Tag Archives: Lorna Goodison

A Little Christmas Present for You (From the Mailbox)

I haven’t shared a lot From the Mailbox since I started doing the Carib Lit Plus series incorporating a lot of stuff received in the mailbox(es) but I so enjoyed the interview below from Myriad Publications’ October 2020 mailing – an installment of its My Bookish Life series…this one with Canada based Jamaican poet (most recent poet laureate of Jamaica) Lorna Goodison, that I thought I’d share it in full (hope Myriad doesn’t mind – I’ll link you their website). Consider it a present to the loyal readers of the blog. Merry Christmas.

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My Bookish Life with…
LORNA GOODISON

Every week we’re talking to one of our writerly or bookish friends, getting a little insight into their daily lives.
This week we’re joined by Lorna Goodison, author of nine collections of poetry, three collections of short stories and an award-winning memoir. Her first-ever collection of essays, Redemption Ground (Myriad), interweaves the personal and political to explore themes that have occupied her working life.



Have you been writing during these strange times, and are you generally managing to stay creative?
My husband Ted and I returned from London on March 9th and went straight into self-isolation. Except for my recent visit to see relatives in Jamaica, we’ve been at home in Halfmoon Bay, British Columbia ever since. For the first six weeks I mostly read books I’d been meaning to read and re-read for a while. I fell asleep many nights reading sections of William Wordsworth’s Prelude and Derek Walcott’s Another Life, hoping some of the pastoral settings in those poems would find their way into my anxious dreams. But then I began to feel uncomfortably full of words and images and that for me is always a signal that I should start paying attention to my own work. Since then I’ve written seven or eight new poems, and I’ve done extensive revisions to a new collection that I hope will be out in 2021. I’ve also done a few small watercolours, so I guess I am managing to stay creative.

Do you have advice for anyone feeling creatively, or mentally, squashed right now, and what’s helping you to focus?
Everyone I know is simply doing the best they can to keep going through these dread times. Some days are more difficult to get through than others, and at the end of those really difficult days I tend to feel as if I’ve completed a heroic set of tasks if I manage to make lunch and dinner, do laundry, write a poem, watch some TV, listen to music, speak to friends or family on the telephone, and eventually fall into bed having managed to wash up and change into pyjamas. Yay! Made it through another day. I recommend lashings of gratitude as an antidote to feeling mentally squashed. Gratitude and sending cards and letters and emails and such to anyone you think might be in need of a word of kindness right now.

What are your small daily comforts?
Small daily comforts include sitting by the seaside if the weather is reasonable and just breathing in the clean salt air. I like to cook, and so most days I try to make something delicious that will fill the house with good smells and cause us to look forward to dinner. We have an excellent fish shop in the town of Sechelt, and the couple who run it are good friends of ours. Most evenings we are blessed to have really fresh fish. I miss Jamaican food, so most mornings I make myself some green banana porridge with coconut milk. Very comforting. Maybe I’ll try to write a cookbook.

Do you have a good view from your window?
It’s a toss up between the view of the front yard where Ted grows gorgeous roses, and there is a wonderful marble carving – titled the Apuan Buddha done by Canadian sculptor Kent Laforme – and the back yard which faces the sea. The sea where we sometimes see whales go by, and where seals come and keep me company when I sit down by the shore to write. Both views are amazing.

What are you looking forward to, either in the world of writing and books or the wider picture?
I am looking forward to hugging and hugging and hugging everyone that I have not been able to hug, especially my son, Miles. Kisses too. Looking forward to giving and receiving hugs and kisses. I am also looking forward to going to the theatre, to museums and art galleries, to being able to give readings of my work and to attend readings and performances by writers and artistes I admire, like the wonderful writers in New Daughters of Africa, edited by my dear friend Margaret Busby, and published by Myriad.

With thanks to Ted Chamberlain for the photo of Lorna’s desk.

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The email asks, what does your bookish life look like right now and, honestly, this week has been a struggle. I lost traction on a client edit when my computer went in to the computer doc – reinforcing the fact that after only a year, I need a new one (and these manufacturers are slipping or maybe they’re doing exactly what they want by making and selling computers with a half life at best). I couldn’t focus enough to read much of anything, so I managed only a few pages (or maybe the same page over and over) of my book in progress. Faye Kellerman’s Cold Case (which I am mostly sure is a re-read). But, perhaps because writing pulls me in when I’m spiraling, I filled almost an entire notebook with words after not writing consistently for many months (beyond inch by inch edits to my short story collection in progress). I don’t know what it is yet, if anything, as I’ve had false starts before, but these characters have been doing what characters do when they mean to stick around. Fingers crossed. By the way, this happened in the week that news dropped that my book Musical Youth, a Burt award winning title, was named by Kirkus Reviews, which previously gave it a starred review, as one of the top 100 indie books they reviewed this past year, and one of its top (much shorter list) indie romances.

This blog is maintained by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, and author Joanne C. Hillhouse. Content is curated, researched, and written by Hillhouse, unless otherwise indicated. Do not share or re-post without credit, do not re-publish without permission and credit. Thank you.

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Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late December 2020)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information)

Last Farewell

To Rupert ‘Littleman’ Pelle, prize winning calypso writer from Antigua and Barbuda. Trevaughn ‘Lyricks Man’ Weston wrote on facebook on the occasion of his passing in late December “RUPERT “LITTLE MAN” PELLE has won the Junior Calypso Monarch Competition for EIGHT CONSECUTIVE YEARS. His 8 songs were well written and were well executed by three Calypsonians. Lady Challenger, Princess Thalia and Lyricks Man, respectively.


(Little Man Pelle, centre, with Lady Challenger, left, in her crown)

JUNIOR CALYPSO MONARCH WINNERS:
2000 – LADY CHALLENGER – PARENTING
2001 – LADY CHALLENGER – PROSTITUTION??
2002 – LADY CHALLENGER – WADADLI CHILDREN
2003 – PRINCESS THALIA. – JUMP & WAVE
2004 – PRINCESS THALIA – AUNTY ESTHER SAY
2005 – LYRICKSMAN. – TRAIN US UP
2006 – LYRICKSMAN. – T.N.KIRNON SAY
2007 – LYRICKSMAN. – THANK YOU ICONS

I’m glad to finally have at least partial credits as Pelle was one of the artists whose credits I had requested of the artist some time ago, for the songwriters data base and song lyrics data base. I know there’s more as he was a prolific and respected contributor to the art form. But it’s a start and I’ll be adding this info to the database as soon as able. I’m sorry that this is the season for it; sorry that we have lost another cultural mover and shaker, and icon in his own right. And 2020 has already taken so many of those.

Lyricks Man concluded, in his post, “Thank you LittleMan. You were ONE of the persons who help moulded me into the exceptional Artist that I am today. You have encouraged me and has always looked out for me. I Will Miss You! Thank You RUPERT LITTLEMAN PELLE!!!
REST IN PERPETUAL PEACE” (Source- facebook)

New Content

Myriad Editions shared an interview with the Lorna Goodison (the most recent poet laureate of Jamaica) that we decided to gift readers of the blog for Christmas. Enjoy. (Source – email from Myriad)

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Remember to check the Reading Room and Gallery as that’s where new (or new to me) content will be posted for the most part. But I did want to share that the last (of 2020) CREATIVE SPACE (my column on Antiguan and Barbudan/Caribbean art and culture) has been published (in the Daily Observer newspaper and online) and for the first time a video version has been posted. I’m really happy with this series overall and can hardly believe that it’s 22 installments in with Daily Observer and continues to grow – two developments being it’s been monetized (Observer pays for the first print rights in Antigua and Barbuda and the editor assures me that they’ve had great feedback and I know the images have made the front page twice) and it’s now with this installment leapt from print and online written to online video – the latter two versions I’m still working to monetize. But in the meantime, I’ve been enjoying creating it and I have a long lead list of subjects still untapped. As for the first video, I worked hard on it and I’m hoping you’ll check it out, like, comment, subscribe, share. Here it is.

(Source – me)

Accolades

Congrats to former Wadadli Pen arts challenge winner, Shem Alexander, who is a 2020 graduating senior from MSU Texas Juanita and Ralph Harvey School of Visual Arts. He won the main Wadadli Pen arts prize in 2010 and was honourable mention in the 10 year anniversary arts challenge in 2014. His new work can be seen in this video of the finals exhibition posted by his art professor. We, at Wadadli Pen, look forward to his continued arts evolution. (Source – Shem’s facebook page)

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Eleven-year old Josse Franco and eight-year old Josh Hansraj topped their age categories in Dragonzilla’s Short Story Writing Challenge in Trinidad and Tobago. Their prizes: laptops – courtesy the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest. In addition, People’s Choice Awards, determined by the number of social media likes and shares towards each video, were presented to Nivaan Ramjattan in the 5-8 age category, and to Tahlia Ramsamooj in the 9-12 group. For details, go here. (Source – Bocas email)

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The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize has gone to Sharma Taylor, of Jamaica but long resident in Barbados. Sharma won for ‘How You Make Jamaican Coconut Oil’ in the fiction category alongside Sharanya Deepak of India for life writing and Yasmine Seale of Turkey for poetry.

This image of Sharma is from a hike during a Commonwealth Writers workshop we both participated in in Barbados in 2018.

“Framed as a recipe, this story’s beguilingly playful opening sets the scene for a compassionate, nuanced portrait of family life. ‘With enormous vigour and zest and skill it introduces you to a voice, to a setting, to a family, and it does it absolutely beautifully’ said fiction judge and Penguin editor Simon Prosser. ‘This story just totally leapt at me and gripped me from the first moment.’”

