Tag Archives: Sharma Taylor

Carib Lit Plus (Early to Mid March 2021)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here)

Misc.

While Antigua and Barbuda is not specifically named, Antiguan and Barbudan writer Jamaica Kincaid is on this USA Today list of 100 Black novelists and fiction writers you should read… (that includes other Caribbean writers like Marlon James of Jamaica and Edwidge Dandicat of Haiti). Read the full list.

Thanks

The Wadadli Pen patrons list continues to grow in spite of challenging times – the latest pledges come from former Wadadli Pen finalist cum award winning writer Rilys Adams, Cedric Holder of the Cushion Club, and Diana McCaulay with her publisher Peepal Tree Press. They join celebrated Jamaican author Olive Senior, another past Wadadli Pen finalist Daryl George, new local writer Patricia Tully; plus Moondancer Books and the Best of Books. Additional books have also arrived from the year biggest donor to date Harper Collins UK. The Wadadli Pen Challenge gives writers and artists in Antigua and Barbuda until March 26th 2021 to respond to the Challenge to reflect and create. Readers also have to this time to #readAntiguaBarbuda and vote for their favourite books. Details here.

For more opportunities with pending deadlines check this link, and, because I’ve recently received requests for information re publishing, here too are links to the main Opportunities and Resources pages.

Reflection

I wrote about the death in December 2020 of Belizean writer Zee Edgell in the first Carib Lit Plus of the year. I’m revisiting her life to share a link to the review I posted in February of her book The Festival of San Joaquin which was one of my picks for my Black History Month #abookaday project.

I want to thank Trinidad filmmaker (Banyan Ltd.) Christopher Laid for giving permission to share the following Zee Edgell interview from the Second Conference of Caribbean Women Writers (1990). Access it by clicking the image below and using the password ‘zee’.

I also wanted to share an announcement from her daughter Holly, received via email from St. Lucian writer John Robert Lee (excerpted): ‘ST. LOUIS, Missouri — Zee Edgell, Belize’s foremost author of fiction, has died at the age of 80. She passed away on December 20, in her home after a battle with cancer. Born in Belize City, British Honduras in 1940, Mrs. Edgell was the daughter of the late Clive Tucker and Veronica Tucker (nee Walker). She was married to the late Alvin Edgell for 52 years. Together they raised two children: journalist Holly Edgell, 51, and physician Randall Edgell, 45. …Mrs. Edgell authored four novels and five short stories set in Belize, the only Belizean writer of fiction to do so. Her first book, Beka Lamb (Heineman 1982), is beloved in Belize and throughout the Caribbean. It has been part of school and examination curricula in the region and in other parts of the world since its publication. Mrs. Edgell received an honorary doctorate in literature from the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados in 2009. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies degree from Kent State University and earned a diploma in journalism from Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster). In 2007, she received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II, for her services to literature and the community. Among Mrs. Edgell’s many services to Belize was her founding of the “The Reporter” newspaper in 1967. In addition, she served as director of the Women’s Bureau (later the Women’s Department) under the People’s United Party and the United Democratic Party in the 1980s. Later, she was a lecturer at the University College of Belize (now the University of Belize). …After retiring from Kent State University as a tenured English professor in 2009, Mrs. Edgell moved to St. Louis, Missouri with her husband.’ (Source – re additional content – John Robert Lee via email)

New Books

The Caribbean Literature in Transition series from Cambridge University Press has dropped – electronically in December 2020 and hard copy in January 2021. Its authors are:

Evelyn O’Callaghan, professor of West Indian Literature, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, and author of writings on women’s writing, early Caribbean narratives and more recently, ecocritical readings of Caribbean landscapes in visual and scribal texts. She has edited early Caribbean novels such as Antiguan and Barbudan writer Frieda Cassin’s With Silent Tread. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of West Indian Literature.

Curdella Forbes, professor of Caribbean Literature at Howard University and award winning fiction and non-fiction writer. She serves on the editorial advisory board of JWIL and Anthurium. Her most recent work of fiction is A Tall History of Sugar (Akashic 2019, Canongate 2020).

Tim Watson, professor of English at the University of Miami and author of several books on Caribbean culture and writing.

