Tag Archives: Montserrat

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late November 2022)

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 – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here – credit and link back if you use).

Accolades

Selvyn Walter, Antiguan and Barbudan politician-writer-art-collector-and-pan-booster, who died in 2020, received a Sunshine Award posthumously for his support of the performing arts. It was presented November 26th during Moods of Pan, a premier local pan festival, which was live this year for the first time since the pandemic. Daily Observer reported that the award was partly in recognition of his founding role in Halcyon Steel Orchestra and was meant to have been presented at the multi-panorama winning band’s 50th anniversary, in 2021, but was delayed due to the pandemic. (Source – Daily Observer by Newsco)

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Caribbean Reads author Danielle Y C Mclean’s The Whisperer’s Warning has been named winner of this year’s Bocas Children’s Book Prize. The book, illustrated by Rachel Moss, is a sequel to her Burt award winning The Protector’s Pledge.

The Trinidad born US based author’s book is “a juvenile fantasy novel which draws on TT folklore…packed with exciting and dramatic plot twists, taking readers into the shadowy world of characters such as Papa Bois, La Diablesses, jumbies, and douens, harmonising reality, myth, and imagination” (TT Newsday). The prize is in its second year. The winner takes home US$1000. (Source – Caribbean Reads on instagram)

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Musgrave medals have been handed out to 10 Jamaicans including writers Diana McCaulay and Geoffrey Philp.

(source of images – the one in the middle is from Twitter and the flanking ones are from Annie Paul’s Facebook)

Gold medallists are, per the Jamaica Observer, McCaulay (author, Daylight Come etc.), Lenford Salmon (actor, Third World Cop etc.), and Joy Spence (chemist).
Silver medallists are Philp (author, Garvey’s Ghost etc.), Kevin Jackson (animator), Eric Garraway (entomologist).
Bronze medallists are Safiya Sinclair (author, Cannibal), Patrick Brown (playwright), and Susan Koenig (biologist).
David Salmon received the youth medal award for advocacy and leadership.

Launched in 1889, the Musgrave medals are named forAnthony Musgrave, a former governor of Jamaica and founder of the Institute of Jamaica. (Source – social media – twitter and facebook)

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The Lionfish Derby has emerged as a creative solution to the problem of the invasive marine species in Antigua’s waters. In addition to the catch, there is also a competition for student artists. In the 14 – 18 category, 14-year-old Xezlaina Looby won, and in the nine to 13 age category Summer Goodwin won.

The winners attend the Christ the King High School. (Source – Daily Observer by Newsco)

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The winner of Antigua’s got Talent, a creative arts showcase and fundraiser, which raised EC$15,000+ for PAAWS animal shelter, is Stephen Gore who performed Tian Winter’s “In de Dance”. (Source – Daily Observer by Newsco/Antigua)

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Euzhan Palcy (director of Sugar Cane Alley and Dry White Season) collected the Governor’s Award from Viola Davis on behalf of the Motion Picture Association of America, an award previously announced in our early to mid September 2022 Carib Lit Plus bulletin. Two students from schools in Martinique – one from a school named for her – were present at the awards ceremony, to bear witness to this native daughter’s moment of glory. While doing so with gratitude, she also called out Hollywood for its diversity issues (being told “Black is not bankable, female is not bankable, Black and female are not bankable”- still ongoing. “I was tired of being the first of too many firsts but denied the chance to make the movies I (felt) compelled to make,” Palcy said. The award she said encourages her “to raise my voice again, to offer you movies of all genres that I always wanted to make in my own way.”

(Source – YouTube)

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A number of awards were given out in November by the Antigua and Barbuda Gospel Music and Media Awards, its 8th iteration of this awards programme. The Daily Observer by Newsco picked up three of those awards – media of the year, regional media of the year, and a legacy award for longevity.

