print, the other four were taken on and used in the school systems in the other islands, guess which one they couldn’t even sell one print run for…?” – Barbara Arrindell in conversation with Dorbrene O’Marde, Heather Doram, and Joanne C. Hillhouse on Observer Radio (2017). Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.
“I don’t really have a routine, I just take advantage of times when I don’t have anything to distract me, when I can get stuck into writing for as long as I want. I like to write with my feet cocked up on a comfortable sofa, and a good view in front of me. We have a small apartment in the old walled city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, which looks out onto a plaza with trees, a few birds singing, passing salsa music, and sounds of people chatting and relaxing. That’s my spot. When I am researching, of course, it’s different: if I’m not working online on the above-mentioned sofa, I’m usually sitting at a table in a research library somewhere in the Caribbean, or in Cornwall.” – Sue Appleby, author of The Cornish in the Caribbean (2019)
“If I was to specify what path I’m on and what matters to me the most I think it would be inspiring people…I have a reservoir of information that I could then pass on.” –
‘I was literally born into the theatre. My parents met each other through the Antiguan drama company “Harambee Open Air Theatre”… and since then they have both always nurtured the love and appreciation for the arts, exposing me to varying types of performances, including visiting ensembles to the island, and performances whenever I traveled. I remember my father taking me to see Cats on Broadway at a young age…it was exciting, and just cemented the fact that that was what I wanted to do with my life … perform and create productions that would make people feel the way I felt as a child sitting in that theatre. My mom then enrolled me in a drama programme called Child’s Play, under renowned Jamaican dramatist and storyteller Amina Blackwood-Meeks.’ – Zahra Airall talking to The Uncaged Phoenix (2018)
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.”
Tim Tim Bwa Fik podcast discussion with Rilzy Adams part 1 (2022) – “I started writing epic fantasy. I think that’s what I wrote for a very long time…but eventually I said to myself, well, this is what I like to read so I’m really confused as to why I’m not writng it and that’s when I started to segueing into trying my hand at writing romance novels.”
Glenroy Aaron participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Heather Doram, Emile Hill, Mark Brown, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): “To be honest, I have learned a lot more about the Antiguan aesthetic from this conversation than from my years of observing art in Antigua. I say this because there is so little indigenous Antiguan art to observe, and historic recording of it is also quiet faint. My art is basically an attempt to capture the beauty around me and the moments in which they occur. My techniques and methods continue to evolve as exploring New continues to excite. Forays outside my comfort zone to explore deeper emotions have produced interesting results; with some apprehension as to the commercial viability of such ventures. The balance between creativity and viability is tricky but can be done, as others have found ways to make it work. Themes and scenes indigenous to an artist’s place of birth will ultimately make its way onto an artist’s canvas but considering the fusion of influences and cultures that have existed on the islands for some time now, an Antiguan aesthetic may be a bit difficult to define. Further, holding that many view art as a visual expression of the artist’s thoughts and emotions, we can appreciate that some of these ideas and emotions may not be “local” in scope.” Read in full.
“When I was growing up there was the WPA…a programme the government set up for free schools in art and music for all the communities throughout the United States and my parents with six children…sent us all out to the free classes, so we were all painting and drawing and playing the piano… I was not able to get a scholarship (to art school) because they said it would be a waste to give a scholarship to a black person.” – Ashley Bryan talking to BBC Sounds about his early development as an artist.
Tammi Browne Bannister talking to David DaCosta (December 28th 2016):
“When I was little, I loved reading Aesop’s Fables and was attracted to the humor, the lessons, and the tragedies and of course the way these tales made me think about the characters long after reading. I’ve written a few.” Full interview.
Mark Brown participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Heather Doram, Emile Hill, Glenroy Aaron, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): “I view art making as a human activity which cannot be defined as mine or yours, and this is based on the type of work which I engage in. My work, in my mind, is about responding to stimuli, that act of engaging with my feelings about my environment, religion, identity, sexuality, all of which most, if not every human being faces at some point in life. As a result, for me Antiguan Art, like Art elsewhere, is individual voices singing their own tune. Of course we may use objects specific to our culture [that have] distinct meaning but many times these same objects may have a different name in another culture and [be] used in different contexts, but then it is also specific then to that locale. How else do we explain lending your voice in paint or any other medium to a specific issue in a way that you deem visceral and then later on somewhere else, Google for instance, you discover another artist on the opposite side of the globe exploring the very same idea in very similar ways. To me it is just the act of discovering, in visual format, that which is buried deep within with the ultimate aim of finding out the real reason for my being “here” and at this time.” Read the full discussion here.
Mark Brown (2015) on Popreel, Swedish TV: “The main aim of the Angel in Crisis series was to bring a sort of humanness to people like her (the nun), priests, people who have to bear that burden of conforming to what society expects of them.” Interview begins at 7:35.
Jazzie B. talking with Chris Williams for Wax Poetics (May 14th 2014): “’Keep On Movin’ actually came about lyrically because we were at the Africa Center in Covent Gardens, and we were being put under a lot of pressure by the police. It was due to the fact that other clubs in the area were empty and ours kept being full. Every so often, we would get the squeeze put on us. At one particular moment, they threatened to close us down. The whole concept of this song came from there.” Full interview.
“We shot this at Half Moon Bay and this was supposed to embody just light and sand and turqouise waters, and just playfulness and joy, like there was supposed to be an innocence to it because this is where you meet the Yemoja character and so this was really just about having fun and just playing with my body and the dress under the water and trying to imagine what Yemoja wuld have felt just being in clear chrystal blue waters.” – Christal Clashing discussing Yemoja’s Anansi in a February 2022 CREATIVE SPACE art and culture column
‘Of the many pieces that Shane has drawn over the years, one of his favourites features former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer squatting in his office chair. The caption below it read, “Dem say me a squat, but squatters have rights.”
The inspiration for this cartoon, Shane shares, “This was done at a time when UPP’s position as government was uncertain, and they were awaiting the results of the three seats. [Then] ALP said Baldwin was squatting in the Prime Minister’s office.”’ – Shane Daniel, cartoonist with the Daily Observer newspaper, interviewed about his art by the Daily Observer by Newsco
“Sometimes I try to have this hope that we have reached a stage where black people are not being treated unfairly and [this news] just dropped me into a rabbit hole again.” – Heather Doram (Daily Observer, 2021)
“In my current creative phase, I feel so invigorated, so inspired, so playful, and so expressive. As both an artist and a woman, I am exploring new spaces, taking on new challenges, transcending my past, and shaping my future.” – Heather Doram (2020 interview with findyello.com)
Heather Doram on Observer Radio in a discussion which also included Joanne C. Hillhouse, Barbara Arrindell, and Dorbrene O’Marde (October 2017): “My feeling is that I have lived under several administrations and I really do not get the feeling that there is that widespread support for the visual and performing arts…you just use them when you need them…we do not even have a national gallery in Antigua and Barbuda so we the artists are there producing work in sort of isolation. I’ve seen it in many other countries where the national gallery would commission work; this sort of spurs the whole generation and activity of work and then the artists start to feel that sense of involvement and that their art work can actually support them…the same thing I’m sure applies to the literary artist…something like the cultural development division should be that nexus of that sort of leadership, this is where the cradle is…I would really like to see more support for the arts generally.” Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.
Heather Doram participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Mark Brown, Emile Hill, Glenroy Aaron, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): “They were reactive and passionate. They were not satisfied with the realistic interpretation of the Antiguan landscape. They wanted to push boundaries, they wanted to produce work with the visual language of engagement with their audience. Many of their works responded to and explored social, political, gender issues and self. The younger generation sought to explore their roles as messengers in their visual language. I think artists like Mark [Brown], Emile [Hill], and Zavian [Archibald] can be included in this group. They are much more open to expressing themselves and exploring a range of media and techniques in their work.” Read the full discussion here.
Cray Francis talking with Good Morning Antigua Barbuda (April 5th 2016):
“I felt like I had to write my own stories.”
Claudia Ruth Francis talking with Italy’s Conoscere TV about her book Six Steps: An African-Barbudan-Caribbean Story (2022):
“I was very surprised when I realized that I was only six steps away from my ancestor who was on the slave registry in Barbuda.”
“It’s always a burning passion but it’s not a fruitful burning passion. You do the arts cause you love it and you have something you want to say.” – Gayle Gonsalves (2020) on ABS TV
“I’m a Caribbean poet foremost, I was not born in the BVI. I was born in Trinidad to a BVIslander father and a Trinidadian mother. His mother is Antiguan, her mother is Grenadian. He grew up in Guyana, and I grew up in the BVI. Because of that chain of connections, I think that the vibrations that drive my work are deep in the currents of this sea, those currents that touch each island – I would invoke that famous image of Brathwaite’s from ‘Calypso’, ‘the stone had skidded arc’d and bloomed into islands’.” – Richard Georges in Pree. 2018.
“As far as my poetic horizons go, I try to let the tides tug me along, and trust that they will take me where I’m meant to go. I thought I’d write a book of poems and then move on to spend some time experimenting with fiction, but poems seem to keep coming. I think I have to trust that.” – Richard Georges in Caribbean Beat. 2017.
Linisa George reads and talks about ‘In the Closet’, which was the Antigua and Barbuda Poetry Postcard for the UK series featuring works from the Commonwealth in time for the 2012 Commonwealth Games. “I’ve always been a poet…” she says, then explains the journey toward stepping in to that power. Link.
Joanne C. Hillhouse on WTP 93.5 for Wadadli Pen (May 20th 2023) –
Joanne C. Hillhouse with Margaret Irish and Barbara Arrindell for Wadadli Pen on Observer Radio 91.1 FM’s Voice of the People (May 9th 2023) –
Joanne C. Hillhouse interviewed on Observer AM about Anthony N. Sabga Award and #TheWritingLife (April 5th 2023) –
Joanne C. Hillhouse interviewed by Jacqueline Bishop for Jamaica Observer Bookends #InConversation series (March 26th 2023) –
“Your books are all exceptionally written, and the stories pull the reader in. Once you start reading, it is very hard to stop. What specific techniques do you find yourself employing in your writing to hold the perspective of young audiences?
I would probably say character, curiousity, detail, surrender. I think those elements are there no matter what I’m writing. It’s all story. And when I’m writing, I’m discovreing the story. Character leads me in; when it’s flowing, they walk around with me, even when I’m not engaged with the page. When writing Lost! , for example, one reference point was the school playground; those early days when some children cry every day, like the world is ending, while other children look around in excitement, and new friendships are formed. That feeling is what I remember trying to capture when Coral and Dolphin first meet – not a jellyfish and seal, two kids in a foreign land (the playground, the sea) feeling each other out. The fact that my writing is typically visual and detailed is a plus in this genre. I lean into details – in terms of language, taste, all the senses, all the ways we are specific, and I don’t try to manage the writing. I fall into the flow of it. Then with each writing session, rip up some of the thread and begin to crochet again to find the pattern. Because writing is revisions and rewrites and tweaks and fiddling and every bit of uncertainty and playfulness that comes with that.”
One correction: On the second page where it says “where the lick”, it should say “were the lick” (from the Antiguan-Barbudan vernacular). Pointed out as the error changes the meaning of the sentence.
Joanne C. Hillhouse on ABS TV’s Good Morning Antigua Babuda for March 8th 2023 International Women’s Day –
“It actually started as a conversation between me and my nephew and his mother that became this sort of bedtime story.” (speaking of To be a Cheetah)
Tim Tim Bwa Fik podcast discussion with Joanne C. Hillhouse part 2 (2022) – “Part of it is that I knew that world: I was the girl with the guitar slung over her shoulder, going to practice, playing in the choir, being shy about it, being self-conscious about walking with the guitar..for me the interesting things were the kids discovering their love of art, and discovering their potential within the art space, and connecting with each other through art…and the instinctive urge to explore colourism in that space because it exists in our spaces, our Black spaces, our people of colour spaces, it exists, so all of those things were interesting to me; the romance, yes, but all of those other things as well.”
Barbara Arrindell and Joanne C. Hillhouse discussing creative writing on ABS TV’s Antigua Today (January 12th 2022) – “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is not for you to judge what you’re creating as you’re creating it. Let it be. Let it breathe. But part of what I’m doing in my current stream of workshops is now when you come back to the work, how do you begin to edit it, how do you being to redraft it? Because if you are serious about putting your work out in to the world, that is going to be a part of the process. And one of the things I always encourage budding writers to do is to begin to think of putting their work out in to the world. Whether it’s submitting to journals, or contests, or beginning the process of starting to query longer works that they wish to publish. But before you get to that point, once you get past the ‘just write’, once you get past the ‘let it breathe’, is beginning to dig in to the work and refine it, and begin to put it out in to the world.”
“One of the things that you grow up hearing in the Caribbean is girls shouldn’t climb trees because they going blight the tree, meaning that the tree not goin’ grow or not goin’ bear, so I wanted to put a girl in a tree; we need to break those sort of stereotypes. One of the magical things about children’s picture books is that they are what begins that process of socializing children in to who they are and who other people are.” – presentation by Joanne C. Hillhouse at Write the Vision’s Aspiring Authors and Writers Virtual Literary Event
“Even the idea of taking on an internship as a writer, because he’s an aspiring writer, is a luxury…you have to be able to support yourself in order to do an internship that can help you figure out this writing thing sometimes; so all of the things you need to feed the life that will allow you to do the creative thing is sometimes the biggest challenge.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse on taking on her first personal intern; just one of the things discussed in this conversation with Diaspora Kids Lit
Joanne C. Hillhousein conversation with Andy Caul of ACalabash: “To write those kids in Musical Youth, I reached back to my own teen-hood when I had my group of friends and I used to play the guitar. I used to go to guitar lessons, to play guitar in the choir. We went to fetes, Carnival, talent shows, walk-a-thons, the beach, we walked from school together. We had our clique. We had shared experiences. And I know in the reviews, they particularly commented on the Black joy in Musical Youth. And I appreciated that because that, in a way, was a joyful existence. The thing that people misunderstand about Caribbean life and Caribbean people is that while it can be very hard, marked by poverty and other things, it’s not just that. It is just life. It is love and laughter and we have some of the most inappropriate sense of humor when it comes to some of the darkness and the things that we joke about and the things that we find funny. So, yes, there’s poverty. Yes, there is political victimization. Yes, there is all the narratives but there’s also friendship, laughter, fun, music and all that stuff. I did not feel like I was writing against anything. It felt like I was just writing what was true.” (2021)
“I wanted her to be blacker, I wanted her to be on the dark-skinned side of the spectrum and I wanted her to be natural, have natural (hair) …because part of it for me …in the world of children’s picture books we don’t see enough people at the darker end of the spectrum, especially as characters that children can feel affection for and love and recognize themselves in.”
–Joanne C. Hillhouse in conversation with Trinidad writer-artist Danielle Boodoo Fortune in a World Book Day chat (2021) that involved audience questions.
– March 12th 2021 – Joanne C. Hillhouse discussing Wadadli Pen on the ABS TV morning show.