Raphael Dalleo, professor of English at Bucknell University whose most recent book, American Imperialism’s Undead: The Occupation of Haiti and the Rise of Caribbean Anticolonialism (2016), won the Caribbean Studies Association’s 2017 Gordon K. and Sibyl Lewis Award for best book about the Caribbean. He serves on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of West Indian Literature.

Ronald Cummings, associate professor of Postcolonial Studies in the Department of English Language and Literature at Brock University. He is co-editor of the Literature Encyclopedia volume on Anglophone Writing and Culture of Central America and the Caribbean.

Alison Donnell, professor of Modern Literatures in English and Head of School of Literature, Creative Writing and Drama at the University of East Anglia, who has published widely on Caribbean and Black British writings, with a particular emphasis on challenging orthodox literary histories and recovering women’s voices. She is the author of Twentieth Century Caribbean Literature (2006) and Caribbean Queer: Creolized Sexualities and the Literary Imagination in the Anglo-Caribbean (2021), as well as co-editor (with Michael A. Bucknor) of The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature (2011). She leads a major project funded by the Leverhulme Trust: ‘Caribbean Literary Heritage: recovering the lost past and safeguarding the future’.

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Some people got creative and busy during the pandemic; Jamaican writer Olive Senior got so busy and so creative she got a whole book of Pandemic Poems: First Wave out of it.

“Early in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Olive Senior began posting her series of Pandemic Poems on social media. The project was a way of bearing witness to the strangeness of it all and forging a reassuring connection with readers. Each poem is a riff on a word or phrase trending in the first wave of the pandemic – an A to Z of the lexicon newly coined or quickly repurposed for our historic moment. By presenting these words and phrases in sequence, Senior offers a timeline of the way events unfolded and how the language and preoccupations kept changing in response. In this accessible collection, Senior captures the zeitgeist of 2020.” (Repeating Islands) (Source – posting by another author on facebook)

p.s. Olive is a Wadadli Pen 2021 patron. So, buy her book!

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Visual artist Heather Doram has turned her talents to publishing with a new series of colouring books.

A variety of Heather Doram merch can also be found exclusively at her online store. (Source – Heather Doram, artist, on instagram and/or facebook)

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The latest release from Caribbean Reads, its first book of 2021, is The Talking Mango Tree by A. H. Benjamin of the UK with illustrator Daniel J. O’Brien of Trinidad. The mango tree, so says the plot, begins demanding a performance from each animals who wants its fruits and as one child reader reveals below Papa Bois is not happy.

This link includes various Caribbean booksellers that carry Caribbean Reads books but also see online and wherever books are sold. (Source – Caribbean Reads on instagram)

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Jacqueline

I previously posted this book in 2020 – not sure if pub was delayed or if I got the date wrong but I just learned that it was actually published this year, January 28th 2021, by Peepal Tree Press. So I did something I don’t normally do (deleted it from that 2020 Carib Plus Lit to re-post here). Shout out to Jacqueline Bishop whose The Gift of Music and Song: Interviews with Jamaican Women Writers has been described as a “beautiful collection of interviews, conducted by journalist, poet, novelist and artist Jacqueline Bishop, features insightful and entertaining conversations with many of Jamaica’s most significant writers including Olive Senior, Lorna Goodison, Marcia Douglas and many more.” A Peepal Tree press release, also, said, “Beginning at childhood, each interviewee narrates their fond memories of the Caribbean country with a nostalgia and yearning for a place that is complex and freighted with political, social and racial difficulties. The Gift of Music & Song is a space for these writers to talk deeply about writing back to their homeland; about being female voices from Jamaica, how one should represent the country, its rhythms and cadences, and what it means to be a female writer in the world today.” (Source – update via email from John Robert Lee)

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Observer Media Group (Antigua and Barbuda) reporter Shermain Bique-Charles has published a romance novel, Jasmine: Shedding My Skin. According to the Daily Observer newspaper, “the story follows the life of a young woman who is teased in school and considered to be unpopular. In a series of intriguing developments, a young man teams up with his friends planning to violate her. Instead he falls in love with her, putting aside all his wealth, pride and ego to gain her trust and love.” The veteran journalist is originally from Dominica. (Source – Daily Observer newspaper)

Shedding My Skin is just outside the publication window for the #readAntiguaBarbuda 2021 initiative (which closed in January 2021) but remember to vote for your favourite among the books that are in contention. (Source – the Daily Observer newspaper)

Congrats Due To…

Eric Barry of Trinidad and Tobago, regional winner of the International Playwriting Competition of 2020 with ‘Delisa Brings Home the Rainbow’. The full list of winners here.

