Tag Archives: Shivanee Ramlochan

Reading Room and Gallery 38

Things I read that you might like too. Things will be added – up to about 20 or so – before this installment in the Reading Room and Gallery series is archived. For previous and future installments in this series, use the search feature to the right.

Read the winning entries Wadadli Pen Challenge entries, a mix of poetry and short fiction, with some visual art, through the years.

THE BUSINESS 

INTERVIEW/DISCUSSION

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– Joanne C. Hillhouse Catapult Caribbean Creatives Online #catapultartsgrant #AskMeAnything Q & A with readers

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Antiguan and Barbudan writers discuss To Shoot Hard Labour by Keithlyn and Fernando Smith as part of a month long reading series featuring the book. The series was produced by Beverly George for Observer Radio’s Voice of the People.

REPORTING

Excerpts, in no particular order, from Caribbean Time Bomb author Robert Coram’s A Reporter at Large: Ancient Rights in The New Yorker, 1989:

“Joseph, like most of the divers, is fond of having a drink now and then, and he is fond of rum, but he will not touch Cavalier rum, because it is made on Antigua.”

“And although the Barbudans had long ago learned to live together, so that there was little need for a judicial system, they were now technically bound by the laws of Antigua.”

“But the Antiguans, who saw Barbuda as a poor and backward island, did not want to finance medical facilities, schools, clergy, and courts on Barbuda.”

“The island is also ridiculed because the people are different; their quirky individuality standing out even in the Caribbean.”

“Barbudan slaves (enslaved Barbudans – my edit) even used Codrington boats to send their livestock and the fresh meat from their poaching to Antigua, and in 1829 the Codringtons’ island manager wrote of Barbudan slaves (enslaved Barbudans – my edit) wrote of Barbudan slaves, ‘They acknowledge no master, and believe the island belongs to themselves.’”

“Until 1961, when regular air traffic from Antigua began, it could take a week to reach Barbuda, even from Antigua.” – read the full article here: New Yorker 06 Feb 1989 

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‘It was in form four, he says, that his work began to acquire an especially grim, menacing glint, layered with violence, tones of the macabre, and an arsenal of baleful sexual suggestion. His father, who dutifully printed off copies of the stories at work, gave him a sage kernel of advice that Hosein has never forgotten: “Even if you writing smut, keep writing. Just be careful of who you showing it to.”’ – Shivanee Ramlochan on Kevin Jared Hosein in Caribbean Beat

ESSAYS/NON-FICTION 

– Yvonne Weekes reading from her volcano themed memoir

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“Georgetown is where some 90% of the population live today. We shouldn’t really be here. But in the 1700s, Dutch colonisers, bringing technology from their own low-lying country, decided to drain the swampy coast and install a ‘polder’ system of canals, sluice gates (known locally as kokers) and dams to cultivate sugar and other crops on the fertile land. Historian Dr Walter Rodney estimated that, in doing so, enslaved Africans were required to move 100 million tonnes of soil by hand. Ever since then, the sea has been trying to reclaim the land that was taken from it.” – Life on Stilts: Staying Afloat in Guyana by Carinya Sharples

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“We are unwitting victims of a larger global issue beyond our control.” – from After the Aftermath: Hurricane Dorian by Bahamian writer Alexia Tolas

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‘In “Winged and Acid Dark,” Hass tells us directly what happens to the woman in Potsdamer Platz in May 1945, but he does this direct telling circuitously. The poet approaches the idea, then “suggests” the rape. Note the second stanza: “the major with the swollen knee, / wanted intelligent conversation afterward. / Having no choice, she provided that, too.” The poem suggests the before by describing the “afterward” and by describing what the woman has to do “too.” Later in the poem, Hass describes the prying open of her mouth and the spitting in it, and lets these moments stand for much more. The lightning strike of this poem, the one we would expect at least, would be a graphic description of the rape, and yet, Hass soothes us on that front while delivering alternatively terrifying truths. The thing we prepare ourselves for, because we’ve heard that old war story repeated so many times, is only alluded to. Instead, Hass focuses on something else we are surprised by and therefore have to hear.’ – Tell It Slant: How To Write a Wise Poem by Camille T. Dungy

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“I wanted not simply to record but to interrogate what was happening and my response to it, to use poetry the way it can function at its utilitarian best: offering ways of seeing, of examining, of challenging complacency, and of contextualising the current situation within broader life considerations. …I am surprised at what I am doing because I normally spend a huge amount of time thinking about, writing, and then editing everything that I write before sending it into the world, so this speed of composing, followed by a click of Send and then almost immediate response is something new for me. I am less concerned with literary values or aesthetics than I am with memorializing the historic moment that I am living through. I want to capture the zeitgeist, literally, ‘the spirit of the time’.” – Cross Words in Lockdown by Olive Senior

“I would sit and talk to them, get to the essence of who they were…because it would help me to figure out how to write for them.” -Babyface

