Tag Archives: Poet Laureate

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late January 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)


Richards Georges, an award winning BVI writer with Trinidad and Antiguan roots, has been named the first ever Virgin Islands Poet Laureate. Per the image below, he was actually appointed back in November – I’m just tardy in posting.

As explained at the programme, the Poet Laureate is selected from among the territory’s most accomplished poets and must serve for three years. Nomination and appointment is based on the subject matter of their written work which should speak to the unique experience of the virgin islands and the volume, quantity, and quality of their work as evident by literary awards and other achievements. The laureate programme was established by the Minister of Culture. Richard who has specific duties under the laureate programme but who sets the intention of making time to write every day, said, ” ‘Writing isn’t just the physical act of writing, it’s researching, it’s reading, it’s thinking actively about a particular project.” You can find Richard’s books listed in the Antiguan and Barbudan poetry page. (Source – Social Media – Facebook; with additional links via email from House of Nehesi and John Robert Lee)


Instagrammer shows love for two Antiguan and Barbudan books.

This was in a series breaking down the bookstagrammer’s favourite reads of the year. And since part of what we do here is amp up Antiguan and Barbudan books, I thought I’d share some of what she said:

Re Brand New – “I’m a fan of Rilzy Adams. She also writes about Antigua. “Brand New” is a spin-off from the Love on The Rock universe she created to tell the stories of ordinary Caribbean millennials looking for love in Antigua. I loved it because of the lead man (a teacher with dreadlocks…) but mostly because of the 90s party atmosphere.” She named Brand New named one of her top five #readCaribbean novels of 2020.

Re Dancing Nude in the Moonlight (10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings) – “I’m a fan of Joanne C. Hillhouse. Her writing (highlights) the issues of Caribbean societies. Here she tells the love story between a man from Antigua and an immigrant woman from the (Dominican) Republic. Colorism and xenophobia (complicate) a relationship that at its core seems doomed. I don’t put it higher in my ranking because (it’s) not a feel good romance. And I think the book is more about showing how one person tries to figure out which path to take in that actual romance. It is realistic and anchored in our present. …Although it was written more than 15 years ago.”

(Source – instagram/bookstagram)


Rilzy Adams (pen name of Rilys Adams, Antiguan and Barbudan romance writer and past Wadadli Pen finalist) is in the running for her book Go Deep for the Black Girls Who Write 2020 Award (an awards initiative targeted at Black romance writers and their readers, for Best Black Erotica – vote here). (Source – the author’s social media/facebook)


ETA: Roffey goes on to win the Costa Book of the Year Award for The Mermaid of Black Conch, of which BBC arts correspondent Rebecca Jones said: “At first, the novel might sound a bit odd. Set on a Caribbean island in the 1970s, it is a bittersweet love story between a beautiful young woman cursed to live as a mermaid and a fisherman.” Read all about it at BBC.com (Source – social media/facebook)

Trinis Ingrid Persaud and Monique Roffey were Costa Book Awards winners – first novel and novel, respectively.

(Source – Social Media – Facebook author announcement and other sources)


A portrait of late Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite hangs in Pembroke College in the UK. Jamaica-born Errol Lloyd was commissioned by the College to paint this first portrait of a BME Fellow to go on permanent display. “It is a great honour for us to be able to place Kamau amongst our other distinguished alumni, here in our Hall”, said the Master, Lord Smith. “He was a hugely distinguished, major international literary figure. He put Caribbean literature very firmly on the literary map.” – More at the College website. (Source – Email from St. Lucian poet John Robert Lee)

New Books

UK-Jamaican author Leone Ross’ latest This One Sky Day landed on January 15th 2021. It is published by the prestigious Faber & Faber, and, in the US, Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux. And promoting it, the author landed herself on the cover of Bookseller.

In the article, she said, of the gap between her las novel and this third work – 20 years (not counting her 2017 short story collection Come Let Us Sing Anyway) – ‘“It felt, for reasons I don’t quite understand, that everything went to sleep a little bit,” she says. “I think probably because I needed to hustle more, probably because I needed a different agent, we could say all kinds of things… I don’t know what I needed to do. But I do know that at the end of Orange Laughter I was exhausted emotionally. It had taken a lot to write those two novels over a very short period of time.” It felt, she says now, as though nobody was waiting for book number three, not that anyone should have been, she adds hastily. “I didn’t feel entitled, but also I didn’t get very much support. So I kind of thought, ‘Oh, that’s the end of that’.”’ As someone who first heard Ross read in Guadeloupe in 2013, becoming immediately intrigued, and as a fan of stories of hers like The Woman who lived in a Restaurant and The Mullerian Eminence in Peepal Tree collection Closure – both out in 2015, I believe – I have been waiting, and can’t wait to read. (Source – Leone Ross’ social media)


