Tag Archives: Paule Marshall

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late July 2021)

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)


See my upcoming events here.


Former Jamaican poet laureate Lorna Goodison’s new book is Mother Muse. Details here. (Source – Repeating Islands – shout out to JRLee email for the link)


“We all want to keep you safe, especially your father. He was very

lucky: he didn’t get sick. Problem is, if you leave quarantine, he could

catch it from you, and it would make him a lot sicker than it made you.

It’s kinder to children, you see. And when it gets into you, it doesn’t

want to leave. If something else makes you sick, or very tired, the gray

pox will wake up again, and this time it could make your father sick, or

anyone else you might sneeze on.”

from The Plague Doctors by Barbadian speculative fiction author Karen Lord in Take Us to a Better Place – read more about it on my Jhohadli blog

Lord’s story’s inclusion in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021, edited by Veronica Roth, has recently been announced. (Source – Karen Lord’s twitter)


Praise Song for the Widow by late Barbadian writer Paule Marshall has been re-issued. I actually studied this book in university – and that’s probably the main reason I wanted to share this. But it’s not just about personal preference.

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Praise Song is listed among QBR: The Black Review’s 100 essential Black books and is a 1984 American Book Award winner.

The new McSweeny’s hard cover edition, part of its Of the Diaspora series of previously published Black books, came out in April 2021. It includes a new introduction by Jamaica-born writer Opal Palmer Adisa. Praise Song for the Widow was originally published in 1983. (Source – AALBC email)


Past Wadadli Pen finalist Rilys Adams (writing as Rilzy Adams’) Go Deep has been experiencing an award winning successful run. Recently we also picked up this mention in bookriot.com on a list of ’15 of the Best Erotic Short Stories and Novellas’.

“An all-time favorite book and one of the winners of The Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romance Fiction, this little novella is simply wonderful.”

See more Reviews for books by Antiguans and Barbudans in our series on Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed.


Canisia Lubrin, a Lucian based in Canada, has been announced as co-winner of the second annual Derek Walcott Prize for her collection The Dyzgraphxst. She will split the US$1000 prize with Serhiy Zhadan for A New Orthography. They were selected from a field of 20 poets. Canisia is also the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize Canadian winner. (Source – JR Lee email)


Linda M. Deane claimed Barbados’ Frank Collymore Award, which comes with a $10,000 purse. The prize was for her poetry book An Ocean Away. Sixty manuscripts were in the running for the 23rd annual FCA. (Source – JR Lee email)

You should know that…

Caribbean Books Foundation has launched a new initiative to promote new Caribbean books. Read about it in the Book promotion section of our Resources page or go straight to the source. (Source – Caribbean Books Foundation email)


While updating the CREATIVE SPACE master list since its migration to the Daily Observer newspaper, I decided to link here two entries of possible interests to artists who venture here.

Beyond Talk?‘, about a Culture, sorry, Creative Industries, initiative to survey the arts in Antigua and Barbuda toward assisting us in accessing opportunities. I know, it sounds familiar, but the whole crux of the article is the reasons we have to be wary and why the person I spoke with believes this time will be different – maybe it’s a fool me once, situation, maybe not; either way I want artists in Antigua and Barbuda to have this information and decide if they trust it and if they wish to act on it.


Arts Support: Walk That Talk, about a region-wide arts grant programme in response to the hit taken by everyone, including artists, this past year. Some countries – not Antigua and Barbuda – also had arts grants. Obviously, we’d like to see more but sharing what I’m aware of for now.

Plus this post about Wadadli Pen – ‘Creating Space for Literary Expression‘. (Source – Me)


Video of the V I Lit Fest can be viewed online. (Source – VI Lit Fest email)


Dena Simmons, a New Yorker of Antiguan descent has been announced as one of two plenary speakers – the other being Emmy award nominated Scandal and Little Fires Everywhere actress Kerry Washington – at the Grantmakers for Education Annual Conference set for October 2021. The educator and activist “writes and speaks nationally about social justice and culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy as well as creating emotionally intelligent and safe classrooms within the context of equity and liberation.” This will be the 25th anniversary of the Grantmakers for Education Conference. (Source – Linkedin contact)


The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books is now available online. Current and back issues have been uploaded to the Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association website – also new. ABSA is responsible for the annual Antigua Conference, held since 2005.

Dr. Paget Henry, pictured here at a past conference at the Enlightenment Academy, is one of the chief members of the ABSA, editor of the A & B Review, and convener of the annual conference.

The site also currently has information on the next conference including the call for papers. Check it out. (Source – office of Paget Henry via 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 AmazonWordPress, 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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Carib Plus Lit News (Early September 2019)

UWI’s fourth landed campus opens in Antigua and Barbuda

UWI 1.jpg

“The establishment of the Five Islands campus in Antigua and Barbuda impacts the growth and development of this country in the same way that the establishment of campuses in Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago impacted development of those countries. Moreover, it holds the prospect of making a similar contribution to the countries of the OECS.” – Professor Stafford Griffith. The re-purposing of the building where the campus is being housed was controversial because it had been built initially as a secondary school to provide relief to overpopulation in especially urban secondary schools. With a change of administration came a change of agenda, and though there was some opposition objection (and even an article guest posted here on the Wadadli Pen blog by a former finalist explaining why he felt the campus should be used for its original purpose), the UWI fourth landed campus in Antigua and Barbuda is now reality. The campus began operations on August 25th and is registering students for programmes across the schools of Health and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities and Education, and Management, Sciences, and Technology.

