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All the Books

As I may have mentioned here before, my latest book, the children’s picture book With Grace, was selected for the U. S. Virgin Islands’ Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge. I thought it’d be cool to post all the selected books – no reason you can’t add them to your or your kids’ summer reading list wherever you are.

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Here’s the full 2017 Title Information

Title: Spider in the Rain
Author: Phillis Gershator
Grades: K – 1
Specs: 32 pages, paperback
A small spider happily looks out from a rooftop gutter, admiring the fluffy clouds passing overhead, but the clouds he sees are RAIN clouds.

What should a little creature like him do in the rain? Iguanas, bats, birds, mongooses, butterflies, and bees all give the spider good advice. But it’s too late.

Down comes the rain and washes the poor spider out––down the waterspout and into a pond. What will happen to our spider? Will he survive? If he does, will he return to his old ways, or will he try something new?

Title: When I Grow Up
Author: Rick Grant
Grades: K – 2
Specs: 32 pages, paperback
This poetic and colorful book speaks to the dreamer in all of us
and serves as a reminder that when searching for the best job in
the world, the heart is the first place where we should look.

Title: When the Trees Come Alive
Author: Zayd Saleem
Grades: 2 – 3
Specs: 32 pages, paperback
Malik’s mother asks him to take a bag of fruit to his
grandmother’s house. On his journey, Malik recalls all that his
grandmother has taught him about magnificent trees that can be
found in the Virgin Islands.

Title: Close to Nature: Sea Turtles of the Virgin Islands
Grades: 3-6
Specs: 48 pages, paperback
Meet the amazing sea turtles of the Virgin Islands.
Some can dive two thousand feet underwater, some travel
thousands of miles every year, and others love to eat jellyfish. A
fun and educational book filled with information about one of our
favorite animals.

The book contains beautiful photos by Virgin Islands photographers.

Title: With Grace
Author: Joanne C. Hillhouse
Grades: 4-5
Specs: 48 pages, paperback
Grace, of Grace’s Peak, loves her home above the village, above
the whole island. All her trees are lush and full of ripe fruits,
except for the one at the far end of her land. She hates that tree.
So when the smiling, barefoot girl from the village asks Grace if
she can pick fruits to sell at the market, it is from that sad, bare
tree that Grace “generously” allows her to pick. Little does Grace know that the young girl’s kind, loving heart and her sweet special song will make the impossible happen, and change life at Grace’s Peak forever.

Title: B is for Benye: A Virgin Islands Historical and Cultural
A-Z Book
Author: Charlene Blake-Pemberton
Grades: 6
Specs: 48 pages, paperback
Clarice and Vincent, who live on the island of St. Croix, send a
special package to their grandchildren in Florida. Can you guess
what is in the box? Through the eyes of a Virgin Islands family,
the author describes the culture and cuisine of the US Virgin
Islands. Roots and culture are the underlying themes in B is for
Benye: A Virgin Islands Historical and Cultural A-Z Book

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Antiguan and Barbudan Arts – A Wish List

Today, I appeared on Crusader Radio (Antigua and Barbuda’s) Listen to Women. One of the last questions put to me by host Joan Underwood was suggestions for development of the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. I spoke about putting a foundation in place to assist artists with accessing the opportunities and funding I know is out there; development of the professional infrastructure needed to support the arts (agents, lawyers, managers, arts development officers, publishers etc.); and research and documentation of our (his)stories – example, the stories of our national heroes in picture book form, for the kids. Inevitably, once I left the studio, I thought of all the things I hadn’t said- like the time I and a group of local writers applied for Commonwealth funding to attend the Calabash literary festival and the time I reached out to our local government via various avenues for a similar mission to the Havana’s International Book Fair, receiving no response.

