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Wadadli Pen Challenge 2017 – the Long List

PLEASE NOTE: There have been some updates made to this post.

The judges have finished all rounds of judging and have culled the submissions to 11 – all set to receive category prizes with three claiming the top three slots. As we do, the stories/poems were returned to the initial long list of writers for editing before the second round of judging to determine the top three. We return the top entries to the writers with edit notes from the judges so that said entries go through at least one round of the kind of editing they would go through before publishing if submitted to a journal, anthology, or imprint for publishing. We do this because Wadadli Pen is developmental in intent, and we want the writers to focus not just on the prizes but on improving their craft. There was also a third round of judging which resulted in some adjustments to the initial long list.

As a reminder, the judges don’t  receive any names or other identifying information; they evaluate the entries blind, strictly on merit. And, of course, the judges’ decisions are final. If you’re not on the list, use the disappointment to fuel your motivation to come even better next year; if you are on the list, CONGRATULATIONS.

FINALLY, this is what you came here for…

From 93 96 eligible entries! (a single year record), here’s the revised long list (in alphabetical order):

The Schools which will receive the prize as the school prize with most submissions – Island Academy

Authors who are winners in their age category and still in the running for the main prize –

Emma Belizaire (St. Andrew’s Primary School, student) – entry ‘Cricket is my Life’

Ashley Francis (St. Andrew’s Primary School, student) – entry ‘Our Caribbean’

Fayola Jardine – entry ‘Mango Picking Interruption’

Andrecia Lewis (Antigua State College, student) – entry ‘Strange’

Lucia Murray (St. Anthony’s Secondary, student) – entry ‘Mr Duppy’

Ava C. Ralph (Antigua Girls High School, student) – entry ‘Non fiction?’

Kaeiron Saunders (St. Anthony’s Secondary School, lecturer) – entry ‘Not Another Island Story; as told by Aunty Gah’

Shadieal Simmons (Baptist Academy, student) – entry ‘Brave Eleven-year-old saved two months Baby’

Zion Ebony Williams (Baptist Academy, student) – entry ‘Who don’t hear, will feel’

Devon Wuilliez (Island Academy, student) – entry ‘The Great Big Dumz’

Francis Yankey (Antigua Grammar School, student) – entry ‘And She Sang Fire’

Once again, congrats to the finalists; and good luck!


Some thanks:

To the teachers, principals, parents, and others who helped students/young writers get their entries in. Processing posed some challenges for us because, frankly, everyone did not follow the submission guidelines (and that’s an understatement) but, though this has delayed final processing, we do appreciate the effort; and will work to make submitting more user-friendly.

To the team – including past winner Devra Thomas who’s helping deal with communication with patrons so that we can properly reward these writers; past finalist and our first ever intern Michaela Harris who has assisted with media and administrative tasks; returning chief judge and author (Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses, Through the Window) Floree Whyte and her team for doing the Difficult; and past winner Margaret Irish who did not know what she was walking in to when she offered to take processing of entries and communicating with entrants off of my hands (but I appreciate it).

You may have noticed, if you’ve followed our pattern over these 13 years of Wadadli Pen, that we are behind schedule-wise. Some of you have already started querying (what gives?). Well, what gives is that we have decided to open up the schedule and announce the winners during the May 13th Wadadli Stories Book Fair; call it circumstance, call it fortune but we think it’s a good blend of brands. Plus another team member Barbara Arrindell is involved with both projects – as is patron the Best of Books – so it just made sense. Though it means a longer wait for the final results. Be patient with us; we will do our best to make it worth your while.

Wadadli Stories logo

For more on the project, check:
About Wadadli Pen
Wadadli Pen 2017
Wadadli Pen 2017 Challenge Patrons

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer 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, and With Grace; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.


