Tag Archives: reparations

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late February 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)

Misc.

Follow, if you will the WADADLI PEN 2021 page for news upcoming re the launch of the 2021 Challenge (yes, we are late), for the latest on patronage and how you too can become a patron, and to vote for your favourite Antiguan and Barbudan book of recent years. (Source – me)

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Listen, if you haven’t already to Sunday 21st February 2021’s Sessions in Steel on Observer Radio on the station’s facebook page, for a full reading of Jim Nanton’s reflections on his time with the Harmonites International Steel Orchestra. It is, as they said, very poetic in its use of language, comprehensive in its recollections, and incisive in its reflections. It wasn’t my first time ‘reading’ this longform essay as its author James Nanton had hired me to edit it some time ago (see JN, client, longform essay in Performance Reviews) but when he contacted me today to let me know that the piece had found a home, I gladly listened and I think you should too. I do hope it gets printed at some point for all the invaluable pan and cultural history it contains. Sam Roberts’ superb reading of it though was surely bountiful in terms of the essay’s reach. (Source – James Nanton)

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Read, if you will, the latest installments of my column CREATIVE SPACE, a column covering local (Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean) art and culture, the latest headline of which is How does Your Garden grow?

(Source – me)

Obits.

Clarvis Joseph of CaribSeas was an arts philanthropist as a backer of Point steel orchestra Harmonites for a considerable time. News of his passing circulated on February 20th 2021 – I don’t have a full obit but I did want to acknowledge his contribution.

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The deaths of local and global cultural icons since the start of the year has been almost too much to keep up with – from beloved African American author well known to us here in the Caribbean Eric Jerome Dickey, a fAntiguan who had been a regular at our local literary festival and lived and wrote in Antigua and Barbados, to legendary Hollywood actress of Nevisian descent Cicely Tyson to Trinidadian calypso barrier breaker Singing Sandra to star with Antigua and Barbuda’s legendary musical Mason family Tyrone Mason. Read about the passing of the latter in this Daily Observer article:

Issues

“A people are known by their culture
A people are known by their past
The past determines the future
From the present we could forecast
And that is why in Antigua
We must rectify our history
And remove all dem false heroes
Retarding our destiny
So that is why we must now
Proclaim our own
And drop all those false names
That aliens imposed upon we
Let’s reclaim our own history”

If you’re familiar with our song lyrics project, or if you are Antiguan and Barbudan, these lyrics should ring a bell. They are from King Obstinate’s True Heroes (Sons of the Soil) and they seem relevant again in light of global anti-racism #BlackLivesMatter FedUprising that recently peaked in 2020. The recent publication of a letter dated 2019 from the Reparations Support Commission to the Minister of Culture

adds to the conversation on a part of this discussion – reclaiming and renaming spaces named for colonizers. We’ve seen the likes of the ceremonial removal in 2020 of the Nelson Statue (as in Admiral Lord Nelson) in Barbados. Antigua and Barbuda’s own Nelson’s Dockyard is a World Heritage site but the conversation has been happening here as well and this letter serves as a reminder of that, and this 40 or so years old song reminds that, at least in Antigua and Barbuda, it is not a new conversation. I was a child when I saw King Obstinate perform these songs at Recreation Grounds (which Obsti’s song suggested be renamed “Vivi Richards Recreation Ground”) and witnessed not long after as several streets in St. John’s City, whether coincidentally or consequentially, renamed for national heroes – streets like “Drake, Hawkins, and Nelson streets” previously named for enslavers became (and I don’t remember which was which) the likes of Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, and Nellie Robsinson street, and Coolidge Airport did indeed become V. C. Bird International Airport (as Obsti recommended). With the passing of one of Obsti’s contemporaries, Swallow, in 2020 talks of how to honour him saw renaming his village of Willikies in his honour in the conversational mix (though poo-pooed by some) – a fitting tribute in my view. And per this once again timely song, Obsti would go even bigger. He sang in the latter part of the verse opening this section, shouting out the other two calypsonians who, alongside him, are known as the Big Three of Antiguan and Barbudan calypso,

“English names like St. George and St. John,
Falmouth, Willikies, and Codrington,
they don’t reflect our background,
call dem Short Shirt village or Swallow t’ung (town).”

(Source – Daily Observer newspaper)

Opportunities

There are always Opportunities (such as the Collins Big Cat Writing Competition for chidlren) being added for writers and artists of all ages; so don’t forget to visit our Opportunities Too page. (Source – Big Cat, via email from Collins; Opportunities Too)

Accolades

UK-based Trinidad writer Monique Roffey landed atop the Times (UK) bestseller list even as her Mermaid of Black Conch continues to pick up awards (such as the Costa best novel prize).