“The Boy from Willow Bend is by any measure growing up in abject poverty and in an abusive situation, and yet there is laughter and yet there is love and yet there is hope and yet there is dreaming and fancifulness because that is life. Life is not just one thing. It’s a myriad of things, and so that’s what I try to capture of this young boy coming of age in Antigua in this particular time.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse is the first National Public Library Author of the Month in January 2021
“For me they were people first and, of course, I had to research just how the world of the underwater would move, what I would need to know about arctic seals, what I would need to know about jellyfish, what I would need to know about sea turtles. So there was a lot of research in that regard. But in terms of the voices of the characters, they were children. They wanted to play and explore the ship, and, of course, Dolphin the Arctic Seal wants to get back home so he can tell his own adventuring grandmother about his own Caribbean sea adventure.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse in 2020 self-made video on her own platform but with audience submitted questions for the #Catapultartsgrant (specifically a Catapult Caribbean Creative Arts Online grant). She answered questions submitted via social media about story, craft, theme in Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and all her books
“Songs are universal and you don’t even have to know the lyrics sometimes to feel it.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse discussing Musical Youth with gender advocacy group Intersect (2020)
“The first storytellers I knew were the calypso writers the Shelly Tobitts of the world,these were the people that taught me how to tell a story and how to tell Antiguan stories in particular.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse, ABS TV (2020)
“With writing, the story is there sometimes in the accumulated experiences, observations, and questions of your life. I had been a guitar student like the main character, I had done musical theatre and musical stuff with my crew as a teen, I had had my experiences of coming of age and colorism; it was all there, waiting to be pulled.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse 2019 interview with Ravishly
Joanne C. Hillhouse Emma the Little Bookworm blog interview. 2019: “I was interested in the dynamic between the sisters – sisters who are very different, and in the way, in a relationship, two people are experiencing the same moments in very different ways. So it was definitely character driven but I don’t think of it as writing the book to accommodate the characters or vice versa, so much as my discovery about my characters shaping the plot in the most natural of ways – I tried not to get in the way of that. In a way it became as much a conversation between them (Michael and Selena) as between my characters and me, as the story moved forward, chapter to chapter, with alternating character points of view on the evolving relationship.”
Joanne C. HillhouseLinda’s Bookbag interview, 2019: “Selena felt a strange kinship with his mother, this woman she’d never met.”
Joanne C. Hillhouse interview on Caribbean Literary Heritage (June 2018): “Honestly, the first thing that flashed in to my mind is Antiguan and Barbudan calypso and Paul Keens Douglas – especially Tanty and Slim at the Oval – on the radio. Neither of which qualify as reading but which were foundational to my introduction to Caribbean literature. It’s there in Antigua and Barbuda’s King Obstinate’s Wet You Hand – a song which was fun and funny to me as a children and which I’ve used as an example of scene building and character description in my workshops, or in the way he knits the story of Anansi stealing the birds’ feathers into another of his songs – songs that did what Calypso did which was be bold-faced and satirical and reflective of our lives and our truth (especially the truths we didn’t dare speak) while bearing our unique brand of humour and matter of factness about life’s tragedies. It’s there in the writings of Shelly Tobitt – named for Romantic era poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; though I wouldn’t see the connection until college. A romantic idealist in his own right, or so his lyrics would suggest, as a child Shelly, the calypso writer and frequent collaborator of Antigua and Barbuda’s best calypsonian and inarguably one of the best the region has ever produced the Monarch King Short Shirt (who Dorbrene O’Marde writes about in his Bocas longlisted biography Nobody Go Run Me), was to me a poet who used the frustrations of the people to comment on economic, social, and political issues in a way that was deeply and enduringly philosophical, with melodies that captivated. So, the calypsonians and the oral tradition (including the jumbie stories) would have been my first reading of Caribbean writing.” Full interview.
“When Heather was culture director…I remember her starting a national collection where she commissioned pieces featuring Antiguan and Barbudan icons…what has become of that? What has been the continuity with respect to that national collection?… things like that, like you can have someone with a good idea start something… but there was no continuity, so if there’s no continuity it’s like you’re starting from scratch every time someone gets fired up and passionate about something so that’s the whole point…if you have that continuity then this person’s efforts will connect with that person’s efforts and we’ll have progression instead of starting from scratch every time…one of the things I do on the Wadadli Pen website is I have a project where I record the books that are put out and the plays and the songs that are put out by Antiguan and Barbudan creatives and there’s no shortage of stuff in the last 10 or so years, there’s a lot of people just feeling inspired and doing their own thing… there is stuff happening independently by artistes who feel inspired and creative but not by any system that’s giving them foundation or supporting their efforts.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse in conversation with Heather Doram, Dorbrene O’Marde, and Barbara Arrindell on Observer Radio (2017). Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.
Joanne C. Hillhouse on Observer AM (November 2017)
Joanne C. Hillhouse talking to The Culture Trip (July 2017): “in The Boy from Willow Bend, Vere’s mother leaves Antigua for better economic and personal opportunities in the U.S., and Vere himself leaves at the end; in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Selena and her sisters move to Antigua from the Dominican Republic for better opportunities, and at some point one of the sisters moves away from there as well; in the story, ‘The Other Daughter’, the title character moves to the US for educational purposes. I don’t know if it holds significance to me (there are many stories in which people don’t leave) so much as being a reflection of the reality that movement is a part of the Caribbean existence—whether it’s to seek higher education, economic opportunities, or a different kind of life—the Caribbean diaspora (i.e. the number of Caribbean people no longer resident in here or in the Caribbean country of their birth) is significant. We are a region of small islands with intelligent and talented people, sometimes the desired opportunities to recognize our full potential or even the cover needed to brave the economic storms stirred up in bigger places isn’t there. So, it’s just a reflection of the reality, I think (but just one part of the reality that I write).” Full interview.
Joanne C. Hillhouse in the Meet the Writer series at Grab Life by the Lapels: “I just enjoy experimenting within the story writing form, short and long. Much of what I write is character driven and distinctively Caribbean with (I like to believe) universal resonance – because I do believe the stories that are about the human condition can cross over without having to be diluted.” Full interview. 2016.
Joanne C. Hillhouse in Books, Inc’s Hamlet Hub (2015) – in response to “what’s the last great book you read?” – “I’m going to name two – Kei Miller’s Writing Down the Vision, which is non-fiction and Tayari Jones’ Silver Sparrow, which is fiction. I blog the reasons why here, but what it comes down to is writing that transports me from physical reality while grounding me in certain truths, truth being relative of course, and writing that just moves me, you know.”
Joanne C. Hillhouse on ABS TV (2015) – “The idea is that cost should not be a barrier to you being able to participate in something that could help you find your voice and express yourself” – re Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project
Joanne C. Hillhouse in conversation with book blogger Geosi Gyasi (2015): “I don’t think about it like that. I just tell the story. Sometimes the protagonist is a child, sometimes a teen, sometimes an adult, sometimes an old person, sometimes a jelly fish named Coral. The writing is always character first, not audience. During the editing process that’s when I’m challenged, often by the assigned editor, to think about things like can the target age group for this picture book understand abstract thinking, do I maybe need to be more literal, more detailed, more specific, provide clearer resolution, like that.” Read the full interview.
Joanne C. Hillhouse interviewed by Wandering Educators (2015): “Musical Youth is, as the name suggests, the story of young people who are exceptionally musical. Throughout the course of the novel, the course of one summer really, we see them coming together through music and being transformed by it. It is the story of Zahara, a girl and her guitar, and Shaka, a boy and his moves, it’s about the families we have and the families we make, and the potential that exists inside of us, if only…”
Joanne C. Hillhouse on Popreel, Swedish TV (2015): “The characters come to me; they don’t always reveal their stories fully, so for me writing is a journey of discovery. I can’t always see where it’s going but I’m kind of wandering my way through it and trying to figure out what is it all about.” Interview starts here at 8:50.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t know any writers from here, from Antigua, until I discovered Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid; the writers from here that I knew, and I have great respect for them, were the calypso writers, people like Shelly Tobitt and Marcus Christopher, because when I was coming up, calypso was the literature that I would hear that had some relevance to my community, the other literature that we read was mostly from America or from Britain. So it was a while before I could wrap my mind around this idea that this was what I was called to do.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse (2015) on Bookworm, Swedish radio
Joanne C. Hillhouse talking to M. J. Fievre at the Whimsical Project (November 21st 2014): “Calypso, the calypso at that time, sang the things people were afraid to say and reflected the concerns and reality of the folk, authentically, in their voice, in a way that stirred spirits. I think there’s a part of me that strives for that in my writing.” Full interview.
Joanne C. Hillhouse British Council interview (2014): “I think the dialogue in most of my work as written is important if I want the reader to hear it, to truly hear the character’s voice. The acceptance and the use of our mother tongue is still a struggle in the Caribbean where we’ve been colonized into this idea where it’s nothing more than bad English. Thankfully that way of thinking is changing, albeit slowly…but for me it’s never been a case of bad English, not when you’re talking about a language with a vocabulary and rules and history all its own, born out of a fusion of cultures, like so much else that makes us Caribbean.” Full interview reposted to Repeating Islands.
Joanne C. Hillhouse in Bookends in Jamaica Observer (June 29th 2014): “I’m not a genre. I know publishing likes to pigeonhole but I just write.” bookendsjune29
Joanne C. Hillhousein Tastes like Home (March 12th 2014): “when I wanted to include a kitchen scene in my book, Oh Gad! I went straight to Pepperpot. It’s my favourite dish and since I only eat my mother’s Pepperpot I really identify it with my mother and got her to explain the making of it to me for incorporation in the book, which is unusual in itself since she’s the typical: if you want to learn come-and-put-hand type of Caribbean cook.”
Joanne C. Hillhousetalks to the Frugal Feminista (2013): “I didn’t write with the children’s market in mind at all; I just told the story and because the first novella was a coming of age story, it was a natural fit for that market. But what it taught me is that sometimes you get pigeonholed by what you’ve done or how what you’ve done is defined by others and not by the full scope of what you can do and do do.”
Joanne C. Hillhouse on phd in creative writing blog (2012): “I’ll mention three. Jamaica Kincaid because like me she’s an Antiguan writer and because after reading Annie John, I knew that I had a lot of work to do but becoming a writer wasn’t as improbable as it seemed. Edwidge Dandicat whose writing I admired and whose geographic landscape (she was also from the Caribbean and only a few years older than me) made me see possibilities. Zora Neale Hurston because I like both her writing and her spirit and, like her, I’m committed to rendering my world in its full-bodied authentic self.”
Joanne C. Hillhouse discussing Oh Gad! in Your Style magazine (2012): “It’s about sisters, and identity, loss and recovery, love and betrayal, politics and belongings – I suppose all the things that are on my mind.”
Joanne C. HillhouseOh Gad! launch in New York (2012): “I try to give a great sense of atmosphere, and just to make it come alive for the reader so they can see it and feel it and smell it and touch it so that whatever it is, you can connect with it. That’s what I try to do because that’s how I think I interact with the world. I always have a notebook with me, and things strike me; it might be the way the sun feels on your skin or the way the colours are bleeding across the sky at sunset, whatever it is, it’s a moment and you can use that moment at some other point in your writing and so I tend to capture it. I steal moments.”
Joanne C. Hillhouse in Caribbean Book Blog (2012): ” It’s a part of what I try to capture in my books from reminiscing on chasing butterflies during the summer in my first book The Boy from Willow Bend to ‘borrowing’ my mother’s pepperpot recipe for an epic pre-picnic cook-down in Oh Gad!”
Joanne C. Hillhouse on Mindy Hardwick’s Blog (2012): “It’s reciprocal; you give and you get. A recentish example…I remember feeling a big grin form on my face and a big whoop storm up within me on receiving in the email a poem written by a girl I used to read to/with when she was much younger, at the Cushion Club, a kids reading club with which I’ve volunteered for several years. I didn’t even know she wrote until then; and I remember feeling so proud and doing with her what others have done with me, offering frank assessment and encouragement. But that’s just one example of how delightful it is to see them grow into themselves. I know I’m such a small part of their world but whenever I come across the kids whom I’ve had the opportunity to interact with through the Cushion Club, Wadadli Pen, the Great Young Minds art camp, or some other workshop activity, or even personal interaction and see them doing their thing, sometimes I can’t help feeling like a proud mama – or big sister.”
Joanne C. Hillhousein conversation with Danielle Boodoo-Fortune (2011): “I can’t think of any specific elemental metaphors that re-occur. But I do find that I tend to write the working class experience (because that’s where I’m coming from), and some version of my tanty who died when I was a child sneaks in more often than I realize, and that while most of my stories are set in Antigua there’s often some reference to Dominica, where my mother is from but which I’ve only visited twice. And I suppose I play with the senses a lot; light and shadow, sounds – whether it’s birdsong or music (yes, a lot of music); the taste and smells of our environment – from the fruits the pit latrine and, yes, water. It’s such a rich environment; I suppose when I write I instinctively want the reader to taste it and smell it and really see it – how nuanced and interesting it is. I believe in detail.”
Fiction. It challenges me and I fall in love with the characters and enjoy discovering the story. Poetry, because it’s my outlet; it’s not always about publishing, often it’s just about getting it out. This is the medium I use for that type of writing more than any other…for me, the most accessible, I guess. Though it is it’s own kind of challenge (technically). But I like all forms for different reasons.
Joanne C. Hillhouse interviewed on Caribbean Literary Salon (2010): “In the end, though, it all comes back to the writing. And that’s why I say write, not for anyone else, not to publish – all of that will come or not – but because you have to; because you love it.”
Emile Hill participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Heather Doram, Mark Brown, Glenroy Aaron, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): ‘Ok so I’m a bit of a texter (cell phone, social media etc.) and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself engaged in several conversations, all completely different subject matter and all requiring a different “Emile” to deal with each of them. And I think, in this day and age, this happens to most persons at some point in time. The series I’m working on presently deals with the “multi-sidedness” of human interaction and relationships. It’s caused me to ask myself some questions, looking at whether this is a means of masking the true self and why? Is Survival a reason? What makes us accommodate each other so, switching faces? Is the face we see real, fake (and sometimes, does it even matter)? With regards to the Antiguan and Barbudan aesthetic, I think that every artist’s contribution is one that continues to make up the grand tapestry of who we are and so I think it fits simply as a local artist’s perspective on things… another thread in the tapestry.’ Read in Full.
“There’s a piece that I did that I call ‘8-8-21’ that I wrote after teargas Sunday last year. I call it ‘Freedom 8-8-21’…it starts by saying, I think, ‘Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. When the youth are protest ready, they become revolutionary’. And it goes on from there and it just kind of encapsulates the entire Sunday, everything that happened that Sunday. Because I happened to be there. That was my personal experience. I was caught up in it. I was gassed as well… that piece means a lot to me not only because it was my experience but also it’s history, it’s chronicling what happened that day.” – Dotsie Isaac, in conversation with Joanne C. Hillhouse for CREATIVE SPACE
“No it was not difficult getting started because I was always writing” – D. Gisele Isaac on ABS TV. 2020. Full interview below.
Foster Joseph, jazz vocalist and musician, in conversation in 2021 with Joanne C. Hillhouse for CREATIVE SPACE –
Clifton Joseph in Never Apart: ‘…the first person to really encourage me into the writing/performing arts was an older man in my village of New Winthropes in Antigua, Mr. Murray, probably, visually, the most black, blackest person in “Blizzard” as we called our home on the northern coast of the island. I think I was around ten years old and in addition to singing the Antiguan calypso songs we heard on the radio, Mr. Murray would actually pay me a penny, or sometimes two-pence (we were still using the British colonial currency at the time) to make up my own “calypso” verses. The only snippet I remember from then are three lines: “in January they called me clinky, then in February they start to call me sebassie, and in June they start to call my cousin boone”…I have to give Mr. Murray maximum props for sparking that early interest in writing and performing.’ Full interview.
Clifton Joseph talking with Ian Ferrier (2007): “Hip Hop, Dub Poetry, Dancehall, Reggae all sort of come out of the same African inspired, Caribbean, American, emphasis on words, rhythm, repetition; all of those things pull from the same pool of stylistic influences.”
Tameka Jarvis-George interviewed about her comic series August by Jump magazine: “I wrote to escape everything I didn’t like and anything that made me uncomfortable. I love my fictitious world.” Full interview. 2018.