All winners can be viewed here and you can read about the awards programme here. While I didn’t see it on the main list, there is also reporting of the ABGMMA presenting an award to social media influencer J’Truth in the name of late (since his death in 2002) journalist, Leonard Tim Hector – a local pioneer in investigative journalism and unbridled criticism, with his newspaper Outlet and its “Fan the Flame” column penned by him often shaking the table and receiving the backlash that can come with that (see the Antigua and Barbuda media history post on this site). That Hector’s family did not give permission for the use of his name in this way became obvious when they condemned the award of the Leonard Tim Hector Impact Award for Social Activism to JTruth. The Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Committee which already awards a prize in Hector’s name with the endorsement of the family co-signed this condemnation. The public has been weighing in on the suitability of the award recipient (Ameen Dias who has become popular for his controversial vlogs), especially given the association with Hector’s name, but what I’m curious about, simply because as a literary and arts space we are always trying to empower ourselves (and the various creators who come here) with knowledge, is IP issues around the use of Hector’s name (any lawyers in the comments?). (Source – Daily Observer newspaper & Facebook)

Movies

As you’ll see below, two Caribbean films, The Fab 4 and Deep Blue, the latter by Antiguan and Barbudan filmmakers, are having their regional debut at Montserrat’s Alliougana Festival of the Word. And then there is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The international blockbuster’s M’Baku, Winston Duke of Tobago, graces the cover of the latest edition of Esquire magazine.

He said on Facebook, “It has always been a dream of mine to grace the cover of especially esquire magazine! Growing up, being an esquire man was the epitome of style and masculine refinement. Dramatic, yet assured … being able to see myself on this is literally a dream come true! I dedicate this to my mom, Cora Pantin, whose love, guidance & prayers sowed the seeds. Though she isn’t here to see her son grow to this today.” You can read the Esquire article here. Excerpt:

‘As an island kid, he missed warm weather. Rochester was cold, and Americans were colder. “I come from a culture where people are warm-blooded, warm culture. When they talk, sometimes they talk real close to you. Americans feel entitled to space.”’

Also learned, reading the article of the death of his mother at 66, quite suddenly, quite recently. RIP Mama Coco. (Source – Winston Duke on Facebook)

Books & Other Reading Material

From Hansib, another 2022 release: Joe Solomon and the Spirit of Port Mourant. Port Mourant is a sugar plantation from the Berbice district of Guyana, and Solomon, who, at 92, is the oldest living West Indian Test cricketer, is one of three Windies 1960s players (the others being Rohan Kanhai and Basil Butcher) it produced. He played for Windies 27 times between the late 50s and early 60s. The book is written by academic Clem Seecharan with assistance from Ian McDonald (author of The Hummingbird Tree). (Source – Facebook)

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The Bookseller reports, “Picador signs first prose collection by Linton Kwesi Johnson”. The collection, Time Come: Selected Prose will be published in April 2023. “The publication brings together his book and record reviews published in newspapers and magazines, lectures, obituaries and speeches, spanning five decades.” Johnson is a Jamaica-born, Britain-based dub poet and activist. (Source – JRLee email)

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Dominica born and raised, in Vieille Case, Kisma Panthier-Jn Pierre, resident in Antigua and Barbuda where she is now building the MJP Academy, along All Saints Road, has announced the publication of My 10 Year Blue Print Journal: |A Journal that helps 10-16 year olds to create their future.

This journal is a part of the My 10-Year Blue Print Motivation Journey offered by Kisma which includes guidance and coaching in the form of videos, text, and live sessions. Your child or teen is not alone on this journey and for the next 100 days after starting this program, Kisma will be with them every step of the way. November 18th 2022 is listed on Amazon as the publication date and, per her linkedin, Jn Pierre is offering a special rate for the book, with coaching , through to November 28th 2022. This is not her first publishing experience. In 2021, she was part of an anthology Unleash Your Undeniable Impact: A Compilation of Messages to inspire You to maximize Your Impact on the World presented by Les Brown and Dr. Cheryl Wood. (Source – Kisma Panthier-Jn Pierre on linkedin)

