Tag Archives: Optimist

Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid April 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).

Publications News

Joy James, founder and former owner of Art At The Ridge, a former Wadadli Pen patron, will soon be publishing her third children’s non-fiction book, Another 101 Black Inventors and their Inventions. This is the third in a series of books after 101 Black Inventors and their Inventions and Brilliant Black Inventors. Joy, who has returned to the UK after her time as a gallery owner in Antigua and Barbuda, says that the idea for her books started when her children were younger and she was looking for books with Black role models to help inspire them and expand their minds. “I knew this information was out there somewhere, but I couldn’t find anything in an organised format or in the form of a children’s book.” Her first book targetted upper primary and lower secondary, and her second book ages 5 and younger. This new one will target 9 to 12 year olds.

“I hope that everyone young and old will enjoy reading about the many Black inventors in our world and their wonderful contributions that help to improve our lives. I hope that they will be heartened by this. Our world has certainly benefitted from these amazing inventions!” Joy is currently running a creative campaign for her book on Kickstarter where early copies are offered as rewards. 


Shout out to young Antiguan and Barbudan chess combatants who scored victories in their first rated hybrid tournament. I don’t fully know what that means but past Wadadli Pen winner (and my current mentee/intern) Andre Warner – who has previously played internationally, scoring Antigua and Barbuda’s first win at that level – explains in this Daily Observer article.

(Source – Andre Warner)


Antigua and Barbuda: Where Love and Lust Collide is the theme of a campaign being promoted by the Tourism Ministry. It’s a romance campaign writing competition open to citizens – you’ll need to upload your passport bio page as proof of citizenship when submitting. The word limit is 1200 words, prose or poem, and the work should have been previously unpublished. No previous publications. Other details here. (Source – Tourism email)


Demari Samuel (left, above) has won the Optimist Club of St. John’s Oratorical contest, back after a two-year break due to COVID-19. The sixteen-year-old St. Joseph’s Academy student was one of six young people who took part in the contest. His competition came from his own school, along with the Clare Hall Secondary and the Antigua Girl’s High School. The fifth former is expected to take part in a Caribbean District contest on April 30th. He will compete with other students for scholarship money which can be used to assist with college financing. Wadadli Pen patron The Best of Books contributed book prizes to the top three. (Source – email)


This One Sky Day (also known as Popisho) by Jamaican-British author Leone Ross catapults to another long list, the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize, which is awarded to a book of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry which best evokes the spirit of a place. Ross, in celebrating her latest accolade, reflected, “I am nominated for writing Popisho, a fictional Caribbean-esque archipelago. Popisho: I can see it right now. A home I made in my head. I could go back tomorrow. And I never knew this was a skill I had.” She also celebrated the number of “women and global majority” writers on the list. The short list will be announced on April 20th and the winner on May 4th 2022. (Source – Leone Ross’ Facebook)


Antiguan and Barbudan artist Mark Brown is exhibiting at Kafé de l’Arawak in Guadeloupe, April 6th to 29th 2022. “It’s been a very long time since I had the opportunity to do a solo show and I’m so happy to be able to do my first post-Covid exhibition in Guadeloupe, because I always felt like family there.” (Brown)

The exhibition, Mark’s first solo show in the French West Indies, is in partnership with United Karibbean Artists. (Source – Mark Brown via facebook)


Antigua Artisans Travelling Market is a pop-up market, the Easter edition of which lands at St. Anthony’s Secondary School in Langfords. Regular vendor artisans listed here. (Source – Facebook)


There are two major Caribbean literary festivals this month. One I already covered, so I’ll start with the one I’ll be posting for the first time (I think).

At this point, it is the biggest, most consistent of the big Caribbean literary festivals – home to several major literary prizes including the coveted Bocas best book by a Caribbean writer, at home and abroad, prize. I’ve already told you that the finalists for this year’s prize are poet Jason Allen-Paisant (Thinking with Trees), novelist Celeste Mohammed (Pleasantview), and essayist Kei Miller (Things I have Withheld). The announcement of the winner will be one of the highlights of Bocas. Here’s the rest of the programme. We can once again participate online. That in mind, I think I’m most looking forward to The Difference a Word Makes with T&T writers Akhim Alexis, Simone Leid, and Hadassah Williams on April 29th; Backchat 2022: Embracing Power, Making Change: Celebrating Caribbean LGBTQI+ Stories with Kei Miller, Shani Mootoo, Rosamond S. King, Rajiv Mohabir, Andre Bagoo, Deneka Thomas, Lisa Allen-Agostini, Shivanee Ramlochan, Angelique Nixon, and Willum Watts, with musical performances by Xoe Sazzle and Moon the Artist, and a presentation by artist Arnaldo James, hosted by Phillipé Alexander on April 29th; A World made of Stories during which Ayanna Lloyd Banwo launches her debut novel When We were Birds on April 30th; the April 30th Winners Row event featuring the Bocas winners and winners of the Bocas Henry Swanzy and emerging writers prizes; and Fierce as an Island on May 1st, featuring Olive Senior, Pamela Mordecai, and Canisia Lubrin. (Source – JR Lee email)

The other event, and much sooner, is, of course, the US VI lit fest. You can register for the events here. There doesn’t seem to be an online breakdown of the events but it is a mix of in person and online, featuring The 1619 Project’s Nicole Hannah-Jones, academics Natasha Lightfoot, Hadiya Sewer (in person) – ETA: you can view that here; and (virtually) Ingrid Bough, Clelia O. Rodriguez, Rozeena Maart, Lewis R. Gordon, Marva McClean, and authors and poets Alecia McKenzie, Andre Bagoo, Richard Georges, Cadwell Turnbull, Biko McMillan, Tobias S. Buckell, Tiphanie Yanique, and Joanne C. Hillhouse. Additionally, musician and illustrator Errol ‘Ajani’ Williams and child writer Bae Shantee Sewer. (Source – see Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late March 2022))

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, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Support Literary Arts at HMP

Props to Wadadli Pen judge Brenda Lee Browne on her volunteer work at Antigua and Barbuda women’s prison, giving the inmates a creative outlet and a sense of their  own power and potential with a pen in their hand.

The programme is getting rave reviews and will hopefully receive the funding it needs to keep going. Here’s an article on the programme. And given her generousity with her time with respect to this programme, it wouldn’t be out of order to mention Browne’s for-hire services as writer and writing coach. While others – *clears throat* I – continue to drag their feet on putting together the long planned follow up to my previous writing workshops, Browne has waded into the deep end with Just Write. Props to her for that as well.

Meantime, I hope to have more on the prison programme, including some of the work produced by the Fantastic Five, for posting on this site. But wanted to give them a mention asap as the women have had their programme graduation and the facilitators are now seeking paint and other supplies for creation of a library in the women’s section of the prison to encourage the ladies to continue reading and writing.

Unrelated but not unconnected is the work of Optimist Club of St. John’s also at 1735, the colloquial name for Her Majesty’s Prison of Antigua and Barbuda. Their latest effort involved creating a library in the prison proper.

Here’s hoping both programmes get the funding to underwrite all the planned initiatives and maybe pay a stipend to the likes of Brenda Lee and the volunteer teachers being recruited by the Optimists to cover various subjects (Math, English, IT, Spanish, Integrated Science, and Social Studies) in the prison.

Contact Gender Affairs (gender@antigua.gov.ag)  if you wish to support either programme. And I hope you do.

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