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).
Happy Independence, Antigua-Barbuda
November 1st 1981 was Independence Day in Antigua and Barbuda which makes this our 40th birthday. The 2021 Independence season was launched on 22nd October, scaled down, as was last year due to the ongoing pandemic – and our vaccinate rate still not at the levels required – but still including a number of arts activities: e.g. festival of choirs, pan competition, and student art mural unveiling at Antigua Recreation Grounds.
This art adorns the southwall of the ARG. It is not a single mural but a series of images – more a montage on the theme of national iconography – completed over a two week period by students and art teachers from the Sir Novelle Richards Academy, All Saints Secondary School, Glanvilles Secondary School, Trinity Academy and St. Mary’s Secondary School. The initiative was sponsored by State Insurance and Paint Plus and spearheaded by the Ministry of Education.
Independence season ends November 1st with the ceremonial parade which is typically followed by the food fair but, while, local local food cravings are high at this time, we will have to go searching for our fix as gatherings of the size of the food fair are still off the menu. ETA: The National Awards were announced during the ceremonial parade and, in the arts, Halcyon Steel Orchestra is one of the recipients. They receive the institutional honour – the most precious order of princely heritage (gold) for contribution to culture through the development and advance of steelband and steel pan music.
(Source – Facebook)
Independence related: check out my special Independence themed CREATIVE SPACE (written for the Daily Observer newspaper Independence issue) and the related playlist which is on my AntiguanWriter YouTube channel. Another list in the issue is by veteran media broadcaster Dave Lester Payne.
The last Bocas workshop for the 2021 season takes place this November 27th, plus there are two noteworthy fellowships for emerging writers, one from Bocas and one from UWI among other opportunities with upcoming deadlines in our Opportunities Too database. Don’t forget to check in with the page from time to time, so you don’t miss anything. Here’s the link.
Wadadli Pen News
Wadadli Pen is legally incorporated as a non-profit, something I’ve wanted for some time and activated when I pulled our team together a few years ago (2016) to work with me toward laying a foundation for this project I started way back in 2004. It is no longer a project. It is a non-profit. I need to let it settle and then, with my partners, figure out what happens next. But this is a major goal achieved. Thanks to Henry and Burnette, and especially E. Ann Henry for the pro bono legal assistance and to Juneth Webson for her financial contribution to the registration process. (Source – in house)
Derron Sandy is the 2021 winner of the First Citizens National Poetry Slam in Trinidad and Tobago – it was his fifth go at the prize. His winning presenation was an ode to food vendors during lockdown restrictions entitled ‘The Real Warlords’. Past two-time back-to-back champion Alexandra Stewart placed second with Michael Logie coming in third (they won TT$20,000 and $10,000, respectively). Derron’s prize is TT$50,000. More in TnT Newsday. (Source – N/A)
The shortlist for the first Bocas Lit Fest Children’s Book Prize has been announced and it includes a member of the Wadadli Pen family, past patron and judge, (and, as the owner of Caribbean Reads publishing, publisher of two of my books), featured here on the blog several times over the years, US-based Nevisian writer Carol Mitchell. Mitchell’s summer 2021 release Chaos in Castries, book 5 in her Caribbean Adventure Series, is one of three short listed books.
It features characters familiar to readers of the long running series in a new-to-them Caribbean setting where they meet new people and have new adventures with historical resonance. “When Mark’s mother sends him and Chee Chee to St. Lucia to experience the cultural festival of Jounen Kwéyòl, Mark is thrown into another action-packed, time-travel adventure with one of the festival dancers. Mark and his new friend Danielle get caught in the middle of a cultural struggle between the British and the Afro-Caribbean people at a time when participating in creole festivals could land you in big trouble. Many of the events in Chaos in Castries take place in the Derek Walcott square, a public square located in Castries, St. Lucia. It was established in the 1760s and was named Columbus Square in 1892. In 1993, it was renamed to honour Nobel Laureate Sir Derek Walcott who received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature.” (book summary) The book is illustrated by Mitchell’s longtime collaborator Ann-Catherine Loo.
The other shortlisted books includes one of the hottest trending books since its 2020 release, and especially so since receiving the boost of being named to Oprah Magazine’s best Caribbean books for your 2021 reading list and winning the Rebel Women Lit’s Reader’s Choice award for best middle grade/tween novel earlier this year, When Life gives you Mangoes by Jamaican-British writer Kereen Getten. “Inspired by the author’s childhood experiences, When Life Give You Mangos is a celebration of island life as well as a rich, lyrical mystery.” (book summary)
The other shortlisted book A Different Me A Better You, like Chaos in Castries (Caribbean Reads), is publishedby an indie press based in the Caribbean region, Blue Banyan of Jamaica. Mangoes is published by Delacorte Press, a division of America’s Random House and Pushkin Press in the UK. Janet Morrison, a Jamaican and veteran media worker, is a BBC award winning playwright, who collected her most recent prize, the Jean D’Costa Prize at Jamaica’s Lignum Vitae Awards, for Better You. Its five short stories “is a celebration of difference where five young heroes share their dreams of dancing, adventure and being seen for who they really are, and we are all a little better to know them.” (book summary)
The winner of the US$1000 prize will be announced on November 28th 2021. (Source – Facebook)
Writing Gender into the Caribbean by Patricia Mohammad (Hansib Books) is the 2021 winner of the Barbara T. Christian Awards from the Caribbean Studies Association. It is described as “vital scholarship”. (Source – Paper-Based Books bookshop in TnT on Twitter)
(New or New-ish) Books
Little John Crow by Ziggy Marley, Orly Marley, and Gordon Rowe (illustrator) dropped this November. In it, Little John Crow, a young vulture growing up in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, is abandoned by his animal friends and must come to terms with what it means to be part of a community when you are a vulture.