FICTION

“On his knees, hands behind his head, he asked for a cigarette. I gestured that he be given one. Our eyes met, we held each other’s gaze. What was he thinking? He must have been the same age as me. The same dark skin and stature. In another time, another place, we might have been neighbours, colleagues, friends. But here, now, he is one of them. ” – from The Debt by Nicholas Kyriacou

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“In later years when he lying in bed all by he self…” – Levar Burton reads ‘A Good Friday’ by Barbara Jenkins. You can read this and other stories in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean

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“Sunny stayed up the entire night, mopping the floors of her living room and bedroom as the heavy winds forced water through the shutters and windows. It was silly, in hindsight. The water was coming anyway, and fast. But she had to pass the time. Once every half hour or so, she would run to the hallway, frightened by the loud crashing noises from outside, anticipating that one of the shutters would give way and the kitchen window would burst wide open. They never did that night.” – Four Women at Night by Schuyler Esprit

POETRY

“A mother has just lost her son
A mother has just lost her son
A mother has just lost her son.” – reading by Curmiah Lisette, from her poem ‘The Bandits’, part of the CaribCation Caribbean Author Series

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“Speaking to you from St. Lucia…we have a strong literary tradition, anchored by our Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott.” – John R. Lee reading and discussing his lit and more in the CaribCation Caribbean Author Series

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“Somewhere or other there must surely be
The face not seen, the voice not heard,
The heart that not yet—never yet—ah me!
Made answer to my word.” – from Somewhere or Other by Christina Rossetti

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“But grief,
it wrings out your soul-case” – Grief by Yvonne Weekes in Barbados’ Arts Etc.

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“My iPhone keeps me company.
Plays music for me, shows pictures
of friends, what they’re thinking.
Lights up the dark when I’m missing you,
brings other poets’ words with a touch.” – from ‘April 2020’ by Julie Mahfood (Jamaican in Canada) in the Jamaica Gleaner’s Meeting Ground: Poems in the Time of COVID-19

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‘Like other poets of the Harlem Renaissance, McKay, though a powerful advocate of black liberation, took the dominant “voice” of traditional culture, mastered it and made it accommodate his different ways of seeing, his visions and his anger. The fusion of urban realism with more traditional Romantic tropes in Harlem Shadows still leaves room for clear blasts of rage against “the wretched way / Of poverty, dishonor and disgrace”.’ – re poem of the week Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay (poem and analysis) 

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“She forgave grandma, then a single mother of six,
who fed her children with one hand
while choking them with the other.” – from Mother Suffered from Memories by Juleus Ghunta in Anomaly 28

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 24

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. 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 24th one which means there are 23 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

NON-FICTION

“Culture is, of course, much more than the lifestyle patterns of a particular point in time, but those patterns are informed by the culture.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse’s How to Make Cassava Bread and Other Musings on Culture

MISC.

– dialect coach Erik Singer breaking down the performances of actors attempting the accents of real people.

CREATIVES ON CREATING

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“Carnival is mas, and mas is  an opportunity to showcase our creativity and that, the opportunity it provides to showcase our creativity, is the purpose of this post.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse (read full blog post on how the mango fairy from children’s picture book With Grace ended up in the parade of the 60th anniversary of Antigua’s Carnival )

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sweet gossip-“For me, Sweet Gossip is about the Bajan culture.” – Sheena Rose – watch the full video

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Leones tips

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“Descriptions are a lot easier to write when you consider who is noticing what and why.” – from Janice Hardy’s Fiction University online

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Analysis (of artists like Biggie, Mos Def, Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, MF Doom) which includes discussion of rhyme patterns by rappers like Rakim and Eminem, and speaks to the structuring of the poetry of rap.
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“Get out of your head—your head is good at convincing you that what is bouncing around inside is incredibly important. Usually it’s not.” – Andrew Foster Altschul 

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Kenwyn Murray on lessons he learned from other Trinidadian artists – in two parts – really interesting read and visually stunning. Go to Part One.

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“I’m always most interested in any version of the question, what am I most scared to write about? I try to answer it as honestly as I can every single time, and I often discover it’s something I did not know about myself, which is thrilling. I think that’s the direction I need to run to.” – Shivanee Ramlochan in Caribbean Beat

INTERVIEWS

“Treat yourself with respect and kindness. Make your writing time sacred. When you are not writing, you should be reading. Writers are never off duty because material can come from anywhere — a chance remark or when buying bread. Maybe it is just my sieve of a memory but I recommend note taking on the go. And don’t wait for the muse. That woman woke up late this morning and is stuck in traffic. She’s coming but best you start writing now. She’ll join you later.” – Ingrid Persaud interview

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“Any poet who is going to be more than very good better be prepared to disappoint, upset, puzzle or even scandalize some people.” – Vladimir Lucien in Pseudo Mag

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“I find it invigorating to constantly work in new forms and genres.” Alyse Knorr at Grab Life by the Lapels

FICTION

“This secret chocolate handover was our special sin. Everybody know that a little secret-sinning sweet too bad. If you don’t agree I know you lying through your teeth. In them sinning moments Reggie softened, forgot his constant pain and forgot to fight the big C. He even forgot to fight me.” – Sweet Sop by Ingrid Persaud is the winning story from the Caribbean Region of the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

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‘Granddaddy start to look uncomfortable. “Go and start getting ready for school. I gine mek you some breakfast.”