Naomi Jackson, a New Yorker of Antiguan and Barbadian descent, author of critically acclaimed novel The Star Side of Bird Hill, in conversation with Writing Home: American Voices from the Caribbean –
“The Caribbean was both this place of joy and possible exile.” Listen here.
Shabier Kirchner‘s Love Letter to Antigua, an interview with Penelope Bartlett on Criterion Collection: “We are very proud people and yet we are so underrepresented on-screen by ourselves. I think Ousmane Sembène said it best: If we continue consuming images solely from abroad, and telling the stories of other people or absorbing others’ perspective of us, we will eventually lose our identity—and I truly believe that. The Caribbean is my home. Our people are the most interesting to me, and I just want to share the truth of who we are through local eyes.” Full interview. 2020.
Shabier Kirchner talking to Caribbean Beat magazine about his film Dadli: “While I was shooting this test footage, there was no agenda. I wasn’t looking for a main character. We weren’t recording sound, so there weren’t any interviews. I was just walking around shooting things that were interesting. It wasn’t until many months later that we realised there was this boy who kept appearing in the footage. So Tiquan became the force behind the narrative. After we had an idea of what we wanted the film to be, we tracked him down and interviewed him.” Full interview. 2019.
“(Shabier) Kirchner: That’s Antigua’s old sugar factory. It’s been abandoned for many years; I used to go there as a kid. It was like Tarkovsky’s Stalker. You could completely lose yourself there, let the imagination would run wild. I always loved that place. Visually, I’ve been shooting it for years, and I knew I had to shoot it on 16. It’s a coincidence that Tiquan was talking about running away from home and finding a place where he could just let loose. It wasn’t that specific place for him, but I’m assuming it was similar. What he described was what the sugar factory was for me.” Full interview. 2018.
“I suppose that my work is always mourning something, the loss of a paradise—not the thing that comes after you die, but the thing that you had before. I often think of the time before my brothers were born—and this might sound very childish, but I don’t care—as this paradise of my mother and me always being together. There were times when my mother and I would go swimming and she would disappear for a second, and I would imagine the depths just rolling over her, that she’d go deeper and deeper and I’d never see her again . . . And then she would pop up somewhere else. Those memories are a constant source of some strange pleasure for me.” – Jamaica Kincaid conversation in the Paris Review, 2022
“Writing, it seems to me, depends primarily on a kind of chaos [so] that categorisation . . . only hinders the reader and the writer,” says Kincaid, explaining that she prefers to think in terms of “different forms” because “when I started to write, I just wrote”. – Jamaica Kincaid, from interview in the Financial Times, 2022
Jamaica Kincaid talking with the BBC (in an interview which also included Jacob Ross and Claire Adam, 2018): “I didn’t know I wanted to tell stories. I knew I wanted to write and I thought I wanted to write about my mother and me, and a lot of my writing is about mother and daughter. But really I could early on see before any critic, I may have pointed it out to critics, that I was really writing about imbalance of power. And the mother country and the domestic mother is quite intertwined. If you really give a cursory and then thoroughly investigation into colonialism, you will see how much the colonial world has to do with the domestic and the domestic is almost always the female domain.” Full programme.
Jamaica Kincaid talking with Mother Jones (January/February 2013): ‘I think I was trying to understand how, short of an accident—you know, you pick up the phone, he says, “Your mother is dead. Her car. The Earth fell”—I never expected the everyday to suddenly become an accident. Suddenly you go downstairs and the pine floor is a gravel pit. I was trying to understand how the everyday suddenly becomes the unexpected.’ Full interview.
Natasha Lightfoot talking with Renee Goldthree for Black Perspectives (April 4th 2016): “In the UWI archives, there was an almanac for the West Indies in the nineteenth century, and it contained an entry in the year 1858 for Antigua. The entry mentioned that there had been a riot and that the island’s jails were completely full, but it also claimed that the riot was nothing of any political significance. The entry suggested that the rioters were basically rabble in the streets causing trouble—and not at all political. That entry raised my antenna so to speak. I thought that the way the entry was written was a sign that whatever had occurred was very political: there had been a riot in the streets for several days and the jails were full of rioters. I wanted to figure out what happened and why.” Full interview.
Joy Lawrence in conversation with Joanne C. Hillhouse for Wadadli Pen (2013): “The history books we are familiar with are usually written from the European or American perspective. I want people to understand our story from our perspective – how we feel, our likes and dislikes, our goals and aspirations. No outsider can tell our story the way we can.” Full interview.
Joy Lapps talking with Joanne C. Hillhouse (December 2nd 2012): “I think that my strengths lie in composition and writing lyrics for music composed by others and by myself. My inspiration comes from my lived experience and some things I read about or see on the news, my spirituality and love of God, falling in love with my husband, the everyday challenges of life…etc.” Full interview.
“That’s the direction I want to go with my writing, where I want it to be a small Caribbean island, I want it to be genre fiction, category romance, in the Caribbean, because sometimes those are the books you want to read, you know, you don’t want to be thinking of the heavier literary fiction or whatever – sometimes you just want ice-cream.”
– Kimolisa Mings, CREATIVE SPACE interview, February 2023
“I was the representative for the Clare Hall Secondary school, my alma mater… I fell on stage…the crowd’s reaction was a mixture of *gasps* and laughs, and at that point I had to make a decision, ‘hey, you go continue or you go stop.’ Cause you can either be poor thing and people laugh at you for the rest of your life or you can act the shit out of this and make it worth it. And I stayed on that floor and I continued my entire performance from the floor. The next day, I was the front page article: If at first you don’t succeed, you try and try again . The next year, I was the billboard for the website. I had my own billboard on the road…which is something that is not normally given to an unplaced contestant…that experience that you would think would have deterred me or broken me down in some kind of way was something that opened a whole big spectrum to me as a person in terms of confidence and being able to think on your feet, you know, ‘you need to get this done, wha you go do.'” – Kevon Moitt, designer
(the self-produced documentary series was released in 2021)
Jelani ‘J-Wyze’ Nias, author of Where Eagles Crawl and Men Fly, talking about following his path to publication: “The biggest wall I encountered, not that there weren’t others, but the biggest was my own fear. And once you get through that fear/feeling of will people understand this, will people accept this, are people gonna see my vision, once you go through that then everything else tends to be a lot more easy to deal with.” – Watch the video.
Dorbrene O’Marde about writing Nobody Go Run Me about King Short Shirt (2022):
Noting that he had written the first chapter five years before beginning the book – “Writing is interesting in that sense…you start, you put it down, and sometimes you just don’t get back to it for a long long time unless something prods you, and it was this celebration of the 50th anniversary, that says ‘wow, I have written this thing here’.”
Dorbrene O’Marde in conversation with Heather Doram, Joanne C. Hillhouse, and Barbara Arindell on Observer radio’s BigIssues (2017): “We’re definitely not doing enough…you talk to groups today and mention Tim Hector …in schools, the name is not know; what he does has not been heralded…my interactions with young people…points to this particular void…history clearly is the subject of interest here, that we know who we are…the decisions about where we’re going will be made on the basis of that knowledge…if you understand the history of how we came to own these lands…then we wouldn’t behave the way we’re behaving, for example, with our land…” Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.
Dorbrene O’Marde talking with Judd Batchelor at Batchelor of Arts Theatre Online (2016): “And one of the comments I made -which seemed to rattle some of the young writers, was the total absence of socio political concerns in this region, at this particular point in time when there is so much need for concern and there is so much need for understanding the post-colonial independence bind that we find ourselves in, that our leaders find themselves in that we as persons trying to inform leadership have not really clarified for ourselves. And my view of the role of the artist is to help in that clarification.” Full interview.
Dylan Phillips interview with Observer after his appearance on the media group’s Big Issues radio programme to discuss Art Week in April 2023: “In secondary school I was introduced to the Japanese comic genre of manga and that piqued my interests in art. I would draw my own little comics in the back of my books. I found comfort in it. I took art from forms one to two. Academically I wasn’t the best, so when it came time to choose my subjects for third form, the school decided to allocate subjects they thought I would have a chance of passing. Art wasn’t one of them. But I picked it up again when I entered form five, hoping to attempt it for CXC, but I wasn’t advanced enough so was not allowed to continue…Art is seen as a lesser occupation. If we can change the perception of art, I think that would be a good starting point. If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will always seem like a fool and sadly the school system here forces fish to climb trees. Our curriculum needs to be updated with the artistically inclined in mind, and there needs to be an avenue where a young aspiring artist can see a path leading to an economic future in this field.””
Althea Prince talks about her research and her writing with A Different Booklist bookstore in Canada: “We need to hear from women about their experiences, their creative journeys, so The Black Notes brought together older and younger women. The contributors include some young girls who are just reaching the age of maturity. The book seeks to bring together the two generations. We have then the viewpoint – not a complete cross-section of those, but as far as I was able – of those women and girls from the African-Canadian community. So the same objectives: the same business of giving equity, giving voice, allowing space for these voices to express their creativity. Some of it is non-fiction, some of it is fiction and some of it is poetry.”
Rowan Ricardo Philips talking with Deadspin about his tennis themed book The Circuit: a Tennis Odyssey: “Carribeans love racket sports. My dad played a lot, so I started out going to his matches and serving as a terrible ballboy. The only thing we watched as a family on television was tennis, Breakfast at Wimbledon was big in my house. I had forgotten about those days, but I am fond of them. I never would’ve written the book without it. Here’s a good example: My dad rarely calls with breaking news, but one day he rang me up and said, ‘Turn on the TV, there’s a tennis poem being read on the air.’ It was Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated encapsulating his time at one of the big tournaments. Dad wanted to make sure I saw my personal Venn Diagram becoming one circle.” 2019.
Rupert Littleman Pelle, final interview, with the Cultural Development Division Research Department (2021): “I never believe I write a good song until I hear somebody criticize it. If I write a song and we can’t sit down in a group and discuss the song, and add and subtract, something wrong with the song, something definitely have to wrong with the song. And you can’t just change a line in a song like that. You write a song and somebody take it and they change a line can destroy the whole song. Because you na know what is leading up to the second verse or the third verse that have to do with the line in the first verse that you interfere with.”
Paul ‘King Obstinate’ Richards: “We’re prophets; a lot of things we write about comes true.” (King Obstinate on calypso, September 2013)
“…my little house is my own piece of paradise and it’s very conducive to creativity because it’s so peaceful and quiet. Singles’ Holiday and Sweet Lady are set on the island, and I’ve also developed a writing career over there. I wrote a TV series called Paradise View, which was shown on Antigua TV. When I last left the island, the people at the check-in desk were asking when they would get to see more. I’m now working on another show called Maisie and Em, which I describe as Golden Girls set in the Caribbean.” – UK writer Elaine Spires who made Antigua a home away from home speaking to Write’s Editing Services on the impact of island living on her writing
“They were great times – with the most amazing, talented, creative, strong, wonderful women. Their writing and innovative theatre pieces were daring and searingly truthful and just blew me away. I was honoured to be asked by Zahra Airall one of the founder members of Women of Antigua to write a piece for their show When A Woman Moans. I wrote the first Maisie and Em sketch which I performed as Em with my great pal Heather Doram taking the role of Maisie. Heather is an internationally famous artist and actress who has since become a TV host. The sketch brought the house down which was rewarding and humbling and so I was invited to write for them again the following year. It was a thrill and honour to be a part of it.” – Elaine Spiresspeaking with The Publish Hub
“One of our goals was to have the Cultural Division of Government fully support this organization and work alongside us and our artists. A fraction of that goal has been achieved as the Festivals Division recently came on board to sponsor our signature event, The Ink Project.” – Spilling Ink, for CREATIVE SPACE. 2020.
“When I was growing up as a boy, they had great man like Quarkoo. He was good but he was not really my influence, so to say, to bring me to this point; but quarkoo was a genius in his days. I can recall he would sing on the latest murder. Anything happen, in a matter of an hour he on the street with a piece of paper selling it and making it very popular.” – Short Shirt, The Making of the Monarch
“What I’d like to see really is, to be honest, is not just for Halcyon but steelband in general, especially at Carnival time apart from panorama, the bands, they not that important. …You know before time steelband used to dominate the road and be an integral part of the whole Carnival thing. Now apart from panorama, after panorama, nobody waan here no pan again. …steelband will have to move to a next level, they will have to amplify the bands an’ dem.” – George ‘Scenty’ Thomas, former captain of Halcyon Steel Orchestra, on the occasion of the Grays Green band’s 50th anniversary, 2021
Amber Williams-King talking to the Toronto Arts Foundation: “The reality is that the voices, experiences and identities of those who are not a part of the dominant culture are often erased and disappeared away. As a Black femme who grapples with suicidal ideation, disability and the medical industrial complex, imagining myself in the future has, at times, been almost impossible. Art offered me the space to name these parts of myself, connect with others, and help build a world that does not thrive on the absolute destruction of me and my people.”
“You send the draft to the editor and you sit nervously for the next two weeks or how ever long …waiting for that email or that call…then you take the feedback, you kind of sit with it for a while, you think about it, then you try to work on another draft. Sometimes you agree, sometimes you won’t agree…it should be a conversation…it’s a dance back and forth that you have to be patient with, and, once again, give it some space, read the review, and give it some space before you go and work on the redraft.”
PHOTO credits: Pictures of Joanne C. Hillhouse and Joy Lapps are from the 2011 event Telling our Stories at the University of Toronto – event photo; of Tameka Jarvis George is from the 2006 Wadadli Pen/Museum literary showcase Word Up! – event photo/Laura Hall; of Jamaica Kincaid is from the 2014 University of the Virgin Islands literary festival – event photo; of Jelani Nias is a screen grab from a televised interview; of Nicoya Henry – event photo (credit unknown). Barbara Arrindell, Foster Joseph, Sonalli Andrews, and Floree Williams-Whyte video links are to Joanne C. Hillhouse’s CREATIVE SPACE vlog. Video links also pulled from ABS TV, Words Aloud, the Dan David Prize, Novek Designs, edwin1030, Petra the Spectator – this is believed to be within the realm of fair use – no copyright infringement is intended. Some of my own appearances on platforms by Write the Vision, Diaspora Kids Lit, Badass Black Girl, ABS TV, National Public Library, Intersect Antigua, and some videos produced for my AntiguanWriter YouTube channel are also included.
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, Fish Outta Water, 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.
This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms (I, II, III, Iv, v, vI, vII, vIII, Ix, x, xI, xII, xIII, xIv, xv), click the links or use the search feature to the right, to the right.
“What are you going to do with this kind of thing?” – initial response to Dorothea Lange’s street photography during America’s Great Depression (sidenote: for more art on the Great Depression you can’t go wrong with the film The Grapes of Wrath and the book it’s based on)
“Poems for me often come in a flash—and then there is the intense crafting that begins in getting at the poem that is hidden within that first draft.” – Jacqueline Bishop
‘To add to the insult, my father reminded me that “Tonto” means dumb-dumb in Spanish. Perhaps I became a writer the very night I became an Indian dressed as a fake Indian named Dumb-Dumb.’ – Natalie Diaz on Hand-me-down Halloween
‘”He wrote back to me saying ‘Michael Anthony, promise me you will never write another poem. But the short story has promise,'” recalls Anthony in remarkably good humour.’ Read more on this Trinidadian author.
“It really does take me back to childhood; hearing (but not listening to) the weather report at the end of the 7pm evening news, sitting at the dining table with my brother eating supper of bread and… (bread and peanut butter or sardines or potted meat or corned beef or fried bologna or cheese or guava jelly or maybe just butter.. but always bread) and drinking ovaltine from my Minnie Mouse mug. The bread would be wood-bread (forever the BEST bread ever to be made!) and the ovaltine would be hot, sweetened with sugar (or condensed milk if there wasn’t any sugar) and creamy with milk. The adults would usually be talking about any and everything – politics, the number of times the “current lock off” that day (power outages were very common then), the happenings at school or work; they never seemed much interested in the weather report except when a hurricane was about to hit, then they weren’t interested in anything but the weather report.” – reminiscences… at SimplyNatural blog.
