Tag Archives: Trinidad and Tobago

Carib Plus Lit News (Late August 2019)

CARIFESTA

Antigua and Barbuda met up with the rest of the Caribbean in Trinidad for CARIFESTA (the largest showcase of its kind for Caribbean talent) – and, in case you didn’t know, Antigua and Barbuda is the venue for the next CARIFESTA (in 2021). I have very few details but I  got the image of the passing of the baton from the last venue to the next (via proxys Trinidad and Tobago’s Culture and Arts Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister responsible for Culture, National Festivals and the Arts, Daryll Matthew) from the Antigua and Barbuda CARIFESTA facebook page and  believe you can link up  there for things related to AnB and CARIFESTA as plans evolve. You already know my thoughts and that of some other writers in our community on the (non/under/limited) presence of Antigua and Barbuda literary arts in CARIFESTA over the years, and Mark Brown – one of Antigua and Barbuda’s top artists – expressed concern re the (lack of) visibility of visual arts at this year’s event as well on his social media. Granted, there’s a bit of the grass is greener dynamic at play as well as I’ve seen countries which do better on arts generally weigh in with similar complaints via social media; and from the images and videos generally Trinidad and Tobago and the participating countries put on a good show. I’ve tried to share what I could on my social media (because I still support Antigua-Barbuda, and Antigua-Barbuda arts every time, notwithstanding my criticisms [or my haterade/grudgefulness/badmindedness, for those who choose to see said criticisms that way]) – highlights like the Antigua and Barbuda delegation enthusiastically singing Burning Flames ‘Swinging Engine’ in the opening parade (minus the “in she gear box” part), and Hell’s Gate performing a medley of tunes by one of our Big Three calypsonians, Swallow, with infectious youthful enthusiasm. I know a number of our soca stars – Ricardo Drue, Menace, CP, Tizzy – performed, as did the national youth choir, and, I believe, the Antigua Dance Academy (founder of which, Veronica Yearwood, I spotted in some of the images). Shout out to our community of artists, always! And, a personal note, shout out to TnT writer and illustrator of my children’s picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure who presented our book during a session with children and shared on social media – so that I had a small presence there, in spirit. Pardon any oversights in the mentions – it’s not intentional. To that point…I note that a film I worked on as associate producer HAMAfilms The Sweetest Mango, Antigua and Barbuda’s first feature length film (released 2001) also showed – for the record, as you know from our data base/s we are all about the record here at Wadadli Pen, and because I’ve caught this error in a few reports, the film was produced by Howard and Mitzi Allen, directed by Howard Allen, but written by D. Gisele Isaac (both this and HAMA’s second film, No Seed, on which I served as production manager, were written by D. Gisele Isaac, who before her current life in politics also penned the boundary shifting book Considering Venus, not to mention being a founding partner of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize). The record is important. And, for the record, I wish the hosting of CARIFESTA in Antigua and Barbuda well. Someone posted wondering if they would expect full participation from the artists who have been overlooked CARIFESTA after CARIFESTA (the 2019 edition was the 14th iteration, going all the way back to the 1970s); and they well might…and I venture that for the love of the arts, our artists will show up; still, it is cynical to expect support from the artists in an environment where support for the artists has been so lacking. Hopefully, the road to CARIFESTA will include some reflection and a renaissance that embraces all forms of artistic expression.

Art Conversation

I wrote before about the Rooted at Home and Abroad exhibition at the national museum featuring the works of Zucan Bandele and Walter J. Parker. The exhibition will run to the end of August. Meanwhile, last Friday (August 23rd 2019), the exhibitors invited the community in for a conversation around the art being displayed. Curator Mali Olatunji (who was fine arts photographer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for more than 20 years) also spoke about some of his own art (e.g. the dirty beauty of the polluted sea at sunset) and about other art made in Antigua and Barbuda. And as he showed works by Frank Agard (copper and brass craftsman whose displayed work was an image of the St. John’s Cathedral) and Freeston Wright (an image of his work on canvas – a scene from earlier Antigua), I couldn’t help lamenting, again, the lack of a national art gallery (as a repository of Antigua and Barbuda’s art past and present, a creative space to encourage new artistic expressions, and a showcase with potential commercial value). Too often we find ourselves rediscovering what should never have been lost and not recognizing, embracing, celebrating, and encouraging what is.  A space for discussions like this. One young girl stood and spoke about her own art, and about what she saw in Parker’s art, and in some ways a connection she saw between them: “I totally get that he would make these beautiful things and not be caught up in exposing them.” Yes, among the things discussed was why the artist makes art, and how we interpret art – with attendees noting that sometimes the artist’s intention is clear and sometimes “the persons who look at it will get different interpretations” (Olatunji). Bandele spoke about his masks series and about the African deities he had captured on canvas – the former, poetic pieces inviting the viewer to look in to the head of the masquerader and the latter embodiments of goddesses like Yemojah (Mami Wata) who has dominion over the water. The works of the two exhibitors – Bandele and the deceased Parker whose paintings were of people in different poses and scenarios, all colourfully masked – seemed to be in conversation with each other.