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Richards Georges. Don’t remember if I mentioned this but, hey, it’s worth mentioning twice or thrice…Richard Georges is settling in to his role, announced late last year, as the first poet laureate of the Virgin Islands. Richard, who has Antiguan and Trinidadian roots, is a BVI author, most recently celebrated for his Bocas best book win. Speaking of Bocas, Georges is, at this writing, participating in a celebration of Black Britain that’s a collaboration between Bocas and Penguin Books UK. “Linking current voices with their past influencers, the partnership will criss-cross the Atlantic to celebrate the re-publication of six previously out-of-print works by Black British authors, including James’s fictional masterpiece, and newly-commissioned work by a younger generation of Black British poets and writers, including Malika Booker, Richard Georges, Keith Jarrett, Hannah Lowe, Maureen Roberts and Roger Robinson.” – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday (Source – email, various)

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Aishah Roberts on her appointment to director of film development – Europe & UK at Fandomodo Films. Aishah is from Antigua and is the daughter of another film vet Conrad Roberts. Sidebar – Conrad Roberts‘ name was familiar to me as someone growing up in Antigua and Barbuda in the 1980s as he was maybe the only local working in Hollywood (e.g. Mosquito Coast, Miami Vice) I was aware of at the time.

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Shabier Kirchner who has been collecting nominations and awards this season for his work as cinematographer on Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series. Read all about it in the latest installment of my CREATIVE SPACE series – Small Axe, Big Talent.

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Edward Baugh and Mervyn Morris, joint announced recipients of Bocas’ Henry Swanzy Award.

“Baugh and Morris are widely considered pioneers of the study of West Indian literature, over careers that each span half a century. …

The Award, established in 2013, is named for the late BBC radio producer Henry Swanzy. Irish by birth, Swanzy worked as producer of the influential Caribbean Voices radio programme — originally founded by Jamaican Una Marson — from 1946 to 1954, becoming an essential figure in the development of modern West Indian literature.

The Bocas Lit Fest founded the award to honour and celebrate the contributions of the editors, broadcasters, publishers, critics, and others who have shaped the evolution of Caribbean literature behind the scenes.” (Repeating Islands) Personal congrats to my former mentor, Mervyn Morris. Well deserved. (Source – Facebook)

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Sharma Taylor.

Sharma Taylor whose debut novel, What a Mother’s Love Don’t Teach You, has been acquired Virago at auction, part of a two-book deal. Via this March 1st 2021 article on thebookseller.com, ‘Described as “a powerful story of belonging, identity and inheritance”, the novel brings together a host of voices to evoke 80s Jamaica’s ghetto, dance halls, criminal underworld and corrupt politics, and at its heart, a mother’s unshakeable love for her son.’ About the book: “At 18 years old, Dinah, a Jamaican maid, gave away her baby son to the rich American couple she worked for before they left Jamaica. They never returned. She never forgot him. Eighteen years later, a young man comes from the US to Kingston. From the moment she sees him, Dinah never doubts—this is her son. What happens next will make everyone question what they know and where they belong.” The first of Taylor’s books are to be published in July 2022. Use the search feature to find the other times Sharma Taylor has shown up here on the blog (and there’s this exclusive interview on my other blog); it’s a lot as she’s been having breakthrough after breakthrough in recent years. I first met the Jamaica-born, Barbados-resident lawyer and writer when she participated in a 2016 workshop I co-facilitated at the BIM Literary Festival (we were co-participants in a 2018 Commonwealth workshop in Barbados). In the time I’ve known her, it’s been a meteoric rise including being shortlisted twice for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (in 2018 and 2020) and winning the 2020 Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Prize and 2019 Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize for emerging writers. Her short story “How You Make Jamaican Coconut Oil” won the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize. In 2020, ‘The Story of Stony’ (which I wrote the author was “heartbreaking”) was longlisted for the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean. An earlier version of What a Mother’s Love Don’t Teach You was awarded second prize in the 2020 First Novel Competition (organized by Daniel Goldsmith Associates). “I wrote this book to showcase Jamaican culture and to explore the relationship between mothers and their children. I was captivated by Dinah’s voice the moment she came to me in the kitchen of my apartment in Barbados.” (via email and social media – from the author)

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From left, Jamilla Kirwan, Marcella Andre, and NIA Mentor inaugural winner Nissa Butler.

