We begin with condolences to the friends and family of Victor Chang, and the community at the University of the West Indies. He actually died some weeks ago, in 2019. This Jamaica Gleaner article described Dr. Chang as a former lecturer in the Department of Literatures in English at UWI.
“Chang’s academic career is characterised by his involvement with the wider community and beyond, having served as a visiting lecturer at the University of Hull, England in 1981, carried out assignments with the Ministry of Education and Jamaica Festival. The noted academic was a contributor to the National Association for Teachers of English Workshops for some 20 years and was assistant chief examiner in English Literature with the Caribbean Examinations Council …(in addition to) service to the West Indian Association for Commonwealth Language and Literature Studies (WIACLALS).” There were many expressions of condolences being shared among the Caribbean literary community including my own memory of him as head of my department during my time at UWI (Mona, Jamaica) and this one (unknown) “He gave brilliant conference papers about Caribbean writers, and his sense of humor was wicked.”
Trinidad Poet wins the T. S. Eliot Prize
We move to celebratory news with Trinidad and Tobago poet Roger Robinson’s win of the T. S. Eliot Prize, the only major poetry prize judged solely by established poets. He won for A Portable Paradise about which judges said: “Roger Robinson’s characters bear witness to a country where ‘every second street name is a shout out to my captors’. Yet though Robinson is unstinting in his irony, he also gives us glimpses of something that his chosen protagonists also refuse to surrender – a taste, through the bitterness, of ‘life, of sweet, sweet life’.” A Portable Paradise was published by Peepal Tree Press in the UK. Robinson receive a £25,000 cheque.
Wadadli Pen 2020
The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge is back for 2020 with several new categories to stimulate artistic expression among young people in Antigua and Barbuda. …The Wadadli Pen Challenge is open to any resident aged 35 and younger. Entries – fiction, poems, creative non-fiction –1000 words max. must be original. Beyond that entries can be as creative or tonally diverse as the artist desires; as long as it retains a Caribbean sensibility (i.e. feels Caribbean). Young Antiguans of all ages are encouraged to try – there will be, as usual, age category prizes, with a slight adjustment to the breakdown (six and younger, seven to 12, 13 to 17, and 18 to 35) – in addition to an overall top three. All entries require completed submission forms (2020 WADADLI YOUTH PEN PRIZE SUBMISSION FORM). Incomplete and plagiarized entries will be disqualified.
Imagine a Future – A special prize will go to the story which per the sub-head ‘Imagine a Future’ best illustrates either the consequence of inaction (dystopia) or action (futopia) on climate change. This is an opportunity to venture in to speculative fiction (including science fiction). What does the future look like through your eyes? Be creative.
Art Prize – Visual artists can also tell their story, solo or in collaboration with others by creating a comic strip – telling a complete story using visual art and (optionally) words in three horizontally-aligned art panels of equal size, fitting on to a single sheet of paper. Art entries can be hand inked and coloured (per standard comic panels) or electronically created. No collages. Winning collabos get a single prize.
The Wa’omani Prize – Eligible Barbudans are also invited to write a story or poem, or create a comic strip (telling their complete story using visual art and, optionally, words in three horizontally-aligned art panels of equal size, fitting on to a single sheet of paper). This prize is designed to encourage greater participation from Barbuda and create a space for Barbudans to tell their unique stories.
An entry can be considered for more than one special prize (indicate with entry), and everyone vying for a special prize will also be considered for the main prize and for their age category prize. There will also be a prize for the school with the most submissions. Submit by 16/02/20 with ‘Your Name Wadadli Pen Challenge Submission 2020’ in the subject line.
Some early patrons have pledged their commitment and will be announced in a subsequent release. Other businesses or individuals wishing to contribute, contact firstname.lastname@example.org To keep up with all things Wadadli Pen follow the blog. For all things Wadadli Pen 2020, check https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/wadadli-pen-2020
Sharma Taylor, Jamaica born, Barbados based, inaugural winner of the Johnson and Amoy Achong prize in 2019 starts 2020 with another win – first prize in Barbados’ 22nd annual Frank Collymore Literary Endowment award for an unpublished collection of short stories called Hollow Calabash which one judge described as “unputdownable”. She wins $10,000 (I’m not sure if this is US or BDS but either way).
Sharma credits the support of Commonwealth Writers (CW) through initiatives like the short story prize for which she was shortlisted, a 2018 fiction writing workshop in Barbados, and the individual mentoring the CW provided in 2019, as well as encouragement from other writers.
Congrats to her (pictured below, second from left).
‘Second place went to Claudia Clarke, who was awarded $6,000 for her “CircleSquare.” Anderson Lowe’s “Inside the Blackbelly Sheep” secured him third place and prize money of $4,000. Lowe also received the Prime Minister’s Award. Ingrid Persaud and Sarah Venable received honourable mention for “So it Go” and “The Tropic of Sweet and Sour” respectively.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes spoke of the importance of Barbados having a strong literary tradition, saying, “seeing your culture reflected and celebrated in print is a powerful and validating experience.”
The Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Awards was started in 1998 to support and develop the literary arts in Barbados. In addition to the annual competition, the programme includes outreach to secondary schools and technical workshops for writers.’ Read more.
The 2020 Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence have been announced. They are:
Arts & Letters: Mr Jallim Eudovic, Sculptor, St Lucia
Entrepreneurship: Mr Andrew Mendes, Energy Services Entrepreneur, Guyana
Public & Civic Contributions: Dr Olivene Burke, Community Activist, Jamaica
Science & Technology: Dr Shirin Haque, Astronomer, Trinidad & Tobago
The Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards is the only programme in the Caribbean which seeks out and rewards outstanding nominees in Arts & Letters, Public & Civic Contributions, Science & Technology and Entrepreneurship. It has been in existence since 2005, and has named, inclusive of the current inductees, 43 Laureates from throughout the region.
