Tag Archives: Margaret Irish

Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid February 2021)

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)

Publishing News

Pree, an online literary journal out of Jamaica, has announced its first print edition. Bookmarked launches with a webinar in collaboration with the Shuttleworth Foundation. The forum features Diana McCaulay (Judge, The Commonwealth Short Story Prize); Kwame Dawes (editor-in-chief at Prairie Schooner magazine) and Luke Neima (deputy editor of Granta) moderated by Isis Semaj-Hall (Associate Editor, PREE), looking at submission and rejection and tips for acceptance. The forum will take place February 24th at 12 noon. Details to come – for which I would suggest following Pree online. (Source – facebook post by Pree co-founder Annie Paul)

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I have been running a #BlackHistoryMonth #bookaday initiative across my social media for the month of February 2021. On Day 13, I wrote about the audio book of Barbadian writer Shakirah Bourne’s self-published In Time of Need, scheduled for release on February 14th 2021.

Here’s what I wrote: ‘I’ve listened to only three stories from the audiobook and enjoyed them so much, I plan to listen to the whole thing though I’ve already read the book. Back then, I wrote of the book, “It’s genuinely funny and then clocks you in the middle of the laughter with some hard truths – rooted in our Caribbeanness but also in our humanity.” The audio book, what I’ve heard of it, and especially so Four Angry Men, reminds me of listening to Paul Keens Douglas stories of Slim and Tanty Merle at the Oval on the radio as a child. The Caribbean, and Four Angry Men in particular, is well suited to the audio book format given an oral storytelling tradition that makes it less a reading and more a radio play of ole talk and a weaving (and at the same time specific and grounded) narrative. The Caribbean and the collection’s natural, sometimes absurd, humour comes through, but this is not all easy laughs, there is a certain poignancy within the broad laughter of the rum shop. The production is atmospheric, without crowding out the story, and the voices, distinctive Bajan voices, are well cast and directed by …Barbadian literary media arts company Story Shyft. White Sand, the story of a naive girl stepping in to the lion’s den, has a light and hopeful tone and an undertone of dread. And I absolutely loved The Five-Day Death of Mr. Mayers as much as I did on the page – the story is still funny and thanks to the characterization and imagery, the layering of voices and addition of a score, almost cinematic. In Time of Need is Story Shyft’s first audio book production and if these three stories are anything to go by they’re one for one. For my full review of the print edition of In Time of Need visit Blogger on Books. Look out for Josephine Against the Sea (sis is about to blow up).’ (Source – Story Shyft reached out to ask me to listen to sections of the audio book and provided the audio files)

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Congrats to Wadadli Pen team member Margaret Irish, who has published her first book, a children’s alphabet book A is for Arawak. “The inspiration behind it started with a question, …why do we begin to learn by using objects from cultures outside of the Caribbean? Why can’t we learn by utilizing objects, the history and parts of our lives that we are quite used to? So I decided that I wanted to create a book that would help young people in the Caribbean, in particular Antigua nd Barbuda to  be proud of their identity… I wanted to start with the alphabet,” Irish said in a 2021 ABS TV interview. Irish, originally from Jamaica, works as a 3rd to 5th form English teacher at St. Anthony’s Secondary School. She holds an Msc in material cultures and history of the book from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She is the winner of two Wadadli Pen prizes – the 2014 Lead by Example Teachers Prize for The Skipping Rope and the 2015 flash fiction prize for Justice. She subsequently became a volunteer with and core Wadadli Pen team member.  (Source – stumbled upon author interview on ABS TV via YouTube)

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St. Lucia-based independent press, Bumpkin Books, started by Jamaica-born Rachel Thwaites-Williams has published its first non-self-published book. A subset/affiliate of her Baby Charlotte enterprise featuring flower crowns, Bumpkin’s first books were Rachel’s own Charlotte and the Two Puffs and What do the Stars do When It’s Time to Go To Bed. In December, Bumpkin Books launched its first book by another author, Antiguan and Barbudan Ladesa Williams. As with Rachel, Ladesa’s book is influenced – and in some ways, co-written – by her child. Zane visits Costa Rica, based on a father-son trip to Costa Rica, is illustrated by Rahana Dariah. Per pandemic realities, the book was launched by Zoom. You can view the video here. We have added Zane visits Costa Rica has been added to our Antiguan and Barbudan Writing, and Antigua and Barbuda’s Children Literature data bases.