Nissa Butler emerged winner of the first NIA Mentor Award. The initiative, launched and funded by NIA Comms founder Marcella Andre and media relations specialist at the Ayre Group Jamilla Kirwan, is intended to invest in and boost an Antiguan and Barbudan female entrepreneur – providing her money ($7,000) and mentorship (from seven women in business) for a year. Nissa’s business is Butler Inscriptions and Butler Graveside Concierge service. Novel (and creative) ideas to be sure. In her publicly posted thank you, Nissa pledged to do just what the NIA Mentor Award is poised to do for her. “I will continue my efforts to pay it forward and I await, with pleasure, the bringing about positive development and opportunities for my personal growth, business and for you, my fellow female entrepreneurs.” We share this because we recognize and applaud creativity and in an environment starved for opportunity, Marcella got creative. (Source – Observer newspaper, Antigua and further research via facebook)

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Carib Lit Plus – Early to Mid May 2020

Awards

Membership has its privileges. We have to give pride of place to the Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards, the announcement of which went live (literally) on Saturday 9th May 2020  – the stories and breakdown of winners have been posted. Congrats to the main prize winners Andre J. P. Warner (A Bright Future for Tomorrow) and Cheyanne Darroux (Tom, the Ninja Crab). The full list of patrons can be found here.

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Richard Georges of the British Virgin Islands is the 2020 winner of the OCM (One Caribbean Media) Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for his poetry collection Epiphaneia. This is his third collection after Make us all Islands, which was shortlisted for the UK’s Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and Giant, which was long listed for the OCM Bocas Prize and highly commended by the Forward Prizes. He is a founding editor of the online regional literary journal Moko. The BVI writer is born in Trinidad and, fun fact, has Antiguan roots (so much so I’ve actually debated putting him in the local book bibliography as I have, for instance, Guyanese writer with Antiguan roots, Ian McDonald, but I didn’t want to appropriate). His grandfather is from the BVI but went to school here and married a local girl before migrating (Scotland, BVI, Guyana, Trinidad). The OCM Bocas Prize, which has a US$10,000 main prize, is one of if not the major prize for literature from the English speaking Caribbean. Previous winners are St. Lucia-born Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott (2011, White Egrets), venerated Trinidad born literary elder Earl Lovelace (2012, Just a Movie), another multi-award winner, another Trini, first female Monique Roffey (2013, Archipelago), Trini Robert Antoni (2014, As Flies to Whatless Boys), St. Lucian Vladimir Lucein for his first publication (2015, Sounding Ground), Jamaican Commonwealth award winning literary icon Olive Senior (2016, The Pain Tree), Jamaican Kei Miller, also critically acclaimed and award winning (2017, Augustown), Trinidadian writers Jennifer Rahim (2018, Curfew Chronicles) and Kevin Adonis Browne (2019, High Mas).

The win was formally announced by chief judge Earl Lovelace during a live broadcast on May 2nd, which also included a presentation by Amanda Choo Quan, 2020 winner of the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize (a developmental prize for emerging writers – this year going to a writer of non-fiction).

See this schedule to catch other streamed Bocas events.

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The Commonwealth Short Story Prize field has been narrowed from 5000+ to these few:

Sharma Taylor of Jamaica and resident in Barbados is one of three Caribbean writers (along with Jamaica’s Brian Heap, Brandon McIvor of Trinidad and Tobago) short listed for the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story prize. I caught up with her for an interview about her writing journey (with tips for other writers) which can be read in full on my blog. Here she discusses her short listed story: “On the Commonwealth Writers’ website when they announced last year’s shortlist, I saw a photo of one of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlisted writers and was fascinated with his prominent nose. I then wondered what my face would look like if I had his nose and how I would deal with it in the most awkward time of life when appearances matter: the teenage years.”

