Tag Archives: Poetry Parnassus


Like the title says, this is the seventh reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Six came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.


Monique Roffey (Trinidad and Tobago), author of The White Woman on the Green Bicycle -a book I recommended in my Blogger on Books a while back – shares writing advice and recommended reads in this post. I also want to mention that another Roffey post sparked a most interesting discussion re Caribbean literature – check out this post (also this) and this one from Vladimir Lucien (St. Lucia) for more on that.


Have you read any of these Caribbean women writers?


Love everything about this post and Shakirah Bourne’s gushing nervousness and excitement over meeting her literary hero. READ MORE.


“Make no apology for your language, and nobody will expect one.” Bajan Shakirah Bourne speaks about the write to use our natural, our mother, our heart language in life and on the page. Sidebar: that bit about Dickens struck me about him training his ear and his hand to write what people said, and how they said it; as a reporter, who writes what some people think is short hand but is actually Joanne-warp-speed-hand, I’m beginning to see how my life tracking down stories and interviewing people shaped and shapes the stories I tell and how I tell them. Still figuring it out, but yeah, that resonated with me. Plus I love Dickens. Sidebar over. Substantively, Bourne writes about Scottish author Irvine Welsh and what we can learn about how he uses dialect, unapologetically. Read the full here.


I was tempted to put this art-heavy Althea Romeo Mark post in the visual category but it’s an art blog,  in which she reminds us that “art is part of our everyday life” and shows us too. Read and see here.


Food for thought: 5 Reasons to Wait and Slow Down when it comes to Publishing your Book.


In this post, Jamaican writer Diane Browne wonders, what is it about Calabash, the literary festival that leaves us all a little bit drunk on words. Dr. Carolyn Cooper also had some musings about the magical festival.


What Makes a Writer ‘Caribbean’? asks Lisa Allen-Agostini


Creative people can be oddities…but that’s a good thing…really…and daring to be a little odd can be good for anyone. Embarrass Yourself. It’s Good for the Heart by Elaine Orr.


“I think you have to work hard, and you have to place yourself in the light somehow – whether it is at readings, by writing online, by submissions, by reaching out to people as you have just done – and if you stand there long enough and nicely enough (i.e. as part of a bigger picture, not as the star of your own show!), then good things do happen.” – RU FREEMAN RESPONDS TO A ASPIRING WRITER


I’ll confess I haven’t fully read Gateway – a Caribbean Sampler in the Missing Slate as yet but somehow I have no qualms about recommending it. When you’re done, check out the first issue of Susumba’s Book Bag.


“You wake to see the sunrise exactly once a year. The cock’s crow which normally signals the start of the day alerts you that you are late.



Elizabeth Nunez being interviewed on NPR about my book Oh Gad!


Kei Miller interview.


John Robert Lee’s interview with the ARC has some interesting insights about the arts scene in St. Lucia which some may find also mirrors the scene in their territory. Read the full here.


Audio interview – my girl, Belizean writer Ivory Kelly on the BBC.


“The IDEA is key. Get your IDEA straight and you can execute it in a thousand ways. But the IDEA must always be singular and original.” – Read more of Jamaican Roland Watson-Grant’s interview with Annie Paul.


“There’s been a kind of amnesia,” he says, “or not wanting to focus on this, because of it being so painful. It’s kind of crazy. We can deal with the second world war and the Holocaust and so forth and what not, but this side of history, maybe because it was so hideous, people just do not want to see. People do not want to engage.” More from the director of 12 Years a Slave here.


“My father recited poetry all the time, spasmodically and loudly in the house. But there was a method to his madness. He read with a compelling rotundity: Neruda’s ‘United Fruit Company’, Wilfred Owen’s ‘Exposure’, Martin Carter’s ‘This is the Dark Time My Love’, Derek Walcott’s ‘As John to Patmos’, Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do Not Go Gently Into that Good Night’. He also wrote and was very modest about doing so.” – Read more of the Arc’s interview with St. Lucian poet Vladimir Lucien.