“It is Saturday.”

“Stop giving me back chat!!” Granddaddy yell. He turn and stomp back into he bedroom.’ – from Shakirah Bourne’s Corn Curls and the Red Bicycle in Adda

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“Arnav’s palms are cool and moist; I know he is frightened. He quickens his pace and I am afraid he will break into a run. I tell him it’s alright; they didn’t hear the asphalt hit the hut. I push him in front of me and clutch his shirt from behind. They will shoot him if he runs. They are shooting a lot of young boys these days. In the villages that flank our town, they are making boys run in the open fields, then shoot them down as if they were balloons at a hit-the-target game in funfairs. There is a name for it which escapes me now.” – Greetings from a Violent Hometown by Ritu Monjori Kalita Deka

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“Before he died, my father, who loved words, told me that the Chinese language has no past tense—that therefore all events recur and nothing ends. Similarly, he said, the Japanese language has no future tense and so, in order to imagine the days to come, all we have within our vocabulary is the present.” – The Second Waltz by Madeleine Thien

POETRY

“When I have fears that I may cease to be

Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,” – from When I have fears that I may cease to be by John Keats

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– Maya Angelou

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“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size” – An audio of May Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman at Poem Hunter

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Reading Room and Gallery 23

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. 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 23rd one which means there are 22 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.

NON FICTION

“It wasn’t as bad as I make it sound now; it was worse.” – Jamaica Kincaid’s essay On Seeing England for the First Time

MISC.

‘We must never for a moment doubt that it is absolutely vital that a nation should foster and honour its writers. The good writer devotes his energy to searching for truth. And in the love of truth, straight and unvarnished, lies not only the hope but the safety of a nation. “The people need poetry,” the great Russian Poet, Osip Mandelstam, wrote, “to keep them awake forever.” The good writer, the true writer, as Cyril Connolly said in Enemies of Promise, “helps to unmask those pretenders which distract all human plans for improvement: the love of power and money, the short-sighted acquisitive passions, the legacies of injustice and ignorance, a tiger instinct for fighting, the ape-like desire to go with the crowd. A writer must be a lie-detector who exposes fallacies in words and ideals before half the world is killed for them.”’ – Ian McDonald

FROM THE BLOGS

“People think writing children’s stories is some simple, easy thing. You’ve heard that, right? It is not; children deserve that as much attention be taken with their stories as would be taken with an adult novel. The child doesn’t need to recognize the many layers in a story. The layers of meaning will come later, or not, but the layers create the finished picture. The child just needs needs to enjoy the story, just needs that satisfying feeling of reading a story where the ending spreads like joy from the tips of the toes to the tips of the fingers and creates a bubbling-up-joy in the heart and mind.” – Caribbean Children’s Literature Diane Browne

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“he dipped his toe in the puddle
of her first words” – SimplyNatural1

STORIES

“Being a migrant is like living in a limboland where you never fully belong anywhere, the positive perspective being it also gives you a wider and deeper empathy and universality.” – Maggie Harris interview

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Commonwealth Writers site

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“In the lateness of the night, she rises from the table. After these many years, she has become attuned to the restaurant, and to her beloved. They work in tandem. She can hear the eaves sigh in the wind, feel the dining room chairs sag with relief as the frenetic energy of the day finally draws to a close.” – The Woman Who Lived in the Restaurant by Leone Ross

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“Across a field of short, sparse grass, she spied another group of aliens, facing each other in silence as usual, with their silver-stones piled in the center. Some were young—short with thick fur. Others were old—their scaly skin showing where hair had fallen out in patches about their body. She wondered if they considered this planet theirs. The family parrot, Rupert, considered the bell on his cage to be his property and pecked anyone who tried to move it. And the aliens of this world were certainly smarter than Rupert. Clara remembered her father’s stories about Columbus invading the Caribbean a thousand years before and declaring himself its discoverer. Maybe Clara and her family were the invaders now.” – from Clara in the New World, 2492 A.D. by Imam Baksh – See more here.