(Source – Akashic Books on Twitter)
Crucian Fusion by Apple Gidley is a collection of fact and fiction that speaks to the rich history as well as present day St Croix. Provoked by thoughts, good and bad, the essays tell of nearly nine years on island. The short stories are based on historical events and the Census of 1846. (Source – author email)
I missed this one back in June, Caribbean American Heritage Month, but I’m posting right in time for you to add to your Christmas list. It’s Yahoo! Sports, yes Yahoo! Sports’, listing of must-read Caribbean books. On the list, Barbadian author Callie Browning’s The Girl with the Hazel Eyes, Jamaican author Maisy Card’s These Ghosts are Family, Alexia Arthurs’ How to Love a Jamaican, Trinidadian Caroline Mackenzie’s One Year of Ugly, Elizabeth Acevedo, an American of Dominican (Sp.) descent’s Clap When You Land, Trinbagonian Tracey Baptiste’s The Jumbies, Maika and Maritza Moulite, born in the US to Haitian immigrants’ Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, Bermudian Florenz Webbe Maxwell’s Burt Award winning Girlcott, Virgin Islander Cadwell Turnbull’s The Lesson, and TrinBajan Londoner Ingrid Persaud’s Love after Love. (Source – N/A)
Guyanese born, UK based Pauline Melville released The Master of Chaos and Other Fables in summer 2021. (Source – JR Lee email)
My Time at the Door by Dean Fenton has been aded to the Antiguan and Barbudan Writing and Antiguan and Barbudan Poetry databases. This is his second book and was released in summer 2021. (Source – social media)
Trinidad and Tobago born Canadian poet M. Nourbese Philip is protesting the Italian translation of her book Zong! An online petition has been set up calling for the destruction of the work and a public apology. The author explains her grievance on her website, and brings receipts. Apparently, the book’s publisher Wesleyan University Press sold translation rights to Benway Series Press without the author’s knowledge for $150. “WUP did not inform me that the rights had been sold nor did they put me in touch with the translator Renata Morresi or Benway Series Press,” the author writes, also calling out the Canada Council which funded the translation. “…and yet no one thought it necessary to consult with me, the Black and African-descended author of the said work, which engages with the transatlantic slave trade and which, as plainly stated on the cover—as told to the author by Setaey Adamu Boateng—involved Ancestral voices.” Beyond this, Philip takes issue with the actual translation which reportedly changes the organizational structure of her poems, and argues that this is in breach of the international translator’s code. She said her concerns have been ignored by all parties; though with one seemingly positive outcome (so far): “In response to these events WUP has changed its policies concerning informing authors of sale of licenses and has set a minimum fee of $500 for print runs under 1,000 books.” Review all and support the author’s cause if so moved by signing the petition or sharing. (Source – JR Lee email)
I just googled Blackout Cultural Park and Fitzroy Brann and couldn’t find anything to speak of, not even in the waybackmachine and that didn’t sit right with me. So, google, this one’s for you. Brann is primarily renowned for his work in sports development and when he died in 2019, that’s what was highlighted. But I remember some of the first regular poetry sesssions I participated in as a local writer when I, and others, like Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau, who shared some of her first works there (usually through her sister’s voice as she was still hesitant to use her own), was at Blackout. It was a long trek out of town but we gathered there on a weekend night, many a weekend night, Fridays, I think, to discover and share our stories – it’s there that I started slowly gaining confidence as a writer in a public space. Blackout was Fitzroy Brann. As someone noted in this article by his daughter Mickel, Brann “was a community activist, a sports enthusiast and an ardent lover of culture and the arts.” Blackout Cultural Park and those open mic literary nights (which in addition to poetry, included singing, instrumental solos, and comedy as people felt inspired) in the (I think) late 90s/early aughts deserve a paragraph in the story of the evolution of Antiguan and Barbudan literary arts. Those scenes don’t last forever and I remember we migrated from Blackout to Traffic, a club in town, after a time, and then that fizzled and other things popped off and fizzled (Expressions etc.), and on like that. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)
In the last CREATIVE SPACE, I referenced a death in the Antigua and Barbuda media fraternity, and perhaps for the first time in this space did some very minor mask, social distancing, and vaccine activism. It’s become such a fraught space and Wadadli Pen is not the space for my personal missions. But, I’ve found a loophole, because Wadadli Pen is a place for creative, and especially literary arts, and this article I’m about to link comes by way of lithub.com – a valuable literary arts resource. The article is an excerpt from the 2021 book The Plague Cycle: The Unending War Between Humanity and Infectious Disease by Charles Kenny. I’d like to share this part (because too often I hear people say, I’m good as though we don’t exist in a world with other people, as if our actions don’t affect other people):
It isn’t just the vaccine deniers and their unfortunate children who’d be harmed: some people really can’t be given vaccines and they’d suffer the consequences from circulating infections. When she was two, Ashley Echols had a kidney transplant. As part of the transplant procedure, children are given drugs that suppress their immune response so that the body doesn’t reject the transplanted organ. As a result, she couldn’t complete the standard vaccination regimen. Had Ashley taken the chickenpox vaccine in her weakened state, she might have contracted chickenpox from it. And because of her suppressed immune system, the condition would have been life-threatening. But in June 2017, eleven-year-old Ashley was exposed to a child with chickenpox in Atlanta. So she was rushed to the hospital emergency room to be injected with immunoglobulin. Camille Echols, Ashley’s mother, shared the story on Facebook. She ended her post saying “She has been through so much already. And this was avoidable.”