This book is one of more than 50 eligible for the Antigua and Barbuda Readers Choice Book of the Year award. (Source – another local author reached out to let me know about this one and then I watched the virtual video launch)

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Antigua & Barbuda- and UK-based Art At The Ridge founder Joy James’s first book, 101 Black Black Inventors and Their Inventions, is about to be published.

James is inviting patrons to support the project via Kickstarter and receive a copy of book at the end. The book is intended as an educational children’s book about Black inventors and their inventions; it’s intended for upper primary/lower secondary students. Funds will only be collected if the Kickstarter reaches the project’s financial goal. James’ pitch explains, “My book proposal received a lot of early interest from a number of UK publishers before I chose to use professional publishing services in order to retain control over my work. I am also keen to learn about the publishing process. The funds I am trying to raise will cover the cost of these services as well as illustrations. This is my first book – I already have a few more projects and ideas in the pipeline and am very excited about this adventure!” (Source – Joy James reached out to share information on this initiative)

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Jamaica Kincaid speaking at the VI Lit Fest in 2015.

Late last year, it was announced that Picador had won a four way auction for 10 Jamaica Kincaid titles. Jamaica Kincaid is originally from Antigua-Barbuda, a country she has written about in books like Annie John, A Small Place, My Brother, and Mr. Potter, and tangentially in Lucy.

“The 10 titles to be released by Picador are the novels Annie John, The Autobiography of My Mother, Lucy, Mr Potter and her most recent novel, See Now Then; the non-fiction works Talk Stories and My Brother; the books on gardening, My Garden Book and Among Flowers; and the short-story collection At the Bottom of the River.

“The first selection of titles will be published by Picador in summer 2022, and the second selection will be published in summer 2023. Publication will be supported by a significant marketing and publicity campaign featuring the author.

“Her books Lucy, Annie John and At the Bottom of the River were published in Picador’s paperback white-spine series in the 1980s. Kincaid is published by FSG in the US, and the move to Picador brings all of her work in the English language to Macmillan.”

For more, go here. (Source – Don’t remember but probably social media)

As with all content on this site, unless otherwise noted, this is prepared by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, Joanne C. Hillhouse. As we try to do, credit if sharing.

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Reading Room and Gallery 39

Things I read that you might like too. Things will be added – up to about 20 or so – before this installment in the Reading Room and Gallery series is archived. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

ESSAY/NON-FICTION

“Writing helps me attain knowledge of Trinidad and Tobago, helps me understand it and appreciate it, and helps me forgive the hurtful parts of it.” – from The Fishing Line by Kevin Jared Hosein

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‘She carries Jamaica in her spirit, and particularly the rural Jamaica she grew up in, which is as she said “embedded in her heart beat”. They really couldn’t have picked a more Jamaican Jamaican from the esteemed writers of a culture that has produced so many great writers.’ – from my Olive Senior Appreciation Post on Wadadli Pen

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“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, 2018 in Repeating Islands

POETRY

“America, I am poor in all
ways fixed and unfixable. My poverty a bullet point” – from Double America by Safiya Sinclair, Montreal Poetry Prize International

INTERVIEWS/CONVERSATIONS

“It’s not just one influencing the other; to me they are one.” – Ava Duvernay re the relationship between art and activism, in discussion with The Root

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“What was extremely important for me was coming to England in 1984. That was a few months after the US invasion of Grenada in 1983, and I arrived here with a profound sense of betrayal and outrage largely because I thought that story needed to be told from the point of the people who were at the receiving end of the guns and the canons and that invasion, and I had to write that rage..36 years later I’m just about doing the book.” – Jacob Ross