(Source- the author’s social media)

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Former Wadadli Pen finalist (2005, 2006)and one of our 2021 patrons Rilys Adams, who has been exceedingly prolific in the romance and erotica genres has won the Ripped Bodice Awards for Excellence in Romantic Fiction for Go Deep. How prolific is Adams? She keeps me very busy when it comes to keeping up with published Antiguan and Barbudan books. She published Go Deep (which is in the running for the #readAntiguaBarbuda 2021 readers choice book of the year prize launched back in January 2021) back in June 2020, and since then has released Birthday Shot which was a nominee for the Rebel Women Lit Caribbean readers choice of the best Caribbean novels of 2020, Ate: an Erotic Novelette, Ho! Ho! Ho!, Deeper: Navaya and Xander Tie the Knot (Unexpected Lovers), and most recently Love Scammed. Adams, who publishes as Rilzy Adams receives US$1000 and the opportunity to gift US$100 to a charity of her choice; she chose The Asha Project, an organization in Wisconsin which provides support to Black women who are survivors of domestic violence, trafficking, and sexual assault. (Source – the author’s facebook page)

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Son of the Antiguan and Barbudan soil Shabier Kirchner continues to receive praise for his work, and most recently for his work on the Steve McQueen anthology series Small Axe. He was named Best Cinematographer in the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. “I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d ever receive anything like this,” Kirchner said in his acceptance video. He credited McQueen, an Academy Award winning director for 12 Years a Slave, for “being a teacher, a friend, a collaborator, …(who) really encouraged me and gave me the opportunity to put the biggest part of my soul into something that will outlive us all.” His final word: “I really want to thank my home, the West Indies, my family, the culture, I see you. I love you. Bless up.” Full video here. (Source – online generally, awards scrolling)

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Jamaican Renaee Smith, my former block sister at Taylor Hall at the University of the West Indies, made Yahoo! News with her latest series of children’s books. In an article headlined ‘International Award-Winning Author Renaee Smith Launches Entertaining and Informative Children’s Book Series’, we’re told that “Renaee Smith, prolific author of the Freddie series, is pleased to present a series containing four of her celebrated children’s books in a single collection. With stunning full-color illustrations and educational messages that will inspire young readers, Smith’s work is an engaging way to teach children about their own power as agents of change. This 4-part series is the perfect way to experience the series as a whole and follow Freddie’s adventures in different environments and situations. In the first book, The Great Compost Heap, Freddie introduces the concept of recycling. Next, in Freddie’s First Race, he learns to follow his dreams of being a track star by putting in the hard work. Smith’s series also covers important interpersonal concepts like empathy for others in Freddie’s Good Deed and spending time with family in Freddie Goes to the Beach.” Read the full article. (Source – the author’s facebook page)

New Publications

Barbadian writer Shakirah Bourne’s next book, Josephine Against the Sea, her first with one of the US publishing industry’s big houses is due this year and is, as you read this, available for pre-order.

Read about Josephine.

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New magazine, Fu Arwe, landed in the first quarter of 2021. The 22-page magazine is a publication of the Department of Culture. I haven’t read it yet but a scan reveals articles on The Relevance of Moko Jumbies by Silvyn Farrell, Copyright Royalties and Their Importance in the Music Industry Within Antigua and Barbuda Part 1 of 4 by Vanesa Mortley, Art: Not Just a Subject, But It’s Importance to the Development of the Student by Alvin Livingstone (whom you might remember as our 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge art winner), and Q & As with performing artists Abi McCoy and Zahra Airall. The magazine is intended to be quarterly. Contributions can be emailed to Culture at CDDANU.INFO@GMAIL.COM (Source – Zahra Airall’s facebook)

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I signed 60 copies of The Jungle Outside, my latest book (with illustrator Danielle Boodoo Fortune) – my seventh published book overall, third children’s picture book – at the Best of Books bookstore Antigua; so limited edition signed copies are now available at the bookstore. The Jungle Outside and Turtle Beach by (Wadadli Pen team member) Barbara Arrindell with Zavian Archibald, both Antiguan and Barbudan, both launched in the UK in January and are now both available here. They are also available for pre-order online in other markets like Canada and the US where they will shortly become available. See Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold. (Source – me)

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For the duration of the readers choice book of the year initiative, we will continue to encourage you if you’re reading this to take a minute and go to over to vote in the #readAntiguaBarbuda 2021 installment of the initiative. The goal is to spotlight our local publications and the tangible reward goes to a local school – selected by the winning author – to receive books as made possible by whatever patronage we receive. Remember, you can give to both this and the Wadadli Pen challenge 2021 by emailing wadadlipen@gmail.com (Source – me)

ArtrEpreneurship

Leading Antiguan and Barbuda artist, Heather Doram, who has been exceedingly prolific during the pandemic, is an independent artist creating amazing designs for great products – canvas, t-shirts, stickers, posters, phone cases, and more. This is a new venture for Doram and we love to see it. You can now by her work from anywhere in the world and with any budget via the Redbubble online retail platform. We checked with the artist and items have to be ordered online, cannot be sourced directly from the artist.

