Tag Archives: Mary Quinn

Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid 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)

Books on Film

Let’s talk about Antiguan and Barbudan filmmaker Shabier Kirchner who is about to make his feature film directorial debut with the adaptation of Jamaican writer Kei Miller’s acclaimed Augustown. As I mentioned in my CREATIVE SPACE series, the cinematographer who made his directorial debut with the self-produced short Dadli (which I talk about and link in another CREATIVE SPACE) has allied with Oscar winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Widows, Shame etc.) who will be executive producing the film. The two previously collaborated (as director of photographer on all five chapters) on Mc Queen’s Small Axe anthology series (which I still haven’t had the opportunity to see so I hope this vid doesn’t have too many spoilers but I won’t deny you an opportunity to hear from the creators including Wadadli’s own Shabier Kirchner who opens his intro with “Live all the way from Antigua!”). Love it!

Remember you can find interviews with Shabier and reviews of his work here on the blog.


Late Caribbean-British writer Andrea Levy’s novel The Long Song has been adapted for the visual medium. It premieres on PBS on January 31st 2021. Here’s a teaser trailer.

The Long Song – published in 2010 – followed on the success of her phenomenal Small Island – publishe din 2004 – which was made in to a BBC mini-series in 2018. Levy died in 2019. (Source – stumbled upon it on YouTube)

Book of the Year

ETA: See Kudos (below) for the short listed nominees. What’s your choice for book of the year? Rebel Women Lit, a book club out of Jamaica, initially, wants to know. This is your opportunity to be a taste maker (why let the awards and critics have all the fun?). As we said when we did the Antigua and Barbuda Readers Choice Award for the first time, it’s an opportunity to share the love – boost a book and author that you like. Rebel Women Lit’s Readers’ Choice Award, meanwhile, is Caribbean-wide. First there’s the nomination process, then the voting process, and then in later January will come the celebration of the winners. The categories are 2020’s Best Caribbean Novel (Adult, Teen & Tween), Poetry, and Non-Fiction book. They’re also celebrating favourite Caribbean Literary Critic of 2020 and Best New Content Creator (including Booktubers and Bookstagrammers). I’m excited about this; are you? Nominate by December 10th; vote between December 13th and 31st. Winners will be announced January 3rd 2020. Read the full Rebel Women Lit newsletter here. (Source – Rebel Women Lit newsletter)


December 14th 2020 will be #CATAPULTDay, a day when all the efforts of the past months by artists across the Caribbean, those fortunate enough to be recipients of grants via this programme, will be in the spotlight. The organizers (American Friends of Jamaica, Kingston Creative, and Fresh Milk Barbados) have been promoting the various outputs of the grant recipients – especially the salon activities – for several weeks going back to September-ish. But on December 14th 2020, it climaxes with a special series of posts. As a grantee, I’m looking forward to it. Use the #CATAPULTday and #Catapultartsgrant (alternatively or additionally search #caribbeanculturematters #artsmatters #artsspacecaribbean #artecaribeňo #culturematters #creativecommunity) across social media, so you won’t miss a thing. CATAPULT is @catapultartscarib on Instagram and that’s probably a good point of nexus. #CATAPULTday starts at 8am EST (9am AST) and ends at 5pm EST (6pm AST). It cannot be overstated how important this initiative is. Under this initiative, artists across various disciplines and across the English, Dutch, French, and Spanish speaking Caribbean have had the opportunity to create (via the Stay at Home Residency), connect (via the Lockdown Virtual Salon and Digital Creative Training), and communicate their work (via the Caribbean Artist Showcase, Consultancy Vouchers, and Caribbean Creative Online grants), backed by that vital component – money. More of this, please.

I certainly appreciated it.