“In a way Island Princess in Brooklyn celebrates my father’s family and their journey. Interestingly enough, Cordelia Finds Fame and Fortune celebrated the fact that fame and fortune can be found here at home (no need to migrate). However, Princess is forced to migrate and forced to make a new life or return home. Is this back story then part of the journey, a journey in which I am now able to look outwards from our island to our people overseas? This circle of family, of story, fills me with wonder.” – Diane Browne, Read the full interview at the Brown Bookshelf.


“My greatest fortune has come from the people who believed in me who have allowed my writing to flourish, and from the many individuals who I’ve come into contact with during the creative process of writing. However I have yet to walk into a bookstore and see my books there, that remains a dream!  So – a mixed life, and at the age of 60 I know I have much to be thankful for and hope when and if my writing is read, that it will bring inspiration to others.” – Read more o Arc magazine’s interview with Commonwealth short story prize winner for the Caribbean region.


Carib Lit interviews Ezekiel Alan, a self published Jamaican novelist who claimed the Commonwealth book prize. Now that’s inspiring. How’d he do it?

“Get honest feedback, from people not too close to you. Do as professional a job as possible — get your book properly edited and proofread.”  Alan also encourages writers to develop and stick with a writing routine and to think outside the box in selecting story ideas. “It is tougher to compete by producing what everyone else is producing.”

Read more.


Writer-colleague and Burt Award Winner A-dZiko Gegele told me on facebook “Your ‘Island SisStar’, Jamaica Kincaid was at Calabash Jamaica this year – what a fabulous soul – she was witty, and full of humility and grace – highly rated by the audience.” Here’s Susumba’s coverage of that interview.


So much inspiration to pull from in this interview, it was hard to excerpt just one but in the end I went this: “Whatever work we do, we must work from the heart.” Dena Simmons is an American educator and activist with Antiguan and Barbudan roots. I know because I was at a literary conference in the USA where among the very few black people there, there was one other Antiguan or so she introduced herself to me and I’m happy to have made the connection. Read up.


Zadie Smith’s 10 rules for writing.


“I write because the island I live in is small, and I feel a sting each time the people who ask where I am from, then cut short their attention when they realize just how small it is, cut short their attention because the island is not on the radar of much-of-the-world, unless one sharpens the gaze.” – Jonathan Bellot. Read more.


I hardly know where to excerpt, there’s so much wisdom here but…how about this:

“If you like fantasy and you want to be the next Tolkien, don’t read big Tolkienesque fantasies — Tolkien didn’t read big Tolkienesque fantasies, he read books on Finnish philology. Go and read outside of your comfort zone, go and learn stuff.”

Incidentally, I remember a professor making a similar point about being a journalist, he suggested that we needed to spend less time in the bubble of learning about media and communications and more time just learning about…well, everything.

Read more from Neil Gaiman here.


“As a child being educated in Guyana, English Literature was an invitation to other worlds, an invitation which has never lost its appeal…” read more of Maggie Harris reflecting on a literary journey which most recently spiked with her 2014 win of the Commonwealth Short Story prize for the Caribbean region.


If you’re thinking of publishing especially in the children’s market and you live in the Caribbean, you should read this article by Kellie Magnus.


“In the first draft I sometimes found my characters being mouthpieces for me and my good intentions, and that made the writing weak and bland. In the second draft, I shut up and let the characters do their own talking, and the story improved considerably. The struggle of the protagonist to come to an understanding of herself beyond victimhood was also much clearer when I didn’t try to impose a social justice agenda on her. She became not merely a representative of all children and adults who have survived child sexual abuse, but a real character, with hopes and fears and wants and needs she tries to meet in the way she knows how to, and I had to let her speak for herself in order to give her the agency her history had denied her.” – READ MORE OF LISA ALLEN-AGOSTINI’S ATTEMPTS  TO NAVIGATE THE TERRAIN BETWEEN NON FICTION HORROR AND FICTION WITH BOTH A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE AND A REAL HEART BEAT.


