Tag Archives: Valerie Combie

Joanne Hillhouse’s Iconic Stance through Her Works By Valerie Knowles Combie

I don’t appear to have shared this here; so I’m sharing. It’s a paper on my books delivered at the 2017 Antigua Conference and published in the 2018 Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books by Professor Valerie Combie of the University of the Virgin Islands. With thanks to her for the attention to my works (not just my books but some of my poetry and short fiction as well), here are some excerpts. Go to my jhohadli blog to read the whole thing.

joanne at mount tabor“Who is Joanne Hillhouse?  How does she fit into Antigua’s literary scene?  Perhaps I should rephrase that question and ask: How does she fit into the Caribbean literary scene?  I may even expand that question and ask: How does Joanne Hillhouse fit into the world’s literary landscape?

Hillhouse’s inherent and perpetual theme embodies the landscape of Antigua and Barbuda, which includes movement of many sorts—actual literal movement, existential movement, and the resulting consequences of those movements. Under the umbrella of those movements lie the following themes that expand and grow and manifest themselves as the tentacles of the proverbial octopus:

1. Culture and tradition
2. Family relationships and identity
3. Rite of passage
4. Youth empowerment
5. Migration
6. Community involvement/Trust
7. Environmental concerns
8. Loss and grief/Healing and restoration.

Hillhouse’s pen documents the cultural tapestries of a society that is evolving and simultaneously experiencing the concomitant issues relating to change that are associated with evolution.  But can change accommodate the old as well as the new?  Must change include the annihilation of tried and true traditions, practices that have stood the test of time and have reaped rich dividends for our community?  I think Hillhouse’s message resounds in the depth of our consciousness:  Know yourself; be content with your circumstances, and hold on to your tradition, your history, and your culture while being open to those of others.  We can only enrich our lives as we add to them.  Changing them completely can be disastrous.  We are traveling a path that manifests the results of our practices, which may reap unfavorable results where our children/descendants may be devoid of their history, their cultural trappings on which they can rely, and lose all sense of self-worth.  Our children need a firm foundation, which only we can give.  Hillhouse’s message is a clarion call for introspection and a determined effort to value our traditions and ourselves.  In her poem, “An Ode to the Pan Man,” Hillhouse lauds the commitment of the pan man to the music that only he knows  can “mek man cry, man” (TCW 17).”

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, Oh Gad!, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, Musical Youth and With Grace). 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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