“It appears that the local writer needs to begin to consider publishing her work in regional and international presses. Such an endeavor, though daunting, will begin to establish the readership necessary to establish regional relevance as an author and then hopefully territorial significance in the landscape of our local literature. Poets need to start publishing their poetry in established online and print journals, novelists need to start publishing short stories, and so on. The obvious benefit to the individual is that arduous process of creation and revision sharpens her skills and hones her craft, meaning that when the next great Virgin Islands novel is published it can be a text that stands up to and against the contemporary novels of the region.” – Richard Georges, BVI
“Everything you hear me saying on this record is at least the fourth or fifth draft. I would write a verse and then rewrite it and rewrite it. I don’t sit down and write a song, and then slam down the phone like, ‘We got another one!’ and pop some champagne. It’s like if someone’s writing a novel: You write a series of drafts.” – Black Thought of the Roots as quoted in this posting about the greatest hip hop band of all time.
‘“Naipaul instructed Theroux in writing. He rejected anything false or showy or mannered; he insisted on clarity and simplicity and hard work. “The truth is messy,” he told Theroux. “It is not pretty. Writing must reflect that. Art must tell the truth.” He decided that a writer’s duty is to be wholly honest to himself, without compromise, and to tell the truth as he sees it, never mind the consequences.’ – Jeremy Taylor writing on V. S. Naipaul
“My face is a mama’s face to my daughter. She holds my face and says Mommy, you’re pretty. My husband has only known me with this face. My co-workers have only known me with this face. I have many friends who know me only with this face. It is a good face. Next year will be half a life with this particular face.” – Latoya Jordan
“With this heightened sensitivity to the Caribbean space and spirit, the ethos of Plantation, Kamau exists as a kind of sage, but in a society that still has not been able to consistently decide what to do with him, he can be more accurately likened to a figure in Roman law and society, known as the homo sacer, a status that may fall upon oath breakers as well as persons who threatened the hegemony in that society.” – Vladimir Lucien writing on Kamau Braithwaite
Okay, so this isn’t riveting prose; but it is riveting research into youth career selection among a select group of students in Antigua and Barbuda, and revealing in what it says about the disconnect between available subjects and career goals and national agenda. Give it a read.
‘We run into an old lady.
“Children, tell me, can I drink milk from my cow?”
We look down at the ground, we have our orders—collect data, but don’t interact with the local population.
Finally the driver speaks up. “Grandma, how old are you?”
“Oh, more than eighty. Maybe more than that, my documents got burned during the war.”
“Then drink all you want.”
I understood, not right away, but after a few years, that we all took part in that crime, in that conspiracy.’ – Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich #riveting
“By industry standards, I suppose I am a failed author. Since I started writing for young readers in 2000, only three of my thirty stories have been published traditionally. I turned to self-publishing as my only recourse, and now face the contempt of those who see self-publishing as a mere exercise in vanity.” – Zetta Elliott on Black Authors and Self-Publishing
WRITERS ON WRITING CREATIVES ON CREATING
“My friend James Patterson is a big believer in the importance of a great outline. These days, in fact, the outline may be the main thing he actually writes, while he turns over the actual writing to his stable of co-authors. This is how he manages to turn out three or four novels a year, and still fit in a few holes of golf most days. Still, James Patterson believes in hard work. Seven days a week, in his case—though Mr. Patterson doesn’t call writing work, because he loves it so much. This is a man with an unmistakable passion for what he does.” – Joyce Maynard after taking James Patterson’s masterclass. Two comments: 1, I always wondered how people churned out three to four novels a year. Mystery solved. 2, I won’t sign off on drafting outlines and leaving the actual writing to co-authors but I do like the belief in “hard work” and the “unmistakable passion”.
“Once I am done with a draft of a chapter, I am the only person who can read it. Pages are full of half sentences, doodles, arrows pointing here and there. Then, I complete sentences; I fix the grammar, and make the images understandable. Then that chapter is ready for an editor.” – How I Write My Graphic Novels: A Breakdown from Ozge Samanci
“To be honest, when I started with the pthalo blue background, I intended to let the wispy bits of the feathers fade into the blue … but then I mixed up a nice buttery colour and I just got carried away cutting away the negative shapes around the wreath shape.
That left me with a blue wreath floating on a light background. So then I got the idea to add a pattern, to help integrate the different elements of the image … and I started with circles. How about a wreath floating, on a stoney riverbed?” – Donna Grandin as she creates.
“The other thing I would say is if you feel safe in the area that you’re working in you’re not working in the right area…go a little bit out of your depth…” – David Bowie
“Then one day I realized something. I realized that in the midst of all of the colourful leaves, there was the occasional stem covered in tiny white flowers, like little starbursts. I had seen the stems with the buds before, but for some reason I never noticed the flowers.” – Donna Grandin
“A concert pianist practices twenty or thirty hours for every hour she’s on stage. That’s after she’s completed years of lessons and practice to master her craft well enough to be on stage in the first place. A champion athlete trains long and hard to prepare herself for an event that may last seconds. Everyone expects this of them, the athlete and pianist expect it of themselves. No one expects to succeed – or get paid – for their first effort. Except writers. Writing is a craft and a skill that requires constant work, constant practice to maintain. I took the book back down off the shelf.” – KeVin K (Kevin Killiany) blogging at NovelSpaces
“Being laid off, having to live off the bare essentials didn’t detour him, as a matter of fact he didn’t mind at all. It was almost as if he was liberated and being forced into his calling. Attending writing workshops, classes, using his experiences, he has built characters that are so much like him and his experiences and characters that are nothing like him at all. He’s taken his readers from small country towns to international locations that would be any traveler’s dream. Speaking not just as an author but also as a fan I have seen his books grow and evolve; novels that aren’t just about sex or drama but novels that are meant to tell stories. To this day he still goes to writing classes and gets excited about taking notes and learning new things.” – re fAntiguan Eric Jerome Dickey
“Let’s take ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ by The Supremes. This is a hypothetical example, but, to me, the most important part of that song is the tenor sax part in the background. So while everyone will sing the lead — ‘Baby, baby where did our love go’ — I’ll start singing … the saxophone part that’s buried in the mix somewhere. I have no idea why [it is] that the small nuances of a song are more attractive to me than the actual song. [But] this definitely explains why I have zero pop sensibility.” – ?uestlove of The Roots on NPR. Listen to the full interview.
“Soul II Soul was a collective and formerly a sound system. This is how we started. Making music together came about during our days as a sound system. Most traditional sound systems make their own music, which is what led to the genesis of the whole Soul II Soul forming. You can really relate back to songs like “Jazzie’s Groove” and “Fairplay” to get a full understanding of what we were trying to do musically. What I tried to do on the first album was to explain what Soul II Soul was all about. Technically, Soul II Soul is a sound system rather than a band per se, which is why we have a rotating lineup of different singers. This goes back to the origins of the old sound systems as well, because in a sound system, you would also have many different MCs or DJs. All of these things combined to form Soul II Soul.” – Jazzie B., British artiste with Antiguan roots reflects on Soul II Soul’s breakthrough album.
“It starts while I’m in the final editing phases of a novel—that’s when I begin thinking about what I’d like to work on next. I consider what would be fun and what excites me. Once I have a clear sense of where I want to go, I write a quick first draft, kind of vomit-style. This doesn’t take more than a couple months, and it’s usually a short manuscript, not more than 60,000 words. I let that draft sit for a while, then go through and hack out bits I hate and fancy up the bits I like. Once I’ve done this a few times and feel I’ve hit a wall, I send the manuscript to a couple readers. I incorporate their feedback and make more revisions and then hire a freelance editor. Right now I am working with Diane Glazman for my next novel, Spore Girl. Then I begin shopping the manuscript around. I went with a small press for Destroying Angel, and I hope to sign with an agent and release Spore Girl with a larger publisher.” – Missy Wilkinson on doubt, writing, and which book she’d like to live in.
“Talent is the tiniest part of a writer’s makeup. What counts is perseverance, good friends (writers and non-writers), a tough skin to ignore what others think about you–which is none of your business anyway–and a little bit of luck, which will help you on those days when you are down and thinking, ‘Why on earth am I doing this to myself?'” – JAmerican writer Geoffrey Philp on his writing journey and tools.
“…there’s no money in it…” – Linisa George, Antiguan and Barbudan writer, arts and social activist, and former Wadadli Pen judge, on her various arts projects. Listen to the full interview.
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, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.
Have you checked out the BGR mag, as yet? You’re a couple of years late since the 2013 re-launch of the site. But never too late. BGR stands for Brown Girl in the Ring, a poem with long legs (because, yes, it has travelled far and continues to make tracks). Out of writer, past Wadadli Pen judge, and BGR mag founder Linisa George’s struggle with image and identity, the poem, Brown Girl in the Ring, became popular on the Antiguan and Barbudan stage. It was part of When a Woman Moans (a Vagina Monologues styled production by Women of Antigua, the very group that brought the Eve Ensler play to the local stage). It has since been referenced in my book Musical Youth, which deals with some of the very themes of colour and self-acceptance explored in the poem; it was also Antigua and Barbuda’s contribution to the Poetry Parnassus which coincided with the Olympics, and The World Record publication that followed. When I edited the Antigua and Barbuda edition of Tongues of the Ocean, it was one of the local pieces I specifically requested for inclusion; and from that posting, the poem caught the eye of the folks behind the Bahamas’ Shakespeare in Paradise festival, who included it in their 2015 production.
Talk about a ripple effect; this poem certainly has that. And none knows that better than George. Here’s what she shared in a release at the time of the self-described “online lifestyle website”‘s re-launch in 2013 (like I said better late than never).
“BGRmag…was conceptualized from the autobiographical poem ‘Brown Girl In The Ring’ written by Caribbean poet Linisa George. The poem, which is featured in the London 2012 Olympic poetry anthology ‘The World Record’, chronicles a young woman’s journey to self-acceptance as she battled the desire to be of a lighter complexion, brown girl, to the joy she ultimately discovers in just being herself; The Black Girl In The Ring.
Through lifestyle articles on career, sex, love, art and fashion, just to name a few, BGRmag hopes to challenge [challenges] BGRs to recognise their beauty and uniqueness both inside and out. From the stay-at-home mother to the farmer, from the lawyer to the doctor, from the philanthropists to the teacher, from the DJ to the artist, attention will be focused [focuses] on the diverse and complex experiences and lifestyles of black women globally, and the life lessons to be learned from their journey.
Linisa George was born in Guyana, but has been living in Antigua since the age of 4, and is very forthcoming about her experiences as a young girl struggling to maneuvre through a maze of self-doubt and low self-esteem. Now in her early 30s, she created BGRmag to spotlight the many facets and accomplishments of black women, mindful not to rank one achievement over the other. By highlighting the diverse stories of black women, BGRmag will provide [provides] another outlet and opportunity for young girls to be inspired and motivated to carve their own future through self- discovery and acceptance.
The prototype for BGRmag was developed through Linisa’s personal blog, previously known as Motives ‘n Thoughts, which was re-vamped in January 2012 under the new name; blackgirlinthering.blogspot.com. The rebrand in 2012 propelled the idea of BGRmag into action, birthing the …comprehensive and informative website, as an alternative to the stereo-typical and many times dangerous media projection of black women. The website isn’t about promoting division; rather it will focus its attention on celebrating that which gets lost in the midst of noise. BGRmag will reveal itself to be a creative vision to share extraordinary stories.
Readers can expect to be [are] the fly on the wall as BGRs share their unique experiences that have shaped their lives for the better. Informative articles will dispute thoughts and insight debates. Contributors will interview and articulate stories that will compel BGRmag readers to re-examine their views on what it means to be a black girl or woman. The online magazine will [does] not reinvent the wheel, but rather will pay[s] close attention to refining what is already in existence. You can expect BGRmag to add[s] their distinctive voice to the market of magazines and publications that continually uplift black women. Black Girls In The Ring are fierce, fabulous and ready for their close-ups.
BGRmag’s vision: To celebrate the accomplishments of black women at all levels of society, and foster the unique voices of black girls in the ring.
This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms, use the search feature to the right, to the right.
“So, Damian spent his time climbing trees in our backyard, acting like those TV monkeys. He mimicked them: jumping on me like those babies did their mommies. It’s cute when they do it. But when he did it . . . well, things broke. My arm, leg, and, once, he yanked so hard on me I herniated a spinal disc.” – Read Mindy Halleck’s full story.
I’m putting this in the fiction category though Moko’s Firing the Canon includes visual arts and poetry as well, because I mostly talk about the fiction here (you can and should read the whole issue though).
“Although you the writer are indeed doing the writing, your narrator is the one telling the story. And that narrator is not you. Sure, your narrator could be a slightly more neurotic or jealous version of you, or someone very different from you, or somewhere in between, but he or she is not you. Yep, even when you’re using first person.” – Janelle Drumwright
“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything. Or a broken billboard. Or weeds growing in the cracks of a library’s steps. Of course, none of this means a lot without characters the reader cares about (and sometimes characters—‘bad guys’—the reader is rooting against).” – Stephen King, read more at Writer’s Digest.
From Antigua to London to the US to the Bahamas…Linisa George’s Brown Girl in a Ring is indeed well-travelled. In this post, a Bahamian actress reflects on performing it in the country’s annual Shakespeare Festival. Check out what she had to say about the experience in this posting – You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do on her blog The Little Lady’s Diary.
“Never give up” plus *bonus* Supernatural gifs. Read more on self-publishing after publishing by Jennifer Armentrout here.
“Instead of sending the manuscript out to other potential markets, I waited…and waited…and waited for a response from Arabesque. I eventually got despondent and put the whole publishing idea on indefinite hold. (Pro tip: DO NOT DO THAT!)” – Liane Spicer at Novel Spaces
“Books have an extraordinary power to take you out of yourself and into someone else’s mindset, so that for a while at least you look at the world through different eyes.” – Ann Morgan talking about her journey Reading the World. (click on the image for the vid)For For my thoughts on the book that her journey birthed, check Blogger on Books ll
“And somewhere inside him, he wanted/ to be here for all of it: all the repeating shapes and pegs/ of that life-long game where the more things changed,/ was the more they stayed the same.” – Vladimir Lucein’s Overseer: Detention
This one started showing up in my social media timeline after the November 2015 Paris attacks. I decided to look it up and share it. It’s by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire:
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered where does it hurt?
‘A former lawyer, Baldacci still attacks his writing career as if preparing for a high-stakes defense. His typical day currently involves a few hours of work on his second Decker thriller, another few hours drafting Book 3 of Vega Jane, and another few hours on a screenplay. “During the course of the day I might work on three or four different projects, but only when I run out of gas on one do I move on to another,” Baldacci says. “I write until my tank is empty each day. I don’t count words or pages or whatever—that seems like an artificial goal for me.”’
‘“Because white men can’t/ police their imagination/ black men are dying.” What was in your mind when you wrote that line?
When white men are shooting black people, some of it is malice and some an out-of-control image of blackness in their minds. Darren Wilson told the jury that he shot Michael Brown because he looked “like a demon”. And I don’t disbelieve it. Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people.’
“When I struggle to think of ‘what’s next’ in a story, I draw a blank. But then I’ll be listening to NPR or shopping for groceries or having a random conversation with a stranger, and something sparks an idea. Meeting someone with an unusual occupation always makes me wonder, could one of my characters do that for a living?”