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“Placing one slender, manicured tip on the backspace key, she erased every word, every trace of what she’d been feeling. It was four in the afternoon, and Laurie was beginning to feel suffocated. She needed this meeting to end. The only consolation was that she’d chosen a seat with her back against the wall, so her screen was not easily seen. Today was not her day to present, nor did she have the energy to rebut the statements being made, so she blindly allowed her mind to wander – a dangerous pastime.” – The Looking Glass by Zahra Airall (also posted to A & B Writings in Journals and Contests)

INTERVIEWS

“I would say to young writers be true to yourself and go for what is deeply meaningful for you, ask yourself over and over: What do I want to say?   Be as authentic to yourself and your subject as you can be.  Write every day.” – Lawrence Scott

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“It’s scary out there, man. It’s so scary.” – Kendrick Lamar with Rick Rubin

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“My mantra is definitely slow and steady wins the race. I apply this mantra to a lot of things, but I think in terms of my business I really avoid the sensation of being overwhelmed.” – Holly Wren Spaulding

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Several Caribbean writers sharing their work and insights, including Jamaica’s Tanya Shirley – “Matter of fact which women really needs a head unless she’s proficient in giving head and keeping her mouth shut when she’s not”; St. Lucia’s Vladimir Lucien – “…no land, not enough last name to get the loan…”; and Barbados’ Karen Lord – “It appears that war, when deprived of one reason, simply seeks out another; we are still a people divided.” – listen to the full thing at the BBC.

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“…if you have just finished writing your first story, you may want to take some time honing it and your craft and ensuring that it is truly ready for publication before approaching publishers. Completing a draft for most writers is the first step in a long journey of becoming a published author.” – advice from agent Anna Ghosh

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“Every day I learn to write a better sentence.” – Ingrid Persaud and other Caribbean Commonwealth short story finalists interviewed by Shivanee Ramlochan

POEMS

“Bob Marley doesn’t know
His song has been hijacked
And drummed into heads
Knees weak from fear
Do not allow us to stand up.” – Althea Romeo-Mark’s Revolution and Reggae (Liberian Coup 1985) in Calabash

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“light      smoke      how to dance

disco ball blocked by bodies

the sun eclipsed by moons

men growing like trees

in this club we leap

we do not look” – After Oliver Senior, ‘Flying’ by Andre Bagoo in Cordite Poetry Review 

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“I think of you like a storm remembered—a marker in my life

Stalking my dreams and my memories like a phantom” – Stormy Night by Damian Femi Rene in Cordite Poetry Review

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“when I was eight, a priest came and flicked holy water

into the four corners of this wooden house

that kept my parents, two sons, a daughter,

and a darkening forest in its mouth.” – Exorcism/Freeport by Richard Georges in Cordite Poetry Review

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“Their point guard calling an illegal pick

as we double teamed, breathing like dogs

on a leash. I was staying in the spare room

of your house. Living below the line

like denominators until I learnt Algebra;

from the word Al-jabr – the reunion

of broken parts. Your nephew the third man,

floated by (a silver shadow) and drained

a three crunch through the chains.” – Pythagoras Theorem by Nick Makoha in Adda

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“Nennen’s toothless smile

Granny lifts her skirt high

before plunging them back between her thighs

and a laugh from deep within bellows joy

Another aunt tears streaming from her face

thumps a table and gasps for air

and a laugh escapes

peeling sorrow away from the wooden walls

of the house

in Salem” – Chadd Cumberbatch, Norene’ s Laugh

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“Beautiful man, you are

the ocean churning inside a skull. Every cuss

a broken piece of bottle. You never left

the island but long to. Fingertips smelling

of tobacco or herb, always ready

to fight someone or something.

Thrusting a gun finger

into the air, rigid—

a brown beacon; I will you

to life: fuse sinew, blood

tendons, bones, memories.” – Poem for a Gunman by Soyini Ayanna Forde

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“I am the last in the line of the man Massa bury.

My great- grandmother run to the hills

same day, with Papa in her belly. Papa

was a wild one, kill plenty backra. Each time

he kill one  him say, ‘Massa me no dead yet.’” – Penny Kill Shilling by Monica Minnot 

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“Because to him
Giving in
Is the only real sin” – Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Differences (also posted to A & B Writings in Journals and Contests)

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“Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart.” – Love after Love by Derek Walcott (read by Tom Hiddleston)

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“I felt sleepy, bored by the mundane,
the usual conversation and the continual beauty
of sun and sea” – from The Day The Sea Turned Brown by Tania Haberland in Adda

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“I had this image of a woman grieving the illness of her lover, but yes, the lover is not-quite-human. He’s a construction or a creation or a person who has been made in our own image. I was thinking of love as a double helix between attraction to the other, the opposite; and attraction to some unarticulated part of ourselves that we recognize in another. And then, out of the blue, I could see Jin and Naomi dancing together, and the perspective was that of child, a neighbor, watching this love affair unfold, and interpreting that otherness, that not-quite-humanness, in a very different way. So that was the beginning.” – Five Questions for Madeleine Thien

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“You learn about the objective art of rhetoric, more specifically about the structural choices that bad and good men have made in speeches to lead us down certain garden paths – not by magic, but by repetition and specific diction and verb choice.” – Leone Ross on The Answer to that Question: Where do I get Ideas from

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“The reason an inciting moment matters is that it determines what the story is about. It’s like a snowball that is pushed down a hill. It will gather it’s own momentum, and direct the story to its conclusion unless you put obstacles in the way (like a rock) to throw it off track and into another direction. If you don’t want your story about Cinderella to hinge on the prince’s ball, you might not want to include the invitation in the plot in the first place.” – Andrea Lundgren

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Solange Knowles jam sessions and creative process for Seat at the Table.