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Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters Issue 22 is out. It is a special Bermuda bienniel dispatch including the likes of Yesha Townsend and Nancy Anne Miller of Bermuda. There is also a new edition of Sky Words, the Moko podcast. (Source – Moko magazine email)

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The Speak Out! series on the Commonwealth Writers Adda platform. This is four issues strong with different editors from around the Commonwealth including Antigua and Barbuda’s Brenda Lee Browne. The stories and poems selected for the collection were submitted in response to “a call for submissions related to Freedom of Expression and its wider subthemes of gender, LGBTQIA+, race/ethnicity, and politics among others.” I have posted reviews to issues 1 and 2 of Adda (and full disclosure submitted to and was rejected by the selectors for Speak Out!). (Source – me)

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Three recent Papillote titles are Still Standing: The Ti Kais of Dominica by Adom Philgene Heron with photographs by Marica Honychurch, Black Man Listen by Kathy Casimir Maclean, and A Scream in the Shadows by Mac Donald Dixon. Papillote Press is a small, independent publishing house specialising in books about Dominica and the wider Caribbean. From observation, Dixon’s book especially has been getting a fair amount of critical attention including from Bookends in the Jamaica Observer where the three-time novelist was described as “arguably one of the Caribbean’s most versatile writers” and A Scream in the Shadows as “a timely novel that will strike a chord with readers.” (Source – N/A)

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Antiguan and Barbudan artist Zavian Archibald has illustrated another of Harper Collins’ Big Cat children’s books. She previously illustrated Turtle Beach written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Barbara Arrindell and now Jumbled by British writer Jasmine Richards. It’s the story of Baccoo, a character from Guyanese folklore, which may have originated from Yoruba culture, infiltrating a classroom in the UK

(Source – various)

Events

Caribbean artists Diana McCaulay of Jamaica and Kendel Hippolyte of St. Lucia are (at this writing) scheduled to participate in Art and Climate Justice: Reimagining the Future, a critical conversation bringing together artists and activists from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific to discuss the power and importance of art to the global conversation on climate change. It’s on November 29th 2022. Register here. & we’ve seen climate activists targetting art but art was also used to illuminate the issues.

e.g. this mural by Indian artist Shilo Shiv featuring climate campaigners from the Amazon, Uganda, and Pakistan. – “the stories we tell and the cultures we create is ultimately what shifts public opinion.”

e.g. this mural by Painot, a young illustrator from Peru; it spotlights people from different professions resisting the fossil fuel industry.

(Source – Commonwealth Foundation email)

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The Alliougana Festival of the Word kicked off in Montserrat on November 17th 2022. Here are some scenes from their opening parade.

Activities between November 17 and 19 listed below:

Two Antiguan and Barbudan films are being screened on movie night, Yemoja’s Anansi, a short by Christal Clashing as mentioned above and HAMA’s Deep Blue.

(Source – AFW on Facebook)

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Two music events have crossed my timeline. One is Burna Boy announced for December 17th at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium, Antigua (on the heels of mixed reports out of Dominica about the costs associated with booking such a high profile international artiste) and the other is part of the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra play out series, with guest violinist Braimah Kanneh-Mason.

Braimah is part of the renowned Kanneh-Mason clan out of the UK – the patriarch of which has Antiguan roots. (Source – Facebook)

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The Moray House Trust’s 2022 programme will close with two events to commemorate Guyanese writers Martin Carter and Edgar Mittelholzer. Every December they feature the work of Martin Carter who died on 13th December 1997. This year the plan is to focus on Carter’s Poems of Affinity. This year, the finale of the Chapter & Verse series will be dedicated to the work of Edgar Mittelhozer, who was born on 16th December 1909. The call goes out to anyone who has a favourite poem from Poems of Affinity or a favourite passage (or poem) by Mittelholzer and would like to read, should email Morayhousetrust@gmail.com by Friday 18th November. They will record the readings by Zoom from 21st – 25th November. (Source – the Nature Island Literary Festival on Facebook)

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!Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid October 2022)

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 – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here – credit and link back if you use).

