Tag Archives: Tonya Liburd

Reading Room and Gallery 42

Things I read or view or listen to 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. Possible warning for adult language and themes.

NON-FICTION

“Not enough genre peeps are being published writing in, for lack of a better word, non-Eurocentric dialects/vernacular.” – Dialog, Patois: If It’s Good Enough for Anthony Burgess, It’s Good Enough For You by Tonya Liburd

MISC.

The 2021 Virgin Islands Lit Fest was virtual. Here are all the panels, in case you missed it.

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“If you’re a regular here, you know I’m a Caribbean author, reader, and blogger, and I stay reading Caribbean, but I could stand to read a lot more and I’d bet you could too (so consider yourself recc’d).” – from my blog, Top Ten Tuesday #ReadCaribbean

REPORTING

“Although not the traditional form of storytelling, video games, like any other game reflect the culture in which it was forged. Video games, however, get a bad rap, because the associations we give to them such as encouraging antisocial and sedentary behaviours and lifestyles. However, video games provide a particularly unique opportunity to incorporate elements of Caribbean culture through their unique method of interactive narrative during gameplay.” – The Creolisation of Video Games. ‘If We are to preserve Culture, We must continue to create It.’ by Christal Clashing

POETRY

Ann-Margaret Lim

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‘and the takeoff/when the body comes fully in to play/is the throwing off of shackles” – ‘Dear Phibba’ by Ann Margaret Lim

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It’s work, it’s work, my cousins told me
when I complained about too many yachts in the sea,

how I didn’t feel safe swimming anymore.

It’s work, it’s work, I tell myself when I clock
in my time for the day.” – from ‘Solastalgia‘ by Catherine-Esther Cowie

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“The day her practised palm cracked my cheekbone,
I crawled into grief.” – from ‘Mother suffered from Memories‘ by Juleus Ghunta

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I say, Mr. Jno Baptiste
Maybe you’re just not crazy about this world anymore
Maybe you’re just mad, mad, mad about something
But what do I know

-from ‘What do I know’ in Guabancex by Celia Sorhaindo

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“Run.
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.” – Running Orders by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

FILM + OTHER VISUAL ART

Isolation‘ by Carl Augustus of Antigua and Barbuda is a hybrid water colour and poem about mental health, published to the Intersect Antigua-Barbuda platform.

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CONVERSATIONS

“We don’t like the word misogyny. We don’t like the word sexism and we don’t like the word misogyny (in the Caribbean)…there’s all this talk about gender based violence…this is misogyny…this is directed at women.” – Jamaican writer Jacqueline Bishop on the Rippling Pages podcast.

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Two iconic producers discussing how they did it from teenhood to an epic music catalogue.

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“…we don’t mind but it’s the parents of the other girls who might mind.” – Margaret Busby, first Black UK publisher, editor of Daughters of Africa and New Daughters of Africa, whose parents are Caribbean and who spent her earliest years in Ghana, about the responses her partents received when registering she and her siblings in British boarding schools. In conversation re Desert Island Discs with the BBC, in which she gives iconic song picks mixed in with personal history.

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“I had started it as a young adult fantasy book, there was a whole fantasy element to this.” – Trinidad and Tobagonian author N. G. Peltier discussing her romance novel Sweethand on the Tim Tim Bwa Fik Caribbean romance podcast. Scroll and click the playlist for conversations with various Caribbean writers of romance.

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“I’ve loved poetry for many years, reading and listening to it. I’ve always found it a powerful and connecting literary form, but I was relatively new to writing it.” – Celia Sorhaindo interviewed by Kahini

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“One night, I felt this feeling I’d been having my whole life: wake up, can’t see, can’t breathe.” – Courttia Newland in conversation with Johnny Temple of Akashic about out of body experiences, his new book, and the award winning Small Axe anthology series on which he was co-writer.

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“My mother being from the Caribbean and my father being from the South, and me having a huge need to fit in and low self-esteem, I lost my identity very quickly, trying to fit in, to go under the radar…the disconnect from getting to know who Michael was…and the ability to chameleon myself…that also started very early…I got addicted to fantasy very quick.” – Michael K. Williams (RIP) in one of his last interviews discussing his craft, his addiction, his background (which is part Caribbean on his mother’s side – she was an immigrant from the Bahamas), his love of cooking and trying new things, and more. Michael K. came to fame first as a back-up dancer and choreographer and later playing iconic roles like Omar in The Wire, and as a strong character actor in films like Bessie and When They See Us.