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“When I was young, people didn’t think children could see or hear, they would do and say anything in front of them… but from my own experience, children hear a lot.” – Zee Edgell talking about her work in a 1990 Banyan TV interview (click on the image below and type pass word ‘zee’ to access)

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“I wanted to create a book that would encourage people in Antigua and Barbuda to be proud of their identity… so instead of A is for Apple, let’s begin with A is for Arawak.” – Margaret Irish

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“We were all asked to give details of what we wanted to see in terms of the art work, at least I know I was, and to me it’s like she took my thoughts and she somehow created almost exactly what I had in my head. That’s the way it felt (and)..it’s everything I would have wanted it to be. The people look as if they’re our people and there are a mix of people in the story book. And I say that because there are times when I’ve seen some books that are supposed to be our books and the people look perhaps the way other people think we look.” – Barbara Arrindell

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“It’s about when you see these things to not get depressed by it and to make the change you can because you mightn’t be able to create the world you want to see but you can do one thing that does that and it’s very important that we do those things.” – Tanya Batson-Savage

MISC.

“It is revealed that all of the appointments to the University of the West Indies were vetted in London by a committee on which there was a representative of MI5 which aimed ‘to keep the university free of communism’. Within the West Indies communism was an elastic category into which were consigned anyone with an uncompromising relationship to the colonial order and its successor.” – from a public lecture by Richard Drayton

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“First, I made a collage of 6 recent rom-com covers I loved, that reflected the current look of the genre—hand-drawn fonts, bold color, big fonts. I noted I wanted an inclusive, modern design (no male/female cake topper or thin white bride etc).” – Georgia Clark, author of It Had To Be You on the process of conceptualizing a cover; click the instagram link to read (and see) more. (Source – direct author mail and instagram)

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‘Impressionist/actor Jay Pharoah has a zeroed in on a few distinctive traits — some comics call them “handles” — to help flesh out his version of Biden; there’s the little rasp in his voice, as well as favorite Biden phrases like “c’mon man,” “malarkey” and, of course, “here’s the deal.” “The key to a great impression and keeping it fresh, is always trying to look for things that person does, that other people don’t know yet,” says Pharoah, who played President Barack Obama, Jay-Z, Denzel Washington and many more notables in six years on Saturday Night Live. With Biden poised to take office as the nation’s 46th president, comics like Pharoah face a crucial question: How to impersonate him in a way that really resonates? … Pharoah recalls Saturday Night Live sat on an idea he brought up when he joined the show in 2010; a character who was Obama’s more emotional subconscious. Years later, Comedy Central’s show Key & Peele debuted Obama’s “anger translator,” Luther, in a similar sketch, and Pharoah saw an opportunity missed. “There was not a Black person in America, sitting there while Barack Obama had to take everything that he took from the Republican party, [who didn’t think] ‘He has got to be ticked off,” Pharoah adds.’ – NPR

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“So don’t start with exciting plot; start with people.” – Leone Ross, masterclass on characterization

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“Film is so powerful, television is so powerful, it can literally change perception and change culture.” – Gina Prince Bythewood, writer-director of Love and Basketball, Beyond the Lights, and The Old Guard.

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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The Paula Show

the paula show by eef

Well, I missed this, the recording of it anyway but was back on island in time to catch as much of it as I could from the pounding in my head through the flu. They talked about books and reading mostly from what I saw, about Jamaica Kincaid and Jean Rhys and about encouraging young people to read just by making it fun again, not tethered to anything, just for fun; and the participants (overall 2014 winner and 13 to 17 winner Asha Graham, winning teacher Margaret Irish, and winner 12 and younger Vega Armstrong accompanied by Glen Toussaint of the Best of Books) did get the opportunity to read from their winning stories. Media coverage has not been at the desired levels this 2014 season so we are thankful for the interest shown by Paula Show host and proud of the way our writers articulated their love of the literary arts reinforcing that far from a chore it’s a pleasure, a life affirming, life enriching pleasure.

