Tag Archives: pan

Carib Lit Plus March 2020

The timing of this post is funny (not haha) as the world slowly shuts down to halt the spread of an international pandemic. No hysterics here. Just a reminder to be safe – follow the guidelines – and don’t panic.

Check a trusted source and tune in to official fact-based updates via local news outlets. Recommended though that this news intake be in manageable bites (to reduce fear and panic), and that we all embrace ways to stay lifted. To wit, this being an arts site, we hope you’ll appreciate this montage of Italians coping with song.

Now, on to arts news from Antigua and Barbuda, and the wider Caribbean.


The Wadadli Pen 2020 Challenge has a short list! Thanks to judges Floree Williams Whyte (judging chief/Wadadli Pen partner), Glen Toussaint (bookseller, writer), and Danielle Boodoo Fortune (Bocas winning poet, and artist). Entries still in the running are: Oh, Beach that I once loved; The John Bull Effect; The Beast of Barbados; Two Worlds Collide; A Bright Future for Tomorrow; My Favourite Dish; A New World; A Mermaid; Lead Me Lord; The Fabled Truth; and Tom, the Ninja Crab. See who the writers were, here.

Zadie Smith, a UK writer, of Jamaican descent on her mother’s side, was shortlisted for the Folio Prize. Already well known and celebrated for books like White Teeth, Zadie is one of eight singled out, this time for her book Grand Union. The winner is due to be announced this March. More here.

Here in Antigua and Barbuda the Directorate of Gender Affairs Awarded 25 Women of Wadadli, a first time initiative held, appropriately, on International Women’s Day, March 8th 2020. “DoGA Executive Director, Farmala Jacobs, said that this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day is especially significant and that the Woman of Wadadli Awards aimed to recognize the unsung heroes among us.” Among the 25, there were broadly eight artists (Colleen Simpson – Culinary Arts, Heather Doram – Culture, Noreen Phillips – Fashion, Zahra Airall – Fine Arts, Marion Byron – Music and Entertainment, Mako Williams – recognized for Tech is also an artist, and Wadadli Pen core team member Barbara Arrindell – recognized as a changemaker, but also a writer). The Literature prize went to Wadadli Pen’s own Joanne C. Hillhouse.


Read more.

Exclusive Interview: M. J. Fievre

Featured on Hillhouse’s Jhohadli blog, this interview with Haitian-American writer M. J. Fievre traverses the territory of depression and her own experience with it and the creative expression that emerged. Her book Happy, Okay? uses various literary forms to speak to her mental health journey (in progress) and another book touched on, Badass Black Girl, is meant to be a guide to young girls in their own process of emerging. Check out the full interview here.










New Books

New from Peepal Tree Press, from PEN English Translation winners Puerto Rico-based Loretta Collins-Klobah and Maria Grau Perejoan, a bilingual anthology of thirty-three contemporary Caribbean women poets The Sea Needs No Ornament/ El mar no necesita ornamento. It is the first bilingual anthology of contemporary poetry by women writers of the English- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean and its Diasporas to be curated in more than two decades. The anthology presents a selection of work by poets from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and from various Anglophone Caribbean islands and the Diaspora. Each poem is presented first in the original, followed by the translation. The majority of poets have not yet been widely translated nor included in a bilingual anthology of this scope.

Klobah is a past Bocas winner.

This one actually came out in late 2019 but we missed it, so

The ArtsEtc Winning Words Anthology is very much in the spirit of what we try to do here at Wadadli Pen. It is a developmental programme that helps to nurture and showcase new writing in Barbados – from fresh and established voices. The only difference really is the resources behind it (e.g. the National Cultural Foundation). Kudos to the NCF for all it does to push literary arts in BIM.

We also want to acknowledge that past Wadadli Pen finalist Rilzy Adams dropped three new self-published ebooks late in 2019 – 12 Dates of Christmas (Love on the Rock Book 1); You, Me + Baby (Love on the Rock Book 2); and Brand New: A Love on the Rock Novelette.

Jacob Ross has released the second book in his Michael ‘Digger’ Digson crime noir series. Black Rain Falling (published with Sphere) picks up after The Bone Readers (Peepal Tree), which introduced the Caribbean forensic detective to the literary world, with a couple of new mysteries to solve.