The 2020 ceremony will be staged on April 25, 2020 at a venue to be announced in the near future. Here’s the press release: 2020-Laureate-announcement-Press-Kit
Impac Dublin Caribbean
I first became aware of the Impac Dublin award back in 2012 when I was researching possibilities for which my novel Oh Gad! could contend. I bring that up because I wondered then and I still wonder now which books have been nominated by our local library service with which I’ve shared the Impac Dublin information. The latest Caribbean author to be nominated and longlisted for the Impac Dublin prize is Viviana Prado-Nunez, the Puerto Rican author of the Burt award winning The Art of White Roses which the nominating Jamaica Library Service describes as “a striking debut novel with a cast of engaging characters. Told through the eyes of a 13 year old who lives with her family in Marianao, a quiet suburb six miles away from Old Havana, the novel gives an intimate view of the struggles of the working people fighting for independence fuelled by a burning desire to end corruption. It is a sharp-eyed study of power, community, questioning values and the contradictory messages of adults.” The Art of White Roses is published by Dominica’s Papilotte Press.
Also nominated by the Jamaica Library Service, also long listed, another Burt Award title Kevin Jared Hosein’s The Beast of Kukuyo. This is published by Jamaica’s Blue Banyan.
Congrats to them and to the library service for nominating them. See the entire long list. The prize is €100,000 which is awarded to the author if the book is written in English. If the winning book is in English translation, the author receives €75,000 and the translator, €25,000. The winner also receives a trophy provided by Dublin City Council. Nominations are made by libraries in capital and major cities throughout the world – libraries interested in participating can contact the organizers.
The shortlist for the 2020 prize will be announced in April.
Papilotte press, of Dominica and the UK, continues to make major moves with the acquisition of UK based Trinidad author Lawrence Scott’s Dangerous Freedom, a novel described as “radical and moving”. Said the author, “In Dangerous Freedom I am trying to redress what I see as the romantic portrayals of Dido in art, film and literature. I wanted to question the sketchy history we have of Dido and, through fiction, to alter the psychological and political perspectives. I hope that the novel can add to our understanding of a pain that remains just below the surface of contemporary life.” I’ve seen at least one of the film adaptations, Amma Asante’s Belle which starred Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the daughter of an Englishman and an enslaved African who lived with her aristocratic uncle, none less than Chief Justice Lord Mansfield at a time when he was adjudicating a critical case in the anti-slavery movement. Papilotte publisher Polly Pattullo bought world rights, excluding translation, for Dangerous Freedom from Johnson & Alcock. It will be published in May 2020 and distributed by NBN International.
New Music Awards for Antigua and Barbuda
You might remember that there was a music awards held in Antigua and Barbuda some years ago. It was produced by a private person and called the National Vibes Star Project Award. It was a great Grammy-style event that I truly enjoyed covering. But it was a one-time event. And while I will always wish we weren’t reinventing the wheel, the announcement of a national musical awards by the Culture Department is, on the surface of it, a welcome development.
Deputy Director of Culture, and accomplished musician, Mr Khan Cordice described the awards, to be held on April 16th 2020, as a “Grand Celebration’ to recognize the work of all musicians and music practitioners alike to include vocalists, instrumentalists, pannists and DJs for the work they would have contributed to music over the years, but more specifically, throughout the year 2019.”
There are six categories: ‘Vocal Awards’; ‘Instrumental Awards’; ‘Steelpan Awards’; ‘Best Recording Artiste of the Year’; ‘DJ of the Year’ and ‘Special Awards’. In the vocal awards category, the breakdown includes:
Junior Soca Artist of the year
Junior Calypsonian of the year
Junior Reggae Artist of the year
Junior Gospel Artist of the year
Soca Artist of the year
Calypsonian of the year
Reggae Artist of the year
Gospel Artist of the year
Choir of the Year
At a glance, one difference between this and the NVSPA is that the latter also included hip hop and artists that didn’t fit in to the usual boxes.
For the Steelpan Awards announced categories include:
Junior Pannist of the Year
Pannist of the Year
Arranger of the year
Junior Steelband of the Year
Steelband of the Year
The rebirth of pan continues – you love to see it.
The Instrumental Awards include:
Junior Instrumentalist of the Year
Instrumentalist of the Year
Two young Antiguans and Barbudans having recently featured in the finals of the Commonwealth International Composition Awards, as reported in Carib Plus Lit News in November 2019, it makes sense to continue to encourage our Musical Youth in this way.
Happy Birthday month to one of my literary icons Zora Neale Hurston who LitHub informs me was born January 7th (two days after me) 1891 (so not exactly the same century).
Another reason I’m shouting out the late Harlem Renaissance writer, she has a new book coming with a foreword from Tayari Jones (whose book, the Oprah’s book club pick An American Marriage I’m currently reading after absolutely loving her previous book Silver Sparrow). Hurston died in 1960 – and while she had published significant work like Their Eyes were watching God – had slipped in to obscurity until resurrected by Alice Walker in In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, the title piece in the latter’s 1984 essay collection. Hurston has been a staple on university lit syllabuses since then including my African-American lit courses at UWI, which is where I discovered her and, in her, a literary model. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is Hurston’s second posthumous book (after 2019’s Barracoon: the Story of the Last Black Cargo) in three years. Can’t wait.