Musical Youth Second Edition

This is one of my books, the second edition of which launched in early August. I wanted to share the release from Caribbean Reads Publishing:

(original cover art by Antiguan and Barbudan artist Glenroy Aaron)

Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 8, 2019. CaribbeanReads Publishing, a small press based in St. Kitts-Nevis, announced today the release of the second edition of Musical Youth, the award-winning title by Antiguan and Barbudan author Joanne C. Hillhouse. Over four thousand copies of the first edition of the book, which won second place in the 2014 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, have been distributed to young people throughout the Caribbean and the world. Musical Youth has been well-received by critics, reviewers, and most importantly by teens and is currently included on the book lists at schools in Antigua and in Trinidad and Tobago. While the text remains basically unchanged, the second edition sports a new cover and the kindle version contains links to a candid discussion about Hillhouse’s writing process, her vision of the characters, and more.

“This is such an important milestone,” commented Carol Mitchell of CaribbeanReads. “Caribbean books are finding their place in the global literature scene one book at a time. We are excited that thousands of Caribbean children have read this book, but we are also thrilled when we receive orders from Australia and Italy as it speaks to the human appeal of the story.”

Musical Youth is a coming-of-age story set in Antigua and, by chronicling one summer in the lives of a few teens, touches on a number of issues that our Caribbean youth face such as class differences, colourism, and relationships-romantic, familial, and platonic. The publishers credit the book’s success to the high quality of Hillhouse’s storytelling, the global appeal of the teen story, and the tremendous support they received from the NGO CODE, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the Antiguan (and Barbudan) Ministry of Education, bookstores like Best of Books in Antigua and Paperbased in Trinidad, and book reviewers.

In the Acknowledgements of the new edition, Hillhouse thanks “readers everywhere—tout monde sam and baggai, as we say in Antigua and Barbuda—who bought and/or took the time to recommend the book; and specifically, Caribbean readers and young people who have told me how much they love Zahara, and how Zahara and Shaka are #relationshipgoals.”

Ms. Hillhouse has made several contributions to the literary scene in the Caribbean. In addition to the award winning Musical Youth, she is the author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, the children’s book, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and the mass market title Oh Gad! She has been recognized at book festivals in the Caribbean and the US, and featured in Essence magazine.



Hurricane season 2019 hit its first major target, the Bahamas. Specifically it (reportedly) took seven lives (though the numbers may rise at this writing) and inflicted (reported) billions in physical damage in the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands. It’s been heartbreaking and in some ways re-traumatizing for those for whom the 2017 season that wreaked havoc across the Caribbean region (via Irma and Maria) is still all too fresh. I don’t know what to add to the conversation except #climatechangeisreal and real action is required; help the Bahamas if you can; and pray that the season doesn’t do any more damage – we can’t take it (though we will if we have to…pray we don’t have to). Amidst all of the posts I saw, one that feels especially relevant to us here on this arts platform is this public social media post by Bahamaian professor and publisher/editor of the Tongues of the Ocean online literary journal Nicolette Bethel, director of the Shakespeare in Paradise festival, mere hours after the storm:  “We are rehearsing for Shakespeare in Paradise tonight. You may think us insensitive but we know how important theatre and the arts are in the healing process. It is also important for people to focus on other things, on inhabiting other skins, for a moment. One of our actors has been working tirelessly with the rescue efforts. She has been the conduit for texts from people waiting to be rescued and she has been linking them up with the rescue teams. She has been working for the past two days. She has come to rehearsal tonight because she needs the distraction. She had to take a moment to decompress but she is right now giving a rehearsal that is just about performance ready. I am so proud of her!!!” That’s a beautiful reminder of just how powerful the arts are in our lives.


Who is Toni Morrison?

I’ve covered the deaths of Toni Morrison and Paule Marshall in the last and second to last editions of this Carib Plus Lit series but when two such important literary lights go out of the world, there will be and there has been multiple conversations as we process. This round of my processing is prompted by a particular conversation.

Someone asked me the sub-headed question when I told them Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison had died – ‘who is Toni Morrison?’ And once I got over being outraged, I reminded myself that we all have our areas of interest and if someone had told me about the death of some Nobel winning physicist, I might have had a similar ‘who is that?’ moment. I tried to explain who Morrison was but they were distracted and uninterested, and I was legit hurt by that because of how much she means not just to me as a writer but to the world. The same person, once  they caught the unavoidable coverage of Morrison’s death returned to ask me, ‘did you hear about the death of this author woman?’ And, after I banged my head against a metaphorical wall, I got it…I got it. I mean, I’m not perfect, I did have a moment of ‘are you kidding me, I tried to tell you about this?’ But I get it, we all have our areas of interest and only so much space in our heads. In fact, when it comes to Nobel prizes I pay attention to literature and peace; so I’m guilty of focusing on what interests me too. I’m prompted though by these conversations to share my favourite Morrison books (mostly focused on her fiction), the must-read Morrisons I haven’t yet read, the ones I’m not sure/don’t remember reading, and the ones still/definitely on my to-read list (for the ones I haven’t read yet but really want to); I’m going to do the same for Paule Marshall, because she too is a literary giant we lost recently, one with Caribbean roots (while Morrison is African-American). I promise to be honest if you promise not to be judge-y.


Song of Solomon – this may have been my first Morrison, an assigned read for one of my lit classes at the University of the West Indies, and one that it was an absolute joy to excavate – there were so many layers to it. The story of a family in early 20th century America and the inexorable connections to the past. I remember it cracking open pathways in my mind, in my soul, and my own history.

The Bluest Eye – I remember being powerfully moved by this story of a girl who wanted to be white and blue eyed when I first read it during my university days, in part because I think on some level every little Black girl (speaking very broadly, of course) can relate to how much of a journey it is to self-love (unfortunately).

Sula – I remember this book about, among other things, the bond between two girls-cum-women being a joy to read despite its dark turns.

Jazz – this one, with a love triangle at its core, was so much like jazz (with its complex and improvisational qualities) that it took me a few attempts to get in to it but once I did, I loved it; her technique especially with voice (and especially near the end) and the way it interacted with itself and with the story it was telling and, to some degree, with the reader was a mindblowing lesson.

