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Kyle Christian Wins Wadadli Pen


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.


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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Astrid Lindgren – the Winner

If you follow my author blog, you may remember me mentioning being a nominee for this prize last year.

Well, the winner has been announced and it is US author Jacqueline Woodson (who has been on my to-read list for a while). Here are some details via BBC:

“Her books include National Book Prize winner Brown Girl Dreaming, a memoir of her childhood written in verse.

The writer will receive five million Swedish krona ($600,000, £430,000) at a ceremony on 28 May in Stockholm.

Woodson is the 15th recipient of the prize, named after the Swedish creator of Pippi Longstocking.

Brown Girl Dreaming, published in 2014, describes her childhood in South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and ’70s, decades marked by civil rights marches, inequality and violence.

The author was also named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in the US in January.

She has written more than 30 books in total, most of which focus on teens making the transition from childhood to adult life.

The Lindgren jury said: “Jacqueline Woodson introduces us to resilient young people fighting to find a place where their lives can take root. In language as light as air, she tells stories of resounding richness and depth. ”

It was a formidable list of nominees from all over the world; congratulations to Ms. Woodson on separating from the pack and claiming the prize.

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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Mailbox – Congrats, Kei

With thanks to St. Lucian poet John Robert Lee for bringing this to my attention, congratulations to Jamaican-born, UK-based writer Kei Miller on his win of this year’s Ansa prize in Arts and Letters. The Trinidad and Tobago company continues to award distinguished Caribbean citizens in several areas. Kei – whose work I have written about on this blog before and am a fan of – “is a poet, writer, scholar and blogger whose work includes three novels, four poetry collections, a short story collection and a book of essays and prophesies. He holds a PhD from Glasgow University and is now a professor of creative writing at the University of Exeter. Miller’s work engages Caribbean themes of race, identity and immigration. His book Augustown won the 2017 Bocas Prize, and his short story collection The Fear of Stones was shortlisted for the 2007 Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize.”

Congrats to Kei and all the winners. Read more here.

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CRICKET IS MY LIFE by Emma Belizaire


Emma Belizaire

The author says: “I am 11 years old.  I am a 6th grader at St. Andrew’s School.   I have a love for all sports especially football and cricket.  My hero is Anisa Mohammed; the amazing female cricketer for the Women’s West Indies team.  Many people tell me I bowl like her, and so she and my love of cricket inspired this poem.”

Judges’ verdict: “Good poem.”

In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Challenge, the judges ranked Belizaire’s poem 2nd in the 12 and Younger age category.


Cricket ohh cricket
Cricket is my life
When I play cricket I feel free
So don’t try to beat me!

There is batting, there is fielding
There is also bowling
But when you see my team and I playing
We are unstoppable!

You are not going to beat me
You better take a seat,.. see
You see when I play cricket
I am in a zone, I am free
Cricket just calms me

I am in a zone that no one can take
Away from me
I am free…just free
I am free.
Don’t disturb me when I am playing,
I am in my zone

Cricket ohh cricket
Cricket is my life
Cricket just calms me
Don’t disturb me while I am playing, I am
In my zone. My cricket zone.

When you see me hitting the boundary
And knocking sixes with my eyes closed like
Sir Vivian Richards, I am in my zone.

When you see me breaking middle wickets
Like Anisa Mohammed, I am in my zone.
When you see my team catching them out
Like West Indies. We are in a zone.

When you see me wicket keeping like Ramdin
I am in my zone
When you see me bowling maidens like Stephanie Taylor
I am in my zone.

When I am playing with my team or even friends, I zone out.
Cricket just calms me
Cricket ohh cricket
Cricket is my life

When I’m looking like a tomato all red with rage
But then I’m playing cricket I just let go,
Cricket ohh cricket
Ohh cricket
Cricket is my life!!


Please respect the writer’s copyright. And while we welcome feedback, please be constructive.

With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):

EC$100 cash/gift certificate (contributed by Art. Culture. Antigua)
Books – Street Child by Berlie Doherty, Dotty Detective by Clara Vulliamy, Spell like a Champion (contributed by Harper Collins)
With Grace by Joanne C. Hillhouse (contributed by Little Bell Caribbean)
Gifts (contributed by Juneth Webson)
Cricket gear (contributed by the West Indies Cricket Board)
Certificate (sponsored by the Best of Books)

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Youth Worker wins Youth Writing Prize

Youth worker Daryl George is the winner of the main prize in the 2016 Wadadli Pen Challenge, a writing contest first launched in 2004. The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize was started by local author Joanne C. Hillhouse, to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. Over the years she’s been working with various partners and patrons to do just that.