Two Caribbean specific Collins (UK) Big Cat books hit the UK market on January 7th 2021 – The Jungle Outside by Joanne C. Hillhouse (me) and Turtle Beach by Wadadli Pen team member and bookseller Barbara A. Arrindell, illustrated, respectively by Danielle Boodoo Fortune of Trinidad and Tobago and Zavian Archibald of Antigua and Barbuda. Per this post on The Spectator’s facebook page, Barbara’s book, though “a story set in the Caribbean, … goes beyond the Caribbean and highlights environmental issues of interest to everyone. Barbara’s hobby for swimming and love of beaches are strong influences this children’s book.” She noted the influence my mother and nephew had on my story, and, I would add, that it is, too, in its way a pro-environment story of potential appeal to young readers everywhere. Both will be rolled out in other markets in coming months. (Source – Petra Williams, The Spectator)


Trinidad and Tobago author Lisa Allen-Agostini (you may remember her from this interview here on the blog) is preparing to launch her latest book, The Bread The Devil Knead, her third overall and her first for adults, and first book since the award winning Home Home.

Cover art by Brianna McCarthy.

Launch day is in May 2021, ahead of which Lisa did this January 19th 2021 live special with TTT News on facebook. (Source – Lisa Allen-Agostini’s social media – facebook and instagram)


Dominica/UK’s Papillote Press has launched a video series spotlighting its book titles. The series started with readings from teen/young adult titles Home Home by Trinidad and Tobago’s Lisa Allen-Agostini, Gone to Drift by Jamaica’s Diana McCaulay, The Art of White Roses by Puerto Rico’s Viviana Prado-Núñez, and Abraham’s Treasure by Dominica’s Joanne Skerrett; and continued with Riff: the Shake Keane Story, a biography of the poet and jazz musician, by Philip Nanton. Publisher Polly Pattullo, who introduces the readings with a personal note about each title, says, “Even though the pandemic has kept us apart it has also brought the Caribbean literary community together online. These readings in En Papillote are a way of bringing our authors and their important writing to readers everywhere.” The series will continue with other books across other genres and sub-genres in the Papillote catalogue. (Source – Papillote press release)


On January 20th 2021 (yes, that January 20th 2021), I was the virtual guest of the National Public Library, the first of the year for their Local Author of the Month series.

Next up is Shawn Maile, author of How to work Six Jobs on an Island, on February 17th 2021. (Source – Me)


The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize channel, launched late in 2020, continues to add content – lately dramatized readers of past winners. Check them out and remember to like, comment, share, subscribe, and hit the notification bell.

Image and story from the first Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards in 2004. Go to YouTube for the full playlist of stories recorded between 2004-2005.

(Source – Me)


Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine picked up news of the Caribbean Reader’s Awards in an article headlined ‘The 7 Best Caribbean Books for Your 2021 Reading List, According to Rebel Women Lit’s Readers’ Awards’. From the article: ‘The Caribbean Readers’ Awards are like the Goodreads’ Choice Awards in that they are completely reader-led. While it may be smaller in scale, the response was even greater than (co-founder Jherane) Patmore expected, with some readers already suggesting candidates for the 2021 awards. “I’m excited for new people to discover different genres and to have this space to celebrate literature that has been pushed aside or ignored,” Patmore tells OprahMag.com.’ Read the full article by Hearst magazines SEO manager Stephanie Castillo. (Source – Social Media in general)

As with all content on this site, unless otherwise noted, this is prepared by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, Joanne C. Hillhouse. As we try to do, credit if sharing.

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Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid December 2020)

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)

Books on Film

Let’s talk about Antiguan and Barbudan filmmaker Shabier Kirchner who is about to make his feature film directorial debut with the adaptation of Jamaican writer Kei Miller’s acclaimed Augustown. As I mentioned in my CREATIVE SPACE series, the cinematographer who made his directorial debut with the self-produced short Dadli (which I talk about and link in another CREATIVE SPACE) has allied with Oscar winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Widows, Shame etc.) who will be executive producing the film. The two previously collaborated (as director of photographer on all five chapters) on Mc Queen’s Small Axe anthology series (which I still haven’t had the opportunity to see so I hope this vid doesn’t have too many spoilers but I won’t deny you an opportunity to hear from the creators including Wadadli’s own Shabier Kirchner who opens his intro with “Live all the way from Antigua!”). Love it!

Remember you can find interviews with Shabier and reviews of his work here on the blog.