The prize gives 1000 pounds to the winners and publishes the winning works in the 35-year old Wasafiri magazine, the premiere publication for writers of colour in the United Kingdom. It is open to writers all over who have not published a book in their chosen genre. Here’s the announcement.

If you’re a blog regular, you may recognize Sharma’s name as she’s been on quite the winning streak. She was a finalist for the Elizabeth Nunez Award in the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival’s Caribbean Fiction Writers Competition 2020, shortlisted for the 2018 and 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, in addition to being longlisted for the prize in 2019, and won the 2019 Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize and 2020 Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award for an unpublished collection of short fiction. Re-acquaint yourself with her by reading, if you haven’t already, the interview with her posted on my Jhohadli blog early in 2020. (Source – originally John Robert Lee email blast followed by independent research)

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Antiguan and Barbudan Burt Award winning book Musical Youth received international recognition in December when it (actually the second edition released in 2019) was named to Kirkus Reviews’ list of best indie books. ETA: it’s also been named to Kirkus’ list of best indie romances. Musical Youth is published by indie press Caribbean Reads Publishing out of St. Kitts-Nevis. Musical Youth had received a coveted starred review from Kirkus earlier this year with a review posted online in September and in their print publcation in November. (Source – me via my publisher)

Remember to Vote

As noted in the previous December 2020 Carib Lit Plus, voting is open to the end of December, following the completion of the reader nominated cycle, for the Caribbean Readers’ Awards in which the People! get to choose the best Caribbean books of the year. There are Antiguan and Barbudan nominees in several categories (including Wadadli Pen alum Rilzy Adams among several canon heavyweights for novel of the year) – so look out for those. But vote sincerely for the books, stories, and writers who inspired and entertained you. Here’s where you go. (Source – social media, various)

New Books


Joan H Underwood, Antigua and Barbuda’s former Ambassador to Venezuela and an internationally certified master trainer and professional coach, has put her pandemic downtime to good use, rolling out her first book, described as a must-have guide for managers and would-be managers. Managers’ First Aid Kit: A Practical Guide to Remedy the Three Most Common Managerial Challenges will likely also resonate with entrepreneurs and others – as between media and in-store appearances there has already been considerable interest in the December title. “Regarding her motivation to write the book, Ambassador Underwood says that, during her career as an HR Professional and Executive Coach, she encountered numerous high performers who struggled with the transition from individual contributor to manager. The difficulties encountered are not unique to Caribbean managers. In fact, published data reveal that as many as 60% of new managers either fail outright or underperform during their first two years. Managers’ First Aid Kit is a practical guide to remedy the three most common challenges faced by new managers – namely, managing self, managing others, and managing systems and processes.” Underwood has herself transitioned from laboratory technician to a hospital administrator to general manager to talent and leadership development specialist. “She is a former chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Employers’ Federation (ABEF) and has been a lecturer/facilitator with the Cave Hill School of Business/UWI for two decades. Further, her contributions to the business sector in Antigua and Barbuda and to the wider Caribbean resulted in her being recognized with the 2001 Caribbean Employers Federation Employers Champion Award and the ABEF’s 2011 Award for Sterling Contribution toward the Growth and Development of the Business Community in Antigua and Barbuda.” (Source – author press release)

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One tangible thing former Jamaican poet laureate Lorna Goodison left as she exited the role in 2020 was a collection entitled New Voices: Selected by Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica, 2017-2020.

The collection includes poems by the following emerging writers: Christopher Allen, Jovanté Anderson, Rojae Brown, Khadijah Chin, Kaleb D’Aguilar, Lauren Delapenha, Rohan Facey, Remone Foster, Delano Frankson, Britney Gabbidon, Kacy Garvey, Trevann Hamilton, Jason Henry, Gail Hoad, Rozan Levy, Demoy Lindo, Romardo Lyons, Rhea Manley, Delroy McGregor, Nardia Reid, Shannon Smith, Lisa Gaye Taylor, Teddense Thomas, Kiseon Thompson, Peta-Gaye Williams, and Sadé Young. This was actually published early in 2020 but I only recently became aware of it – so it’s new to me and now you too. (Source – originally John Robert Lee email blast followed by independent research)

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Stick No Bills, which is one of two books on the Caribbean Readers’ Award 2020 Short Story (Collection) Shortlist, by Elizabeth Walcott Hackshaw was released by Peepal Tree Press in October. Hackshaw is a University of the West Indies french literature and creative writing professor. “Stick No Bills confirms Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw’s lethal talent for inventing characters – like the journalist who has been pursuing a famous writer at a literary conference in Haiti, or the would-be writer who is finding a workshop less than rewarding – who have only a partial awareness of their ability to deceive themselves, or see the painful humour of their situations.” – Peepal Tree (Source – originally John Robert Lee email blast followed by independent research)

This blog is maintained by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, and author Joanne C. Hillhouse. Content is curated, researched, and written by Hillhouse, unless otherwise indicated. Do not share or re-post without credit, do not re-publish without permission and credit. Thank you.

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Carib Plus Lit News (the First of 2020)

Happy New Year and let’s pray it is indeed a happy one. Here at Wadadli Pen, we’re gearing up for the 2020 season of the Wadadli Pen Challenge (keep checking back, ask to be added to the Wadadli Pen mailing list, or follow or subscribe for updates).  Meanwhile, here’s the first Carib Plus Lit News of  2020.

In Antigua and Barbuda, late physician, music producer, and HIV/AIDS activist Sir Dr. Prince Ramsey’s street in Paradise View has been renamed in his name.

(Photo of the Day at the Daily Observer on December 30th 2019 shows Sir Dr. Prince Ramsey’s family at the sign of the street name for him. Photo taken by Dotsie Isaac)

Dr. Ramsey died in 2019. You can find out more about him on this site in our obit here and our post on most influential Antiguans and Barbudans.

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Antigua and Barbuda’s DJ Quest spun and scratched his way to second place in the Caribbean 3Style Championships in Panama City, Panama, a journey he described as “an emotional roller coaster” and the “most memorable performances of my career to date.” He said in the linked article, “2020 is the year of vision and mine is clear.”

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Still in Antigua and Barbuda, the first edition of ApaNa magazine includes an article on my work with both the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize and Cushion Club Reading Club for Children.

You can read the full issue here. According to Deborah Hackshaw, the magazine’s founder in its launch release  “ApaNa provides an independent platform for communication and collaboration on sustainability and social responsibility challenges, developments and strategies for the Caribbean.  We leverage storytelling with articles on sustainability, business and marketing trends, social causes and community investment.  ApaNa shares the work that companies and partners are doing together.  We also offer executive perspectives to motivate and inspire organisations, people and communities in the region to take action.”

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We typically do an individual top 10 new posts of the year here on the blog. Time didn’t allow for it at the end of 2019 but I thought I’d do a quick-ish mention here so that you can check them out if you missed them:

  1. Antigua Con Not Dampened By Saturday Showers
  2. Celebrating Dr. Prince Ramsey; RIP, Sir
  3. Farewell Grand Dame (Saying Goodbye to Mary Quinn)
  4. On Bill Burt, the Burt Award (for Caribbean Literature), and the 18 Teen/Young Adult Caribbean Fiction Titles It Produced
  5. Antiguan and Barbudan Authors at St. Martin Book Fair
  6. The Votes are in and… (announcing the outcome of the Wadadli Pen Readers Choice Book of the Year Initiative)
  7. Book of the Year Presentation (Photo Gallery)
  8. PRESS RELEASE The Antigua and Barbuda Readers’ Choice Book of the Year Is…
  9. #Girlscan – A Tribute to Team Antigua Island Girls
  10. Antiguan and Barbudan Writers Talking CARIFESTA Inclusion (or Lack Thereof)

Those are the new topics that attracted the most interest in 2019. Among the older posts that were still attracting heavy viewership in 2019, the top five were:

  1. The home page
  2. #ReadAntiguaBarbuda #VoteAntiguaBarbuda (listing the books in the running for the Wadadli Pen Readers Choice Book of the Year Initiative)
  3. Antiguan and Barbudan Writings (our main literary data base)
  4. About Wadadli Pen
  5. Opportunities Too

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The Barbados Independent Film Festival is this January. Here’s the schedule.

Here’s a link to their social media.

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From my author blog, the last of the 2019 run of the CREATIVE SPACE series focused on the return of the Vagina Monologues to the Antigua stage for the first time since 2012 (a run that started in 2008). Zahra Airall, one of the original directors of the Antigua run of the Eve Ensler play and its homegrown counterpart When a Woman Moans, with her third production of the year after The Long Walk and Derek Walcott’s Ti-Jean and His Brothers (with her Honey Bee Theatre) plus multi-award winning participation in the Caribbean Secondary Schools theatre competition, used the staging as an opportunity to re-launch her Sugar Apple Theatre.

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Richard Georges of the BVI and Ann-Margaret Lim of Jamaica collaborated on a Caribbean Writers edition of Anomaly. Writers featured in the international literary journal include some names which should be familiar to you if you’re a regular reader of this blog: Summer Edward, Shivanee Ramlochan, Juleus Ghunta, Celia Sorhaindo, Ayanna Gillian Lloyd, among others.