There is clearly a hunger for it, 2020 or not, as applications came from all over the Caribbean – only 1% of applicants and awardees from Antigua and Barbuda*, so we could do a lot better. But I’m thrilled to be joined by another Antiguan and Barbudan grant recipient, whose vid I just checked out. She is Aisha Joseph, a protegee of both Veron Henry and his father the late Eustace Manning Henry of Hell’s Gate, who is pursuing a bachelor of arts in steel pan fabrication and its art form in the US. “I find pan building to be very therapeutic,” she said in her facebook live. “I love that I’m creating something that so many people have come to love and gravitate towards.” It was such a relaxed and personal walk through the process of pan building, and interesting as that was, my favourite bit (this is a literary site after all) was the self-penned poem she shared. ‘Me ah de Pan’, it is called, and to excerpt the poem’s personification of the pan making process, “it reminds me of pregnancy, except instead of giving birth to a baby, you get me; a sweet melodic and harmonic symphony.” Nice. ETA: I am informed of a third Antiguan and Barbudan awardee (so I’m double checking the numbers received, posted below). She is Raena Bird whose bio asserts a passion for visual arts and her social media indicates that a November 2020 JINK, PAINT & NYAM event (which seems to be part of a series of private paid art events under the banner Wardartli) was made possible by the grant.

*Breakdown of applicants and awardees by Country (per Catapult) – Anguilla (3 applicants – 1%); Antigua and Barbuda (4 applicants – 1%; 2 awardees – 1%); Aruba (6 applicants – 1%; 3 awardees – 1%); Barbados (37 applicants – 9%; 19 awardees – 8%); Belize (4 applicants – 1%; 1 awardee – 0%); Bermuda (4 applicants – 1%; 2 awardees – 1%); Cayman Islands (1 applicant – 0.25%; 2 awardees – 1%); Curacao (2 applicants – 0.49%; 1 applicant – 0%); Dominica (6 applicants – 1%; 3 awardees – 1%); Dominican Republic (14 applicants – 3%; 9 awardees – 4%); Grenada (5 applicants – 1%; 3 awardees – 1%); Guadeloupe (8 applicants – 2%; 5 awardees – 2%); Guyana (11 applicants – 3%; 3 awardees – 1%); Haiti (21 applicants – 5%; 8 awardees – 3%); Jamaica (153 applicants – 38%; 97 awardees – 41%); Martinique (5 applicants – 1%; 2 applicants – 1%); Puerto Rico (19 applicants – 5%; 13 awardees – 6%); Saba (1 applicant – 0.25%; 2 awardees – 1%); Sint Maarten (4 applicants – 1%; 4 applicants – 2%); St. Kitts and Nevis (3 applicants – 1%; 2 awardees – 1%); St. Lucia (1 applicant – 0.25%; 1 awardee – 0.42%); St. Vincent and the Grenadines (2 applicants – 0.49%; 2 awardees – 1%); Suriname (4 applicants – 1%; 1 awardee – 0.42%); The Bahamas (18 applicants – 4%; 8 awardees – 3%); Trinidad and Tobago (66 applicants – 16%; 40 awardees – 17%); US Virgin Islands (3 applicants – 1%; 3 awardees – 1%).

(Source – My involvement as a grant award recipient; the curiousity that led me to ask certain questions and do additional research)


Several Antiguans and Barbudans and Wadadli Pen fam made the short list of the Rebel Women Lit Book Club Caribbean (Readers Choice) book awards. Check them out here; then go vote. (Source – YouTube live announcement via Rebel Women)


Big up to Bocas, the Trinidad and Tobago education administrators, and writer Lisa Allen-Agostini who deserve kudos for this initiative – the kind of initiative we need to see replicated across the Caribbean. It’s the Write Away! Young Adult Literature Project funded by the Scotiabank Foundation. “The Write Away! Young Adult Literature project is giving all schools access to five virtual creative writing workshops via the Ministry of Education’s School Learning Management System. Led by the award-winning author Lisa Allen-Agostini, the workshops break down the essentials of creative writing….it is designed to keep students and teachers motivated and engaged in online learning this term. It also gives students access to exciting, culturally-relevant books of all genres that can foster a lifelong love of reading. …In addition to the virtual package that all schools can access, nine secondary schools in the Write Away! project receive books for their school libraries to facilitate book clubs and reading groups, and guided writing support for their students from the Bocas Lit Fest and workshop facilitator Lisa Allen-Agostini. The best writing from students in the Write Away! project will be published next year in an e-book, launching the next generation of writers-to-watch from Trinidad and Tobago.” Details here. (Source – I may have seen it first on Lisa’s blog or a Bocas email)


