Tag Archives: poem

Wadadli Pen Diary – 2020 Judges – It’s Not Easy Work But They’re Up to the Challenge

Our judging pool has shifted year to year since Wadadli Pen’s 2004 launch; the only constant since our core team was put in place in 2016 has been chief judge/judging coordinator Floree Williams Whyte.

We wanted to share info re our respective 2020 judges currently hard at work assessing the 57 submissions to the Wadadli Pen 2020 Challenge.

Danielle Boodoo Fortune Hackshaw is a Trinidad-Tobago poet; she is also a returning Wadadli Pen judge, having initially served on the 2014-2015 panels, and having contributed her custom notebooks and bookmarks to past prize packages. Her connection with Wadadli Pen founder coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse goes back to 2008 when they were both on a panel in Barbados Celebrating Caribbean Women Writers. Since then Danielle’s literary fortunes have only continued to rise. She’s been published in several local and international journals such as Bim: Arts for the 21st Century, The Caribbean Writer, Small Axe Literary Salon, Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing, Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, Dirtycakes Journal, Blackberry: A Magazine, Room Magazine, and others. Her accolades include a prize from The Caribbean Writer (2009), a Pushcart nomination (2010), a Small Axe poetry prize (2012), the Hollick Arvon prize (2015), and the Wasifiri Prize (2016). She was twice short listed for the Montreal Prize (2013 and 2017). Twenty nineteen though was her most celebrated year as a Caribbean creative force. Her acclaimed book Doe Songs was the poetry prize winner at the Bocas literary festival. In addition to being a sublime poet, Danielle is a talented artist – her retail pieces and commissioned work are in many a private collection. Her murals (for example her work with the Urban Heartbeat project, a street art project across Central America and the Caribbean) tell unique stories and through her workshops she helps young people begin to tell their own stories. Her original pieces have featured in shows in the UK, Canada, Grenada, Latin America, and her home country Trinidad and Tobago where she debuted her solo show Criatura in 2013. She is also known for illustrations like the ones in Hillhouse’s Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure In many ways, Danielle is as much a part of the Wadadli Pen family as any one from Wadadli. Given that she has always been willing to serve and is well positioned to bring a knowledgeable eye to both the art and lit side of our Challenge, we are delighted to have her on board.

Glen Toussaint works as a supervisor at the Best of Books bookstore so it’s no surprise that he’s an avid reader; he’s also a writer – primarily a poet who has featured at local open Mics such as August Rush’s Expressions Open Mic and Spilling Ink’s Poetry in the Park in addition to running his own Best of Books’ monthly Wadadli Pen Open Mic. Glen said in a 2019 interview on Spilling Ink’s Facebook page that his writing really began  in 2008, shortly after he started working at the bookstore, when he “wrote a poem called ‘Ode to Love’ as a response to reading Joanne Hillhouse’s ‘Dancing Nude in the Moonlight”. That poem is now published in the 10th anniversary edition of the book released in 2014. But this publishing-link-up (via the author who is also the founder-coordinator of Wadadli Pen) is not Glen’s only connection to the programme. He has more often than not hosted the awards ceremony in the years (2011 to present) that Best of Books has partnered with the project, and has served as a judge (2016-2017). Glen is also published in the anthology So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End: an Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing edited by Althea Prince. He blogs at Because I love Words and Dat Bwoi for Jackie.  One of the main reasons Wadadli Pen wanted to bring Glen back on board this year was his knowledge of comic art (given the addition of our three-panel-comic art Challenge for 2020). One project Glen was recently involved in launching was 2019’s first time ever Antigua-Barbuda Con which included an art competition. In the referenced Spilling Ink interview, Glen said, when asked about advice to artists, “practice, work at your craft, learn to take criticism and learn when to apply it, study others in your craft.” Sound advice. With his wealth of knowledge in both comic art and literature, passion for the literary arts, mix of excitement and grounded-ness, Glen is a welcome re-addition to the Wadadli Pen judging panel.

Floree Williams Whyte is an independent publisher (Moondancer Books) and the author of one non-fiction book (Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses), one adult book of fiction (Through the Window), and one book of children’s fiction (The Wonderful World of

 

 

 

 

 

Yohan). Yohan first appeared in the story Yohan! published in 2010 in Anansesem, the Summer Edward edited and published online Caribbean children’s literary journal. Floree has also been published in Carnival is All We Know: an Anthology Celebrating 50 Years of Antigua’s Carnival and the Creativity of Our Writers & Artists edited by Joanne C. Hillhouse and Souls of My Young Sisters: Young Women Break Their Silence with Personal Stories that will Change Your Life edited by Dawn Marie Daniels and Candace Sandy.