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“When I sat down to write Ashael Rising, I knew very little about KalaDene. In fact, it didn’t even have a name until the third draft or so. My world-building was all done as I went along. I once heard an excellent description of the process; it explains just what it feels like to me so I’m going to share it here. World-building is like walking through a tunnel (the world) with a torch (the story) so I can see as much of the world as the story shines a light on and a little bit around the edges but everything else is just fuzzy shapes in the darkness, with maybe a puff of cool air indicating that there might be a door to somewhere else off to the left.” – Shona Kinsella talks world building

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“Here’s the catch: More than one type of character arc exists. Our characters can change for better or worse. Or, perhaps they might not change much, except in strength of resolve. So, how do writers determine what kind of arc a character is following, or which arc fits our story best?” – Fantasy writer Sara Letourneau blogging on character arcs

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“People think writing children’s stories is some simple, easy thing. You’ve heard that, right? It is not; children deserve that as much attention be taken with their stories as would be taken with an adult novel. The child doesn’t need to recognize the many layers in a story. The layers of meaning will come later, or not, but the layers create the finished picture. The child just needs needs to enjoy the story, just needs that satisfying feeling of reading a story where the ending spreads like joy from the tips of the toes to the tips of the fingers and creates a bubbling-up-joy in the heart and mind.” – Jamaican author Diane Browne blogging Children as Heroes/Heroines of Their Own Stories

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!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon 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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Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed V

This picks up where the previous 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.

‘Her work presses all the right buttons in the academic psyche (“postcolonial”, “black”, “gender”, “feminist”, “transcultural”, “postmodern”). But for general readers, her greatest attraction lies in the sheer beauty, the power and intensity, of her writing.’ – from Jamaica Kincaid: Looking Back In Anger in Caribbean Beat Magazine

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“Walter’s paintings alone comprise eleven categories, including the Alphabet series of small-scale paintings given titles such as A for Ape, Q for Queen, and so on, and which represent ideas and objects from Walter’s world. With its devotion to nature and expressive pictures, this visual lexicon is similar to that of Frederic Bruly Bouabre. Another series, Flora and Fauna, depicts plants, fish, and animals accompanied by their taxonomic names, these reveal his obsession with the mysteries of nature.” – Frank Walter’s work discussed in Raw Vision

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“The collection’s true beauty is (for me) not necessarily in its images of women / womanhood, but in the lyrical language and in the broader philosophical wisdom it presents.”- Charmaine Valere on Jamaica Kincaid’s At the Bottom of the River

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unburnable“If I had to liken it to another work, Unburnable comes closest to Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, a longtime favourite of mine, and stands upright alongside Jamaica Kincaid’s The Autobiography of My Mother and Austin Clarke’s The Polished Hoe” – D. Gisele Isaac in Essential, Issue No.5 April/May 2006

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Considering“An interesting thing about Considering Venus is that Lesley’s sexuality is never defined. It’s just love between two women–with no barriers. Isaac has written a lovely book, with just the right fusion of prose and poetry make it a joy to read.” – Sistahs on the Shelf writing on Considering Venus

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The_Art_of_Mali_Olatunji_-_Full_Size_RGB_m‘This remarkable book, which elegantly blends commentaries and interpretations of “painterly photographs”, as the authors dub their work, is a feast for the imagination and a fountain of aesthetic thought. The photographs are made and not merely seen. The photographs are not only precise imitations of the real but deep penetrations of it, in search of Truth—the truth of the imitations of imitations.’ – Teodros Kiros at Fusion Magazine writing on The Art of Mali Olatunji: Painterly Photography from Antigua and Barbuda

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silent-music-1“… it’s also moving to observe Gomez come to other realizations in the process of seeking what are often elusive answers.” – re Melissa Gomez’s Silent Music at straight.com

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Antigua and Barbuda writers Tammi Browne-Bannister and Joanne C. Hillhouse had their stories from Akashic’s Mondays are Murder online noir series reviewed in the February 28th 2016 edition of Trinidad and Tobago’s Sunday Guardian. Of Barbados-based Browne-Bannister’s portrayal of male rage in Stabs in the Dark, Shivanee Ramlochan writes, “she fully embodies the rage and thwarted virility of the unnamed male narrator, not sparing him from the beast he becomes on the page. The author delivers a portrayal of the murderer in language that is pared down, the better to let the full weight of his brutality weigh in the storytelling.” Of Hillhouse’s The Cat has Claws, she writes, “…Hillhouse keeps the secrecy taut in her storyline, baring just enough suggestion to hold her reader captive…” Read the full reviews here