Thankfully I had this handy post to remind me of my publicly expressed thoughts on this topic before. I’m re-posting some of what I wrote below. Also sharing this letter by Barbara Arrindell on resigning the post of coordinator of the independence literary arts competition in which she recommends to the Minister that someone be given year round responsibility for the literary arts under the umbrella of culture to do for lit arts what a similar approach, including bringing on board the technical expertise of practitioners of the art, did for pan (I would add, and have, that I favour a writer-in-residence programme attached to either Culture or the Public Library). I can only assume that Barbara’s open letter, delivered at the last lit arts comp she helmed, was ignored since the comp subsequently went on a hiatus that hasn’t technically been broken notwithstanding last Independence’s lets’ throw some money at it competition – not if our goal is development of the art form.

Thoughts, with the understanding that these are only my thoughts, and EVERYBODY’S got an opinion, here we go (feel free to share your own):

“Among the things I would like to see happen are …

  • Something similar to the Opportunities data base on this page and some protocols for assisting members of the creative community access opportunities available especially through agencies with which the country has a partner relationship – the OAS, the UN, the OECS, etc.
  • Training opportunities for artistes
  • Commissioning of the skills in the wider artistic community to take programmes to the schools and communities on a consistent basis – put our artistes to work, there are skills here that are underutilized
  • Assistance with sourcing funding for cultural products/productions – note I’m not saying dip into the Treasury but using their network to help artistes realize the production of more culturally relevant products and programming
  • Support for artistes travelling to represent themselves and the country, and assisting them with networking with the Antiguan and Barbudan community in New York, London, or wherever they’re going
  • Artiste showcases not just centrally but in communities throughout the island – and maybe taking some of those showcases on the road beyond our island – I’m reminded of when a group of us, Antiguan and Barbudan writers, applied for and received international funding to put in a showing at one of the top regional literary festivals, for us, a learning opportunity and an opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to have a presence in spaces where we are too often absent
  • A national gallery, an artist in residence and writer in residence programme through which ongoing initiatives to boost the arts in the community can be developed
  • Someone asked me today after reviewing the Independence programme what about the lit arts comp – I’ve got no answers to that …or for that matter, a book fair (remember the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival? What happened to that?) … anyway since that question came up today, I’ll just rest that here (EDITING TO ADD April 19th 2017 that a new development is the Wadadli Stories Book Fair, not a state project no, but a community volunteer project, because that’s how the arts community makes things, like the Wadadli Pen project, whose Challenge awards will be presented at the Fair, happen)
  • Promotion of the arts using all of the platforms at their disposal – from an enewsletter to their mailing list at home and abroad to TV and web programmes, utilizing everything from ABS to youtube to social media to share and support the work of the local arts community and create connections that could result in all kinds of other opportunities opening up such as targeted tours such as the one organized by Fringe St. Lucia featuring Lucian artistes in the UK earlier this year
  • A Cultural Policy – placed low on this list but really should be a priority on our national agenda and not just in the interest of the arts but in terms of visioning our future as a country
  • As founder and coordinator of Wadadli Pen, support for programmes like mine and others wouldn’t go amiss – short of grant funding which we have yet to access, the programme exists solely on volunteer effort and has gone a-begging each year in order to reward the efforts of and encourage our future writers and artists

…and those are just off the top of my head.”

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

 

 

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A Little Perspective

The long list of the OCM Bocas Prize was announced this weekend and an Antiguan and Barbudan writer/book/subject is on the list! 2136dd3c-42db-4ee4-841a-70fa52ac3d4cThe writer, Dorbrene O’Marde; the book, Nobody Go Run Me; the subject, Short Shirt . Maybe it will get some press here at home – whether you believe as I do that Short Shirt is the epitome of Antiguan and Barbudan calypso artistry, he is one of our cultural and calypso icons after all – whatever he does is news (right?), and Dorbrene is a well-established arts and media personality in his own right – from his days as Head of Harambee, widely acclaimed as the best of Antiguan theatre, to his current role as head and mouthpiece of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission (his profile certainly makes him news, right?). Plus Nobody Go Run Me was part of the news story that was the year-long anniversary celebration of Short Shirt’s 50 years in Calypso – something I, as a freelance journalist, covered for local publication Daily Observer, regional publication Zing, and, with specific reference to the book, am in the process of writing about for the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books which has ties, through its editor Dr. Paget Henry, to Brown University in the USA. All of that to say, this news of O’Marde and Nobody Go Run Me making the long list of a major Caribbean prize is news and probably won’t get lost in the shuffle. Probably. But, just in case, I want to bring a little perspective.