Accolades

Cuban born Ada Ferrer’s Cuba: An American History is on the Cundill History Prize 2022 shortlist.

Already a Pulitzer Prize winner for history, Cuba “provides us with a front-row seat as we witness the evolution of the modern nation, with its dramatic record of conquest and colonization, of slavery and freedom, of independence and revolutions made and unmade.” (Source – Literary Hub email)

Events

The annual Antigua and Barbuda Conference takes place October 13th and 14th 2022. This is the full programme. It will be virtual. I don’t have link-up information at this writing (October 11th 2022), sorry. (Source – email from the project assistant)

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Two dozen acclaimed Caribbean writers will be in residence at the British Library on October 29 for a day-long programme of stories, poems and music. There will be other events in Leicester, Norwich, Leeds, and Belfast.

Click this link for more and to book tickets if you are in the UK. (Source – Bocas email)

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The Bridgetown International Arts Festival (in Barbados) is produced and curated by artists. It’s a space to display new and contemporary work in the performing and visual arts. Artists can share new work, build their own audiences, and develop collaborations.

Go to the social media links to register or for more information. (Source – N/A)

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The Dominica Antigua Connection presents its first ever Kweyol in the Park on November 6th 2022, 12 – 10 p.m., on the Department of Environment grounds. It has been advertised as a day of music, cuisine, dance, art, and various cultural presentations. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper/Antigua and Barbuda)

Opportunities

There’s still time to get your submissions in for the annual Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Prize info here. (Source – N/A)

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Antiguan and Barbudan young scientists Teyanna Nathaniel, Deshini Charles, Leyla Reid, and Ethan Bailey will be among participants from 180 other countries facing off in Geneva, Switzerland in what’s described as a major robotics competition. From the Daily Observer, “Every year, FIRST Global invites nations to compete in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)-themed game that is focussed on addressing various challenges facing the planet, including the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering, in an effort to foster understanding and cooperation among students 14 – 18.” This year’s theme is Carbon Capture. The event runs from October 13 – 16. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper/Antigua and Barbuda)

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The October session of the Jhohadli Writing Project workshop has been rescheduled to October 21st 2022 which means more time to register. This and other opportunities in Opportunities Too.

(Source – Me)

Books

The Stranger Who Was Myself by Barbara Jenkins “is the kind of story best read in solitude to propel the beauty of its prose and of its wisdom from off its pages to land straight into your heart. One is sure to emerge a better mother (for the women who read it), a more astute observer and a kinder human when the last page of this novel is turned. The places, people, architecture, community, societies and culture were so wonderfully recalled and accurately outlined in stunning detail, it’s easy to believe that Barbara’s entire life and memory were preparing her for the act of writing this memoir, proving that the best storytellers, in fact, are born and not bred. This is a must for lovers of memoir or those who are seeking a first foray into the genre.” It is published by Peepal Tree Press. (Source – Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival on Facebook)

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US based Antiguan and Barbudan writer and artist Iyaba Ibo Mandingo has released a second edition of his last book Fu Yuh Tongue Heavy Laka 56. ““It has been four years since its original release. My baby sister Nicole lost her battle to cancer three days after the book signing. I tried, in her memory, to push on, but eventually the weight of the ‘whys’ took a toll on my enthusiasm, and a project I believed in with my everything slowed to a halt”. (Mandingo in an instagram posting) Despite the lag, the book is now getting a new berth. Mandingo described it as “more than a collection of poetry of thirty years of poetry. The first third is a look back at the work from the first poem in an Iowa jail, to my ‘Mykus’ reflecting on the fifty-five days with homeland security after my 9-11 poem. The rest of the book is my discovery of the joy of writing in my native tongue.”