(Source – the artist’s facebook; image from the artist’s redbubble.com account as an example of some of the artist’s merchandise)

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,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. 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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FYI – Sir Hilary Beckles addresses the British Parliament on Reparations

The case for reparations can be a sensitive issue, as is usually the case where history and race intersect. But I’m sharing it here because wherever you or I come down on the issue, it’s always good to be informed, to understand what we’re agreeing with or objecting to. Hilary Beckles, a renowned Caribbean historian and the face and voice of the Caribbean’s case for reparations addressed the British parliament on the issue earlier this year. I recently found the address on my hard drive (not sure how that got there) but it led me to this soundcloud recording and I thought I’d share both. FYI.

ADDRESS DELIVERED BY PROFESSOR SIR HILARY BECKLES, CHAIRMAN OF THE CARICOM REPARATIONS COMMISSION, HOUSE OF COMMONS, PARLIAMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN, COMMITTEE ROOM 14, THURSDAY, JULY 16, 2014, 9:00 P.M.

 

Madam Chair, the distinguished member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott, other distinguished members of the House of Lords, and House of Commons, Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corp, colleagues at the head table, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I speak this evening, in this honourable chamber of the House of Commons, as Chairman of the Caricom Commission on Reparations. My colleagues of the Commission are tasked with the preparation and presentation of the evidentiary basis for a contemporary truth: that the Government of Great Britain, and other European states that were the beneficiaries of enrichment from the enslavement of African peoples, the genocide of indigenous communities, and the deceptive breach of contract and trust in respect of Indians and other Asians brought to the plantations under indenture, have a case to answer in respect of reparatory justice.

The case of genocide is not only in respect of our decimated native community. It is also important to recognize the genocidal aspect of chattel slavery in the Caribbean.

British slave ships brought 5.5 million enslaved Africans into their Caribbean colonies over 180 years.

When slavery was abolished in 1838 they were just 800,000 persons remaining. That is, a retention/survival rate of 15%.

The regime of enslavement was crafted by policies and attitudes that were clearly genocidal.

Jamaica received 1.5 million Africans. Only 300,000 remained at Emancipation (20%).

Barbados received 600,000 Africans. Only 83,000 remained at Emancipation (14%).

This case is for the Caricom governments to present on behalf of its citizens. I am sure that in its presentation there will be due regard for the principles of diplomacy and development cooperation – for which they have long distinguished themselves. This process will bring honour and dignity to the people of the Caribbean as well as to the people of Great Britain and Europe.

Caricom governments, like the government of Great Britain, represent nations that are independent and equal. As such, they should proceed on the basis of their legitimate equality, without fear of retribution, in the best interest of humanity, and for a better future for us all.

I am honoured to be asked to speak in this historic parliament of the people of Great Britain. Like you I am aware that this Parliament prepared the official political basis of the crimes that defined the colonial past. It is here, in this House, that the evil system of slavery, and genocide, were established. This House passed laws, framed fiscal policies, and enforced the crimes that have produced harmful legacies and persistent suffering now in need of repair.

This House also made emancipation from slavery and independence from colonialism an empowering reality. It is in here, we now imagine, that laws for reparatory justice can be conceptualized and implemented. It is in here, we believe, that the terrible wrongs of the past can be corrected, and humanity finally and truthfully liberated from the shame and guilt that have followed these historical crimes.

We must believe in the corrective power of this Parliament to respond positively to this present challenge, and in the process free itself from the bondage of its own sins and crimes. Without this belief our journey here this evening would be lacking integrity, and without a doubt, would be a useless exercise.

But I speak in this honourable House this evening, not only as chairman of a rightfully constituted commission that is peopled by some of our finest Caribbean citizens, and who have been selected by our distinguished Presidents and Prime Ministers, but as a Caribbean person with an affinity for this country. I was raised and educated here. I came from the Caribbean to this country as a child; I grew to maturity here; and was educated here in a fine university that has distinguished itself in the Liberal-Progressive pedagogy of the nation.

Great Britain, therefore, is my second home and I care for it as I care for my first home, the Great Caribbean. I wish for Great Britain, as I do for the Great Caribbean, peace and prosperity. I wish that their shared past, painful though it has been, will be transformed into a moral force of mutual respect and development cooperation.

It is for these reasons that I have joined the Caribbean and global movement for reparatory justice. I believe we can settle this case within the context of diplomatic initiatives that are consistent with our status as equal nations.

The crimes committed against the indigenous, African, and Asian peoples of the Caribbean are well documented. We know of the 250 years of slave trading, chattel slavery, and the following 100 years of colonial oppression.

Slavery was ended in 1838, only to be replaced by a century of racial apartheid, including the denigration of Asian people. Indigenous genocide, African chattel slavery and genocide, and Asian contract slavery, were three acts of a single play – a single process by which the British state forcefully extracted wealth from the Caribbean resulting in its persistent, endemic poverty.

I wish to comment, as a result, on the 1833 Act of Emancipation, and how this august Parliament betrayed the enslaved people of the Caribbean by forcing them to pay more than 50% of the cost of their own emancipation. This is an aspect of the history long hidden from public view.

We know, for example, that this Parliament in 1833 determined that the 800,000 enslaved people in the Caribbean were worth, as chattel property, £47 million. This was their assessed market value.