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“The Federal Art Project was part of something called Federal One, which had projects not just for the fine arts but also for theater, for writing, for music. There was a design index. It was one aspect of a really diverse and wide-ranging kind of project…the government saw it as an obligation, part of its duty, to provide artists in need with economic support. So they commissioned them to produce public art…The arts, for Roosevelt and the New Dealers, were seen as a fundamental component of a truly democratic society. A democracy could not call itself as such without art, music, theater, poetry, writing, design, photography, film.” – Alison Wilkinson in conversation with Jody Patterson for Vox

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“In the same ways that women were expected and didn’t slip in high school in reading Shakespeare and be expected to get all sorts of things from Shakespeare and from Walcott and from Brathwaite – men can get enormous things from this book and from reading these women as well and that’s what I’ll say to that. There is a stance that, “oh we have to think about the men’s feelings here, and whatnot,” but we don’t think about that when it comes to women reading male writers, right? Male writers, they have achieved, it seems, a kind of universality that “women have not”… Bullshit. I cry bullshit to that. Women, too, are universal. Right? So if you want good writing, if you want good interviews, if you want all of that, women can provide it as well. So male writers will get the exact same things and male readers will get the exact same things here that they would get from any good book.” – Jacqueline Bishop in conversation with Jamaica Creates

FICTION

‘I just thought we’d be in a better position,’ she said. ‘You know. By this stage in our lives. I thought we’d have made more of ourselves.’ – from ‘Attention‘ by Catherine Chidgey; it was shortlisted for the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story prize.

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“I arrived with kosher tacos, made from scratch with chicken liver and mole, and by the end of the night, all sixteen of them sat untouched in the pan, the sauce congealing beneath the foil.” – from ‘The Orphan Disease‘ by Jake Wolff in Kenyon Review

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“The sun hot like it beating your skin with a rubber strap.” – from ‘Cash and Carry‘ by Sharma Taylor, shortlisted for the 2020 Commonwealth short story prize

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“This is how you discover that you fall into that select category of People For Whom Ganja Is Useless.” – from ‘Hunger‘ by Andre Bagoo. This story was shortlisted for the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. It is posted on the Commonwealth Writers Adda platform.

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Jamaica Kincaid reading her short story ‘Girl’

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“‘I sit down waiting on the bed, and I hear he start to cry. And I know I in for lash. But he come quiet quiet in the room, lie down and say, “Aditi, I sorry.” I wanted to walk out that house then and there, but I ask him for what. He say everything. He say he sorry for everything. The word so stink and nasty after all he do, but he bawling sorrysorrysorry like he feel it go fix something. Like he feel I go start feeling sorry myself.’” – English at the End of Time by Rashad Hosein, shortlisted for the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

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“Don’t get me wrong: Long Island boys look good. When the Anglican Diocese host Jamboree here, all the girls from Exuma and Eleuthera drool over our boys like they ain’t got none back where they come from. But I ain’t never seen nothing like Demetri before. Brown sugar kiss his gilded skin. The sun blink at the golden glint of his hair. I almost drown in the cerulean waters that rise up to meet me when he look over. He got them eyes that shift with the light. Sometimes they so clear you could see right down to the bottom. Other times they froth with the Lusca’s rage.” – Granma’s Porch by Alexia Tolas

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“We meet our friends for happy hour, hand a twenty-dollar bill to the bartender, double-take when he quips, Still whiskey and Coke after all these years? We peer at him, recognize the brown boy we wrapped our arms around in a basement in Richmond Hill. While Aaliyah crooned on the radio.” – Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades, 2019 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest Winner

CREATIVES ON CREATING

The Daily Show has been doing a series ‘Beyond the Scenes’ – a how the sausage gets made series on the topical comedy segments on the show.

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“It looks as if I’ve been very prolific but actually there have been breaks” – Monique Roffey in conversation with Malika Booker for New Caribbean Voices – Books and Writers podcast

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“I spent a couple of summers as a kid in Barbados, but probably eight or nine summers in Antigua; so I actually spent a lot more time in Antigua with my dad’s family. So it’s a bit ironic that I spent so much time writing about Barbados ’cause I actually know a lot less about it and I’m less connected to my family there. But I think that actually opened up a space for me imaginatively to write about Barbados that wasn’t there for Antigua.” – Naomi Jackson on Writing Home: American Voices from the Caribbean

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“With all its horrors, the pandemic has led to a host of online workshops, open mics, events like poetry readings and literary festivals, virtual spaces to share, discuss and connect with other writers and writing communities, and a host of other opportunities. All of these have helped to improve my craft and my confidence. I have also been reading poetry voraciously from a diverse range of poets, and other articles that catch my interest, not just literary ones, from quantum physics to the amazing life and anatomy of an octopus. I assume it’s the same for everyone.” – Bocas longlisted poet (Guabancex) Celia Sorhaindo in conversation with US based Jamaican writer Geoffrey Philp on his blog.