“At some point you have to accept writing bad on the way to getting good. That you can write one hundred pages and only use twenty. I’m at the stage where that is no problem for me. I’m a very sloppy writer and I don’t rewrite, I don’t reread, until I’m done. I write everything straight to the end.”
Pamela Taivassalo Wikholm travelled from Sweden to Antigua in 2015 and interviewed a handful of local artistes – Joanne C. Hillhouse (writer), Tian Winter (singer), Mark Brown (painter); see interview links for all three below.
“The writers from here that I knew and I have great respect for them were the calypso writers people like Shelly Tobitt and Marcus Christopher because when I was coming up calypso was the literature that I would hear that had some relevance to my community,, the other literature that we read was mostly from America or from Britain.”
“The characters come to me. They don’t always reveal their stories fully, so for me writing is a journey of discovery. Like I can’t always see where it’s going but I’m kind of wandering my way through it and trying to figure out what is it all about.” – Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse on Sweden’s Popreel TV.
“If you have a dream, don’t let anybody, no one, not your mother, not your brother, no one, kill that vibe, kill that dream out of you, don’t let them out that fire.” – Antiguan and Barbudan soca artist Tian Winter on Sweden’s Popreel radio.
“I walked from the undergraduate degree in Computer Systems Tech, but I carried the knowledge with me. Every class I had taken at the University of Memphis to complete those requirements; from English, to Physics, to Sociology, to Latin, to Electronics, to kicking it in karate class with Bill Wallace, it all went with me.”
“CaribbeanReads is a small publishing company dedicated to serving talented Caribbean authors. Our aim is to make publishing more accessible to potential Caribbean authors and to increase the number of high-quality books about and for the Caribbean.”
“I know there are some people who are just born with exceptional talent, but for the rest of us, I recommend workshops with reputable poets, constant revision of the work, an openness to criticism and an insatiable desire to read poetry.” (Tanya Shirley in S/X Salon interview)
“When someone dies their silence becomes a sort of held note, a key on the piano pressed down for so long it becomes an ache in the ear, a new sonic register from which we start to measure our new, ruptured lives. A white noise. Maybe this is why there is so much music in dying: the funerals, the singing, the hymns, the eulogies. All those sounds crowding the air with what the dead can’t say.” – Read all of Ocean Vuong’s The Weight of Our Living: On Hope, Fire Escapes, and Visible Desperation
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.
Linisa George’s Brown Girl in the Ring featured in Shakespeare in Paradise in the Bahamas. “Erin Knowles, one of the directors of Murder & Poetry, came across George’s piece as a feature in a 2014 Tongues of the Ocean issue that focused on art and literary works from Antigua and Barbuda. Knowles felt instantly connected to George’s poem and had this to say about her choice to have Brown Girl In The Ring included in her production, “The piece focuses on the element of identity and coming to terms with that which we should be proud of. I think it’s an excellent piece to be included in my production because of the language and references to the ring-play that we idolized as young children.” Brown Girl in the Ring is being performed in the round alongside other poems that align with the goal for Paradise Unmasked.” Read more.
Couple weds… “In lieu of gifts the couple requested monetary contribution in support of programs and services of the National Public Library in Antigua and Barbuda. A total of seven thousand-two hundred dollars ($7,200.00) was collected.” Read more.
“I saw this as an opportunity to challenge myself.” – Antiguan and Barbudan artist Mark Brown on his participation in the “international collaborative organized by Shackles of Memory, a cultural tourism program that seeks to call attention to slave trade sites and encourage artists to create pieces for exhibition…part of TOSTEM, the French acronym for Cultural Tourism through the Footsteps of Slavery.” Read more.
“The two day workshop attracted 25 persons from the fields of design, writing, music and small businesses and covered the following areas: Overview of Crowd Funding and Social Media Marketing; Opportunities in e-Business for OECS SMEs; Crowd Funding Yesterday and Today; How to run a successful Crowd Funding campaign and the work of regional Crowd Funding platform Vision Funder based in Barbados.” Read more.
See which Antigua-based filmmaker made out at Caribbean Tales. See.
Sharing some thank you’s from my blog re my participation in the Brooklyn Book Festival: thanks to “the organizers of the Brooklyn Book Festival for inviting me, Musical Youth publisher CaribbeanReads for making it happen, …Beverly George and the Friends of Antigua Public Library …, my co-panelists for a wonderful shared experience, Caribbean Cultural Theatre for all they do to promote the artistes from the region, everyone who came out, family, friends etc etc …and not just thanks but big big props to talented Antiguan and Barbudan designer Miranda Askie of Miranda Askie Designs for outfitting me (in jewelry and clothing) for the event…” Haven’t read the blog or seen the pictures yet? Check it out.
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, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, 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.
This page has grown fairly quickly, so I’m breaking it up in to two pages. For H – N, go here, for O – T, go here, for U – Z, go here. and for books, go here. This is exclusively for creative pieces by Antiguans and Barbudans accepted to established literary journals, festivals (and other notable literary platforms), and contests (not pieces posted only to personal blogs) as I discover (and in some cases, re-discover) them. Primarily, the focus is on pieces accessible online (i.e. linkable) because those are easiest to find; but it is not limited to these. It is intended as a record of our publications and presentation of creative works beyond sole authored books. Naturally, I’ll miss some things. You can recommend (in fact, I welcome your recommendations), but, as with all areas of the site, additions/subtractions are at the discretion of the admin.
AARON, GLENROY – ‘Summer One’ and ‘Coconut Man’ (visual art – painting) – Tongues of the Ocean (special issue – Artists and Writers of Antigua and Barbuda edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse) – 2014
ADAMS, RILYS – Fictional Reality (fiction, 2011 award winning Wadadli Pen story) – Anansesem (Wadadli Pen special issue) – 2011
AFLAK, ALLAN – (visual art – photography – also published in Alexis Andrews’ book Images in 2007) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
AIRALL, ZAHRA – – Island Expressions in St. Kitts – 2016
AIRALL, ZAHRA – The Looking Glass (fiction) – in Theorizing Homophobias in the Caribbean – Complexities of Place, Desire and Belonging – 2012
Excerpt: “They’d met at a conference in Mexico, she was from Dominica, and Laurie was instantly drawn to that thick French accent when Marie spoke.”
ANDREWS, ALEXIS – (visual art – photography) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
ARMSTRONG, VEGA – Legend of the Sea Lords (fiction, 2012 award winning Wadadli Pen story) – Anansesem – 2012 + Tongues of the Ocean (special issue – Artists and Writers of Antigua and Barbuda edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse) – 2014
Excerpt: “Suddenly Freya dove under the water, the others quickly followed her. When they caught up with her they too saw the mysterious creature.”
ARRINDELL, BARBARA – Belonging to Barbuda (fiction) – Caribbean Feminist Stories, intersectantigua.com – 2020
ARRINDELL, BARBARA – Scholarship Child (fiction, from her book The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories) – Interviewing the Caribbean (Caribbean Childhood: Traumas and Triumphs Part 2) edited by Opal Palmer Adisa – 2020
ARRINDELL, BARBARA – A LIFE, a spirit…a name (fiction, subsequently published in 2017 anthology The Black Notes edited by Althea Prince) – Tongues of the Ocean (special issue – Artists and Writers of Antigua and Barbuda edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse) – 2014
ARRINDELL, BARBARA – How Snake Stories became Anansi Stories (fiction, fable) – Womanspeak: A Journal of Writing and Art by Caribbean Women, Volume 7 – 2013
AUGUSTUS, CARL – Isolation (visual art and poetry) – in intersectantigua.com – 2020
AUGUSTUS, CARL – Live Free (visual art) – in intersectantigua.com – 2020
AUGUSTUS, CARL – Take Flight (visual art and text) – in intersectantigua.com – 2020
BARNES, SYLVANUS – Harp of Gold (poetry, from his book Barney’s Wit and Wisdom) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
BARTON, SHARON – ‘Evolution’ (visual art – designer gown, worn by Antigua Carnival Queen first runner-up Kimmorna Otto, which, in 2005, won best evening gown; it attempts to capture the colour and flow of reggae and calypso) and ‘Wild Orchid’ (visual art – designer gown worn in 2006 by Antigua Carnival Queen runner-up Charmaine Morgan) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
BATSON, NADIA – Expose (song lyrics, the Trinidad and Tobago singer/songwriter penned the tune for Antigua-Barbuda soca band El A Kru) – Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
BEAZER, CHATRISSE – The Legend of Banana Boy (fiction, 2011 award winning Wadadli Pen short story) – Anansesem (Wadadli Pen special issue) – 2011
BENJAMIN, AKEILE – The Adventures of Mr. Coconut (fiction, 2012 award winning Wadadli Pen story) – Anansesem – 2012
BROWN, MARK – ‘Jumbie’ and ‘Queen of the Band’ (visual art – painting) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
BROWNE, BRENDA LEE – Granny Cecelia’s Travelling Handbag – Womanspeak: A Journal of Art and Writing by Caribbean Women Volume 8 – 2016
Excerpt: “Dante’s mother asks if he is getting married as he smells as sweet as a bride and he had been getting ready since about 5pm – well since midday when he went to the barbers for a trim and a shape.”
BROWNE, BRENDA LEE – For my Father & Untitled (poetry) – Tongues of the Ocean (special issue – Artists and Writers of Antigua and Barbuda edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse) – 2014
BROWNE, BRENDA LEE – Betty Sope – Womanspeak: A Journal of Writing and Art by Caribbean Women, Volume 7 – 2013
BROWNE-BANNISTER, TAMMI – Wee Willie Winkie (fiction, winner of the 2016 Marguerite Cobb-McKay Prize) – The Caribbean Writer Volume 29 – 2015
BROWNE-BANNISTER, TAMMI – Stabs in the Dark (fiction) – Akashic’s Mondays are Murder series – 2014
BROWNE-BANNISTER, TAMMI – Strange Fruit (fiction) – Tongues of the Ocean (special issue – Artists and Writers of Antigua and Barbuda edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse) – 2014
CADOGAN, DAVID – ‘Rasta Pan’ (visual art – painting) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
CHARLES, KENNELLA – Awaken to the Night – (fiction, 2005 award winning Wadadli Pen story) – Anansesem (Wadadli Pen special issue) – 2011
CHRISTOPHER, MARCUS – Lyrical Sampler (calypso lyrics) – Tongues of the Ocean (special issue – Artists and Writers of Antigua and Barbuda edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse) – 2014
DIXON, S A – (visual art – illustration for Market Day by Latisha Walker-Jacobs, award winning art and story in Wadadli Pen 2011 Challenge) + Cocos Nucifera (fiction, 2011 award winning Wadadli Pen short story) – Anansesem (Wadadli Pen special issue) – 2011
DORAM, HEATHER – ‘Spirit of Carnival’ (visual art – mixed media painting on felt, cover art capturing the colour, glitter, and masking of the Carnival season, and illustrating the mythical connection with the inner self that happens during Carnival) and ‘Mama Looka Mas!’ (visual art – painting); and ‘Genesis’ (used a metaphor for Carnival and life, worn in 1994 by Lesley-ann Brown) and ‘CARICOM Woman’ (exploring the concept of “us coming together as a people, as a region” worn in 1992 by Diana Horsford) and ‘Spirit of Africa’ (worn by 1993 Antigua Carnival Queen Charmaine Bailey) and ‘Lady in Red’ (worn by 1988 Antigua Carnival Queen Irma-Marie Senhouse) – (visual art – costumes with builder and husband Connie Doram). Additional costumes for Vitus mas troupe (a highlander costume, 1997’s ‘Cocks Crow’, 2000’s ‘Folktales’ including characters like Anancy in his spider’s web, and 2003’s ‘Peace and Love’ (the stiltwalker section High High High)) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
D’ORNELLAS, ANNALISA -Toes in the Sand (poetry, national contest selection) – 2009
Excerpt: “I was once a girl that played on these shores. I gathered the shells in bundles and scores. I wore them on my neck and strung some as bangles I noticed their twinkling and delightful angles.”
ECKERT, DEBORAH – ‘Lornette and Oriane’ (visual art – painting) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
Excerpt (from Johnson’s introduction): “The stories, riddles, and proverbs given in this collection were recited by George W. Edwards, a native of Greenbay, Antigua, British West Indies…George Edwards is a man fifty years old. In giving the bulk of this material, he exhibited unusual memory-power. Aside from prompting, suggestions, and riddles Nos. 34, 39, 42, 45, and 47, he alone is responsible for the entire collection. He has lived in New York for the past ten years. His greatest aid in recalling the stories has been his wife, who is about thirty years of age and also a native of Greenbay, Antigua. She is the informant of the five riddles mentioned above.”
EDWARDS, GEORGE W. (AS TOLD TO JOHN H. JOHNSON) – The Chosen Suitor from Folklore from Antigua, British West Indies, Journal of American Folklore Vol. 34 No. 131 – as reproduced in Bluebeard (ed. D. L. Ashliman) – 1999 -2014
Excerpt: “Dere’s a woman had one daughter an one son. Dis boy coco-bay, boy, an’ he was an’ ol’ witch too.”
EDWARDS, SHAKEEMA – Diaspora & That Laugh (poetry)- Tongues of the Ocean (special issue – Artists and Writers of Antigua and Barbuda edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse) – 2014
EDWARDS, SHAKEEMA – The Curse of the Kumina (fiction, 2011 award winning Wadadli Pen story) – Anansesem (Best of Wadadli Pen Special Issue) – 2011
EVANSON, TANYA – Poetry Africa (Durham, South Africa) – 2018
EVANSON, TANYA – performs at the 8th Word N Sound International Youth Poetry Festival in Newtown Johannesburg – 2018
EVANSON, TANYA – Temple Exercises as feature poet at Vancouver Slam – 2016
EVANSON, TANYA – GRIOTS OF ALL TIME – live spoken word @ The Club, The Banff Centre, Banff AB Canada / 2014 Spoken Word Program
EVANSON, TANYA – Word Aloud Festival (Durhan, Canada) – 2014
EVANSON, TANYA – Mundo Gumbo – Canadian Festival of Spoken Word – 2013
EVANSON, TANYA – Apocalypsiata (poetry) – Womanspeak: A Journal of Art and Writing by Caribbean Women, Volume 7 – 2013
Excerpt: “Soon there’ll be nothing left to burn/books, beds, bodies on the Barbie”
EVANSON, TANYA – reading/performing at Calgary Spoken Word Festival – 2013.
EVANSON, TANYA – reading/performing (including “An-teee-ga”) at the Calgary Spoken Word Festival – 2012
Excerpt: “Let me tell you bout that place/in Caribbean/clear blue water/sand sat between your toes/in hot sun/and the people/my people/and not my people/Antigua” (An-teee-ga)
EVANSON, TANYA – Zamizdat Scat at Calgary Spoken Word Festival – 2011
EVANSON, TANYA – Dervish Weaponry (poetry, from the 2008 CD Memorists) – on Badilisha Poetry X-Change – 2008
FARARA, JAN – ‘Steel and Sparkle’, ‘Rhythm at Sunset’, ‘Carnival Pride’, and ‘Carnival Stilts’ (visual art – paintings) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
GEORGE, GEMMA – Stray Dog prepares for the Storm – (fiction, 2004 award winnin g Wadadli Pen story) – Anansesem (the Wadadli Pen special issue) – 2011
GEORGE, LINISA – The Rebellion (poetry) – intersectantigua.com – 2020
GEORGE, LINISA – In the Closet (poetry) – BBC Poetry Postcards series – 2014.
GONSALVES, GAYLE – Miss Ellie (fiction) – Tongues of the Ocean – 2014
Excerpt: ‘Ellie points to England, a land that is far from the Caribbean Sea, and smiles at her daughter, “This is where it all started.”’