CARNIVAL WRAP

Speaking of Art conversations there are one or two stories from the Antigua Carnival season that ought not be purely seasonal – a few really – but I’m just going to drop a couple. One has to do with panorama which was adjudged a success despite a too drawn out show and the absence of one of Antigua and Barbuda’s top bands, Halcyon due to lack of sponsorship (so Babu told me when I asked him on Carnival Tuesday – as Halcyon was in the parade). I heard a media report in which when it was pointed out to our PM that the band, Halcyon, had given lack of funds as the reason for their non-participation he jested that they were just running scared. Winning band Hell’s Gate is from the PM’s community so this response was likely some of that ages old rivalry between the seasoned bands and their respective communities, no harm no foul. The rest of the comment though, that a couple of other bands had checked him for funds and Halcyon could have done the same misses the point though in my opinion that arts development is continuous, that the arts developers need systems put in place to access philanthropy, investment, and/or sponsorship – that one of the top bands bowing out due to lack of any of these is …not a good look. even as we compliment not only the winners but the growing youth participation in pan – even as we remember that not too long ago pan was all but gone from the Carnival line-up and its resurgence is owed in great part to the pan fraternity and to the advocacy and attention given to it in Culture during the tenure of culture officer Barbara Mason. This is not my area of arts, obviously, so maybe I’m missing something, but those are some of my general observations. As for the other issue that will likely continue to bubble, copyright and use of artists’ work, stay tuned, I guess.

(Source of newspaper clippings: Daily Observer Antigua)

Pengereng

‘“Pengereng” is a Belize Kriol word for the noise made when something, especially a metallic object, falls to the floor. Figuratively, it refers to a great disturbance or upheaval. Hence, the title of my new book of short stories in which each protagonist experiences a life upheaval that forces him or her to make extremely difficult choices.

Kriol activist Silvaana Udz describes the book as a “ground-breaking” publication as it includes the first major work of fiction written entirely in the standard Belize Kriol spelling system. The 74-page collection contains two relatively long stories, one of which is presented in both English and Kriol, plus an essay in which I discuss why Kriol should be used more extensively by Belizean writers and should be made Belize’s second official language alongside English.’ – Belizean writer Ivory Kelly is fresh from representing her country at CARIFESTA (August 2019) in Trinidad. Shortly before that she debuted her latest book, Pengereng. Click here to read more about it.

(Ivory, right, 2014 in Glasgow at the Aye! Write lit fest – where we met)

Rocket Mama Set to Rock the Literary World

One of our favourites on the track is Jamaican sprinter Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce – long known as the pocket rocket for her diminutive size and the way she breaks out of the blocks like a bullet. The multi-Olympic gold medalist has not let motherhood slow her down and is preparing to drop a children’s book this September.

(source of newspaper clippings: Daily Observer Antigua)

Other new book announcements include: the second edition of my teen/young adult novel Musical Youth, former Caribbean media association president and TnT columnist Wesley Gibbings second collection, Passages, and Escape by former Wadadli Pen finalist Rilys Adams (to be uploaded to the data base of Antigua and Barbuda writings as soon as I get the time – but teasing the cover here for now).

 

 

 

 

 

RIPs

The literary world was still reeling from the passing of our mother of modern African American literature, Nobel Prize Winning African American author Toni Morrison (Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Tar Baby, Sula, Paradise, Jazz, and other classic works including my personal favourite Song of Solomon) when Barbadian-American writer Paule Marshall passed as well. She won’t get as much press but the author of Praisesong for the Widow, Browngirl Brownstones, and other classic Caribbean works is a giant in her own right.