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Roger Robinson’s vision of Trinidad as a “portable paradise” of “white sands, green hills and fresh fish”, has won the British-Trinidadian poet the Royal Society of Literature’s £10,000 Ondaatje prize, which goes to a work that best evokes “the spirit of a place”. – read more (via Repeating Islands via The Guardian)

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Finally, here are this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners.

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Jhohadli News – for new updates to my (Joanne C. Hillhouse) author blog, of possibly wider interest. Including…

The latest entry in my CREATIVE SPACE series In Conversation with the (Acting) Director of Culture

Announcement via my Poetry publications page of inclusion of three of my poems (Grandmother and Child, Weather Patterns, and Waste Not) in UK magazine Skin Deep’s Is This The End? issue

Sharing the video essay below spotlighting four Antiguan and Barbudan authors on my Media page.

Sharing the video and a Discover Montserrat book recommendations list that includes my children’s picture book Lost! to my Lost! Endorsements and Recommendations page.

Passing

The Caribbean theatre community is still mourning the passing of Trinidad and Tobago iconic playwright, producer, and more Tony Hall who died in April at 72, only 3 days after retiring according to this TnT media report and reflection:

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Also while they have no Caribbbean ties that I know of, I have to mention the passing of two Black musical giants – a founding father of Rock n Roll Little Richard who was in his 80s when he died on May 9 and one of the men who shaped modern RnB, hip hop, and culture generally as founder of Uptown Records and head of labels like Motown Andre Harrell who was just 59 when he died on May 8.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Reading Room and Gallery 37

Things I read that you might like too. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

Read the winning entries to the 2020 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge which are a mix of poems and short fiction. Support our patrons.

POETRY

“I was going to write to you last week but delayed
till I could add a bit of news that hadn’t quite resolved—
in a season of nest failures new nests have been made.” – Villanelle of a Passing of Harold Bloom by John Kinsella

COMMENTARY

“When the publishing industry — which is 84 percent white — tells Latinx writers that our stories are too hard to read, our worlds too complicated, our audiences too small, do they not mean this is hard for me to read, this book doesn’t reach me, it is difficult for me to bear witness to what my people have done, I don’t see myself in this story? Despite all its failings, American Dirt still made its debut at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Writers like Cummins will continue to supply these voyeuristic stories for the white imagination. And we will continue telling our stories as is natural for us to tell them.” – Ingrid Rojas Contreras writes about American Dirt 

CREATIVES ON CREATING

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OBIT.

“As much as his scholarly writings chronicled the post-colonisation Caribbean experience, however, it is Brathwaite’s poetry that captured the imagination of both the region and the world.” – Barbadian Poet Kamau Brathwaite Leaves Behind A Legacy of Language (on Global Voices by Janine Mendes-Franco)

FICTION

“She slept fitfully that night, and woke up the next morning with an inexplicable sense of loss. Retirement blues? She got out of bed and made herself a cup of tea. What was it that she had planned to do that morning? Yes, to go to David Sassoon library and borrow Usage and Abusage by Eric Partridge; go to church and meet Father Pereira; buy some groceries on the way back . . .” – Miss Coelho, English Teacher by Kiran Doshi

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‘She had a habit of making lists in a small notebook. Lists of things she needed to do for the day, lists of the people she’d taken to shelters from the beach, even though she hadn’t gone there since rescuing him. The Coast Guard had become more vigilant and the landings had decreased. One day she read him something from the notebook. His name was the only one on a list she titled “People from the Beach I Have Kissed.”’ – Without Inspection by Edwidge Dandicat

PROFILE

“Elaine Potter Richardson (as she originally was) had been sent to New York from Antigua eight years before she met Shawn. Her stepfather’s failing health and the arrival of three baby brothers had drained the family finances. Elaine, a precociously bright child and a voracious reader, had been taken out of school and sent away to earn some money.” –Jamaica Kincaid: Looking Back in Anger in Caribbean Beat magazine

MISC.

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Bocas Lit Fest has readings for children on instagram as long as lockdown lasts. At this writing, they’re reading Carol Ottley-Mitchell’s Trapped in Dunstan’s Cave. Here’s the link.