The Caribbean Writer Volume 34 prize winners are Carmelo Rivera of Vieques and St. Croix (the Daily News Prize for an essay or fiction from the BVI or USVI), for ‘About My Identity Journey’; BVI-lander resident in Grenada Eugenia O’Neal (the Canute A. Broadhurst Prize for short fiction), for ‘Harold Varlack’s Return’; Jamaican Natalie G.S. Corthésy (the Marvin E. Williams Literary Prize), for ‘The Helper Experiment’; Rajiv Ramkhalawan of Trinidad (the Cecile de Jongh Literary Prize for a Caribbean wrier whose work best expresses the spirit of the Caribbean), for ‘An Unkept Heart’; and Rohan Facey (the Vincent Cooper Literary Prize for exemplary writing in Caribbean nation language), for ‘Fi We Language’. (Source – email from The Caribbean Writer)


Mary Quinn, the grand dame of poetry in Antigua and Barbuda, was honoured posthumously (she passed in 2019) on December 3rd 2020 by the governor general of Antigua and Barbuda for “faithful and meritorious service in education and the literary arts”. Her eldest (Paul Quinn) and youngest (Lydia Quinn) children accepted the award. (Source – Lydia Quinn’s facebook page)


Lorna Goodison has completed her tenure as Poet Laureate of Jamaica, earning praise from the Culture director as she exits. “Throughout her tenure she has elevated brand Jamaica globally and right here at home. The focus work of Lorna in the field of education and culture at varying levels through the deep examination and careful production of Jamaican poetry helped propel Jamaica forward and we are extremely proud of you,” the Minister said. Goodison’s final production is New Voices: Selected by Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica, 2017-2020. Read more at Jamaica Observer online. (Source – N/A)


Caribbean writer Nalo Hopkinson has been named the 37th Damon Knight Grand Master of and by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for her contributions to the genre. The award recognizes lifetime achievement in science fiction and fantasy. It will be presented at the 56th Annual Nebula Conference and Awards ceremony, to be streamed between June 4th and 6th 2021. Nalo continues to make inroads in the genre not known for its diversity since the publication of her first novel, the award winning Brown Girl in the Ring, in 1998. “Naming Nalo as Grand Master recognizes not only her phenomenal writing but also her work as an educator who has shaped so many of the rising stars of modern SFF,” said SFFWA president (author of her own engaging fantasy series) American writer Mary Robinette Kowal. Kowal said that Nalo’s nomination got “unanimous approval”.

“She will be only the eighth woman, the second person of colour, and the first Caribbean writer to be named a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master, and she is amazing.” – MRK

Some of you may remember that Nalo was a guest of the Caribbean International Literary Festival (later rebranded as the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival before fizzling out altogether) in Antigua and Barbuda in 2006. That’s her third from right alongside other guest and local writers (from left Althea Prince, Elizabeth Nunez, Verna Wilkins, and on the other side of Nalo, Marie Elena John and me – Joanne C. Hillhouse). Nalo was born in Jamaica to Guyanese writer Slade Hopkinson, and grew up in Trinidad, Guyana, and Canada where she’s spent the bulk of her life; she currently lives in the US where she works as a professor when not writing. (Source – Twitter originally then I scouted for more information)

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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Farewell, Grand Dame (Saying Goodbye to Mary Quinn)

Today, we say goodbye to another member of the Antigua and Barbuda literary community.