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Telling Teachers Thanks

Just dropping in to say thank you to all the teachers for all the work you do every day (you don’t make enough, seriously). Thanks especially to the teachers who have supported Wadadli Pen over the years by informing and motivating your students, and where necessary submitting their entries on their behalf. Thanks for the encouragement you’ve provided to me by letting me know that you value this programme. Thanks for the ways you’ve partnered with projects like the Cushion Club (for instance the teachers at Buckleys who each year helped select a recipient of the Cushion Club Humanities Prize). For the teachers who encourage students to read, my books or books by others, who tell them stories, who encourage them to tell their own, thank you. Thank you for the thankless task of being a socializing agent in our society. Sending you encouragement. And urging you to pass on encouragement to the children in your charge, a negative word lingers and a positive word can inspire.

This post (which is like 5 hours late as it’s now 5 a.m. on October 6th 2015) is inspired by all of you and your special day, the UNESCO endorsed World Teachers Day.


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, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Wadadli Pen Celebrates a Record Number of Submissions in its 10th Year

Organizers of the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge are reporting that phase one of the annual competition has been completed.

According to founder and coordinator of the Challenge Joanne C. Hillhouse, 78 pieces were submitted from 62 individuals. This represents an increase when compared to data available for the last three years. In 2011, there were 40 submissions and 31 participating writers; in 2012, there were 57 entries and 39 participating writers; and in 2013, there were 55 entries and 34 participating writers. For the complete picture, the number of participating artists from each year would need to be added, but there’s a clear upward trend since the annual Wadadli Pen Challenge’s revival, after a three year hiatus, in 2010.

The coordinator credits this increase in participation to the efforts of her team of promoters, who visited schools, and created awareness via the media. Special thanks goes to Glen Toussaint and Barbara Arrindell of the Best of Books for engagement with teachers, Floree Williams who created the online promotional video, Joy Lawrence who visited the schools, and, for media promotino, past finalists – Angelica O’Donoghue, Lia Nicholson, Latisha Walker Jacobs and Liscia Lawrence – the latter penning an open letter in which she acknowledged  being a confused teenager when she first entered in 2004, the Challenge’s first year, and said,  “The Wadadli pen competition gave me the opportunity to use my words, and, in so doing, built my confidence, eliminated my fears, it gave me a voice.”

When asked if she was happy with the number of entries, Hillhouse – now a published author of several books including Oh Gad! who remembers being a confused teenager finding her voice through writing – said, “I am happy with the initiative shown by several teachers in the primary division in prepping and sending entries from their students. A number of schools that have never participated before did so this year.  Would I like more? Of course, but the truth is that I’m less concerned with having lots of entries than in having really promising entries and participation from people who are genuinely interested.”

The majority of writers submitting, 30, falls into the 12 and younger category; and between student and teacher submissions, 2014 marking the introduction of the Lead by Example Teachers Prize, there were submissions from 20 educational institutions.

As Hillhouse and her small team complete the task of sorting the entries, the judges begin their work. The Wadadli Pen challenge is unique as some writers will be given a second chance to edit/improve their script. Specifically, the top entries in the various categories will be identified and the judges will provide these writers with editing tips which they are asked to consider before resubmitting. It is at this point that registered artists will be called upon to submit their work; their Challenge to create cover designs for short listed stories.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in March.

Business places and individuals have committed their contribution through pledges of cash and gifts. They are, to date, Art at the Ridge; Pam Arthurton; the Cushion Club; Caribbean Reads Publishing; Danielle George-John; Ruel Johnson; Pearson Caribbean; Raw Island Products; Juneth Webson; Elaine Spires; Jane Seagull; Photogenesis; the Map Shop; D. Gisele Isaac; Frank B. Armstrong; Brenda Lee Browne; Barbuda Express; as well as Floree Williams, Joy Lawrence, Carol Mitchell, Joy James, Barbara Arrindell, the Best of Books – also programme partners. Other partners are Linisa George and the past finalists named plus Devra Thomas. Hillhouse noted that patronage is still welcomed and no gift is too small, or for that matter too big.

