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 – credit and link back if you use).
Wondering if the JWP is for you? Participants this year have included someone hoping to learn more about the business of writing while considering a self-publishing journey (“I learned quite a bit about the writing process”), someone revising a Caribbean-set novel who wanted the perspective of a Caribbean editor (“strengthened my pages”), someone hoping to overcome the fear and lack of confidence keeping them from writing (“I feel my confidence building”), and a newcomer taking her first writing workshop who said she felt comfortable and participated fully in the environment created. Your goals are your own, but I really try to meet participants where they are. People have participated from the Caribbean and the US; so, as a reminder, it’s virtual, you can participate from anywhere. (Source – me)
Art and Culture
An Antiguan and Barbudan designer, Danielle McCoy, had a hand in the creation of the Nigerian uniform worn during the Winter Olympics earlier this year.
Per this Essence article, the outfits were produced by a brand known as ActivelyBlack. It was one of the top designs according to major tastemakers, alongside well established international brands like Ralph Lauren and Puma. Danielle worked with Jordan Jackson, both of AmenAmen Studio on the look. (Source – N/A)
Barbadian songstress and international superstar Rihanna is now part of the Black Panther universe with her contribution of “Lift me Up” to the blockbuster’s sequel’s soundtrack. It’s haunting melody is a reminder that the second film arrives without its titular lead played by Chadwick Boseman who died of cancer between this and the previous film. RIP to him. Take a listen.
(Source – Twitter)
ETA – In further Black Panther news, via Variety, the sequel to the seminal Marvel cinematic universe film, Wakanda Forever, took in US$180,000,000 domestically (i.e. in the US). It is the second biggest domestic debut of the year after the latest Dr. Strange, another MCU film. I checked Box Office Mojo, and this is already the 9th top grossing film of 2022. Wakanda Forever‘s international take for its opening weekend was $330,000,000. Why do we care about this at Carib Lit Plus? The Caribbean representation, of course, with Guyana born British actress Letitia Wright (Shuri) and Tobago born US actor Winston Duke (M’baku) revived their star-making roles. Also Haiti is trending. Comments from Twitter:
“Two scenes in the #BlackPanther movie are set in #Haiti! Actual footage of Cap-Haïtien made it to the big screen. Haitian Creole and even our local transportation, tap taps, are in the movie. An important character is named after our national hero, Toussaint…Historically, major cinematic films that have portrayed #Haiti have emphasized zombies, poverty, demons, just pure darkness. They’ve silenced our glorious past & our present beauty. #BlackPanther has begun to shift the narrative.”
“Cap-Haitien, Haiti just popped up as a location in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and they are speaking Kreyol!”
“Shoutout to black panther for their representation of Haiti in the movie.”
The shoutouts are plentiful and have even moved off twitter, with karukerament.com blogging about “How Black Panther 2 introduces the Caribbean to the World (afro)”. The post celebrated the uncharacteristic positive representation of the island: “Listen, if you had told me that one day I would watch an MCU movie without the need for subtitles because the dialogues are in Haitian Creole, I would never have believed you. Never. And not only did they aim for the authenticity of the language, but they also linked the history of Ayiti to the history of Wakanda. They tied the history of the first black Republic to the history of the only black nation that was never colonized. They did not create a hierarchy. They just put them together as two equal parts of the Afro world. We are what we are, we don’t need to hide it and no one can take it away from us.”
(Source – Facebook)
A biopic of reggae legend Jamaica’s Bob Marley is in the works. Kingsley Ben-Adir, a British actor with a Trinidadian mother and white British father, has been cast to play him. Ben-Adir was last seen playing Malcolm X (whose mother, Louise Little, was Grenadian by the way) in One Night in Miami. Variety also reports that the screenwriter (Zach Baylin) and director (Reinaldo Marcus Green) behind King Richard, about Richard Williams, the father of tennis greats Venus and Serena, a role that recently won Will Smith his first Oscar, are attached. (Source – Twitter)
Late calypso giant Rupert ‘Swallow’ Philo’s family has donated instruments – a full set of steel pans and drum set – to Nelvie N. Gore Primary School. This is the former primary school of Willikies, Swallow’s home village. One of his dreams was the establishment of a music department at his alma mater and Vernon ‘Dr Solo’ Benjamin advocated for the department to be named in his honour. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper, Antigua)
I’m seeing reports around social media about the BVI Lit Fest, like this one from Jamaica born Barbados based writer Sharma Taylor, whose debut novel What a Mother’s Love don’t teach You landed this year.
“Had the absolute pleasure of recently participating in the 2nd annual BVI Lit Fest in beautiful Tortola www.bvilitfest.com The Governor, Premier, Dr. Richard Georges and his team at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College were amazing hosts! Book lovers, please put this event in your calendar as a ‘must attend’ event for next year! I met some awesome writers there!”
The BVI Literary Festival ran from November 3 – 6 2022 in Tortola after being founded (virtually) in 2021 as part of the Department of Culture’s Culture and Tourism Month activities and operates in collaboration with the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. This year’s line-up included well known Caribbean writers like Trinidad and Tobago’s Andre Bagoo, USVI based editor of The Caribbean Writer literary journal Alscess Lewis-Brown, the USVI’s Tiphanie Yanique, Grenada’s and the Virgin Islands (British and US’) Tobias Buckell, Jamaica’s Kei Miller, and BVI poet laureate himself Richard Georges. (Source – Sharma Taylor’s Facebook)
Antiguan and Barbudan artist Heather Doram has a show coming up.
(Source – Facebook)
Caribbean book and lifestyle influencer Book of Cinz is reporting a successful staging of her first reading retreat in the nature isle, Dominica. Round two will be held in October 2023 and interested readers of Caribbean lit can already sign up here. Meanwhile, her next virtual book club meet-up to discuss Irish Trinidadian author Amanda Smyth’s novel Fortune will be on November 29th 6-8 p.m. (Source – Book of Cinz newsletter)
I-ROY by Eric Doumerc, with various contributors, is a book about the prolific and talented Jamaican deejay, Roy Samuel Reid, 1942-1999. He enjoyed a hugely successful recording career in the 1970s but died of heart failure relatively young after two decades of declining health and output. Belated recognition has come following the selection of his song ‘Sidewalk Killer’ to feature in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and this timely re-appraisal reviews his life’s work and achievements in sound and lyrics. (Source – JRLee email)
UK based Trinidad and Tobago writer Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s When We were Birds dropped this year. It is described as “a mythic love story” and has been widely acclaimed. In addition to the print and ebook editions, there is also an audio version using the voices of Trinidad actors/readers, sourced with assistance from the UTT’s theatre programme, Wendell Manwarren and Sydney Darius. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said the writer. (Source – N/A)
US based Jamaican children’s book writer Renaee Smith has announced a couple of new titles, bringing her total book count to 10 – seven of them children’s books. The new titles are Dorianne the Baker, written with Nella Perrier and Freddie learns the Value of Money. This book is an introductory book for children ages 5-12 that teaches them the value of money. It introduces the basic financial concepts of saving and budgeting, from earning money from chores to spending money earned in stores.
This seems to be the fifth in a Freddie series of books. (Source – Renaee Smith email)
ESPJr. of Trinidad and Tobago have uploaded a number of early readers – such as the Ready Set Hatch! storybook, Spanish language edition, and colouring book; The Most Magnificent, about the sentient (in the story) seven magnificent houses along Trinidad and Tobago’s Queen’s Park Savannah; Alex the Awesome & the Crazy Quest for the Golden Pod, about a secret agent agouti; and the Agriman series of adventures. All written by Jeunanne Atkins, storyteller and co-founder of ESPJr with former teacher Andrea Alkins. (Source – N/A)
Jamaica Kincaid was born Elaine Potter Richardson in Ovals, Antigua so this is exciting news and I had to share. They’ll be reading in publication order beginning with At the Bottom of the River (1983), and continuing, I assume, with Annie John (1985), Annie, Gwen, Lilly, Pam, and Tulip (1986),A Small Place(1988), Lucy (1990), The Autobiography of My Mother(1996), My Brother(1997), Talk Stories (2001), My Garden (Book) (2001), Mr. Potter(2002), Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalayas (2005), See Now Then (2013), Party: A Mystery (2019) – I’ve bolded the ones I’ve read and linked the ones I’ve reviewed. Maybe a chance to read the ones I haven’t? (Source – Karukament newsletter)
Of Rivers and Oceans is Dominican author, Anella Shillingford’s second poetry collection after 2019’s Bonfire. It was launched at the Portsmouth Branch Library in September 2022. A press release from the author described the publication as “a celebration of heritage, history, healing, and home.” (Dominicanewsonline.com) (Source – N/A)
Young participants in the Antigua and Barbuda Film Academy, a development arm of the Motion Picture Association of Antigua and Barbuda have published a book of stories they worked on during the pandemic. The book is called Love Friendship & Betrayal: An Anthology of Lessons Learned and the authors are Joel Lewis, Noah Yeboah, Destiny Simon, Delicia Howell, Shenika Bentick, and Sheneilla Somerset. Abigail Piper is credited as development editor. The publisher is Dr. Noel Howell’s I & I Books. The authors also acknowledged, in their preface, the contribution of Wadadli Pen founder Joanne C. Hillhouse whose services to the project included workshop facilitation and copy editing. “Once we started the in-person workshops with Ms Joanne Hillhouse, I was re-energized. … I realized that writing is more than physically putting pen to paper. We were able to use all our senses and feelings to create emotions that our readers can relate to. This workshop opened my eyes to various aspects of writing.” wrote Destiny. Shenika also wrote that the workshops, “helped boost my own self-confidence and helped me in writing this story.” Delicia commented on how the process helped her deal with real life issues. “As I developed the plot and addressed these fears, I realized that some of them were my own fears expressed in different situations. This type of self-reflection was new to me and I was able through these fictious characters to better deal with my own insecurities.” The stories were originally intended to be productions but due to the lockdown plans were changed, with participants working with each other remotely to develop their scripts for publication. Sheneilla said, “The zoom meetings and workshops were very helpful and assisted me with the many corrections and rewrites I had to do. I also learned many new things about writing. I had fun creating characters and putting them in situations that created conflict and drama. Receiving feedback from a professional writer was eexciting and encouraging. The critique sessions with my writing partner also helped me to stay focussed and motivated.” The book’s summary focusses on the in-between status of teenagers who are neither teens nor adults but young people dealing with feelings like fear, pain, and loneliness, using the literary arts as a vehicle. These same teens scripted the 2022 short film, also produced by Dr. Howell, Don’t hit me Pickney. Film and book were released during a red carpet event at the Dean William Lake Cultural Centre on October 31st 2022. (Source – me)
ETA – report of the book launch in the Daily Observer –
Trini writer, British based, Anthony Joseph was named to the short list of the T S Eliot Prize alongside nine other poets. Per The Guardian, “He is shortlisted for Sonnets for Albert, an autobiographical collection that weighs the impact of growing up with a largely absent father.” The winner will be announced on January 16th 2023. (Source – JRLee email)
Jamaican artistes Spice, Koffee, Skillibeng, Popcaan, Shenseea, and Sean Paul are contending for the Best Caribbean Music Award in the UK’s MOBO (Music of Black Origin awards).
MOBO is celebrating its 25th anniversary. (Source – Antigua and Barbuda’s Daily Observer newspaper)
The winners of Dominica’s Independence Literary Competition are Arrundell Thomas (Dominica between Sentences), English poetry; Ian Jackson (Orvince Gone), short story; and Jules Pascal (Bondye ka Mété), kweyol poetry.
(Source – Nature Island Literary Festival on Facebook)
I thought I had posted the Bocas children’s lit prize long list but maybe that was a fever dream. Here’s the short list.
I write Rhymes: A Novel by Nadine Johnson Zo and The Forest of Secrets by Alake Pilgrim The Whisperer’s Warning by Danielle Y C Mclean The Land Below by Aarti Gosine
(Source – Bocas Lit Fest on Facebook)
Twelve young artists from Barbuda participated in the second annual Barbuda Youth Art Workshop and Competition in October 2022; three took home top prizes. Four on scene judges plus viewers via social media weighed in on favourite art works. Kyrollos Greaux (art: Under the Sea – the Big Coral Race) won in the 10-12 age group, Trinity Whyte (art: Postcard from Barbuda) won in the 13-15 age group, and Makaida Whyte (art: The Sound of Music) won the 16-18 age group. Each winner received EC$500.
(Source – Antigua and Barbuda’s Daily Observer newspaper)
Jamaica-born Brits (pictured) Yvonne Bailey-Smith’s The Day I feel off My Island and Leone Ross’ This One Sky Day were this year shortlisted for the Diverse Book Awards. It is a UK based awards recognizing books featuring characters not typically or widely represented. (Source – Myriad Editions email)
Shabier Kirchner of Antigua and Barbuda has been invited to join the Motion Picture Association of America. While I am not sure if any Antiguans and Barbudans have been a part of the Oscar-voting body in the past, I can say that either way it’s a rare opportunity and Kirchner is one of only 10 cinematographers in the 2022 class.
Kirchner has won awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, and the British Academy Television Craft Awards for his work on the Small Axe anthology. (Source – Bert Kirchner)
Dr. Noel Howell, medical practitioner and filmmaker, who works with the young people of the Antigua and Barbuda Film Academy, while announcing the release of student production Don’t Hit Me Pickney announced that it had received an award as best student production at CommFestt, a film festival in Canada.