Mary Geo Quinn, reflexively and enduringly referred to as the Grand Dame of Antiguan and Barbudan Poetry (not an official title, as there is no official title for writers in Antiguan and Barbuda, but an honorific respected by the literary community of which she was a part and by the wider community in recognition of her status as one of our local literary elders), has died (June 13th 2019). I learned about it a few minutes ago when the condolences started appearing in my social media. Mrs. Quinn was up in years, yes, but death continues to be as surprising as it is inevitable. I hope she was with family in the end and that she knows that the words she worked to put out in to the world were not in vain. I’ve been in the room (sharing platforms with her) and seen how children responded to her folk-leaning poetry. It’s one of the reasons I booked her when asked to organize authors for the National Reading Festival one year and asked her to participate in the 2006 Word Up! Wadadli Pen/Museum fundraiser and literary showcase in which she paid no attention to my imposed time restriction. The opening image of this post, by photographer Laura Hall, is from the latter event. Her popularity aside, I sensed some frustration (beginning when I, as a young one desperate to get published, found myself in a room with her, a much older one similarly hopeful/hungry, awaiting the outcome of some writing competition or other – the details are blurry but that’s the first time I remember our paths crossing and I remember some frustration with the outcome). That’s normal and inevitable for any writer but especially as a writer trying to get some footing in a country where the literary arts are at best an afterthought (with token nods to development) and in a wider world where you are near-invisible.  The last event I was at where she was recognized was a Culture Department event a couple of years ago, where she was presented, I believe, with a plaque (accepted by her son Paul, for her contribution to the literary arts). I have mixed feelings about that event and about the Culture Department’s gestures re the literary arts for a number of other reasons but not the recognition for Mrs. Quinn. I remember, as I write this, that round about 2004, she was one of the writers (myself included) who received a plaque from the local UNESCO office for her contribution to the literary arts.

The Readers Choice Book of the Year initiative (for which her last book was in the running) aside, I last posted about Mrs. Quinn here on the blog when she launched her last book Hol’ de Line and Other Stories in 2017. She was 85 at the time.

Over the years, Mrs. Quinn, a beloved local-folk poet, has picked up some external recognition for her writing – including winning a 1961 competition organized by the Venezuelan Embassy in Barbados with her story ‘By Hook or By Crook’ and, in 2000, the King of Redonda Prize for her Recollections about the relocation of the village of Winthorpes to make way for the American Base when she was a child, and being highly commended for her short story ‘Joe’ in the 2002 Commonwealth Short Story competition, one  of only a couple (literally) of Antiguans and Barbudans to earn any recognition in that still ongoing international competition.

As a poet, the genre she’s most known for, she has self-published (because independent publishing was and is still often the only option available to writers from a small space and for some emerging writers the preferred form – as publishing continues to shift globally) – more than are listed here (going back to the 1970s) because they were often prints rather than traceable/researchable publications. She had more traditionally published work in her later years – Reflections with Macmillan Education in 2003 (I haven’t seen a copy of this but it is listed on their website though without a cover and out of print) and Hol’ de Line (for which her family gave her the full author treatment).

(this is from the June 13th 2017 edition of the Daily Observer newspaper)

Mrs. Quinn, regular listeners to Observer Radio’s Voice of the People might remember as the lady from the Observer library who late host Winston Derrick name checked daily at the start of his show – with her thoughts/words (was it the thought of the day or the word of the day?). Born in 1931, she worked as a teacher from age 15 and retired as head teacher.

I apologize that this is somewhat all over the place-I admit that I am growing tired of writing these art obits (as I age up) and it is rushed (it is late at night and I have to work, remember Wadadli Pen is not a paying gig, and no time to do proper research), but I didn’t want to leave Mrs. Quinn unsung at her passing.

When the Caribbean Compass article announced her victory in the (seemingly one-off) regional King of Redonda Prize, it quoted a judge as saying, “Recollections should rank as a West Indian classic.” – something that could also be said of the late Antiguan and Barbudan poet.

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Quinn.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. Do not re-post or re-use in whole without permission nor excerpt without crediting and, where possible, linking back. Respect copyright. All rights reserved.

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Congrats to Antigua and Barbuda’s Grand Dame of Poetry


‘It was a gala, red carpet affair when Antigua and Barbuda’s “Grand Dame of Poetry” Mary Geo Quinn launched her ninth book, “Hol’ De Line and Other Stories”, on June 9. Scores of nationals flocked to the Runway 10 Conference Centre to witness a cultural treat of music, song, poetry readings and storytelling by her children, grandchildren and siblings.