Fu Yuh Tongue Heavy Laka 56 has been added to the Poetry page and the main data base of Antiguan and Barbudan writers. The previous edition was issued in 2018. (Source – Author DM)

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Trinidad and Tobago writer and editor Andre Bagoo has two new collections out since summer this year: The Dreaming, which is a collection of stories, and Narcissus, a poetry collection. From publisher of The Dreaming, Peepal Tree Press: “At one level, Andre Bagoo’s stories have the very real virtue of taking the everyday lives of his gay Trinidadian characters utterly for granted in their searches for sex, adventure, pleasure, self-realisation and all the enrichments of loving contact. There’s a neat balance between a highly enjoyable sharpness of perception and a relaxed and engaging personal voice, and room for humour in several of these stories. …The narrator of several of these stories is a writer who wants to focus on the personal satisfactions and inner dramas of these lives as the truth about gay experience. But at the back of his mind are the stories of the brutal murders of gay men reported with coy innuendo in the press. …Bagoo’s stories offer a witty and acutely drawn portrait of contemporary Trinidad in all its intersections of race, class and gender politics.” Narcissus, meanwhile, is described as “In this powerful collection, Bagoo examines the varied dynamics of the body and mind with the narcissism of the soul, while fully embracing the work of art as a critical reflection on the human condition.” The Broken Sleep publication is his sixth collection. (Source – Andre Bagoo on Twitter)

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English literary critic, novelist, and biographer Miranda Seymour earlier this year published I used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys about the famed Dominican writer (author of Wide Sargasso Sea). It is published by W. W. Norton & Company.

(Source – Papillote Press via instagram)

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Three authors launched their trio of books in Montserrat this summer. Titles above. (Source – N/A)

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Dominican writer Celia Sorhaindo has a new book after her critically acclaimed poetry collection Guabancex. Her Radical Normalization was published by Carcanet Press in September 2022.

(Source – JRLee email)

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I mentioned in the previous Carib Lit Plus that there was a new Penguin edition of New Daughters of Africa as of August 2022. I’ve since finished reading the book (the original Myriad edition published in 2019) and uploaded a review to Bloggers on Books in addition to talking about it in my CREATIVE SPACE column (Headlined: Claiming Our Space by Telling Our Stories)

Also, as seen above, CREATIVE SPACE which is my art and culture column currently platformed in the Daily Observer newspaper, made the front page for a second straight week – here’s the previous front page article. (Source – Me)

Arts and Culture

October is Black History Month in the UK and a project called The World ReImagined has been part of this year’s rollout. Quoting from KnowYourCaribbean on instagram “a community of Artists, Activists, Community Workers, Historians, Educators, Poets and all round kick ass committed believers – come together to change the world and how we view ourselves.” One of the more visible projects is the commissioning and scattering across the English landscape of 103 globes with artistic interpretations (including by some Caribbean-resident artists) of Black people’s legacies of slavery, resistance, resilience, and revolution.

The website includes a map allowing you to locate the marble looking art installations while also adding to the public knowledge of the history of Black people. It is an opportunity for learning. (Source – Know Your Caribbean on instagram)

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It’s October and Trinidad and Tobago writer and editor, and founder of the Caribbean Books Foundation, which platforms books by Caribbean writers, has, for another year running, branded it Caribbean Folklore Month. The calendar includes Jumbie Night, October 9th 2022; plus folklore features, book launches, author interviews, and book reviews. With the growing influence of America’s Halloween in the region, Caribbean Folklore Month is a reminder that we have our own traditions. The month in its premiere year, 2021, featured douens, papa bois, soucouyant, and more. You can get involved by sharing what’s posted by the Caribbean Folklore social pages and others, you can post about your folklore experiences and tag them. You can even read my jumbie story “Papa Jumbie” (published by Akashic Books online) or my zombie story “Zombie Island” (published in Interviewing the Caribbean), share the video of you reading it – I’d enjoy that as long as you credit and tag me. Use the hashtags #CaribbeanFolkloreMonth #JumbieNight (and if you’re reading one of mine #gyalfromOttosaAntigua). You can create a folklore video, artwork, event or celebration around a folklore theme. You can buy, read and recommend books on Folklore and share your reviews – Authors will appreciate this. If you are a Caribbean author or writer, you can add a folklore character or theme to your next novel or story.