Late Caribbean-British writer Andrea Levy’s novel The Long Song has been adapted for the visual medium. It premieres on PBS on January 31st 2021. Here’s a teaser trailer.

The Long Song – published in 2010 – followed on the success of her phenomenal Small Island – publishe din 2004 – which was made in to a BBC mini-series in 2018. Levy died in 2019. (Source – stumbled upon it on YouTube)

Book of the Year

ETA: See Kudos (below) for the short listed nominees. What’s your choice for book of the year? Rebel Women Lit, a book club out of Jamaica, initially, wants to know. This is your opportunity to be a taste maker (why let the awards and critics have all the fun?). As we said when we did the Antigua and Barbuda Readers Choice Award for the first time, it’s an opportunity to share the love – boost a book and author that you like. Rebel Women Lit’s Readers’ Choice Award, meanwhile, is Caribbean-wide. First there’s the nomination process, then the voting process, and then in later January will come the celebration of the winners. The categories are 2020’s Best Caribbean Novel (Adult, Teen & Tween), Poetry, and Non-Fiction book. They’re also celebrating favourite Caribbean Literary Critic of 2020 and Best New Content Creator (including Booktubers and Bookstagrammers). I’m excited about this; are you? Nominate by December 10th; vote between December 13th and 31st. Winners will be announced January 3rd 2020. Read the full Rebel Women Lit newsletter here. (Source – Rebel Women Lit newsletter)


December 14th 2020 will be #CATAPULTDay, a day when all the efforts of the past months by artists across the Caribbean, those fortunate enough to be recipients of grants via this programme, will be in the spotlight. The organizers (American Friends of Jamaica, Kingston Creative, and Fresh Milk Barbados) have been promoting the various outputs of the grant recipients – especially the salon activities – for several weeks going back to September-ish. But on December 14th 2020, it climaxes with a special series of posts. As a grantee, I’m looking forward to it. Use the #CATAPULTday and #Catapultartsgrant (alternatively or additionally search #caribbeanculturematters #artsmatters #artsspacecaribbean #artecaribeňo #culturematters #creativecommunity) across social media, so you won’t miss a thing. CATAPULT is @catapultartscarib on Instagram and that’s probably a good point of nexus. #CATAPULTday starts at 8am EST (9am AST) and ends at 5pm EST (6pm AST). It cannot be overstated how important this initiative is. Under this initiative, artists across various disciplines and across the English, Dutch, French, and Spanish speaking Caribbean have had the opportunity to create (via the Stay at Home Residency), connect (via the Lockdown Virtual Salon and Digital Creative Training), and communicate their work (via the Caribbean Artist Showcase, Consultancy Vouchers, and Caribbean Creative Online grants), backed by that vital component – money. More of this, please.

I certainly appreciated it.

There is clearly a hunger for it, 2020 or not, as applications came from all over the Caribbean – only 1% of applicants and awardees from Antigua and Barbuda*, so we could do a lot better. But I’m thrilled to be joined by another Antiguan and Barbudan grant recipient, whose vid I just checked out. She is Aisha Joseph, a protegee of both Veron Henry and his father the late Eustace Manning Henry of Hell’s Gate, who is pursuing a bachelor of arts in steel pan fabrication and its art form in the US. “I find pan building to be very therapeutic,” she said in her facebook live. “I love that I’m creating something that so many people have come to love and gravitate towards.” It was such a relaxed and personal walk through the process of pan building, and interesting as that was, my favourite bit (this is a literary site after all) was the self-penned poem she shared. ‘Me ah de Pan’, it is called, and to excerpt the poem’s personification of the pan making process, “it reminds me of pregnancy, except instead of giving birth to a baby, you get me; a sweet melodic and harmonic symphony.” Nice. ETA: I am informed of a third Antiguan and Barbudan awardee (so I’m double checking the numbers received, posted below). She is Raena Bird whose bio asserts a passion for visual arts and her social media indicates that a November 2020 JINK, PAINT & NYAM event (which seems to be part of a series of private paid art events under the banner Wardartli) was made possible by the grant.