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“Connoisseurs will find it delicious, and everyday readers will see it as difficult and always just out of reach.” – at Repeating Islands, re Jamaica Kincaid’s See Now Then

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Musical Youth“In this young adult novel from Antiguan Joanne C. Hillhouse, second-place winner of the inaugural CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, music is both the food of love and a furnace for self-expression. Hillhouse speaks directly to young readers, but with concerns of colourism, class clashes, and society’s skewed expectations for boys and girls. There are no missteps in this tender coming-of-age romance, only an enthusiasm for love and life that reverberates triumphantly…” – Caribbean Beat, March/April 2016 re Musical Youth

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“I would want to say that as political and economic history this book by Paget Henry does have its equal and perhaps its betters, but as analysis of cultural development or underdevelopment, it is unsurpassed by any I know.” – Tim Hector on Peripheral Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Antigua by Paget Henry (article: Antiguan makes Great Contribution to Overcoming Underdevelopment: Paget Henry, originally published in the Outlet in 1985, republished in the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 8 Number 1 Fall 2015)

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“This is a profound examination of the human condition, as a child, in an island, colony, an independent colony, not as maudlin tale, but as wonderful lyricism.

a lyrical prose which uniquely and superbly captures the rhythm, the cadences, the magic, the nuances, the tones and shades of Antiguan English speech.” – Tim Hector on Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John, reprinted in the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 8 Number 1 Fall 2015

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“The Star Side of Bird Hill is worth it for Phaedra alone, and for Jackson’s evocative, lyrical writing — she makes Barbados come to life, and she’s comfortable with both humor and pathos.” – NPR re Naomi Jackson’s The Star Side of Bird Hill

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Shivanee Ramlochan wrote this about Musical Musical Youth (Joanne C. Hillhouse) on the Paper Based blog:

“Brimful with resonant notes on first-time courtships; adolescent discovery; tightly-knit friendships and the rewards of discipline, Musical Youth deserves multiple encores — this is one young adult pick you’ll want to savour several times over.”

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Hazra Medica wrote this about Unburnable in the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 8 Number 1 Fall 2015:

“Marie Elena John’s debut novel Unburnable is a tremendous surprise, and a welcomed addition to Antiguan literature, Anglophone Caribbean women’s writing, and Anglophone Caribbean writing in general. It is a surprise because its crafting belies the ‘greenness’ of its author. Its surprise is great because as a debut project, its tackling of massive/significant and underexplored themes and experiences in Antiguan/Caribbean literature is, for the most part, well-executed. Moreover, it is a welcomed addition because, among other reasons, it is a belated yet timely intervention into the conventional neglect and/or mistreatment of a number of Caribbean subjectivities and experiences by West Indian literature and literary criticism as well as West Indian and ‘Western’ historical narratives.”

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Reading Room Xl

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms, use the search feature to the right, to the right.

AUTHORS ON PUBLISHING

Honest. Is the loss of control worth it when you publish with a big five by Tracy Slater.

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“These near-acceptances taught me that my work couldn’t be terrible, and so I kept trying. But eventually, I got tired of all the striving and rejection. I’d been calling myself a writer for years, yet hardly anyone had ever read my work! It was time to change gears– not give up, but just try a different approach. This post is my attempt to retrace the path I’ve taken, and to share what I’ve learned along the way. If you, like me, are tired of rejection or don’t know where to begin submitting, here are a few ideas to consider…” Read Anne Liu Kellor’s ideas, and consider, here.

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“Publishing is one of those industries where, for better or worse, if the job’s done well, most of it is invisible. Most people will only remember the job of the proofreader if they find a typo that slipped through, for example. When you consider how many people are involved at each stage of a book’s development (editing, copyediting, designing, typesetting, proofreading) and how many other books each of them are juggling, you start to see why each book takes the better part of a year to work its way through the system.” – Jonathan Eyers, author of The Thieves of Pudding Lane

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“I teach what I call ‘active description’, which is what I write, and which is the only way I’ve found to get people to actually read description rather than skimming over it while searching for the next ‘good stuff’. Active description requires the writer to think hard about the objective of the scene he’s writing, create conflicts based on the setting or other descriptive elements, and then write the conflicts INTO the description.” – Holly Lisle talking matter of factly about her writing practices…but I’m posting it here because of her extensive commentary on her publishing experience. Read the full here.

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“I submitted SIX well over a hundred times to various poetry book contests, and in its eight years of circulation, the book was a finalist 36 times. … You must be relentless.” – Julie Marie Wade. Read more about submitting smart, submitting relentlessly from her and others at A Room of Her Own.

