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Wadadli Pen Challenge – Who Won What in 2020?

“We continue the work and hopefully continue to boost the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda because that’s what Wadadli Pen is all about. Our mandate is to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. It’s not about me; it’s not about any of the members behind the scenes. It’s about these young people and encouraging them to write. Because I think we realize even now in these sort of times that we’re in that finding ways to get out all the anxiety and confusion and even the restlessness that we all feel, writing and creating generally is a part of that and of course building your language skills and improving your critical thinking skills and your ability to think creatively and also realizing that your story and your voice matters. All of these are the reasons why we write, all of these are the reasons why we encourage the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse, founder and coordinator during the May 9th 2020 facebook live announcement of winners of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize 2020 Challenge


The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge has been held since 2004; its goal, to encourage young people in Antigua and Barbuda to create their stories. We provide prizes as added incentive and provide this prize breakdown to share the winning stories, introduce our budding writers, and say thanks to our patrons. Thanks to our 2020 Challenge patrons who have come through in the midst of a pandemic and its economic fallout – we can’t thank them enough. We hope the prize recipients are truly appreciative of this gesture of goodwill and that our community will support the businesses and individuals that support the arts. Thanks, as well, to our judges, Wadadli Pen team member Floree Williams Whyte (author of Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses, Through a Window, and The Wonderful World of Yohan), and 2020 volunteer judges Glen Toussaint (writer and book retailer) and Danielle Boodoo Fortune-Hackshaw (Trinidad and Tobago artist, illustrator, and award winning author of the poetry collection Doe Songs). Thanks to the Wadadli Pen core team – Floree Williams Whyte, former finalists Devra Thomas (2011) and Margaret Irish (2014 Teachers Prize and 2015 Winner Take All), Barbara Arrindell, a writer (Antigua My Antigua, The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories) and book retailer, and Joanne C. Hillhouse, writer (The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure) and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator. Here now are our winning writers and, for your reading pleasure, our winning stories and poems, plus prize breakdown with links to patron pages online. The breakdown  is first winners by age, then special category prize winners, then read all the way through to see who is the main prize winner.

Everybody gets: 

Certificates acknowledging their ranking in the Wadadli Pen 2020 Challenge.

A selection of books from The Best of Books Bookstore. Best of Books is also the sponsor of the Alstyne Allen Memorial Plaque onto which the winners’ names are engraved.

Cultural items from the Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda – this was a last minute addition after the Director of Culture (ag) Khan Cordice hopped on the May 9th 2020 live announcement on my facebook page to make the offer.


7 to 12

Winner –

Tom, the Ninja Crab (story)

Opening: “It was a clear, still night and the moon shone so brightly through the waters that Tom, the crab, couldn’t sleep.”

by Cheyanne Darroux 11, Golden Grove Primary School

Prizes – Patrons:

EC$250 – Photogenesis; books (3) – Cindy’s Bookstore 


1st runner up –

My Favourite Dish (poem)

Opening: “I’m a little girl,/And I am fat,/I can tell you my favourite food did that,/It’s not because I’m greedy.”

by Ciara Thomas, 10, Sunnydale School

Prizes – Patrons:

Books (3) – Cindy’s Bookstore ; copy of Antigua My Antigua – Barbara Arrindell; US$50 for gift certificate for books – Friends of Antigua Public Library (NY)


2nd runner up –

A Mermaid (story)

Opening: “The wind whistled as Marie slowly crept across the soft, thick sand of the Johnson Point beach.”

by Zaniah Pigott

12, Island Academy

Prizes – Patrons:

Books (3) – Cindy’s Bookstore ; signed copy of Musical Youth 2nd edition (paperback) and With Grace (paperback) by Joanne C. Hillhouse



Honourable Mention –

A New World (story)

Opening: “The three friends sat quietly around the dinner table in disbelief about what had just happened.”

by Sienna Harney-Barnes

10, St. Nicholas Primary School

Prizes – Patrons:  

Books (3) – Cindy’s Bookstore ; copy of Antigua My Antigua – Barbara Arrindell; signed copy of The Wonderful World of Yohan by Floree Williams Whyte



13 to 17 –

Winner –

Two Worlds Collide (narrative poem)

Opening: “ROAR; Roar, that beckoning roar in the distance.”

by D’Chaiya Emmanuel

15, Antigua Girls High School

Prizes – Patrons:

EC$200 – D. Gisele Isaac (writer – Considering Venus, Wadadli Pen co-founder); EC$50 – Lawrence Jardine (founder and technical director of the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Enlightenment Academy); free eye exam – Paradise Vision Center; Bath and Body gift packages (2) – Juneth Webson (businesswoman and writer – Milo’s First Winter); external hard drive – Cushion Club (reading club for children in Antigua and Barbuda)