*Breakdown of applicants and awardees by Country (per Catapult) – Anguilla (3 applicants – 1%); Antigua and Barbuda (4 applicants – 1%; 2 awardees – 1%); Aruba (6 applicants – 1%; 3 awardees – 1%); Barbados (37 applicants – 9%; 19 awardees – 8%); Belize (4 applicants – 1%; 1 awardee – 0%); Bermuda (4 applicants – 1%; 2 awardees – 1%); Cayman Islands (1 applicant – 0.25%; 2 awardees – 1%); Curacao (2 applicants – 0.49%; 1 applicant – 0%); Dominica (6 applicants – 1%; 3 awardees – 1%); Dominican Republic (14 applicants – 3%; 9 awardees – 4%); Grenada (5 applicants – 1%; 3 awardees – 1%); Guadeloupe (8 applicants – 2%; 5 awardees – 2%); Guyana (11 applicants – 3%; 3 awardees – 1%); Haiti (21 applicants – 5%; 8 awardees – 3%); Jamaica (153 applicants – 38%; 97 awardees – 41%); Martinique (5 applicants – 1%; 2 applicants – 1%); Puerto Rico (19 applicants – 5%; 13 awardees – 6%); Saba (1 applicant – 0.25%; 2 awardees – 1%); Sint Maarten (4 applicants – 1%; 4 applicants – 2%); St. Kitts and Nevis (3 applicants – 1%; 2 awardees – 1%); St. Lucia (1 applicant – 0.25%; 1 awardee – 0.42%); St. Vincent and the Grenadines (2 applicants – 0.49%; 2 awardees – 1%); Suriname (4 applicants – 1%; 1 awardee – 0.42%); The Bahamas (18 applicants – 4%; 8 awardees – 3%); Trinidad and Tobago (66 applicants – 16%; 40 awardees – 17%); US Virgin Islands (3 applicants – 1%; 3 awardees – 1%).

(Source – My involvement as a grant award recipient; the curiousity that led me to ask certain questions and do additional research)


Several Antiguans and Barbudans and Wadadli Pen fam made the short list of the Rebel Women Lit Book Club Caribbean (Readers Choice) book awards. Check them out here; then go vote. (Source – YouTube live announcement via Rebel Women)


Big up to Bocas, the Trinidad and Tobago education administrators, and writer Lisa Allen-Agostini who deserve kudos for this initiative – the kind of initiative we need to see replicated across the Caribbean. It’s the Write Away! Young Adult Literature Project funded by the Scotiabank Foundation. “The Write Away! Young Adult Literature project is giving all schools access to five virtual creative writing workshops via the Ministry of Education’s School Learning Management System. Led by the award-winning author Lisa Allen-Agostini, the workshops break down the essentials of creative writing….it is designed to keep students and teachers motivated and engaged in online learning this term. It also gives students access to exciting, culturally-relevant books of all genres that can foster a lifelong love of reading. …In addition to the virtual package that all schools can access, nine secondary schools in the Write Away! project receive books for their school libraries to facilitate book clubs and reading groups, and guided writing support for their students from the Bocas Lit Fest and workshop facilitator Lisa Allen-Agostini. The best writing from students in the Write Away! project will be published next year in an e-book, launching the next generation of writers-to-watch from Trinidad and Tobago.” Details here. (Source – I may have seen it first on Lisa’s blog or a Bocas email)


The Caribbean Writer Volume 34 prize winners are Carmelo Rivera of Vieques and St. Croix (the Daily News Prize for an essay or fiction from the BVI or USVI), for ‘About My Identity Journey’; BVI-lander resident in Grenada Eugenia O’Neal (the Canute A. Broadhurst Prize for short fiction), for ‘Harold Varlack’s Return’; Jamaican Natalie G.S. Corthésy (the Marvin E. Williams Literary Prize), for ‘The Helper Experiment’; Rajiv Ramkhalawan of Trinidad (the Cecile de Jongh Literary Prize for a Caribbean wrier whose work best expresses the spirit of the Caribbean), for ‘An Unkept Heart’; and Rohan Facey (the Vincent Cooper Literary Prize for exemplary writing in Caribbean nation language), for ‘Fi We Language’. (Source – email from The Caribbean Writer)


Mary Quinn, the grand dame of poetry in Antigua and Barbuda, was honoured posthumously (she passed in 2019) on December 3rd 2020 by the governor general of Antigua and Barbuda for “faithful and meritorious service in education and the literary arts”. Her eldest (Paul Quinn) and youngest (Lydia Quinn) children accepted the award. (Source – Lydia Quinn’s facebook page)


Lorna Goodison has completed her tenure as Poet Laureate of Jamaica, earning praise from the Culture director as she exits. “Throughout her tenure she has elevated brand Jamaica globally and right here at home. The focus work of Lorna in the field of education and culture at varying levels through the deep examination and careful production of Jamaican poetry helped propel Jamaica forward and we are extremely proud of you,” the Minister said. Goodison’s final production is New Voices: Selected by Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica, 2017-2020. Read more at Jamaica Observer online. (Source – N/A)


Caribbean writer Nalo Hopkinson has been named the 37th Damon Knight Grand Master of and by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for her contributions to the genre. The award recognizes lifetime achievement in science fiction and fantasy. It will be presented at the 56th Annual Nebula Conference and Awards ceremony, to be streamed between June 4th and 6th 2021. Nalo continues to make inroads in the genre not known for its diversity since the publication of her first novel, the award winning Brown Girl in the Ring, in 1998. “Naming Nalo as Grand Master recognizes not only her phenomenal writing but also her work as an educator who has shaped so many of the rising stars of modern SFF,” said SFFWA president (author of her own engaging fantasy series) American writer Mary Robinette Kowal. Kowal said that Nalo’s nomination got “unanimous approval”.