The Antigua and Barbuda Film Academy presented awards to four people at the October 31st 2022 premiere local screening of CommFestt award winning student film Don’t hit me Pickney and launch of book of student stories Love, Friendship, and Betrayal: An Anthology of Lessons Learned – executive produced and published, respectively – by Antigua-born, US-based pediatrician and filmmaker Dr. Noel Howell. Wadadli Pen founder Joanne C. Hillhouse who has worked with the AFA as an editor and workshop facilitator was the night’s first awardee, her plaque for her commitment to the advancement of literacy in Antigua and Barbuda.
Meanwhile, for their contributions to the development of film production in Antigua and Barbuda, producers and former heads of the Motion Picture Associstion of Antigua and Barbuda Howard Allen, Dr. Alvin Edwards, and Bert Kirchner were awarded as well. Kirchner is the country’s film commissioner and is responsible for bringing a number of film and commercial productions to Antigua and Barbuda. Dr. Edwards, an ophthamologist, has been involved in production of high profile arts events like Romantic Rhythms in addition to producing films like Once in an Island and publication of its companion book. Allen is part owner with his wife of HaMa, Antigua and Barbuda’s pioneering filmmakers and still the most prolific producer of features (The Sweetest Mango, No Seed, Diablesse, The Skin, Deep Blue). The event was hosted by the Motion Picture Association of Antigua and Barbuda of which the Film Academy is a part. (Source – me)
November 1st was Antigua and Barbuda’s 41st anniversary of Independence, and at that day’s Ceremonial Parade a number of national awardees were announced as per normal. They included members of the arts community. I don’t have the full list (at this posting and I have never understood why the official list is so hard to find) but per reporting in the Daily Observer newspaper, among them are calypsonian Oliver ‘Destroyer’ Jacobs and pannist Patrick Johnny Gomes. Jacobs, a veteran of the field both on stage and with his pen is now GCH – meaning Grand Cross, the Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage, and Gomes is MH – Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage.
(photo credit Nathaniel Edwards/Facebook)
Jacobs, whose respected position within the Antigua and Barbuda calypso fraternity translated in to classics but not crowns told Observer that this honour is “not for me alone, it’s for all the calypsonians who never won a crown and kept on going.”
(Destroyer back in 2007, I believe, accepting a National Vibes Star Project award)
(Source – Daily Observer newspaper)
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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:
“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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (Source – me)
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.
This picks up where the previous installments of Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed pages left off (use the search feature to the right to dig them up). As with those earlier pages, it features reviews about A & B writings that I come across as I dig through my archives or surf the web. You’re welcome to send any credible/professional reviews that you come across as well. They’re not in any particular order, I just add them as I add them; some will be old, some will be new. It’s all shared in an effort to underscore, emphasize, and insist on Antigua and Barbuda’s presence in the Caribbean literary canon.
“In her first novel in a decade, Kincaid (Autobiography of My Mother) brings her singular lyricism and beautifully recursive tendencies to the inner life of Mrs. Sweet, who is facing the end of her marriage, and who, over the course of the book, considers the distinctions between her nows and her thens, particularly when recounting what was while the memories bleed with a pain that still is.” – Publisher’s Weekly reviews Jamaica Kincaid’s See Now Then
“This is a slim book but Kincaid has crafted it with a spare elegance that has brilliance in its very simplicity. Lucy’s is a haunting voice, and Kincaid’s originality has never been more evident.” – Publisher’s Weekly reviews Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy
“This send-up of the Nancy Drew mysteries by Kincaid first appeared as a 1980 New Yorker story about a gala celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first book’s publication. Here, Kincaid’s piece is recast as a picture book with dramatic artwork by Cortés…Detailed, almost photographically realistic portraits of girls and partygoers by Cortés, shown against marble architectural backdrops that suggest the New York Public Library, engage throughout…A gem.” —Publishers Weekly reviews Jamaica Kincaid’s Party: a Ministry
“From the first pages, we are witnessing the ravages of colorism. It plays on the perception we have of ourselves, it plays on our perception of others and on the perception that others have of us. The subtlety of Joanne Hillhouse has been to address the issue from several points of view by highlighting different aspects depending on the character involved.” – Musical Youth reviewed by My insaeng, ma vie (My insaeng, my life)
“Featuring an attractive pair of lovebirds, Dinner is a sweetly poetic and vivid 12-minute verse-to-screen clip from an Antiguan writer/director with an appealing, if slightly provocative, voice. It’s a small film with a big heart that explores intimate love, employing a slyly clever approach – cloaked in the guise of meal preparation. While getting dinner ready a radiant young lady (played by Jarvis-George, who also provides a lyrical voice-over) is surprised by the early arrival home of her virile Rastafarian man, and before you can say ‘Come and get it’ a dining of a totally different variety plays out on-screen. Shot in vibrant hues by a surprisingly steady camera, Dinner is romp that ends all too quickly, but it was tastefully delightful while it lasted.” – Tallawah magazine on the Tameka Jarvis-George penned, voiced, and acted, short film, directed by Christopher Hodge and filmed and co-produced by Cinque Productions. Watch the whole film here.
“an entrancing sensorial experience, an impressionistic assemblage of assorted shots of people, places, and things…Dadli draws its power from the cumulative effect of its imagery, the camera capturing everyone and everything it sees with a piercing empathy.” – Caribbean Beat on Shabier Kirchner’s short film Dadli
‘What makes the book a true pleasure is its political edge. Hillhouse arms the characters with larger social conflicts that far outshine the romance. Selena personifies the uphill struggle against sexism, violence, and stereotypes placed on Latin women in predominantly Black Caribbean countries: “that they all looked and dressed like whores, all wanted their men (as if…!) and were good for nothing more than a wild night.” Michael is the target of shadeism and anti-Black racism from members of Selena’s and his own family — all while struggling to keep employed amidst government corruption and few economic options on the island.’ – Broken Pencil reviews Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Dancing Nude in the Moonlight: 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings
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“(Shabier) Kirchner: There was this place in Antigua, The Point, that’s always attracted me. It’s a really fascinating neighborhood. Not only was it a slave burial ground in the 1700s, it was one of the first places in Antigua where slaves started a revolt that led to a big uprising. It’s one of the only tenement yard systems left in Antigua. On top of that — being one of the poorest areas in the island — it shares walls with St. John’s, the capital and a duty-free port for cruise ships.
It’s an insane juxtaposition: this extremely poor area that’s so rich and full of Antigua’s history, and this cruise ship district where the island survives off tourism, where cruise ships come in and unload tourists who trample across the island, drive on the outskirts of these neighborhoods, take photos, and leave. I always thought it was an interesting example of modern-day colonialism.
Filmmaker: Tiquan, who’s narrating most of the film, has a summer job doing horseback tours for cruise ship tourists.
Kirchner: They offer whatever they can to tourists to make ends meet. But cruise ship tours never spend any money on islands. They get off, do a taxi or boat tour, and get on the ship again. A lot of this demographic of the island has never really seen the money. Tiquan would charge very little money, and he’d still get negotiated down from that. It’s wild.
We shot there for two days and met Tiquan — I didn’t think anything of it at the time. It was only after we’d come to the end of shooting Wendy that I showed my friend Elise Tyler — the co-director — the footage, and she said, “We should do something with this.” She and I and the editor, Diego Siragna, a dear friend of mine I met in Antigua, strung the images together. It wasn’t until a year later that we got Tiquan to add a voiceover. I was in New York and got my dad to find Tiquan and rig a car with a zoom mic. We got on speakerphone with him and just had him talk in a stream-of-consciousness: about life, Antigua, what he likes, what he doesn’t like, what he dreams about. That was all done over the phone and plugged into the short film, and we structured the edit according to what he talked about.”
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.
The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Share by excerpting and linking, so to read the full story or see all the images, or other content, you will need to go to the source. No copyright infringement is intended. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 32nd one which means there are 31 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one. – JCH
Reading (1995) at the University of Miami as part of the Caribbean Fiction Writers Summer Institute by Brittany Wivell, Nicola Johnson, Maritza Stanchich, Eugenia O’Neal, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Beatrice Gardiner, Kezia Page, and Omar Garcia. This was my first public reading of my work (ever!) – I come in at about 56:35-ish, but watch the whole thing. (click on the image)
A “If editing is key to writing, persistence is key to publishing.” – editors’ roundtable w/Jennifer Wortman, Megan Giddings, Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, and Robert James Russell.
“Sink into writing. Then when it’s written, come up for air and publish, because if you think about publishing before you finish the book, you’ll be outdated in your thinking by the time the book is complete. Just enjoy writing the story for now.” – C. Hope Clark
“This article is all about the trends I have observed in the publishing industry – in terms of manuscript publishers, self-publishing, and literary journals – over the last year or so. The key word in the previous sentence is “I”. This article reflects my personal opinion, and what I have noticed. I write a new/updated version of this article every year.” – Emily Harstone
“I think it’s a general misunderstanding, not just his. It’s as if we imagine an old book to be a time machine that brings the writer to us. We buy a book and take it home, and the writer appears before us, asking to be admitted into our company. If we find that the writer’s views are ethnocentric or sexist or racist, we reject the application, and we bar his or her entry into the present.
As the student had put it, I don’t want anyone like that in my house.
I think we’d all be better readers if we realized that it isn’t the writer who’s the time traveler. It’s the reader. When we pick up an old novel, we’re not bringing the novelist into our world and deciding whether he or she is enlightened enough to belong here; we’re journeying into the novelist’s world and taking a look around.” – Brian Morton
‘She had told Mr. Peebles things. Not indecent, but personal things. About herself. Her life. How could she not? There they were in her house, in her den, elbow-to-elbow at her family table. To her left: the upright piano at which she’d taken lessons until her teacher quit, citing “personal issues.” (I think I was the person he had issues with, she’d told Mr. Peebles. Said he: Not every pair’s a match.) To her right, a photo gallery of Pam and her brother as babies, as toddlers, as brace-faced pre-teens, photos in front of which Mr. Peebles paced while Pam retrieved his weekly payment from her father.’ – Peanuts aren’t Nuts by Courtney Zoffness
“The devil liked being a woman, because in a woman’s body, it could feel the truth. The things the body did when no one was watching, the way it could swallow things, drown parts whole, hide and house people. In a woman’s body, it could feel the weight of her kindness; the restraint it takes to know exactly how easy it is to raze a man’s life but still choose not to—and yes, there was something delicious about being that close to being good. But its patience was running thin.” – Night Wind by Eloghosa Osunde
“It must have been a gunshot. I’d know the sound of a .45 anywhere. And it came from upstairs. But I wasn’t going to let my curiosity get the better of me, like my captain in Afghanistan used to warn me.” – from “Our Dirty Little Secrets” by Geoffrey Philp
“More than 20,000 submissions came in representing all genres of travel photography, from street scenes to wildlife. AFAR’s highly respected panel of photography judges selected the winners, whose work we’re proud to present here.” More here.
“and every deployment
is a Talking Heads song
and every morning
is an invitation to dance
in a pill bottle
and you’re not interested
in keeping busy
and you don’t want
more group texts
and you don’t want
your daughter learning
to shoot a rifle
with the other kids
who aim at a silhouette
of someone’s son
tied to a haystack” – Asking for a Friend by Abby E. Murray
CREATIVES ON CREATING
“After having a baby and becoming a mom, I was super-raw at that point in my life. It was the first time that I would work in the studio during the day. I was about to breast feed and I would put her down for a nap and then come back. It was very kind of daytime-y sober. I felt really present making that record, because normally we’d open a bottle of wine and shit-talk and record at one in the morning. It just wasn’t that anymore.” – Pink discussing her various albums
“In a sense, the poem is again about gratitude. There is no regret or there is no even wishing it had not happened. It’s just a realization that we lost ten years of making frittatas together. As a mother and a daughter who loved each other and who love each other, that’s a lot.” – Alice Walker
“I think I always write with the Caribbean in mind. My voice comes from Grenada and, in my head, that’s my first audience. In reality, I have to face the fact that my books are often not available in Grenada. I write for everyone who cares to read, wherever in the world they may be.” – Merle Collins
“There was this place in Antigua, The Point, that’s always attracted me. It’s a really fascinating neighborhood. Not only was it a slave burial ground in the 1700s, it was one of the first places in Antigua where slaves started a revolt that led to a big uprising. It’s one of the only tenement yard systems left in Antigua. On top of that — being one of the poorest areas in the island — it shares walls with St. John’s, the capital and a duty-free port for cruise ships.” – Shabier Kirchner, Antiguan and Barbudan filmmaker discussing his short film Dadli. For this and more Antiguan and Barbudan artist interviews, go here.
“So many of us writers keep returning to our history of slavery. Why do we keep doing this? It’s because there’s still something to understand and retrieve from that past. Storytelling is a medicine and we are not yet healed.” – Marcia Douglas with Loretta Collins Klobah
“‘Not only do black women authors have to find other routes to market their books to mainstream audiences, often times they are even left out of conversations of classic novels within genres like fantasy, horror, science fiction, romance and even cooking. Why do you think black women authors are not recognized in all literary genres?’
‘I think it’s just we get overlooked at times, and it becomes this thing. Like science fiction — apparently black women do not like comics or sci-fi. We know that is not true. But it’s another stereotype that is placed on black women, and we can tell because we have been ignored from these spaces. It’s as if there can’t be any black elves in a story or something that is reflective of our existence.