Must-reads I haven’t yet read

Beloved – this story of a woman who escaped slavery only to be haunted by the ghost of the daughter she aborted is, from all accounts, a classic – its status not dimmed by the Oprah film which I remember not being very well received. I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet nor feel a great urge to read it – maybe it’s been in that zone of classics everyone insists you absolutely have to read for a little too long. Some times you just have to let go of those have-tos. I may read it someday still; it’s definitely not off the table. I mean, it’s Toni Morrison.

Paradise – like Jazz I’ve started this a few times and I pressed on because I came to love Jazz despite our bumpy start and because Oprah assured during her O’s Book Club discussion that it was a rough start but once you got 30 or so pages in, you wouldn’t be able to put it down. Well, I’ve put it down and taken it back up, and started over and put it down, and picked it up a few times; and it’s been down for a long time. I still hope to finish it some day especially as, as it’s not uninteresting – not with his opening:”They shoot the white girl first. With the others they can take their time.”.

God Bless the Child


Not sure/don’t remember reading

Tar Baby

Love – I think I may have read this one sometime in the late nineties, early 2000s with my book club but I’m not sure it counts if I don’t remember.

Still/Definitely on my to-read list

Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination – the title has always intrigued me.

A Mercy

The Origin of Others

The rest, I think, are children’s books, anthologies edited by her, and books of non-fiction so I’ll stop by saying, I highly recommend you pick a Morrison and read one. My individual struggle with any book of hers does not change the fact that she is a master craftsman whose characters and settings are solidly and deeply drawn, whose premises are never conventional, whose execution is always assured, who for all her layers and distinctiveness as a writer never let the writing get in the way of the story. Barbadian-American writer Paule Marshall meanwhile is not as well known as Morrison but there’s no denying that she, too, made her mark.


Praisesong for the Widow – your first is always your favourite right? This story of a well-to-do widow kind of deconstructing while on a Caribbean vacation and making some ancestral connections that move it beyond the personal is my first Paule Marshall read and a favourite from my uni days – iconic even, with certain images from it permanently marked on my mind and soul.

Browngirl, Brownstones – this coming of age story about a Caribbean family making new life in America was a solid read if not my absolute favourite; and it is a classic. Literally, it was first published in the 1950s and then revived on rediscovery in the 1980s (kind of reminds me of the rediscovery of Zora Neale Hurston by Alice Walker chronicled in In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens).

Daughters – a fairly epic tale of family and politics between the US and the Caribbean.

Must-reads I haven’t read

Soul Clap Hands and Sing

Reena and Other Stories – one of my favourite writings by Marshall is ‘To Dah-duh, in Memoriam’, a great generational, cultural, past and future divide story set in Barbados, which was originally published in 1967 and re-published in Reena and Other Stories in 1983.

Merle: a Novella and Other Stories

Triangular Road: a Memoir

Not sure/don’t remember reading

The Chosen Place, the Timeless People – I’m about 50 percent sure I haven’t read this story of an island in transition and a clueless American woman linked to the island (I think), and yet the synopsis seems familiar..

Still/Definitely on my to-read list

Conversations with Paule Marshall – I love to read writers talking about their process like when Marshall in a piece I read (not sure it’s included here) talked about the kitchen table talk that helped her develop her voice as a writer.

The Fisher King


Antiguan Hip Hop-er LogiQ Benefits from US Cultural Exchange

LogiQ at the US Embassy in Barbados prior to departure for the US. (Photo courtesy the US Embassy)

This one came in via press release from the US Embassy. Antiguan rapper Vincent Aldin Pryce, commonly known as LogiQ, has traveled to the America to participate in US government sponsored Partners of the Americas’ Education and Culture Exchange Program. His specific destination was announced as the PATH Hip Hop summer Academy of Music and Art. “The exchange is a part of Partners of the Américas’ Education and Culture program, which provides exchanges and small grants for communities across the Americas. The Education and Culture Program is funded by the United Sates Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and connects people and institutions to promote service in the community, enhance cross-cultural understanding and cooperation between the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and build professional development of participants and the communities they visit.” The two-week programme in Miami was expected to yield several benefits. “Mr. Pryce will contribute to and benefit from projects aligned with Partners of the Americas and PATH Inc.’s shared objectives and programs while developing creative leadership skills through professional development workshops and strengthening the social impact of his creative work. He will also develop and exhibit a professional series of creative work in collaboration with local artists, and connect with professional counterparts in the creative and community development sectors.”


New Caribbean Book of Local Writings 

About the series Local Writings: The series Local Writings is composed of monographic books that compile essays, chronicles, manuscripts, testimonies and various writings of curators, theorists, cultural critics, thinkers and artists of the region. This series seeks to make accessible a selection of several of the most important discourses and critical positions that have shaped critical paradigms in Central America and the Caribbean. This book is added to the two previous ones of this same series, dedicated to the critical work of Raúl Quintanilla Armijo (Nicaragua), Rosina Cazali (Guatemala), Adrienne Samos (Panama), Tamara Díaz-Bringas (Cuba / Costa Rica). The next titles in this series include the critical work of Virginia Pérez Ratton (Costa Rica), Michy Marxuach (Puerto Rico) and Rolando Castellón (Nicaragua / Costa Rica). Read more.

