Tag Archives: Wadadli Pen

Kyle Christian Wins Wadadli Pen

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Kyle is pictured, back row standing, second from right, with five honourable mentions (Back, left to right: Rosie Pickering, Andre Warner, and Andrecia Lewis; and front, left to right: Chloe Martin and Ava Ralph) and Wadadli Pen founder Joanne C. Hillhouse (back, centre) holding the Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque. (photo by Glen Toussaint)

Kyle Christian, 28, author of ‘Creak’, is the winner of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Winner Take All Historical Fiction/Poetry 2018 Challenge. He’s pocketed almost EC$3000 – thanks to contributions from Art. Culture. Antigua, Carol Mitchell, Frank B. Armstrong, International Women’s Club of Antigua-Barbuda, Juneth Webson, Pam Arthurton, and one other donor who prefers not to be named. His takeaways, during the April 21st award ceremony at the Best of Books, also included gifts and gift certificates contributed by Barbara Arrindell, Brenda Lee Browne, Cedric Holder for the Cushion Club, Danz’s Sweet Dreams, Jane Seagull, Joanne C. Hillhouse and the Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Workshop Series, and Monique S. Simon and the Caribbean Folklore Project.

‘Creak’ which tells of a young local woman in a sexual ‘relationship’ with an officer from the US army base in Antigua in the early part of the 20th century was found to encompass the theme “perfectly” in addition to being “well written”.

Kyle, in his winners’ response during the awards, said he first entered the Challenge in 2004; this is his first trip to the finals though he noted that after the 2006 awards Wadadli Pen founder/coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse told him “I really enjoyed your story…keep on writing” and so he has.

The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, started in 2004 to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, has always been about giving young people the opportunity to explore stories and ideas of interest to them, while telling tales from a specifically Caribbean space, and challenging them to grapple with the craft of writing as much as appreciating the art of it. Twenty eighteen, a year in which almost 70 entries were received, was a rare year for Wadadli Pen in that a specific sub-genre (historical fiction/poetry) was put in place and rather than winners/prizes broken down by age or other categories, it was ‘Winner Take All’.

That said, there were some honourable mentions – one very creative and singled out as the best example of creative fiction but edged out by the winner due to the quality of the writing, others thought to be thought-provoking, creative, or compelling but falling short due to clichés or other flaws. The honourable mentions received certificates and books from the Best of Books, and a two-hour training session (Presenting: Telling Your Story Orally) sponsored by Barbara Arrindell & Associates. The named honourable mentions were Andre Warner, 20, Rosie Pickering, 14, Andrecia Lewis, 18, Chloe Martin, 14, and Ava Ralph, 17 – a mix of past finalists (Ralph and Lewis) and totally new voices.

Wadadli Pen remains committed to unearthing those new voices and, as such, also gave a prize to St. Andrew’s Primary School for its efforts to encourage student participation and, as a result, having the most grouped submissions from any educational institution. Educator Marissa Walter accepted the prizes on behalf of the school. The prizes are books and other gifts contributed by authors Barbara Arrindell, Floree Whyte and Moondancer Books, and Joanne C. Hillhouse, and by the Best of Books bookstore.

The Best of Books also sponsored all certificates plus the emblazoning of the winner’s name on the Alstyne Allen Memorial Challenge Plaque.

The Wadadli Pen team expressed thanks to all participants and patrons both of whom have made this Challenge possible for 14 years. For more on Wadadli Pen and to find out how you can support its efforts, visit https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com or contact wadadlipen@gmail.com

See also Who Won What in 2018? and Creak by Kyle Christian

This release has also been disseminated to Antiguan and Barbudan media.

Also, no timeline (or promises) but stories by the honourable mentions in the 2018 Challenge may be added; so check back.

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Creak by Kyle Christian (Wadadli Pen Winning Story, 2018)

kyleCreak, creak, creak.

The small, wooden bed, in the small bedroom at the back of the Lenny’s Bar, rocked back and forth. As Agnes lay there, Bobby on top of her, her mind wandered. It was her little escape to make the task easier.

“What am I doing here, lord?” she asked herself. “I young. I don’t have no pickney to feed. At least other woman have their reasons.”

Agnes thought of her mother now and her disapproving eyes surveying Agnes’s body as she left the house this afternoon.

“Wey you a go?” Mrs Margaret George asked.

“Mother, I tell you already, I get a little work at the shop over dey by the army base.”

“Hmmm,” her mother made that judgmental sound birthed from the base of her throat. Margaret was not one to vocalise her thoughts. She was confrontation-averse but knew how to make her displeasure known.

Agnes knew her mother knew what she was doing. Ever since the American bases opened, bars popped up to service the needs of the servicemen; and women who worked at the bars were seen as suspect.

But Agnes, at 21 years, needed to make her own money. She told herself she would only do it for a short time.

“Mommy cut cane, daddy cut cane, granny cut cane. Everybody cutting blasted cane! Well not me,” she said. It was how she stayed motivated when doubt crept in.

When the Bendals sugar factory closed in 1940 both of Agnes’ parents lost their jobs. Things got harder in Antigua and her father had considered migrating to Cuba to cut more “blasted cane” to support the family.

The two American bases opened up at Crabbes and Coolidge and things changed. People got new, different jobs which paid better than the sugar factory ever did. Even her brother Tinny got carpentry work to build barracks at the base.

Thump, thump, thump.

The sound brought Agnes back to the present.

“He nuh done yet?” she thought to herself. Lost in her thoughts, she had almost forgotten he was there.

Robert Weismann from Crawford, Alabama was a private at the base. Agnes had hoped for a higher ranked officer, like a Colonel, who would have had the privilege to take her back to his quarters. She had never been on the base and wondered what it looked like. It would have meant that she didn’t have to suffer the indignity of the rackety bed.