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‘I’d had workshop earlier that day, and my professor, Elissa Schappell, said two pieces of advice that lodged in my brain: Don’t be afraid to take risks in your writing, and Write what only you could say. It was advice I needed to hear at that point in time; I’d been pursing art in an academic setting—the MFA—and the program had, ironically (or perhaps not-so-ironically), left me feeling creatively stifled. Elissa’s words reminded me of the thematic and formal risks I wanted, and absolutely needed, to take in my art. What she said helped me feel the freedom I needed to feel to begin “Brown Girls.”’ – Daphne Palasi Andreades, KR Conversations

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“Seabirds are a constant in my daily life. Along my daily commute frigates are flying overhead while pelicans rest on the waterside rocks. Just now, in the empty lot next to my apartment a lonely heron wanders about. When I ride the ferry over to the outer islands or over to St. Thomas, brown boobies chase the boat’s work. Sometimes I feel like my outstretched fingers may just graze their bellies.” – British Virgin Islands poet laureate and OCM Bocas prize winner Richard Georges in conversation with acclaimed and award winning Jamaican writer Jacqueline Bishop for her series in the Jamaica Observer Bookends supplement. Read the interview:

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“She changed the requirement that actresses in the movies being invariably likeable or attractive. She lifted the veil of appropriate behaviour in women to expose what was scary, unexpected, or ugly; in other words, to do what was appropriate for the character” – Meryl Streep on Bette Davis for Turner Classic Movies

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, 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 20

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 artists by rippling the water together. For earlier iterations of the Reading Room and Gallery, go back to XVlll and follow the links for the previous ones from there. 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.

MISCELLANEOUS

“The best career advice I can give is to stay flexible: When I was in grad school and teaching comp and freelancing—copyediting—I wrote my first book review for the Los Angeles Times.” – Carolyn Kellogg

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“Don’t worry about failing. There’s a great video where Ira Glass explains that when you start in a new field, your work won’t be as good as your taste. It will take years for your taste and the quality of your work to intersect. (If ever!) Failure is essential. There’s no substitute for it. It’s not just encouraged but required.” – Mike Birbiglia’s Six Tips for making it Small in Hollywood. or Anywhere

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“I quit my job, bought a one-way flight to Italy, and moved into a four-room farmhouse overlooking a valley. The Umbrian sun was as profound as it was supposed to be in pastoral Italy (after you quit your job, etc.). The valley was a patchwork quilt of olive grove and sunflower field; the row crops were bordered by copses of downy and turkey oak, as run through with pheasant and boar and stag, and, when seasonally appropriate, hunter. There was even an old paisano, Otello, who showed up now and again to instruct me on how to tend a newly-planted orchard of olive saplings. He spoke no English. I spoke no Italian. Va bene. Perfetto.” – Odie Lindsey, on becoming a writer…and a cliché

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“Inspired by Anne Frank, she kept a diary, which her parents discovered and read aloud before other members of the family, an experience that deeply traumatized her and kept her from writing for decades. The incident provided the starting point for the title story of the collection ‘Bodies of Water’ (1990).” – on the passing of Michelle Cliff

MUSIC

Give Thanks –India Arie

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08 Home Suite – Prelude No.1 & Mvt.1 – (Song For Loma) – Khan Cordice Live From a Music recital 2015.

FICTION

“Henry’s shoes were on his team, and they weren’t leaving him anytime soon.” – from Tonya Liburd’s Shoe Man

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‘The next morning, Naga complained to her mother, “De man beat me and tear me up last night.”