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The Caribbean Writer literary journal, a publication of the University of the Virgin Islands, published its annual lit prize winners for Volume 32. The Daily News Prize for an author resident in the U.S. Virgin Islands or the British Virgin Islands has been awarded to Virgin Islands author, poet, essayist Clement White for “Fia’bun An’ Dey Queen Dem—Re-Examination DWI Sits and History in Search of a V.I. Identity.”  This prize, awarded to a prose or fiction writer, is a longstanding prize sponsored for over two decades by the Virgin Islands Daily News. The Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for best short fiction has been awarded to Trinidadian-Bahamian poet and fiction writer Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming for “Spider and the Butterfly.” This prize is made possible by the founder publisher of the St. Croix Avis, Rena Brodhurst. The Marvin E. Williams Literary Prize for a new or emerging writer has been awarded to Jody Rathgeb for “Uncle Jeep.” This prize is sponsored by Dasil Williams, wife of the late Marvin Williams, deceased editor of The Caribbean Writer. The Cecile de Jongh Literary Prize to a Caribbean author whose work best expresses the spirit of the Caribbean has gone to Jane Bryce for “When it Happened.” This prize is sponsored by former Governor John de Jongh, Jr. on behalf of his wife for her abiding support and interest in the literary life of the Virgin Islands and the region. The David Hough Literary Prize to an author residing in the Caribbean goes to Patricia Nelthropp Fagan for her story “Jewish Island Girl.” This is the final installment of this prize (a prize I, incidentally, won in 2011). The first Vincent Cooper Literary Prize to a Caribbean author for exemplary writing in Caribbean Nation Language has been awarded to Dionne Peart for her short story “‘Merica.” This prize is sponsored by University of the Virgin Islands Professor, Dr. Vincent Cooper, a longstanding member of The Caribbean Writer’s Board of Editors. A new prize has been announced for Volume 34. Read more about that here.

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Bocas has announced  that Monique Roffey, the Trinidadian Orange prize nominated author of books like White Woman on a Green Bicycle will be holding workshop sessions, Beyond the First Draft: Literary Craft Studios. The given dates are January 18th, April 29th, and May 9th 2020. “This is a series of three unique sessions at The Writers Centre for advanced writers of novels and short stories,” according to the mailed announcement. Roffey, who is also a lecturer and editor for The Literary Consultancy in London, will discuss some of what a writer must think about when revising and polishing a work of fiction, so it’s ready for showing to an agent or for publication. The three 2-hour interactive sessions will include talks, discussion handouts, and ‘q and a’. Meanwhile, another well-known Trinidadian writer and critic Shivanee Ramlochan will be delivering a master class, entitled Poetry as Ferocity: Writing Your Truth with Radical Honesty, on January 12th and 19th 2020, also at the Writers Centre in Trinidad. For registration information, contact Bocas Lit Fest. The next Bocas Lit Fest, meanwhile, takes place May 1st – 3rd 2020.

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As the author of Caribbean fairytale With Grace (coincidentally illustrated by Bajan artist Cherise Harris), I was interested to learn of Bajan artist Empress Zingha’s recently published fairytale Melissa Sunflower. According to LoopnewsBarbados.com, ‘Melissa Sunflower is Illustrated by Heshimu Akin-Yemi and is a Caribbean Fairy Tale story based in Fairy Valley in Christ Church. The main character Melissa Sunflower is a fairy with no wings and gets teased by her advisories (sic), “Sweet Cherry” and “Whatcha MuhCallit”. One day, a big challenge arrives throughout the land and Melissa finds the most potent magic of all.’ Asked why she wrote the book she says something that’ll sound familiar to you if you’ve read any of my posts about the need for diversity in publishing, and the need to tell our own stories, per the Wadadli Pen mission, “I created Melissa Sunflower because I wanted to see more representation for not only black girls, but Caribbean children’s books as well. Actually, I found out that black stories by black authors only make up about 2% of overall publishing globally. I figured, if I could just do my part, maybe it would inspire more writers. Also, I dedicated my book to Kamau Brathwaite, who is my favorite author. In his book, “History of the Voice” when I did my Masters and how important Nation Language and cultural identity was to one’s existence. I sent him the story for his birthday and he really loves it. Maybe one day I’ll get to meet him face to face.” If you’ve read With Grace, you’ll also here a thematic commonality when she says about the book’s takeaway, “To always believe in your magic. That all miracles start and end with love and are most potent and powerful when you believe in it and yourself.” Read her full interview here.

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Jamaican Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2019 on the basis of her body of work. It was established in 1933 by King George V. Past recipients include W. H. Auden, Derek Walcott, and John Agard, the latter two also of the Caribbean, St. Lucia and Guyana, respectively, among others. Details here.

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 Interviewing the Caribbean journal, which has been recently acquired by the University of the West Indies Press, is preparing to launch its winter 2019 issue which is focused on Caribbean Children’s literature and the challenges and hopes of children in the region. One of our own, 2018 Wadadli Pen finalist Rosie Pickering’s poem ‘Damarae’ is included along with an interview with the teenage writer; I was invited to contribute an article on children’s and teen/young adult books she’s read recently and would recommend, and that article is also in this issue. Follow the UWI Press so that you can be in line when the issue drops this January. Bookstores et al, order here.

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 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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Reading Room and Gallery 29

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. To read the full story or see all the images, or other content, you will need to go to the source. No copyright infringement is intended. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 29th one which means there are 28 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one. – JCH

POETRY

“The thing about friends, I thought to myself, is that it’s hard to know when to let go.” – Ben Loory, The Friend with the Knife in His Back

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“Long after the laugh track, it seemed
only rational, practical: this new thing.
Not because we were too stupid to know
what was sad, but because, as in the logic
of the canned guffaw, the producers
knew something about us we did not…” – The Invention of the Cry Track by Bruce Bond

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“This fall I want to start a Short Story Club. I want to read them and then write them with students. Since I’m all about mentor texts stories, writing them is right along with my teaching style.” – Tammy L. Breitweiser

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“It’s a matter of feeling and it’s also a matter of sound.” – Aretha Franklin (on creating)

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“WARNING: I know amazing writers who struggle to progress because they don’t know their novel’s essence. Maybe something in us resists summing up our complex book in simple terms because we’re DEEP, don’tchaknow. Yeah, yeah. Find out. Say it. Commit.” – Leone Ross

VISUAL

A video dissecting the artistry of Aretha Franklin

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EarthSky_03_LSimpson_2016

“Black women are the beginning and the end. 
Black women are the law.
 Black women are the ground and the sky, the horizon. Black women are the lucky number seven.

Black women are all the books in the Ancient Library of Alexandria, Egypt. Black women are Hammurabi’s code and the Rosetta stone: vexation and answer, secret and revelation.

Black women are surpassingly beautiful, and that is why you cannot stop looking at Lorna Simpson’s pictures.” – Elizabeth Alexander on Lorna Simpson’s Collages (at Lit Hub)

NON-FICTION

‘Her (Roxane Gay’s) advice to writers? “You have to be relentless and you have to find a way to grit your way through all that rejection. … It’s OK to feel dejected and hopeless, as long as you don’t let that keep you from continuing to write and continuing to try and put yourself out there.”’ – 10 Writers and Editors who have changed the National Conversation

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“That was the beginning of the end of Jacob’s poetry writing, but the poet himself never disappeared, animating each novel and short story he was to write. Jacob himself has been astounded by people talking of the ‘amazing lyricism’ even in the noir whodunnit (The Bone Readers)- amidst all its raw grittiness. This semi poetic mode of his style is an unconscious part of him, stemming from his eye for the metaphor, the sharp, clearly defined and unusual image, and an unusual way of seeing things and saying things.” – The Sunday Times on UK based Grenadian writer Jacob Ross

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“The memory of music goes down very deep, deeper even than language, maybe even to the very bedrock of personality.” – Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Peter Trachtenberg

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‘And now? The practical value of the prize he’s just won is significant. “There’s not many publishing opportunities in the Caribbean”, and name recognition is vital to attract foreign publishers. Would he go live in London, though, as VS Naipaul did? Would he quit the teaching job, and abandon small, problematic Trinidad? Kevin pauses: “Yeah, people ask me this”. He pauses again: “Yes and no, right?”.’ – Prize-winning Trinidadian Writer (Kevin Jared Hosein) Leads Double Life in Cyprus Mail Online

***

‘I explained to him (Austin Clarke) that I wanted Brother to be about the generation after the one he was the first to chronicle, about children growing up in a land their immigrant parents needed to imagine as one of clear promise, but which the children knew also posed often unacknowledged dangers. I wanted my novel to be about youth shadowed by poverty, by the racist gaze, by the threatened violence of those in authority. But I also needed my book to reveal beauty, and to show how toughened youths and young men could brave great acts of tenderness and love. I wanted it to be a novel of painstaking attention to both language and narrative form. And as Austin drew inspiration from the music of his generation, from the legacies of jazz, soul, and reggae, I wished to honor the music that was closest to me as a youth—the hip hop of the late 80s and early 90s, including the advent of turntablism, all set within a Toronto that had rocked and found its own voice years before the “breakthrough” emergences of artists like Drake and the Weeknd. I dreamt of celebrating the completion of this novel with Austin, but he died before it was published. I ended up dedicating it posthumously to him.’ – David Chariandy

INTERVIEW

“I had posted some stories just on my Tumblr, and she read them, and shared them, and Jacques who runs The White Review asked me to send in some stories for consideration, accepted “Agata’s Machine” for his website then signed me for a collection based off “Agata’s Machine” and “Waxy” with his publishing house.