From left, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Douglas Allen (brother of the late Alstyne Allen), Chammaiah Ambrose, Daryl George (holding the Alstyne Allen Memorial Challenge plaque), patron Dr. Hazra Medica, and patron representative Frank B. Armstrong’s Akeilah  Hillhouse.


George -the first male winner of the overall literary prize – was the judges’ unanimous choice for his win in the 18 to 35 age category and for the main prize for a story, Tropical Moonlight Sonata, described as a “a beautifully written piece” – simple, but with vivid descriptions and great depth. In it, a character named Jamal discovers or rediscovers a baby grand piano in a pawn shop far from home and…

“For a split second the cobblestone floors turned into ceramic tiles, and the cold air warmed into the humid tropical heat. The musty air filled with the smell of hundreds of books chock-full of mildewing pages of notes, time signatures, and middle and bass clefs before fading back to the dimly lit pawn shop.”

You can read the full story, and, in fact, all the winning stories online right here at Wadadli Pen (use the search feature to the right or just click the linked story).

George’s name has joined former winners on the Challenge plaque which is sponsored by and hangs in the Best of Books bookstore on St. Mary’s Street. The plaque has been (re)named the Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque in memory of a recently deceased member of the Wadadli Pen family – Allen volunteered with the project during the critical first years 2004 to 2006. Douglas Allen, Allen’s brother and publisher of Young Explorer, a partner in the project’s early years, was on hand to assist with the prize giving.

Other winning entries include 13 to 17 winner and second placed overall Alyssa Charles’ Faded Glory, a story in which the 17-year-old Antigua State College student tackles young love and touch choices; and 12 and younger winner and third placed overall Chammaiah Ambrose’ Guilty, a poem in which the 11-year-old Antigua Girls High School student empathizes with the fish she catches. Both Ambrose and George are repeat Wadadli Pen finalists.

The winners’ circle was a mix of repeaters and first timers. Repeaters included past finalists 16-year-old Irene B. Williams student Zahra Emanuel, honourable mention in the 13 to 17 age category for her story My So Called Father; nine-year-old Judah Christian, a Sunnyside Student; and 10-year-old Zion Ebony Williams, a Baptist Academy student, second and third placed in the 12 and younger category, respectively, for their stories My Worst Day Ever and A Dinner to Remember; and 11-year-old Avriel Walters, honourable mention in the latter category for her story My Cousin. First timers included Barbuda teacher Jemelia Pratt, who was honourable mention in the 18 to 35 age category for her story of the Cuban revolution Les Trajó Aquí; 15-year-old Glanvilles Secondary student Diamond Wayne, runner up in the 13 to 17 age category for her poem Granny for Sale; 16-year-old Antigua Grammar School student Canice James, honourable mention in the same category for his story Heroic Night, and the 12 and younger honourable mentions – Denejah Browne, Rolanda Cuffy, Kya Matthew, Morgan Leah Simon, and Laila Tahir, all Christ the King High School students. Christ the King was rewarded as the school with the most submissions.

The prize haul was roughly EC$4,000, give or take, thanks to contributions of gifts and cash from individuals (Juneth Webson, Dr. Hazra Medica, Pamela Arthurton), businesses (Frank B. Armstrong, CaribbeanReads Publishing, Papillotte Press, Paperclips, Barbuda Express, Raw Island Products, and the Best of Books), and even other community projects (Cushion Club, CODE, the Just Write Writers’ Retreat).  Hillhouse kicked in copies of her books Musical Youth and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings as well. Hillhouse thanked the patrons and partners – which included this year’s judges Floree Whyte, Cedric Holder, and Glen Toussaint, Wadadli Pen media/school ambassador Margaret Irish, advisor Barbara Arrindell – without whom another successful year of the Wadadli Pen Challenge would not have been achieved.

Hillhouse expressed hope of sourcing funding to take writing workshops to schools in Antigua and Barbuda beginning with the winning school, where she could provide instruction in crafting stronger stories.