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Conversation and reading with Trinidadian writer Vahni Capildeo, who was the University of the West Indies St. Augustine writer in residence for Campus Literary Week (virtually due to COVID-19). A list at the end of video 1 sees Antigua and Barbuda’s Jamaica Kincaid making a curated list of top Caribbean female writers. Listen to hear who else is on the list – some we’ve discussed right here on the site. And, yes, we said video 1, the conversation is broken up in to several video clips – click the link above.

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Caribbean American Perspectives Carry on Friends recommends ‘5 Must Read Fiction Books by Caribbean Women Authors’. See who made the list.

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INTERVIEW

‘How can we support each other right now as readers and writers?

For me, it’s pretty simple. Buy books, read books, and probably number one—talk about books. It’s amazing how often the talk turns to television, even among literary people. I think it’s just habitual. First of all, it’s easier to find people who are watching the same shows. You can pretty much bet that if you say Tiger King right now—and look, I’m enjoying it, too, don’t get me wrong—but I ask of myself to always ask other people, “What are you reading?” And it’s interesting how it seems to lead to deeper discussion ultimately than “What are you watching?” And for all the great TV out there, honestly, I find that if it’s a choice between reading and watching, I read. It just feels like a deeper satisfaction and also a kind of insistence, in my own life anyway, on the importance of this practice. So I think, just keep literary culture alive by insisting upon its centrality. That’s what we can all do.’ – The PEN Pod: Keeping Literary Culture Alive Through Resilience with Jennifer Egan

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“I experiment with new ways of writing. I try to get outside of my own box and I’m not afraid if it fails or doesn’t work.” – Sharma Taylor, exclusive interview with Jhohadli

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Happy Okay“Well, the funny thing about a culture of silence is that once the silence is broken, others find a connection, and begin to recognize there’s a problem, and that many people are suffering. Once that happens, more people start speaking up, and eventually, it becomes easier to speak of the unspeakable.” – Haitian-American writer M. J. Fievre in interview with me at my jhohadli blog about her new book Happy, Okay?

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‘What my family ate, spoke, and did was a mystery to our neighbors and somehow it made us strange and foreign to them. I remember reading books when I was kid and not being able to relate to a single character because I didn’t look like them and my family didn’t do the things they did. I also couldn’t relate to characters in Chinese children’s books because well, I couldn’t read Chinese and stuff like “after I do my homework I help grandpa wash his feet in a water basin” didn’t relate to me.’ – Mina Yan interviewing Eugenia Chu, author of Brandon goes to Beijing and other books in the series of Chinese-American books for children inspired by her own son

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“The novel is set in Trinidad, and it follows the lives of an unconventional family – Betty, a widow, her son Solo and their lodger Mr Chetan. You know why I’m sure sure you’re going to love them? Because I loved them. I let them do all kind of stupidness, but I always treated them with respect and empathy. In spite of all the madness we, like these characters, are all just trying to live our best lives.” – Caribbean author Ingrid Persaud talks about her book Love after Love

This blog is maintained by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, and author Joanne C. Hillhouse. Content is curated, researched, and written by Hillhouse, unless otherwise indicated. Do not share or re-post without credit, do not re-publish without permission and credit. Thank you.

 

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Reading Room and Gallery 35

Here I share things I like that I think you might like too. But not just anything. Things related to the arts – from the art itself to closer examination of the art to the making of the art…like that. There have been 34 installments in this series before – use the search window to the right to find them; and there’ll be more additions to this installment before it too is closed – so come back.

VISUAL

“I’ve worked with so many artists, but I’ve seldom experienced such an ebullient, rich, and massively productive creative process,” Mouly told Artnet, later adding, “The goal for both of us was not just a resemblance but something that emotionally evokes her person, because Morrison is deeply complex. [The artwork] works in a cathartic way for the artist and the viewer and the reader…I’m very grateful that Kara was willing to put herself through this process.” – ‘Quiet As It’s Kept’: Artist Kara Walker Creates the New Yorker’s Cover Tribute to Toni Morrison

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BLOGS

“Our last poetry and prose collection was published in 2014 and we are overdue for another.” – Althea Romeo-Mark blogs about Writers’ Works’ Bern in Switzerland