I’m really proud that we have authors that push against these stereotypes, and can really show what it means to be a black woman in these spaces. I read an incredible science fiction book by Rivers Solomon called An Unkindness of Ghosts. Now, you would think by looking on television or reading books that black women don’t belong in [outer] space, and that’s not true. It’s just a reflection of the limited imaginations people can have, and what we see as futuristic.
“By the early 70s, we’d moved away from the politics of black power, purely, to a more class based politics.” – Linton Kwesi Johnson
“I was inspired to write Caribbean characters into the work I was doing by the fact that I grew up in the islands, and my biological father was Grenadian. I had a wide variety of friends and family who had Caribbean roots growing up. SciFi didn’t have a lot representation of that. As someone who was light-skinned but bi-racial, I was used to being in a culture with a wide variety of skin tones, but wasn’t seeing that in my SciFi much. I didn’t, much to my shock, realize this until I was much older. I had a scales-falling-from-the-eyes moment when I read Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling. He was a white American cyberpunk (a subgenre of SF) writer who set a book in Grenada. When I encountered it, I was so stunned because it exposed a whole gap in mind’s eye: why shouldn’t there be SciFi with Caribbean settings and heroes? And I saw all the stuff that I felt Bruce should have added! After that, I started drawing pictures of starships docked in St. Thomas. I later read Octavia Butler, and that confirmed to me that SciFi could be different than a lot of what I was reading.” – Tobias Buckell
“I write for an ideal reader — an actual person who is now dead, but who still sits on my shoulder asking certain questions about authenticity and truth. This ideal reader was a renowned, respected and important author and critic, and he became my friend. I write for him because he represents for me the best in literature, in thinking, in humanity and because I always want to write something that he would like to read.” – Tessa McWatt
“How you wear the environment is the key to auditioning” – Mahershala Ali
‘Atticus is the quintessential emblem of the “good white Southerner,” of “moral white America.” What I hope that my book will do—by providing the historical context for understanding what Lee was battling with and what she was trying to do with the character of Atticus—is help us be more well-informed about the political struggles that shaped not only her, but also the South and the nation more broadly. Whatever you may think of To Kill a Mockingbird as a piece of fiction, I think that understanding Atticus and critically engaging with how we’ve long been taught certain romanticized notions of racial morality are important for all of us.’ – Joseph Crespino
Q. What if you were in a room with aspiring writers? What advice would give to them?
Francie Latour: Read read read read. The best way to become a better writer is to read, and to study the architecture of every good piece of writing you come across.
This picks up where the previous installments of Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed pages left off (use the search feature to the right to dig them up). As with those earlier pages, it features reviews about A & B writings that I come across as I dig through my archives or surf the web. You’re welcome to send any credible/professional reviews that you come across as well. They’re not in any particular order, I just add them as I add them; some will be old, some will be new. It’s all shared in an effort to underscore Antigua and Barbuda’s presence in the Caribbean literary canon.
“Meticulously researched and highly readable.” – Bridget Brereton, Professor Emerita, University of the West Indies on Sue Appleby’s The Cornish in the Caribbean.
“It is significant to note that in her writing, especially her works for young adults, Hillhouse refrains from “pontificating.” She creates scenarios for her characters and allows them to be themselves. Even though the “normal” behaviors or pranks of teenagers with their accompanying confusions, heartbreaks, and poor choices aren’t documented, her youth are portrayed as real children. They are a group of youth who are typical in their behaviors. They are music lovers with a passion for the art. Music lovers will identify and enjoy the genuine references to different types of music and musicians, while non-musicians will accept the youth’s passion for their music and champion their cause for an audience in pursuit of their dreams.” – Valerie Knowles Combie re Joanne C. Hillhouse’s writings in The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 11 Number 1 Summer 2018
Nisbett’s Life as Josephine is a quick read of an authentic story of a determined girl who starts her quest for identity at a very young age and learns to love herself in the process. This is another coming-of-age work by another Antiguan author that should be required reading for all youth.” – Valerie Knowles Combie re Claytine Nisbett’s Life as Josephine in The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 11 Number 1 Summer 2018
“I find the poems refreshing and insightful.” – Lionel Max Hurst re Marilyn Sargent’s Carbon is Yellow in The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 11 Number 1 Sumer 2018
“The cinematographer (of the film Skate Kitchen) really captures the rush of skateboarding in an urban setting, on sidewalks, on busy streets, around people, in parking lots…” – that cinematographer is none other than Antigua and Barbuda’s Shabier Kirchner. Watch the full review.
The Travel Bag site (not a review site but a site of recommendations by travel experts) makes several literary recommendations with regards to Antigua and Barbuda (excerpted below) in 2014:
“Essential Holiday Reading…For a thrilling read, on your next trip to this tropical paradise, pick up the remarkable Unburnable, by Marie-Elena John. This sprawling crime drama/murder mystery is split between the Caribbean and Washington DC, and follows Lillian Baptiste as she is drawn back home by the lure of scandals and secrets from her past. It is a truly storming read, and would suit any avid book fan with a penchant for darker mysteries…
“Notable Antiguan Books…The 1995 novel, The Autobiography of My Mother, by Jamaica Kincaid, is very well known in Antigua. It is also highly regarded, despite being surprisingly controversial amongst western scholars. This book, which follows the tale of Xuela Claudette Richardson, explores themes of motherhood, colonialism, race, love, loss, fear and redemption… If you have any interest in the history of this beautiful island, Kincaid is a more than skilful (sic) guide – take a chance and pick up one of her novels for your next trip.
“Notable Antiguan Authors…If you are looking to dive into something fresh and modern, give the magnificent Joanne C Hillhouse a try …In some ways, Hillhouse is a natural successor to authors like Kincaid – Oh, Gad (Oh Gad!) certainly shares certain narrative characteristics with The Autobiography of My Mother. For a fresh and contemporary read, give this young author a try.”
“Notable Antiguan Films…No Seed, a drama which explores the subtle nuances of Caribbean politics. …also horror flick, The Skin, which follows a young couple as they encounter strange occurrences, in the wake of finding and selling an ancient artefact. In 2001, The Sweetest Mango was released to acclaim on the island – it tells the story of a woman who returns to her island home and becomes involved in a complicated love triangle.”
The named films were written by D. Gisele Isaac (No Seed, The Sweetest Mango) and Howard Allen (The Skin).
Read the full article which also includes recommended music from Antigua and Barbuda here.
Primarily, in this space, I’ll be sharing discussions, in Question and Answer format, of craft, and insights to not only the author/artist’s journey but the story of the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. This is a Work in Progress. The main criteria, so far, for inclusion, apart from the Q & A structure and the arts/art history focus, is that these are interviews not conducted by someone who is part of the artistes’ publishing and/or promotional team, and are interviews that are in the public sphere on a platform independent of the artistes and/or their publishing and promotional team. Beyond that, it’s what I come across and you can also link me interviews that fit the very broad stated criteria by emailing wadadipen at gmail dot com
Barbara Arrindell in Cacique magazine – January 2023
“We speak of this orange (creative) economy quite a bit these days, and we need a greater investment in the arts so that creatives and those involved in the craft can continue to create without worrying about being able to sustain themselves.”
Barbara Arrindell and Joanne C. Hillhouse discussing creative writing on ABS TV’s Antigua Today –
– (January 12th 2022)
Barbara Arrindell in conversation with Joanne C. Hillhouse for CREATIVE SPACE –
“One of the early writings I did was a play called Dreams…Faces…Reality…and that play was actually performed over 25 times in Antigua and Barbuda… it was used as a tool to help students in the schools understand everything concerning HIV/AIDS.” – Barbara Arrindell with ABS TV (2020)
“Nellie Robinson, Dame Nellie Robinson is listed somewhere in our history as being the first chairperson of the artists association of Antigua and Barbuda, but so is a lady named Elizabeth Pickney…back in 17something… I found one in the 18th century too… we’ve had an artists association here many times and it’s been so far apart that each person thinks of themselves as the first chairperson of… in terms of history, there’s a book called A Brief History of Antigua written by Brian Dyde. Brian Dyde wrote brief histories for about four or five islands around the Caribbean, if it was five, four of them are still in print, guess which one is not in print, the other four were taken on and used in the school systems in the other islands, guess which one they couldn’t even sell one print run for…?” – Barbara Arrindell in conversation with Dorbrene O’Marde, Heather Doram, and Joanne C. Hillhouse on Observer Radio (2017). Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.
“I don’t really have a routine, I just take advantage of times when I don’t have anything to distract me, when I can get stuck into writing for as long as I want. I like to write with my feet cocked up on a comfortable sofa, and a good view in front of me. We have a small apartment in the old walled city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, which looks out onto a plaza with trees, a few birds singing, passing salsa music, and sounds of people chatting and relaxing. That’s my spot. When I am researching, of course, it’s different: if I’m not working online on the above-mentioned sofa, I’m usually sitting at a table in a research library somewhere in the Caribbean, or in Cornwall.” – Sue Appleby, author of The Cornish in the Caribbean (2019)
“If I was to specify what path I’m on and what matters to me the most I think it would be inspiring people…I have a reservoir of information that I could then pass on.” –
‘I was literally born into the theatre. My parents met each other through the Antiguan drama company “Harambee Open Air Theatre”… and since then they have both always nurtured the love and appreciation for the arts, exposing me to varying types of performances, including visiting ensembles to the island, and performances whenever I traveled. I remember my father taking me to see Cats on Broadway at a young age…it was exciting, and just cemented the fact that that was what I wanted to do with my life … perform and create productions that would make people feel the way I felt as a child sitting in that theatre. My mom then enrolled me in a drama programme called Child’s Play, under renowned Jamaican dramatist and storyteller Amina Blackwood-Meeks.’ – Zahra Airall talking to The Uncaged Phoenix (2018)
Tim Tim Bwa Fik podcast discussion with Rilzy Adams part 2 (2022) – “When writing, where this was concerned, the one thing that I really wanted it to feel like and be like was Antiguan… I was very intentional with everything from the food choices to the music…but I also wanted them for the most part to be not necessarily heartwarming but …my general brand, for everything I write…Antiguan, full of love, and spicy.”
Tim Tim Bwa Fik podcast discussion with Rilzy Adams part 1 (2022) – “I started writing epic fantasy. I think that’s what I wrote for a very long time…but eventually I said to myself, well, this is what I like to read so I’m really confused as to why I’m not writng it and that’s when I started to segueing into trying my hand at writing romance novels.”
Glenroy Aaron participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Heather Doram, Emile Hill, Mark Brown, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): “To be honest, I have learned a lot more about the Antiguan aesthetic from this conversation than from my years of observing art in Antigua. I say this because there is so little indigenous Antiguan art to observe, and historic recording of it is also quiet faint. My art is basically an attempt to capture the beauty around me and the moments in which they occur. My techniques and methods continue to evolve as exploring New continues to excite. Forays outside my comfort zone to explore deeper emotions have produced interesting results; with some apprehension as to the commercial viability of such ventures. The balance between creativity and viability is tricky but can be done, as others have found ways to make it work. Themes and scenes indigenous to an artist’s place of birth will ultimately make its way onto an artist’s canvas but considering the fusion of influences and cultures that have existed on the islands for some time now, an Antiguan aesthetic may be a bit difficult to define. Further, holding that many view art as a visual expression of the artist’s thoughts and emotions, we can appreciate that some of these ideas and emotions may not be “local” in scope.” Read in full.
“When I was growing up there was the WPA…a programme the government set up for free schools in art and music for all the communities throughout the United States and my parents with six children…sent us all out to the free classes, so we were all painting and drawing and playing the piano… I was not able to get a scholarship (to art school) because they said it would be a waste to give a scholarship to a black person.” – Ashley Bryan talking to BBC Sounds about his early development as an artist.
Tammi Browne Bannister talking to David DaCosta (December 28th 2016):
“When I was little, I loved reading Aesop’s Fables and was attracted to the humor, the lessons, and the tragedies and of course the way these tales made me think about the characters long after reading. I’ve written a few.” Full interview.
Mark Brown participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Heather Doram, Emile Hill, Glenroy Aaron, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): “I view art making as a human activity which cannot be defined as mine or yours, and this is based on the type of work which I engage in. My work, in my mind, is about responding to stimuli, that act of engaging with my feelings about my environment, religion, identity, sexuality, all of which most, if not every human being faces at some point in life. As a result, for me Antiguan Art, like Art elsewhere, is individual voices singing their own tune. Of course we may use objects specific to our culture [that have] distinct meaning but many times these same objects may have a different name in another culture and [be] used in different contexts, but then it is also specific then to that locale. How else do we explain lending your voice in paint or any other medium to a specific issue in a way that you deem visceral and then later on somewhere else, Google for instance, you discover another artist on the opposite side of the globe exploring the very same idea in very similar ways. To me it is just the act of discovering, in visual format, that which is buried deep within with the ultimate aim of finding out the real reason for my being “here” and at this time.” Read the full discussion here.
Mark Brown (2015) on Popreel, Swedish TV: “The main aim of the Angel in Crisis series was to bring a sort of humanness to people like her (the nun), priests, people who have to bear that burden of conforming to what society expects of them.” Interview begins at 7:35.
Jazzie B. talking with Chris Williams for Wax Poetics (May 14th 2014): “’Keep On Movin’ actually came about lyrically because we were at the Africa Center in Covent Gardens, and we were being put under a lot of pressure by the police. It was due to the fact that other clubs in the area were empty and ours kept being full. Every so often, we would get the squeeze put on us. At one particular moment, they threatened to close us down. The whole concept of this song came from there.” Full interview.