Then I wrote him a bunch of new stories over a period of several months in 2016. I sent them off to him as I finished them, and he edited them as I wrote more and sent them back to me with notes, which is perhaps an unorthodox way for a short story collection to be written. I imagine most writers have a polished collection to present to an editor at the beginning. Jacques chose which ones he wanted to include in a collection and I insisted on the title. It was an intense seven months, at least for me. It was all through email, I’ve never met Jacques. I guess he is some sort of 21st-century European James Laughlin. Now I have a box of blue books in my bedroom, that’s about it. It doesn’t feel any different to be published. It’s all happened in Britain which is quite far away. You have to just focus on the next writing project if you are to keep your sanity.” – Camila Grudova interviewed by the Culture Trip

***

“Philip Levine advised his students: don’t be in a rush to find your ‘voice’. I am in my mid-fifties, and I try to not bore myself by writing poems that are always in the same voice, form and style. I want continually to be learning and surprising myself as I write. Still, something of a recognisable voice emerges in my first book, The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman. The second book, Ricantations, is different in approach: there are more marvellous and speculative elements: mythic creatures, animals and anomalous beings, such as a flying gargoyle, a man who wears a Green Lantern suit at his wake, a Spanish Baroque girl with hyperphagia and a circus family of high-wire walkers. However, in both books the voice combines the quotidian and the luminous, the beautiful and the atrocious, grim humour and what Vidyan Ravinthiran, remarking on Ricantations, has called the ‘exact, terrible word’ to portray the realities of a colonised society ransacked by debt, mass migrations, narcoculture, gender violence and hurricanes.” – Loretta Collins Klobah

***

“The poem presents, word for true word, what different men said to me when I was walking on the street, riding a bus or taking a taxi. I could have included so many other instances that got left out of the poem; for example, once I was walking on Hope Road when a man driving past leaned out of the window to say some kind of sweetness to me (while a woman was in the passenger seat of his car!). I truly felt bad when he mashed up his car, hitting the back bumper of the car in front of him.” – Loretta Collins Klobah in an interview with Jacqueline Bishop for the Bookends series in the Jamaica Gleaner Loretta Collins Klobah interview – the first part
Part 2 of the interview is below in two parts:
Jacqueline Bishop interviews Loretta Collins Klobah 1
Jacqueline Bishop interviews Loretta Collins Klobah 2

***

“The majority of people on this earth work a job they hate all their lives and life is precious…how many lives have been ruined because their parents told them you can’t make any money being a musician, you can’t make any money being a writer, you can’t make any money dancing, and we know the sacrifices that our parents have made so we bend in to parental pressure and we end up choosing a  major, choosing a direction in life, choosing a job that is now what we want to and we end up miserable and hating our parents…and that’s why I thank my parents who from a very early age, they didn’t know I was going to be a filmmaker, but they wanted to give us exposure to the arts, so everything I’m doing today is because my mother was dragging me to the movies.” –Spike Lee with Pharrell Williams

***

“The Caribbean population is small but it is teeming with writers – has been for a long time.” – Pamela Mordecai

***

“TC: On the plus side, I think it’s made it easier to connect with other critics—and, in many cases, link up with editors, which is useful for a host of reasons. On the negative side, I worry that social media has changed the perception of book reviews in some unhelpful ways as well. I have no issues with GoodReads (I’ve had an account there for years) and I understand why a lot of people review books on Amazon, but I am more than a little alarmed at the idea that those can or should be viewed as a replacement for a good book review.” – Tobias Carroll on Geek Love, Goodreads, and the Books that Haunt Him

***

“Gowdy: I return to the childhoods of one or two of my main characters in most of my books, I think. It’s nothing I plan on doing ahead of time, but I guess it’s as if I need to establish certain propensities in the child before I can fully create the adult. And then there’s the joy of writing about children because they haven’t yet formed a shell sturdy enough to hold in their souls. Children are so expressive and hilarious. They’re all poets in that they’re trying to get a fix on the world, so they’re comparing everything to everything else, sounding out words, taking what you say too literally, even as they believe in magic. I hope the young Rose is recognizably the grown Rose, but neither is quite the other, and that’s where I live as a writer, in the place between the living, personal self and the remembered self. Or in the place between the living self and the different self.” – The Impossible is Now Possible: A Conversation by Barbara Gowdy and Helen Phillips

***

“(Danielle) Boodoo-Fortuné is a fresh new voice on the poetry scene. This collection creates vivid images of the rural Trinidadian world, where the real and the mythical rub along together.” – Esther Phillips, Barbados’ Poet Laureate speaking with Zing on her new role and 5 Great Works by Caribbean Poets

***

 – Juleus Ghunta

FICTION

pahe_life_0208_2– from “Life of Pahé” by Pahé Translated by Edward Gauvin

***

“Maria has a big ass. My grandmother tells Maria this regularly. She has reached that age where she lacks tact. Despite my grandmother’s concern about the size of Maria’s ass and her unwillingness to call Maria by her given name, they get along quite well. Maria treats my grandmother like her own. She brushes my grandmother’s thin, silver hair each night before bed. They love to argue about the shows they watch. They talk about the islands where they were born, the warmth of suns they once knew.” – Sweet on the Tongue by Roxane Gay

***

“But this is a good book, he said. And he explained the plot to me: the story of a young Muslim, polygamous, with four wives, a revolutionary and a terrorist, but who one day finds himself calling into question the Koran and its teachings and ends up converting to Christianity and casting off three of his wives. Except that some time later he’s assassinated by a conspiracy of the abandoned women who subsequently roll dice to decide which of them should keep his penis that they’d severed at the base . . .” – The Bestseller by Germando Almeida translated by Daniel Hahn

***

‘“Sorry, no one’s allowed through,” he said in a rough manner, while raising the window to keep the conditioned air from reaching me.’ – Cat’s Eyes by Ahmed Alrahbi

***

“As soon as I locked myself inside, I smoked everything I could reach. But the pain is still here. And I’m still here.” –Eve Out Of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, trans. by Jeffrey Zuckerman

***

“It’s 4 a.m. in Zagreb, Croatia, and you’re wide-awake. You and your husband are on your honeymoon. While he sleeps, you admire his black curly hair and thin nose, envious of his ability to rest. As he rotates to his side, you wonder what images are crossing his unconscious and whether he’s ferried a phantom of you into his dreams.” – Last Chapter on Hotel Stationery: A Short Story by Ursula Villarreal-Moura

***

“Bills gather in heaps at my feet. I watch them beat about on the paint encrusted tiles, in the slight breeze seeping in under my door through a space big enough to let in the lizards, centipedes and mice which use my house for shelter when the rains come.  But the rains have not come. A week to Easter, and still no rain. Not even back to back cricket matches, usually enough to entice the rains to douse the field just when our team is winning, can sweeten the rain to fall. Young fruit die sunburnt under confused mango trees that flower and bear at the same time. The plants look like when you drink something sour and your face falls into itself. The cow itch vine, whose windblown fibres make me want to scratch skin off my bones, head in the ground. Even the weeds are seeing trouble.” – A Whiff of Bleach by Suelin Low Chew Tung

***

“In those days, it was the custom to roll out a lemon from the delivery room. The midwife in charge always had a lemon at hand. As soon as the baby arrived she would roll it out of the room. The exact moment that the fruit exited the room would be registered and used to cast the horoscope. Ayya did not have much faith in this fruit-rolling practice. He would wait for the baby’s first cries. He contended that the wail was enough to give him the time of birth. Amma’s vote was for the fruit. The accident that followed my birth made Ayya change his stand.” – Horoscopes by Appadurai Muttulingam, translated from Tamil by Padma Narayanan

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. If you enjoyed it, check out my page Jhohadli or like me on Facebook. Help me spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Reading Room and Gallery 27

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 27th one which means there are 26 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one. – JCH

NON-FICTION

“I am a black woman writer from Trinidad and Tobago. I was born here to Trinidadian parents. I have lived here all my life. I do not have an escape route to Elsewhere, whether the route is through money, family connections or non-TT citizenship.” – Lisa Allen-Agostini, A Black Female Writer’s Story

VARIOUS

Read the winning Wadadli Pen Challenge entries through the years and across several genres here.

POETRY

“…But
this too is disputed – not the flowers – rather, the origin
of bananas; they may have come here with Columbus on
a ship that in 1502 slipped into Orcabessa the way grief
sometimes slips into a room. …” – Place Name: Oracabessa by Kei Miller

INTERVIEWS

“Which is to say, it wasn’t easy for me.  And it wasn’t easy for the professors, agents, editors, publicists and publishers who each took a risk and supported my work in first getting published. But fucking miracles of miracles—it happened. I deserved it, for sure. But so do a shitload of others for whom the miracle hasn’t happened as yet. We’ve got to try and do right by those writers and those books. And even those of us who have one or three books published—we have to keep proving ourselves and the industry has to keep taking a chance on us.” – Tiphanie Yanique

***

“Why does the land speak your poem?

The land is doing what all good poets do, it is speaking for people – the Taino who were the original inhabitants – who have no voice.” – Lorna Goodison speaking on her poem “Reporting Back to Queen Isabella”; also read the poem.