“I want to write poetry that is alive, fresh, vibrant, contemporary in feeling, readable, thought-provoking, playfully subversive, powerful, and yet still tender. I want it to be full of the energy, culture, history, music, natural beauty, spirituality, and social struggles of Puerto Rico, and other islands of the Caribbean where I have visited or lived… I don’t write love poetry, and I don’t rhyme. I write because I want to communicate with readers in a way that matters, makes an impact, or makes some kind of beneficial difference in the reader’s thoughts and in the society. Can poetry do that? I still believe in the power of the word…If there is any “must” for a poet, from my perspective, it is to widely read other poets and thus develop the ability to sort out your own place as both an innovator and a member of an ongoing literary community and tradition that you will nourish and be nourished by.” READ MORE INSIGHTS FROM PUERTO RICAN POET LORETTA COLLINS KOBLAH


Plagiarists, Muses and ‘Stalk-home’ Syndrome by Farzana Versey.


Never give up…plus, yay, supernatural gifs: Jennifer L. Armentrout on Why I’m not the Person to ask about self-publishing.


Antiguan and Barbudan Linisa George’s Poetry Postcard on the BBC, In the Closet.


St. Lucian Vladimir Lucien’s Poetry Post Card on the BBC, Ebb 1.


“In Carnival season, he is Lord and often Monarch, but at his day job, he is a squire at White Knight Laundry, where hotels and restaurants hire linens for special occasions, and employees wash, iron, mend, pick-up, and drop off.” This line captured for me that split between real life and the larger than life calypso persona of the Carnival season. Read the full poem – What He Brought For Me by Loretta Collins Koblah – in the July 2014 edition of Caribbean Beat.


“Tonight I want to offer you
this moonlight cupped in a purple
flower …” sigh, right? Swoon to the rest of this Esther Phillips poem, And Yet Again, here.


Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Elizabeth Frye


Poetry Parnassus – “verse from each Olympic nation


Calypso is storytelling… check out this Sparrow classic for a brief lesson. Don’t forget to dance.

Other calypso video posts on this site include: the Latumba post, the King Obtinate post, and the Short Shirt post.


Something I’ve long wanted to do with the Wadadli Pen stories.

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, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to 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. Respect copyright.



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The World Record

Local poet Linisa George, recently had one of her original pieces included in THE WORLD RECORD; an international anthology of work by poets from all the countries taking part in the 2012 London Olympics. The publication formed part of the recently held Poetry Parnassus festival in London. Poetry Parnassus, formed a major part of Festival of the World, and was an unprecedented gathering of poets invited in late June, to take part in a week-long festival of readings, workshops and a host of other events at the prestigious Southbank Centre.

The participating poets were selected following an open nominations process last year which attracted nearly 5,000 public entries. The final group of poets was then chosen by a panel led by Jude Kelly, Southbank Centre’s artistic director, and Simon Armitage, the festival’s curator. THE WORLD RECORD reveals the world through its keenest observers, political activist and most articulate wordsmiths. There‘s something for every taste: new voices as well as world greats, rappers and spoken word artists as well as poets and storytellers. The publication marks the first time so many living poets from so many countries have been gathered in one anthology.

Poetry Parnassus curator refers to the historic volume as, “A unique publication. An Olympic event no less in ancient time.” He continued, “The Southbank has sought to recreate a small piece of Greece along its riverside complex, namely Mount Parnassus, home to the muses and home to Orpheus, often described as “the first poet”. This ambitious anthology is not only a record of that extraordinary happening but an enduring and echoing experience, one that celebrates and honours a multitude of voices, languages and attitudes, all joined under the flag of poetry.”