NON-FICTION

“As an adult, when I was estranged from my mother, my father would ask me to recall those holidays where my mother labored in the kitchen for hours. He would ask me to think about why my mother went to such pains and expense. Was it just for her friends, he’d want to know? Of course not. He would tell me that my mother always felt an astute guilt at raising me away from my extended family. For all those holidays absent of grandmothers and aunts and uncles and cousins. Instead of allowing me to feel that loneliness, she filled up our house with guests. She feared that I would never know family as they knew it, that even though I professed not to feel that sense of loss, I had inherited it nevertheless. Her failure to teach me those values, my mother believed, extinguished in this world a way of love.” – Give Hostages to Fortune by By Mehdi Tavana Okasi

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“Since my 30s, I’ve hated those birthday cards with their black balloons and messages of doom: How does it feel to be over the hill? Don’t collapse your  lungs blowing out candles!” – Judith Guest

POETRY

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At sunset,
when sunlight morphs into dusk,
slaps start: mosquito roulette.” – Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming’s Writer’s Digest winning Weekend at the Beach

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“LVDB: My first novel was in the first person, and that felt like working from the center to the exterior in that I feel like I had such a deep understanding of that character from the start. And it was more about how to write this character in such a way where what I understand about her is accessible to a reader who is not me. With The Third Hotel it was sort of the opposite in the sense that there was a lot that I actually didn’t know about Clare and didn’t understand about Clare and so hard to work from the outside in. One bit of latitude that you get in the third person is that you can see into a character and you can also see around them. That roundness of perspective felt important for The Third Hotel, given how much instability there is in both Clare’s POV and the world at large.” – Crystal Hana Kim and Laura Van Der Berg in conversation

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“For fiction written in the past tense, here’s a technique for tackling flashbacks that I stumbled upon years ago, and writers I’ve shared it with have tended to get highly excited: Start off your flashback with, let’s say, two or three standard-issue had’s (“Earlier that year, Jerome had visited his brother in Boston”), then clip one or two more had’s to a discreet “’d” (“After an especially unpleasant dinner, he’d decided to return home right away”), then drop the past-perfecting altogether when no one’s apt to be paying attention and slip into the simple past (“He unlocked his front door, as he later recalled it, shortly after midnight”). Works like a charm.” – Are These Bad Habits Creeping Into Your Writing? by  Benjamin Dreyer

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“Rule No. 10: Revise, revise, revise.” – Colson Whitehead, Rules of Writing

INTERVIEWS

“The importance of controlling the image answers the question of why there are very few black films from that time. The hostage-taking of the image is something that happened because of a lack of access to tools, because of a lack of access to exhibition and distribution, because of a lack of access to the tools that captured who we were, and because of how images were distributed falsely with a different and untrue narrative. Every time a filmmaker of color makes a film, it is a rescue effort. It is an act of resistance and defiance to use tools that were kept away from us, tools that were used to harm us for so long. When I get to a film like this, where there are so very many black people in it, every frame becomes a vitally important demonstration of freedom.” – Ava Duvernay in conversation with vulture.com re her mini-series When They See Us

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I don’t make any such decisions as my poems come to me as the first few lines come into my head, and any language that it comes in I just continue in that language. Sometimes it breaks in the middle of the poem and goes to Jamaican or breaks and goes to England but from when the first few lines come into my head that is the language it comes in
and I don’t make that choice in advance.” – Jean Binta Breeze talking to Jacqueline Bishop. Read the full interview which was published in Jamaica Observer’s Bookends column edited by Sharon Leach: BOOKENDS MARCH 24

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“I resisted buying a scrapbook-like biography of Charles Dickens put together by Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, his great-great-great-granddaughter, on the occasion of his bicentenary (1812-2012). The book has photographs and facsimiles of documents: letters, his will, theater programs . . . I have the same birthday as Dickens (February 7th), and when he turned 200, I was a mere 60. A friend heard me talking about the book and surprised me with it.” – Brooklyn Book Fair pre-event interview with Mary Norris