***

“We don’t see you. The future is not you. The future is not your story. And the future is not black sci fi. So if we don’t exist in the future, where do we exist? Only in the past.” – Canadian film director Sharon Lewis on her film Brown Girl Begins, based on Nalo Hopkins’ Brown Girl in the Ring

FICTION

“Sometimes I listen outside closed doors, a thing I never would have done in the time before. I don’t listen long, because I don’t want to be caught doing it. Once, though, I heard Rita say to Cora that she wouldn’t debase herself like that.” – excerpt from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

***

(Audio reading by Ali Smith of Grace Paley’s A Conversation with My Father) “Story here is a matter of life and death; the father is old, ill and dying; they both know it, and so does the reader. But this breathtaking, breathgiving short story, which never compromises on this truth or the admittance of inevitable tragedy, is profoundly, comically generous in its open-endedness, and leaves you both shaken and renewed by the heart, the fight and the life in it.” – link for full listen

***

“I sharpened the knife on the bottom of a saucer and quartered the potatoes, and then fried them with the garlic and a fistful of coriander. My mother returned from the garden holding a cluster of beets, her hands black and her feet black, and she asked why we never had any napkins and she must always wipe her hands on the pages of English grammar books.” – from Waiting for the Electricity by Christina Nichol

***

“Swami did not listen to the naysayers. He continued to sit and fast on his pulpit while the highway took shape around him and stretched further and further into the west. The road shone just like when Charlton Heston parted the sea to rescue the Jewish people and lead them to the Promised Land. Swami continued to chant while Friendship Village slowly disappeared. One by one, families succumbed to the generous compensation offered by the government for their feeble acres. Some agreed to relocate to more affluent areas in the west, to houses blessed with running water and electricity. Others even moved overseas to start a new life. Many bought second hand Japanese cars. The children who sat in the backseat often waved at Swami as they passed him on their way to the Promised Land of cineplexes, shopping malls, American chain restaurants and coffee shops.” – “How the Professor Made History” by Suzanne Bhagan

***

“That was the day I learned you should never try to pull your fingers out of an eel’s mouth, not a live one or a dead one. Not if you want to have any skin left to carry him home with, and especially not if it’s a twenty-pound silver-belly.” – Eel by Stefanie Seddon

***

“Still, he shut up and drank the tea, the sweet-milk making it go down more easily. Sweet milk was his favourite thing next to an ice-cold soursop suckabubby. As with the suckabubby, he would clamp his mouth to the opening and coax out the thick liquid when Tanty wasn’t looking. Tanty preferred to buy the sweet-milk since it lasted longer un-refrigerated than the evaporated sort, and their fridge did little more than take up space.” – excerpt from The Boy from Willow Bend by Joanne C. Hillhouse

***

“When I tell you, I could only love you in England, I also mean that you could only love me here, as well, but I cannot say this because you would not understand, you would argue, and tell me that love conquers all. We speak in English, and I cannot tell you that I know this is not true.” – I am a Bird by Kathrina Haji Mohd Daud

***

“Jules Poitevin is 54, he has three children, two sons of 17 and 14 and a nine-year-old daughter. He had felt that two children were more than enough, but his wife really wanted a little girl.

To keep a marriage running, you had to make sacrifices.” – Paxadol by Arnon Grunberg

***

“Their memories had become muddled with what they had been told, and what they wanted to believe.” – Paddle to Canada by Heather Monley

***

“But he did not touch her. Instead, as he watched her check the soup, he felt sadness for her, too. He felt awful that she had to make this soup base every Tuesday. He knew that years ago, she had a miscarriage. He knew that the daughter she did give birth to, the one who survived the pregnancy, didn’t call home often enough and that her son could only call collect from jail. Touching her breasts would make her less important than what she was, and she wasn’t important at all.” – DeMisty D. Bellinger’s French Fry Soup

CREATIVES ON CREATING

‘When I arrived at the gallery, I found other unsure-looking writers waiting for the salon to start. Unless we’re behind a desk and a mountain books, we writers often look lost. We spend much of our writing lives isolated, and we forget what it’s like to be surrounded by others who speak the same creative language…. When the salon ended, I walked up to the Great Hall where an opera singer gave “the gift of song” to visitors who accepted her offering. Her voice filled the vast hall as she sang to a little girl who sat on her mother’s lap. Afterward, I poured over images and artifacts from the “One Life: Sylvia Plath” exhibit. I might have missed it all had I decided to stay home that day.

Sometimes we must force ourselves into different environments and open ourselves to art outside of the modes we work in. I’ve written before about visual work that inspires my own craft, but I must continually remind myself to resist spending day after day in front of a computer screen. When we open a channel of inspiration, we enrich and broaden our work.

As spring (finally) arrives for many of us, let’s force ourselves into the sunshine, into worlds outside our usual routines to shift our perspectives, even when we don’t particularly feel like it. There is never a perfect time. To wait for a perfect time is to risk running out of time altogether, and that would be truly missing out.” – Dorothy Bendel, managing editor, Atticus Review (from their e-newsletter)

***

***

“I wasn’t keeping it simple. By keeping it simple I don’t mean abandoning any intricate details of what I envisioned. I simply mean that I was leaving out some fundamental basic things that would strengthen the work I was doing. I had to revise my approach to these fundamental aspects of how I was working and keep it simple. In this case, keeping it simple meant, for me, not to overlook the fundamentals.” – from Levi King’s Emerging Director Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

***

“The poem stalled here. I went back to my journal later and edited a few times, and you can see the lines I crossed out as well as how the final draft came to be. I think it is important for the poet to trust that first voice that a poem appears in, insomuch as that first voice often contains a several different possibilities that cannot all be explored. Now, I may try to split that voice and discover more than one poem, but more often than not, it is a process of whittling away and discarding to find the right direction and emotion that I need to capture.” – British Virgin Islands’ poet Richard Georges

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

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Mailbox – Goodison is Jamaica’s First Female Poet Laureate

crb-28-lorna-goodison

‘”I try as best as I can to be a true representation of the life of my people, the ordinary Jamaican,” said a spirited Lorna Goodison, CD, Poet Laureate of Jamaica for 2017-2020.

In a ceremony held at King’s House on Wednesday, Goodison, 69, was invested by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen as the second officially recognised Poet Laureate of Jamaica, the fourth since 1953 and the very first female holder.

A national honour, the title is bestowed on a distinguished Jamaican poet for his/her significant contribution to the literary community.

A Poet Laureate is expected to stimulate a greater appreciation for Jamaican poetry, write poems for national occasions, and preserve and disseminate the island’s cultural heritage through prose.

“I am inspired by our (Jamaican) dialect, our resilience, and just the way we value our humanity regardless of the negatives that are happening all around. Poets are supposed to give voice to the voiceless and a lot of my works reflect this,” the St Hugh’s High alumna told The Gleaner.’ READ MORE.

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Lorna Goodison to succeed Mervyn Morris as Jamaica’s Poet Laureate

“Goodison picks up the mantle from Professor Mervyn Morris, who was the first Poet Laureate of Jamaica appointed by the government. Goodison, who has authored 12 books of poetry as well as short story collections and a memoire will be invested as Poet Laureate of Jamaica on May 17, 2017, at a ceremony held at King’s House in Kingston. She will serve in the post from May 2017 through to May 2020.

Tanya Batson-Savage (Susumba) writes that poet Lorna Goodison will step into the role of Jamaica’s second official poet laureate, becoming the first Jamaican woman appointed to the post. Our warmest congratulations! Here are excerpts from Susumba: [. . .] Goodison picks up the mantle from Professor Mervyn Morris, who was the first Poet Laureate of Jamaica […]

via Lorna Goodison First Female Poet Laureate of Jamaica — Repeating Islands

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Reading Room and Gallery 22

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier iterations of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 22nd one which means there are 21 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one.

AUTHOR PROFILES

‘Goodison, who is married to the author and academic J. Edward Chamberlin, divides her time between Toronto, British Columbia, and Ann Arbor, where she teaches Caribbean literature at the University of Michigan. Though she no longer lives in Jamaica, the country, she insists, will always be the focus of her writing. “Part of it has to do with the sort of ways in which I feel a lot of people don’t know Jamaica,” she says. “They only have one image of Jamaica, from the news, or from meeting some Jamaican person who’s a creep or something, and they think all Jamaicans are like that.” She describes the Jamaica of her childhood as “a very complicated, complex, rich place” but concedes things have gotten worse. Does she feel a responsibility to correct the misconceptions? “I don’t know that I can do that, but I can just tell you — I can be a witness. I can say, ‘In my life I saw this, and I knew this about Jamaica. If it doesn’t exist now, believe me, it used to exist, and hopefully it can exist again.’ ”’ – from She comes through: Lorna Goodison is one of the best writers you’ve never read by Mark Medley

NON FICTION

“I had no way of knowing then the extreme ways we’d learn to hurt one another.” – Give Hostages to Fortune by Mehdi Tavana Okasi

***

“I had this image of throwing yourself out into the water, only to have it spit you back out, over and over again. I didn’t need to ask why he’d kept trying, what he was looking for, because the answer was apparent. If there is nothing where you are coming from, then you are looking for something, for anything. No matter what you find, it will be better than what you had before, it will fill your empty hands. It was like casting a net out, if you were the net, your life unfurling out into an unknown adventure, falling over danger, looking for something to pull back in. I couldn’t imagine the kind of leaving that entailed—where your family faded into a previous life—what home could mean then, if every ship-taking was a search for somewhere else to belong.” – The Texture of Joy: A Stowaway Story by Akwaeke Emezi

CREATIVES ON THE BUSINESS

“While my own experience as an editor informs my approach to my writing, as a writer I’m still learning about working with other editors. Having your personal essay red-inked by someone at The New York Times is a different experience than having your roundup of local Irish pubs tidied up by your regional paper. And working with a professional on a novel you’ve labored over for years is another thing entirely.” – Jessica Strawser on 4 Truths that will Change Your Perspective on the Writer/Editor Relationship

***

“Mastering other things taught me that one becomes something not by wishing to be, but by learning to be. Mastery is the result of hard work. And ardor.  And the slow accretion of knowledge that comes from study and from practice.”- Mary Jo Bang

VISUAL

“After each morning run, we would come home and raid the mango tree.” – go here to view Danielle Boodoo Fortune’s Mango Morning