Participants in the 2016 BIM Lit Fest: front row, left to right, Olive Senior, A-dZiko Gegele, Selma James, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Tanya Shirley, and Evan Marshall (son of Paule Marshall who was there to collect a lifetime achievement award on her behalf). Middle row, left to right, me (Joanne C. Hillhouse), Mrs. Foster, and Esther Phillips; back row, Cecil Foster, Bernice McFadden, and Mervyn Morris.

Paule Marshall with her award from BIM.

As we mourn their deaths, we celebrate their lives and their words which have enriched, uplifted, revealed our lives.

If I missed any big news or commentary, apologies, this is just a labour of love.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which has a Spanish language edition). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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Mailbox – People’s Choice T&T

You’ll remember that I tried to host a people’s choice for Antiguan and Barbudan book of the year at the end of 2017 that was dead on arrival (didn’t get close to the minimum number of votes needed to declare a winner). It was one of the most viewed posts of the year on the site but, for whatever reason, votes were very few. I was disappointed because I thought it was a fun way for fans to give a favourite book a boost – a boost for local literary arts overall. But, dey e dey.

That initiative was inspired by the Trinidad and Tobago People’s Choice book awards which was much better organized, resourced, and successful. They did it right and had quite the response, and a writer who might otherwise have flown under the radar (i.e. a writer who had not been in conversation vis-à-vis other awards coming out of TnT, like Bocas) gets some dap.

That writer is…Soulspection

Announcing the winner of the 2018 People’s Choice T&T Book of the Year

The overall winner, as chosen by the voting public, is Soulspection: A Collection of Poetry, by Michelle Borel.

The other books in the final voting round were (in alphabetical order by title):

21 Powerful P’s to Success, by Nichola Harvey
Don’t Go Mango Picking, by D.H. Gibbs
Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting, by Shivanee Ramlochan (also a Forward Prize Best First Collection 2018 nominee)
Men and Misfits, by Lyndon Baptiste
The Repenters, by Kevin Jared Hosein (also long listed for the 2017 Bocas prize)

Congratulations to all the finalists!

An initiative of the Bocas Lit Fest in partnership with Newsday and NALIS, the prize was intended to promote reading and buying of local books, and to get people talking about them. Judy Raymond, editor-in-chief of the Trinidad & Tobago Newsday, shared this sentiment, saying “Obviously as a news organization we want more people to read  — and write — and this prize is a brilliant way to encourage people to do both! As the people’s paper we’re especially glad to be associated with a prize that’s awarded to a local writer by local readers.”

A total of 39 books were entered for judging, and Borel’s book earned the most votes from a finalists’ list of 6.

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.

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Calypso Rose wins World Music Award in France

Sunday, February 12, 2017 PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Veteran Calypsonian Calypso Rose has won the World Album of the Year award at the Victoire de la Musique award ceremony in France.The award is considered the French equivalent of a Grammy award.

Rose’s album, Far from Home, competed against rock group Acid Arab with their album “Music of France” and Rokia Traore with her album “Born So”. Far From home, the platinum-selling album was released on the Because Music label on June 3 last year.

Rose, 75, began singing at the age of 15. She was born in Bethel, a small, relatively in-land village in Tobago.

Although she garnered several regional hits throughout the years, including her most famous, “Fire, Fire”, which she wrote in 1966 she did not win any of the major calypso contests until 1977. That year, she was the first woman ever to win the Trinidad and Tobago Road March Competition with “Tempo”. A year later, she won the National Calypso King Competition — which prompted a name change (it’s now called the National Calypso Monarch Competition) — with “I Thank Thee” and “Her Majesty”. That same year, Rose won the Trinidad Road March Competition for the second year successive year, with “Gimme More Tempo”.

Throughout her career, she has headlined at major venues and festivals throughout the US, Europe and Australia.

As of 2011, she is the most decorated calypsonian in Trinidad and Tobago’s history… Read more.

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BOCAS – YEAR TWO

Peeped this one over at the Caribbean Literary Salon which had picked it up from the Trinidad Guardian. It’s the Bocas Literary Prize which debuted last year as an entity with the first prize being won by that giant of Caribbean literature, Nobel Prize winning Derek Walcott. It’s set the bar high but perhaps that’s as it should be with a US$10,000 jackpot. The referenced article announces the launch of the 2012 prize in which books released in 2011 by writers who are Caribbean by either birth or citizenship, resident anywhere in the world, are eligible. “The best book is chosen from the winner in each of three categories—non-fiction, fiction and poetry,” the article reminds. “The judges will produce a shortlist in March and the winner will be announced on April 28, 2012 at an award ceremony that is a highlight of the four-day Bocas Lit Fest, held annually on the last weekend of April at the National Library in Port-of-Spain.”