STORIES

This particular story is as much folk legend as fiction making Glen Toussaint not so much its writer as its chronicler, in the spirit of the Brothers Grim and Chaucer. He acknowledges as much in his introduction: “story is Geography, History, Truth and Lies, Fact and Fiction, Myth and Legend all rolled into two words that light up the eyes of folks old or young enough to know.” It is the story of the Slapping Hands. Read on.

VISUAL ART

This film (Maybe Another Time) is one minute long…does that make it a flash film? Which reminds me, be sure to check out the winning pieces from the 2015 Wadadli Pen Flash Fiction Challenge after you watch the film…TRIGGER WARNING Don’t want to spoil it for you but the ending was, for me, like a punch to the gut.

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This could be placed one of two places – in poetry for Esther Phillips’ Feathers…or here for Danielle Boodoo Fortune’s Wonder. It’s from the Missing Slate; check it out.

AUTHORS ON WRITING

Paule Marshall writes about what she learned from the Poets in the Kitchen. An interesting read. From The Poets in the Kitchen (merged)

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“In my play, I speak about the tragedy of being voiceless, of the fear that stops you from letting your voice be heard, and also the power that words have to shape your path.” – Ana Gonzalez Bello on Finding My Voice

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“As female artists, when we create in an environment like this, we are constantly aware of the politics of going against the grain. Women are permitted to dabble in the arts as a hobby but when you brand yourself as a serious artist, when you have the audacity to exhibit your work and to spend countless hours creating art, it means that you run the risk of being perceived as a ‘bad’ woman, one who is perhaps neglecting the more important work of contributing to society via traditionally prescribed roles.” – Tanya Shirley. Read more.

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“The problem with passing information through a POV character comes when you use the wrong one. When you funnel information through someone who should already know it, the audience gets wise to what you’re doing. In the film Gravity, George Clooney’s character keeps telling Sandra Bullock how satellite debris behaves in space, I kept expecting her to say, ‘You do know I’m an astronaut too, right?'” – Drew Chial

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“I have Derek Walcott at my bedside…He reminds me that poui yellow blossoms are as valid as daffodils dancing in the breeze,” – Barbara Jenkins in Susumba.

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“If you have anxieties about your writing, and you’re waiting for them to go away before you properly begin, my advice is to stop waiting and begin now. You won’t feel ready. Writing is difficult, and your doubt won’t dissipate overnight. Be patient with yourself. What will happen is that you’ll become accustomed to the doubt and difficulty. You’ll accept it as an intrinsic part of the writing process, and this preparedness will help you eventually ignore it. So acknowledge to yourself that writing is rarely easy, and that time doesn’t make it easier. Brace yourself for the hard slog, be brave and do it anyway. After all, it is writing’s difficulty which makes it beautiful. Don’t expect it to be anything else. Just keep calm, carry on, keep going.” Read more of Hannah Kent’s rules. I think I’m going to check out her book Burial Rites.

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“Fiction writing is totally dependent on your imagination, so all the daydreaming I used to do as a child was good practice.” – Vanessa Salazar

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“A writer needs to go out into the world. There aren’t that many things that can be written about on your own, in isolation.” – Monique Roffey

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“How much of the world’s fiction can readers explore in English? Shamefully little, according to Ann Morgan, whose latest project took her on a reading trip around the globe. According to Morgan, a substantial number of the world’s 196 independent nations can’t even claim a single novel available in English translation. She joins us to talk about the challenges and delights of literary travel.” – from the Guardian’s audio interview with British writer Ann Morgan and South Korean writer Han Kang.

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“There are all these stories swirling around in the Universe, and you just take a deep breath, close your eyes and grab one.” – Leone Ross

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“Sam Selvon kept his distinctive Trinidadian or West Indian voice intact in his literary self and manner as he depicted what was authentic. His stories are his ‘ballad’ (he calls it), reflecting what’s quintessentially oral and a literary ground-breaker, as he captures the foibles of West Indian immigrant life at home and abroad. In re-reading his stories it’s as if one has never left home – everything is captured in each brush-stroke of the pen” – Cyril Dabydeen on Sam Selvon on Writing

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“Learn to look at your work as if it isn’t your work. Be as hard on yourself as you would anyone else.” – Brian McDonald on judging your own work.

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“A friend of mine is a reader for the New England Review and he told me that typos are an indication to him that a story hasn’t been cared for enough. If the lines aren’t right, chances are the story isn’t either. And even though we know this isn’t necessarily true, it is true that our work has only one shot to make an impression on an editor.” – Emily Lackey on the process of submitting.

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“I write every day and see it as a way of life rather than a job.” – Monique Roffey. Read More.

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“Word by word.” – part of Paul Beatty’s answer when asked how his book (The Sellout) came to be. Read his full interview here.

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Jane Austen road tested novels by reading them aloud. More on the BBC.