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Carib Plus Lit News (Late August 2019)


Antigua and Barbuda met up with the rest of the Caribbean in Trinidad for CARIFESTA (the largest showcase of its kind for Caribbean talent) – and, in case you didn’t know, Antigua and Barbuda is the venue for the next CARIFESTA (in 2021). I have very few details but I  got the image of the passing of the baton from the last venue to the next (via proxys Trinidad and Tobago’s Culture and Arts Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister responsible for Culture, National Festivals and the Arts, Daryll Matthew) from the Antigua and Barbuda CARIFESTA facebook page and  believe you can link up  there for things related to AnB and CARIFESTA as plans evolve. You already know my thoughts and that of some other writers in our community on the (non/under/limited) presence of Antigua and Barbuda literary arts in CARIFESTA over the years, and Mark Brown – one of Antigua and Barbuda’s top artists – expressed concern re the (lack of) visibility of visual arts at this year’s event as well on his social media. Granted, there’s a bit of the grass is greener dynamic at play as well as I’ve seen countries which do better on arts generally weigh in with similar complaints via social media; and from the images and videos generally Trinidad and Tobago and the participating countries put on a good show. I’ve tried to share what I could on my social media (because I still support Antigua-Barbuda, and Antigua-Barbuda arts every time, notwithstanding my criticisms [or my haterade/grudgefulness/badmindedness, for those who choose to see said criticisms that way]) – highlights like the Antigua and Barbuda delegation enthusiastically singing Burning Flames ‘Swinging Engine’ in the opening parade (minus the “in she gear box” part), and Hell’s Gate performing a medley of tunes by one of our Big Three calypsonians, Swallow, with infectious youthful enthusiasm. I know a number of our soca stars – Ricardo Drue, Menace, CP, Tizzy – performed, as did the national youth choir, and, I believe, the Antigua Dance Academy (founder of which, Veronica Yearwood, I spotted in some of the images). Shout out to our community of artists, always! And, a personal note, shout out to TnT writer and illustrator of my children’s picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure who presented our book during a session with children and shared on social media – so that I had a small presence there, in spirit. Pardon any oversights in the mentions – it’s not intentional. To that point…I note that a film I worked on as associate producer HAMAfilms The Sweetest Mango, Antigua and Barbuda’s first feature length film (released 2001) also showed – for the record, as you know from our data base/s we are all about the record here at Wadadli Pen, and because I’ve caught this error in a few reports, the film was produced by Howard and Mitzi Allen, directed by Howard Allen, but written by D. Gisele Isaac (both this and HAMA’s second film, No Seed, on which I served as production manager, were written by D. Gisele Isaac, who before her current life in politics also penned the boundary shifting book Considering Venus, not to mention being a founding partner of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize). The record is important. And, for the record, I wish the hosting of CARIFESTA in Antigua and Barbuda well. Someone posted wondering if they would expect full participation from the artists who have been overlooked CARIFESTA after CARIFESTA (the 2019 edition was the 14th iteration, going all the way back to the 1970s); and they well might…and I venture that for the love of the arts, our artists will show up; still, it is cynical to expect support from the artists in an environment where support for the artists has been so lacking. Hopefully, the road to CARIFESTA will include some reflection and a renaissance that embraces all forms of artistic expression.

Art Conversation

I wrote before about the Rooted at Home and Abroad exhibition at the national museum featuring the works of Zucan Bandele and Walter J. Parker. The exhibition will run to the end of August. Meanwhile, last Friday (August 23rd 2019), the exhibitors invited the community in for a conversation around the art being displayed. Curator Mali Olatunji (who was fine arts photographer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for more than 20 years) also spoke about some of his own art (e.g. the dirty beauty of the polluted sea at sunset) and about other art made in Antigua and Barbuda. And as he showed works by Frank Agard (copper and brass craftsman whose displayed work was an image of the St. John’s Cathedral) and Freeston Wright (an image of his work on canvas – a scene from earlier Antigua), I couldn’t help lamenting, again, the lack of a national art gallery (as a repository of Antigua and Barbuda’s art past and present, a creative space to encourage new artistic expressions, and a showcase with potential commercial value). Too often we find ourselves rediscovering what should never have been lost and not recognizing, embracing, celebrating, and encouraging what is.  A space for discussions like this. One young girl stood and spoke about her own art, and about what she saw in Parker’s art, and in some ways a connection she saw between them: “I totally get that he would make these beautiful things and not be caught up in exposing them.” Yes, among the things discussed was why the artist makes art, and how we interpret art – with attendees noting that sometimes the artist’s intention is clear and sometimes “the persons who look at it will get different interpretations” (Olatunji). Bandele spoke about his masks series and about the African deities he had captured on canvas – the former, poetic pieces inviting the viewer to look in to the head of the masquerader and the latter embodiments of goddesses like Yemojah (Mami Wata) who has dominion over the water. The works of the two exhibitors – Bandele and the deceased Parker whose paintings were of people in different poses and scenarios, all colourfully masked – seemed to be in conversation with each other.


Speaking of Art conversations there are one or two stories from the Antigua Carnival season that ought not be purely seasonal – a few really – but I’m just going to drop a couple. One has to do with panorama which was adjudged a success despite a too drawn out show and the absence of one of Antigua and Barbuda’s top bands, Halcyon due to lack of sponsorship (so Babu told me when I asked him on Carnival Tuesday – as Halcyon was in the parade). I heard a media report in which when it was pointed out to our PM that the band, Halcyon, had given lack of funds as the reason for their non-participation he jested that they were just running scared. Winning band Hell’s Gate is from the PM’s community so this response was likely some of that ages old rivalry between the seasoned bands and their respective communities, no harm no foul. The rest of the comment though, that a couple of other bands had checked him for funds and Halcyon could have done the same misses the point though in my opinion that arts development is continuous, that the arts developers need systems put in place to access philanthropy, investment, and/or sponsorship – that one of the top bands bowing out due to lack of any of these is …not a good look. even as we compliment not only the winners but the growing youth participation in pan – even as we remember that not too long ago pan was all but gone from the Carnival line-up and its resurgence is owed in great part to the pan fraternity and to the advocacy and attention given to it in Culture during the tenure of culture officer Barbara Mason. This is not my area of arts, obviously, so maybe I’m missing something, but those are some of my general observations. As for the other issue that will likely continue to bubble, copyright and use of artists’ work, stay tuned, I guess.