***

tpa-islandEric Fischl’s A Visit To/A Visit From/The Island uses two adjoining large canvases to contrast vastly disparate groups of people seemingly in the same setting. On the left he depicts what appears to be a white upper-middle-class American family of four vacationing at a sunny, holiday resort. The second panel portrays a frantic scene in which a group of black men and women, who appear to be refugees, try to pull themselves from a bluish black churning sea. Rendered in much darker, ominous hues than those of its counterpart, the frenzied image was based on a photograph of Haitian refugees arriving on the Florida coast. While the two canvases depict jarringly different scenes, the similarities between the images also emphasize their polarity. For instance, both depict foreshortened naked bodies lying diagonally in the foreground, highlighting the stark shifts in color and context between the panels. The relaxed laziness of the tourists pitted against the desperation of the Haitians emphasizes the inequalities between the two groups and the irony in the choices that racial difference and privilege allow—the whites are paying to visit an island that the residents risk their lives to leave.
Artist: Eric Fischl
Image: “A Visit To / A Visit From / The Island,” (1983)
Source: The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York website

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“I haven’t managed to draw my main character yet because even her image is giving me trouble…With Kieran, I learned that he was more than just a warrior and a prince but he has plans of his own.” – Want to know your characters? Try a character sketch by Dana Nuenighoff

***

“Good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognise them when they show up.” – Stephen King and his big desk

***

“Normally I enjoy the writing process, but in this case it was making me miserable. I would spend most of the day procrastinating before sitting down and forcing myself to hit my word count (1000), and even then I would find myself adding adjectives to beef it up. More than once my mother commented on how I’d clearly lost my love for writing, which she found alarming. But I didn’t listen to her because I thought I could get through it and turn my uninteresting story into something worthy of publishing. I was wrong.” – Maria Murnane on When to pull the plug on your book

***

‘We need to be humble and dedicate ourselves to a lifelong study of the craft of writing. What I think he meant by “contempt” is trying to take shortcuts. Becoming a writer must involve reading widely, learning techniques from others and committing to a daily practice of developing the craft. If you don’t do this, if you just write something and publish it, then write more and publish that, then you’re showing contempt for writing.’ – Andrew Blackman reporting on a workshop he attended at the BIM lit fest

***

“Currently completing the fourth draft, stalling somewhat as I approach the last eight passages that I believe need to be added in; experience has taught me that determining the end of a draft is rather like running towards the end of the rainbow.” – Louise Mabey blogging What an Unfinished Novel Looks Like

***

“You have to learn how to interpret and not just imitate” – Jake Gyllenhall, breaking down his process

***

“Don’t tell anyone the story until you’ve written it.  At least this is advice I wish I’d heard and listened to, early on.  I’ve found that if I tell my friends about any story or book I’m working on, I begin to lose enthusiasm for it – not because of their reaction or anything they’ve said but because, having said it, it’s like I feel less need to actually write it.  That’s difficult to explain but perhaps other writers will understand.” – Eugenia O’Neal blogs ‘My Top Writing Tips’

***

“A slight girl with fawn’s eyes offers a plastic cup of water-angels to my mother. A fallen bamboo ceiling swallows the moon whole. There is so much wonder, awe and terror in every gesture, every movement. The moon washes the dust from her face, becomes her true self in the forest. Then it solidifies, comes together…” – Danielle Boodoo Fortune blogging on her Moon Water series of paintings

***

“Here I was trying to get my daughter to stick to a specific formula for writing, and she was forging her own path. What worked best for her was writing by the seat of her pants, starting on the computer and editing as she wrote. The funny thing is, it is the same method I use.” – from One Size Fits All by Jewel Amethyst

***

“On my way home from work tomorrow, I will bring myself to stop at Kinko’s and print out all one-hundred and seventy pages of my crappy first draft. I will hole-bunch the pages, stick it into a three-hole binder and get up Saturday morning, procrastinate a lot, curse out my editor, and then bring myself one step closer to the sweet pain of publication.” – Kara Stevens on what you need to know if you’re serious about becoming an author

POETRY

“Brown men crowd an island hilltop,
voice French-Creole and Spanish,
not the English patois of generations
assembled there before them.” – The Nation Builders by Althea-Romeo Mark, read it on her blog at Aroma Productions or view her reading of it (above) at the Medellin Poetry Festival in Colombia. Romeo-Mark was born in Antigua, grew up in the USVI, and has lived in the US, Africa, the UK, and now Europe.

***

“Unexpectedly,
The street light began
To malfunction,
Coming on and off,
Plunging me into bouts of
Darkness and light.

Buzz, crackle, darkness,
Buzz, crackle, light.” – From Kimolisa Mings’ Dark Warrior

***

***

“What if I told you
I’d never made love before” – from What the Spirit Knows by Soyini Ayanna Forde at SX Salon

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“I was left there, tutu shredded,

I couldn’t dance

anymore.” – This did not happen by Thylias Moss

INTERVIEW

“Many of my poems start with an image, but these started with language and weaved through images bringing me places I hadn’t been in a while.” – Angela Voras-Hills at the KR Conversations

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“One thing that I went in to Yale with was to make to sure I left exactly how I came in, because that’s who they accepted. Take what you need, get what you need for your tool belt, but don’t lose the essence of who you are. I think I did it.” – Atlanta’s Bryan Tyree Henry (aka Paper Boi)

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“The revolution for all Black lives starts in the mind and manifests in the physical, so I hope this book that contains so much true history mixed in with fiction can help people understand that nobody gets free unless we’re all free.” – Brooke Obie

FICTION

“This supposed to be our country. You shouldn’t have to sell your soul to feed yourself.” – Nassau Burning by Keisha Lynne Ellis

***

‘For long minutes he forgot his knobby knees, scars and grizzled body hair. He forgot his big flat feet and narrow buttocks. Her gaze gave him beauty and grace. Her soft eyes pulled him out of his role as Cowboy and into the role of sweet pure lover. “Come, let me bathe you.”’ – The Cowboy’s Mermaid, or, A Story of Wet Love in the Dry World by Shannon Barber

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“She had looked him down, vaguely surprised and annoyed, with the air of those who are never asked where they are going.” – from Le Silence de Chagos by Shenaz Patel

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“Sometimes I’d stare in the mid-darkness at how white he was. If I pressed his skin, he’d bruise deep fuchsia and you’d be able to see it even in the dark. I was very dark compared to him. He was so white it was freaky, sometimes. Othertimes it was kind of cool and beautiful, how his skin would glow against mine, how our bodies together looked like art.” – from Gideon by ZZ Packer

***

“You’re in this together now, and some part of you hopes you die together for the sake of simplicity.” – Last Chapter on Hotel Stationary: a Short Story by Ursula Villarreal-Moura

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Reading Room X

Like the title says, this is the tenth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Nine 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.

POETRY

“De sun come idlin’

over de hills,

removin’ de shadows

from de tree limbs…” The poetry of Antiguan born poet Althea Romeo Mark, from her collection Palaver. Read more.

BLOG

“Reading inspires me and reminds me how much I love everything about literature. It makes me eager to join in the conversation.” – Tayari Jones. Read the full at her website.

INTERVIEWS/DISCUSSIONS

“Stories are incredibly powerful. They shape our understanding of history, culture, and ourselves. It’s why readers of all ages clung to the viral hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks recently: Seeing an honest representation of someone who looks like you when the world reflects a different norm can be life affirming. It says that your story matters. This is a fact that Andrea Davis Pinkney, an award-winning, bestselling children’s author and a vice president and executive editor at Scholastic, knows.” Read the profile and interview with Pinkney here.

***

“In st lucia to a large degree the artiste has to create the kind of society that appreciates art” – Vladimir Lucien interview at The Spaces between Words.

***

“I always wanted to be a writer. I did want to be a great violinist, too, but I had no ear or talent for it.” READ MORE of this Anne Rice interview.

***

As well as directing The Coming of Org, you were also responsible for shooting, editing and scripting it. Will you continue to oversee every element of your work like this, or does it get quite exhausting?

It is quite exhausting, but I am a control freak, which is not good all the time because you don’t get enough distance from the project. Now, as I have stepped away, I see areas where I could have made the film much better. It is my first narrative film so I hope to learn from this experience; in follow up projects I want to focus on directing and writing… maybe editing too, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t shoot as well.

READ The Missing Slate’s full interview with Davina Lee.

***

“My challenge to other publishers of Caribbean children’s titles would be: try and make books available throughout the region and beyond, make them affordable, translate as many titles as possible, and especially help create a literature with the readers in mind, not in a monolithic sense of “Caribbean,” but rather giving margin to different forms of expression that might work at regional levels. That means taking chances on local unknown writers and illustrators who may do well connecting with and inspiring their communities, if given a chance to reach them.” – Mario Picayo, publisher, Editorial Campanita/Little Bell Caribbean, participating in a discussion over at Anansesem on Broader, Better Conversations for Caribbean Children’s Literature

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Oonya Kempadoo interview on her book All Decent Animals.

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“She would later reveal that for her, writing was the pursuit of the perfect sentence and as well as an attempt to bring something new into the world. The laughingly stated that the hated learning that someone else had thought of something before she had.” – Read more of Kwame Dawes interview with Jamaica Kincaid at Calabash on the Susumba website.

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10 x 10 podcasts, a series of 10 minute podcasts with presenter and journalist Rosie Goldsmith. In each podcast Rosie spends 10 minutes talking to authors from five different parts of the world. This includes from the Caribbean region Jamaican writer Lorna Goodison and Belizean writer Ivory Kelly.

***

This is one of my favourite writers Edwidge Dandicat (whose Farming of Bones and Create Dangeroulsly are among my all time favourite books) talking about another of my favourite writers Jamaica Kincaid (whose Annie John, My Brother, and Lucy are must-reads in my book). She also reads two Kincaid shorts including a personal favourite which I have actually used in workshop, Girl. Listen here.