I really want to try to get to Trinidad for the April 26th to 28th 2012 Bocas Festival, though, with my next book dropping in 2012, I won’t be eligible for prize consideration until 2013. *fingers crossed*

It really sounds like a fun, stimulating event; and I almost always find literary fests both motivating and entertaining. So…

If you want to check out Bocas, either just to be there, or to throw your book into the ring; here’s where you go to find out more.

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Caribbean writers singled out in Commonwealth Short Story competition

Winners of the 2011 Commonwealth Short Story competition have been announced and there are two Caribbean-ers among them. The first is Barbara Jenkins of Trinidad and Tobago: Regional Winner from the Caribbean for her story Head Not Made For Hat Alone. “I wrote the story,” she’s quoted as saying, “after a particularly dystopian  morning on the road. Everything in the story is real – culled from a  number of experiences and observations. So perhaps the writing was a  sort of catharsis?”

I should note that I first came across Jenkins’ name recently when flipping through Volume 24 of the Caribbean Writer: on the page announcing the year’s prize winners her head-thrown-back-in-full-laugh picture as the Winner of the Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for Short Fiction was two slots above the picture announcing me as the Winner of the David Hough Literary Prize for a Writer Living in the Caribbean. Kind of cool to be two degrees of (no not Kevin Bacon but) separation away from a winner of the highly competitive Commownwealth Short Story Competition. I can think of only two Antiguans and Barbudans who made the cut in recent years, Hazra Medica, whose story, the Banana Stains, was among those Highly Commended in 2008 and Mary Geo Quinn  whose story, Joe, was similarly Highly Commended in 2002 Commonwealth Short Story Winners 2002.

Winning is kind of a big deal given the international scope of the competition as noted by the other Caribbean notable of 2011, Diane Brown, a Jamaican whose story, The Happiness Dress, won a Special Prize as a Story for Children. She said, “Winning this special prize for a short story for  children is a singular honour. This acknowledgement of the work of a  local writer of children’s fiction gives that writing an international  platform.”

Per a release from the Commonwealth, “a panel of international judges made the choices from over 2000 entries”. Overall 2011 winner was Philip Nash of the UK with his story Rejoinder. Best regional entries, in addition to Jenkins, were Martha by Basett Buyukah of Kenya, The Maoist by Nikesh Murali of India, and Ginger Beer by Sarah Bainbridge, New Zealand.

The winning stories – all 26 of them – will also be available in audio format. In fact, it may interest you, dear reader, to note that when I was formulating the structure for the Wadadli Pen competition back in 2003, I did a little piggy backing in terms of the word limit on the Commonwealth Short Story competition because like that competition I wanted entries to be a good and compact length for radio broadcast. So, audio recordings and distribution to media outlets of the winning entries have been part of our mission and action from day one. In fact, if you visit, Anansesem* – the Caribbean Children’s e-zine – you’ll hear some of the recordings that came out of our competition in the early years in  their special Wadadli Pen issue. If I could figure out how to do it, I’d post them here, too; and soon as I can figure out funding, we’ll do more of the same. Point is though rather than reinventing the wheel, I did take some cues re structure from the Commonwealth contest, adapting it, of course, to be its own thing relevant to our context in Antigua and Barbuda (and the Caribbean).

Anyway, that’s enough rambling. Congratulations to winners from the region, past and present, and, since the competition is an annual exercise, dare we say, future. Deadline for the next round of submissions is November 30th; details re eligibility will be posted at www.commonwealthwriters.org by October 18th according to this release posted to the Caribbean Literary Salon.

For the full list of winners and their stories, as well as back editions, go to http://www.commonwealthfoundation.com/Howwedeliver/Prizes/CommonwealthShortStoryCompetition/2011winners

THIS JUST IN: Commendation also went to Kathyann Husbands and Edwina Griffiths of Barbados, and Sonja Dumas of Trinidad and Tobago; for Love Honour and Obey, White Shoes, and Letting Cockroaches Live, respectfully.

*Please note Anansesem is currently in the process of being re-located to here.

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