(Source of newspaper clippings: Daily Observer Antigua)


‘“Pengereng” is a Belize Kriol word for the noise made when something, especially a metallic object, falls to the floor. Figuratively, it refers to a great disturbance or upheaval. Hence, the title of my new book of short stories in which each protagonist experiences a life upheaval that forces him or her to make extremely difficult choices.

Kriol activist Silvaana Udz describes the book as a “ground-breaking” publication as it includes the first major work of fiction written entirely in the standard Belize Kriol spelling system. The 74-page collection contains two relatively long stories, one of which is presented in both English and Kriol, plus an essay in which I discuss why Kriol should be used more extensively by Belizean writers and should be made Belize’s second official language alongside English.’ – Belizean writer Ivory Kelly is fresh from representing her country at CARIFESTA (August 2019) in Trinidad. Shortly before that she debuted her latest book, Pengereng. Click here to read more about it.

(Ivory, right, 2014 in Glasgow at the Aye! Write lit fest – where we met)

Rocket Mama Set to Rock the Literary World

One of our favourites on the track is Jamaican sprinter Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce – long known as the pocket rocket for her diminutive size and the way she breaks out of the blocks like a bullet. The multi-Olympic gold medalist has not let motherhood slow her down and is preparing to drop a children’s book this September.

(source of newspaper clippings: Daily Observer Antigua)

Other new book announcements include: the second edition of my teen/young adult novel Musical Youth, former Caribbean media association president and TnT columnist Wesley Gibbings second collection, Passages, and Escape by former Wadadli Pen finalist Rilys Adams (to be uploaded to the data base of Antigua and Barbuda writings as soon as I get the time – but teasing the cover here for now).







The literary world was still reeling from the passing of our mother of modern African American literature, Nobel Prize Winning African American author Toni Morrison (Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Tar Baby, Sula, Paradise, Jazz, and other classic works including my personal favourite Song of Solomon) when Barbadian-American writer Paule Marshall passed as well. She won’t get as much press but the author of Praisesong for the Widow, Browngirl Brownstones, and other classic Caribbean works is a giant in her own right.

Participants in the 2016 BIM Lit Fest: front row, left to right, Olive Senior, A-dZiko Gegele, Selma James, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Tanya Shirley, and Evan Marshall (son of Paule Marshall who was there to collect a lifetime achievement award on her behalf). Middle row, left to right, me (Joanne C. Hillhouse), Mrs. Foster, and Esther Phillips; back row, Cecil Foster, Bernice McFadden, and Mervyn Morris.

Paule Marshall with her award from BIM.

As we mourn their deaths, we celebrate their lives and their words which have enriched, uplifted, revealed our lives.

If I missed any big news or commentary, apologies, this is just a labour of love.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which has a Spanish language edition). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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Reading Room and Gallery 19

I’ve counted as high as I can in Roman numerals (not as high as they go, just as high as I can go using them…because, math). So, I’m using English numbers now (still math but in a language my brain understands) and this is the 19th Reading Room and Gallery. The reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance and beauty, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artists by rippling the water together. For earlier iterations of the Reading Room and Gallery, go back to XVlll and follow the links for the previous ones from there. Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one.


“The goal of the query letter is not to tell the addressee what you want or need; the goal of the query letter is to convince the addressee why they might want to work with you.” – Jeanne Kisacky with tips for writing an effective query letter


“There are any number of reasons why a piece may not make the cut. A few of these are…” – Dan Burgess


“Try to think bigger than you ever have
or had courage enough to do:
that blackness is not where whiteness
wanders off to die: but that it is
like the dark matter
between stars and galaxies in
the Universe
that ultimately
holds it all
together.” – Alice Walker – read the full poem at Afropunk.com


Annotated lyrics for Coming of Age (Da Sequel) by Memphis Bleek and Jay Z from Hard Knock Life (the Jay CD I listen to the most because it’s the only one I bought and have). Jay Z’s Decoded is on my To Read list but until then, there’s this


“Eventually, one becomes—either as a psychological fail-safe or simple breakdown—numb to the repeated experience of loss.” – Kyle Dargan


“Britney Spears doesn’t have to prove to us that she is not a robot.” – Megan Levad on “Auto Tune”


“I stand above the angry sea,
above the gulls that circle me.” – The Lighthouse by Damian Balassone in Anansesem


“If you want to write 140K words from the perspective of a tree, go for it. Write a prologue. Hell, write a prologue for your prologue. Fill your prose with adverbs. Write all your dialogue in italics without dialogue tags. Have your characters speak in emoji. Use profanity in exposition. Describe every square inch of an ordinary dining table. Do whatever it takes to get your story out of your head and on to the page. Do it without doubt or censorship.”  – Jo Eberhardt


“She said that when a writer is in the midst of drafting a new story, everything that happens in their life in those writing months is filtered through the writer and into the story. Some things pass through and some flow into the fictional realm. I used to think of this process as a writer being a human lint filter. But I like Hoover’s more elegant word.” – Karen Harrington


“Don DeLillo is a serious reader of American history and JFK’s death impacted his formative years, Vonnegut’s wild writing strategies were informed by existential trauma, Patricia Highsmith was by most accounts a very dark-minded, hedonistic, and guilt-ridden woman, while JK Rowling’s passion is the golden age of children’s literature and, she happened to write her Potter novels while experiencing the trials of single-motherhood.” – David Savilli on writing what you know, among the popular writing tips he unpacks (not debunks) in Five Lies Creative Writing Teachers Tell


“You’ll notice in the images there is a tiny version of one of Glaser’s book design covers. I kept that image right next to my illustration in Photoshop the entire time so I could constantly check and see if my work was Glaser enough. It was really helpful, especially when it came to creating the pattern on the dress. I used the colour picker to pull colours from the cover design.” – Bryanna Chapeskie


“In some cases, my setting would surely fall short of reader expectations. What’s a writer to do?” – Adria J. Cimino on creating settings when reader expectations are high


“As part of our approach to the revision process, my students and I developed a sort of checklist, expanding on one in Writing Fiction, that may help some people with rewrites. These are the questions we finally decided on as being the most useful…” – Cary Groner on Revision.