“Yuh go have tuh get used to that. Yuh is a woman now,” her mother said, handing her a cup of hardi tea. “Drink this, yuh go feel better.”’ – “Naga” by Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming

INTERVIEWS

“It got me in a lot of trouble, that wanting to fit in…and so when that light bulb went off in my head that I could do something artistic and get paid at it…I gravitated…I found something that one, held my attention, and two, didn’t feel like work.” – Michael K. Williams being interviewed by Charlie Rose

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“I have mentioned that the novel was born out of deep nostalgia. If I was back at home, and I saw my siblings every day, the space for the depth of reflection that birthed the story would not have happened. Since the work we do is imaginative, there is much value in trusting the power of hindsight. If I sat across from you at a cafe and I was to describe that moment on the spot, I would write about the obvious things you did. But if I lie down in my bed later that night, and the light was off, and I closed my eyes, the fine-grain details will trickle in. I will remember the unobvious things, the person scratching their wrist, or hawking into a napkin—those fine details that enrich fiction. That is, it is then, when the person is gone and the meeting is ended and the day is forgotten that things become closer, clearer.”  – Chigozi Obioma

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“My grandmother was Caribbean and Caribbean folk are very private; they just don’t believe in sharing a lot of their personal history.” – Bernice McFadden on MPR talking about her Book of Harlan

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“If most days are not filled with writing, they are filled with the thought of writing – the fixing of a sentence I haven’t even written yet, testing it on my tongue, trying to figure out its pauses or its cadence, or else the chasing of some strange idea, the way I imagine Jamaican maroons would have once chased wild hogs through the thicket. And always I want to grab hold of this idea, to wring its neck then flop it down on the table like some mad surgeon, as if to determine how many poems or stories or essays can be removed from its guts. I have a bad knee though, and seem to chase elusive and slippery things. Most days I do not grab hold of anything. Most days they slip away, grunting happily in the undergrowth. I go to bed most nights, disappointed, but I say to the sound in the bushes just beyond me, tomorrow! Tomorrow I will catch you.” – Kei Miller. Read the full Guardian interview.

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“We shouldn’t have to travel to Ghana and visit this castle to have this history.” – Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing on The Daily Show. “If you want to paint a full picture of the slave trade , you have to include the African side of it.”

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‘“I’ll give you two positions.  One is the position of these writers who feel that they will overtake me,” he says.  “That’s fine, if they’re going to write better work than me….  I assure them that I will be writing when I die.  The second position is my own.  I consider them to be competitors, and I’ve told them so.”’ Robert Edison Sandiford’s 1998 interview with Austin Clarke, the esteemed Bajan writer who passed in 2016

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“Caribbean fiction writing has really been hit hard on the publishing end; I spoke to Macmillan Caribbean who noted that they were focusing only on textbooks at this time. Other Caribbean publishing may be doing the same. Even when they publish children’s books, you have to market your books yourself on the side so that it would get a second print. We are a textbook publishing region because there is money in it.” – Marsha Gomes-McKie, interview on her role as Regional Advisor, Caribbean South Chapter of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators and more

CREATIVES ON CREATING

Then (John) Ridley explained his secret: “If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to be a listener first.” – Sarah McCoy

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“An artist in a studio, working.” – Antonya Nelson

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“Once you’ve chosen a setting, be specific about its nature. Your setting should never seem vague or half-imagined. Some writers will draw landscape maps. Some will create a layout for the house in which their characters live. If your story takes place outdoors, be aware of the terrain, the season of the year, the foliage, the weather, the color and texture of the sky. If your story takes place indoors, be aware of the architecture, the kind of furniture, the feel of the room (stuffy, open, cozy, cluttered), the amount and quality of light, the smell of the air. This does not mean you must describe all these elements in detail, but the more aware you are of your setting, the more you will be able to capture it and integrate it into the story.” – Abby Geni

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“I wanted to write about the life of children and the lives of their parents without everyone thinking it was about me and my children and their life,” she said. “And of course, everyone thinks it is. It is not. I maintain it is not.”  – Jamaica Kincaid speaking about See Now Then

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“But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that only Romeo & Juliet would work. Middle grade readers know this play even if they haven’t read it or seen it performed; it’s embedded in our culture. My plan was to use the play as much as possible, plotting Star-Crossed on a track parallel to Shakespeare’s play: The Capulets and the Montagues became rival school cliques. Willow (Tybalt) throws a Halloween party but doesn’t invite Mattie, who sneaks in, disguised as Darth Vader. That’s where she meets and flirts with Gemma, who assumes that underneath the costume, Mattie is a boy. And so on.” – Barbara Dee

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“Now that I’ve read through my manuscript a few times I’m starting to notice some little things that I never necessarily thought about during my first (or second or third) pass. I’m going through and carefully adding more layers to all of the characters so that they talk and feel like real people – complicated and varied the way we all know real people to be. During this process I can’t help but notice what may or may not be a big issue: I never described what my main character looked like.” – from Caitlyn Levin’s post ‘How do I look?’ at She Writes. In it, Caitlyn Levin notes that only at her third or fourth pass through her finished novel length manuscript did she realize she’d not described what the main character looks like. But does it matter, she asked. It’s a worthwhile read if you’re wondering how much or too little to reveal of character. Good insights in the comments section as well. Below, I’ll share excerpts from the ones I found most interesting (and perhaps most helpful to us all here at Wadadli Pen):