Linisa George was chosen during the selection process as the representative for Antigua and Barbuda. The piece chosen for publication is her autobiographical well-known poem ‘Brown Girl In The Ring’; the story of a young dark-skinned girl’s emotional journey to self acceptance through self-inspection. George is a poet, freelance writer, director and playwright and a strong advocate for gender justice. She is an Executive member of Women of Antigua, a non-profit organization established in 2008, and co-owner of August Rush Productions, a creative arts company. Linisa also serves as the Director of The Young Poets Society of Antigua & Barbuda (YoPoSAB), an organization that uses poetry to awaken the creative elements in youth ages 12 to 17.

George, who is also the 2010 co-winner of a National Youth Award for her contribution to the Literary Arts, is currently working with her YoPoSAB members as they prepare to perform at the launch of this year’s Antigua & Barbuda Review Of Books next month. Some of Linisa’s work will be featured in this year’s review. The society will also continue to put the finishing touches on their first poetry publication to be released later this year.

On reflection of her published piece in the anthology, George remarks, “To have my most personal poem (Brown Girl In The Ring) included in THE WORLD RECORD alongside Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature Derrick Walcott, is extremely humbling and exciting all at the same time. I had to submit seven pieces for them to choose from, It says a lot that they chose Brown Girl.” A full version of Brown Girl In The Ring is presently being displayed on the walls of the Southbank Centre.

Linisa resumes work on her other projects including preparations to begin filming ‘Brown Gurl Envy’, a documentary based on ‘Brown Gurl In The Ring’. She will also continue to develop existing initiatives with her August Rush counterpart and creative equal Zahra Airall, including their bi-monthly open mic nights Expressions; Poetry In The Pub, which has been influential in highlighting the local talent of spoken word artist and musicians in Antigua. Linisa presently blogs at www.blackgirlinthering.blogspot.com.

THE WORLD RECORD was published by Bloodaxe Books and is currently available on Amazon at a price of £10. The historic paperback is a monumental poetic feast worthy of the spirit and history of the Olympic. It celebrates the powerful combination of brave, cultural and political voices of the world’s poets.

To read about Antigua and Barbuda’s athletes at the Olympics, go here.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

So, okay, this is a literary blog; but it’s also an Antiguan and Barbudan blog so indulge me while I spare a few minutes to talk about the Olympics. It’s only the biggest sporting event in the world (that isn’t the World Cup). I do think woefully little has been done to create buzz around Antigua and Barbuda’s Olympic bound athletes (including the 11th hour official announcement of the A & B contingent to the Olympics – the Olympics begin on July 27th, the announcement re the team hit the media this week, yes with just a week to go). Buuut it’s no fault of the athletes and I do want to big them up as they go on their way and I’ll be looking for them in the opening ceremony. They are…

Daniel ‘Bakka’ Bailey described in the official announcement as Antigua and Barbuda’s “best opportunity” at the games. His specialty is the 100 metre, at which distance he finished 4th at the 2009 World Championships. He’s also won the IAAF Golden League at 100 and taken a bronze medal at 60 metre in the IAAF World Indoor Championships. His personal best at 100 is 9.91 seconds, also the national record.

Afia Charles who specializes in the 400 metre. She attends the University of Central Florida where she competes for UCF Knights but she is originally from Antigua and Barbuda. She’s bronzed at the CARIFTA Games, won gold at the C-USA Indoor Championships, breaking a couple of school records along the way.

Karin Clashing who has previously represented Antigua and Barbuda at the OECS, CARIFTA, and World Championship level. Her sport, swimming; she has more than once claimed the national open water 1 mile prize along with other accolades.

Brendan Christian whose specialty is the 200 though he also set a national record of 10.11 seconds at the 100 metre while at College Station back in 2004. He is also a holder of the Antigua and Barbuda record in the 4 x 100 metre relay with 39.90 seconds. As a junior, he won the Silver in this event at the 2002 World Junior Championships. He’s reached the quarter final in the Olympics, and the semi finals in both the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships. In 2007, he won the 100 metre Bronze and 200 metre Gold at the Pan American Games.