“We shot this at Half Moon Bay and this was supposed to embody just light and sand and turqouise waters, and just playfulness and joy, like there was supposed to be an innocence to it because this is where you meet the Yemoja character and so this was really just about having fun and just playing with my body and the dress under the water and trying to imagine what Yemoja wuld have felt just being in clear chrystal blue waters.” – Christal Clashing discussing Yemoja’s Anansi in a February 2022 CREATIVE SPACE art and culture column
“Sometimes I try to have this hope that we have reached a stage where black people are not being treated unfairly and [this news] just dropped me into a rabbit hole again.” – Heather Doram (Daily Observer, 2021)
“In my current creative phase, I feel so invigorated, so inspired, so playful, and so expressive. As both an artist and a woman, I am exploring new spaces, taking on new challenges, transcending my past, and shaping my future.” – Heather Doram (2020 interview with findyello.com)
Heather Doram on Observer Radio in a discussion which also included Joanne C. Hillhouse, Barbara Arrindell, and Dorbrene O’Marde (October 2017): “My feeling is that I have lived under several administrations and I really do not get the feeling that there is that widespread support for the visual and performing arts…you just use them when you need them…we do not even have a national gallery in Antigua and Barbuda so we the artists are there producing work in sort of isolation. I’ve seen it in many other countries where the national gallery would commission work; this sort of spurs the whole generation and activity of work and then the artists start to feel that sense of involvement and that their art work can actually support them…the same thing I’m sure applies to the literary artist…something like the cultural development division should be that nexus of that sort of leadership, this is where the cradle is…I would really like to see more support for the arts generally.” Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.
Heather Doram participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Mark Brown, Emile Hill, Glenroy Aaron, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): “They were reactive and passionate. They were not satisfied with the realistic interpretation of the Antiguan landscape. They wanted to push boundaries, they wanted to produce work with the visual language of engagement with their audience. Many of their works responded to and explored social, political, gender issues and self. The younger generation sought to explore their roles as messengers in their visual language. I think artists like Mark [Brown], Emile [Hill], and Zavian [Archibald] can be included in this group. They are much more open to expressing themselves and exploring a range of media and techniques in their work.” Read the full discussion here.
Cray Francis talking with Good Morning Antigua Barbuda (April 5th 2016):
“I felt like I had to write my own stories.”
Claudia Ruth Francis talking with Italy’s Conoscere TV about her book Six Steps: An African-Barbudan-Caribbean Story (2022):
“I was very surprised when I realized that I was only six steps away from my ancestor who was on the slave registry in Barbuda.”
“It’s always a burning passion but it’s not a fruitful burning passion. You do the arts cause you love it and you have something you want to say.” – Gayle Gonsalves (2020) on ABS TV
“I’m a Caribbean poet foremost, I was not born in the BVI. I was born in Trinidad to a BVIslander father and a Trinidadian mother. His mother is Antiguan, her mother is Grenadian. He grew up in Guyana, and I grew up in the BVI. Because of that chain of connections, I think that the vibrations that drive my work are deep in the currents of this sea, those currents that touch each island – I would invoke that famous image of Brathwaite’s from ‘Calypso’, ‘the stone had skidded arc’d and bloomed into islands’.” – Richard Georges in Pree. 2018.
“As far as my poetic horizons go, I try to let the tides tug me along, and trust that they will take me where I’m meant to go. I thought I’d write a book of poems and then move on to spend some time experimenting with fiction, but poems seem to keep coming. I think I have to trust that.” – Richard Georges in Caribbean Beat. 2017.
Linisa George reads and talks about ‘In the Closet’, which was the Antigua and Barbuda Poetry Postcard for the UK series featuring works from the Commonwealth in time for the 2012 Commonwealth Games. “I’ve always been a poet…” she says, then explains the journey toward stepping in to that power. Link.
Joanne C. Hillhouse interviewed by Jacqueline Bishop for Jamaica Observer Bookends #InConversation series –
“Your books are all exceptionally written, and the stories pull the reader in. Once you start reading, it is very hard to stop. What specific techniques do you find yourself employing in your writing to hold the perspective of young audiences?
I would probably say character, curiousity, detail, surrender. I think those elements are there no matter what I’m writing. It’s all story. And when I’m writing, I’m discovreing the story. Character leads me in; when it’s flowing, they walk around with me, even when I’m not engaged with the page. When writing Lost! , for example, one reference point was the school playground; those early days when some children cry every day, like the world is ending, while other children look around in excitement, and new friendships are formed. That feeling is what I remember trying to capture when Coral and Dolphin first meet – not a jellyfish and seal, two kids in a foreign land (the playground, the sea) feeling each other out. The fact that my writing is typically visual and detailed is a plus in this genre. I lean into details – in terms of language, taste, all the senses, all the ways we are specific, and I don’t try to manage the writing. I fall into the flow of it. Then with each writing session, rip up some of the thread and begin to crochet again to find the pattern. Because writing is revisions and rewrites and tweaks and fiddling and every bit of uncertainty and playfulness that comes with that.”
One correction: On the second page where it says “where the lick”, it should say “were the lick” (from the Antiguan-Barbudan vernacular). Pointed out as the error changes the meaning of the sentence.
Joanne C. Hillhouse on ABS TV’s Good Morning Antigua Babuda for March 8th 2023 International Women’s Day –
“It actually started as a conversation between me and my nephew and his mother that became this sort of bedtime story.” (speaking of To be a Cheetah)
Tim Tim Bwa Fik podcast discussion with Joanne C. Hillhouse part 2 (2022) – “Part of it is that I knew that world: I was the girl with the guitar slung over her shoulder, going to practice, playing in the choir, being shy about it, being self-conscious about walking with the guitar..for me the interesting things were the kids discovering their love of art, and discovering their potential within the art space, and connecting with each other through art…and the instinctive urge to explore colourism in that space because it exists in our spaces, our Black spaces, our people of colour spaces, it exists, so all of those things were interesting to me; the romance, yes, but all of those other things as well.”
Barbara Arrindell and Joanne C. Hillhouse discussing creative writing on ABS TV’s Antigua Today (January 12th 2022) – “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is not for you to judge what you’re creating as you’re creating it. Let it be. Let it breathe. But part of what I’m doing in my current stream of workshops is now when you come back to the work, how do you begin to edit it, how do you being to redraft it? Because if you are serious about putting your work out in to the world, that is going to be a part of the process. And one of the things I always encourage budding writers to do is to begin to think of putting their work out in to the world. Whether it’s submitting to journals, or contests, or beginning the process of starting to query longer works that they wish to publish. But before you get to that point, once you get past the ‘just write’, once you get past the ‘let it breathe’, is beginning to dig in to the work and refine it, and begin to put it out in to the world.”
“One of the things that you grow up hearing in the Caribbean is girls shouldn’t climb trees because they going blight the tree, meaning that the tree not goin’ grow or not goin’ bear, so I wanted to put a girl in a tree; we need to break those sort of stereotypes. One of the magical things about children’s picture books is that they are what begins that process of socializing children in to who they are and who other people are.” – presentation by Joanne C. Hillhouse at Write the Vision’s Aspiring Authors and Writers Virtual Literary Event
“Even the idea of taking on an internship as a writer, because he’s an aspiring writer, is a luxury…you have to be able to support yourself in order to do an internship that can help you figure out this writing thing sometimes; so all of the things you need to feed the life that will allow you to do the creative thing is sometimes the biggest challenge.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse on taking on her first personal intern; just one of the things discussed in this conversation with Diaspora Kids Lit
Joanne C. Hillhousein conversation with Andy Caul of ACalabash: “To write those kids in Musical Youth, I reached back to my own teen-hood when I had my group of friends and I used to play the guitar. I used to go to guitar lessons, to play guitar in the choir. We went to fetes, Carnival, talent shows, walk-a-thons, the beach, we walked from school together. We had our clique. We had shared experiences. And I know in the reviews, they particularly commented on the Black joy in Musical Youth. And I appreciated that because that, in a way, was a joyful existence. The thing that people misunderstand about Caribbean life and Caribbean people is that while it can be very hard, marked by poverty and other things, it’s not just that. It is just life. It is love and laughter and we have some of the most inappropriate sense of humor when it comes to some of the darkness and the things that we joke about and the things that we find funny. So, yes, there’s poverty. Yes, there is political victimization. Yes, there is all the narratives but there’s also friendship, laughter, fun, music and all that stuff. I did not feel like I was writing against anything. It felt like I was just writing what was true.” (2021)
“I wanted her to be blacker, I wanted her to be on the dark-skinned side of the spectrum and I wanted her to be natural, have natural (hair) …because part of it for me …in the world of children’s picture books we don’t see enough people at the darker end of the spectrum, especially as characters that children can feel affection for and love and recognize themselves in.”
–Joanne C. Hillhouse in conversation with Trinidad writer-artist Danielle Boodoo Fortune in a World Book Day chat (2021) that involved audience questions.
“The Boy from Willow Bend is by any measure growing up in abject poverty and in an abusive situation, and yet there is laughter and yet there is love and yet there is hope and yet there is dreaming and fancifulness because that is life. Life is not just one thing. It’s a myriad of things, and so that’s what I try to capture of this young boy coming of age in Antigua in this particular time.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse is the first National Public Library Author of the Month in January 2021
“For me they were people first and, of course, I had to research just how the world of the underwater would move, what I would need to know about arctic seals, what I would need to know about jellyfish, what I would need to know about sea turtles. So there was a lot of research in that regard. But in terms of the voices of the characters, they were children. They wanted to play and explore the ship, and, of course, Dolphin the Arctic Seal wants to get back home so he can tell his own adventuring grandmother about his own Caribbean sea adventure.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse in 2020 self-made video on her own platform but with audience submitted questions for the #Catapultartsgrant (specifically a Catapult Caribbean Creative Arts Online grant). She answered questions submitted via social media about story, craft, theme in Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and all her books
“Songs are universal and you don’t even have to know the lyrics sometimes to feel it.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse discussing Musical Youth with gender advocacy group Intersect (2020)
“The first storytellers I knew were the calypso writers the Shelly Tobitts of the world,these were the people that taught me how to tell a story and how to tell Antiguan stories in particular.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse, ABS TV (2020)
Joanne C. Hillhouse interview on Caribbean Literary Heritage (June 2018): “Honestly, the first thing that flashed in to my mind is Antiguan and Barbudan calypso and Paul Keens Douglas – especially Tanty and Slim at the Oval – on the radio. Neither of which qualify as reading but which were foundational to my introduction to Caribbean literature. It’s there in Antigua and Barbuda’s King Obstinate’s Wet You Hand – a song which was fun and funny to me as a children and which I’ve used as an example of scene building and character description in my workshops, or in the way he knits the story of Anansi stealing the birds’ feathers into another of his songs – songs that did what Calypso did which was be bold-faced and satirical and reflective of our lives and our truth (especially the truths we didn’t dare speak) while bearing our unique brand of humour and matter of factness about life’s tragedies. It’s there in the writings of Shelly Tobitt – named for Romantic era poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; though I wouldn’t see the connection until college. A romantic idealist in his own right, or so his lyrics would suggest, as a child Shelly, the calypso writer and frequent collaborator of Antigua and Barbuda’s best calypsonian and inarguably one of the best the region has ever produced the Monarch King Short Shirt (who Dorbrene O’Marde writes about in his Bocas longlisted biography Nobody Go Run Me), was to me a poet who used the frustrations of the people to comment on economic, social, and political issues in a way that was deeply and enduringly philosophical, with melodies that captivated. So, the calypsonians and the oral tradition (including the jumbie stories) would have been my first reading of Caribbean writing.” Full interview.
“When Heather was culture director…I remember her starting a national collection where she commissioned pieces featuring Antiguan and Barbudan icons…what has become of that? What has been the continuity with respect to that national collection?… things like that, like you can have someone with a good idea start something… but there was no continuity, so if there’s no continuity it’s like you’re starting from scratch every time someone gets fired up and passionate about something so that’s the whole point…if you have that continuity then this person’s efforts will connect with that person’s efforts and we’ll have progression instead of starting from scratch every time…one of the things I do on the Wadadli Pen website is I have a project where I record the books that are put out and the plays and the songs that are put out by Antiguan and Barbudan creatives and there’s no shortage of stuff in the last 10 or so years, there’s a lot of people just feeling inspired and doing their own thing… there is stuff happening independently by artistes who feel inspired and creative but not by any system that’s giving them foundation or supporting their efforts.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse in conversation with Heather Doram, Dorbrene O’Marde, and Barbara Arrindell on Observer Radio (2017). Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.
Joanne C. Hillhouse talking to The Culture Trip (July 2017): “in The Boy from Willow Bend, Vere’s mother leaves Antigua for better economic and personal opportunities in the U.S., and Vere himself leaves at the end; in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Selena and her sisters move to Antigua from the Dominican Republic for better opportunities, and at some point one of the sisters moves away from there as well; in the story, ‘The Other Daughter’, the title character moves to the US for educational purposes. I don’t know if it holds significance to me (there are many stories in which people don’t leave) so much as being a reflection of the reality that movement is a part of the Caribbean existence—whether it’s to seek higher education, economic opportunities, or a different kind of life—the Caribbean diaspora (i.e. the number of Caribbean people no longer resident in here or in the Caribbean country of their birth) is significant. We are a region of small islands with intelligent and talented people, sometimes the desired opportunities to recognize our full potential or even the cover needed to brave the economic storms stirred up in bigger places isn’t there. So, it’s just a reflection of the reality, I think (but just one part of the reality that I write).” Full interview.