GORDON, CAROL – ‘Ancestral Call’, ‘Dance’, ‘Friend’, and ‘Nubian’ (visual art – painting) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
GORDON, ORIQUE – The Lost Coin (fiction, 2011 award winning Wadadli Pen short story) – Anansesem (Wadadli Pen special issue) – 2011
GRANT, DEBESHA – Blue Mountain Hike (fiction, 2005 award winning Wadadli Pen short story) – Anansesem (Wadadli Pen special issue) – 2011
GREGORY, JAMILA – ‘Bird of Paradise’ (visual art – costume design intended as a play on the word ‘Bird’, depicting the flower ‘Bird of Paradise’ and also the bird ‘The Great Bird of Paradise’. It was the first costume to ever to be presented on stilts in the pageant’s history. It was built by Johnson Browne, Jamila Gregory, and the Vitus Mas Troupe. Gregory, the 2006 Carnival Queen, won the costume segment of the Antigua Carnival Queen competition) – in Carnival is All We know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists (edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and published as a supplement in the Daily Observer) – 2007
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, Oh Gad!, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Please do not repost artist images without permission and credit. If you enjoyed this post, check out myJhohadli page and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen, my books, and my freelance writing-editing-coaching-workshop services. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.
Like the title says, this is the seventh reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Six came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.
Monique Roffey (Trinidad and Tobago), author of The White Woman on the Green Bicycle -a book I recommended in my Blogger on Books a while back – shares writing advice and recommended reads in this post. I also want to mention that another Roffey post sparked a most interesting discussion re Caribbean literature – check out this post (also this) and this one from Vladimir Lucien (St. Lucia) for more on that.
Love everything about this post and Shakirah Bourne’s gushing nervousness and excitement over meeting her literary hero. READ MORE.
“Make no apology for your language, and nobody will expect one.” Bajan Shakirah Bourne speaks about the write to use our natural, our mother, our heart language in life and on the page. Sidebar: that bit about Dickens struck me about him training his ear and his hand to write what people said, and how they said it; as a reporter, who writes what some people think is short hand but is actually Joanne-warp-speed-hand, I’m beginning to see how my life tracking down stories and interviewing people shaped and shapes the stories I tell and how I tell them. Still figuring it out, but yeah, that resonated with me. Plus I love Dickens. Sidebar over. Substantively, Bourne writes about Scottish author Irvine Welsh and what we can learn about how he uses dialect, unapologetically. Read the full here.
I was tempted to put this art-heavy Althea Romeo Mark post in the visual category but it’s an art blog, in which she reminds us that “art is part of our everyday life” and shows us too. Read and see here.
“I think you have to work hard, and you have to place yourself in the light somehow – whether it is at readings, by writing online, by submissions, by reaching out to people as you have just done – and if you stand there long enough and nicely enough (i.e. as part of a bigger picture, not as the star of your own show!), then good things do happen.” – RU FREEMAN RESPONDS TO A ASPIRING WRITER
“There’s been a kind of amnesia,” he says, “or not wanting to focus on this, because of it being so painful. It’s kind of crazy. We can deal with the second world war and the Holocaust and so forth and what not, but this side of history, maybe because it was so hideous, people just do not want to see. People do not want to engage.” More from the director of 12 Years a Slave here.
“My father recited poetry all the time, spasmodically and loudly in the house. But there was a method to his madness. He read with a compelling rotundity: Neruda’s ‘United Fruit Company’, Wilfred Owen’s ‘Exposure’, Martin Carter’s ‘This is the Dark Time My Love’, Derek Walcott’s ‘As John to Patmos’, Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do Not Go Gently Into that Good Night’. He also wrote and was very modest about doing so.” – Read more of the Arc’s interview with St. Lucian poet Vladimir Lucien.
“In a way Island Princess in Brooklyn celebrates my father’s family and their journey. Interestingly enough, Cordelia Finds Fame and Fortune celebrated the fact that fame and fortune can be found here at home (no need to migrate). However, Princess is forced to migrate and forced to make a new life or return home. Is this back story then part of the journey, a journey in which I am now able to look outwards from our island to our people overseas? This circle of family, of story, fills me with wonder.” – Diane Browne, Read the full interview at the Brown Bookshelf.
“My greatest fortune has come from the people who believed in me who have allowed my writing to flourish, and from the many individuals who I’ve come into contact with during the creative process of writing. However I have yet to walk into a bookstore and see my books there, that remains a dream! So – a mixed life, and at the age of 60 I know I have much to be thankful for and hope when and if my writing is read, that it will bring inspiration to others.” – Read more o Arc magazine’s interview with Commonwealth short story prize winner for the Caribbean region.
Carib Lit interviews Ezekiel Alan, a self published Jamaican novelist who claimed the Commonwealth book prize. Now that’s inspiring. How’d he do it?
“Get honest feedback, from people not too close to you. Do as professional a job as possible — get your book properly edited and proofread.” Alan also encourages writers to develop and stick with a writing routine and to think outside the box in selecting story ideas. “It is tougher to compete by producing what everyone else is producing.”
Writer-colleague and Burt Award Winner A-dZiko Gegele told me on facebook “Your ‘Island SisStar’, Jamaica Kincaid was at Calabash Jamaica this year – what a fabulous soul – she was witty, and full of humility and grace – highly rated by the audience.” Here’s Susumba’s coverage of that interview.
So much inspiration to pull from in this interview, it was hard to excerpt just one but in the end I went this: “Whatever work we do, we must work from the heart.” Dena Simmons is an American educator and activist with Antiguan and Barbudan roots. I know because I was at a literary conference in the USA where among the very few black people there, there was one other Antiguan or so she introduced herself to me and I’m happy to have made the connection. Read up.
“I write because the island I live in is small, and I feel a sting each time the people who ask where I am from, then cut short their attention when they realize just how small it is, cut short their attention because the island is not on the radar of much-of-the-world, unless one sharpens the gaze.” – Jonathan Bellot. Read more.
I hardly know where to excerpt, there’s so much wisdom here but…how about this:
“If you like fantasy and you want to be the next Tolkien, don’t read big Tolkienesque fantasies — Tolkien didn’t read big Tolkienesque fantasies, he read books on Finnish philology. Go and read outside of your comfort zone, go and learn stuff.”
Incidentally, I remember a professor making a similar point about being a journalist, he suggested that we needed to spend less time in the bubble of learning about media and communications and more time just learning about…well, everything.
If you’re thinking of publishing especially in the children’s market and you live in the Caribbean, you should read this article by Kellie Magnus.
“In the first draft I sometimes found my characters being mouthpieces for me and my good intentions, and that made the writing weak and bland. In the second draft, I shut up and let the characters do their own talking, and the story improved considerably. The struggle of the protagonist to come to an understanding of herself beyond victimhood was also much clearer when I didn’t try to impose a social justice agenda on her. She became not merely a representative of all children and adults who have survived child sexual abuse, but a real character, with hopes and fears and wants and needs she tries to meet in the way she knows how to, and I had to let her speak for herself in order to give her the agency her history had denied her.” – READ MORE OF LISA ALLEN-AGOSTINI’S ATTEMPTS TO NAVIGATE THE TERRAIN BETWEEN NON FICTION HORROR AND FICTION WITH BOTH A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE AND A REAL HEART BEAT.
“I want to write poetry that is alive, fresh, vibrant, contemporary in feeling, readable, thought-provoking, playfully subversive, powerful, and yet still tender. I want it to be full of the energy, culture, history, music, natural beauty, spirituality, and social struggles of Puerto Rico, and other islands of the Caribbean where I have visited or lived… I don’t write love poetry, and I don’t rhyme. I write because I want to communicate with readers in a way that matters, makes an impact, or makes some kind of beneficial difference in the reader’s thoughts and in the society. Can poetry do that? I still believe in the power of the word…If there is any “must” for a poet, from my perspective, it is to widely read other poets and thus develop the ability to sort out your own place as both an innovator and a member of an ongoing literary community and tradition that you will nourish and be nourished by.” READ MORE INSIGHTS FROM PUERTO RICAN POET LORETTA COLLINS KOBLAH
Something I’ve long wanted to do with the Wadadli Pen stories.
As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.
***DISCLAIMER: By definition, you’ll be linking to third party sites from these Links-We-Love pages. Linked sites are not, however, reviewed or controlled by Wadadli Pen (the blog, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize nor coordinator/blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse); and Wadadli Pen (the blog, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize and coordinator/blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse) disclaims any responsibility or liability relating to any linked sites and does not assume any responsibility for their contents. In other words, enter at your own risk.
Updating these links, it hits me how impermanent the web is (though we like to say the internet is forever): so many sites have gone altogether or gone stagnant since Wadadli Pen started and since I started keeping this list. We’re still here though; let’s have a party! But first, check out the links.
Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association – this is the organization behind the Antigua Conference and the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books, two initiatives that have fueled inquiry into and documentation of the Antigua and Barbuda literary culture and a range of socio-economic and historical issues and personalities; while connecting the deep and vast network of scholars from Antigua and Barbuda.
http://antiguastories.wordpress.com/about/ – The Friends of Antigua Public Library is interested in collecting oral histories; some of them are posted here. Do you have a story to share? I’m sure they’d like to hear it.
The Antiguanization Project – here’s their facebook
Antiguan Writer – this is my current you tube channel
Archeology Antigua with Dr. Reginald Murphy, director of Heritage Resources for the National Parks Antigua, president of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology, affiliated Professor of the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, co-director on the Human Eco-dynamics Research Group CUNY Graduate Center, co-founder and President of the Museum of Antigua, and the Secretary General for the National Commission UNESCO Antigua and Barbuda. Dr. Murphy is, also, a “Restoration Ambassador to the St. John’s Cathedral, a trustee of the Clarence House Restoration Trust in the U.K., Chairman of the Betty’s Hope Estate Project, and a director of the Barbuda Research and Archaeological Center.
http://danielleboodoofortune.blogspot.com – I’ve been a fan of Trini Danielle Boodoo Fortune’s poetry since I met and shared a panel with her in Barbados in 2008. Who knew she was such a delightful artist as well?
http://www.darienbookaid.org – In existence since 1949, Darien Book Aid is a non-profit, all volunteer organization that builds a foundation of peace, understanding, and friendship through the free distribution of books. Book Aid sends books in response to specific requests from Peace Corps volunteers, libraries and schools all over the world Books are also donated to libraries, prisons, hospitals, and Native American and Appalachian groups in the United States. Among the groups, Dariend Book Aid has donated to is the Cushion Club right here in Antigua.
DDX Channel – This YouTube find has interviews with various Caribbean personalities – across sports, academia, the arts, media, and more. Its founder and interviewer hails from London. He is a Brit of Caribbean descent – born to a Caribbean mother and a English-born father of Caribbean descent. He has a deep interest in Caribbean history and a desire to document interesting people, capturing their stories while they’re healthy and alive, for his own enjoyment and to give others an insight in to what they do. Which, in addition to being a resource for school work or other purpose, can be useful in helping people learn more about themselves. This is the video that led me to the site, an interview with Antiguan and Barbudan scholar Dr. Natasha Lightfoot
and this is the one that sold me on the channel, this delightfully unorthodox interview (what DDX calls a Thread Bag Session) with local star sprinter Cejhae Greene.
Frank Walter – a site dedicated posthumously to showcasing the life and work of the late Antiguan and Barbudan artist.
http://freshmilkbarbados.com/ – Fresh Milk is a Caribbean non-profit, artist-led, inter-disciplinary organization that supports creatives and promotes wise social, economic, and environmental stewardship through creative engagement with society and by cultivating excellence in the arts.
http://islandstyle.typepad.com – Okay, so this site isn’t strictly literary but the blogger (an Antiguan) does have an engaging style and occasionally posts excerpts of fictions. But mostly it’s about fashion…and what’s wrong with that?
Museum of Photography and Fine Arts – Photo museum showcasing the history of Antigua & Barbuda – a project of photographer and publisher Timothy Payne – located in the upstairs gallery at the Multipurpose Centre Perry Bay – the subject matter is mostly historical
Travelling Light – this site is on a mission to collect an object – physical or virtual – from every country in the world. And, yes, I sent them something from Antigua and Barbuda.
I like the beauty of Van Gogh’s art and find his life so fascinating…fascinating like I’d like to see it on screen someday, with maybe Michael Fassbender in the title role…yeah, I’d go see that…in the meantime, check out the man and his work – Van Gogh, not Fassbender – here at the Van Gogh Gallery.
White Creole Conversations – a new dialogue privileging open and honest communication. Rather than asking ‘who am I?’ the question posed might be ‘who are you?’ The focus of the conversations pivot on issues to do with race and class in this small post-colonial island space and take place between the artist and the participant.
http://womenspeak.tumblr.com/ – This is a space for women to share their stories, embrace their power, and celebrate their womanhood. It’s also a space of vulnerability and pain where the struggles and sacrifices are spotlighted. It’s an inclusive space, constantly updated with information and prompts designed to engage the reader in the process. Also, it’s 100 percent Caribbean. Check it out.
WiWords – a user driven online dictionary of Caribbean terms.
Hard to get printed historical material seems to be available through this site.
Met Annie Paul at the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars conference in 2012. This is where she blogs on the literary arts and other things. Also had the opportunity to reconnect with well known author, literary scholar and former professor Carolyn Cooper and like Paul she is another thought provoking blogger out of Jamaica. Here’s where she stirs it up.
I wanted to create a separate page for playwrights and screenwriters. You won’t find these in the listing of Antiguan and Barbudan writers or any of the genre listings, unless they’ve written books. This list refers specifically to contributions as writers for screen and stage, and specifically to productions which have had a public viewing. It is a work in progress, so please inform me of any errors/omissions/oversights. T’anks.
Antiguan & Barbudan Theatre – a brief background (source: The Cambridge Guide to Theatre edited by Martin Banham) – “A party of amateurs opened Antigua’s first theatre in 1788…visiting companies came for a week’s run, their performances reinforced by local actors. The West India Sketchbook (1835) mentions a theatre in Antigua with amateurs performing Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer along with a PANTOMIME called Harlequin Planter, or The Land of Promise. This latter – containing ‘aboriginal savages’, their evil spirit Maboya, white settlers, black slaves [edit: enslaved Black people], Astraea, the goddess of justice, members of the Anti-Slavery Society, HARLEQUIN and Columbine – might count as one of the earliest pieces of native Caribbean theatre, dealing as it does with the local scene…Antiguans recall, from the 1930s, the OPERETTAS and MUSICALS presented by one Nellie Robinson of the TOR Memorial High School. In 1952 the Community Players were formed, causing a stir in local circles when, led by the drama tutor of the University of the West Indies, they created the village play Priscilla’s Wedding using local dialect…in 1967 the Antigua University Centre was established, with a 400-seat open-air theatre. Several short lived theatre groups sprung up at this time.” (p. 319) – bold and italics mine.
(Playwright?) – Rising from the Ashes (toured to Dominica, 1988). Performed by Popular Theatre Movement (“…started in village communities, where role-playing, discussion and creative play-making help to identify issues and suggest solutions” – The Cambridge Guide to African and Caribbean Theatre).