Floree works as a marketing communications executive. She has been a Wadadli Pen prize donor over the years,  a judge since 2012, and a member of the core team since 2016 in recent years taking on the role of judging coordinator and chief judge. Floree’s no drama focus is part of what makes her a great part of the team, and a steady leader of perhaps the most challenging part of the entire Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge.

The team is at work; we look forward to the outcome.

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Obeah Woman

I first heard this poem at a youth forum held during Independence. One of my co-panelists used it as an example in literary analysis. It made me want to read more of Antiguan and Barbudan poet Eileen Hall. But her work is out of print. I’ll share just this bit (hopefully staying within fair use parameters) just because as a country we should be aware of our artists (albeit that Wikepedia lists Hall as an American poet while in the same posting acknowledging  that she is Antiguan born to parents who had been in Antigua for generations). No profit is being made from this sharing and no copyright infringement is intended.

Obeah Woman by Eileen Hall

So lef’ me, ef you waan’a feel
How p’isin sting from manchineel.
De bruk leaf blister w’ere ‘e touch.
Who tek lub easy, no’ lub much.
Ef you min’in’ gal dat talk so neat
An’ ack so lollice in de street
Goin’ pung de root ub a pepper tree
Fu’ t’row wit’ sugar in yo’ tea.
A’ done wit’ studyin’ right an’ wrang.
So ‘memba, me no ‘fraid to hang.

 

What’s your interpretation of this work?

 

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ELLA TRABAJA

El límite  de la tierra se marca por una hilera muy fina de caña
Ella lleva en la mano un lavabo muy pesado y lleno de ropas
La casa es de colores uniformes  beige y marrón
Así como todas las demás
Una fila de azules soplan en la cuerda de tender ropa
Las ropas íntimas de un infante están tendidas en la cuerda de tender ropa de atrás
Los perros gruñen
El gallo araña la tierra
Unas placas de cinc forman un rectángulo alrededor de dos canteros
En los cuales se han sembrado semillas
Pero hay sequilla y la tierra tiene es sedienta
El día es largo y sus pies se cansan
Y trabaja
En el día del Señor
Bajo los rayos infernales
Del sol antiguano en tiempo de sequilla
Donde la tierra es tan reseca que solo la frambuesa amarga madura.

Dancing 10 cover

If I had my way, there’d be a Spanish language version of my book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, which features a woman from the Dominican Republic trying to make her way in Antigua, and falling in love along the way. Until then, this is a Spanish translation of my poem She Works. It’s been sitting on my hard drive through several crashes and computer changes; I figure it’s survived this long for a reason. Was hit by the impulse to share it today, so here it is. The translation came about as a result of the poem being one of three selected in a national contest from Antigua for inclusion in a Spanish language collection that never came to be. The poem (Ella Trabaja/She Works) has since been published in Womanspeak Volume 6 and more recently among the other writings in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings.

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,  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 WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. And using any creative work without crediting the creator will open you up to legal action. Respect copyright.

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Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed lll

This picks up where the  Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed l and ll leave off. As with those pages, it features reviews about A & B writings that I come across as I dig through my archives or surf the web. You’re welcome to send any credible reviews that you come across as well. They’re not in any particular order, I just add them as I add them; some will be old, some will be new. But as I was recently asked in an interview if there are any writers of note from Antigua beyond Jamaica Kincaid, I feel it important to reinforce that while Kincaid’s well earned stature is indisputable, Antigua and Barbuda does have an emerging literary culture. Dig through the section on Antiguan and Barbudan Writings and its sub-genres for more on that, and scroll through this and the other reviews sections to read what has been written about our writers. Do we have a literary culture. Hell, yes. With very little to encourage and sustain it, it lives.

Read reviews of several Antiguan and Barbudan books – Jamaica Kincaid’s See Now Then, Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Oh Gad!, Dorbrene O’Marde’s Send Out You Hand, Leslie R. James’ Ebony Grace and Black Consciousness, and Vere Cornwall Bird: When Power Failed to Corrupt – in the 2014 edition of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books.

