Tag Archives: London

Sample Saturday: Away From Home

This post is inspired by Booker Talk’s Sample Saturday: Around the World Post. I thought I’d do it while waiting for my computer to do things. Flipping it to books written by Antiguans and Barbudans (citizens and/or residents) set Away from Home (i.e. not set in Antigua and Barbuda). Fiction, obviously. I’m sure I can find three. Fingers crossed.

London Rocks by Brenda Lee Browne – This is the story of Dante Brookes, a young man growing up in London in the late seventies and early eighties when sound systems ruled the party scene for young, Black British youth of Caribbean heritage. He navigates the loss of friends, police harassment and being a teenage father while forging a career as an MC. Dante stumbles into the acting profession and also becomes a writer. It is through these disparate experiences that he learns that the pen and mic at mightier than the sword.

I do think this is one of those books that should have gotten more notice than it did. I explained why in my review.

Verdict: Definitely check it out.

Considering Venus by D. Gisele Isaac – This explores the almost-unacknowledged issue of lesbianism among Caribbean women and adds to it the complication of a heterosexual perspective.  It asks, “What happens when girlfriends becomes more than friends?”

Though the characters visit Antigua, the book, if I’m remembering correctly, is primarily set in the US (the Northeast US, I believe) where the author was resident at the time.

Verdict: Breaking taboos way ahead of the curve (it came out in the late 1990s); a timely classic. Get it.

Unburnable by Marie Elena John – Haunted by scandal and secrets, Lillian Baptiste fled Dominica when she was fourteen after discovering she was the daughter of Iris, the half-crazy woman whose life was told of in chanté mas songs sung during Carnival—songs about a village on a mountaintop littered with secrets, masquerades that supposedly fly and wreak havoc, and a man who suddenly and mysteriously dropped dead. After twenty years away, Lillian returns to her native island to face the demons of her past.

Of course, there are a fair number of Antiguans who will say Dominica (the French/English Caribbean republic – not the Spanish country that takes up half of Hispaniola) doesn’t count, so intertwined are our families, but it is technically Away.

Verdict: A Hurston Wright Legacy Award nominee and a really good read spanning generations.

That’s my three. I started scrolling through the Antigua and Barbuda Fiction List and hit three books I’d read and liked that were set Away before even getting to Jamaica Kincaid (take your pick, Lucy – NY or See Now Then – Vermont), or having to pull the books with only a few scenes Away (like my own Dancing Nude in the Moonlight – Dominican Republic), or hit the children’s book (Rachel Collis’ Emerald Isle of Adventure says it’s set in Montserrat right there in the title).

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 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. 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.

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The World Record

Local poet Linisa George, recently had one of her original pieces included in THE WORLD RECORD; an international anthology of work by poets from all the countries taking part in the 2012 London Olympics. The publication formed part of the recently held Poetry Parnassus festival in London. Poetry Parnassus, formed a major part of Festival of the World, and was an unprecedented gathering of poets invited in late June, to take part in a week-long festival of readings, workshops and a host of other events at the prestigious Southbank Centre.

The participating poets were selected following an open nominations process last year which attracted nearly 5,000 public entries. The final group of poets was then chosen by a panel led by Jude Kelly, Southbank Centre’s artistic director, and Simon Armitage, the festival’s curator. THE WORLD RECORD reveals the world through its keenest observers, political activist and most articulate wordsmiths. There‘s something for every taste: new voices as well as world greats, rappers and spoken word artists as well as poets and storytellers. The publication marks the first time so many living poets from so many countries have been gathered in one anthology.

Poetry Parnassus curator refers to the historic volume as, “A unique publication. An Olympic event no less in ancient time.” He continued, “The Southbank has sought to recreate a small piece of Greece along its riverside complex, namely Mount Parnassus, home to the muses and home to Orpheus, often described as “the first poet”. This ambitious anthology is not only a record of that extraordinary happening but an enduring and echoing experience, one that celebrates and honours a multitude of voices, languages and attitudes, all joined under the flag of poetry.”

Linisa George was chosen during the selection process as the representative for Antigua and Barbuda. The piece chosen for publication is her autobiographical well-known poem ‘Brown Girl In The Ring’; the story of a young dark-skinned girl’s emotional journey to self acceptance through self-inspection. George is a poet, freelance writer, director and playwright and a strong advocate for gender justice. She is an Executive member of Women of Antigua, a non-profit organization established in 2008, and co-owner of August Rush Productions, a creative arts company. Linisa also serves as the Director of The Young Poets Society of Antigua & Barbuda (YoPoSAB), an organization that uses poetry to awaken the creative elements in youth ages 12 to 17.