Bobby, as Robert liked to be called, was nice enough. He was kind to Agnes and maybe even a little shy. They met two weeks ago when Agnes, and the other girls, wearing pretty dresses and lipstick, sat at the bar waiting for the rowdy army officers to approach them.

“How d’you do, missy?” Bobby asked her. She smiled at him and allowed him to buy her a drink. That’s was how it started.

Creak, Creak, Creak!

“Arrrhh,” with one long breath Bobby exhaled. He was spent. He rolled over, pulled a Raleigh cigarette from his shirt pocket and lit it.

“Thanks,” he said.

Agnes smiled, barely; amused that he would thank her. She slid down to the edge of the bed and began dressing herself. She picked up the folded dollar bills on the side table and walked towards the door.

“See you next week?” Bobby asked.

She turned and looked at him. “I don’t think you will see me again. This is the last time I doing anything like this.”

With a look in his eye he said, “Okay missy.”

They both knew she was lying.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kyle Christian, 28, considers himself the consummate student and views life as a big university. A lover of words and language, Kyle is a writer and communicator. He has worked in media as a journalist and radio news presenter and currently works in public relations. With a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Finance, Kyle has a rare love of numbers and words. His favourite things to do on vacation are to cook and read. Kyle was a Wadadli Pen regular in the early years (between 2004-2006) and though he didn’t place in those early years, he recalled a word of encouragement that fuelled his determination to keep writing. Wadadli Pen founder, Joanne C. Hillhouse, he said, told him after the 2006 awards ceremony, “I really enjoyed your story…keep on writing.” He did and claims the main prize in 2018.

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Kyle with Hillhouse and the Best of Books sponsored Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque which bears the name of every Wadadli Pen winner since 2004. (Photo by Glen Toussaint)

 

ABOUT THE STORY: “This story encompassed the theme perfectly and was well written.” – judge

The story is about the economic choices Antiguans (specifically women) were forced to make in the post-slavery era when sugar began to lose its dominance. It was inspired by slice-of-life literary works such as Fences, the Mighty Sparrow’s Jean & Dinah calypso classic, and the realization that American army bases had similar cultural and economic impacts on Antigua.

PRIZES WON: As the 2018 winner of the Wadadli Pen Challenge, a ‘winner take all’ year, Christian pockets EC$2,937.65 (from contributions by Pam Arthurton, International Women’s Club, Frank B. Armstrong, Juneth Webson, Art. Culture. Antigua, Carol Mitchell, and one other). His name will be on the annual Challenge plaque, sponsored by the Best of Books. His other prizes are books – Antigua My Antigua (1), The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories (1), With Grace (1), Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (1), Just Write Writers Journal (1), London Rocks(1), and other books – Donors: Barbara Arrindell, Brenda Lee Browne, Joanne C. Hillhouse, and the Best of Books; a gift Certificate for books ($100) – Donor: Cedric Holder for the Cushion Club; a custom Journal – Donor: Jane Seagull; custom gift cards – Donor: Monique S. Simon; scholarship Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Workshop Series  (EC$300) – Donor: Joanne C. Hillhouse; and a gift certificate (EC$225) – Donor: Danz’s Sweet Dreams. His name has also been emblazoned on the Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque and he takes home a winner’s certificate sponsored by the Best of Books.

ABOUT WADADLI PEN 2018: The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize launched in 2004 with a writing Challenge that continues 14 years later. The project was launched by Joanne C. Hillhouse with D. Gisele Isaac and the Young Explorer publication. Today, its core team is Hillhouse with past finalists Devra Thomas and Margaret Irish, and writers and long time patrons and partners Floree Whyte and Barbara Arrindell. The name of each winner is emblazoned on the Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque, named for one of the project’s earliest volunteers (and sister-friend of founder, Joanne C. Hillhouse) who died in 2015. The Challenge is Wadadli Pen’s pilot project, in keeping with its mandate to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. The Challenge has encouraged young writers in Antigua and Barbuda (35 years and younger) to write on any topic, within a Caribbean aesthetic. It doesn’t often prescribe other limitations, but this year it did request specifically historical fiction/poetry. Normally, prizes are broken down by age categories but this year it’s winner take all with only one winner and a handful of honourable mentions (Andre Warner, Rosie Pickering, Andrecia Lewis, Chloe Martin, and Ava Ralph). Congratulations to them all. Thanks to the patrons and to partners – Floree Whyte, Barbara Arrindell, Devra Thomas, and Margaret Irish. To find out how you can continue to support the work of Wadadli Pen contact wadadlipen@gmail.com

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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Built on Faith

Updated (April 19th 2018)

“Lots of little bits is still a lot.” – from Antigua & Barbuda (gift cards, The Caribbean Folklore Project by Monique S. Simon)

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A set of these gift cards were the first contribution I received from a patron for the 2018 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge season. It seems like a good lead-off for a post on this year’s patrons, not just because this card is one of the gift items to be taken home by our winner when the winner is announced on April 21st, but also because this likkle likkle full basket approach has been the Wadadli Pen model since we first launched in 2004. We didn’t – and don’t – have big bank and as we are still a project, not a non-profit with the infrastructure to do our own fundraising and bank the profits. Our prize packages have always been about pulling together whatever we get (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot) in to something that can tangibly serve as a satisfying incentive and reward for those who dared. We are still very much dependent on the generousity of people I’ve come to think of as Friends of Wadadli Pen – new friends, old friends, friends we haven’t met yet…