We know that this Parliament determined that all slave owners should receive just and fair compensation for the official taking away of their property.

We know that this Parliament provided the sum of £20 million in grants to the slave owners as fair compensation for the loss of their human chattel.

And we know that this Parliament determined that the enslaved people would receive none of this compensation. The argument made in this House was that ‘property’ cannot receive property compensation. This Parliament, in its emancipation Act, upheld the law that black people were not human, but property.

What this Parliament has hid from the world is that it also determined that the remaining £27 million would be paid by the enslaved people to their enslavers, by means of a 4 year period of free labour called the Apprenticeship.

This period of additional free labour by the emancipated represented the enforced extraction of £27 million by the state. It was a cruel and shameful method of legislating Emancipation by forcing the enslaved to pay more than 50% of the financial cost of their own freedom. The £20 million paid the enslavers by this Parliament was less than the £27 million paid by the enslaved to the enslavers as dictated by this House.

I wish now to engage the argument of the British Government that the slavery and other colonial crimes were ‘legal’, and that they took place ‘a long time ago’, and are beyond the border of adjudication.

Allow me, madam Chair, to breach protocol and to interject myself into the discourse, in order to demonstrate how very contemporary and current this exploitation of the Caribbean people is and has been.

Upstairs this chamber sits the Earl of Harewood. He is an honourable member of the House of Lords. But does Lord Harewood know that my grandfather after Independence in Barbados in 1966 labored on this sugar plantation, as did his father and forefathers, going back to the days of slavery? Does the goodly Lord know that as a child I took lunch for my grandfather into the canefields of his sugar plantation? Lord Harewood, and my family, go back a long way, from slavery right into the present.

Take also the very aristocratic and very distinguished Cumberbatch family. It has now produced the brilliant young actor, Benedict Cumberbatch [who I would love to meet one day]. Benedict’s grandfather owned the estate on which my beloved great grandmother worked all her adult life. They enslaved my family on their Cleland plantation in the parish of St. Andrew. My great grandmother, who helped to raise me, and who we all called ‘mammy’, carried the name Adriana Cumberbatch. The actor and academic are joined therefore by a common past and present, and maybe, common blood!

My case is but one of ten thousand such cases. Everywhere across the Caribbean the presence of our enslavers can be identified in our daily domestic lives. This history is not remote. It is alive and pressing upon our daily affairs.

And what have our people and governments been doing with respect to this legacy since we have gained national independence? The truth is, the people of the Caribbean have been very courageous in their effort at self-development and self-help in respect of this terrible history and enduring legacy.

Our citizens have faced this past head on, and have established a vibrant culture of community self-help and sustainable regional development mobilization. We are not beggars! We are not subservient! We do not want charity and handouts! We want justice! Reparatory justice!

When all is said and done, our governments these past 50 years have been cleaning up the mess left behind by Britain’s colonial legacy. Our finest Presidents and Prime Ministers have been devising projects to clean up the awful mess inherited from slavery and colonization. They must be commended for this effort, but the fact is, this legacy of rubble and ruin, persistent poverty, and racialised relations and reasoning, that continues to cripple our best efforts, has been daunting.

Britain, and its Parliament, cannot morally and legally turn their back upon this past, and walk away from the mess they have left behind. This Parliament has to return to the scene of its crimes, and participate as a legitimate parliament, as a legal parliament, in the healing and rehabilitation of the Caribbean.

We cannot, and should not, be asked to do this by ourselves. We have done our part. This Parliament must now return, and do its part, within the context of reparatory justice, and within the framework of development cooperation.

I wish to give two examples of how this reparatory justice can work:

  1. Jamaica, Britain’s largest slave colony, was left with 80% black functional illiteracy at Independence in 1962. From this circumstance the great and courageous Jamaican nation has struggled with development and poverty alleviation. The deep crisis remains. This Parliament owes the people of Jamaica an educational and human resource investment initiative.
  2. Barbados, Britain’s first slave society, is now called the amputation capitol of the world. It is here that the stress profile of slavery and racial apartheid; dietary disaster and psychological trauma; and the addiction to the consumption of sugar and salt, have reached the highest peak. The country is now host to the world’s most virulent diabetes and hypertension epidemic. This Parliament owes the people of Barbados an education and health initiative.

It is the same for all our countries; the Bahamas, the Leewards, the Windwards, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, and beyond.

The Caricom Ten Point Plan for Reparatory Justice addresses these development issues that are central to the case Britain has to answer.

It is an invitation to Great Britain to demonstrate leadership within the legal, moral, and diplomatic culture of the world, within the Commonwealth, and within its relations the Caribbean.

There can be no escaping the importance of this exchange of views about the matter before this honourable chamber tonight.

It took all of the 19th century to uproot slavery from the Caribbean; from Haiti in 1804 to the Spanish sub-region in the 1880s. It took another 100 years to create citizenship, nationhood, and democracy across the Caribbean as a development framework. We have helped ourselves.

This 21st century will be the century of global reparatory justice. Citizens are now, for the first time since they were driven into retreat by colonialism, able to stand up for reparatory justice without fear. Their claim, their just claim for reparations, will not go away. Rather, like the waves upon our beautiful shores, they will keep coming until reparatory justice is attained.