George, who is also the 2010 co-winner of a National Youth Award for her contribution to the Literary Arts, is currently working with her YoPoSAB members as they prepare to perform at the launch of this year’s Antigua & Barbuda Review Of Books next month. Some of Linisa’s work will be featured in this year’s review. The society will also continue to put the finishing touches on their first poetry publication to be released later this year.

On reflection of her published piece in the anthology, George remarks, “To have my most personal poem (Brown Girl In The Ring) included in THE WORLD RECORD alongside Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature Derrick Walcott, is extremely humbling and exciting all at the same time. I had to submit seven pieces for them to choose from, It says a lot that they chose Brown Girl.” A full version of Brown Girl In The Ring is presently being displayed on the walls of the Southbank Centre.

Linisa resumes work on her other projects including preparations to begin filming ‘Brown Gurl Envy’, a documentary based on ‘Brown Gurl In The Ring’. She will also continue to develop existing initiatives with her August Rush counterpart and creative equal Zahra Airall, including their bi-monthly open mic nights Expressions; Poetry In The Pub, which has been influential in highlighting the local talent of spoken word artist and musicians in Antigua. Linisa presently blogs at www.blackgirlinthering.blogspot.com.

THE WORLD RECORD was published by Bloodaxe Books and is currently available on Amazon at a price of £10. The historic paperback is a monumental poetic feast worthy of the spirit and history of the Olympic. It celebrates the powerful combination of brave, cultural and political voices of the world’s poets.

To read about Antigua and Barbuda’s athletes at the Olympics, go here.

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Road to the Olympics

You might be wondering what a literary site has to do with the biggest sporting event in the known universe. Hm, you must not have heard of the cultural olympiad known as the Poetry Parnassus.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Linisa George will be representing. She is one half of August Rush, the literary and theatrical partnership that has yielded the Young Poets Society of Antigua and Barbuda, Expressions Poetry in the Pub, and, as part of the Women of Antigua, annual stagings of either the Vagina Monologues and/or When a Woman Moans, the latter drawing on the talents of Antiguan and Barbudan writers. She (as part of August Rush) recently helped me pull off the launch of my new book Oh Gad! That’s her in red, below:

She hustles hard for the literary arts and we couldn’t hope for a better cultural ambassador to this event.

This is Linisa’s open letter re her upcoming London engagement:

March 19th, 2012

To whom it may concern;

I have recently been selected by London’s Southbank Centre to represent Antigua at Poetry Parnassus, an event which forms a major part of Festival of the World. Poetry Parnassus will be an unprecedented gathering of poets invited from the 204 competing Olympic nations to take part in a week-long festival of readings, workshops and a host of other events at Southbank Centre from June 26th to July 2nd 2012. Southbank Centre’s is the world’s most inspiring centre for the arts. Its heritage is rooted in the 1951 Festival of Britain, widely acknowledged to be one of the most democratic gestures of the last century. Today, Southbank Centre is the largest single-run arts centre in the world. They offer a world-class artistic programme featuring dance, performance, literature, music, visual arts and contemporary culture. The centre also host four resident orchestras and run a thriving Artist in Residence programme.

I welcome this opportunity to attend Poetry Paranassus as I intend to share my talent and optimize on my interaction with the large network of writers/poets. My participation at Poetry Parnassus will offer me the unique opportunity to exchange ideas which will lead to a greater cultural awareness and understanding in a celebration of Olympic and Paralympic values, while providing me with a platform to share the culture and beauty of Antigua & Barbuda.

At present the Southbank Centre’s poetry library has no published poetry from Antiguan & Barbudan authors, something that with your help can be corrected. As part of my trip’s activities, I would like to make a presentation of published poetry from Antiguan & Barbudan writers to the Southbank Centre’s poetry library.

If you or someone in your network might be interested in donating their published poetry or that of other Antiguans and Barbudan writers, please feel free to contact me at the numbers and email addresses provided. Poetry will be accepted in any format; books, pamphlets, audio cassette, CD, video and DVD. At least two copies of each item must be delivered to me no later than Friday 8th June, as I will be leaving for London on Saturday 16th June; the Saison Poetry Library requires two copies of each book and audio title, one for reference and one for loan.

I’ve attached a document that will provide more detail on About The Southbank Centre London in addition to Poetry Parnassus, as well as a printable copy of Poetry Parnassus Initiative. You can also find more information on the Southbank Centre website at http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk and information on the poetry library on the Saison Poetry Library website http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk.

Poetry Parnassus presents itself as a once in a lifetime event that will aid in furthering the arts in and outside Antigua & Barbuda, as such I hope to receive an overwhelming response to this initiative.

Thank you for your cooperation in advance.


Linisa S W George

To follow up, contact her at blackgirlinthering@gmail.com

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