Joanne C. Hillhouse in the Meet the Writer series at Grab Life by the Lapels: “I just enjoy experimenting within the story writing form, short and long. Much of what I write is character driven and distinctively Caribbean with (I like to believe) universal resonance – because I do believe the stories that are about the human condition can cross over without having to be diluted.” Full interview. 2016.
Joanne Hillhouse in conversation with book blogger Geosi Gyasi (2015): “I don’t think about it like that. I just tell the story. Sometimes the protagonist is a child, sometimes a teen, sometimes an adult, sometimes an old person, sometimes a jelly fish named Coral. The writing is always character first, not audience. During the editing process that’s when I’m challenged, often by the assigned editor, to think about things like can the target age group for this picture book understand abstract thinking, do I maybe need to be more literal, more detailed, more specific, provide clearer resolution, like that.” Read the full interview.
Joanne C. Hillhouse on Popreel, Swedish TV (2015): “The characters come to me; they don’t always reveal their stories fully, so for me writing is a journey of discovery. I can’t always see where it’s going but I’m kind of wandering my way through it and trying to figure out what is it all about.” Interview starts here at 8:50.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t know any writers from here, from Antigua, until I discovered Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid; the writers from here that I knew, and I have great respect for them, were the calypso writers, people like Shelly Tobitt and Marcus Christopher, because when I was coming up, calypso was the literature that I would hear that had some relevance to my community, the other literature that we read was mostly from America or from Britain. So it was a while before I could wrap my mind around this idea that this was what I was called to do.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse (2015) on Bookworm, Swedish radio
Joanne C. Hillhouse talking to M. J. Fievre at the Whimsical Project (November 21st 2014): “Calypso, the calypso at that time, sang the things people were afraid to say and reflected the concerns and reality of the folk, authentically, in their voice, in a way that stirred spirits. I think there’s a part of me that strives for that in my writing.” Full interview.
Joanne C. Hillhouse talking to Commonwealthwriters.org (2014): “I use a lot of detail, a lot of specificity in rendering the world, and I write from a very character-driven place – Who are they? What do they want? What is their truth (don’t compromise on telling their truth)? Why should we care?” Full interview.
Joanne C. Hillhouse is interviewed by Jamaican publisher-writer for Susumba (2013): “Honestly, I think it comes down to the material. I see publishing as the end game not the first step. Develop your craft, read a lot, experience life, write; these are more important. And when you’re ready do your research… take your shot, and don’t give up.” Full interview.
Fiction. It challenges me and I fall in love with the characters and enjoy discovering the story. Poetry, because it’s my outlet; it’s not always about publishing, often it’s just about getting it out. This is the medium I use for that type of writing more than any other…for me, the most accessible, I guess. Though it is it’s own kind of challenge (technically). But I like all forms for different reasons.
Emile Hill participating in a virtual roundtable chaired by issue guest editor Joanne C. Hillhouse on Tongues of the Ocean along with Heather Doram, Mark Brown, Glenroy Aaron, and the now late X-Saphair King (October 2014): ‘Ok so I’m a bit of a texter (cell phone, social media etc.) and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself engaged in several conversations, all completely different subject matter and all requiring a different “Emile” to deal with each of them. And I think, in this day and age, this happens to most persons at some point in time. The series I’m working on presently deals with the “multi-sidedness” of human interaction and relationships. It’s caused me to ask myself some questions, looking at whether this is a means of masking the true self and why? Is Survival a reason? What makes us accommodate each other so, switching faces? Is the face we see real, fake (and sometimes, does it even matter)? With regards to the Antiguan and Barbudan aesthetic, I think that every artist’s contribution is one that continues to make up the grand tapestry of who we are and so I think it fits simply as a local artist’s perspective on things… another thread in the tapestry.’ Read in Full.
“There’s a piece that I did that I call ‘8-8-21’ that I wrote after teargas Sunday last year. I call it ‘Freedom 8-8-21’…it starts by saying, I think, ‘Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. When the youth are protest ready, they become revolutionary’. And it goes on from there and it just kind of encapsulates the entire Sunday, everything that happened that Sunday. Because I happened to be there. That was my personal experience. I was caught up in it. I was gassed as well… that piece means a lot to me not only because it was my experience but also it’s history, it’s chronicling what happened that day.” – Dotsie Isaac, in conversation with Joanne C. Hillhouse for CREATIVE SPACE
“No it was not difficult getting started because I was always writing” – D. Gisele Isaac on ABS TV. 2020. Full interview below.
Foster Joseph, jazz vocalist and musician, in conversation in 2021 with Joanne C. Hillhouse for CREATIVE SPACE –
Clifton Joseph in Never Apart: ‘…the first person to really encourage me into the writing/performing arts was an older man in my village of New Winthropes in Antigua, Mr. Murray, probably, visually, the most black, blackest person in “Blizzard” as we called our home on the northern coast of the island. I think I was around ten years old and in addition to singing the Antiguan calypso songs we heard on the radio, Mr. Murray would actually pay me a penny, or sometimes two-pence (we were still using the British colonial currency at the time) to make up my own “calypso” verses. The only snippet I remember from then are three lines: “in January they called me clinky, then in February they start to call me sebassie, and in June they start to call my cousin boone”…I have to give Mr. Murray maximum props for sparking that early interest in writing and performing.’ Full interview.
Clifton Joseph talking with Ian Ferrier (2007): “Hip Hop, Dub Poetry, Dancehall, Reggae all sort of come out of the same African inspired, Caribbean, American, emphasis on words, rhythm, repetition; all of those things pull from the same pool of stylistic influences.”
Tameka Jarvis-George interviewed about her comic series August by Jump magazine: “I wrote to escape everything I didn’t like and anything that made me uncomfortable. I love my fictitious world.” Full interview. 2018.
Naomi Jackson, a New Yorker of Antiguan and Barbadian descent, author of critically acclaimed novel The Star Side of Bird Hill, in conversation with Writing Home: American Voices from the Caribbean –
“The Caribbean was both this place of joy and possible exile.” Listen here.
Shabier Kirchner‘s Love Letter to Antigua, an interview with Penelope Bartlett on Criterion Collection: “We are very proud people and yet we are so underrepresented on-screen by ourselves. I think Ousmane Sembène said it best: If we continue consuming images solely from abroad, and telling the stories of other people or absorbing others’ perspective of us, we will eventually lose our identity—and I truly believe that. The Caribbean is my home. Our people are the most interesting to me, and I just want to share the truth of who we are through local eyes.” Full interview. 2020.
Shabier Kirchner talking to Caribbean Beat magazine about his film Dadli: “While I was shooting this test footage, there was no agenda. I wasn’t looking for a main character. We weren’t recording sound, so there weren’t any interviews. I was just walking around shooting things that were interesting. It wasn’t until many months later that we realised there was this boy who kept appearing in the footage. So Tiquan became the force behind the narrative. After we had an idea of what we wanted the film to be, we tracked him down and interviewed him.” Full interview. 2019.
“(Shabier) Kirchner: That’s Antigua’s old sugar factory. It’s been abandoned for many years; I used to go there as a kid. It was like Tarkovsky’s Stalker. You could completely lose yourself there, let the imagination would run wild. I always loved that place. Visually, I’ve been shooting it for years, and I knew I had to shoot it on 16. It’s a coincidence that Tiquan was talking about running away from home and finding a place where he could just let loose. It wasn’t that specific place for him, but I’m assuming it was similar. What he described was what the sugar factory was for me.” Full interview. 2018.
“I suppose that my work is always mourning something, the loss of a paradise—not the thing that comes after you die, but the thing that you had before. I often think of the time before my brothers were born—and this might sound very childish, but I don’t care—as this paradise of my mother and me always being together. There were times when my mother and I would go swimming and she would disappear for a second, and I would imagine the depths just rolling over her, that she’d go deeper and deeper and I’d never see her again . . . And then she would pop up somewhere else. Those memories are a constant source of some strange pleasure for me.” – Jamaica Kincaid conversation in the Paris Review, 2022
“Writing, it seems to me, depends primarily on a kind of chaos [so] that categorisation . . . only hinders the reader and the writer,” says Kincaid, explaining that she prefers to think in terms of “different forms” because “when I started to write, I just wrote”. – Jamaica Kincaid, from interview in the Financial Times, 2022
Jamaica Kincaid talking with the BBC (in an interview which also included Jacob Ross and Claire Adam, 2018): “I didn’t know I wanted to tell stories. I knew I wanted to write and I thought I wanted to write about my mother and me, and a lot of my writing is about mother and daughter. But really I could early on see before any critic, I may have pointed it out to critics, that I was really writing about imbalance of power. And the mother country and the domestic mother is quite intertwined. If you really give a cursory and then thoroughly investigation into colonialism, you will see how much the colonial world has to do with the domestic and the domestic is almost always the female domain.” Full programme.
Jamaica Kincaid talking with Mother Jones (January/February 2013): ‘I think I was trying to understand how, short of an accident—you know, you pick up the phone, he says, “Your mother is dead. Her car. The Earth fell”—I never expected the everyday to suddenly become an accident. Suddenly you go downstairs and the pine floor is a gravel pit. I was trying to understand how the everyday suddenly becomes the unexpected.’ Full interview.
Natasha Lightfoot talking with Renee Goldthree for Black Perspectives (April 4th 2016): “In the UWI archives, there was an almanac for the West Indies in the nineteenth century, and it contained an entry in the year 1858 for Antigua. The entry mentioned that there had been a riot and that the island’s jails were completely full, but it also claimed that the riot was nothing of any political significance. The entry suggested that the rioters were basically rabble in the streets causing trouble—and not at all political. That entry raised my antenna so to speak. I thought that the way the entry was written was a sign that whatever had occurred was very political: there had been a riot in the streets for several days and the jails were full of rioters. I wanted to figure out what happened and why.” Full interview.
Joy Lawrence in conversation with Joanne C. Hillhouse for Wadadli Pen (2013): “The history books we are familiar with are usually written from the European or American perspective. I want people to understand our story from our perspective – how we feel, our likes and dislikes, our goals and aspirations. No outsider can tell our story the way we can.” Full interview.
Joy Lapps talking with Joanne C. Hillhouse (December 2nd 2012): “I think that my strengths lie in composition and writing lyrics for music composed by others and by myself. My inspiration comes from my lived experience and some things I read about or see on the news, my spirituality and love of God, falling in love with my husband, the everyday challenges of life…etc.” Full interview.
“That’s the direction I want to go with my writing, where I want it to be a small Caribbean island, I want it to be genre fiction, category romance, in the Caribbean, because sometimes those are the books you want to read, you know, you don’t want to be thinking of the heavier literary fiction or whatever – sometimes you just want ice-cream.”
– Kimolisa Mings, CREATIVE SPACE interview, February 2023
“I was the representative for the Clare Hall Secondary school, my alma mater… I fell on stage…the crowd’s reaction was a mixture of *gasps* and laughs, and at that point I had to make a decision, ‘hey, you go continue or you go stop.’ Cause you can either be poor thing and people laugh at you for the rest of your life or you can act the shit out of this and make it worth it. And I stayed on that floor and I continued my entire performance from the floor. The next day, I was the front page article: If at first you don’t succeed, you try and try again . The next year, I was the billboard for the website. I had my own billboard on the road…which is something that is not normally given to an unplaced contestant…that experience that you would think would have deterred me or broken me down in some kind of way was something that opened a whole big spectrum to me as a person in terms of confidence and being able to think on your feet, you know, ‘you need to get this done, wha you go do.'” – Kevon Moitt, designer
(the self-produced documentary series was released in 2021)
Jelani ‘J-Wyze’ Nias, author of Where Eagles Crawl and Men Fly, talking about following his path to publication: “The biggest wall I encountered, not that there weren’t others, but the biggest was my own fear. And once you get through that fear/feeling of will people understand this, will people accept this, are people gonna see my vision, once you go through that then everything else tends to be a lot more easy to deal with.” – Watch the video.
Dorbrene O’Marde about writing Nobody Go Run Me about King Short Shirt (2022):
Noting that he had written the first chapter five years before beginning the book – “Writing is interesting in that sense…you start, you put it down, and sometimes you just don’t get back to it for a long long time unless something prods you, and it was this celebration of the 50th anniversary, that says ‘wow, I have written this thing here’.”
Dorbrene O’Marde in conversation with Heather Doram, Joanne C. Hillhouse, and Barbara Arindell on Observer radio’s BigIssues (2017): “We’re definitely not doing enough…you talk to groups today and mention Tim Hector …in schools, the name is not know; what he does has not been heralded…my interactions with young people…points to this particular void…history clearly is the subject of interest here, that we know who we are…the decisions about where we’re going will be made on the basis of that knowledge…if you understand the history of how we came to own these lands…then we wouldn’t behave the way we’re behaving, for example, with our land…” Read a transcription of the (2017) interview or listen to the interview.
Dorbrene O’Marde talking with Judd Batchelor at Batchelor of Arts Theatre Online (2016): “And one of the comments I made -which seemed to rattle some of the young writers, was the total absence of socio political concerns in this region, at this particular point in time when there is so much need for concern and there is so much need for understanding the post-colonial independence bind that we find ourselves in, that our leaders find themselves in that we as persons trying to inform leadership have not really clarified for ourselves. And my view of the role of the artist is to help in that clarification.” Full interview.