1st runner up –

The Beast of Barbados (story)

Opening: “The night was preternaturally quiet.”

by William Henderson

17, St. Anthony’s Secondary School

Prizes – Patrons:

EC$200 – Lawrence Jardine (founder and technical director of the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Enlightenment Academy); signed copy of Musical Youth (hard cover edition) by Joanne C. Hillhouse


2nd runner up –

Fabled Truth (story)

Opening: “You hear stories of Duppies, River Mumma and Lajabless.”

by Aria-Rose Browne

14, St. Anthony’s Secondary School

Prizes – Patrons:

EC$150 – Lawrence Jardine (founder and technical director of the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Enlightenment Academy); Bath and Body gift package – Juneth Webson (businesswoman and writer – Milo’s First Winter); signed copy of Musical Youth (hard cover edition) by Joanne C. Hillhouse

Honourable  Mention –

The John Bull Effect (story)

Opening: “Every day at break, Miles and Tony would steal Tyler’s lunch money,and give him a ‘wedgie’ whenever he approached the urinal.”

by Judah Christian

13, Antigua Grammar School

Prizes – Patrons:

EC$100 – Lawrence Jardine (founder and technical director of the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Enlightenment Academy); Signed copy of Musical Youth 2nd edition (paperback) by Joanne C. Hillhouse



18 to 35 –

Winner –

A Bright Future for Tomorrow (story)

Opening: “The quiet crunches of footsteps on the decrepit asphalt echoed in the barren landscape, sparsely occupied by wilted weeds and rundown buildings.”

by Andre J. P. Warner


Prizes – Patrons:

EC$200 and a signed copy of London RocksBrenda Lee Browne; dinner for 2 – Hermitage Bay; signed copy of Musical Youth (hard cover edition) by Joanne C. Hillhouse

1st runner up –

Lead Me Lord (poem)

Opening: “Lead me lord I will follow/but not through the bushes and on the roads with crack.”

by Lehana Simon


Prizes – Patrons:

EC$250 – Hazra Medica; Bath and Body gift package – Juneth Webson (businesswoman and writer – Milo’s First Winter)

2nd runner up –

Oh, Beach that I once loved (poem)

Opening: ” Waves running towards the shore as the pleasant sea air blesses one’s nose.”

by Sethson Burton

19, American University of Antigua

Prizes – Patrons:

Signed copy of Musical Youth 2nd edition (paperback) by Joanne C. Hillhouse



Special Category Prizes –

Climate Change themed ‘Imagine a Future’ prize – Winner –

A Bright Future for Tomorrow by Andre J. P. Warner

Excerpt: “April of 2008 was the day when the first infestation of the Giant African Snail was identified, a small patch in Jolly Hill. A manageable infestation but due to mismanagement the invasion spread, in the eyes of the public and the government they were not that important. The farmers were the first to complain, then a few communities, but the masses did not complain; after all it wasn’t their properties. Then the businesses started complaining; the government put up a few initiatives and even put a bounty on snails, but who wanted to pick up nasty snails in hot sun for only five dollars a bag? As time passed they spread like the slow stream of water on the dinner table, you only noticed when it’s dripping on your lap. The nation was flooded; the government still dragged their feet even when the tourists complained. The snails were seen and ignored until disaster truly struck. In November 2020 the corona virus hit the nation…”

Prizes – Patrons:

EC$500 – Juneth Webson (businesswoman and writer – Milo’s First Winter)


School with the Most Submissions – Winner –

Sunnydale School – 14 submissions

Prizes – Patrons:

EC$600 worth of books – Caribbean Reads Publishing



Main Prize – Winner (tie) –

Tom, the Ninja Crab by Cheyanne Darroux  & A Bright Future for Tomorrow by Andre J. P. Warner






Chief judges’ comments: “Tom, the Ninja Crab and Bright Future for Tomorrow both were unanimously ranked as the top piece of their category. It is hard to judge both pieces against each other given the age difference and expected abilities of the writers. Both were equally as good for different reasons. Tom, the Ninja Crab was a delight and imaginative story. While Bright Future was a well thought out and creative piece.”