Eleston Nambalumbu Nambalala Adams – b. 1954. Founder, in 1979, of the Rio Revealers, which according to the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, Volume 2, the Americas Volume 2, his plays, referred to as “slapstick drama, have been taken to the islands of Montserrat, St. Martin, and St. Thomas.” The bibliography of drama in English by Caribbean writers, to 2010
compiled by George Parfitt and Jessica Parfitt indicates that he is believed to have authored 14 plays but could not confirm. Adams has been a teacher, reporter (Daily Observer newspaper), and minister of government, including a stint as culture minister. (listing lacks itemization of individual plays and year of first production – help fill the gaps if you can)
Zahra Airall – Airall has founded, written, and directed several theatre companies. Her Zee’s Youth Theatre produced the well-received School Bag (2009). In 2015, her adult company, Sugar Apple Theatre, teamed up with Dorbrene O’Marde for a revival of Harambee’s Tangled Web (read my reaction post). Sugar Apple Theatre returned with Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues (previously staged in Antigua by Women of Antigua of which she was a founding member and co-director) in 2019 (my review here).
It’s worth noting that Airall, a teacher, also took the winning local team (Antigua Girls High School) to the 2015 Caribbean Secondary Schools Drama Festival where she served as writer and director for their performance of her play The Forgotten. Read review/coverage of that outing here. She followed up this production with Whispers in Wallings which netted her and her Antigua Girls High School students best production, best direction, and a number of other prizes (8 overall) at the 2015 National Secondary Schools Drama Festival. She’s also taken youth theatre to other Caribbean countries e.g. in 2018, AGHS’ Honey Bee Theatre went on a UN sponsored tour to Turks and Caicos with her play Light in the Dark which was also performed domestically. In 2019, Honey Bee Theatre presented The Long Walk (reviewed here) in Antigua and again, that summer, at the Caribbean Secondary Schools Drama Festival, winning a plethora of prizes including best production, direction, and screenplay. Also in 2019, Honey Bee Theatre took on Derek Walcott, while Sugar Apple Theatre, after a triumphant 2019 outing with the revival of the Vagina Monologues, announced plans for an original production and its take on Shakespeare in 2020. Zahra Airall, a multi-National Youth Award winner, and Woman of Wadadli awardee for fine arts, was born in the theatre, figuratively speaking, as her parents were performers with Dorbrene O’Marde’s Harambee; and she won her first prize in 1992 at age 9 as the youngest person to submit to the Rick James Ensemble One Act Play Competition.
Antigua Community Players – This group was inaugurated in 1952. Musical dramas written and performed by the players include Priscilla’s Wedding (groundbreaking for its time as a benchmark in local theatre), Night Must Fall, Guest in The House, Outward Bound, See How They Run, Charley’s Aunt, A Christmas Carol, and Celebration in the Market Place – all collaborative pieces written by the Players. The group eventually morphed into a choral group well known for its folk music presentations and musical productions. Dame Yvonne Maginley (deceased as of 2019) was instrumental in this aspect, taking on the role of musical director in 1957. The Antigua Community Players’ first operetta was Betty Lou; annual concerts followed, and, in 1972, the Players produced Ballad Antigua, written by well known composer of Caribbean songs Irvine Burgie, and presented it in Antigua, Montserrat and in Guyana. Following the success of Ballad the Community Players produced Gilbert & Sullivan’s Mikado (in 1973), HMS Pinafore (in 1975 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the commissioning of Nelson’s Dockyard and in 1995 to mark the Players’ 43rd Anniversary), and Pirates of Penzance (in 1986). The Antigua Community Players performed at the 1982 World’s Fair in Tennessee, and, in 1984, during the 150th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the city in Rochester, New York and also in the Annual Lilac Festival. The Players have performed in New York; Miami; Washington; Toronto; London Ontario, Canada; Birmingham and Leicester; the News Day Parade in London, England; Syracuse; St Croix; and St Thomas. As musical director, Dame Yvonne Maginley composed many songs over the years that have added to the Antiguan and Barbudan catalogue of folk music.
Antigua Dance Academy – Antigua and Barbuda’s premier Afro-Caribbean folk dance group since 1991, ADA has put on several productions that have included drama scripted by members of the troupe. This includes, as part of ADA’s Out of the Drum folk rhythm festival, a 2008 street theatre presentation on national hero King Court/Prince Klaas/Tackey’s rebellion with guest performances by Nevis’s Rhythmz Dance Theatre and Trinidad’s Shashamane recreating, respectively, plantation fieldwork and African stick fighting. Francine Carbey, as the ADA’s resident drama tutor and artistic director, is, with founder Veronica Yearwood, the force behind these dramatic turns. Other members have contributed plays to ADA productions – e.g. Samantha Zachariah who wrote her first play for the group in 2010. Read more on ADA.
Barbara Arrindell – Call Me Klass (1998) – based on and inspired by the life of National Hero and leader of an aborted 1736 uprising of enslaved Africans in Antigua and Barbuda Prince Klaas/King Court/Tackey. Initially staged as a Black History Month fundraiser.
Dreams…Faces…Reality (2001). The play tells the story of a healthy young man whose life is turned upside down following a routine physical which showed that he was HIV positive. Arrindell was author and director. Stagings included an initial 2001 World AIDS Day performance by the Optimist Club of St. John’s Youth Drama Group, a 2002 Black History Month performance, several 2003 stagings, including one in Anguilla, by the Optimist Club at the Pares Secondary School. Between 2005-2006, it was staged over 15 times by the Friends Hotline for Youth to stir conversation among secondary school students in Antigua and Barbuda. Another drama group performed select scenes in 2007 at churches across the island to reduce the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS. It has been adapted for radio broadcast, running for several years on Observer Radio in the build-up to World AIDS Day.
Barbara Arrindell speaks with the audience after a performance of the AIDS themed ‘Dreams…Faces…Reality’ performed by the Optimist Club of St. John’s Youth Drama Group
Jamian Benta is a teacher and his productions seem to be primarily in the area of secondary school productions. As an english teacher at Pares secondary, he took the students to the National Seconday School Drama Festival with his first production A Mother’s Heart. At his second school Clare Hall Secondary, he formed the Dramalites. His other plays include Problem Child, Village Boy, Family Jumby, and A Tale of Massa’s Wine.
Edson Buntin –Anu Bantu: Treasure Island and Haunted Park (published). Dramatist, instructor in French at the Antigua State College; his contributions to theatre have been both onstage and off, as an actor including serving as a cast member in the 1979 production of Dorbrene O’Marde’s Tangled Web and as founder of the Scaramouche Theatre and overseeing several productions at the College, such as Conjugal Bliss. Plays written by Buntin include Con Man Sun Sun, Mr. Valentine, and Wedlock. He has also acted in local films such as Once in an Island. (Dates unknown – help fill the blanks if you can)
Child’s Play – this is a youth theatre group formed in 1992 by Jamaican dramatist Amina Blackwoods-Meek (as mentioned in this youtube video). She was also the founder, as noted on her website, of Zebra Theatre Group in 1987, also in Antigua and Barbuda. No details as yet re original productions but wanted to document their place on the theatre scene for the record.
David Edgecombe – (Edgecombe passed in November 2021, RIP) Edgecombe, a theatre and public speaking lecturer at the University of the Virgin Islands, is not Antiguan and Barbudan but his play Lady of Parham (shortlisted as of 2015 for the Guyana Prize for Literature), published by Caribbean Reads (2014), is set in Antigua and based on the mystery surrounding the ghost of Parham. Per the Caribbean Reads description, it “introduces the audience to five revellers who have come together to form a Carnival troupe but settle for dramatizing the tale of the Parham ghost. In the telling of the ghost legend, Justin, Tulip, Sauna, Kyle, and Mabel must confront the demons that threaten to derail their lives.” Lady of Parham premiered in St. Thomas and has since played in other Caribbean countries like Dominica and Montserrat, where Edgecombe was a founder of the Montserrat Theatre Group. His other works (unrelated to Antiguan and Barbudan theatre – to the best of my knowledge) include For Better For Worse, Making It, Coming Home to Roost, and Heaven.
Gus Edwards – b. 1939 in Antigua and raised in St. Thomas, he moved to New York in 1959 – his plays have been showcased by the Negro Ensemble of NY among other companies across the US. Initially, a protégé of Stella Adler, he worked as an actor in films and on stage. But limited by his accent, he began writing his own material. These included The Offering (1977), Black Body Blues (1978), Old Phantoms (1979), These Fallen Angels (1980), Weep Not for Me (1981), Tenement (1983), Manhattan Made Me (1983), Ramona (1986), Louie and Ophelia (1986), Moody’s Mood Cafe (1989), Lifetimes on the Streets (1990), Restaurant People (1990), Tropicana (1992), Frederick Douglass (1992), Testimony (1993), Confessional (1994), Dear Martin, Dear Coretta (1995), Slices one-acts (1996), Drought Country (1997), Night Cries (1998), and Black Woman’s Blues (1999). Most of his plays are reportedly set in “the slums and ghettoes of New York…his characters often exist outside of the boundaries of what is thought to be appropriate behavior in society.” (Notable Caribbeans and Caribbean Americans: a Biographical Dictionary, p. 157). His works for television include Aftermath (1979) and a TV adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel Go Tell It on the Mountain. He also wrote narration on the Negro Ensemble Company for PBS. Though self-taught, the critically acclaimed playwright has taught theatrical writing at several US colleges and became associate professor of theatre at Arizona State University, directing where the multi-ethnic theatre and teaching in the film studies programme. In 2000, he was appointed artistic director to the Scottsdale Ensemble Theatre in Scottsdale, Arizona. “He has published Classic Plays of the Negro Ensemble (1995), Monologues on Black Life (1997), and More Monologues on Black Life (2000). Several of his plays have also been published… Gus Edwards is one of the first Caribbean writers to contribute to American theatre.” (Notable Caribbean and Caribbean Americans: a Biographical Dictionary, p. 158)
Lonne Elder – Ceremonies in Dark Old Men (1971) – performed by the Open Air Theatre.
Oliver Flax – A Better Way (1976) – directed by Edgar Davis – and The Legend of Prince Klaas (1972) – the latter of which was sent to be performed at Carifesta in Guyana in 1972. Performed by Bobby Margetson’s Little Theatre.
Linisa George – one of the writer/directors and producers (as part of Women of Antigua) behind the production When a Woman Moans (below). Brown Girl in the Ring, a poem from that production has become a significant part of her brand (as a publication aesthetic) and has been performed at different fora including the CARA Festival in Antigua in 2009 , the 2012 Poetry Parnassus in London, and, after publication in a special Antigua and Barbuda edition of online journal Tongues of the Ocean, Shakespeare in Paradise, 2015, in the Bahamas.
Tom Green – Tom Green is British, not Antiguan, though he did lead a masterclass on playwriting here in Antigua and is listed here because of a play of his that is based in Antigua. The play is entitled Antigua and it is the story of bestselling writer Katherine Sampson, whose second book is overdue by two years when her agent sends her to the Caribbean with instructions not to return without a finished manuscript. In Antigua, she meets an enigmatic American be-devilled by his own problems. This play was first produced at the Tabard Theatre in London in 2006. Green’s other plays (unrelated to Antigua and Barbuda – to the best of my knowledge) include The Death of Margaret Thatcher, A Place in the Sun, and Talking in Bed.
Joanne C. Hillhouse – known, primarily, as a fiction writer/published author, but some of her first public writings were plays: e.g. Barman’s Blues, not staged but joint second placed winner (her first creative writing prize) in the Rick James Theatre Ensemble One Act Play Competition in 1992; Changes (Sisters and Daughters), Hillhouse’s first full length play, staged in 1990, by the State College Drama Society one of two done while she was a student at the Antigua State College; and Trials of Life, showcased as a Taylor Hall entry in dramatic competition at the University of the West Indies while she was a student there (sometime between 1992 and 1995). The actress in that play received honourable mention. Several of her poems were incorporated into scripts for stagings of Women of Antigua’s When a Woman Moans in the early aughts. Hillhouse who has scripted documentaries, ads, and public service announcements for clients or as part of public education programmes, on the creative tip had her (short) screenplay, Is Like a Like It, excerpted in The Caribbean Writer Volume 27 in 2013.
Cleopatra Isaac, Paula Henry, and Darleen Beazer -co-scripted Journey to Heaven which was performed by participants in The Young Leaders programme at Sir McChesney George Secondary School and members of the Barbudan community. (article published April 10th 2006 in the Daily Observer)
The play, performed in 2006 in Barbuda and Antigua, focused on a young man’s gradual understanding of repentance and forgiveness ‘after death’, and explored the concept that no more than 6 degrees of separation exists between people, meaning an individual’s actions always affects the lives of others. The actors were Devon Warner, Tenesha Beazer, Salim Cephas, Adonia Henry, and Leona Desouza. “Shaping the Future” was the theme of the 2006 Young Leaders’ project, and it encompassed cherishing life, embracing family values, and respecting one another. In the play, the value of respect is addressed in drama, dance, and song, using all aspects of the arts to embrace a vision.
Owen Jackson – As writer/director with the National Youth Theatre, Jackson produced several plays including After 9/11 (2007) and My Birthright (2007). (entry incomplete – help fill in dates and other productions if you can)
Owen Jackson taking high school students through a drama warm up exercise.
Youth drama club – tableau in downtown store window … and attracting a small crowd doing it
George ‘Rick’ James – deceased September 2018. Various plays including the one man play Oulaudah Equiano (1990) about “the engrossing story in living detail of an Igbo prince, his enslavement, and freedom” (book summary), Gallows Humour in 2005, and 2007’s Our Country, timed to coincide with the bicentenary of the abolition British Empire Atlantic Slave Trade, and unique for telling, on a stage constructed in the open air of the King George V grounds, drawing a vast cast from a mixed pool of local professionals who were amateur thespians, and tracking the life of Antigua and Barbuda from pre-Columbian times to present.
Our Country: an arawak chief Our Country: Slave ship scene
slaves at market
His Rick James Ensemble encouraged young and future Antiguan and Barbudan writers like Zahra Airall and Joanne C. Hillhouse through its One Act Play Writing Competition. James was also an actor in US and especially British theatre and television
James performing in Sit Quietly on the Baulk
for many years, and an award winning costume designer in local mas.
Colin Jno Finn – playwright and director with the Nazarene Drama Team – On the Block (2008) of a young man’s struggles with the church; Nine to Five (2009) about challenges in the work place; It’s Too Late (2010) of a strained relationship between a father and son; and Power Struggle (2011) of one person’s attempts to boost another from office. Read my review of Power Struggle here.
Jamaica Kincaid – Her 1998 book A Small Place was staged at the Gate Theatre in London in 2018 in what was described as so faithful an adaptation that the text is performed entirely in its original form.
Edgar O. Lake – Some Quiet Mornin’; Matters of Antiguan Conspiracy: 1736; The Stone Circle; The Killing of Arthur Sixteen; more… (incomplete + unsure of publication production status + dates unknown – help fill in dates and other productions if you can)
Iyaba Ibo Mandingo – ‘He is a Poet, Painter, Writer, Sculptor, Actor, Teacher, Mentor, Author and “continued work in progress”, as he puts it…His Self-Portrait, a one-man play performed in his studio, speaks of his life through poetry and prose, concurrent to him painting his self-portrait during the show.’ – from this interview with the artiste which also references his chap books (41 Times and Amerikkkan Exile), his company (Iyabarts), his art series (War, Spirit Drawings), in addition to his plays (Self-Portrait which has grown into unFRAMED, his first full length play), and forthcoming work (novel Sins of My Fathers, chap book 30 Days of Ink, ad the off Broadway run of unFRAMED). As his biography shows, he is a native Antiguan who migrated to the U.S. as a boy. These roots as well as his experiences in America infuse unFRAMED as seen in this excerpt.
Andrew O’Marde – O Lord, Why Lord? and Tell It Like It Is with Harambee Open Air Theatre.