Althea Prince talks about her research and her writing with A Different Booklist bookstore in Canada: “We need to hear from women about their experiences, their creative journeys, so The Black Notes brought together older and younger women. The contributors include some young girls who are just reaching the age of maturity. The book seeks to bring together the two generations. We have then the viewpoint – not a complete cross-section of those, but as far as I was able – of those women and girls from the African-Canadian community. So the same objectives: the same business of giving equity, giving voice, allowing space for these voices to express their creativity. Some of it is non-fiction, some of it is fiction and some of it is poetry.”
Rowan Ricardo Philips talking with Deadspin about his tennis themed book The Circuit: a Tennis Odyssey: “Carribeans love racket sports. My dad played a lot, so I started out going to his matches and serving as a terrible ballboy. The only thing we watched as a family on television was tennis, Breakfast at Wimbledon was big in my house. I had forgotten about those days, but I am fond of them. I never would’ve written the book without it. Here’s a good example: My dad rarely calls with breaking news, but one day he rang me up and said, ‘Turn on the TV, there’s a tennis poem being read on the air.’ It was Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated encapsulating his time at one of the big tournaments. Dad wanted to make sure I saw my personal Venn Diagram becoming one circle.” 2019.
Rupert Littleman Pelle, final interview, with the Cultural Development Division Research Department (2021): “I never believe I write a good song until I hear somebody criticize it. If I write a song and we can’t sit down in a group and discuss the song, and add and subtract, something wrong with the song, something definitely have to wrong with the song. And you can’t just change a line in a song like that. You write a song and somebody take it and they change a line can destroy the whole song. Because you na know what is leading up to the second verse or the third verse that have to do with the line in the first verse that you interfere with.”
Paul ‘King Obstinate’ Richards: “We’re prophets; a lot of things we write about comes true.” (King Obstinate on calypso, September 2013)
“…my little house is my own piece of paradise and it’s very conducive to creativity because it’s so peaceful and quiet. Singles’ Holiday and Sweet Lady are set on the island, and I’ve also developed a writing career over there. I wrote a TV series called Paradise View, which was shown on Antigua TV. When I last left the island, the people at the check-in desk were asking when they would get to see more. I’m now working on another show called Maisie and Em, which I describe as Golden Girls set in the Caribbean.” – UK writer Elaine Spires who made Antigua a home away from home speaking to Write’s Editing Services on the impact of island living on her writing
“They were great times – with the most amazing, talented, creative, strong, wonderful women. Their writing and innovative theatre pieces were daring and searingly truthful and just blew me away. I was honoured to be asked by Zahra Airall one of the founder members of Women of Antigua to write a piece for their show When A Woman Moans. I wrote the first Maisie and Em sketch which I performed as Em with my great pal Heather Doram taking the role of Maisie. Heather is an internationally famous artist and actress who has since become a TV host. The sketch brought the house down which was rewarding and humbling and so I was invited to write for them again the following year. It was a thrill and honour to be a part of it.” – Elaine Spiresspeaking with The Publish Hub
“One of our goals was to have the Cultural Division of Government fully support this organization and work alongside us and our artists. A fraction of that goal has been achieved as the Festivals Division recently came on board to sponsor our signature event, The Ink Project.” – Spilling Ink, for CREATIVE SPACE. 2020.
“When I was growing up as a boy, they had great man like Quarkoo. He was good but he was not really my influence, so to say, to bring me to this point; but quarkoo was a genius in his days. I can recall he would sing on the latest murder. Anything happen, in a matter of an hour he on the street with a piece of paper selling it and making it very popular.” – Short Shirt, The Making of the Monarch
“What I’d like to see really is, to be honest, is not just for Halcyon but steelband in general, especially at Carnival time apart from panorama, the bands, they not that important. …You know before time steelband used to dominate the road and be an integral part of the whole Carnival thing. Now apart from panorama, after panorama, nobody waan here no pan again. …steelband will have to move to a next level, they will have to amplify the bands an’ dem.” – George ‘Scenty’ Thomas, former captain of Halcyon Steel Orchestra, on the occasion of the Grays Green band’s 50th anniversary, 2021
Amber Williams-King talking to the Toronto Arts Foundation: “The reality is that the voices, experiences and identities of those who are not a part of the dominant culture are often erased and disappeared away. As a Black femme who grapples with suicidal ideation, disability and the medical industrial complex, imagining myself in the future has, at times, been almost impossible. Art offered me the space to name these parts of myself, connect with others, and help build a world that does not thrive on the absolute destruction of me and my people.”
“You send the draft to the editor and you sit nervously for the next two weeks or how ever long …waiting for that email or that call…then you take the feedback, you kind of sit with it for a while, you think about it, then you try to work on another draft. Sometimes you agree, sometimes you won’t agree…it should be a conversation…it’s a dance back and forth that you have to be patient with, and, once again, give it some space, read the review, and give it some space before you go and work on the redraft.”
PHOTO credits: Pictures of Joanne C. Hillhouse and Joy Lapps are from the 2011 event Telling our Stories at the University of Toronto – event photo; of Tameka Jarvis George is from the 2006 Wadadli Pen/Museum literary showcase Word Up! – event photo/Laura Hall; of Jamaica Kincaid is from the 2014 University of the Virgin Islands literary festival – event photo; of Jelani Nias is a screen grab from a televised interview; of Nicoya Henry – event photo (credit unknown). Barbara Arrindell, Foster Joseph, Sonalli Andrews, and Floree Williams-Whyte video links are to Joanne C. Hillhouse’s CREATIVE SPACE vlog. Video links also pulled from ABS TV, Words Aloud, the Dan David Prize, Novek Designs, edwin1030, Petra the Spectator – this is believed to be within the realm of fair use – no copyright infringement is intended. Some of my own appearances on platforms by Write the Vision, Diaspora Kids Lit, Badass Black Girl, ABS TV, National Public Library, Intersect Antigua, and some videos produced for my AntiguanWriter YouTube channel are also included.
As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Fish Outta Water, and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.
I wanted to create a separate page for playwrights and screenwriters. You won’t find these in the listing of Antiguan and Barbudan writers or any of the genre listings, unless they’ve written books. This list refers specifically to contributions as writers for screen and stage, and specifically to productions which have had a public viewing. It is a work in progress, so please inform me of any errors/omissions/oversights. T’anks.
Antiguan & Barbudan Theatre – a brief background (source: The Cambridge Guide to Theatre edited by Martin Banham) – “A party of amateurs opened Antigua’s first theatre in 1788…visiting companies came for a week’s run, their performances reinforced by local actors. The West India Sketchbook (1835) mentions a theatre in Antigua with amateurs performing Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer along with a PANTOMIME called Harlequin Planter, or The Land of Promise. This latter – containing ‘aboriginal savages’, their evil spirit Maboya, white settlers, black slaves [edit: enslaved Black people], Astraea, the goddess of justice, members of the Anti-Slavery Society, HARLEQUIN and Columbine – might count as one of the earliest pieces of native Caribbean theatre, dealing as it does with the local scene…Antiguans recall, from the 1930s, the OPERETTAS and MUSICALS presented by one Nellie Robinson of the TOR Memorial High School. In 1952 the Community Players were formed, causing a stir in local circles when, led by the drama tutor of the University of the West Indies, they created the village play Priscilla’s Wedding using local dialect…in 1967 the Antigua University Centre was established, with a 400-seat open-air theatre. Several short lived theatre groups sprung up at this time.” (p. 319) – bold and italics mine.
(Playwright?) – Rising from the Ashes (toured to Dominica, 1988). Performed by Popular Theatre Movement (“…started in village communities, where role-playing, discussion and creative play-making help to identify issues and suggest solutions” – The Cambridge Guide to African and Caribbean Theatre).
Eleston Nambalumbu Nambalala Adams – b. 1954. Founder, in 1979, of the Rio Revealers, which according to the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, Volume 2, the Americas Volume 2, his plays, referred to as “slapstick drama, have been taken to the islands of Montserrat, St. Martin, and St. Thomas.” The bibliography of drama in English by Caribbean writers, to 2010
compiled by George Parfitt and Jessica Parfitt indicates that he is believed to have authored 14 plays but could not confirm. Adams has been a teacher, reporter (Daily Observer newspaper), and minister of government, including a stint as culture minister. (listing lacks itemization of individual plays and year of first production – help fill the gaps if you can)
Zahra Airall – Airall has founded, written, and directed several theatre companies. Her Zee’s Youth Theatre produced the well-received School Bag (2009). In 2015, her adult company, Sugar Apple Theatre, teamed up with Dorbrene O’Marde for a revival of Harambee’s Tangled Web (read my reaction post). Sugar Apple Theatre returned with Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues (previously staged in Antigua by Women of Antigua of which she was a founding member and co-director) in 2019 (my review here).
It’s worth noting that Airall, a teacher, also took the winning local team (Antigua Girls High School) to the 2015 Caribbean Secondary Schools Drama Festival where she served as writer and director for their performance of her play The Forgotten. Read review/coverage of that outing here. She followed up this production with Whispers in Wallings which netted her and her Antigua Girls High School students best production, best direction, and a number of other prizes (8 overall) at the 2015 National Secondary Schools Drama Festival. She’s also taken youth theatre to other Caribbean countries e.g. in 2018, AGHS’ Honey Bee Theatre went on a UN sponsored tour to Turks and Caicos with her play Light in the Dark which was also performed domestically. In 2019, Honey Bee Theatre presented The Long Walk (reviewed here) in Antigua and again, that summer, at the Caribbean Secondary Schools Drama Festival, winning a plethora of prizes including best production, direction, and screenplay. Also in 2019, Honey Bee Theatre took on Derek Walcott, while Sugar Apple Theatre, after a triumphant 2019 outing with the revival of the Vagina Monologues, announced plans for an original production and its take on Shakespeare in 2020. Zahra Airall, a multi-National Youth Award winner, and Woman of Wadadli awardee for fine arts, was born in the theatre, figuratively speaking, as her parents were performers with Dorbrene O’Marde’s Harambee; and she won her first prize in 1992 at age 9 as the youngest person to submit to the Rick James Ensemble One Act Play Competition.
Antigua Community Players – This group was inaugurated in 1952. Musical dramas written and performed by the players include Priscilla’s Wedding (groundbreaking for its time as a benchmark in local theatre), Night Must Fall, Guest in The House, Outward Bound, See How They Run, Charley’s Aunt, A Christmas Carol, and Celebration in the Market Place – all collaborative pieces written by the Players. The group eventually morphed into a choral group well known for its folk music presentations and musical productions. Dame Yvonne Maginley (deceased as of 2019) was instrumental in this aspect, taking on the role of musical director in 1957. The Antigua Community Players’ first operetta was Betty Lou; annual concerts followed, and, in 1972, the Players produced Ballad Antigua, written by well known composer of Caribbean songs Irvine Burgie, and presented it in Antigua, Montserrat and in Guyana. Following the success of Ballad the Community Players produced Gilbert & Sullivan’s Mikado (in 1973), HMS Pinafore (in 1975 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the commissioning of Nelson’s Dockyard and in 1995 to mark the Players’ 43rd Anniversary), and Pirates of Penzance (in 1986). The Antigua Community Players performed at the 1982 World’s Fair in Tennessee, and, in 1984, during the 150th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the city in Rochester, New York and also in the Annual Lilac Festival. The Players have performed in New York; Miami; Washington; Toronto; London Ontario, Canada; Birmingham and Leicester; the News Day Parade in London, England; Syracuse; St Croix; and St Thomas. As musical director, Dame Yvonne Maginley composed many songs over the years that have added to the Antiguan and Barbudan catalogue of folk music.
Antigua Dance Academy – Antigua and Barbuda’s premier Afro-Caribbean folk dance group since 1991, ADA has put on several productions that have included drama scripted by members of the troupe. This includes, as part of ADA’s Out of the Drum folk rhythm festival, a 2008 street theatre presentation on national hero King Court/Prince Klaas/Tackey’s rebellion with guest performances by Nevis’s Rhythmz Dance Theatre and Trinidad’s Shashamane recreating, respectively, plantation fieldwork and African stick fighting. Francine Carbey, as the ADA’s resident drama tutor and artistic director, is, with founder Veronica Yearwood, the force behind these dramatic turns. Other members have contributed plays to ADA productions – e.g. Samantha Zachariah who wrote her first play for the group in 2010. Read more on ADA.
Barbara Arrindell – Call Me Klass (1998) – based on and inspired by the life of National Hero and leader of an aborted 1736 uprising of enslaved Africans in Antigua and Barbuda Prince Klaas/King Court/Tackey. Initially staged as a Black History Month fundraiser.
Dreams…Faces…Reality (2001). The play tells the story of a healthy young man whose life is turned upside down following a routine physical which showed that he was HIV positive. Arrindell was author and director. Stagings included an initial 2001 World AIDS Day performance by the Optimist Club of St. John’s Youth Drama Group, a 2002 Black History Month performance, several 2003 stagings, including one in Anguilla, by the Optimist Club at the Pares Secondary School. Between 2005-2006, it was staged over 15 times by the Friends Hotline for Youth to stir conversation among secondary school students in Antigua and Barbuda. Another drama group performed select scenes in 2007 at churches across the island to reduce the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS. It has been adapted for radio broadcast, running for several years on Observer Radio in the build-up to World AIDS Day.