At the ripe old age of 85, Mary Quinn is the oldest Antiguan and Barbudan to publish a book in her platinum years. The book launch included two book reviews by Best of Books Manager and Literary Critic Barbara Arindell and Journalist, Lecturer and Author, D Gisele Isaac. They both had high accolades for Mrs Quinn and the sterling quality of the book…’ Continue reading at the Daily Observer.

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Caribbean writers singled out in Commonwealth Short Story competition

Winners of the 2011 Commonwealth Short Story competition have been announced and there are two Caribbean-ers among them. The first is Barbara Jenkins of Trinidad and Tobago: Regional Winner from the Caribbean for her story Head Not Made For Hat Alone. “I wrote the story,” she’s quoted as saying, “after a particularly dystopian  morning on the road. Everything in the story is real – culled from a  number of experiences and observations. So perhaps the writing was a  sort of catharsis?”

I should note that I first came across Jenkins’ name recently when flipping through Volume 24 of the Caribbean Writer: on the page announcing the year’s prize winners her head-thrown-back-in-full-laugh picture as the Winner of the Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for Short Fiction was two slots above the picture announcing me as the Winner of the David Hough Literary Prize for a Writer Living in the Caribbean. Kind of cool to be two degrees of (no not Kevin Bacon but) separation away from a winner of the highly competitive Commownwealth Short Story Competition. I can think of only two Antiguans and Barbudans who made the cut in recent years, Hazra Medica, whose story, the Banana Stains, was among those Highly Commended in 2008 and Mary Geo Quinn  whose story, Joe, was similarly Highly Commended in 2002 Commonwealth Short Story Winners 2002.

Winning is kind of a big deal given the international scope of the competition as noted by the other Caribbean notable of 2011, Diane Brown, a Jamaican whose story, The Happiness Dress, won a Special Prize as a Story for Children. She said, “Winning this special prize for a short story for  children is a singular honour. This acknowledgement of the work of a  local writer of children’s fiction gives that writing an international  platform.”

Per a release from the Commonwealth, “a panel of international judges made the choices from over 2000 entries”. Overall 2011 winner was Philip Nash of the UK with his story Rejoinder. Best regional entries, in addition to Jenkins, were Martha by Basett Buyukah of Kenya, The Maoist by Nikesh Murali of India, and Ginger Beer by Sarah Bainbridge, New Zealand.

The winning stories – all 26 of them – will also be available in audio format. In fact, it may interest you, dear reader, to note that when I was formulating the structure for the Wadadli Pen competition back in 2003, I did a little piggy backing in terms of the word limit on the Commonwealth Short Story competition because like that competition I wanted entries to be a good and compact length for radio broadcast. So, audio recordings and distribution to media outlets of the winning entries have been part of our mission and action from day one. In fact, if you visit, Anansesem* – the Caribbean Children’s e-zine – you’ll hear some of the recordings that came out of our competition in the early years in  their special Wadadli Pen issue. If I could figure out how to do it, I’d post them here, too; and soon as I can figure out funding, we’ll do more of the same. Point is though rather than reinventing the wheel, I did take some cues re structure from the Commonwealth contest, adapting it, of course, to be its own thing relevant to our context in Antigua and Barbuda (and the Caribbean).

Anyway, that’s enough rambling. Congratulations to winners from the region, past and present, and, since the competition is an annual exercise, dare we say, future. Deadline for the next round of submissions is November 30th; details re eligibility will be posted at www.commonwealthwriters.org by October 18th according to this release posted to the Caribbean Literary Salon.

For the full list of winners and their stories, as well as back editions, go to http://www.commonwealthfoundation.com/Howwedeliver/Prizes/CommonwealthShortStoryCompetition/2011winners

THIS JUST IN: Commendation also went to Kathyann Husbands and Edwina Griffiths of Barbados, and Sonja Dumas of Trinidad and Tobago; for Love Honour and Obey, White Shoes, and Letting Cockroaches Live, respectfully.

*Please note Anansesem is currently in the process of being re-located to here.

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