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Of course, in 2004, all I had when I stepped out to ask people to give was faith – faith that my community would support this fledgling project, faith that our newness wouldn’t make them think twice, faith that they would trust that their money would be used for its intended purposes. One of the ways I sought to reassure them and myself, a practice that continues to this day, is that no cheque is written to Wadadli Pen or to me (or any of the other partners I’ve drawn to the project over the years). What I’ve always sought from our patrons before each launch is the promise to give – a pledge. So, I have to have faith that when time comes they’ll deliver exactly what they promised (and for the most part they have). Once the winner has been determined, the patrons who’ve pledged money are supplied with the name so that they can prepare the cheque specifically for and to the intended recipient. Only more recently have we from time to time received (and accepted) cash which we then pass on to the intended recipient. But I think by this point – 14 years on  – they have some confidence that we are who we say we are and will do what we say we will do. Evidence of that, I think is the way patrons have come through with pledges in 2018, in spite of us not having our ducks in a row before the launch (that’s right, for the first time ever we launched with a set of gift cards and no other confirmed pledges…stepping out on faith) because for a protracted period of time we debated doing a Challenge this year at all or taking the time to put our energies in to getting our status together.

SIDEBAR One of the reasons I am and have been concerned about our non-status is my desire to create continuity long term and to expand what we do in the medium term. For example, if our status was solidified, we could – whether through seeking grants or through fundraising projects – raise money that belongs to Wadadli Pen to do more: development projects such as workshops year-round, projects showcasing the arts – such as short films inspired by one or more of our winning shorts, and more. But that is still in the dreamscape. I tell you what I’d like right now is a lawyer who does pro bono work for non-profits to assist us with getting set up – I feel like I’ve been reading through the legalese for some time now and am still turned around; up is down (lol). Also, I feel like I need a break and (if I’m being honest) Wadadli Pen might be due for another hiatus until I can get myself sorted out. SIDEBAR OVER

But with a date (April 21st), time (6:30 p.m.), and venue (the Best of Books on St. Mary’s Street) set for the awards, we are pressing on for this year at least and the finish line is in sight. And so we pause to give a shout out to the people who continue to act on faith by pledging to support our project and who, by so doing, are (along with the young writers who dare each year) the wind behind our backs. Much love and respect to them (and to any business or individual) who continues to bet on the arts and our young people.

OUR 2018 PATRONS (CONFIRMED*)

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Challenge Plaque/Certificates

  • The Best of Books

Art_Culture_Antigua-logo fa

Cash  (EC$2900+)

  • Pamela Arthurton (EC$500)
  • Art. Culture. Antigua (EC$300)
  • Carol Mitchell (EC$100)
  • *Unnamed (EC$500)
  • Frank B. Armstrong (EC$500)
  • International Women’s Club of Antigua (EC$500)
  • Juneth Webson (US$200 = EC$537.65)

ba  Moondancer

danz

Gifts

  • Barbara Arrindell (Books: Antigua My Antigua & The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories -1 each)   bat's cave best-of-books-colouring-book-1
  • Barbara Arrindell & Associates (Two hour training session to a group of the top writers – session will focus on “Presenting: Telling your story orally”)
  • The Best of Books (Books)
  • Brenda Lee Browne (Books: Just Write Writers’ Journal and London Rocks)
  • Cedric Holder for the Cushion Club (Gift certificate for books valued at EC$100)
  • Danz’s Sweet Dreams (Gift Certificate valued at EC$225)
  • Floree Whyte/Moondancer Books (Book: The Wonderful World of Yohan -1)  Yohan book
  • Jane Seagull (personalized writer’s journal)
  • Joanne C. Hillhouse (Books: With Grace – 3; Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure – 2 & scholarship to participate in the Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Series – series 3)    with_grace-3d-standingLost Cover Front 4
  • Monique S. Simon (Gift cards from her Caribbean Folklore Project)

*Patron unnamed, by choice.

To all, for stepping out with us on faith, we say thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!

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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Thanks, Kaeiron

That’s right, thanks to last year’s Wadadli Pen winner Kaeiron Saunders for braving the early morning to encourage people (specifically Antiguans and Barbudans 35 years and younger) to submit to the 2018 Challenge. Thanks for representing well on short notice and without one of us on the planning team as back-up. In the early morning no less. On ABS TV’s live broadcast of Antigua Barbuda Today. You’re the real MVP.

KS Antigua Barbuda Today Jan 24 2018

In the interview, Kaeiron, now a medical student, chatted a bit about her own journey in writing and towards Wadadli Pen.

“I used to write when I was in high school and I hadn’t done it for a long time. …I am really grateful because I think writing is such an important skill…the foundation for everything whether it’s marketing, public speaking (etc.)…”

And about why anyone considering entering shouldn’t let fear stop them.

“If you’re scared, you should definitely make use of the opportunity because you have nothing to lose and it will only make you a better writer.”

As she went to pains to emphasize, there is no entry fee, and the takeaway could be a tidy basket of goodies (we offer cash and prizes, giving what ever we are able to gather from our patrons) and the intangible and indescribable feeling that comes of telling your own story.

We’re so glad that Kaeiron found value in the experience and was emboldened to encourage others to go for it, too.

Kaeiron also read her 2017 winning entry, Not Another Island Story; as told by Auntie Gah

KS Antigua Barbuda Today Jan 24 2018 4

This year’s prize is winner take all (all of what? we’re still working on that…but you know we always come through with the goods). This means that rather than category winners, there will be a single winner. We’re also not doing the two tiers of judging this year, wherein long listed writers get editorial notes and get to re-submit, so be sure to submit your best effort. Entries should be 600 words or fewer, any genre, any topic, but with a Caribbean aesthetic and for 2018 inspired by some aspect of Caribbean history – this does not mean you have to write historical fiction, just that you have to use some person, place, thing, mythology, or other aspect of Antiguan-Barbudan history as your jumping off point or as a reference point. Rope it in somehow. Be creative; don’t dabble in clichés. Remember to use the submission form (2018 WADADLI YOUTH PEN PRIZE SUBMISSION FORM) for proper processing of your entry. Do all this by February 28th 2018.