“She will be only the eighth woman, the second person of colour, and the first Caribbean writer to be named a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master, and she is amazing.” – MRK

Some of you may remember that Nalo was a guest of the Caribbean International Literary Festival (later rebranded as the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival before fizzling out altogether) in Antigua and Barbuda in 2006. That’s her third from right alongside other guest and local writers (from left Althea Prince, Elizabeth Nunez, Verna Wilkins, and on the other side of Nalo, Marie Elena John and me – Joanne C. Hillhouse). Nalo was born in Jamaica to Guyanese writer Slade Hopkinson, and grew up in Trinidad, Guyana, and Canada where she’s spent the bulk of her life; she currently lives in the US where she works as a professor when not writing. (Source – Twitter originally then I scouted for more information)

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, 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/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Lorna Goodison to succeed Mervyn Morris as Jamaica’s Poet Laureate

“Goodison picks up the mantle from Professor Mervyn Morris, who was the first Poet Laureate of Jamaica appointed by the government. Goodison, who has authored 12 books of poetry as well as short story collections and a memoire will be invested as Poet Laureate of Jamaica on May 17, 2017, at a ceremony held at King’s House in Kingston. She will serve in the post from May 2017 through to May 2020.

Tanya Batson-Savage (Susumba) writes that poet Lorna Goodison will step into the role of Jamaica’s second official poet laureate, becoming the first Jamaican woman appointed to the post. Our warmest congratulations! Here are excerpts from Susumba: [. . .] Goodison picks up the mantle from Professor Mervyn Morris, who was the first Poet Laureate of Jamaica […]

via Lorna Goodison First Female Poet Laureate of Jamaica — Repeating Islands

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Spotlight: Tina Chang

Courtesy the US Embassy Bridgetown, concerning the presentation this Thursday 25th September, 6 p.m. by Brooklyn Poet Laureate, Tina Chang, at the Antigua State College. This is a bit more about the poet, plus interesting insight re the role of the poet laureate, and your late day reminder about the event.


The San Francisco Chronicle has described her poetry as “a vast, beautifully fashioned mosaic of indelible, variegated pieces.” Publishers Weekly has also described her poetry as “ambitious, yet accessible.”

For Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang, poetry is not “lofty.” As a matter of fact, one of her chief goals is to “demystify the role of the poet.”

Of Chinese descent and raised in New York City, Ms. Chang is the first woman to be named the Poet Laureate of Brooklyn. But what exactly is a Poet Laureate? A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government or conferring institution. Laureates receive a stipend and are given the responsibility of overseeing an ongoing series of poetry readings and lectures, as well as a charge to promote poetry. Ms. Chang said that as the Brooklyn Poet Laureate, she wants to create a website spotlighting other borough poets.

Her interest in poetry began from a very early age. Born in Oklahoma to Chinese immigrants, Ms. Chang moved to New York when she was a year old, so her father could be treated for liver cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “I started questioning even at a very young age, well, what is language?” she said. “What is the role of words?”

After pursuing a string of English-related jobs, Ms. Chang enrolled in a master of fine arts program in poetry at Columbia in 1995. Her first book “Half-Lit Houses,” a collection of poems tracing the life of a girl who loses her father back to Hunan, China in the 1930s and ’40s, was published in 2004. She is also the author of the poetry collection “Of Gods & Strangers.” Ms. Chang has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, Poets & Writers, and the Van Lier Foundation among others.

She currently teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and is an international faculty member at the City University at Hong Kong.

U.S. Embassy Bridgetown is pleased to host the Brooklyn, New York’s Poet Laureate Tina Chang from September 25- 27, 2014 on a three-island tour of Antigua, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Ms. Chang will showcase her poetry during evening public events, which will highlight the diversity and modernity of American literature, as well as allow her to share her opinions on poetry’s relevance and give insight on her creative process.

This series of public readings will also help the U.S. Embassy recruit candidates for the International Writers’ program (IWP), the Department of State’s premier exchange program for creative writers.

Tina-Chang Antigua

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