She maintains that the point of Wadadli Pen, completely voluntary over the years, is to help writers and non-writers alike develop confidence with and appreciation for the written word. As usual, she commends those who took the Challenge for daring.

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Faded Glory by Alyssa Charles

Winner in the 13 to 17 age category and 1st runner up/2nd placed overall – Wadadli Pen Challenge 2016

Author’s comment: “First of all I LOVE to write and I want to spend the rest of my life writing. I discovered a penchant for writing (and using big words) at the age of ten years old, much to the disapproval of my mother (I was writing too maturely for my age). I have succumbed to writer’s block so many times because of insecurities that it’s a wonder I continue writing at all. I really hope you find something worthy in my writing.”

Judge’s comment (positives only*): “Although the story wasn’t uniquely Caribbean, I found the subject matter powerful and interesting and uncommon in the writings of this age group. …overall an enjoyable read and my number one pick.”

Note: *While only the positives are being shared with the public, in keeping with the development goals of Wadadli Pen, all long listed entries are returned to the author with the judge’s note  – both positives and negatives – for revision.  Congrats to Alyssa, who took the opportunity to edit the story. Finally, I did some minor proofing before posting. Alyssa,  your worthiness goes without saying no matter what this or any other competition says. Keep working on your craft; keep valuing your voice and your art. – JCH


Alyssa Charles.

Alyssa Charles.


Here now is Faded Glory by Alyssa Charles, 17, student at the Antigua State College:

She was beautiful, with bright brown eyes staring up at the world in wonder. Her little hands and feet emphasizing just how fragile she was, and it broke my heart. I knew that this day would come, where I would leave her in the care of someone else; someone who was better qualified than I was; someone who wanted a child and couldn’t have one of their own. I was giving someone what they desired most and yet I felt like I would combust. I was giving away the child that I endured such hardship for.

I could remember the day like it was yesterday. After spending five hours stretching my brain to its capacity in order to receive a ‘sound education’ – words courtesy of my mother – I had felt exhausted. I never wanted to go to that club meeting but something called to me, and there I found myself. Among the masses was a shy little creature completely averse to being talkative and being myself, it was a wonder that he first noticed me. A terribly cliché situation came to mind as I found myself staring at his face. He was no born Antiguan but one could tell that he was bred here. The soft colour of his skin was contrasting with the voice spewing from his lips and in that moment I believed with all my naiveté that this was the man of my dreams; the man who would sweep me off my feet. But things had a way of coming back to bite you and I would forever learn that karma lived up to her name.

We would spend time together, this dream man of mine, and in that time we were elusive of my mother. Secret rendezvous after school, buying ice cream and talking about ourselves turned into something else; things were progressing beyond meager friendship. One day, I’d found myself enveloped in his arms. Whispers of love flooded my ears and my heart grew wings, taking flight. I had experienced love for the first time and I wanted to keep it forever. I wished that his touch would always be with me; his presence to guide, but the saying was true, “Be careful what you wish for” and disaster ensued.

When he deserted me, I kept my love under my breast; the love that rose in my chest like a tide of mercury every morning. I let it listen to my heartbeats, share the food I ate, comfort me when all had forsaken me. She entered this world, where I had bargained her away, taking a piece of me. As I stared into her bright brown eyes I thought of one thing, “If this is what my naiveté caused then I would gladly do it again, if only to have you and keep you.”

Love played a part in my faded glory, giving me meaning only to be ripped away and leaving me with a gaping hole in my chest.


For winning her age category and placing second overall, Alyssa received:
Certificates sponsored by the Best of Books
EC$300 (courtesy Juneth Webson)
EC$240 (courtesy Dr. Hazra Medica)
Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay (courtesy Papillotte Press)
Prospero’s Daughter by Elizabeth Nunez, Glorious By Bernice McFadden, Turn Thanks and Controlling the Silver by Lorna Goodison (courtesy Pamela Arthurton of Carib World Travel )
Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse, Writer’s Digest magazine (JCH)
Vampire diaries board game – The Best of Books

Thanks to all partners and patrons for making the Wadadli Pen 2016 Challenge possible. Here at Wadadli Pen, we encourage you to support the businesses and individuals who support the arts.

Please respect the writer’s copyright. And while we welcome feedback, please be constructive.


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Congrats, Marion & Michele!