Wadadli Pen Flyer 2018 2

Good luck.

 

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Literary Arts in Antigua and Barbuda – a Reflection

This past weekend left me in a bit of a reflective mood. I attended a literary event organized for Black History Month by our Culture Department and a women’s empowerment event and Cottage of Hope fundraiser organized by The District (a clothing boutique) on Sunday, and felt much more inspired (in a positive way) by the latter. Enter side note –>Here’s where I should insert a picture of me contributing copies of my children’s books Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and With Grace to the Cottage c/o The District, but I only remember to take pictures 50% of the time. I do hope that the young people who get to read the books enjoy them. Exit side note–>The Sunday event (which included testimonials from the likes of TnTs soca diva Destra and AnB’s soca diva CP) emphasized finding your passion and doing that, and in the doing, sharing.

So, as I reflect on my journey in literary arts, an improbable journey that I ventured out on and continue to venture out on despite the obstacles and setbacks, I can feel confident that it has been driven by my passion for writing, and that through Wadadli Pen and other projects, not just my books, I’ve been finding ways to share that passion. I mean, so much else is uncertain, and increasingly I question whether Antigua and Barbuda wants me at all, and it’s always a financial high wire act but I am happy that I haven’t let fear and disappointment  stop me from doing the thing I was put here to do.

Art Culture Antigua

This is from the IG of Art. Culture. Antigua – an online platform by Linisa George, promoting the arts. The announcement concerns the current Wadadli Pen Challenge season and features an image from the 2017 season awards ceremony held during the Wadadli Stories Book Fair – a community led lit arts showcase. Art. Culture. Antigua is back as a 2018 patron and the Best of Books continues to sponsor the Challenge plaque, pictured. Wadadli Pen was first launched by me in 2004 – writers who have partnered with me on the project over the years include D. Gisele Isaac (a founding partner), Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau, Brenda Lee Browne, Linisa George, Monica Matthew, Barbara Arrindell, Joy Lawrence, Floree Whyte, Glen Toussaint, Claytine Nisbett, and others, with contributions by several regional and international writers as well.

It is in this frame of mind that I think, too, about the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda and how its strivings and whatever hurdles have been cleared are largely a reflection of the talent, passion, hard work, and will of the literary arts practitioners. We have had to cut and contrive a path of our own making – and, true, this may be true of artistes every where but especially so where there is no real infrastructure, nor resources, to support the artiste’s journey. We hustle and hustle hard, and still are asked to give even when our cups are empty (often without the asker considering what is the cost of this to the artist and what is the value of this to our community).

Verdancireceivesprize

Presenting to the 12 and younger winner Verdanci Benta at the first Wadadli Pen awards ceremony in 2004.

When I started the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize in 2004, it wasn’t because I had an abundance of time and resources; it was because I saw a need and had/have still a passion for the literary arts. It has been my pleasure in the years of maintaining this blog – which launched in 2010 to encourage, report on, celebrate the continued journeying of the community of literary artists in Antigua and Barbuda of which I am a part, among other things.

Antiguan_writers_group_with_Caryl_Phillips_2[1]

A&B writers who got together to apply for Commonwealth funding to attend the Calabash literary festival in Jamaica in 2007.

From this reflective space, I thought I’d share some of our journey as writers in this Antigua-Barbuda land. There is no way in this reflecting to hit everything everyone did to create and sustain vibrancy in the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda over the past 7+ years since I’ve been documenting it in this online space, but I can share some highlights N.B. where programmes have floundered often its due to lack of financial support and other resources to keep it going; the energy runs out when you’re burning it at both ends and still trying to make your bills. Wadadli Pen has been on the brink a number of times when I just didn’t feel like I had any MORE in me, and, honestly, it’s often someone from the community of writers who (along with the interest and expectation of the participants) pushes me to keep going and whose volunteer efforts help make it possible for me to do so.

2010 –

ABILF 2010

Here I am reading from Antigua-descended writer Ashley Bryan’s Anansi-themed Dancing Granny under the children’s tent at the ABILF. Before writing my own children’s books, Anansi was my go to when asked to read to children.

Showcases
This blog launched in April 2010 and committed to spotlighting not only the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize (a project committed to nurturing and showcasing the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda since 2004) but the literary arts (and then some) in Antigua and Barbuda (and beyond) – one example of the type of coverage I did as site blogger from that first year was ‘Lit Happenings Antigua-Barbuda Nov 1-8 2010′.

Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival launched in 2006 by two entrepreneurial (Montserratian!) sisters with strong author support and so much potential but, notwithstanding a revival in 2010, unfortunately has not survived.

Wadadli Pen Open Mic launched in 2010 using the Wadadli Pen name but run by the Best of Books and acting as a development platform for young/budding writers.

Programmes
The Cushion Club – a reading club for children in Antigua and Barbuda – continued its relationship with Buckley’s Primary; this project began with school visits by me and CC leader Cedric Holder to the school, one of several schools we’ve both visited over the years, to read and run story workshops. The prize was sponsored by Cedric on behalf of the Cushion Club because of his desire to encourage greater interest and aptitude in the humanities. Cedric has also consistently contributed a prize to the Wadadli Pen Challenge on behalf of the Cushion Club.

Wadadli Pen returned after a 3 year hiatus – its life 2004-2010 to that time chronicled in this post.

Publications
Voices from the Lagoon, a collection of student writings shepherded by scribe and teacher Fransene Massiah-Headley released.

Number of publications in 2010 (not including the student publication which isn’t listed in the data base of Antiguan and Barbudan Writings, and specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda):  7

2011-

2011 winner Devra Thomas with Best of Books owner E. M. Grimes-Graeme.