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“In this closely observed and carefully crafted story of the Hammer family in nineteenth-century Cornwall, Sue Appleby explores the life of a Cornish tenant farmer, his wives, and offspring. Drawing upon the rich material of her own family history, she investigates the varying fortunes of her great-grandfather, Philip Hammer of Porthpean, near St Austell, and in so doing brings alive the social history of nineteenth-century Cornwall – including the extraordinary Cornish diaspora which scattered Philip’s sons and daughters as far afield as Australia and South Africa. The tale of one family, it is also the story of Cornwall itself. Appleby tells it with passion and penetrating insight – an important addition to our understanding of Cornwall’s fascinating world-wide heritage.” – Professor Philip Payton, Director, Institute of Cornish Studies, University of Exeter (Cornwall Campus)

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“More recently, I read Marie-Elena John’s novel Unburnable on the plane from New York to Copenhagen. I laughed aloud so often reading this wondrously intelligent book about Dominica and the United States and Africa, about gender, class and race, about love and sexuality, that the bespectacled man sitting next to me put his Wall Street Journal down and leaned over to see what the title was. He asked what it was about. I could have told him how it dealt honestly with issues without ever forgetting to keep character and soul as its centre, but instead I told him a tiny anecdote from the book about black women and thongs. And I much enjoyed his blush.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Marie Elena John’s Unburnable

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“Through a simple structure of short chapters collating two tales – that of Lillian Baptiste’s present, and that of her family’s past in Dominica – John expertly weaves history and fiction into an integral narrative that takes the reader on a fascinating journey where instincts, magic, intuition and, above all, love are the real protagonists.

John’s knowledge and usage of Dominican history are instrumental to the development of a tale in which the proud identity of minority factions in a society hostile to multiculturalism helps create alternative world-visions – that of the Carib native, that of the maroon fugitive slaves – which eventually are crushed by the prevailing force of the ruling order.” – more on Unburnable at Memo from La La Land

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“This collection was doubly appealing because I really hadn’t had much/any exposure to Caribbean literature, and I was excited to try reading something different…Below, I’ve mentioned three of my favorites. Waywardness by Ezekel Alan – This was easily my favorite story of the bunch…Mango Summer by Janice Lynn Mather…This story was very poignant, providing a strikingly sharp contrast between the innocence of childhood and the sometimes horrible harshness of reality. All the Secret Things No One Ever Knows by Sharon Leach … written in such an artful, compelling fashion. It was not easy to read, but I am glad that I read it. I also liked Amelia at Devil’s Bridge and The Monkey Trap. If you really enjoy short story collections, or are interested in checkin’ out writing from a new region/area, I don’t think you’d regret perusing these stories. This was a quick read and some of the writing is quite remarkable.” Review of Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean which includes Amelia at Devil’s Bridge by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C.Hillhouse

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“She may have single handedly increased tourism on the island through the writing of this novel. I mean, I want to go to Dominica!” – Morphological Confetti on Marie Elena John’s Unburnable

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“…this is not a “storybook.” Even though Dorbrene’s feelings are present throughout, in a way that is surprisingly understated – to me – knowing how worked-up about issues he can get, this is not a book about “feelings,” either. It is an exhaustively researched piece of work that pulls from commentary; documented facts; personal conversations and persons’ archives; and social, political and religious review, all placed in a national, regional or international context, as applicable. King_Short_Shirt_-_Full_Size

In fact, you could easily say that this is two books in one, since the end-notes and appendices are, themselves, so interesting and educational.” – D. Gisele Isaac on Dorbrene O’Marde’s Nobody Go Run Me

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Kim the Bookworm in her review of What’s Eating Me called Elaine Spires “a hilarious author”, adding “I read the majority of the book with a great big grin on my face. The way she writes is just so funny and entertaining, I could read her books forever!”

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From an Oh Gad! review at Caribbean Vistas:

“Hillhouse’s authorial voice is lyrical and descriptive.  The interactions of this extended and blended family, along with their respective communities in Antigua and the United States provide a range of interesting perspectives that are expressed in characteristic dialogue of their regions. The universe of this novel is not only populated with intergenerational and multi-cultural characters but also with connections to ancestors and newborns.   Compellingly, the complexity and depth of Oh Gad! is well disguised as easy beach reading with the usual soap opera formula of romance, political intrigue, family feuds, and the like.   In this way, Hillhouse masterfully transports us back and forth from our modernity into the mythic yet real seat of Antiguan culture.  What we find there is fascinating.”