“I didn’t think about being Antiguan, what that meant, how that made me special until I went off to college.” – Cray Francis


“I tried to show the Guyana that I know without being critical or without being worshipful.” – Imam Baksh, Burt Award winning author of Children of the Spider, interviewed by Petamber Persaud


“2. Some anthologies are tied together by a genre, and others by a theme. I love that this one—“Stories of Love and the Great War”—is both. Was there ever any concern that some of the contributions would be too similar to one another? Was there anything you did to be sure each writer was focused on distinctly different characters or themes?

I knew this might be an issue early on, so I sent all the co-authors the main pitch and set a deadline. Once they submitted their individual story pitches, I put them together and forwarded them to the group so we could ensure there wasn’t a lot of overlap. We did a little tweaking—there were two nurses at first—but surprisingly, each of our pitches was quite unique. The only other overlap is the Armistice Day theme, as intended, and also we included some sort of visual of poppies to tie in the title.” – Writer’s Digest editor, Jessica Strawser interviewing Heather Webb on How a Fiction Anthology is Made


“Everything I write is autobiographical, but none of it is true in the sense of a court of law—you know, a lie is just a lie. The truth, on the other hand, is complicated.” – Jamaica Kincaid


“There is a new crop of writers based in and writing from the Caribbean that is starting to gain notice beyond the region. How can publishers support these new writers and develop literature in the region?

Karen Lord: Before they can support, they must listen and learn. Don’t overlook our excellence because you can’t recognise what it looks like. Gain exposure and training in the region’s existing literary tradition and do not expect carbon copies of Western works. Let go of stereotypes – there are many different stories being told by our writers, and not everything takes place in the village, on the beach or at carnival. Understand the flexibility of West Indian standard English and its various dialects and respect their validity in dialogue and narrative. Develop in-house expertise that connects to our literary communities, festivals and conferences. We have a rich source of story and many talented writers who would be an asset to any publishing house. We are not a charity project.” Read More.


“I decided to come to Canada to become a writer. You can’t be a writer in Jamaica. You can’t live as a writer in Jamaica. … Everybody used to ask me: ‘Why are you still here?'” – Garfield Ellis as quoted in Annie Paul’s column in the Jamaica Gleaner, on the plight of the Caribbean writer. Read more.


“From an early stage, he took his inspiration from film and animated media to produce unorthodox story-driven visual novels.” – Arts Antigua writes about local artist and animator Nuffield Burnette whose work you can see in some of your favourite animated films out of Hollywood.


“As people from the Caribbean, we inhabit a spectrum of language, and you actually hear it when you go into the cultures,” Philp says. “You can hear somebody code-switching. You might start off saying something in Standard English and midway switch into the dialect or the vernacular.” – Pidgin, patois, slang, dialect, creole — English has more forms than you might expect on The World in Words, produced by Nina Porzuchi


Paule Marshall.

I wasn’t sure where to put this but I wanted to shout out Paule Marshall, the Barbados-descended American writer who received a lifetime achievement award at the BIM Lit Fest. She wasn’t there but her son accepted on her behalf (as you can see in my Festival blog here) – and this is her when it was finally presented to her in the US. But I also wanted to take the opportunity to re-introduce you to an author you probably already know and if you don’t you should. I was introduced to her work in university through Praisesong for the Widow and have since read Browngirl Brownstones, Daughters, and her powerful essay ‘From the Poets in the Kitchen’ in which she wrote “The group of women around the table long ago. They taught me my first lessons in the narrative art. They trained my ear. They set a standard of excellence. This is why the best of my work must be attributed to them; it stands as a testimony to the rich legacy of language and culture they so freely passed on to me in the wordshop of the kitchen.” Read more about Paule Marshall.


“You had to place what was placed on your back for you to tote.” – Zora Neale Hurston’s The Conscience of the Court


Feeling depressed about your latest rejection letter, consider this, all the greats have been turned down at some time or other. I wanted to share this story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of the American classic, The Great Gatsby, in part because (as explained here) it was rejected by the New Yorker back in 1936 finally earning a spot in the venerable publication in July 2012. The name of the story is Thank You for the Light. And I quite liked it.


‘The hall was flooded with people every evenin now. But it wasn’t meetings no more. It was battle royales. The hall was an accusation chamber, a kangaroo court. People screeching out names like crazy, convince that they know who is the ones that bringing the rain.

Grampa get to decide on the first name: Dr. Rahamut. Dr. Rahamut had a room set aside in his house, that Grampa call the Slipslide Office—where the doc could pull out babies from wombs. “It have a metal clamp he like to use!” Grampa proclaim. “When he have to remove the baby, he pull it limb by limb! And he use the clamp to crush the skull! Then he would piece together the baby on a table, like it is a broken doll, like it is a jigsaw puzzle! Tell me what kinda sick village would allow a man like that to practice his business here?”

The next night, somebody damn near torch Dr. Rahamut’s practice to the ground. Grampa never tell anyone to do that, but you coulda depend on somebody doin it, anyway. We rush out of their house to look at the tendrils of fire fastenin to the house, even as the rain pelt down on it. Thing is, the rain didn’t stop. So the people needed another name.’ – Midnight in Raintown by Kevin Jared Hosein


“My passion, my joy, my enthusiasm about the books I bring into my classroom sends a message to the readers who join me there.” – Mindy Rench: Third Grade Teacher and former junior high literacy coach


“He offers no panaceas for the messy present and pasts of the Trinidad he represents in his fiction: his eye is as clear as that of his famous contemporary, Naipaul, but his vision is far less bleak and punishing.” – a blog posting on Earl Lovelace


“…his world-building skills are and always will be second to none. He makes Middle-Earth seem so real, as if the stories are chapters from its history.”  – Tolkien Talk at Pages Unbound by Sara Letourneau

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, Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad!, and Musical Youth). 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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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

Reading Room XI

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms, use the search feature to the right, to the right.


