Tag Archives: shortlist

Good News for Six Caribbean Writers, Bad News for the Burt Award

Six shortlisted writers have been named though dampened by the concurrent announcement that the CODE sponsored Burt Award for teen/young adult Caribbean literature is coming to an end. The award was first bestowed in 2014 but with the death of its founder Canadian philanthropist Bill Burt in 2017 has come a shift in priorities – reportedly to environmental matters, which is a pressing concern in these perilous times. The Caribbean leg of the award has been administered these five years by the Bocas Literary Festival in Trinidad and Tobago  in partnership with the Canadian non-profit CODE which runs similar programmes in Africa and among the indigenous community in Canada – all of which will need alternative funding if they are to continue. The purpose and effect of the award has been to generate and distribute new writing from typically marginalized communities with the youth population as a specific target.

This year’s short list from a field of 46 consists of:

Jomo’s Story by Nastassian Brandon (Jamaica)

The Unmarked Girl by Jeanelle Frontin (Trinidad and Tobago)

The Accidental Prize by Tamika Gibson (Trinidad and Tobago)

The Mermaid Pools by Rehannah Azeeyah Khan (Trinidad and Tobago)

Daylight Come by Diana McCaulay (Jamaica)

Rise Of The Clearrock by Celia Sankar/ S.P. Claret (Trinidad and Tobago)

McCaulay and Gibson are repeat Burt finalists – Gibson placed first in 2016 for Dreams Beyond the Shore, subsequently published by Jamaica’s Blue Banyan Books, and McCaulay’s Gone to Drift was second placed in 2015 and subsequently published by Papillote Press of Dominica and the UK. The list of past Burt finalists can be found here.

From a 2019 Burt/Bocas email: ‘Action, adventure, fantasy, myth, and forbidden love are some of the themes that feature in the shortlist. The judges were effusive in their praise for the quality of the writing, the credibility of the characters and the effectiveness of the plots in these six titles. Their comments on the entries range from “haunting” and “dark” to “enjoyable, fun, educational” and “ground breaking”.’

The winner and up to two finalists will be announced during the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, May 1st to 5th in Trinidad, with $10,000 CDN going to the winning book and $2,000 CDN each to two finalists. A distinctive feature of the Burt award which accepts both published and unpublished manuscripts is that it invites regional publishers to bid for the opportunity to publish one of the winning titles, and purchases and distributes copies of the finished product – the former helping to build the publishing infrastructure in the region, the latter ensuring that the books get in to the hands of their target readership.

Personal note: I am sorry to see this competition die (potentially, if it doesn’t find new funding – though Bocas has done a good job of sourcing alternative funding for, for instance, the Hollick Arvon prize which is now the the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize). I think Burt has been good in terms of generating fresh content and creating renewed enthusiasm among secondary schoolers especially for Caribbean writing to which they feel they can relate. That’s certainly been my experience with Musical Youth, my second placed Burt title, published by Caribbean Reads Publishing, in its inaugural year, 2014, and now on schools reading lists in two Caribbean islands (but more than that the word of mouth enthusiasm from teenage readers). I am happy to have had the opportunity to serve as a Burt Award workshop leader here in Antigua, as a judge of the Caribbean leg of the award, as a mentor of the Africa leg, and as a Burt title editor; I have also enthusiastically promoted the programme – whether reviewing books like All over Again, Gone to Drift, Home Home, and Inner City Girl, which are unsurprisingly of high quality, or encouraging people to enter the competition. I only wish more of us, small islanders, had made it to the winners’ circle – to date (not including 2019) winning books have hailed from Trinidad and Tobago (5), Jamaica (3), Guyana (2), Bermuda (2), Barbados (1),  Puerto Rico (1), and Antigua and Barbuda (1). I want to thank Mr. Bill Burt for this initiative; he did a good thing.

I hope that some other philanthropist or philanthropists sees that arts funding is also a priority – especially in such perilous times.

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, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). 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.


Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business

Wadadli Pen 2014 Challenge – The Short List

Congratulations to all the writers who took a creative leap by participating in the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge, and to those who impressed the judges enough to make the short list. In no particular order, they are:

Carmen Ambrose (teacher, Teacher Training, Antigua State College)

Chammaiah Ambrose (9, student, Sunnyside Tutorial School)

Vega Armstrong (12, student, St. Anthony’s Secondary School)

Terry Benjamin Jr. (11, student, St. John’s Catholic Primary School)

Letisha Carrington Faracho

Damian G. K. De Silva (teacher, Antigua Grammar School)

Ariel Dunnah (18, student, Antigua State Collge)

Zahra Tahira Suzette Emanuel  (14, student, Irene B. Williams School)

Daryl George (Youth Department employee)

Christopher Gittens (11, student, St. John’s Catholic Primary School)

Asha Graham (16, student, Antigua State College)

Daniel Ince (10, student, T N Kirnon School)

Margaret Mae Maria Irish (teacher, ABIIT & after school programme)

Liscia Lawrence

Arizé Sabien Charles Lee (18, student, Antigua State College)

Zoë Kyah I. Lewis (12, student, St. John’s Catholic Primary)

Mjolnir Messiah (10, student, Minoah Magnet Academy of Math, Science and Technology)

Kaylee Meyer

Kelvin Juwon Miller (17, student, Antigua State College)

Alexandra Nathaniel Spence (18, student, Antigua State College)

Paula Russell-Peters (teacher, T N Kirnon School)

Kohlyah Piper

Angelica O’Donoghue

Zion Ebony Williams (8, student, Baptist Academy)


We can also announce that the school with the most submissions is… (drum roll)… T N KIRNON PRIMARY SCHOOL. This is T N Kirnon’s first year in the Challenge; so kudos to them for stepping up in a big way. That’s the only teaser you’ll be getting. To see all short listed writers awarded and the top finalists across all the literary and visual arts categories named, you’ll need to come out to the awards ceremony to be held Sunday 30th March at the Best of Books, beginning at 4 p.m.

Participating writers and artists, please take note of the date and time, check back here and/or respond in a timely manner to any emails sent as we continue the work of not only encouraging and rewarding promising Creatives but helping to nurture the talent and potential we see in the submitted works; and as we move toward making our 10th anniversary celebrations our best yet.

With thanks to all Patrons and Partners.

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