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, and Oh Gad!), founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. 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 the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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THE SKIPPING ROPE

By Margaret Mae Maria Irish

“This is a strong story.” – JUDGE

Skipping season at Montego Bay Primary School began subtly probably with three friends playing with a piece of rope in a corner and little by little, different skipping gangs would pop up all over the asphalted playground, until every inch was swallowed up.

We sang different skipping songs such as:

One, two, da-dee

Buy wan TV gi-mee

Mek me watch Bonanza, Bonanza, Bonanza!

We played ‘One lash, two lash’, jumping in and out quickly, before the determined student at either end lashed the back of our legs with the rope.

My favourite skipping game was ‘Pepper,’ which started slowly but speeded up forcing us to skip like the wind. I was the best ‘Pepper’ skipper, agilely shifting from foot to foot, until the swingers grew tired.

The rich students bought their skipping ropes from Woolworth, but we the poor children used discarded wires or plaited  the lining from the soft drink corks into a rope, and skip and skip until it broke.

Rich or poor, the rule was No one was left out! Taking part in a skipping game was inevitable as getting a beating after failing Miss Green’s math test.

One afternoon after the final bell, my classmates and I ran to the playground, determined to skip before leaving. Dahlia Young was the only one with a skipping rope.

Everyone adored her light skin and thick, long permed hair which guaranteed her privileges such as presenting bouquets to speakers during school events. Once, at the market, I spied her in her dad’s car. I dropped my basket, jumped up and down, waving and screaming ‘Dahlia, Dahlia!’ She examined, firstly, my short natural hair, then the basket, and turned away. I was heartbroken.

But she had to notice me now because at school, I was the best skipper.

She positioned everyone except me.

‘I’m not playing?’ I asked her.

‘No.’

‘Why not?’

‘I just don’t want you to play.’

This time she didn’t even look at me.

The whole world went quiet.

I picked up my bag and walked out of the school, bawling.

I bawled as I walked past infant school, Charlie’s Bar, Miss Gloria’s shop and Michelle and her mother and her mother’s mother selling cigarettes and fruit on the sidewalk. I was still howling when I opened the tall iron gate and trudged up the stairs to the tenement apartment where I lived.

‘What wrong with you?’

My mother stood at the top of the stairs, hands on her hips. I stopped crying and told her about Dahlia Young.

Softly, she ordered me to eat my supper and go straight to bed.

The next morning I woke up, turned and saw a Woolworth shopping bag lying on my bed. I grabbed it, reached inside and took out a skipping rope!

I gobbled down my breakfast and ran out of the apartment all the way to school.

It was Friday, so school ended early. We tramped to the playground and as usual most of the children ran over to Dahlia to play with her skipping rope.

I unearthed mine and lo and be-old it was longer than Dahlia’s skipping rope!

As soon as they noticed the difference, Dahlia’s fans left her and huddled around my rope marvelling at it.

She marched over, pushing through my crowd of admirers.

‘Where you steal this from?’ she demanded.

My mother buy it for me!’ I retorted, straightening my shoulders and placing my hands on my hips.

Dahlia backed away slowly out of my sight.

I raised my new rope. ‘Let’s play pepper!’ I commanded.

And the games began.

Margaret Irish

Author’s bio: Margaret Irish is the winner of the inaugural Teachers Lead by Example Prize in the Wadadli Pen 2014 Challenge. She says, “I am a Jamaican who has lived in Antigua since 1998. I taught history at the Antigua State College and now teach English courses at the ABIIT. Fourteen years ago I founded an after-school programme that teaches primary age children reading and spelling and other core subjects. At this stage in my life I am critically assessing how my upbringing, in particular my relationship with my parents, have shaped my character, mentalities and life patterns.”

Copyright belongs to the author; so, no stealing.

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