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“The greater difficulty isn’t in avoiding autobiographical elements; the greater difficulty is to consciously craft the raw ore of your life into fiction, to transmute the glaringly real into a thing of (hopefully) accomplished artifice.” – Ruel Johnson in an interview with Shivanee Ramlochan.

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I’m currently reading Sharon Millar’s The Whale House and Other Stories and discovering how textured the spaces she imagines and/or reflects are; it’s an immersive experience. This Arc interview provides interesting insights on how she approaches her craft.

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“…for that is what writing is. It needs to become a habitual practice.” – Monique Roffey on developing a writing lifestyle and more.

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“I know what I’m trying to do: I’m trying to write a book and trying to write an original book. Those are the things that concern me. I’m always trying to write an original sentence or trying to figure out why I can’t grow blue poppies in Vermont or how to keep a woodchuck out of my garden or something like that.” – Jamaica Kincaid in 12 Reasons Why Jamaica Kincaid is a Badass at the Huffington Post.

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“There’s an assumption about writing sci fi and fantasy that you can just make up any old thing as you go along, but that’s no more true than it is of historical fiction. The world of your story must have its own internal logic, rules and constraints. What makes writing historical fiction perhaps even harder than writing sci fi and fantasy is that the constraints are historical facts – and you probably won’t know all of them…Whilst you have to know the period better than your readers do, you should reach around your writing, not write around your research. Let the characters and the plot lead the way.” – Jonathan Eyers, author of The Thieves of Pudding Lane, on The Importance of Research.

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Ann Morgan: “When I graduated from my creative writing master’s course and had to face the reality of earning my keep, I made a deal with myself: wherever I was working and whatever I was doing, I would always get up early and spend an hour or so on my own writing before I left to go and work for someone else. For the next few years, through a series of varied and sometimes rather strange jobs (administrator, campaigns officer for a charity, invigilator for school exams, assessor of doctors’ surgeries, freelance choral singer, professional mourner – don’t ask), I stuck to my bargain. Give or take the odd duvet day, I got up at around 6am, sat at my desk and wrote. I produced a lot of nonsense. Still, when I became a professional writer, I carried on with my regime. Before commuting into London to edit articles on planning applications for Building Design or write about the latest opportunities for international students for the British Council, I would spend an hour or so on my own (usually not very promising) projects.” Read how it’s all beginning to pay off.

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“I’ve been haunted by these memories for a long time. I guess I just decided it was time to let it out, all of it. There comes a time in your life when you say to yourself that if you continue to act normal and don’t go mad then your entire life has been a waste. I felt I had reached that moment, when I was tired of keeping it in, tired of the ordinariness, the routine, the boredom, and seeing the same ugly people every day. I went mad and wrote. A part of me wanted it to be a tribute to my family; the other part knew it was an expression of who I truly am.” – Ezekiel Alan, author of Disposable People.

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“Characters. It’s all about the characters.” – you had me at characters, Millie Ho.

POETRY

So much drama and tension in these lines…
“We arrive, and my daughter jumps out to snap a photo of Laguerre’s grave.
A car is parked in the circle drive in front of the closed mansion.
The trunk lid is open, and a man is bent over the trunk.
A teen on a motorbike holds out an open messenger’s bag to him.
The man is filling the bag with plastic packets.
I get it. Coño. I understand the frog-boy.

I calculate the footsteps necessary for my daughter
to return to the car, and the distance of that isolated drive back to Moca.
I wave her over, and she runs, already equally weirded-out.
Las entregadas, deliveries to be made by delivery boys of the cañavernal.
A perfect desolate spot for transactions after dark, who comes out here?” – from Yerba Mala by Loretta Collins Klobah. Read the full poem.

Interesting relationship here between the subject of the painting and the artist…and inevitably between the writer of the poem and them both…and now, the reader and the whole…
“Our boy does not look to the ship at his back,
nor to the sky, nor even to the sailors, who now have locked onto his arms.
Rather, he turns to look backwards, over his shoulder at Campeche, his blue eyes
gazing directly into those of his creator, neither grateful nor pleading.
One boy at the mercy of the sea— Campeche could dip a paintbrush, like an oar,
into the water to pull the boy out, but he does not.” – from The Salvation of Don Ramón Power by Loretta Collins Klobah. Read the full poem.

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On Describing Love by Danielle Boodoo Fortune

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Lost Love by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

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Congratulations to friend of Wadadli Pen Danielle Boodoo Fortune who served as a judge in 2014 and 2015 on her win of the 2015 Hollick Arvon prize at the Bocas literary festival in her homeland, Trinidad. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving artist. Here’s a sample of her work…

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Cranberry Sauce Provides An Improper Dressing For the Modern Turkey by Natasha Kochicheril Moni at Verse Daily.

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“At school they line children up. Aliens must stand aside to show themselves.” – Exposed by Althea Romeo Mark.

LISTS

Sharing this Culture Trip list of Jamaican writers mostly FYI; it’s always good to expand our knowledge of the Caribbean literary canon.

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