NON FICTION

The essay featured in this post is the Texture of Fiction and in this excerpt you get to sample the texture of Kei Miller’s writing: “I remember a tree in Jamaica that bore as its fruit, prophecies. That’s what it seemed like to me. The tree was in a dust bowl right outside of my high school and there must have been a man or woman who used charcoal to write words like ‘Repent’ or ‘The Prime-minister must fall’ or ‘Know ye this day who you shall serve’ on squares of cardboard. These cardboard signs were hung up in the tree, and the branches had become overburdened with them, like a mango tree in season. Sometimes the wind would rattle these words, the cardboards would hit against each other, such a strange and terrible sound, as if angels were crowded together, back to back, and were beating their wings.”

***

This edition of Antigua and Barbuda’s Historical and Archeological Society’s newsletter has information on early villages, traditions, why Guiana Island is an ecological gem (something to think about, all things considered), and the Silston Library – have a read: HAS Newsletter 2015 FINAL

***

“What am I supposed to say to her?” I ask. “That it will get better twenty years from now? It sure didn’t get any better for me.” Read all of Saving April by M. J. Fievre.

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“To permit a book, to read a book, is not enough. We must engage with its history. Ask who challenges a text and for what reasons. When we read a book, let’s read with a mind for its censors: what is that thing inside The Things They Carried that stirs a parent’s need to protect?” – See more at: On Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried | PEN American Center

INDUSTRY TALK

“Write the best short story you can, submit to competitions and be ruthless about the quality of the piece. Of the millions of short stories written, there are a handful that are good enough to catch the attention of readers, and if they are good enough to do that an agent will be interested. Practice is essential – not every short story written, even by an experienced writer, will be good enough to be published, so working through any idea until you feel it can be held up to the light is part of the process.” More from literary agent Lucy Luck.

***

First there’s this “It felt like possibility. It felt like hope” and then there’s this “I thought about where I submitted my work and what the editors would think. I imagined how the piece would fit in with the journal’s aesthetic. I wondered whether or not my work was too experimental or too trite or too coy. I worried that my work was too wrong for the journals I submitted to, too wrong for any journal, really, too wrong to be read by anyone at all.” Eventually, you realize though “(it’s) out of our hands.” – Emily Lackey on submissions.

***

“I’m not sure where the idea got seeded that author platform equals social media, but it’s time to dislodge that from your head if you believe it to be true. Social media alone is pretty ineffective at moving people to action.” Read what else is needed.

***

“Before I started working on the editorial side of the publishing industry myself, I had no idea how long it took for the publishing cycle to complete its orbit around a book.” – Jonathan Eyers on Understanding the Publishing Process.

ABOUT WRITING

“You give your character opinions, needs, likes, and dislikes; you give him fears, joys, anxieties. Let’s call these ‘personality markers.’ What are her pastimes, fantasies, hopes, memories, and preoccupations? Be sure that some of these are not connected directly to theme and story. Diversify. That’ll avoid creating a character who seems controlled by the needs of her creator, simply a representation of a type. A protagonist might be a lawyer, but certainly not all her waking hours will be spent thinking about the law. These personality markers serve to add surprising and interesting layers to your characters that may indirectly connect to the needs and movement of your story and the themes that compel you.” Read More.

***

LIke Bridgett M. Davis infers in this piece, there’s no rush; you finish your novel when you finish it. So ease up on yourself. And keep writing.

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Writing Advice from C. S. Lewis.

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On building a collection and breaking with old habits, by Abby Geni.

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“The opening line is a promise to your reader of the type of tale about to unfold.” Read more of Opening lines: Rules of Engagement by Shelley Jones.

 

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READING ROOM IX

Like the title says, this is the ninth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Eight 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.

INTERVIEWS

Haitian American writer M. J. Fievre, who interviewed me for her website recently, has this really cool interview of her own.

***”

My work is never finished. Even as I read something that’s published, I still want to change it.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Read full interview here.

***

“I don’t chase what I hear on the radio. I try not to compete with anybody. And even though I’m a musician, I don’t necessarily follow a certain set of rules. Sometimes my mistakes turn into interesting music because I do things that aren’t supposed to be done. Really it’s more about a state of mind. I grew up with a certain standard of music, watching my father and his peers. For them, music had a deeper purpose than one’s own selfish gain. It was never just a business.” – Ziggy Marley, full interview here.

***

“I am inspired by kindness. When I see ordinary people practicing kindness in ordinary ways—smiling at strangers, getting up to give a seat to someone else on the bus, helping someone with their luggage, stopping to speak to a homeless person—I am inspired because I am reminded of humanity.” – Dena Simmons. Read more.

***

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – funny, as many interviews as I’ve seen and read with her, I never realized I’d been pronouncing her last name wrong. So, thanks for that Tavis Smiley. And thanks to both the Nigerian writer (Adichie) and American interviewer (Smiley) for an interesting conversation on the things people would rather not talk about. Here’s to uncomfortable conversations.

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Commonwealth podcasts featuring writers from across the Commonwealth including, from the Caribbean Lorna Goodison (Jamaica) and my girl Ivory Kelly (Belize).

That's Ivory, to the right, with me in Glasgow, 2014.

That’s Ivory, to the right, with me in Glasgow, 2014.

***

I hope you didn’t miss this one, but in case you did, Jamaican writer (poet, fiction writer, essayist) and professor Kei Miller in 2014 won the Forward Prize. It’s kind of a big deal, made bigger still by the fact that he’s the first non-white poet to take the British-based prize in more than 20 years. For that, you get two links: his interview/profile in the (UK) Guardian and the Forward Prize announcement.

That's Kei to the right - hanging in Glasgow (with me and others), 2014.

That’s Kei to the right – hanging in Glasgow (with me and others), 2014.

Bonus, peep Kei in this British Poetry Book Society line-up of 20 poets to watch. And listen to the poet talk about his work and journey as a writer, here.

Another bonus: Kei’s Carcanet interview.

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Renaee Perrier (now Smith) was one of my block sisters during my UWI days. Check out this interview about her writing life.

FICTION

“Gramma had told me stories about jumbies—people who had died but could walk about in the night. They lived in dark shadows and all the bad scary places. But my jumbie daddy was different.” Read all of Neala Bhagwansingh’s Jumbie Daddy.

***

Audio clip of A-dZiko Gegele and Roland Watson-Grant reading at Bocas 2014 – good stuff.

***

Love this story (The Headstrong Historian by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), first because it’s a good story well told…and a good example of a story having an epic span…but also for its view of pre-colonized Africa and the slow process of that colonization and the deliberateness of that/the trade off and of the decolonization of the mind…it resonates… it really does in unexpected ways… “Nwamgba was alarmed by how indiscriminately the missionaries flogged students: for being late, for being lazy, for being slow, for being idle, and, once, as Anikwenwa told her, Father Lutz put metal cuffs around a girl’s hands to teach her a lesson about lying, all the time saying in Igbo—for Father Lutz spoke a broken brand of Igbo—that native parents pampered their children too much, that teaching the Gospel also meant teaching proper discipline.” Makes you wonder, what’s really our culture (as once colonized descendants of Africa), a culture we defend so arduously, and what was thrust upon us until we didn’t know how to separate ourselves from it. Colonization is a hell of a thing. When people say get over it, it’s in the past, they don’t know. Anyway, you can also find this story in The Thing Around Her Neck, an Adichie book I highly recommend.

***

“This story moves. With each stop and each passenger, the reader becomes more invested the bus driver—and more worried about the pig. The final line is satisfying in way that made me want to cheer.” – Kenyon Review on why it selected Karen Lin-Greenberg’s Care  

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Wanna hear something weird? While reading this story, which I really liked by the way, I pictured everybody in it as black, and specifically African American – the man, the sick woman, the angel, all black. There was no detail in the story (or none that I found on first read) to contradict me and yet there was detail enough to make these people – and angel – fully realized beings. It didn’t occur to me until I got to the end, and saw the picture of the author, that they may or may not be. Hm. That’s the funny thing about reading sometimes, how we project our reality or a context that makes sense to us (since my reality while black is not African American) unto the characters. It defaulted to what was famliar. But it just goes to show, though, that details of a character’s race, hair colour, eyes (details that, like any other, should really be used only in so far as they serve the story) may or may not be necessary to seeing the characters and the world of the characters. Maybe we see them as we’re meant to see them. Like I said, black or white, I found these characters to be really interesting (for the things unsaid between her and her lover, for the angel’s other worldliness and bewilderment with our world, and oddly enticing sensuality, for what it says about the nature of living and dying). Read Amy Bonnaffons’ Black Stones here.

***

This excerpt of Roland Watson-Grant’s Sketcher tickled me in all sorts of ways. First, New Orleans. Been enamoured with New Orleans in literature since my Anne Rice college years. Second, born in the 70s myself, I laughed out loud at the narrator (also a child at the 70s) rolling his eyes about the 60s:  “It must have been the time o’ their lives, the Sixties, what with all that music and bell-bottom tight pants and lots of free love and everything. But I bet they still had headaches and mosquitoes and taxes, so I don’t know what all the fuss was about.” Third, intriguing characters, setting, scenario…and the CB craze of the early 80s…I remember that…remember my brother was into that too. Fourth, the writing…this isn’t just a nostalgia trip for me…the writing is alive and has the music and magic and sweltering energy of the landscape it describes. Moving this book up my to-read list. You will want to, too, after reading this.

NON FICTION

Poetry notes from my former mentor and teacher, Mervyn Morris.

“Poems work not just by what they say but by how they say it.” – See more here.

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The Pain of Reading is all kinds of heartbreaking. Read it here.

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“Read publishing contracts carefully before signing them… When selling rights to any work, remember that the fewer rights you sell, the better.” Read more.