Barbara Arrindell speaks with the audience after a performance of the AIDS themed ‘Dreams…Faces…Reality’ performed by the Optimist Club of St. John’s Youth Drama Group
Jamian Benta is a teacher and his productions seem to be primarily in the area of secondary school productions. As an english teacher at Pares secondary, he took the students to the National Seconday School Drama Festival with his first production A Mother’s Heart. At his second school Clare Hall Secondary, he formed the Dramalites. His other plays include Problem Child, Village Boy, Family Jumby, and A Tale of Massa’s Wine.
Edson Buntin –Anu Bantu: Treasure Island and Haunted Park (published). Dramatist, instructor in French at the Antigua State College; his contributions to theatre have been both onstage and off, as an actor including serving as a cast member in the 1979 production of Dorbrene O’Marde’s Tangled Web and as founder of the Scaramouche Theatre and overseeing several productions at the College, such as Conjugal Bliss. Plays written by Buntin include Con Man Sun Sun, Mr. Valentine, and Wedlock. He has also acted in local films such as Once in an Island. (Dates unknown – help fill the blanks if you can)
Child’s Play – this is a youth theatre group formed in 1992 by Jamaican dramatist Amina Blackwoods-Meek (as mentioned in this youtube video). She was also the founder, as noted on her website, of Zebra Theatre Group in 1987, also in Antigua and Barbuda. No details as yet re original productions but wanted to document their place on the theatre scene for the record.
David Edgecombe – (Edgecombe passed in November 2021, RIP) Edgecombe, a theatre and public speaking lecturer at the University of the Virgin Islands, is not Antiguan and Barbudan but his play Lady of Parham (shortlisted as of 2015 for the Guyana Prize for Literature), published by Caribbean Reads (2014), is set in Antigua and based on the mystery surrounding the ghost of Parham. Per the Caribbean Reads description, it “introduces the audience to five revellers who have come together to form a Carnival troupe but settle for dramatizing the tale of the Parham ghost. In the telling of the ghost legend, Justin, Tulip, Sauna, Kyle, and Mabel must confront the demons that threaten to derail their lives.” Lady of Parham premiered in St. Thomas and has since played in other Caribbean countries like Dominica and Montserrat, where Edgecombe was a founder of the Montserrat Theatre Group. His other works (unrelated to Antiguan and Barbudan theatre – to the best of my knowledge) include For Better For Worse, Making It, Coming Home to Roost, and Heaven.
Gus Edwards – b. 1939 in Antigua and raised in St. Thomas, he moved to New York in 1959 – his plays have been showcased by the Negro Ensemble of NY among other companies across the US. Initially, a protégé of Stella Adler, he worked as an actor in films and on stage. But limited by his accent, he began writing his own material. These included The Offering (1977), Black Body Blues (1978), Old Phantoms (1979), These Fallen Angels (1980), Weep Not for Me (1981), Tenement (1983), Manhattan Made Me (1983), Ramona (1986), Louie and Ophelia (1986), Moody’s Mood Cafe (1989), Lifetimes on the Streets (1990), Restaurant People (1990), Tropicana (1992), Frederick Douglass (1992), Testimony (1993), Confessional (1994), Dear Martin, Dear Coretta (1995), Slices one-acts (1996), Drought Country (1997), Night Cries (1998), and Black Woman’s Blues (1999). Most of his plays are reportedly set in “the slums and ghettoes of New York…his characters often exist outside of the boundaries of what is thought to be appropriate behavior in society.” (Notable Caribbeans and Caribbean Americans: a Biographical Dictionary, p. 157). His works for television include Aftermath (1979) and a TV adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel Go Tell It on the Mountain. He also wrote narration on the Negro Ensemble Company for PBS. Though self-taught, the critically acclaimed playwright has taught theatrical writing at several US colleges and became associate professor of theatre at Arizona State University, directing where the multi-ethnic theatre and teaching in the film studies programme. In 2000, he was appointed artistic director to the Scottsdale Ensemble Theatre in Scottsdale, Arizona. “He has published Classic Plays of the Negro Ensemble (1995), Monologues on Black Life (1997), and More Monologues on Black Life (2000). Several of his plays have also been published… Gus Edwards is one of the first Caribbean writers to contribute to American theatre.” (Notable Caribbean and Caribbean Americans: a Biographical Dictionary, p. 158)
Lonne Elder – Ceremonies in Dark Old Men (1971) – performed by the Open Air Theatre.
Oliver Flax – A Better Way (1976) – directed by Edgar Davis – and The Legend of Prince Klaas (1972) – the latter of which was sent to be performed at Carifesta in Guyana in 1972. Performed by Bobby Margetson’s Little Theatre.
Linisa George – one of the writer/directors and producers (as part of Women of Antigua) behind the production When a Woman Moans (below). Brown Girl in the Ring, a poem from that production has become a significant part of her brand (as a publication aesthetic) and has been performed at different fora including the CARA Festival in Antigua in 2009 , the 2012 Poetry Parnassus in London, and, after publication in a special Antigua and Barbuda edition of online journal Tongues of the Ocean, Shakespeare in Paradise, 2015, in the Bahamas.
Tom Green – Tom Green is British, not Antiguan, though he did lead a masterclass on playwriting here in Antigua and is listed here because of a play of his that is based in Antigua. The play is entitled Antigua and it is the story of bestselling writer Katherine Sampson, whose second book is overdue by two years when her agent sends her to the Caribbean with instructions not to return without a finished manuscript. In Antigua, she meets an enigmatic American be-devilled by his own problems. This play was first produced at the Tabard Theatre in London in 2006. Green’s other plays (unrelated to Antigua and Barbuda – to the best of my knowledge) include The Death of Margaret Thatcher, A Place in the Sun, and Talking in Bed.
Joanne C. Hillhouse – known, primarily, as a fiction writer/published author, but some of her first public writings were plays: e.g. Barman’s Blues, not staged but joint second placed winner (her first creative writing prize) in the Rick James Theatre Ensemble One Act Play Competition in 1992; Changes (Sisters and Daughters), Hillhouse’s first full length play, staged in 1990, by the State College Drama Society one of two done while she was a student at the Antigua State College; and Trials of Life, showcased as a Taylor Hall entry in dramatic competition at the University of the West Indies while she was a student there (sometime between 1992 and 1995). The actress in that play received honourable mention. Several of her poems were incorporated into scripts for stagings of Women of Antigua’s When a Woman Moans in the early aughts. Hillhouse who has scripted documentaries, ads, and public service announcements for clients or as part of public education programmes, on the creative tip had her (short) screenplay, Is Like a Like It, excerpted in The Caribbean Writer Volume 27 in 2013.
Cleopatra Isaac, Paula Henry, and Darleen Beazer -co-scripted Journey to Heaven which was performed by participants in The Young Leaders programme at Sir McChesney George Secondary School and members of the Barbudan community. (article published April 10th 2006 in the Daily Observer)
The play, performed in 2006 in Barbuda and Antigua, focused on a young man’s gradual understanding of repentance and forgiveness ‘after death’, and explored the concept that no more than 6 degrees of separation exists between people, meaning an individual’s actions always affects the lives of others. The actors were Devon Warner, Tenesha Beazer, Salim Cephas, Adonia Henry, and Leona Desouza. “Shaping the Future” was the theme of the 2006 Young Leaders’ project, and it encompassed cherishing life, embracing family values, and respecting one another. In the play, the value of respect is addressed in drama, dance, and song, using all aspects of the arts to embrace a vision.
Owen Jackson – As writer/director with the National Youth Theatre, Jackson produced several plays including After 9/11 (2007) and My Birthright (2007). (entry incomplete – help fill in dates and other productions if you can)
Owen Jackson taking high school students through a drama warm up exercise.
Youth drama club – tableau in downtown store window … and attracting a small crowd doing it
George ‘Rick’ James – deceased September 2018. Various plays including the one man play Oulaudah Equiano (1990) about “the engrossing story in living detail of an Igbo prince, his enslavement, and freedom” (book summary), Gallows Humour in 2005, and 2007’s Our Country, timed to coincide with the bicentenary of the abolition British Empire Atlantic Slave Trade, and unique for telling, on a stage constructed in the open air of the King George V grounds, drawing a vast cast from a mixed pool of local professionals who were amateur thespians, and tracking the life of Antigua and Barbuda from pre-Columbian times to present.
Our Country: an arawak chief Our Country: Slave ship scene
slaves at market
His Rick James Ensemble encouraged young and future Antiguan and Barbudan writers like Zahra Airall and Joanne C. Hillhouse through its One Act Play Writing Competition. James was also an actor in US and especially British theatre and television
James performing in Sit Quietly on the Baulk
for many years, and an award winning costume designer in local mas.
Colin Jno Finn – playwright and director with the Nazarene Drama Team – On the Block (2008) of a young man’s struggles with the church; Nine to Five (2009) about challenges in the work place; It’s Too Late (2010) of a strained relationship between a father and son; and Power Struggle (2011) of one person’s attempts to boost another from office. Read my review of Power Struggle here.
Jamaica Kincaid – Her 1998 book A Small Place was staged at the Gate Theatre in London in 2018 in what was described as so faithful an adaptation that the text is performed entirely in its original form.
Edgar O. Lake – Some Quiet Mornin’; Matters of Antiguan Conspiracy: 1736; The Stone Circle; The Killing of Arthur Sixteen; more… (incomplete + unsure of publication production status + dates unknown – help fill in dates and other productions if you can)
Iyaba Ibo Mandingo – ‘He is a Poet, Painter, Writer, Sculptor, Actor, Teacher, Mentor, Author and “continued work in progress”, as he puts it…His Self-Portrait, a one-man play performed in his studio, speaks of his life through poetry and prose, concurrent to him painting his self-portrait during the show.’ – from this interview with the artiste which also references his chap books (41 Times and Amerikkkan Exile), his company (Iyabarts), his art series (War, Spirit Drawings), in addition to his plays (Self-Portrait which has grown into unFRAMED, his first full length play), and forthcoming work (novel Sins of My Fathers, chap book 30 Days of Ink, ad the off Broadway run of unFRAMED). As his biography shows, he is a native Antiguan who migrated to the U.S. as a boy. These roots as well as his experiences in America infuse unFRAMED as seen in this excerpt.
Andrew O’Marde – O Lord, Why Lord? and Tell It Like It Is with Harambee Open Air Theatre.
Dorbrene O’Marde – – synonymous with quality theatre in Antigua and Barbuda in theatre’s heyday (i.e. the 1970s to early 1980s), his Harambee Open Air Theatre (a 1972 merger of the Grammarians and the University Centre’s Open Air Theatre) is “considered the most important group of recent times” (from The Cambridge Guide to Theatre by Martin Banham). O’Marde is a graduate of the Antigua Grammar School, UWI Cave Hill, University of Toronto, and Tulane University where he obtained a Masters of Public Health. He has been credited as a playwright, director and producer of theatre and music, newspaper/magazine columnist, public speaker, and calypso writer, judge and analyst. His involvement in calypso has included crafting hits for artistes like Scorpion, Stumpy, Singing Althea, and others; though his biggest contribution to the art form is arguably the seminal Calypso Talk magazine, an annual chronicle of the art and the issues surrounding the art. He also wrote Nobody Go Run Me, the biography of Antigua and Barbuda’s Monarch King Short Short, which was longlisted for the 2015 Bocas prize, in addition to the novel Send Out You Hand.
O’Marde’s career in theatre began with the Antigua Students Association in 1965 (You the Jury, Devil’s Advocate, Androcles and the Lion – English classics). Jezebel (1955) and Star Bomber (1962) are credited as two of his earliest works. His involvement in theatre continued, between 1968 and 1971, with the Cave Hill Drama Group (UWI, Barbados) when other theatre notables like Dominica’s Alwin Bully, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Clement Bouncing Williams, and St. Lucia’s Robert Lee were all students.
O’Marde was a member of the Theatre Information Exchange (TIE) and the Eastern Caribbean Popular Theatre Organization (ECPTO) and was involved in cultural research with both these organizations. He formed Harambee in 1972.
In addition to directing plays by other notables from the Caribbean theatre scene and beyond, O’Marde wrote and directed Homecoming, For Real: A Caribbean Play in Three Acts(1976), Fly on the Wall (1977), Fire Go Bun, For Real, We Nativity, The Minister’s Daughter – which was adapted from the novel of the same name by Nigerian writer Obi Egbuna, We Nativity – which included songs by Antiguan and Barbudan lyricist Shelly Tobitt, Tangled Web (1979), Badplay (1991 for the Family Planning Unit), and This World Spin One Way (1998); and directed several others. Read more about his work in calypso and on the stage, plus his other cultural work in BIOGRAPHY deo 2010 . Tangled Web, according to the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, Volume 2, the Americas, Volume 2, prompted the government to legislate against civil servants participating in plays critical of the government.
Before going dormant in the late-eighties, Harambee took productions to Montserrat, St. Kitts, Dominica, Barbados, St. Thomas, and Saba.