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Ashley Bryan (various)

The Schools Library Journal said of Ashley Bryan’s Sing to the Sun, it “captures the beauty of nature along with human emotion and circumstance, and children are sure to enjoy its rhymic descriptive verse” and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books said “the words are simple but they dance”.

Ashley Bryan’s illustrations in What a Morning! earned the following praise from Publisher’s Weekly: “Bryan’s illustrations tie into the African-American theme, showing a black Holy family and multiracial wise men and shepherds. Bold brush strokes line each landscape and every garment; the star of Bethlehem, through the religious prism, reveals colors of rainbow hues. ”

On Turtle Knows My Name, he was both author and illustrator. Publisher’s Weekly said of the children’s picture book: “With the funny names, abundant dialogue and animal noises, Bryan’s lively retelling of this English Antillean story is well-suited to reading out loud. The festive paintings are a visual treat, complementing the text with jewel-like colors and fluid lines.” The Schools Library Journal had this to say: “The art is beautifully patterned, like the text, with vibrant images in the full-page, watercolor paintings. The handsome and loving black grandmother and her grandson inhabit a radiant, tropical world and should bring delight to young children and storytellers, who will recognize their proud and loving spirits, and will enjoy chanting the very long names over and over again.”

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Ann Morgan from A Year of Reading the World described Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy as “a fresh, feisty and at times
alarming perspective on the land of the free and on British colonialism.” It was her Antigua and Barbuda pick. Read the full review here.

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Sharing some reviews of my work…

Everyone seems to be digging the art work for Fish Outta Water (“beautiful”)…and I agree; plus, I’m told the story isn’t bad either. Read more here.

Jamaican poet and Professor emeritus (UWI) Mervyn Morris remarked on Oh Gad!‘s “skilfull descriptions” and “nicely managed dialogue”; the blogger at Conquering Book Mountain said the “the dialect is wonderfully written and rolls off the mental tongue”; V. Bridges Moussaron, Associate Professor @ Université de Charles de Gaulle  credited the “complexity of the characters” and the “layers of language”; Claudia Elizabeth Ruth Francis wrote in an Observer review that it was “one of the most important fiction books to come out of Antigua & Barbuda”; Brenda Lee Browne blogged that ” it has a plot so real that (I) fell into the book”; David B Dacosta wrote, “Hillhouse expertly reels the reader deeply within the cultural fabric of Antiguan society.” He had some problems with the book though and so did at least one other reviewer who speaks of the “mesmerizing phrasing” but said the author “becomes too comfortable in the simple telling”. Read these and various reader reviews here.

Alexandra Casselle blogged about The Boy from Willow Bend, ““The musicality of the authentic, Antiguan language resonates like wind dipping in and out of multicolored bottle trees…”; Althea Romeo Mark said it was “brilliant”; while Helen Williams catalogued it among other “Useful stories for discussion” on her blog; Dr. Natasha Lightfoot commented on its “thoughtful rendering of complex issues”; while Debbie Jacob wrote that described the plot as “exciting and moves swiftly”, adding “The characters in Hillhouse’s book feel real and, best of all, they feel Caribbean, but the story could have held up in any culture.” Mickel Brann wrote when it first came out in the Observer that it was “well crafted, lively and absolutely believable.” There’s more. Read them all here.

Read Dancing Nude in the Moonlight reviews here and reviews of other works here.

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In 2012, Ashley Bryan released his version of an iconic Christian story, the birth of Christ, with his Who Built the Stable? A Nativity Poem. The School Library Journal described the prose as “beautifully written”  and Bryan’s art work as “resplendent”.  Booklist said it’s “executed in exuberant folk-style art that shines like stained glass, the pictures have a simplicity that will appeal to children.” Publisher’s Weekly called it “a touching take on the classic nativity story.” As for the art work, they wrote, “strong strokes to evoke Bethlehem, (“A rich and verdant land”) with saturated shades of primary and secondary colors, lively expressions on human and animal faces, and sweeping lines to create the impression of movement. Pleasing to the eye and to the ear.” Kirkus Reviews wrote, “Bryan’s Christmas offering combines a poignant poem about a shepherd boy who builds his own stable with exuberant paintings in a masterful melding of rhythmic text and dazzling art.” Shelf Awareness wrote that it was “moving”. See all the reviews here.

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Caribbean Civilization said of Tameka Jarvis-George’s short film inspired by her poem of the same name Dinner (and which she also co-stars with her husband): “the videography is dreamy and her literary talent is well displayed.”

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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