“Suddenly he saw a beautiful sight. A bright red light moved along the shore and threw down into the water, a long flame. Being a curious crab, Tom swam towards the shore and met the light as it stopped over a rock. There underneath the light lay six great salmon looking at the flame with their great, googly eyes, waggling their tails as if they were pleased with it.” (from Tom, the Ninja Crab)

“Lucas began to undress for the unpleasant dive he wished to avoid, but with his increase in asthma symptoms, that old hospital was the only place where he could find the Ventolin inhalers he needed. With a grimace and a deep breath, Lucas took his dive.” (from A Bright Future for Tomorrow)

Prizes (each/both) – Darroux and Warner – Patrons:

EC$500 – one anonymous and one contributed by Frank B. Armstrong; free eye exam (each) – Paradise Vision Center; US$500 (split equally) worth of books – Sean Lyons; journal (each) – one the Just Write journal by Brenda Lee Browne (Just Write) & one custom made by Jane Seagull; name emblazoned on The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Alstyne Allen Memorial Challenge plaque – The Best of Books


Post script: I (Joanne C. Hillhouse) attended the Rotary Club of Antigua’s Reading Competition in March and after hearing participants read from the featured book, my own The Boy from Willow  Bend, I invited the top 3 readers to the Wadadli Pen awards to collect copies of my book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure. but, of course, the awards didn’t happen. I have, though, turned the books over to Rotary and wanted to use this moment also to congratulate Adrian Clarke (3rd placed reader), Jelisa Graham (2nd placed reader), and winner Amaya King.


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Arts in the News (Unfortunately)

Usually we’re happy here at Wadadli Pen about arts and the youth being in the news and try to keep you updated. Sometimes, not so much.

First up is this back and forth between Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister and a member of the calypso fraternity in response to criticism (or questioning?) of cultural ambassador designation being given to the British-based Kanneh-Masons (Antigua-descended family of classical musicians). The Kanneh-Masons are dope. Their Playing to Inspire series of concerts to raise funds for the national youth symphony orchestra (I believe) is a worthy pursuit and one of them has distinguished himself internationally as a soloist, notably performing at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. No shade against them AT ALL. That said, these appointments can seem arbitrary and questioning how these things are decided is fair (and forwards transparency).  It’s inevitable for some to wonder why some people get to be at the front of the line, (AGAIN) without any shade on them, and why some we would consider worthy artists who work and sometimes die overlooked despite accomplishments locally, regionally, and globally stay at the back. Disappointing then that, instead of engaging on that level, the conversation (as reported) seemingly descended into broadsides against Antigua and Barbuda’s calypso artistes because their lyrics are perceived as being too local (you can read the articles for yourself above – click on them to get a full sized view). I have personally found in the calypso I grew up listening to, including the music of the artistes both sides seem to agree represent the best of us, that the local/the specific can connect to the universal thematically and emotionally (especially if the music sweet – not necessarily always jumpy but melodic and soul touching in some way) without diluting itself and thus losing both its poetry and its potency. There are lots of reasons why something might be underdeveloped (and some of our arts is) and reasons why it might not travel that do not necessarily have anything to do with the lyrics or narrative – among those reasons, opportunity.


This one is not unfortunate per se, correcting the record – as Pledge writer Stanley Humphreys and singer Short Shirt did with these letters to the editor in response to an article (not the first one I might add from personal experience) crediting someone else with writing this particular song (I can think of a book with a similar claim and another book that actually went a long way in correcting the record on a whole lot of songs) – is always a good thing. The credit is correct in our song lyrics data base by the way though the past confusion is addressed in the actual Pledge link (above). I do wish to take this opportunity to underscore that one of the challenges for those seeking to get the record right is the sparseness of documented information – one of the ways to fix this is through comprehensive liner notes, the kind often lacking from local music CDs. Some liner notes include not only production credits but song lyrics. As someone who has long covered the local art scene and who has for several years on this site worked to build a data base of our songwriters and their songs for some time, it’s easy to get things wrong due to lack of available, accurate information (oftentimes, even when you ask).


Okay, this one isn’t related to the arts but it is related to the youth which is the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize constituency. I don’t want to get too deep into this one – it’s too easy for the message to be missed for reasons that have nothing to do with the message itself – but I am disappointed not only with the delay in turning this facility over to the youth of the Grays Green (and I would add Ottos community and beyond) but that the optics for me say, the youth can wait, which is not a good look. The work of the Magistrate’s Court is important but I wish we had gone with an alternate site on this one, and proceeded with opening this facility post haste with all the fan fair our youth deserve. I can’t help feeling that whenever they get it now, it won’t be the same.

Let’s end on an upbeat note. I haven’t seen this in the paper – doesn’t mean it wasn’t there as admittedly I am a few days behind on the papers – or on my social media (apart from posts by individual winners) but it is one of my favourite events (celebrating our youth); I always take the time to make nominations (not just in lit arts) and I like to share the outcome here on the blog (click here to see who won what this year). Shout out to lit awards winner and Wadadli Pen 2018 Challenge winner Kyle Christian and to Latisha Browne of the Cushion Club (pictured below with her award).


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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