“I am cognizant that this honour is one that is coveted by Caribbean women, particularly in the academy. I am fully aware that there are many women, within and outside of academia – women who are on the front lines of the pursuit of gender justice; women who hold high office in regional and international organisations; women who work tirelessly in crisis centres to relieve suffering; women who are only known to those whom they help; women who are committed to both the creative arts and political activism – who are entirely deserving of this award. I am, therefore, humbled by this honour. While the award is often given for a lifetime of excellent work, I consider myself somewhere in the middle of this journey, not the end.

I am honoured to join a most distinguished group of Caribbean women who have preceded me. Over the years I have interacted with some of these women such as Dr. Peggy Antrobus, Dr. Joceylin Massiah, Dr. Rhoda Reddock and Dr. Eudine Barriteau in advancing the cause of women, all of whom have forwarded to me their good wishes. Further, I am pleased to say that this award, not well known in The Bahamas, has now kindled the interest of many young and older Bahamian women.”

This is an excerpt from Marion Bethel’s speech on acceptance of CARICOM’s 11th Trienniel Award for Women. Bethel is a Bahamian attorney, human and gender rights advocate, filmmaker, and poet. She is the director, writer, and producer of Womanish Ways – a film about the Woman’s Suffrage Movement in the Bahamas. As a writer, she’s been published in numerous journals, including Poui, BIM, the Caribbean Writer, and the Massachusetts Review. She’s been a James Michener, Cave Canem, and Bunting Institute fellow, as well as a guest writer at the Miami International Book Fair, the Medellin international poetry festival, the St. Martin Book Fair, and others. She’s a winner of the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize for her collection Bougainvillea Ringplay.

I want to say a big, big CONGRATULATIONS to Marion whom I’ve been fortunate to meet when we both attended the Caribbean Congress of Writers in Guadeloupe. Here we are with Jamaican-British writer Leone Ross at that event.

Marion, centre – sort of, flanked by me, left, and Leone Ross, right, in Guadeloupe 2013. (Photo by John Robert Lee/St. Lucia)

CONGRATULATIONS AS WELL TO MICHELE HENDERSON…an amazing singer from the nature isle (Dominica) whom I’ve had the opportunity to see perform live a time or two (no pictures though). I can share this catchy and anthemic song she composed all the way to victory in the 40th anniversary CARICOM song contest. Brava, Michele!

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, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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By Zahra Emanuel

“This writer has promise.” – JUDGE

It was a hot Good Friday morning; I was sitting on my gallery cooling out.  Then my phone rang, when I looked on the phone it was my best friend Keisha calling.

“Hello.”, I said answering the phone.

“Gyal you want me and you go beach today?”  Keisha asked me.

“Of course but which beach?” I interrogated Keisha.

“Let’s go Pigeon Point, me go try convince me brother to carry us.” Keisha answered.

“Okay let’s go for 11 o’clock.” I told her.

“Alright 11 o’clock it is.”, Keisha agreed.

When I hung up the phone I told my mom where I was going.  Then I put on my bath suit packed my bag and waited.

“Beep Beep Beep!!” went the car horn.

When I looked I saw it was Keisha’s bigger brother, Andrew, silver Alteza. I got into the car and it was a surprise to see Keisha and I wearing the same clothes, our blue shorts with our green tank tops. The sorts Keisha had on made her bottom look even bigger and the shades gave her small round face a nice look.

When we got there the beach was the same as usual, not much people around and the people that were there were just sitting under the old trees cooling out. After a while of walking up and down the beach I decided to go on the jetty and Keisha followed.  While we were on the jetty we talked about how much we missed our old friend Tanaya who had moved to the United States of America and how much we wished she could be there with us.  We talked about how hard third form had been and Keisha even told me that her oldest sister Mc Kenzie was going to get married to some English man she met when she went to study at Harvard  University.

After that long conversation we sat down and just had our feet in the water. I stared at Keisha for a while, noticing how much she had change over the past couple of years. She had put on some weight and her breasts got even bigger, at least 5 times the size of mine. Her hair was not jet black any more it was brown and her small round face looked even smaller. Keisha had some nice hazel eyes and everywhere we went together some random boy always wanted her number but she always gave them a fake one.  Now Keisha made me feel like I was not in the body of a fourteen year old. She made me feel smaller than usual.

When I finally came out of dream land I looked back and there were two boys coming toward us. One of them I recognized from school, it was a boy I never really talked to I didn’t even know his name. All I knew about him was that he was in fourth form.