Orel Jeffery, an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship holder, who received a Universality Place in the Additional Places category to compete at the games. He’s a swimmer, in the 50 metres freestyle category.

This will be a return to the Olympics for both Bailey and Christian.

So, that’s team Antigua and Barbuda…the sporting side. I have to give a mention though to Antigua and Barbuda’s arts representative, Linisa George, the “brown girl in the ring” who booked a spot at the Poetry Parnassus, the arts Olympics that preceded the actual Olympics.

Linisa is pictured here performing in Women of Antigua’s staging of the Vagina Monologues.

Read about her involvement in that event, here. Read her poem and that of every other country at the gathering in the interactive map (just hover over the country and voila!)


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Road to the Olympics

You might be wondering what a literary site has to do with the biggest sporting event in the known universe. Hm, you must not have heard of the cultural olympiad known as the Poetry Parnassus.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Linisa George will be representing. She is one half of August Rush, the literary and theatrical partnership that has yielded the Young Poets Society of Antigua and Barbuda, Expressions Poetry in the Pub, and, as part of the Women of Antigua, annual stagings of either the Vagina Monologues and/or When a Woman Moans, the latter drawing on the talents of Antiguan and Barbudan writers. She (as part of August Rush) recently helped me pull off the launch of my new book Oh Gad! That’s her in red, below:

She hustles hard for the literary arts and we couldn’t hope for a better cultural ambassador to this event.

This is Linisa’s open letter re her upcoming London engagement:

March 19th, 2012

To whom it may concern;

I have recently been selected by London’s Southbank Centre to represent Antigua at Poetry Parnassus, an event which forms a major part of Festival of the World. Poetry Parnassus will be an unprecedented gathering of poets invited from the 204 competing Olympic nations to take part in a week-long festival of readings, workshops and a host of other events at Southbank Centre from June 26th to July 2nd 2012. Southbank Centre’s is the world’s most inspiring centre for the arts. Its heritage is rooted in the 1951 Festival of Britain, widely acknowledged to be one of the most democratic gestures of the last century. Today, Southbank Centre is the largest single-run arts centre in the world. They offer a world-class artistic programme featuring dance, performance, literature, music, visual arts and contemporary culture. The centre also host four resident orchestras and run a thriving Artist in Residence programme.

I welcome this opportunity to attend Poetry Paranassus as I intend to share my talent and optimize on my interaction with the large network of writers/poets. My participation at Poetry Parnassus will offer me the unique opportunity to exchange ideas which will lead to a greater cultural awareness and understanding in a celebration of Olympic and Paralympic values, while providing me with a platform to share the culture and beauty of Antigua & Barbuda.

At present the Southbank Centre’s poetry library has no published poetry from Antiguan & Barbudan authors, something that with your help can be corrected. As part of my trip’s activities, I would like to make a presentation of published poetry from Antiguan & Barbudan writers to the Southbank Centre’s poetry library.

If you or someone in your network might be interested in donating their published poetry or that of other Antiguans and Barbudan writers, please feel free to contact me at the numbers and email addresses provided. Poetry will be accepted in any format; books, pamphlets, audio cassette, CD, video and DVD. At least two copies of each item must be delivered to me no later than Friday 8th June, as I will be leaving for London on Saturday 16th June; the Saison Poetry Library requires two copies of each book and audio title, one for reference and one for loan.

I’ve attached a document that will provide more detail on About The Southbank Centre London in addition to Poetry Parnassus, as well as a printable copy of Poetry Parnassus Initiative. You can also find more information on the Southbank Centre website at http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk and information on the poetry library on the Saison Poetry Library website http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk.

Poetry Parnassus presents itself as a once in a lifetime event that will aid in furthering the arts in and outside Antigua & Barbuda, as such I hope to receive an overwhelming response to this initiative.

Thank you for your cooperation in advance.


Linisa S W George

To follow up, contact her at blackgirlinthering@gmail.com

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