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“I was an avid reader when I was a pre-teen, so my mother would come home from work with Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High novels. It felt like Christmas each time. I would inhale the newness of the books, running my fingers across the pages, refusing to put creases in them. I was shocked when I came to America and found out that people leave books on sidewalks to take for free! I discovered The God of Small Things, The Alchemist, and 1984 this way. I had considered it an abomination to leave books on street corners, but I remember grabbing every one of those titles as if I were in a contest and grabbing gifts.” – Brooklyn Book Fair pre-event interview with novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn

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“I daresay that as Caribbean writers, we are extremely fluent in the shapes and short story procedures absorbed largely from an English-focused curriculum; and later, from our exposure to narratives outside the Caribbean. In fact, we excel at them, much as we used to in cricket. If people don’t know it yet, the Caribbean is the producer of world-class contemporary short fiction in the Commonwealth, I’m thinking in particular of Trinidad and Jamaica. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I do contend that the caribbeanness of the Caribbean short story remains underexploited, though I’ve begun to see the emergence of writers who are reaching past the creole language to explore ‘folk’ tropes and structure.” – Jacob Ross in conversation with Jacqueline Bishop. Read the full interview: Ross 1Ross 2Ross 3Ross 4

FICTION

“I continued to go to the interviews, to prove that I was still alive, but I no longer expected anything.” – The Golden Bough by Salman Rushdie

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“It is an awkward thing to buy fish from another vendor. It’s like horning your partner, or switching to a new barber or hairdresser. Be guaranteed that your regular vendor will find out about your clandestine purchase, because the new vendor will be sure to gloat that they were able to ‘tek yuh sale from yuh’, and the next time you go to the market, your regular vendor’s glare will follow you all the way back to your house. Even those dead fish eyes will stare at you with scorn, and that normally tender flesh will fight you all the way down from your throat to your colon.” – A Hurricane and the Price of Fish by Shakirah Bourne

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“I’m Mildred 302.0” – Mildred by Robin Burke

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‘Humph,’ Mavis say in her usual grunt: ‘Nuh worry. Mi find some US dolla under the dresser when mi clean it last week that mi aggo keep. But mi have something fi har though, man. De wretch nuh know sey is her toothbrush mi use clean the toilet.’  – Son-Son’s Birthday by Sharma Taylor

Antiguan and Barbudan fiction and poetry here and here.

REPORT

“Born in 1892, Savage would often sculpt clay into small figures, much to the chagrin of her father, a minister who believed that artistic expression was sinful. In 1921, she moved to Harlem, where she enrolled at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. A gifted student, Savage completed the four-year program in only three and quickly embarked on a career in sculpting. During the early to mid-1920s, she was commissioned to create several sculptures, including a bust of NAACP leader W.E.B. Du Bois and charismatic black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey — two key black leaders of the period who were often at odds with each other. Both pieces were well received, especially in black circles, but the racial climate at the time hampered wider recognition of her work. Savage won a prestigious scholarship at a summer arts program at the Fontainebleau School of the Fine Arts outside of Paris in 1923, for instance, but the offer was withdrawn when the school discovered that she was black. Despite her efforts — she filed a complaint with the Ethical Culture Committee — and public outcry from several well-known black leaders at the time, the organizers upheld the decision.” – from The Most Important Black Woman Sculptor of the 20th Century (Augusta Savage) deserves More Recognition by Keisha N. Blain  

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“I write, and I take my writing seriously,” he said. “Awards affirm this. But were I to write for awards, I would be a failed writer.” – Kwame Dawes in article in The Daily Nebraskan

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“Winning the regional prize for the Caribbean means everything to me. It means that I made the right choice. After my first semester in college, I had to make a difficult choice between doing what was expected of me and what I wanted. It seemed to be a selfish decision. I come from a struggling family and a struggling island, so as a girl with potential, I was expected to prepare myself for a lucrative career in the traditional professions: law, medicine, architecture. However, I chose to write. I got a lot of criticism for that choice. Many people asked me what I could do with a Literature degree: write children’s books; teach? I could, and there is nothing wrong with either. I make my living using my degree, and I am happy, but I still felt as if the true purpose behind my decision had not been realized. It has now.” – Alexia Tolas, of Bahamas, Regional winner (for the Caribbean) of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story prize. Other regional winners are from Zambia, Malaysia, Cyprus, and New Zealand

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, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, 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.

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