Wadadli Pen 2011 winner, seen here receiving the Challenge plaque sponsored by the Best of Books, is now part of the Wadadli Pen team.

Showcases
When a Woman Moans – after bringing Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues to Antigua beginning in 2008, the Women of Antigua reached out to local writers to contribute pieces to this homegrown theatrical production and we (specifically Melissa Elliot, Elaine Spires, Brenda Lee Browne, Floree Williams-now-Whyte, Tameka Jarvis-George, Marcella Andre, Joanne C. Hillhouse and Salma Crump, with WOA co-founders Linisa George and Zahra Airall) did.

Antigua-penned and independently produced films The Skin (written by Howard Allen/produced by HAMA) and Dinner (written by Tameka Jarvis-George/produced by Cinque) earned slots at the Jamaica Reggae Film Festival.

D. Gisele Isaac and I were invited by the A & B Consulate in Canada to participate in Independence activities there, participating in panels and sharing our work alongside writers based in Toronto.

Programmes
The Best of Books Book Fair (and Wadadli Pen Awards) – this was the 10 year anniversary of the book store and the return to full strength of Wadadli Pen which was on hiatus in 2007, 2008, and 2009 (simply because I couldn’t see a way to carry it anymore), and had an abridged programme in 2010 (returning because it is a programme I care passionately about). The partnership has endured.

A word on school visits – many of us as writers in Antigua have done them – teachers call us sometimes as with the St. Mary’s Centre for Excellence; other times as with Joy Lawrence’s school tour promoting Wadadli Pen, we volunteer – the schools need a consistent programme but it cannot be on a voluntary basis given the time commitment for prep and actual presentation and because school presentations is something for which writers should actually be compensated (<–offsite link).

The Independence Literary Awards – this version** of it actually dates back to 2005 with first Brenda Lee Browne and then Barbara Arrindell at the helm. I was among the judges in the first year, and that was also the year I started building the data base of Antiguan and Barbudan writers, for the Museum exhibition we also did that year. In 2011, Arrindell announced her retirement with an open letter in which she called for the installation of a year round literary arts point person and development programmes, a call that landed, it seemed to those of us in the literary arts community, on deaf years.

Publications
The literary arts programme in the prison, facilitated by Brenda Lee Browne on a volunteer basis published its first collection of works from inside the prison.

Number of books published in 2011(not including the prison publication which isn’t listed in the data base of Antiguan and Barbudan Writings, and specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 4

2012-

Most of the awardees of Wadalipen with Joanne Hillhouse 2012

Wadadli Pen Challenge 2012 photo call.

Showcases
Antigua and Barbuda penned and independently produced documentary film Melissa Gomez’s Silent Music shows at the Toronto Film Festival.

The Friends of Antigua Public Library, based in New York, hosted the U.S. launch of my first U.S. publication Oh Gad! 

Programmes
Art at the Ridge which is not around anymore had regular art shows and took over for a time the annual Christmas card competition; they also became a Wadadli Pen patron and partner in these years.

Just Write Writers’ Retreat launched at Mount Tabor by Brenda Lee Browne.

Publications
Linisa George is spotlighted at the Poetry Parnassus during the Olympics and published in the companion collection The World Record – this collection includes works by writers from every Olympic country; through her own efforts Linisa became Antigua-Barbuda’s selection.

I had works included in Womenspeak Caribbean Arts and Letters out of the Bahamas – other Antiguan and Barbudan writers like Brenda Lee Browne and Barbara Arrindell would publish with them in subsequent years. That year, my story Genevieve, later published in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings (2014), was short listed for the Small Axe Fiction Prize. I was also published that year in the University of the Virgin Islands’ Caribbean Writer, from which I’ve also received two literary prizes over the years; not my first or last time publishing with them but they have quite high literary standards and reputation, and it’s always nice to make the cut.

Number of books published (not including  works in anthologies, and specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 7

2013-

Caribbean Writers Congress with Marin Bethel and Leone Ross 2013

At the Caribbean Congress of Writers in Guadeloupe with Bahamian writer Marion Bethel and UK based Jamaican writer Leone Ross.

Showcase
Antiguan Authors Day – a promotion at the Best of Books.

On the heels of the publication of my novel Oh Gad!, I had the opportunity to participate in a number of off island literary showcases such as the Caribbean Congress of Writers in Guadeloupe.

The Public Library holds an annual Summer Read programme; writers – myself and others – have been asked to volunteer to do presentations and we have.

Dr. James Knight wrote and independently produced a documentary on the life and music of King Short Shirt. It premiered at Deluxe Cinema and was also subsequently screened in Jamaica.

Programmes
An open letter from me re Wadadli Pen.

My first Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project launched – as it prepared to launch I contemplated ways to make it interesting. After our week of workshop activity, I was happy to receive this positive review from a parent.

Publications
Antigua-Barbuda collection edited by Althea Prince launched in Canada.

Joy Lawrence Explored the History of Parham in the second book in her village folk history series.

An online magazine inspired by the poem Black Girl in the Ring was launched by the poem’s writer and the site’s publisher Linisa George.

Number of books published (not including journals, online or otherwise, and specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 6

2014-

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Collecting my Burt Award prize at the Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad.

Showcases
The launch of my book Musical Youth included readings by other writers – specifically past Wadadli Pen finalists and was followed by a workshop organized and facilitated by me and sponsored by the same organization, CODE, that sponsored the Burt Award for which Musical Youth placed second overall, earning itself a publication deal. This was a busy year for me in several ways with, among other things, the release of the mass market edition of Oh Gad! and recommendation on NPR in the US; also the release of Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings.