Monique Roffey – already prolific and profound as the author of books like Archipelago and White Woman on the Green Bicycle (both published with Penguin) – has a new one  (with Peepal Tree) The Mermaid of Black Conch, in which a fisherman on a fictional Caribbean island meets a cursed woman of the sea. The UK-based Trinidad writer previously won the Bocas Prize for literature and has been shortlisted for several other major international awards. Early reviews for this one are good too: “The setting is slow and lush, full of colour and texture, which makes it beautifully three dimensional, with a feeling of movement that lifts and carries you through. There is beauty in the grimness too.” (Jess Sturnam-Coombs)

Also out this March, An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading (CSL Kreisel Lecture Series via the University of Alberta Press) by Dionne Brand. Most online bios found through google describe her as a Canadian poet but she is Trinidad and Tobago born and raised. And this book is informed by her Caribbean colonial upbringing. In it, the “internationally acclaimed poet and novelist Dionne Brand reflects on her early reading of colonial literature and how it makes Black beings inanimate. She explores her encounters with colonial, imperialist, and racist tropes; the ways that practices of reading and writing are shaped by those narrative structures; and the challenges of writing a narrative of Black life that attends to its own expression and its own consciousness.” (book summary)


Guyanese actress, Shuri from Black Panther, Letitia Wright has reportedly signed on to star in the bizarre story of a pair of Barbados-born, UK-based twins. In a nutshell, “They became known as The Silent Twins as they refused to communicate with anyone but each other, and ended up in Broadmoor Hospital after they turned to crime. Jennifer and June spent 11 years in Broadmoor where they were studied by doctors and psychologists, but the pair would still only communicate with each other and became catatonic when separated.” Interesting. Check it out.

Meanwhile, an Antiguan-Barbudan boy is Peter Pan in a new adaptation by the director of the critically-acclaimed, Oscar nominated Beast of the Southern Wild.

Yashua Mack, a local boy, made his big screen debut in February 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival playing the iconic literary character who has been re-imagined many times over but, perhaps not with quite so much melanin. The film was also partially filled in Antigua, primarily at local landmark Hell’s Gate – an offshore island which is a border between the calm of the Caribbean Sea and the wilds of the Atlantic Ocean. A red carpet premiere was planned for Antigua-Barbuda in March 2020 (can’t confirm if this has been cancelled in light of COVID-19 government ban of public gatherings of a certain size – with this and all events call first).

Reading Comps

Reading competitions seem to be catching on; there are two national ones in Antigua, one with a regional component. Here’s some news related to both.

A Grace Christian Academy student won the Rotary Antigua Reading Comp, for the third time. This is the second year in a row that it has featured a book by a Wadadli Pen associated writer – last year, The Wonderful World of Yohan by Floree Williams Whyte, Wadadli Pen’s chief judge and this year, The Boy from Willow Bend, the first book by Wadadli Pen founder Joanne C. Hillhouse.

Reading Comp
(read the full article above from the Daily Observer newspaper 08-03-20 and this related blog post )

Meanwhile, Antigua and Barbuda placed third in the OECS edition of the Courts reading competition.


Developmental News

The Honorable Harold Simmons Folk Academy of The Monsignor Patrick Anthony Folk Research Centre has announced a FRC Saint Lucia Studies Conference for 2020 focused on “Creoleness/Créolité : Saint Lucian culture and cultural/creative industries in national development today.” The announced date is June 24-26 at the Finance Administrative Centre in Pointe Seraphine. The Conference seeks to provide an opportunity for researchers in the areas of Saint Lucian life and culture to present their findings in a Saint Lucian setting. For more information, email frc@candw.lc or the folkresearchcentrelibrary@gmail.com

Online literary journal (out of Jamaica) Pree has announced a Pree Writing Studio initiative funded by the Prince Klaus Next Generation Grant. “With tutors of the calibre of Marlon James, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Kei Miller, Garnette Cadogan, Ishion Hutchinson, Ingrid Persaud and Safiya Sinclair those lucky enough to attend PREE’s inaugural writing studio are in for a treat. In addition there will be a publishing studio by Little, Brown/Hatchette/Dialogue Books publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove.” There may be some subsidy for writers unable to meet the total cost and this seems to be only the first of a planned series. Read more.