“If you choose not to describe your character, do make sure that’s an aesthetic choice used to maximum effect.  For example, Dickens’s narrator in ‘Bleak House’ is so unreliable that we never realize she is beautiful until the final chapter, a ‘minor’ detail that sends us reimagining the entire book and feeling even greater empathy for our heroine…You might think of Dickens’s choice as setting the bar.  If your reason is less compelling, less essential to the plot, consider going back through the manuscript to make one quick pass where you take an objective look at how much of your protagonist is truly on the page.” – ST

“I’m a visual person, so when I read a book, I flat out want to know what the character looks like. Our minds will always fill in the blanks, regardless. Tell me someone is blonde with blue eyes, and I will picture someone different than you. But at least it gives me enough to form a mental image to proceed. … She can twist a piece of her curly auburn hair around her finger, she can think of the size of her hips as she’s squeezing into a pair of jeans, someone can have an eye color just like hers.” – LGO

“Consider TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Scout doesn’t waste a word describing herself, but don’t we see her clear as day? She’s someone cantankerous tomboy we know from our past, the closest approximation in our lives, and that makes her personal to us. Neat trick, huh?”

This was my response:

“I think it comes down to what serves the story…what the character notices (or doesn’t notice) about herself and others says something about her. So I don’t have a problem with the author choosing to reveal or not reveal what a character looks like as long as it’s in harmony with the larger narrative. For instance, in my book Oh Gad! the main character’s struggles with her own place in things, her identity within her family is in part explored through the physical likeness and differences between her and other members of the family…that her mother largely exists in shadowed memory with a physicality that suggests an imposing persona is important to the narrative (and the understanding of that relationship) but what’s more important is her hands so that’s where the detail lies…that another characters’ peculiarities are illustrated often by his ‘strange’ physical appearance becomes important in the telling (as does her response to that ‘strangeness’)…in general, I tend to give something of the physicality  because there’s usually a visual in my mind from which these characters are drawn but I give to the extent that it serves the story.
Bottom line, I do like detail that add texture to the world of the story (including the characters), but not if it gets in the way of the story. It’s a balance I’m still working to master.”

BLOGS

“Read more and you will learn from your teachers in ink: Authors.” – Yecheilyah Ysrael

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“A few weeks ago, I read a column by a young columnist in one of our newspapers. It was after The Olympics and we were just full up with gratitude to our athletes, and especially happy for our Usain Bolt. The writer said that he had read this book when he was in school about great sportsmen of the world, Mohammed Ali and Pele ( I think he mentioned those), and he wondered if he would ever see any greats like that again  in the world, and here he was seeing  our own Usain Bolt, as great an athlete as ever there was in the world. I was amazed.I wondered if he was referring to the Dr. Bird Series (he remembered the books arriving at his school in a box), provided by the Ministry of Education, and written by Peggy Campbell (of blessed memory), Karl Phillpotts and I.” – Diane Browne

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“When I finished the novel I began to think about ways I could use the story with my fourth grade students.” – Patrick Andrus

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“I am sun-smothered, round, smooth, quiet in my mind and spirit.” – Bernice McFadden writing from Egypt

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Books can introduce children to tough topics in an age appropriate way. Kate Messner blogs her experience with one school after her book The Seventh Wish was deemed too tough for the kids to handle.

ON PUBLISHING

“Faced with seemingly infinite lists, calls for submissions, classified ads, databases, and fair-and-festival tables, how do I select which journals and magazines to send my work to with the hope that, after editorial review, my pages may indeed find proverbial “homes” online and/or in print?” – Erika Dreifus on 13 Questions to Ask Before Submitting to a Literary Journal

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“Find databases of agents at Absolute Write, Query Tracker, Poets & Writers, and Lit Rejections.” – Eight Essential Tips for Getting Your YA Novel Published by Jenny Manzer

VIDEO

That’s Antiguan and Barbudan Arlen singing on this track. Big up.

POETRY

“More of one thing
Doesn’t rhyme with one thing.” – from Violins by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

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Harmonium by Michael Klein first partHarmonium by Michael Klein second part

Harmonium by Michael Klein

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