Programmes
Wadadli Pen celebrated record number of entries on its 10th anniversary and more importantly the participant response was #inspired

Publications
I was asked to volunteer as guest editor of regional online publication Tongues of the Ocean to produce an Antigua and Barbuda issue and drew on my network of writers and artists to do just that. The final publication included works by Althea Romeo-Mark, Brenda Lee Browne, Gayle Gonsalves, Kimolisa Mings, X-Saphair King, Heather Doram, Glenroy Aaron, Barbara Arrindell, Tammi Browne-Bannister, Tameka Jarvis-George, Marcus Christopher, Dorbrene O’Marde, Hazra Medica, Linisa George, past Wadadli Pen finalists Devra Thomas, Shakeema Edwards, Emile Hill, Rosalie Richards, Vega Armstrong, Zion Ebony Williams, and others.

My short story Amelia at Devil’s Bridge included in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean which had launched in Trinidad (at Bocas), Scotland (at Aye Write!), and New York (at PEN Awards Literary Safari), each of which I had the opportunity to participate in.  This particular story was shortlisted for the Small Axe Fiction Prize and subsequently excerpted in one of Harper Collins’ CSEC revision texts.

Number of Books published (specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 25

2015-

jamaicajoanne 2015 at V I Lit Fest

(with Jamaica Kincaid at the VI Lit Fest)

Showcases
Lady of Parham – a published play inspired by the story of the ghost of Parham in Antigua – was shortlisted for the Guyana literary prize.

I was invited to the Virgin Islands Literary Festival – the featured writer was another Antiguan, Jamaica Kincaid.

Programmes
Stories Handed Down –  a research and writing competition started by the Friends of Antigua Public Library some years earlier was won in 2015 by a Wadadli Pen regular. The FOAPL has also provided literary showcases through its Author in Residence series and book club, cultural remembrance through its Collecting Memories online data base, and programmes like its summer read project with the Public Library over the years.

The Cushion Club and Wadadli Pen teamed up to offer a summer reading challenge.

Publications
Dorbrene O’Marde becomes the first Antiguan and Barbudan long listed for the Bocas prize.

Joy Lawrence continues researching village histories .

The Art of Mali Olatunji which I reviewed in the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books 2016 edition.

Number of Books published (specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 33

2016-

A River Of Stories Flyer 2016-1

Antiguans-Barbudans Joy Lawrence and Joanne C. Hillhouse were included in the River of Stories series with selections by writers from around the world.

Showcases
Joy Lawrence received a National Award, a rare occurrence for a literary artiste and one that required celebrating on the blog.

Programmes
Independence Literary Arts Forum (this was a government project).

Writing workshop during the Best of Books summer camp.

Publications
Spilling Ink – an arts collective – launched a second book.

My picture book With Grace, a Caribbean fairytale launched.

The Antigua and Barbuda Review of books – edited by Paget Henry, and funded largely by Brown University where he teaches (which begs the question what will become of this project when he is no longer able to helm it?); he also organizes the annual Antigua Conference. The Review continues annually critiquing literary works by Antiguans and Barbudans such as Dorbrene O’Marde’s Nobody Go Run Me and Short Shirt/Shelly Tobitt’s classic Ghetto Vibes album. Both projects began roughly around 2004/5 (ish).

Number of Books published (specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 16

2017-

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Leaving this one large so that you can see the covers of all those Antigua-Barbuda book titles in the background; and also the bright faces of our 2017 intern, right, and a finalist, left.

Showcases
They’re not so officially but I call anyone who travels to represent our country in the literary arts a literary ambassador. In 2017, that was Barbara Arrindell at the Alliouagana Festival in Montserrat, where she presented alongside the likes of Paul Keens Douglas.

In fact, as much as possible, I try to cover any cultural ambassador in the arts, including our soca artistes.

If you’re lucky, your books travel without you and I’m fortunate that my books have traveled and one of their stops (this one fairly close to home) in 2017 was the USVI where With Grace was named to the Governor’s Summer Read Challenge.

Programmes
Wadadli Pen found another way to give another young person an opportunity when it took on its first intern. Here she writes about her experience;  and the project announced a permanent team to push the project forward – included on this team are two writers/literary stakeholders and two former Wadadli Pen winners.

This is really an every year thing – every year for a number of years, I submit or am asked to submit recommendations for the Department of Youth Affairs’ National Youth Awards in Literary Arts; and the prize has gone to the likes of Linisa George and Women of Antigua (2012),  Linisa George and Glen Toussaint (2013),Wadadli Pen 2013 and 2014 winner Asha Graham in 2015 with another Wadadli Pen alum Angelica O’Donoghue copping the media award , Zahra Airall (2016),   Spilling Ink, an Antiguan and Barbudan arts collective (2017) , and others.

Just Write organized a workshop focused on historical literature and collaborated with visiting poet with Antiguan and Barbudan roots Tanya Evanson to offer a master class.

August Rush (the writing and producing duo of Linisa George and Zahra Airall) has given writers a regular showcase for several years consistently through its Expressions Open Mic series but as we all do, they hit a point where self-care and other projects forced them to shelve it in 2017. Another August Rush initiative that provided what was needed for a time is the Young Poets Society of Antigua and Barbuda.

Publications
Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure launched with a chat between the US based publisher, Trinidad based writer, and Antigua based writer (me).

Floree Williams Whyte launched independent press Moondancer Books and her first book under the imprint.

Claytine Nisbett launched her first book and re-launched her online magazine.

Tammi Browne-Bannister included in international collection. Submitting
internationally is something I continually advocate on the blog, using my own experiences as example.

We even launched an online book of the year prize that admittedly was too little, too late in terms of planning and promotion and that’s never a good look.