International Publishing Announcements

UK-based Jamaican writer Leone Ross’ latest book is the talk of the publishing world after inking a deal with Faber for the 2021 release of This One Sky Day. ‘Set on a fictional Caribbean archipelago called Popisho, This One Sky Day is described by Faber as “a sensual meditation on the nature of love and addiction” as well as “a dazzling, funny and incisive disquisition on post-colonial politics”. It also called it “a major work of fiction in conversation with Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy and Junot Díaz via the Harlem Renaissance and Anaïs Nin”.’ Read more.


Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne has landed a publishing deal with Scholastic for her Burt Award winning title, already released as My Fishy Stepmom by Jamaica’s Blouse and Skirt Books, to be released in to the US market as Josephine vs. the Sea Spirit. Per Publisher’s Weekly, “This middle grade novel features cricket-playing Jo, who discovers that her father’s new girlfriend is a powerful and vengeful sea creature and has to convince everyone of the woman’s true identity before she loses her dad forever. Publication is slated for spring 2021.” We don’t know the details of the deal but this is a big deal and we join the Caribbean literary community in congratulating her. If we’re counting right, this is the third Burt title to land a separate US publishing deal – maybe she should team up for a ‘how they did it’ seminar with Diana McCaulay, author of Gone to Drift which landed at Harper Collins, and Lisa Allen-Agostini, author of Home Home which is forthcoming this year from Delacorte Press, a division of Penguin Random House,  after both being initially published by Dominica/UK’s Papillote Press.


Kim Johnson of Trinidad is seeking to republish his Illustrated History of Pan.

Meanwhile, in Antigua and Barbuda we say good bye to the long serving member of the longest running pan in the world the multi-award winning Hell’s Gate Steel Orchestra, Eustace ‘Manning’ Henry.

Anansesem Announces a New Chapter 

The founding editor Summer Edward is stepping down but the online platform for Caribbean children’s literature will carry on – which is what you love to see; succession, continuity. Summer also took the opportunity to announce the pending publication of her own book. Read her full statement.

CREATIVE SPACE on a New Platform

The Antigua and Barbuda art and culture series by JCH is now running every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer newspaper and on the Jhohadli blog online with extras.

The latest edition – second on this new platform – is Black History Month and Women’s History Month themed and headlined Centering Us, Year Round. Above is that second published article – be sure to look out for fresh articles in the series every other Wednesday

Book Club

ABS TV has for several weeks been running Book Club, a Tuesday morning segment on Antigua Today. So far segments have included the likes of D. Gisele Isaac (Considering Venus) and Gayle Gonsalves (Painting Pictures and Other Stories). Not sure if it airs at a particular time in the daily national TV morning show but Tuesday’s the day. Kudos to ABS TV for this initiative.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page 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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Antigua and Barbuda’s 2015 National Awardees – how’d the arts fare?

So, mini-rant… Why is it so hard to get information on the national awardees the day of the awards? If you miss the broadcast or even the repeat of the broadcast, and yes even the live stream, or were too lame to get out to the stadium to see it live, you should be able to access the information (in a readable format which I prefer anyway) almost as soon as it’s announced. This is the era of now-now-right-now social media after all. I cooped the Government’s (and every government adjacent) facebook page well into the night on November 2nd and even posted a call for information on my fb just in case there was something posted and I was looking in the wrong place…nothing…Google didn’t come through for me either. Yes, yes, yes, the traditional media will have it the day after, but, really, is the information you seek will be available on the next business day how information flows these days?
Rant over.
Congratulations as always to the awardees. Because this is an arts site, I’ll single out especially the arts awardees, both of whom I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing in my days on the beat…maybe I’ll dig up those articles somewhere…but nuff respect to Manning for keeping Hell’s Gate, the oldest and longest running pan orchestra in the world going for 70 years and for keeping the craft of pan building alive, and big up to Mr. Hampson for his Le Chateau d’Or which has served as a nursery – a feeder pool for a whole generation of pannists and has been instrumental not only in nurturing the youth but in helping to nurture a cultural art form we’re proud to call the only original musical invention of the 20th century. And pan’s not all he does…

Hampson puts members of his Le Chateau d'Or string section through their paces. (Photo by Joanne C. Hillhouse)