Madam Chair, we call upon you, and all members of this House, to rise to this challenge and to assist Great Britain to be truly worthy of the title “Great”. I urge you to do the right thing, in the right way. There is no other right time, other than right now, in our time. There is so much to gain from your leadership. The Caribbean is counting on you.

In 1823, the honourable Thomas Buxton, M.P. for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, presented a bill to this House calling for an Emancipation Act with compensation for the enslaved people. His bill and vision were defeated. Instead, ten years later, an emancipation bill was passed, not with compensation for the enslaved, but with handsome and generous compensation for enslavers. Some 40% of the national expenditure of the country was handed over to slave-owners as reparations.

The enslaved people of the Caribbean got nothing. Indeed, they were then called upon by the said Emancipation Act to give £27 million in free labour to their enslavers. The injustice and the cruelty of that Emancipation Act, remain today like a fish bone stuck in our throats.

We urge you, madam Chair, and other members of this Parliament, to rise up and bring the Buxton vision to life. He was a noble warrior for reparatory justice; his spirit can return to this House, in both places, and the 21st century will be ours to forge a new moral order for our collective wellbeing.

On behalf of the Caricom Reparations Commission, all my colleagues across the Caribbean who have worked with our governments in order to bring this case before you, I ask that you respond with humility and openness when your government receives an invitation to meet with our governments in summit in order to discuss this matter.

May the values and the spirit of development cooperation and mutual respect guide us all.

Thank you madam Chair.

(Standing Ovation)

 

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READING ROOM VI

Like the title says, this is the sixth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Five 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.

BLOG

Diane Browne blogs on support for and potential of the arts.

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“Painting technique can be learned, but finding one’s own unique artistic voice/style has no predictable timeline, no guarantee. Some artists are lucky to discover it right away, but I personally think that that is the case when they already have strong opinions, and a clear idea of who they are – OR, they have someone nurturing  and mentoring their progress.” Read more.

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Article by Island Series editor Joanne Gail Johnson on some publishing realities.

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“Truth is not reality. Truth can be a griffin smoking opium. Truth can be a work-shy robot in 3000 AD. Truth means emotional truth, it means the ability to see that much of the time as humans we are acting, we are presenting ourselves to the world, and tiring ourselves making a good impression. The job of the writer is to surpass the falsity of the real world, and burrow towards buried truth.” There is much more truth in this entire essay by Booktrust Writer in Residence Matt Haig for the would-be writer. Check it out: http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/writing/online-writer-in-residence/blog/553/

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Caitlyn Levin explores whether how a character looks really matters in this post (How do I look?) at Shewrites.com. Reader comments offer interesting insights as well.

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Jewell Parker Rhodes didn’t know me or Wadadli Pen from Eve when I emailed her asking her to contribute a copy of her book Ninth Ward to the 2011 Wadadli Pen prize package. She donated two…one of which was read by many more children during many a Cushion Club session. They loved it. This post is about her new book Sugar. But really it’s about what happens after the book is written, after it’s been accepted, before it gets to market. If you care about the quality of what you put out, this posting is a good reminder of what it takes.

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I remember seeing Kenny Rogers The Gambler as a kid and how that lyric stuck in my head. You know the one, “you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run”. That song comes to mind on reading this blog. As a freelancer, it’s a struggle to get paid what you’re worth and tempting to bid yourself down just to land the job…but I continue to learn that sometimes it’s better to let that one get away because getting it would have been more of a headache than it’s worth….and the people prepared to invest in quality will invest in you. In a small marketplace, and in general really, it’s not so cut and dry…but Kenny had this much right, you’ve got to know when to walk away and indeed know when to run. Here’s the blog on knowing your worth and sticking to your guns as a freelancer.

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I don’t generally discuss or repost articles related to reparations; there are one of three knee jerk responses – defensiveness, dismissiveness, or digging in at which point meaningful dialogue becomes challenging to impossible. So I know what I believe and why, and I hold my side. Generally. Which isn’t the best way to advance anything, really.  But I couldn’t not share this well reasoned pro-reparations discourse by Nicolette Bethel. She quickly addresses and rebuts s some of the more dismissive and disingenuous arguments; if we can get past those, can honest dialogue be far behind. Give it a read.

FICTION

Sharon Leach is a Jamaican writer. This is her reading from her collection at the 2014 PEN World Voices Festival.

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I like a few things about Karin Lin-Greenberg’s Care. I like the effective use of the tricky second voice. I like how it moves. I like the character insights. The external details. The reflection and introspection. It’s a tight read. So, read it here. And read what the Kenyon review editors said about why it was chosen.

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I’m adding this here as a fiction post because I just updated the fiction listing on my other blog. This is a listing of my published stories and poems. The new addition at this writing is my first noir piece, which I blog about here. I hope you’ll check out all the stories though.