Number of Books published (specific to publication whether independently or with a local, regional or international press, ebook or print or both, by Antiguan and Barbudan writers living in Antigua and Barbuda): 18

2018-March 2018 workshop

Showcases
Antiguan and Barbudan writer included in a top ten list of Caribbean female writers you should be reading on the Literary Hub.

In the tradition of the Open Mics more than a decade ago now at Traffic Nightclubs and possibly inspired by Expressions, we’ve had, for the past few years, Soothe: soothe

This like other literary/arts activities (including an upcoming workshop on self-publishing by Kimolisa Mings) is listed in the blog’s Arts Roundup series.

It’s worth noting that this blog has not limited itself to the literary arts, nor has the Wadadli Pen Challenge which has included art challenges (illustrations, cover design) over the years. Most recently, I reported on this showing by Antiguan and Barbudan art teachers, and discussion which touched on arts issues like the lack of a national gallery
And we continue to report on film such as the ongoing success of Vanishing Sail on the film festival circuit.

Programmes
Here at the blog, I also don’t limit what I share to what’s happening domestically – for example, I’m always encouraging our writers to submit to programmes like the Commonwealth Short Story competition.

I continue to offer workshops via the Jhohadli Writing Project which (as I’ve announced on my author blog) is also available to offer workshops in schools and other institutions.

And…
Really, can there be any talk of literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda without mention of international literary citizen Jamaica Kincaid who added to her considerable accolades with receipt of the Dan David prize from Tel Aviv University – among the literary and cultural news reported on the blog in 2017.

This blog has also covered many issues in arts and culture – in fact, it is to some of these posts that I point people when they approach us – writers and artists – for conversations that rarely, it seems, yield real, juicy, tasty, tangible fruit. Among the things that I have written about in this space…?

You can see from this listing – which is only part of the story and only over the 7+ years of this blog’s existence – that the Antiguan and Barbudan literary community has been doing and doing and doing (largely) without any wall, financial or otherwise to lean on.
The blog is, of course, also the home of my baby (as much my baby as any of my books have been), the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. So we report on each year of the prize back to the beginning (2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). Among the services this blog continues to provide are Opportunities and Opportunities Too (the former listing projects, funding, markets etc. and the latter upcoming deadlines); writing and publishing tips (with Resources, Publishing 101 with Eugenia O’Neal, Chatting Writing and Publishing in the Caribbean with Diana McCaulay, Womanspeak: the Lynn Sweeting Interview, Kevin Jared Hosein Breaks it Down, developing your writing skills –tips from Wadadli Pen, On Intellectual Property Rights, Negotiating an ebook contract as just a sample, not to mention the blog’s reading rooms and writing spaces); the A & B Literary Archives – Songwriters, Playwrights and Screenwriters, Antigua and Barbuda Children’s Fiction, Antiguan and Barbudan Poets, Antiguan and Barbudan Writing, Antiguan and Barbudan Fiction, Antiguan and Barbudan Non-Fiction, Published plays and screenplays, A & B Writings in Journals and Contests, Antiguans and Barbudans Awarded, Antiguan and Barbudan Writers on the Web, Song Lyrics data base, Antigua and Barbuda Media: An Abridged RecordAntigua and Barbuda Media: An Abridged Record, Author spotlights-. Jamaica Kincaid, Floree Whyte, Vivian Michael, Swallow, Veronica Evanson Bernard, Kush David, Marie Elena JohnGayle Gonsalves etc., A & B Artistes Discussing Art; A & B Literary Works reviewed; and more); regional and international news (literary festivals, the passing of Derek Walcott etc.); local Arts News – e.g. A & B Arts Round up, Meeting Ashley Bryan, Veteran Calypso Writer now a Novelist; Obits (Nerissa Percival, Roland Prince, Marcus Christopher, X-Saphair King, and others). Wadadli Pen, the blog, has also afforded me the opportunity to see the progress of young people I’ve come in to contact with over the years – such as when former Cushion Club kids shine, or when Wadadli Pen alums stride (e.g. Angelica O’Donoghue, Rilys Adams, Lia Nicholson, Kemal Nicholson, etc.) and, of course, though we still dream of doing a publication, anyone can read for free the winning stories through the years, or other pieces written since by Wadadli Pen alums.
I write all of this to say that work has and is being done, that our artistes have provided something to build on. Within these touchstones are answers to one of the questions now being raised, what do artistes need/want – I think at the root of it though is a desire to be valued, to be a voice, and to be in an enabling environment (access to information, resources, funding, and more). As we stay tuned to see what will jump off in what the Minister of Culture described as a year focused on the literary arts, we will continue working and collaborating, as we have done.