Hampson puts members of his Le Chateau d’Or string section through their paces. (Photo by Joanne C. Hillhouse)

Eustace manning Henry roundabout Manning


EUSTACE ARCHIBALD CORNELL ‘MANNING’ HENRY, ESQUIRE – To be a Grand Cross of the Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage – GCH

For distinguished contribution to Cultural Development

Eustace ‘Manning’ Henry, a pioneer, the unrivalled master pan builder/tuner player, leader and genuine cultural hero, must be accredited for the phenomenal survival of the Hells Gate Steel Orchestra and the steelpan art form in Antigua and Barbuda. With the introduction of the steel pan, Mr. Henry quickly proved that he was not only a pan builder, but also mastered the art of playing the instrument.  His leadership qualities also came to the fore at this young age, with humility.  During this period, other members of the band built their own instrument.  However, it was not too long before Mr. Henry became the sole builder, tuner and blender of Hells Gate.  He was and is still very unique, not only in the exceptional quality finish of the instruments he built, but was envied for the uniqueness of the tonal quality of his instruments.

ANTHONY LEONARD HAMPSON, ESQUIRE –  To be a Grand Officer of the Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage – GOH

For distinguished contribution to Music and Community Development

Mr Anthony Leonard Hampson is the husband of Cleo Clothilda James, Deputy Superintendent of Public Health Nursing and father of Cleo-Antoinette Hampson, a teacher of French at the Princess Margaret Secondary School, and Cesaire Hampson, a Third Year student at the University of the West Indies.  His love for music and children led to the formation of Le Chateau d’Or Music Academy – 1992 – Teaching the Full range of musical instruments, both theoretical and practical to children five years and over.  Students take Theory and Practical Music examinations offered by the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity Guildhall.  He has served as teacher and principal to over six schools in Antigua and Barbuda giving over 40 years of unbroken service.

Finally, someone else I’ve interviewed, and who is proof that life has many acts, gotta give a shout out to Sly J “hmmmmm” …
For the full listing of all the 2015 Antigua and Barbuda National Awardees (the announcement of which is a feature of the Ceremonial Parade of our annual Independence Festivities), I’ll send you now to Antigua Chronicle which (sidebar) is the online media platform started by 2006 Wadadli Pen winner Angelica O’Donoghue.

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, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Khan’s Teachings

The arts, culture, community – the issues, events, personalities surrounding these, I have learned, practiced and happen to believe have news value. The media gatekeepers don’t always agree; but that’s what blogs are for.

By Joanne C. Hillhouse

Musicians will shortly be able to register for training sessions organized by multi-panorama-winning arranger Khan Cordice. That’s only one of his summer projects during his break from studies toward his Masters in Music in the U.S.

“For this summer, apart from working with Hell’s Gate again, I’m hoping to hold two workshops,” Khan said. The first workshop will run from June 30th to July 4th. “This workshop is about harmony and improvisation,” he said. “It’s not just for pannists, (and) really not for beginners, though if beginners want to come, there’s something they can take away.” Ideally though, he’s targeting more experienced musicians and music students: “people who are about to write CXC and CXC students right up to the most advanced persons.” Cordice noted that the two hour sessions will not be merely theoretical but also practical. “It’s going to be intense but nothing that people can’t manage,” he said.

Cordice expounded a bit on the subject of improvisation saying, “it’s not spontaneous…I’m going to break down a lot of the myths…what’s spontaneous about improvisation is how well (you) put together all that (you’ve) practiced.  It’s impossible for me to say a word I’ve never known.  Music is a language; it has a vocabulary.” By the end of the workshop, he said, he expects people to have greater knowledge of the language and techniques, from chord substitutions to tension in harmony.

He also noted that he will be using four mallet techniques.

download_20140325_073259 IMG_1157 IMG_1172 copy

Another workshop will be held in late summer. The focus will be composing and arranging. This is right in Cordice’s wheelhouse as, though very young, he’s already claimed four panorama wins – 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 – as arranger with the oldest and winningest pan orchestra on the island, Hell’s Gate. He had an instinct for it as demonstrated by the fact that he won Moods of Pan on his first attempt, 2008, with the National Youth Pan Orchestra. Since then he’s won scholarships that have taken him to further studies first in the Caribbean and now in the U.S. More than instinct and technique though, he chalks up successful arranging to love: “it’s the same key for cooking, it’s the same key for writing,” he said, “love, passion. It’s possible to do a good arrangement and you have no connection, there’s no love, no passion, it’s text book arranging.” To win, though, he said, you have to mix the right ingredients with love. He underscores, as well, that winning is not necessarily the goal, or not the only goal, but to show yourself and the world what you are truly capable of. He takes great pride in the fact that at 69 Hell’s Gate is doing just that.