For all things Wadadli Pen follow https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com

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  • Must be legal resident of Antigua & Barbuda
  • Submissions may not be longer than 600 words
  • Items submitted may be published on the Wadadli Pen web site or used to promote the challenge in the future.
  • All submissions must be made electronically after carefully reading through guidelines and rules posted at https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com
  • Entries may be either fiction or poetry of no more than 600 words. Creative non-fiction will be considered as well…but make sure they’re C.R.E.A.T.I.V.E.
  • Entries can be any theme, as well as, any literary genre or sub-genre and/or style.
  • Entries must, however, be Caribbean in spirit.
  • Each writer is allowed up to three entries.


EMAIL wadadlipen@yahoo.com

*thanks to Barbara Arrindell @ The Best of Books for creating this simplified version of our guidelines for teachers. Get those entries in. Show ’em how it’s done.

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Coming soon

For artists and writers 35 and younger in Antigua and Barbuda, and teachers of all ages…

2014 Wadadli Pen flyer

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Talking Youth Friendly Writing Resources in Antigua and Barbuda

This is one of my favourite queries of the last Wadadli Pen season, because this is the kind of teacher who inspires us:

“I’m in dire need of some expert help with some students in my class. They are exceptionally good writers and I want them to get some exposure so they can develop even more.”

This teacher, I should add, went on to submit entries from students in her class, as in took the time to scan and submit the entries herself as well as all of the required information on each student. In addition to that, she also submitted entries of her own as a way she said of setting an example.

Kudos to her and here’s hoping she and her students are somehow rewarded for their efforts in this year’s challenge. The judging is blind of course so there are no guarantees but I wish them success.

I also wish to share (and expand upon) parts of my response as it may be of interest/use to other teachers out there and inspiration to potential patrons and partners.

One of the things I told her is, of course, to encourage her students to submit to the Wadadli Pen Challenge, letting her know as well that one of the things we do, particularly with the short listed writers, is provide feedback that should guide them in strengthening their entries. It’s part of our desire for this to be developmental and not just another contest; with Wadadli Pen writing (and building writing skills) is not just the medium but the message.

Meanwhile, I’ve visited many schools over the years (and so have my Wadadli Pen partners and associates) and, for me, time (and frankly funds to cover  at least some of that time as writers don’t live in a bubble where bills don’t exist) is a constraint to doing so at this time but I’m hoping (and have hoped for a while) that we can attract the resources that will allow us to direct our attention to offering year round in-school, in-community workshops, and lay the ground work for the start of in-school reading and writing clubs, or do some kind of summer programme. Recently in conversation with a writer from another Caribbean country, I learned about how between the PTA and the cultural foundation (something lacking here in Antigua) they are actually able to fund writers going into the schools on a consistent basis. Had me wondering what is it they get that we don’t seem to get here in Antigua and Barbuda?


Wadadli Pen has been about finding a way to make a way and if we’re able to access the necessary funding, and it’s a big if, that’s the hope and the dream. At the moment, Wadadli Pen is all voluntary, all the time, and we are stretched pretty thin;  but with more resources, more patronage, we could do more. Here’s hoping. #notgivingup

I also let the teacher know of both the Just Write programme and the Young Poets Society of Antigua and Barbuda, both projects of Wadadli Pen associates/partners.

I should have mentioned the Cushion Club as well as I know from experience that one way to build writing skills is by reading and reading a lot, so for younger kids especially the Cushion Club is a great place to start. Plus, I’m pretty sure that our partner, the Best of Books has some kid programmes as well.

So, the moral of the story, I think, is you can start by reading to and with kids, in home in the school; encourage their writing however you can and, where possible, encourage them to particpate in the sparse opportunities that exist; and help us get the patronage we need to do more of what we do.

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Open Letter to Schools in Antigua and Barbuda

We at Wadadli Pen are hoping that you had a good National Reading Day
We’d like to suggest that a writing exercise might be a good follow up to Reading Day. Perhaps the students having read and heard the stories of others can begin to imagine their own stories.
Food for thought.
Be reminded that the submission deadline is February 15th 2013.
Here are your art guidelines and your writing guidelines, and literary prompts if you need them. Be encouraged in the important work that you do and continue to encourage the students to do what they do best – dream, create, express themselves.
founder/coordinator Wadadli Youth Pen Prize
p.s. Remember the Secondary and Primary school with the most submisions also wins a prize.

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