When Antigua and Barbuda’s name is hollered for major literary prizes – PEN/Faulkner, the Guggenheim, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, American Book Award to name a few, it’s usually followed by Jamaica Kincaid. You won’t find her face on any of our many, many roadside billboards but she is a literary celebrity by any stretch of the imagination and, though her nom de plume references a larger island in the northern Caribbean, she is from the Ovals community right here in the 268. She has been and continues to be an inspiration for writers like me and others – from places like Ottos, Antigua and places far removed from it, where young girls dream of daring to write unconventionally, compellingly…uncomfortably, truthfully.

For many, Antiguan and Barbudan literature in as much as it even exists – and for many it doesn’t – begins and ends with Jamaica.

Because of this oversight, every pebble that ripples the water, reminding the larger Caribbean and international community that we are here (arwe yah!) matters.

When Brenda Lee Browne, in 2013, made the long list of the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize – a prize which allows an emerging Caribbean writer time and resources to advance a work in progress – to date the only Antiguan and Barbudan of 22 long listed writers between 2013 and 2014, it mattered.

When an Antiguan and Barbudan book, in 2014, made the short list and went on to place second for the first ever Burt Award for Young Adult Caribbean fiction, it mattered.

There weren’t headlines here at home for either of these breakthroughs, both administered by the team behind the BOCAS literary festival in Trinidad, and presented during the awards ceremony there, but as far as creating ripples in the water, they mattered.

Well, the OCM Bocas Prize is the biggest award presented at that festival. For Caribbean writers, with the Commonwealth Book and First Book awards now just a memory and the other major literary awards of the world not impossible to reach – as 2015 Frost medalist Kamau Brathwaite’s accomplishment recently reminded us – but a stretch (and, don’t get me wrong, stretching is good), the OCM Bocas Prize is one of the few opportunities remaining. It is specific to us, demands the best of us, rewards the best among us. Since its launch in 2011, it has been won by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott (White Egrets); Earl Lovelace (Is Just a Movie) – who also took the Grand Prize from the Caribbean Congress of Writers for the same book; Monique Roffey (Archipelago) – previously shortlisted for the Orange Prize for another book, White Woman on the Green Bicycle; and former Guggenheim fellowRobert Antoni (As Flies to Whatless Boys). Its long list has been a who’s who of Caribbean literati – Edwidge Dandicat, Kendel Hippolyte, Lorna Goodison, Kei Miller… and no Antiguans and Barbudans, until now 2015 with O’Marde’s book, Nobody Go Run Me. The book is in formidable company as there are no also-rans in this line up – Miller’s the Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion is already the winner of the prestigious Forward Prize in the UK, Marlon James (did you catch him this past week on Late Night with Seth Myers on NBC?) landed on several year-end best of lists in 2014 (TIME, New York Times, Amazon etc) and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US thanks to his Brief History of Seven Killings, Roffey’s House of Ashes was a finalist for the Costa Award, Tiphanie Yanique’s Land of Love and Drowning has already won the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, Elizabeth Nunez’s Not for Everyday Use has been dubbed by Oprah.com as one of the Best Memoirs of the past year, the author of Dying to Better Themselves, Olive Senior, is a previous winner of the aforementioned (and no longer) Commonwealth Writers Prize, and Tanya Shirley’s The Merchant of Feathers and Vladimir Lucien’s Sounding Ground have been receiving all kinds of critical acclaim. Nobody Go Run Me (described in the Bocas release as “…a carefully researched biography of Antigua’s most celebrated calypsonian and a history of Antiguan society and culture in the crucial decades after independence.”) deservedly claims its place among these great works. I hope that isn’t overlooked, as things of this nature tend to be, here at home.

It matters.

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, Oh Gad! and Burt Award finalist Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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