Honest. Is the loss of control worth it when you publish with a big five by Tracy Slater.


“These near-acceptances taught me that my work couldn’t be terrible, and so I kept trying. But eventually, I got tired of all the striving and rejection. I’d been calling myself a writer for years, yet hardly anyone had ever read my work! It was time to change gears– not give up, but just try a different approach. This post is my attempt to retrace the path I’ve taken, and to share what I’ve learned along the way. If you, like me, are tired of rejection or don’t know where to begin submitting, here are a few ideas to consider…” Read Anne Liu Kellor’s ideas, and consider, here.


“Publishing is one of those industries where, for better or worse, if the job’s done well, most of it is invisible. Most people will only remember the job of the proofreader if they find a typo that slipped through, for example. When you consider how many people are involved at each stage of a book’s development (editing, copyediting, designing, typesetting, proofreading) and how many other books each of them are juggling, you start to see why each book takes the better part of a year to work its way through the system.” – Jonathan Eyers, author of The Thieves of Pudding Lane


“I teach what I call ‘active description’, which is what I write, and which is the only way I’ve found to get people to actually read description rather than skimming over it while searching for the next ‘good stuff’. Active description requires the writer to think hard about the objective of the scene he’s writing, create conflicts based on the setting or other descriptive elements, and then write the conflicts INTO the description.” – Holly Lisle talking matter of factly about her writing practices…but I’m posting it here because of her extensive commentary on her publishing experience. Read the full here.


“I submitted SIX well over a hundred times to various poetry book contests, and in its eight years of circulation, the book was a finalist 36 times. … You must be relentless.” – Julie Marie Wade. Read more about submitting smart, submitting relentlessly from her and others at A Room of Her Own.


This particular story is as much folk legend as fiction making Glen Toussaint not so much its writer as its chronicler, in the spirit of the Brothers Grim and Chaucer. He acknowledges as much in his introduction: “story is Geography, History, Truth and Lies, Fact and Fiction, Myth and Legend all rolled into two words that light up the eyes of folks old or young enough to know.” It is the story of the Slapping Hands. Read on.


This film (Maybe Another Time) is one minute long…does that make it a flash film? Which reminds me, be sure to check out the winning pieces from the 2015 Wadadli Pen Flash Fiction Challenge after you watch the film…TRIGGER WARNING Don’t want to spoil it for you but the ending was, for me, like a punch to the gut.


This could be placed one of two places – in poetry for Esther Phillips’ Feathers…or here for Danielle Boodoo Fortune’s Wonder. It’s from the Missing Slate; check it out.


Paule Marshall writes about what she learned from the Poets in the Kitchen. An interesting read. From The Poets in the Kitchen (merged)


“In my play, I speak about the tragedy of being voiceless, of the fear that stops you from letting your voice be heard, and also the power that words have to shape your path.” – Ana Gonzalez Bello on Finding My Voice


“As female artists, when we create in an environment like this, we are constantly aware of the politics of going against the grain. Women are permitted to dabble in the arts as a hobby but when you brand yourself as a serious artist, when you have the audacity to exhibit your work and to spend countless hours creating art, it means that you run the risk of being perceived as a ‘bad’ woman, one who is perhaps neglecting the more important work of contributing to society via traditionally prescribed roles.” – Tanya Shirley. Read more.


“The problem with passing information through a POV character comes when you use the wrong one. When you funnel information through someone who should already know it, the audience gets wise to what you’re doing. In the film Gravity, George Clooney’s character keeps telling Sandra Bullock how satellite debris behaves in space, I kept expecting her to say, ‘You do know I’m an astronaut too, right?'” – Drew Chial


“I have Derek Walcott at my bedside…He reminds me that poui yellow blossoms are as valid as daffodils dancing in the breeze,” – Barbara Jenkins in Susumba.


“If you have anxieties about your writing, and you’re waiting for them to go away before you properly begin, my advice is to stop waiting and begin now. You won’t feel ready. Writing is difficult, and your doubt won’t dissipate overnight. Be patient with yourself. What will happen is that you’ll become accustomed to the doubt and difficulty. You’ll accept it as an intrinsic part of the writing process, and this preparedness will help you eventually ignore it. So acknowledge to yourself that writing is rarely easy, and that time doesn’t make it easier. Brace yourself for the hard slog, be brave and do it anyway. After all, it is writing’s difficulty which makes it beautiful. Don’t expect it to be anything else. Just keep calm, carry on, keep going.” Read more of Hannah Kent’s rules. I think I’m going to check out her book Burial Rites.


“Fiction writing is totally dependent on your imagination, so all the daydreaming I used to do as a child was good practice.” – Vanessa Salazar


“A writer needs to go out into the world. There aren’t that many things that can be written about on your own, in isolation.” – Monique Roffey


“How much of the world’s fiction can readers explore in English? Shamefully little, according to Ann Morgan, whose latest project took her on a reading trip around the globe. According to Morgan, a substantial number of the world’s 196 independent nations can’t even claim a single novel available in English translation. She joins us to talk about the challenges and delights of literary travel.” – from the Guardian’s audio interview with British writer Ann Morgan and South Korean writer Han Kang.


“There are all these stories swirling around in the Universe, and you just take a deep breath, close your eyes and grab one.” – Leone Ross


“Sam Selvon kept his distinctive Trinidadian or West Indian voice intact in his literary self and manner as he depicted what was authentic. His stories are his ‘ballad’ (he calls it), reflecting what’s quintessentially oral and a literary ground-breaker, as he captures the foibles of West Indian immigrant life at home and abroad. In re-reading his stories it’s as if one has never left home – everything is captured in each brush-stroke of the pen” – Cyril Dabydeen on Sam Selvon on Writing


“Learn to look at your work as if it isn’t your work. Be as hard on yourself as you would anyone else.” – Brian McDonald on judging your own work.