O’Marde has returned with a couple of productions since then, notably 1998’s This World Spin One Way – which has also had stagings by directors Jean Small, Director UWI Creative Arts Centre, and David Edgecombe, Director Reichhold Centre, and a revival of Tangled Web with Zahra Airall’s Sugar Apple Theatre in 2015. He also lent technical support to Women of Antigua’s first staging of the Vagina Monologues in 2008. Read my review of This World Spin One Way. Read my ‘review’ of Tangled Web. (some dates still missing + full listing – help fill in dates and other productions if you can)
Sislyn Peters – One of her plays, Trust, was adapted by the City College of New York’s English Department, Division of Humanities & Arts, and performed at the Aaron Davis Hall, in 2001. Peters was born in Antigua and graduated Princess Margaret High School. As a child, she wrote verses, and short stories. As a teenager, she sang with local bands, including Pat Edwards’ Playboys, and Vere Anthony’s Teen Stars. See poetry for her other accomplishments.
Eustace Simon – several plays including Crossroads, The Awakening, Betty’s Hope, and Illusive Dreams. 1990s. Modern Theatre. 2000s. National Theatre Group. Announced launch of a National Theatre channel on CTV in 2012. (dates missing + full listing – help fill in dates and other productions if you can)
Lester Simon – Obeah Slave (taken in 1969 by the Grammarians to Montserrat and Barbados).
Monique S. Simon – The Antigua-born, US-based writer adapted Adynah from a novel-in-progress, which has been illustrated, excerpted and published in Carib Beat, and which won a NY Council on the Arts Award for (First Chapter of a Novel in Progress) and a Cropper Foundation grant. The play was based on one of the book’s character’s Adynah Williams, described as the kind of local cook whose delicacies are sold from her house on weekends and who is first to be called for catering a local event. The story was produced as a three vignette play for Know Theatre in New York in the Fall of 2003. Simon scripted and directed voices of Caribbean people living and working in the area, pre-recorded and editing those voices so that they could provide off stage interaction during the one-woman show. Simon not only wrote, directed, and starred in the play, she designed the set – all while working as a full time professor at Broome Community College in Binghampton, NY.
Elaine Spires – Elaine is from Essex in the UK and in the 2000s, after years of bringing tours to Antigua, also established a seasonal home here. She’s run workshops in Antigua and participated (as writer and actress) in Women of Antigua’s When a Woman Moans. She’s also created content for the stage and screen, some inspired by and set in Antigua. Her Adventures of Maisie and Em (later adapted to film with Spires playing Em and Heather Doram playing Maisie, characters debuted on stage in When a Woman Moans). Her Antigua plays include Singles Holiday, about a group of vacationing Brits, which was adapted in to a novel and then had a third life as a play on the English stage (2014), and Sweet Lady, about a mother and daughter and an island tryst, which was staged in Antigua before also becoming a novel. (missing dates – fill in if you can)
Stage One – This youth drama collective led by Kanika Simpson-Davis favours adaptations (which involves some re-scripting) of popular tales like Cinderella , Snow White, and Anansi and Snake. 2004 – present (?)
Stage One: Anansi and Snake
Stage One: Cinderella Reloaded 2007 Stage One: scene from Cinderella
Leon Chaku Symister – Voices of Protest (1976); and Time Bomb (1977); Tilting Scales (1980). Third World Theatre. According to the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, Volume 2, the Americas, Volume 2, it was thought to be too libelous for public airing but played to crowded houses at the University Centre.
Various writers – Women of Antigua – playwrights/actresses/directors Linisa George and Zahra Airallshepherd this femalecentric brand of theatrical activism. The original production When A Woman Moans was staged in 2010 and 2012, and mostly scripted by Airall and George with inputs from Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Floree Williams, Greschen Edwards (another WOA founding partner), Melissa Elliott, Marcella Andre, Carel Hodge, Mickel Brann, Brenda Lee Browne, Craig Edward, Nekisha Lewis, Kimolisa Mings, Elaine Spires, and Jihan Lewis. Women of Antigua debuted with Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues in 2008 and this locally conceived, similarly themed production, was its successor. Both productions over two nights brought the curtain downon WOA’s theatrical activities in 2012.
Vaughn Walter – deceased as of 2019. Culture Director and head of Antigua and Barbuda’s CARIFESTA planning committee. Active in theatre and film, and in staged productions for pageants and festivals through the years. (entry incomplete – if you can help fill it out email email@example.com)
Amber Williams-King – In 2010, Amber Williams-King participated in the AMY (or Artists Mentoring Youth) project, helping to create Step Right Up which received 3/4 stars from Toronto’s NOW magazine. In 2011, she wrote a play: Love and its Dialects which ran in the Paprika Festival at Tarragon Theatre in Canada where she resides. In 2010, she received first-honourable mention in the Scarborough Arts Council’s inaugural Writer’s Month literary competition. Her poetry has been published in the anthology Holla! A Collection of Womenz Wordz and in So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End.
Zahra Airall – When No One Is Looking (2012, short film, an ABS TV Production in collaboration with the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS) – also co-director.
Howard Allen (also co-producer/director) – (w/Jermilla Kirwan) Diablesse (2005, HAMAfilms); The Skin (2011, HAMAfilms) – reviewed here; and Deep Blue (2023, HAMAfilms).
Alexis Andrews – Vanishing Sail – here’s the trailer. Winner of the Caribbean Spirit Award for Best Overall Feature at the Caribbean Tales awards and People’s Choice for Best Documentary at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival.
Oteh Thomas Anyandjuh (African born, resident in Antigua) – Love that Bites (2010, OTA Entertainment and Third Eye Studios) – also director.
*** Shashi Balooja (also an actor, director, casting director, and producer on stage and screen; from Antigua but resident in the US) – w/Cecile George and Michael Sandoval, film short Ariana (2004, ABC Film & Video/Andrisk Inc/Media at Large, USA); w/Roger Sewhcomar, documentary The Altruist (2009, Media at Large/ABC Film & Video, USA); w/Caytha Jentis Exposed (2012, Media at Large, USA) – winner feature film award and genre award at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival; w/Stephen Kelleher, film short Promises of Home (2012, Media at Large/Reverse Momentum Films, USA). Balooja had plans to extend Ariana into a feature film.
Francoise Bowen conceived and wrote Back to Africa (directed by Anderson Edghill) which she described as a “short documentary (depicting) a little piece of Antigua and Barbuda’s history (specifically that enslaved people thought Africa was nearby). Bowen went on to found the Francoise Acting Studio which, among other things, has run workshops and produced The Story of Four (a video series promoting safe sex).
Centelia Browne – Idle Hands – (A Wadadli Plus production, a short film). Credits say ‘A Film By’ which is usually the director credit and there is no separate screenwriter credit. 2019.
Courtney Boyd – The Grove – (A Wadadli Plus production with C-BEN Pictures, a Nut Grove Production – web series pilot written and directed by Boyd who also directed other Wadadli Plus productions such as The Diagnosis) – 2019.
Sadé Clacken Joseph – Ponyboi (2019) is described as the world’s first intersex-made narrative film. It is co-directed by Clacken Joseph and River Gallo, who stars, as their graduation project. Clacken Joseph is from the Bronx, born to Antiguan and Jamaican parents. Sadé, at this writing (2021), is directing Issa Rae’s Rap Shit. Ponyboi can be viewed on Sadé‘s site (click her name). Other director credits include shorts What to Expect (2015), Hats (2017), Finding Phoebe (2019), Samir (2019), and more.
Cinque Productions (Chris Hodge and Melissa Gomez, also producer, director) –Deaf Not Dumb (2000, short fiction film), 2 Dolla Picture
Melissa assessing a shot as her camera man looks on.
(2001, animated short), Share and Share Alike (2008, documentary – 2010 winner of Best Documentary Production at the Berlin Black International Cinema Festival), Changing Course (2009, film short), and Silent Music (2012, documentary) silent-music-poster co-writer/producer/editor Jay Prychidny. Silent Music, a portrait of Gomez’s deaf family won Best Documentary at the 2014 Maine Deaf Film Festival and the 2012 Caribbean Tales Film Festival, as well as the Audience Choice Awards at the 2013 Toronto Deaf Film & Arts Festival. Gomez, resident in the US, also has a project known as the Baby Mini Doc Project which creates day in the life documentaries which capture “every day moments and milestones with your littlest ones”. Melissa has worked on a number of other projects in the US, including co-producing Makers (PBS) and Nine for IX (ESPN), producing behind the scenes content for Hell on Wheels and Low Winter Sun (AMC), and serving as supervising producer on Me on My TV (FLOW). She has worked as a freelance production manager on advertising campaigns for H & M and Malibu Rum. Melissa has a Masters of Arts degree in Screen Documentary from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and a Bachelor of Arts in New Media from Ryerson University in Toronto.
Alvin Glen Edwards – Once in an Island
on the set of ‘Once in an Island’ Jermilla Kirwan in a scene from Once in an Island
(2009, Wadadli Pictures) – also producer. The feature film has since been adapted into a book (released 2012).
Bridgette Hanniford – My Time Now (A Wadadli Plus production, a film short directed by Melissa McLeish, 2020)
Roland ‘Mayfield’ Hosier – He didn’t work from a written script but he’s the pioneer behind Antigua and Barbuda’s earliest forays into (largely improvised) film production producing The Fugitive, 1972, and Midtown Robbers, 1978.
Noel Howell – He was the co-writer (with Courtney Boyd), director and producer of Redemption of Paradise (2009, Color Bars Production) – best actress and best Caribbean film at the 2010 Jamaica Reggae Film Festival; as well as a video producer and independent publisher on projects like Once in an Island (co-producer/co-director). In 2017, he also directed (per IMDB) a film adaptation of The Little Rude Boys/Girls, a child-written book he published in 2010.
D. Gisele Isaac –
The Sweetest Mango (2001, HAMAfilms); and No Seed (2002, HAMAfilms). Antigua and Barbuda’s first and second feature-length films. Isaac also wrote regularly for the stage in the form of the skits included in the annual (in the 2000s) ‘Programme’ put on by the Professional Organization of Women in Antigua and Barbuda; usually a political satire.
Tameka Jarvis-George –
Ugly – short film (2011, Wadadli Film Studios) for which she provided character monologue – 2011
On the set of Dinner, Tameka with her co-star and husband.
Jamaica Kincaid – Life and Debt (a documentary film by Stephanie Mack; written by Jamaica Kincaid). 2001. New Yorker Films. USA.
Shabier Kirchner – a cinematographer cum filmmaker with his short, Dadli (2018).
Jermilla Kirwan – (w/Howard Allen) Diablesse (2005, Hamafilms) – also actress in this and The Sweetest Mango.
Dr. James Knight – The Making of the Monarch – independently produced documentary on the Monarch King Short Shirt. 2013.
Lawson Lewis – Redonda: The Road to Recovery – Environmental Awareness Group executive produced documentary (with various international donor partners). 2022.
Motion (Wendy Brathwaite) –
Coroner (Canadian TV series) – Motion wrote Season 2’s ‘Borders’ in 2020 and Season 3’s ‘Eyes Up’. It earned her a 2022 Canadian Screeen Awards nomination for writing ‘Eyes Up’.
Rebirth of the Afronauts: a Black Space Odyssey (episode 7 of season 2 of Obsidian Theatre’s 21 Black Futures series) – New Year’s Eve 2059, the night before the long-awaited Reparations Day. Chariott receives a mysterious call that leads her on a curious ride through the world outside her bubble – where cities are sky high, curfew is in the streets, and it’s harder to tell hue-mans from the holograms. On this surreal road trip, she tunes into BlackSpaceX, along with a cadre of cryptic guides, finding herself on the astronomical journey of her life. Directed by Jerome Kruin, Performed by Chelsea Russell, with Music by NON. 2021.
Akilla’s Escape – the Antiguan-Canadian poet/writer co-wrote this feature with writer-director Charles Officer stars Saul Williams and explores what happens when a simple, routine drug handoff goes sideway, landing 40-year-old drug trader Akilla Brown in the middle of a violent robbery. Akilla must set things right and retrieve the stolen goods over the course of one arduous night. Akilla’s Escape debuted at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.
Nadya Raymond – The Diagnosis– (A Wadadli Plus production in association with Wadadli Creatives and C-BEN Pictures, a short film directed by Courtney Boyd). 2019.
Elaine Spires – Elaine is from Essex in the UK and in the 2000s, after years of bringing tours to Antigua, also established a seasonal home here. Her writing credits (Spires is also an actress) include the TV series Paradise View, the Lawson Lewis edited promotional film shorts The Adventures of Maisie and Em – episodes Fix a Flat and Best Friend(Spires playing Em and Heather Doram playing Maisie, characters debuted on stage in When a Woman Moans) –
the vid clips were posted to youtube in 2013. Her novel Singles Holiday was reportedly also made in to a TV pilot.
Chavel Thomas (credited as director; no writer credit is given) – Silence, Screams – short film (2016, Dotkidchavy x Jamzpari)
Nigel Trellis (born Guyana, resident in Antigua)– Hooked (2009, Tropical Films) Working Girl (2011, Tropical Films)
Unknown/Uncredited – The Guest (2020, short film by Wadadli Plus)
Various (Joel Lewis, Noah Yeboah, Destiny Simon, Delicia Howell, Shenika Bentick, Sheneilla Somerset: members of the Antigua and Barbuda Film Academy) – Don’t hit me Pickney (2022, short film, producer Dr. Noel Howell)
Keron ‘K-Wiz’ Wilson (credited as director; no writer credit is given) – The Date – short film (2013, Black Roots Records); Mechanic – short film (2013, Black Roots Records); Stationary – short film (2013, Black Roots Records)
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 excerpt, please credit the source. 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.