***

This is actually very similar with what I’m trying to do with the Jhohadli Writing Project – it gives me hope. Read, how I built my own literary scene and saved myself by Julia Fierro.

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Hell is my own Book Tour by Adam Mansbach made me laugh out loud and also strangely envious, as in at least you got to go on a book tour… ah the writing life, it’s not all glitz and glamour…in fact, often there’s no glitz and glamour at all… just four people at a book reading whom you nonetheless give your all.

***

“The other way to escape the curse of knowledge is to show a draft to yourself, ideally after enough time has passed that the text is no longer familiar. If you are like me you will find yourself thinking, “What did I mean by that?” or “How does this follow?” or, all too often, “Who wrote this crap?” The form in which thoughts occur to a writer is rarely the same as the form in which they can be absorbed by a reader. Advice on writing is not so much advice on how to write as on how to revise.” – read more of Steven Pinker’s article on The Curse of Bad Writing.

***

Kwame Dawes talks about how he writes. One of my favourite bits…

“My brain is a kind of cesspool that collects material unfiltered – or it may be filtered. I’m not conscious that I’m putting things into it. I may remark that something as interesting, but in truth what I’m doing is pulling something into that pool. When I make the decision to write a poem, I don’t know what is going to come from that pool. The act of writing brings together various and complex things. What I may access from that pool might happen immediately, or it may take years.”

***

I’ve been given and received feedback, edited the works of others, been edited…and as I ruminate on both sides of that journey, I think it bears remembering that if you’re either hired to edit or just asked to give feedback on a piece of writing, “You’re being asked to consult—not commit a hostile takeover”, “Think of your reading mission as understanding the piece,” and “Don’t sacrifice feeling for critical thinking. Don’t forget to feel the piece.” Editing, like writing, is not paint by numbers. As writer, I try to listen to my characters and try to tell their tale authentically and insightfully. As editor, I try to come to each piece open to what the piece is trying to say and how the author is trying to say it, and hopefully guide them toward saying it clearly yet in their unique and distinct way. As I said in this article, it’s a delicate dance. Ten Essentials of Reading for Writers is an interesting read for those who’ve ever been asked to give feedback on a writer’s work in terms of striking the necessary balance.

REVIEWS

Black-ish – initial thoughts:My first requirement of a comedy is that it make me laugh. I can forgive a lot of things if you make me laugh. Black-ish, which debuted this Wednesday on ABC, made me laugh, sometimes. I run hot and cold with series star Anthony Anderson but found myself liking him in this role. His high pitched humour works here; and it better, as his perspective – his real moments and hyper real fantasies – are what drive the plot. It’s a family drama but, at least in the first episode, it’s the story of Anderson’s character struggling with the idea that the price of success is losing your blackness/your identity (as if there’s a simple definition of what blackness is) while at the same time, on the job at least, rebelling against being defined solely by his blackness (see the irony?). The show could do with more nuance, but I’d watch it again. Because it made me laugh; even if the humour wasn’t always fresh nor cuttingly funny. This is network television after all; the edge was a bit blunted and the message was laid on a bit thick. The performances are solid; the somewhat underused Laurence Fishburne’s dry wit balancing out Anderson’s hysterics, and Tracee Ellis Ross is a more natural fit as his wife than his last TV wife – I love you Vanessa (of the Cosby show) but I wasn’t buying the chemistry. The kids don’t really stand out yet, only in the general sense that they “don’t see colour”, which makes for some easy laughs. The challenge the show faces going forward, I suppose is being fresh and daring with both its humour and commentary, foregoing tired tropes and the easy laugh for laughter that makes you not only cut-up but consider and –re-consider your own prejudices. In that sense, it has the perfect lead-in in Modern Family, a show that’s all about challenging your assumptions while making you laugh out loud. And if it imprints the way Modern Family has, it’ll not only be a funny half hour comedy but ground breaking television. Time will tell.

POETRY

“And maybe in their eyes

it may seem I got punked out

‘cause I walked a narrow path

and then went and changed my route

But that openness exposed me

to a truth I couldn’t find

in the clenched fist of my ego

or the confines of my mind

or in the hipness of my swagger

or in the swagger of my step

or the scowl of my grimace

or the meanness of my rep

‘Cause we represent a truth, son

that changes by the hour

and when you opened to it

vulnerability is power.” |

Saul Williams

http://loquence.tumblr.com/

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“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft agley” – Robert Burns’ To a Mouse is copied here in Scottish and explained.

***

When I read Scottish writer Liz Lochhead’s Kidspoem/Bairnsong, I was immediately drawn in. On the surface, an innocent scene – a mother prepping her daughter for school; an structurally almost a round, like those songs and poems we did as children. But it’s commentary on how we lose our mother tongue is deep and for the Caribbean person deeply relatable.

“…the first day I went to school

so my mother wrapped me up in my

best navy-blue top coat with the red tartan hood

twirled a scarf around my neck

pulled on my bobble-hat and mittens

it was so bitterly cold

said now you won’t freeze to death

gave me a little kiss and a pretend slap on the bottom

and sent me off across the playground

to the place I’d learn to forget to say

it wis January

and a gey derich day

so my Mum happed me up in ma

good navy-blue napp coat wi the rid tartan hood

birled a scarf aroon ma neck

pu’ed oan ma pixie an my pawkies

it wis that bitter.”

Here’s Liz Lochhead reading the poem and talking about the genesis of the poem and the importance of writing our reality in our way, which, you know, is a foundation of the Wadadli Pen Challenge.

***

This Tom Leonard poem immediately appealed to me for its defiant claiming of its mother tongue (Scots) – something we can relate to as Caribbean people, yes? Because as he writes “all livin language is sacred”.

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Ego Tripping – Nikki Giovanni

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“I sit and wring my hands,
at last old enough and sad enough,
and pathetic enough in my impotence
to do this” – Talking to Hamas by Alice Walker

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Beauty by Bermudian poet Dane Swan:

Bag lady, your eyes tell stories
of glory, despair, success, failure
deceit, withdrawn ineptness.

BLOG

The Art of Submission…or how to handle rejection without becoming bitter.

***

So, you know how in Julie and Julia, a young writer undertakes the challenge of cooking and blogging Julia Child’s recipes for a year, and gets a book deal out of the experiment? Well, British writer Ann Morgan had a similar experience reading the world. Here’s an update re her book deal…and a big of inspiration for others laboring in the blogosphere.

VISUAL

Music video featuring Promise No Promises and directed by Jus Bus …very artistic visuals…very resonant lyrics…and a good bounce

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This is a film by Francoise Bowen. Filmed in Antigua, it re-imagines a moment of island history:

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cricket

This image of women playing cricket in St. Lucia, circa 1905 is one of my favourites from Rastas, Royals, and Revolution: 100 Years of Photography in the Caribbean. I was actually flipping through to see if there were any Antigua and/or Barbuda images and this one caught my eye. Good stuff. See more images in the series here.

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This film short is out of Barbados…summary: Auntie is a middle-aged seamstress and respected caregiver in her rural Barbadian community. 12-year-old Kera is her latest ward and a special child to whom she has grown uncharacteristically close. Seven years after Kera’s mother emigrates to England in search of a better life, Auntie is confronted with the day she long dreaded when the plane ticket arrives that will reunite Kera with her mom.

For more films of this type, visit AfroPop TV.

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Disbanded by John Pettie.

Disbanded by John Pettie.

The Starz series Outlander and my visit to Glasgow early in 2014 probably have something to do with this one catching my eye but the truth is I’ve always had an interest in Irish and Scottish culture and history. I came across this image while reading The Other Tongues: an Introduction to Writing in Irish, Scots Gaelic and Scots in Ulster and Scotland and looked it up online. According to this site, this is an image by John Pettie of a Scottish Highlander after his defeat at the Jacobite rebellion of 1746.

Here’s a bonus Scottish image from that same book(c) The Fleming Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationIt’s ‘Lochaber No More’, an 1863 image painted by John Watson Nicol. The title ‘Lochaber No More’ forms part of a popular 17th century Scottish folk song

“These tears that I shed, they are all for my dear,
An no’ for the dangers of attending or weir;
Tho’ borne on rough seas to a far distant shore.
Maybe to return to Lochaber no more” (full lyrics here)

The song is a lament. Lochaber, based on my research, was where Bonnie Prince Charlie recruited the first clans to his cause, sparking the Jacobite rebellion. The mournful nature of the song reflects the rebellion’s defeat at Culloden Moor in 1746.

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“… it was while dancing and touring the nation and European continent that he chanced to visit The Louvre Museum in Paris that he “met his Muse”. As he walked the halls there, he was consumed by what he saw. Looking at the work of the Masters in The Louvre, he was reminded of what he had unconsciously reached for in his sprawling graffiti pieces; he recognized realms of color, style, passionate expression and possibilities that he had never before imagined.” – from About Frank Morrison at Morrison Art

I see a Queen in Me by Frank Morrison

I see a Queen in Me by Frank Morrison

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Some good insights here….

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Cover image Summer One by Glenroy Aaron inspired by Summer 1, a poem by Joanne C Hillhouse.

Cover image Summer One by Glenroy Aaron inspired by Summer 1, a poem by Joanne C Hillhouse.

Glenroy Aaron’s Summer One is the cover image of the Tongues of the Ocean Antigua and Barbuda issue. Here’s his bio from the site: Glenroy Aaron has always had a passion for anything artistic. Drawings and doodling captivated him in his childhood years and this love of the arts was nurtured in primary and secondary school and later honed under teachers in the Cambridge art programme at the Antigua State College. Upon leaving school he continued with his passion, branching into oils, which is currently his primary medium. He strives to capture the beauty in nature and human emotion.

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.

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