You can read the whole article here. (Source – LitHub newsletter)
Readings + Events
The Bocas lit fest has a series of virtual conversations with authors known as Bios & Bookmarks. Season Six kicks (or, depending on when you’re reading this, kicked) off with author Barbara Lalla. Tune in November 14th 3 p.m. AST via the Bocas facebook page. I have to say between the book awards, fellowships, workshops, conversations, and, of course, the literary festival, while I would like to see more…resonance… in underserved parts of the Caribbean, Bocas is doing a impactful work developmentally and promotionally re lit arts in the broader Caribbean region.
The first British Virgin Islands literary festival was held this November, 2nd to 13th. It was a semi-virtual collaboration between the H. Lavity Scoutt Community College and the BVI department of culture. Announced writers included Andre Bagoo (TT), Amanda Choo Quan (TT), Amilcar Sanatan (TT), Anthony Anaxagorou (UK), Cadwell Turnbull (USVI), Canisia Lubrin (SLU), Des Seebaran (TT), Eugenia O’Neal (BVI), Tiphanie Yanique (USVI), Tami Navarro (USVI), Traci O’Dea (US), Raymond Antrobus (UK), and BVI poet laureate Richard Georges (BVI). Activities included a series of workshops, film screening, and panels. (Source – JR Lee email)
Patricia Tully will be having a signing of her book Pioneers of the Caribbean, co-authored with Ingrid Lambie. Venue is the Best of Books, St. Mary’s Street, Antigua, on November 20th 2021. This book was one of the Wadadli Pen 2021 Challenge prize.
(Source – Best of Books on Facebook)
Jamaica Kincaid is the honoured guest at the City College of New York’s 2021 Langston Hughes Festival on November 18th 2021, and here’s where you can get tickets to view online. The Festival describes the Ovals, Antigua born writer’s work – which includes novels Annie John, Lucy, Autobiography of My Mother, Mr. Potter, and See Now Then – as “original and essential” and I (Ottos, Antigua writer Joanne C. Hillhouse) am one of the people slated to speak on the writer and her work. For my other recent appearances, go here.
Other speakers at the event will be Linda Villarosa, an American author and journalist, and former executive editor of Essence magazine; Laura K. Alleyne, a Trinidad born, award winning poet and author; American musician of Ecuadioran descent Helado Negro; and professor of french and Africana studies Kaima L. Glover. (Source – in house)
Guyanese writer Imam Baksh is part of the IWP panel discussion series alongside Salha Obaid of the UAE and Candace Chong Mui Ngam of Hong Kong. The topic, Imagination <> Computation. The time, Friday 5th November 12 – 1 p.m. CST. The stream can be viewed at the Iowa City Public Library, The Library Channel. Read more about Baksh (Children of the Spider) and other IWP writers-in-residence for 2021 here. (Source – Twitter)
Dominica-UK’s Papillote Press continues its reading series featuring its authors, the latest installment ‘What do I know’ by Dominica’s Celia Sorhaindo (watch the video in our Reading Room and Gallery). The Bocas longlisted poetry collection Guabancex, where this poem and others in which Sorhaindo processes life after hurricane Maria can be found, has amassed many positive reviews including one by me. For Sorhaindo, it was life changing – both the 2017 storm and the collection. A Papillote release quotes her as saying, “Hurricane Maria was a very traumatic time. We saw the worst side of nature, and the best and worst sides of human nature, and went through incredible mental and physical challenges. Writing the poems for this chapbook was a therapeutic exercise, a way of trying to make sense of, work through and process all that happened.” (Source – publisher email)
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. 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.