INTERVIEWS

“Certainly the new technology has already dissolved borders for everyone including artists from smaller communities. Social media with its facebooks and blogs and online magazines and accompanying hardware, has meant that writers and artists can send their work to any part of the world, at any time. More writers in St. Lucia and the Caribbean are using non-traditional publishing sources to get their work out. Of course this means that there needs to be good valid criticism to separate the good from the indifferent. So we need to see the development of good online critics who gain wide respect. They probably are already there, but there is so much, you can miss a lot of significant work. And yes, the new does not automatically mean ‘progress’, since there is also a lot of negative and bad stuff happening through social media and the internet. But today’s writers and artists must be aware of and use the positive advantages of the new media.” – John Robert Lee who you might remember has made perhaps the most notable contribution to the page with this. I couldn’t agree with his assessment more. Read the full interview here and congratulations to him for being the December 2013 Poet of the Month at the Missing Slate.

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Ghanian and American author of Powder Necklace Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is a past Wadadli Pen donor. I found a number of relatable things in this interview from how writing inspired to the stops and starts of getting published to the way a career in writing is perceived in her community…perhaps you might too. Read the whole thing here.

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“Art should never be restricted. All I simply ask is that the stories be ours. If we don’t tell them, who will? It is important for Caribbean people to have characters that reflect their identity and their culture.” – Shakirah Bourne. Read More.

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This Geoffrey Philp interview is a few years old but still relevant when you consider commentary like this:

You see, New York has one idea about the Caribbean  and we have our own. Sometimes, the ideas meet. But sometimes they don’t.Pirates of the  Caribbean is a good example of an idea that doesn’t match our vision of ourselves, but one  that New York and Hollywood continue to perpetrate. The sad thing is that we  support these films while all the while singing Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery…”

Read more.

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A very candid interview about the angst and ambitions of emerging Caribbean writer Kevin Hosein whose Littletown Secrets (as K. Jared Hosein) is on my to read list. Interview excerpt –

Q. Tell us what needs to be done to support aspiring, unpublished writers in the Caribbean.

A. More reading events for the youths and more visits by the proper spokespeople to schools and youth events. Many young people love to write and aspire to publish. Looking for some sound guidance or advice shouldn’t feel like scouring for Atlantis. If they know that the proper avenues are out there, more of them will keep that dream ignited. If they can see or hear someone speak from that industry, it won’t feel like they’re chasing an apparition. This is an elusive dream, yes, but it shouldn’t feel impossible. That just kills everything. – See more here.

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“Start telling the stories that only you can tell” and other bits of writing wisdom from Neil Gaiman.

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Fascinating (when is she not right?) Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie interview on race, gender, writing, and more.

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This Jamaica Kincaid interview had me nodding in agreement at several points, gave me pause at other points, and challenged my thinking on certain issues…kind of like all of her writing…and kind of like all of her writing, I marveled at her flow and profundity.  And, of course, I relate to this:

“More immediately, I’m trying to earn a living in the way that is most enjoyable to me. I love the world of literature, and I hope to support myself in it. I come from the small island of Antigua and I always wanted to write; I just didn’t know that it was possible.

Everything I do is because of writing. If I go for a walk, it’s because I’m thinking of writing. I go look at flowers, I go look at the garden, I go look at a museum, but it’s all coming back to writing. I don’t really do anything that isn’t about writing, and I don’t really know who I am if I’m not thinking about writing.”

Read the full interview at Guernica here.

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Writing advice from Sabra Zoo author Mischa Hiller in this Commonwealth Writers interview. Sabra Zoo…like that name…this might be another one for the book wish list.

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Some solid…and unexpected…advice from author, one of my favourites, Maeve Binchy.

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Two giants of modern literature Toni Morrison and Junot Diaz in conversation. Watch the video.

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I actually met Roger Bonair-Agard at the Nature Island Literary Festival in Dominica. I remember really liking his poetry. Now wishing we’d spoken more because I’m right there with him on how poetry, the arts, can save a young person…been there, lived that. See his interview here.

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Interview with Jane Bryce at African Writing Online: Many Literatures, One Voice. Excerpt:

“All I can really say in the end is that I’m driven by a feeling stronger than I can control to describe myself as ‘African’, and I justify this to myself by the fact that I’ve maintained my relationship with the continent and built my entire life and career around it. I have actively sought to experience ‘Africa’ as an adult, free of colonial privilege and to engage with African modernity. A long answer shows what a complex question this is!”

Read more.

NON FICTION

Diana Macaulay is the winner of the Hollick Arvon prize and the current Commonwealthwriters writer-in-residence. She’s also an ardent activist. In this post, her writer and activist self intersect.

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Ru Freeman on writing.

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I enjoyed reading both of these perspectives on how real life worms its way into fiction and the ethics of that. Interesting reading for any writer…and quite possibly their families.

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“We need to write the way we speak,” Magnus says. “We are naturally funny and playful with language.” – See more at Susumba.