It’s worth noting that apart from being a proven pannist and composer, Cordice, who is just a semester shy of completing his Masters, also has a keen interest in music research and will, time allowing, do some of that this summer as well. He fears a lot has been lost through this lack of research and documentation, and recalled how trying it was to unearth information needed for his thesis on the history of steelband in Antigua, 1945 to present. “If we do leave it as it is, it’s going to be lost,” he said of the history. He hinted at a possible book project. This will not pull him away from what he loves most however, playing, composing, and passing it on. During his studies he’s taken up opportunities to travel and play and run workshops in other parts of the US and though he hopes to return home and teach, he plans to continue embracing all opportunities that come his way. “People want pan music, people want Antiguan music,” Cordice said.

He’s hoping, meanwhile, that Antiguans, too, want to learn more about their music. For the workshops, Cordice is hoping to attract at least 20, at most 30 participants. To register, or for more information, contact him at khankccordice@gmail.com or 725-6925; he said registration forms should be available by the end of the week.

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!). 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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When Steel Talks Remembers Leroy ‘Jughead’ Gordon

The Antiguan and Barbudan arts community will always remember Leroy ‘Jughead’ Gordon as someone who passed it on and who understood the value of archiving the A & B pan story. When Steel Talks describes him fittingly as “one of the great steelband leaders of our time”. They recently revisited the life and going home ceremony of the late pan man. Read here.

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Antiguan and Barbudan Youths on Pan

It was Antigua Grammar School, showcasing arranger Aubrey “Lacu” Samuel’s musical storyline of the addictive “Socaholic,” which dethroned the 2012 champions St. Joseph Academy. The latter had made a valiant attempt to repeat its winning ways, and had looked forward to clinching four titles in a row. But their talented and fiery serving of “Hot Steel” as arranged by Victor “Babu” Samuel’s was in vain; St. Joseph was knocked off its perch into second place. Read more of Pan on the Net’s coverage of one of the highlights of the Antigua and Barbuda 2013 Independence season, the Schools’ Panorama. Congrats to AGS and Villa Primary, and all the enthusiastic youngsters who participated.

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Music made them stay

Parham Primary Principal Anthony Hampson decided to have a mini-panorama at his school as a way of keeping children from scudding and disappearing to the beach in that time between the end of exams and the end of school. It worked. Each grade was well prepped and ready to represent by the time the actual event rolled around – July 4th. The prize, a cake, could have been gold or a trip to Disneyland for how excited they were, fired up as they were by the competition and hopefully by the music. They were playing nursery rhymes – Baabaa Black Sheep, Hickory Dickory Dock, This Old Man, Old McDonald had a farm, the Alphabet song – with the spunky young’uns from Grade 4 taking the cake. It almost doesn’t matter who won though. In fact, while the judges deliberated, the students lost themselves in a guest performance by Golden Sticks, a pan section from Hampson’s music academy Le Chateau d’Or, with cries of “another one!” until the emcee had to call a halt to the music so that we could get the results. The delay was long enough so that one parent who was running late was just in time for the results, though disappointed that she’d missed the performances. “They’re going to play again,” I whispered to her when it was revealed that her daughter’s class, Grade 4, was the winner. They did just that and she was able to catch a picture and the memory. So, between the children’s excitement, the pride of parents like her, and the organization of the event by the school, the outcome was secondary to the event and the flash of creative thinking that prompted the event. Kudos to all involved and to Mr. Hampson especially for his inventive approach to inspiring his students and keeping them at school. Now, if they could just get some quality pans as chief judge, a young pannist who already has multiple wins as composer and arranger at the national panorama to his credit, Khan Cordice recommended.

Is anybody listening?


Edited to add: I should mention that Khan’s recommendation was made to the zone’s education officer who earlier in the programme had said “music assists students in their academic development. …playing music helps you to learn.”

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, 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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