“A friend of mine is a reader for the New England Review and he told me that typos are an indication to him that a story hasn’t been cared for enough. If the lines aren’t right, chances are the story isn’t either. And even though we know this isn’t necessarily true, it is true that our work has only one shot to make an impression on an editor.” – Emily Lackey on the process of submitting.


“I write every day and see it as a way of life rather than a job.” – Monique Roffey. Read More.


“Word by word.” – part of Paul Beatty’s answer when asked how his book (The Sellout) came to be. Read his full interview here.


Jane Austen road tested novels by reading them aloud. More on the BBC.


“The greater difficulty isn’t in avoiding autobiographical elements; the greater difficulty is to consciously craft the raw ore of your life into fiction, to transmute the glaringly real into a thing of (hopefully) accomplished artifice.” – Ruel Johnson in an interview with Shivanee Ramlochan.


I’m currently reading Sharon Millar’s The Whale House and Other Stories and discovering how textured the spaces she imagines and/or reflects are; it’s an immersive experience. This Arc interview provides interesting insights on how she approaches her craft.


“…for that is what writing is. It needs to become a habitual practice.” – Monique Roffey on developing a writing lifestyle and more.


“I know what I’m trying to do: I’m trying to write a book and trying to write an original book. Those are the things that concern me. I’m always trying to write an original sentence or trying to figure out why I can’t grow blue poppies in Vermont or how to keep a woodchuck out of my garden or something like that.” – Jamaica Kincaid in 12 Reasons Why Jamaica Kincaid is a Badass at the Huffington Post.


“There’s an assumption about writing sci fi and fantasy that you can just make up any old thing as you go along, but that’s no more true than it is of historical fiction. The world of your story must have its own internal logic, rules and constraints. What makes writing historical fiction perhaps even harder than writing sci fi and fantasy is that the constraints are historical facts – and you probably won’t know all of them…Whilst you have to know the period better than your readers do, you should reach around your writing, not write around your research. Let the characters and the plot lead the way.” – Jonathan Eyers, author of The Thieves of Pudding Lane, on The Importance of Research.


Ann Morgan: “When I graduated from my creative writing master’s course and had to face the reality of earning my keep, I made a deal with myself: wherever I was working and whatever I was doing, I would always get up early and spend an hour or so on my own writing before I left to go and work for someone else. For the next few years, through a series of varied and sometimes rather strange jobs (administrator, campaigns officer for a charity, invigilator for school exams, assessor of doctors’ surgeries, freelance choral singer, professional mourner – don’t ask), I stuck to my bargain. Give or take the odd duvet day, I got up at around 6am, sat at my desk and wrote. I produced a lot of nonsense. Still, when I became a professional writer, I carried on with my regime. Before commuting into London to edit articles on planning applications for Building Design or write about the latest opportunities for international students for the British Council, I would spend an hour or so on my own (usually not very promising) projects.” Read how it’s all beginning to pay off.


“I’ve been haunted by these memories for a long time. I guess I just decided it was time to let it out, all of it. There comes a time in your life when you say to yourself that if you continue to act normal and don’t go mad then your entire life has been a waste. I felt I had reached that moment, when I was tired of keeping it in, tired of the ordinariness, the routine, the boredom, and seeing the same ugly people every day. I went mad and wrote. A part of me wanted it to be a tribute to my family; the other part knew it was an expression of who I truly am.” – Ezekiel Alan, author of Disposable People.


“Characters. It’s all about the characters.” – you had me at characters, Millie Ho.


So much drama and tension in these lines…
“We arrive, and my daughter jumps out to snap a photo of Laguerre’s grave.
A car is parked in the circle drive in front of the closed mansion.
The trunk lid is open, and a man is bent over the trunk.
A teen on a motorbike holds out an open messenger’s bag to him.
The man is filling the bag with plastic packets.
I get it. Coño. I understand the frog-boy.

I calculate the footsteps necessary for my daughter
to return to the car, and the distance of that isolated drive back to Moca.
I wave her over, and she runs, already equally weirded-out.
Las entregadas, deliveries to be made by delivery boys of the cañavernal.
A perfect desolate spot for transactions after dark, who comes out here?” – from Yerba Mala by Loretta Collins Klobah. Read the full poem.

Interesting relationship here between the subject of the painting and the artist…and inevitably between the writer of the poem and them both…and now, the reader and the whole…
“Our boy does not look to the ship at his back,
nor to the sky, nor even to the sailors, who now have locked onto his arms.
Rather, he turns to look backwards, over his shoulder at Campeche, his blue eyes
gazing directly into those of his creator, neither grateful nor pleading.
One boy at the mercy of the sea— Campeche could dip a paintbrush, like an oar,
into the water to pull the boy out, but he does not.” – from The Salvation of Don Ramón Power by Loretta Collins Klobah. Read the full poem.


On Describing Love by Danielle Boodoo Fortune


Lost Love by Alfred Lord Tennyson.


Congratulations to friend of Wadadli Pen Danielle Boodoo Fortune who served as a judge in 2014 and 2015 on her win of the 2015 Hollick Arvon prize at the Bocas literary festival in her homeland, Trinidad. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving artist. Here’s a sample of her work…



Cranberry Sauce Provides An Improper Dressing For the Modern Turkey by Natasha Kochicheril Moni at Verse Daily.


“At school they line children up. Aliens must stand aside to show themselves.” – Exposed by Althea Romeo Mark.


Sharing this Culture Trip list of Jamaican writers mostly FYI; it’s always good to expand our knowledge of the Caribbean literary canon.

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 AmazonWordPress, 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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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business