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“Why do you write? Because you like to read. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? You were a reader before you were a writer. Nonetheless, I’m sometimes dismayed to hear how little other writers read. Don’t be that person. Reading is a simple reminder of why we do this in the first place. Grab a book and sink into your couch for a few hours. That’s always a good decision.” – This is my favourite bit of advice from this list by Michael Nye, managing editor of the Missouri Review. Writers read, no getting around it…and why would you want to.

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The ever intriguing Jean Rhys.

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About early relationships and one long literary career…Michael Anthony and V. S. Naipaul.

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Is writing art or craft…like me, this article concludes that it’s a bit of both. Hey, is it true, though, that many visual artists have difficulty accepting writing as art?

POETRY

A quiet afternoon.
An elderly man and woman
in separate queues, he, balding,
wearing three-quarter sleeves,
suspenders hooked to trousers;
she, dressed in simple blouse
and skirt, hair in a tidy bun;
nothing remarkable,
part of the deadening wait
on comatose bank-tellers.
READ THE REST OF FOR ELLYCE COLLYMORE BY ESTHER PHILLIPS

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Wet Season by Summer Edward

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“Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.”

Read the rest of Alone by Maya Angelou.

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“Toss flowers in my grave
If I could still smell taste
Feel hear and see then I
Would be pleased but
They’re not to comfort me” read the whole of Nick Hutchings’ Untitled (Bury me under a cedar tree…)

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“The pair, however, only shines eyes for dinner and each other” … if you were thinking the lady and the tramp, you’d be close, only with feline strays. It’s a line from Alan Smith’s Fine Dining. I’m not a cat lover, still I quite like this piece.

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I don’t know what to call this…poetry, creative essay, declaration…whatever it is, it’s beautifully written and speaks to every bit of me that celebrates many of these women and the rebel and writer in me as well. It begins, I want to be a Woman Writer, and name checks some of the best women writers you’ll have the pleasure of reading; and it’s by Trinidadian writer, Ayanna Lloyd.

VISUAL

What does dance have to do with storytelling, you ask…everything. Nina Simone’s Four Women as told in dance by Ballet Afrique:

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Anansesem’s pinterest board of Caribbean Children’s book creators.

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Interesting discussion on what constitutes national literature and if we even need to define it…couple of excerpts:
“If you start second guessing either what should go in terms of a kind of a an over cooked and crafted sort of cultural sandwich that’s going to appease certain people or that’s looking to have a market appeal, I think you’ve kind of really lost the whole point of being a writer…the freedom of the blank page and the freedom of the imagination are your real tools; that’s the starting point.” – Irvine Welsh

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“It is important that literature has this space to grow independent of this sort of government control and this sort of forced definition of what Caribbean literature is…writers need space, but writers also need money, and writers need funding, and writers need grants, I think governments should just get a little more sophisticated about what exactly is the literature they’re promoting….you have to sort of get kind of mature about it, that you’re supporting art…maybe they should read a little bit more…we need the money, and the support, and the infrastructures, and they have to get to the point where they are sophisticated enough to respond to that and play a more constructive role; I’d rather you just close your eyes and give me the money and leave artists to make art.” – Marlon James

Now the whole video…

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You know what I saw when I first looked at these images a sort of urban Caribbean decay…on reading this note “Florine Demosthene’s artwork examines how black culture is commodified and fetishised. Through paintings and drawings, she seeks to magnify the subtlety of racial constructs and how viewers have become comfortable with derogatory images”, I looked again…and saw deeper. Moving Forward, Disappear into Myself, and Guardian…Guardian especially…I find particularly compelling. See images from The Capture in Moko here.

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The 30 Days slide show at St. Lucian artist Donna Grandin’s website was my happy place today. Not only were the images beautiful, calming, and spirit lifting, the idea of an artist taking on the challenge of painting 30 paintings in 30 days was motivational.

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“A mindful educator does the necessary self reflection to know where she fits in the world and in the classroom” – from a TEDx talk by Dena Simmons, a New Yorker with Antiguan roots.

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Leone Ross, met her in Guadeloupe, follow her on facebook, find so much of what she says in her Tedx Talk here so relatable. #theflow

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Shakirah Bourne, a Bajan Creative doing big things, hit in 2013 with her film PayDay but those of us who stay plugged in to the literary journals and such have been aware of her talent for a while. In her TEDx talk she discusses re-defining success. Her talk is entitled The Curse of the Starving Artist.

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Margaret Atwood talks writing; for the record, there’s no such thing as normal.

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Mark Brown review originally posted to ARC and reposted to The Culture Trip. Love his work.

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A post I did right here on the site about Black Midas and Quarkoo.

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, 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 the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Latumba and Liberation: an Independence Reflection

It’s Independence season as I post this, the 32nd anniversary of our Independence here in Antigua and Barbuda to be exact; and for some reason I’m in the mood for Latumba, that hoarse-voiced calypsonian of my early childhood. I think you’ll see why.