Marsha Gomes-McKie’s newest title.

(Source – Marsha Gomes-McKie social media)

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!Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Sample Saturday: Away From Home

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

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

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

Verdict: Definitely check it out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Mailbox – 2015 Alliouagana Festival of the Word

It’s been 20 years since the start of volcanic activity and this year’s programme will explore various aspects of the theme Volcanic Ash: Journeys and Connections.

The first event is the 3rd Distinguished Lecture in the Alphonsus ‘Arrow’ Cassell Memorial Lecture Series.  This will be presented by Dr. Aldrin Sweeney who has chosen as his topic Thinking Beyond the Ash: Using Our Volcanic Resources.  The Lecture will be held in the Conference Room at the Cultural Centre on Thursday November 12, 2015 at 7.30 pm.

Baroness Floella Benjamin, the Patron for the Festival for 2015, will be talking about her own journeys at the Opening Ceremony which starts at 8.15 pm on Friday November 13.  Other highlights for the evening include an Africana Fashion Show and the launch of new books by Edgar Nkosi White and David Lea.

The rest of the weekend will be devoted to events, many of which are now regular fixtures on the Festival Calendar.  These include exciting workshops with exceptional authors both local and visiting, readings and signings, the MVO creative writing competition award ceremony on Saturday and the Book Lovers’ Parade on Sunday.  The Parade is coordinated this year by Miss Montserrat / Miss Jaycees Caribbean Queen, Sharissa Ryan, with assistance continuing from our partners, the Coral Cay Team.

Coretta Ryan (Sharissa’s sister) is behind a new event for the 2015 literary festival.  Word Up will be held away from the Cultural Centre and Spoken Word artists, calypsonians and poets are invited to showcase their work at 8 pm on Saturday November 14 at the Lyme in Brades (home of Nanny’s Café).Word Up Flyer V2 compressed

Thanks to the Government of Montserrat, major sponsor for this year, a special fare of EC$200 round-trip is being offered for anyone travelling by ferry out of Antigua for the Festival.

Full programme: AFW_E-Programme_2015_Final

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Growing up Barefoot in Montserrat: a Review

With apologies to the author who gave me this book for review a lifetime ago, especially since, as a writer I know waiting for the review can be a slow kind of torture.

By Joanne C. Hillhouse

David R. Bradshaw’s Growing up Barefoot Under Montserrat’s Sleeping Volcano: Memories from a Colonial Childhood in a British Caribbean Island 1952 – 1961 has an entirely too long title. It is a sign of things to come though in a self-published book in which not even minor details are swept into the corner. Perhaps because Bradshaw is not just telling a story, he’s investigating a mystery and laying out the sometimes sparse evidence before the reader. Think ‘Who do you think you are?’ (TV show).

It is, in a superficial sense, also in the spirit of narratives like To Shoot Hard Labour and Journeycakes (both by Antiguan authors) except it doesn’t quite, as they do, elevate the personal to broader social import. There are common touch stones; for instance, the role of the extended family, in particular Bradshaw’s Grandma Joanna, in childrearing, often in the absence of parents who have either died or migrated. That story (and the grandmother/tanty at the heart of it) is a familiar chapter in the story of the Caribbean in the 20th century, a feature of my own fictional work The Boy from Willow Bend.  And Bradshaw in an interesting and insightful note, speculates that at some point, she who has carried many – maybe too many –children on her broad shoulders “may not have had any reserves left” for the kind of affection a child needs; that child being him (and all the children of that generation), of course.