Dorbrene O’Marde – – synonymous with quality theatre in Antigua and Barbuda in theatre’s heyday (i.e. the 1970s to early 1980s), his Harambee Open Air Theatre (a 1972 merger of the Grammarians and the University Centre’s Open Air Theatre) is “considered the most important group of recent times” (from The Cambridge Guide to Theatre by Martin Banham). O’Marde is a graduate of the Antigua Grammar School, UWI Cave Hill, University of Toronto, and Tulane University where he obtained a Masters of Public Health. He has been credited as a playwright, director and producer of theatre and music, newspaper/magazine columnist, public speaker, and calypso writer, judge and analyst. His involvement in calypso has included crafting hits for artistes like Scorpion, Stumpy, Singing Althea, and others; though his biggest contribution to the art form is arguably the seminal Calypso Talk magazine, an annual chronicle of the art and the issues surrounding the art. He also wrote Nobody Go Run Me, the biography of Antigua and Barbuda’s Monarch King Short Short, which was longlisted for the 2015 Bocas prize, in addition to the novel Send Out You Hand.
O’Marde’s career in theatre began with the Antigua Students Association in 1965 (You the Jury, Devil’s Advocate, Androcles and the Lion – English classics). Jezebel (1955) and Star Bomber (1962) are credited as two of his earliest works. His involvement in theatre continued, between 1968 and 1971, with the Cave Hill Drama Group (UWI, Barbados) when other theatre notables like Dominica’s Alwin Bully, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Clement Bouncing Williams, and St. Lucia’s Robert Lee were all students.
O’Marde was a member of the Theatre Information Exchange (TIE) and the Eastern Caribbean Popular Theatre Organization (ECPTO) and was involved in cultural research with both these organizations. He formed Harambee in 1972.
In addition to directing plays by other notables from the Caribbean theatre scene and beyond, O’Marde wrote and directed Homecoming, For Real: A Caribbean Play in Three Acts(1976), Fly on the Wall (1977), Fire Go Bun, For Real, We Nativity, The Minister’s Daughter – which was adapted from the novel of the same name by Nigerian writer Obi Egbuna, We Nativity – which included songs by Antiguan and Barbudan lyricist Shelly Tobitt, Tangled Web (1979), Badplay (1991 for the Family Planning Unit), and This World Spin One Way (1998); and directed several others. Read more about his work in calypso and on the stage, plus his other cultural work in BIOGRAPHY deo 2010 . Tangled Web, according to the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, Volume 2, the Americas, Volume 2, prompted the government to legislate against civil servants participating in plays critical of the government.
Before going dormant in the late-eighties, Harambee took productions to Montserrat, St. Kitts, Dominica, Barbados, St. Thomas, and Saba.
O’Marde has returned with a couple of productions since then, notably 1998’s This World Spin One Way – which has also had stagings by directors Jean Small, Director UWI Creative Arts Centre, and David Edgecombe, Director Reichhold Centre, and a revival of Tangled Web with Zahra Airall’s Sugar Apple Theatre in 2015. He also lent technical support to Women of Antigua’s first staging of the Vagina Monologues in 2008. Read my review of This World Spin One Way. Read my ‘review’ of Tangled Web. (some dates still missing + full listing – help fill in dates and other productions if you can)
Sislyn Peters – One of her plays, Trust, was adapted by the City College of New York’s English Department, Division of Humanities & Arts, and performed at the Aaron Davis Hall, in 2001. Peters was born in Antigua and graduated Princess Margaret High School. As a child, she wrote verses, and short stories. As a teenager, she sang with local bands, including Pat Edwards’ Playboys, and Vere Anthony’s Teen Stars. See poetry for her other accomplishments.
Eustace Simon – several plays including Crossroads, The Awakening, Betty’s Hope, and Illusive Dreams. 1990s. Modern Theatre. 2000s. National Theatre Group. Announced launch of a National Theatre channel on CTV in 2012. (dates missing + full listing – help fill in dates and other productions if you can)
Lester Simon – Obeah Slave (taken in 1969 by the Grammarians to Montserrat and Barbados).
Monique S. Simon – The Antigua-born, US-based writer adapted Adynah from a novel-in-progress, which has been illustrated, excerpted and published in Carib Beat, and which won a NY Council on the Arts Award for (First Chapter of a Novel in Progress) and a Cropper Foundation grant. The play was based on one of the book’s character’s Adynah Williams, described as the kind of local cook whose delicacies are sold from her house on weekends and who is first to be called for catering a local event. The story was produced as a three vignette play for Know Theatre in New York in the Fall of 2003. Simon scripted and directed voices of Caribbean people living and working in the area, pre-recorded and editing those voices so that they could provide off stage interaction during the one-woman show. Simon not only wrote, directed, and starred in the play, she designed the set – all while working as a full time professor at Broome Community College in Binghampton, NY.
Elaine Spires – Elaine is from Essex in the UK and in the 2000s, after years of bringing tours to Antigua, also established a seasonal home here. She’s run workshops in Antigua and participated (as writer and actress) in Women of Antigua’s When a Woman Moans. She’s also created content for the stage and screen, some inspired by and set in Antigua. Her Adventures of Maisie and Em (later adapted to film with Spires playing Em and Heather Doram playing Maisie, characters debuted on stage in When a Woman Moans). Her Antigua plays include Singles Holiday, about a group of vacationing Brits, which was adapted in to a novel and then had a third life as a play on the English stage (2014), and Sweet Lady, about a mother and daughter and an island tryst, which was staged in Antigua before also becoming a novel. (missing dates – fill in if you can)
Stage One – This youth drama collective led by Kanika Simpson-Davis favours adaptations (which involves some re-scripting) of popular tales like Cinderella , Snow White, and Anansi and Snake. 2004 – present (?)
Stage One: Anansi and Snake
Stage One: Cinderella Reloaded 2007 Stage One: scene from Cinderella
Leon Chaku Symister – Voices of Protest (1976); and Time Bomb (1977); Tilting Scales (1980). Third World Theatre. According to the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, Volume 2, the Americas, Volume 2, it was thought to be too libelous for public airing but played to crowded houses at the University Centre.
Various writers – Women of Antigua – playwrights/actresses/directors Linisa George and Zahra Airallshepherd this femalecentric brand of theatrical activism. The original production When A Woman Moans was staged in 2010 and 2012, and mostly scripted by Airall and George with inputs from Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Floree Williams, Greschen Edwards (another WOA founding partner), Melissa Elliott, Marcella Andre, Carel Hodge, Mickel Brann, Brenda Lee Browne, Craig Edward, Nekisha Lewis, Kimolisa Mings, Elaine Spires, and Jihan Lewis. Women of Antigua debuted with Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues in 2008 and this locally conceived, similarly themed production, was its successor. Both productions over two nights brought the curtain downon WOA’s theatrical activities in 2012.
Vaughn Walter – deceased as of 2019. Culture Director and head of Antigua and Barbuda’s CARIFESTA planning committee. Active in theatre and film, and in staged productions for pageants and festivals through the years. (entry incomplete – if you can help fill it out email email@example.com)
Amber Williams-King – In 2010, Amber Williams-King participated in the AMY (or Artists Mentoring Youth) project, helping to create Step Right Up which received 3/4 stars from Toronto’s NOW magazine. In 2011, she wrote a play: Love and its Dialects which ran in the Paprika Festival at Tarragon Theatre in Canada where she resides. In 2010, she received first-honourable mention in the Scarborough Arts Council’s inaugural Writer’s Month literary competition. Her poetry has been published in the anthology Holla! A Collection of Womenz Wordz and in So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End.
Zahra Airall – When No One Is Looking (2012, short film, an ABS TV Production in collaboration with the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS) – also co-director.
Howard Allen (also co-producer/director) – (w/Jermilla Kirwan) Diablesse (2005, HAMAfilms); The Skin (2011, HAMAfilms) – reviewed here; and Deep Blue (2023, HAMAfilms).
Alexis Andrews – Vanishing Sail – here’s the trailer. Winner of the Caribbean Spirit Award for Best Overall Feature at the Caribbean Tales awards and People’s Choice for Best Documentary at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival.
Oteh Thomas Anyandjuh (African born, resident in Antigua) – Love that Bites (2010, OTA Entertainment and Third Eye Studios) – also director.
*** Shashi Balooja (also an actor, director, casting director, and producer on stage and screen; from Antigua but resident in the US) – w/Cecile George and Michael Sandoval, film short Ariana (2004, ABC Film & Video/Andrisk Inc/Media at Large, USA); w/Roger Sewhcomar, documentary The Altruist (2009, Media at Large/ABC Film & Video, USA); w/Caytha Jentis Exposed (2012, Media at Large, USA) – winner feature film award and genre award at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival; w/Stephen Kelleher, film short Promises of Home (2012, Media at Large/Reverse Momentum Films, USA). Balooja had plans to extend Ariana into a feature film.
Francoise Bowen conceived and wrote Back to Africa (directed by Anderson Edghill) which she described as a “short documentary (depicting) a little piece of Antigua and Barbuda’s history (specifically that enslaved people thought Africa was nearby). Bowen went on to found the Francoise Acting Studio which, among other things, has run workshops and produced The Story of Four (a video series promoting safe sex).
Centelia Browne – Idle Hands – (A Wadadli Plus production, a short film). Credits say ‘A Film By’ which is usually the director credit and there is no separate screenwriter credit. 2019.
Courtney Boyd – The Grove – (A Wadadli Plus production with C-BEN Pictures, a Nut Grove Production – web series pilot written and directed by Boyd who also directed other Wadadli Plus productions such as The Diagnosis) – 2019.
Sadé Clacken Joseph – Ponyboi (2019) is described as the world’s first intersex-made narrative film. It is co-directed by Clacken Joseph and River Gallo, who stars, as their graduation project. Clacken Joseph is from the Bronx, born to Antiguan and Jamaican parents. Sadé, at this writing (2021), is directing Issa Rae’s Rap Shit. Ponyboi can be viewed on Sadé‘s site (click her name). Other director credits include shorts What to Expect (2015), Hats (2017), Finding Phoebe (2019), Samir (2019), and more.
Cinque Productions (Chris Hodge and Melissa Gomez, also producer, director) –Deaf Not Dumb (2000, short fiction film), 2 Dolla Picture
Melissa assessing a shot as her camera man looks on.
(2001, animated short), Share and Share Alike (2008, documentary – 2010 winner of Best Documentary Production at the Berlin Black International Cinema Festival), Changing Course (2009, film short), and Silent Music (2012, documentary) silent-music-poster co-writer/producer/editor Jay Prychidny. Silent Music, a portrait of Gomez’s deaf family won Best Documentary at the 2014 Maine Deaf Film Festival and the 2012 Caribbean Tales Film Festival, as well as the Audience Choice Awards at the 2013 Toronto Deaf Film & Arts Festival. Gomez, resident in the US, also has a project known as the Baby Mini Doc Project which creates day in the life documentaries which capture “every day moments and milestones with your littlest ones”. Melissa has worked on a number of other projects in the US, including co-producing Makers (PBS) and Nine for IX (ESPN), producing behind the scenes content for Hell on Wheels and Low Winter Sun (AMC), and serving as supervising producer on Me on My TV (FLOW). She has worked as a freelance production manager on advertising campaigns for H & M and Malibu Rum. Melissa has a Masters of Arts degree in Screen Documentary from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and a Bachelor of Arts in New Media from Ryerson University in Toronto.
Alvin Glen Edwards – Once in an Island
on the set of ‘Once in an Island’ Jermilla Kirwan in a scene from Once in an Island
(2009, Wadadli Pictures) – also producer. The feature film has since been adapted into a book (released 2012).
Bridgette Hanniford – My Time Now (A Wadadli Plus production, a film short directed by Melissa McLeish, 2020)
Roland ‘Mayfield’ Hosier – He didn’t work from a written script but he’s the pioneer behind Antigua and Barbuda’s earliest forays into (largely improvised) film production producing The Fugitive, 1972, and Midtown Robbers, 1978.
Noel Howell – He was the co-writer (with Courtney Boyd), director and producer of Redemption of Paradise (2009, Color Bars Production) – best actress and best Caribbean film at the 2010 Jamaica Reggae Film Festival; as well as a video producer and independent publisher on projects like Once in an Island (co-producer/co-director). In 2017, he also directed (per IMDB) a film adaptation of The Little Rude Boys/Girls, a child-written book he published in 2010.
D. Gisele Isaac –
The Sweetest Mango (2001, HAMAfilms); and No Seed (2002, HAMAfilms). Antigua and Barbuda’s first and second feature-length films. Isaac also wrote regularly for the stage in the form of the skits included in the annual (in the 2000s) ‘Programme’ put on by the Professional Organization of Women in Antigua and Barbuda; usually a political satire.
Tameka Jarvis-George –
Ugly – short film (2011, Wadadli Film Studios) for which she provided character monologue – 2011
On the set of Dinner, Tameka with her co-star and husband.
Lawson Lewis – Redonda: The Road to Recovery – Environmental Awareness Group executive produced documentary (with various international donor partners). 2022.
Motion (Wendy Brathwaite) –
Coroner (Canadian TV series) – Motion wrote Season 2’s ‘Borders’ in 2020 and Season 3’s ‘Eyes Up’. It earned her a 2022 Canadian Screeen Awards nomination for writing ‘Eyes Up’.
Rebirth of the Afronauts: a Black Space Odyssey (episode 7 of season 2 of Obsidian Theatre’s 21 Black Futures series) – New Year’s Eve 2059, the night before the long-awaited Reparations Day. Chariott receives a mysterious call that leads her on a curious ride through the world outside her bubble – where cities are sky high, curfew is in the streets, and it’s harder to tell hue-mans from the holograms. On this surreal road trip, she tunes into BlackSpaceX, along with a cadre of cryptic guides, finding herself on the astronomical journey of her life. Directed by Jerome Kruin, Performed by Chelsea Russell, with Music by NON. 2021.
Akilla’s Escape – the Antiguan-Canadian poet/writer co-wrote this feature with writer-director Charles Officer stars Saul Williams and explores what happens when a simple, routine drug handoff goes sideway, landing 40-year-old drug trader Akilla Brown in the middle of a violent robbery. Akilla must set things right and retrieve the stolen goods over the course of one arduous night. Akilla’s Escape debuted at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.
Nadya Raymond – The Diagnosis– (A Wadadli Plus production in association with Wadadli Creatives and C-BEN Pictures, a short film directed by Courtney Boyd). 2019.
Elaine Spires – Elaine is from Essex in the UK and in the 2000s, after years of bringing tours to Antigua, also established a seasonal home here. Her writing credits (Spires is also an actress) include the TV series Paradise View, the Lawson Lewis edited promotional film shorts The Adventures of Maisie and Em – episodes Fix a Flat and Best Friend(Spires playing Em and Heather Doram playing Maisie, characters debuted on stage in When a Woman Moans) –
the vid clips were posted to youtube in 2013. Her novel Singles Holiday was reportedly also made in to a TV pilot.
Chavel Thomas (credited as director; no writer credit is given) – Silence, Screams – short film (2016, Dotkidchavy x Jamzpari)
Nigel Trellis (born Guyana, resident in Antigua)– Hooked (2009, Tropical Films) Working Girl (2011, Tropical Films)
Unknown/Uncredited – The Guest (2020, short film by Wadadli Plus)
Various (Joel Lewis, Noah Yeboah, Destiny Simon, Delicia Howell, Shenika Bentick, Sheneilla Somerset: members of the Antigua and Barbuda Film Academy) – Don’t hit me Pickney (2022, short film, producer Dr. Noel Howell)
Keron ‘K-Wiz’ Wilson (credited as director; no writer credit is given) – The Date – short film (2013, Black Roots Records); Mechanic – short film (2013, Black Roots Records); Stationary – short film (2013, Black Roots Records)
As with all content on Wadadli Pen, 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/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you excerpt, please credit the source. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on 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.