Culture must be Free is my all time favourite Latumba song. Perhaps because as a writer/an artiste, I aspire to live up to this ideal: “…I go sing what I see, I go mirror society, culture must be free, they can’t muzzle me”. Perhaps because of the poignancy of his perfectly imperfect voice and the potency and defiance in sentiments like “my heart cannot buy it, my conscience reject it” as he sang of offers to sell his soul for success. I related to this even before I knew/understood what it meant and to this day it breaks my heart the ease with which we and our leaders, and some of our calypsonians, sell our souls (and sell out our country) for a mess of pottage – short term returns at the expense of our long term sovereignty. In my imagination, Latumba, certainly the persona he projected in this narrative was above all that and one can hear the outrage in his voice as he sings of how “they lock teachers up in prison, and they beat them up without reason, innocently keep them in jail, and like slaves they refuse them bail…”. In that moment, what he’s saying to me is that some things are not for sale, certainly not his artiste soul. And “they don’t even bound to play my songs on none of them two radio station” – such a petulant sounding turn of phrase isn’t it? You can almost hear the childish “humph!” at the tail end of it and the childlike certainty of a world of right and wrong. Though I now understand that the world is all kinds of grey, the moral high ground that this song occupies is strangely appealing, certainly when it comes to the aspirations of freedom and fairness that are at the heart of our striving for Independence…and lately reparations.


The Love I Lost (which begins at 3:55) is perhaps my second favourite of his social commentaries, in part because there’s a memory at the edge of my memory of us kids acting out, in the way we play acted out the songs then, the “Papa stand up, Mama stand up, Sister stand up, and Brother stand up; we have got to unite, unite and fight, fight to regain what is our birthright”. Listening to it now, I realize it romanticizes some of our history, presenting Africa before our enslavement as a kind of Eden (where we lived in contentment and knew no fear and suffered no divisions tribal or otherwise). And while I understand that it was not perfect (nowhere is), it was our home and we were taken from it and it from us to such a degree that many of us still reject it and in some ways it returns the favour. What I appreciate about the song all these years later is how concisely and completely it narrates the history of what leaving did to us: “Then one day, we had to leave, for we were made slaves, yes we were made slaves, my country was conquered my people were captured, my sister was raped, my brother was raped. Then these proud people from that land so far which every body now knows is Africa, we were made to toil in the burning heat, in the sugar cane in the Caribbean…we were chained, chained and whipped, when we were tired, when we were tired. There was no rest, only our sweat to quench our thirst and wounds when we hurt… these proud people …have been brought to shame…have lost their country and have lost their name…” That rasp in his voice and the sadness it achingly captures (as he speaks not only of us who were taken but of those who stayed and were yet colonized while our continent was mined of all her riches, reminding us in doing so that we are part of the same family and part of the same struggle) will make you weepy if you let it…and especially if you consider how lost we still are 179 years into our Emancipation, 62 years into universal adult suffrage, 32 years into Independence.

Then there is Independence in which Latumba calls on Wadadli to arise (i.e. wake up, stand up not just exist “while all around us, the times are changing; men are determined to rise above their present status”).

“With our hearts and hands as one, our conviction must be strong, with a passion for the glory of our land,” he sang. How  have we forgotten this?

“The road may be dark, things may not be the way we’d like them to be, but let us push on, let us try,” he urged. How have we lost this sense of purpose?

I say this because while I know many of us love Antigua and Barbuda deeply, we can be too complacent and too motivated to fight for party over country when in reality no matter which party is in power this is our country; red or blue, her fate is our collective fate.

On Liberate Your Mind, Latumba begins, “how can we be liberated when we are so confused? This country is so divided; there are so many, many different views…shouting blame and crying shame, we all are guilty just the same”.

He urges us to liberate our mind and “rise to the occasion and demonstrate to the world that we all are one; that we in this little country could live in love and harmony, working for prosperity, prosperity, for you and me.”

Is this still too idealistic an ambition? Perhaps, there will always be differences of opinion and there’s nothing wrong with that (it’s desirable, even; checks and balances and all that) but we’ve seen how, as Latumba said, intractability can cripple the State (we saw it just recently with the government shut down in America, a pass to which our young democracy has not yet come …so perhaps things are not that dark). But at our worst wouldn’t it be nice if we could keep in mind that our common purpose is the forward movement of Antigua and Barbuda?

On a literary front, I love how these songs are constructed to tell us a story, make us feel, make us think, stimulate in us a desire to …move beyond who and where we are. It’s powerful writing in my view. And even if you throw out all the Independence (registration, and pre-election, and reparation) fuelled musings worth a listen just as words and music. There’s one other Do You Get the Picture that I’d love to listen to again and maybe share but Latumba’s music is hard to find.

Let’s end on an upbeat note, shall we; Latumba after all was well loved for his road march tunes like Carnival in LA, Supajam and…

Hit Man which not only made us dance (“when my music play, see them break away”) but served notice that small axe can chop down (or aspire to chop down anyway) big tree or the big three like Swallow and Short Shirt (“your time is up, I deeply regret”) and a country man can set the town on fire:

“They say I can’t dance
They say I can’t sing
They wanted to push me ’round
But just like a swarm of honey bee
Sweet and stinging I started singing

oiee
oiee
oiee”

For Latumba’s discography, go here.

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, 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 the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright. 

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