So there are broader insights to be gleaned if you’re looking for it. But telling the social history of Montserrat is, on the surface of it, incidental to Bradshaw’s purpose. He’s looking for himself. The book – though readable and at points quite vivid and poignant – in the end feels less a public product; more a private journal-slash-scrap book of memories and mysteries (with blurry, faded memorabilia such as ticket stubs and passport pages to complement).

But inasmuch as it provides some insight to the process of pulling the scattered pieces of a life together – part memory, part deduction, interviews, following the paper trail, invention at times;

Some snapshots of life in the Caribbean-then from the hen pecked black dog in the backyard to the pits of the school yard to the complications (if not the personal cost) of travel and migration;

And periodic access to moments of genuine drama and emotion – the uncomfortable chapter on the abuse he suffered at the hands of an old white neighbor, and the image of this man, the author, struggling with this confession, comes to mind …

It does rise above the self-indulgent “everybody has a story in them” mantra that opens the book.

I use the word self-indulgent with reservation because while it could be argued that everyone has a story in them but not everyone will be interested in that story, in the Caribbean, among afro-Caribbean people, who have seen so little of themselves in literary canon, there is precedent and meaning behind the desire to tell their story too. In the spirit of the slave narratives that gave voice to the voiceless, these latter day memoirs are about underscoring their humanity. There is value in that as well, and invaluable social history is being captured in these personal stories as much as their cousins, reflections on village life like Joy Lawrence’s Bethesda and Christian Hill. And the compulsion to re-capture that time, re-capture that self, doesn’t change simply because you’ve gone on to become a lawyer in London as Bradshaw has; in fact, that distance from home probably makes it even more urgent, the questioning like a nagging ache who am I? who am I?

“Out I popped, head first I presume, on the eighteenth day of September 1952.”

So it begins, a reflective and humorous undertone, a balance of detail and speculation, a jump-right-into-it there-ness.

“My birth certificate states that I, David Reinford Bradshaw, was born at Ryner’s Village on the island, to my father James Alfred Bradshaw, ‘labourer’ of the said village, and my mother Margaret Ann.”

The author questions:  “Why did my mother leave me to be brought up by a non-parent during my late infancy/early boyhood?” And then he goes digging, lining up the evidence as he finds it, then interprets that evidence. That pattern is repeated throughout, and the investigation detailed – whom he approached about what and why, what information they were able to supply, what he was able to make of it, and so on. It’s interesting, the connections this allows him to make, but gets a bit tedious at times (and at times leaves the reader reeling; the mathematics involved in figuring Joanna’s actual age for instance). As noted earlier, though, it can read as a handbook for this kind of personal research and an at times touching tale of a man’s discovery of his personal history – a history with which Montserratians and Eastern Caribbeaners of a certain time can surely identify.

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, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon 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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Ya Ya Surfeit launches in Antigua

Former Culture Director and celebrated artist and costume designer, Heather Doram, receives her signed copy from Cumberbatch at the Antigua launch of his book. (Photo by Marcella Andre)

Here’s what I wrote after travelling to Montserrat for the launch of Chadd Cumberbatch’s Ya Ya Surfeit: “Even so, his book, with its balance of humour and pathos, layers upon layers of meaning; its insight to and balanced presentation of the male and female psyche, its uniquely Caribbean (and especially Montserratian) perspective on things, and searing honesty will be a revelation. The words feel alive on the page. Imagine then how much more exciting it was to see them leap to life”.

A trimmer but no less enjoyable presentation of the work took place Saturday August 21st at the Best of Books at Royal Palm.

If you haven’t already pick up a copy of this book today. You won’t regret it.

Now you may be wondering why feature a Montserratian writer on an Antiguan site, but quite apart from the fact that Antigua and Montserrat are kissing cousins, there’s the fact that Chadd has made his mark on the Antiguan artistic scene.

Have you seen his performance in the Antiguan film, No Seed?

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