**re versions – When I speak to versions of things, I do so because it’s important to note that we tend to start and start over things in Antigua and Barbuda as though starting from scratch each time. Part of the problem is there has been too little recording of what has come before and too little continuity so that you often do feel like you’re starting from scratch. I discovered a weathered contributor copy of the 168-page book Young Antiguans Write, a 1979 publication of the Ministry of Education and Culture, at my friend Gisele Isaac’s house some years ago. Young Antiguans Write is a collection of the prize winning works of participants in the school creative writing competition that ran from 1968-1978. Both the publication and the creative writing programme was, to my understanding, largely the efforts of someone (Lucilla Benjamin) who was committed to the task within the Ministry. I’m going to assume that once that person moved on for whatever reason, the baton just lay their on the track, unclaimed. Because in my coming of age, I don’t remember such a programme or any sense of a literary culture in Antigua and Barbuda; what I remember is the Independence essay competition that I won one year earning myself a trip to another Caribbean island. There were tourism industry ones that I participated in as well. That was it though, spotty competitions specifically about Independence/Tourism and that memory is in part what made me insist that Wadadli Pen be about whatever the writer wanted to write about (no limitation re theme, the focus on the art not art in service to a particular theme). But as much as I wasn’t aware of Young Antiguans Write, it played a part in Gisele becoming a writer, and Gisele being a writer, the only other Antiguan-Barbudan novelist I knew at the time and the only one that was accessible to me (Jamaica Kincaid was an inspiration yes but a distant idea), us being friends made it possible for me to say, after reflecting on the lack of nurseries for writers in the Caribbean (shout out, to Guyanese writer Ruel Johnson for bringing that bit of clarity to my own fledgling journey as a writer then), hey let’s do this thing. And between me, Gisele and Young Explorer, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize was born. Starting, but not, though I didn’t know it, starting from nothing. One of the reasons I’ve been talking and angling to find a way to set up this project more formally is because I want it to be continuous; I want the baton to be picked up, and while it’s possible that whoever picks up the baton may not have the passion for it that I did (it is my baby, after all), they should have an awareness of and foundation on which to build – an operational template, a plan, resources, funding, and support – to make its survival not just a matter of will. We’ll see. Meantime, keeping a record of what we do, not just Wadadli Pen, not just my efforts, but our arts and culture (literary arts and beyond) has been important to me so that there is continuity, so that there is an accounting of all this ‘nothing’, so that no one can plausibly question (or believably overlook) the will, passion, talent, and hard work of those of us working in the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. We’ve been here.

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!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). 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 – Media

Media partners are critical to our efforts to promote each Wadadli Pen Challenge season. So I’ll be shouting out those who’ve been helping us get the word out this season. With a big thank you bow on top.

Art Culture Antigua

Notably, thanks to Art. Culture. Antigua for more reasons than one. To the Daily Observer which has been running our notice announcing the 2018 Challenge almost (if not) daily. And thanks to Antiguanice.com which continues to maintain a page for Wadadli Pen year round, and update it with our press releases and notices each Challenge season. Most recently:

Press Release – The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize has, since it first launched its annual Challenge for young writers in Antigua and Barbuda in 2004, depended on its friends – those individuals and businesses that step up to contribute to youth and arts development. This year, one of the first is Art. Culture. Antigua – the arts media online platform – which, shortly after the February 28th submission deadline, contacted us “to once again come on board and contribute to the Wadadli Pen prize packages”.  They first stepped forward with a cash contribution in 2017; and step up again, unasked, in 2018. Read full release at Antiguanice.com

And previously the Notice announcing the Challenge:

Write a story or poem, 600 words or fewer and submit by February 28th, 2018 to: wadadlipen@gmail.com. Open to Antiguan & Barbudans ages 35 and under.
Read the full notice at Antiguanice.com

Thanks to Daily Observer and Antiguanice.com and (these are the ones we’re aware of, but of course) any other media that has been helping us spread the word. We couldn’t do it without you.

Wadadli Pen Flyer 2018 2

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!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). 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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From the Mailbox – Cushion Club, Wadadli Pen

Actually, these two are from my mailbox and they concern my two longest running community/volunteer projects. These are notices I sent out to the media about The Cushion Club and Wadadli Pen. Feel free to grab and share.

First, the Cushion Club.

Cushion ClubThe Notice:

The Cushion Club resumes its Saturday meetings on January 20th. The Antigua-Barbuda children’s reading club meets Saturdays during the regular school year between 10:30 a.m. and 12 noon at the University of West Indies Open Campus between Queen Elizabeth and Sir Sidney Walling highways. Volunteer readers and children welcomed.

Cushion Club Background/About the Cushion Club: This is a reading club with which I started volunteering more than 10 years ago. I didn’t keep track but every Saturday for a great number of years I would go and read and play reading/word games with children in Antigua first at the Senior Centre in Lower Gambles, then when we moved to Best of Books, then when we moved to the ice cream park on Friars Hill Road, then when we moved to the University Centre, and though I’ve long since withdrawn from the regular Saturday meetings, they continue without me as they did before me, thanks especially to Cedric Holder. I still help with promotion though, so that’s what this is. For more on the Cushion Club, check AntiguaNice which has been generous enough to host and sponsor a page for us over these many years.

Second, Wadadli Pen.

Group photoThe Notice:

The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize 2018 Challenge is now open for submissions. Resident Antiguans and Barbudans 35 and younger, send entries with submission forms (now mandatory) by February 28th 2018. Form available at wadadlipen.wordpress.com If you would like to contribute to the Wadadli Pen prize package, please email wadadlipen@gmail.com

Wadadli Pen Background/About Wadadli Pen: Well, you’re here so you know that this project is committed, and has been since 2004, to nurturing and showcasing the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. It’s my baby as much as any of my books, and while it has undertaken several developmental, fundraising, advocacy, and promotional projects over the years, its main and most consistent project has been the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge – an annual writing (and sometimes arts) challenge for young Antiguans and Barbudans. Basically, I started this project after I became a published author to help create the environment that had not been there to support my own journey as a writer becoming. For more on Wadadli Pen, check Antigua Nice which gave us a presence on the web before we had a home of our own and continues to do so. For the 2018 registration form, go here; and to contribute to Wadadli Pen, email wadadlipen@gmail.com

Here’s what both projects need:

Support.

That’s it.

If you’re a parent or guardian, bring your child out to the Cushion Club. There is no fee and no registration is required. If you’re an adult – parent or not – consider volunteering to read one or two or three or four Saturdays per month.

If you’re a teacher, parent, guardian, youth club leader, or are otherwise in contact with young people encourage them to write and submit their pieces to the Wadadli Pen Challenge; help them with the forms if you need to but let them write their own stories.

If you’re a business or an individual, or other donor-type looking for a project to contribute to an arts-community-youth-centred project, consider Wadadli Pen.

Thanks for your consideration.

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!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). 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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