“What’s up Keisha”, one boy said.

“Me ya what about you”, Keisha answered with a smile on her face.

“You know him?” I asked Keisha with a puzzled look.

“Yes gyal, is my cousin”, she said.

“Okay.”, I said to her like I was not too interested in talking to him.

“So wa you a do at the beach gyal” the boy asked Keisha.

“Me and me friend just come to cool, you know getting our rest before we go back to school”, she told him.

“Okay”, the boy answered.

I was not too interested in hanging around him though he was tall and had nice black eyes that matched his lovely skin tone, so I just went back into dream land.

I thought about how a water-spout had come and swallowed the strange boy up and Keisha cried and cried and I just stood there and watched her cry. Those things didn’t happen so often here in Antigua. Just then Keisha said something that was very strange of her to say.

“Come mek we jump off the jetty nuh” Keisha said

“Okay” said the boy

“You coming with us?” Keisha asked me.

“No me can’t swim nuh.” I told her.

“Neither can I.” she said

I thought about it for a while and then I said “Well, it wouldn’t hurt to try but since a you come up with the idea you jump off first.”

“No problem” Keisha said as she jumped off the jetty and a couple of seconds later the boy followed her and soon enough his friend did to.

I stopped watching them for a while to look at a school of fish passing by. When I looked back I realized I didn’t see Keisha so I asked the boys if they knew where she was and they said they don’t know and they just came out of the water.

“Keisha!!” I screamed at the top of my voice “This is not any time to be playing jokes!”

I tried to get both the boys attention but I failed big time at that. I looked around some more and I saw Keisha trying to keep her head above water by some sea weeds. I took action and jumped into the water. As I did that I said a little prayer “Lord give me strength”. I tried to get a good grip of Keisha but she was kicking up a lot so I did not manage to grip her good.

“Tap you wilding out nuh gyal if you nah want to dead today ya” I said.

“Dead me nah want to dead”, she said and she started wilding out again.

There I was trying my best to keep Keisha’s head above water and to pull her out but I was failing. After a long long long time of struggling I managed to pull her out the water. When we were on the sand a tall indigent looking man in a bleached out boxers came running towards us.

“All you okay?” asked the man.

“Yes we are okay.” Keisha answered as she just caught herself together.

The man just looked at us shacked his head and walked away.

“Keisha a wa the bottom for you bathing suit?” I giggled.

Keisha flew up.

“Look it there floating in the water!” she said with an embarrassing look on her face.

I grabbed a towel and gave it to her then went for the piece of her suit in the water.  While she was putting the bottom for her bathing suit on I said “Next time we coming beach somebody who can swim coming with us.”

“You took the words right out my mouth.” Keisha agreed.

“It is a good thing that I am tall so I can stand far out in the water.” I boasted to Keisha.

She just laughed and then thanked me for saving her then she called her brother to come for us and we went straight home.

Suzette EmmanuelAuthor’s bio: Zahra is a 14-year-old student at the Irene B. Williams School. Her entry was third placed in the 13 to 17 age category of the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge.

Copyrighted to the author; so, no stealing.

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I Whisper by Jordée Josiah

I Whisper, “Forward On”

Author: Jordée Josiah
Winner Poetry 12 – 17 years

I chose to whisper
because it seems like the only form of the spoken word we listen to;

The only form we garner
our energies to appreciate.

The whisper says I’m
scared of the beginning, not the ending, because of the faith that is needed to
start every new journey.

Do I trust myself to
take the first step?

Or do I stay where I am
and keep wishing for the end?

Do I try to make a
difference, or do I follow my ancestors and sleep forever?

Do I become the coward
that hides in his own shadow?

Why choose to hold onto
the end of the rope dangling over a cliff when the rest of the rope is in

Why not hold tight and
climb to new heights?

Just like the moth is
not the death of day but the life of night,

So each of us is here
for a different time, season, and purpose.

We all hear the whisper,
“Forward On.”

We know it means to let
go of the past and step into a new era.

When are we going to
become the whisper and tell ourselves, friends, family and country,

To Forward On, and to
take only what we need to make a better future?

Winning pieces from the 2011 Independence Literary Arts Competition are published here, with the chairperson’s permission, for the purpose of showcasing the talent displayed during the competition. Copyright of these pieces remain the preserve of the writers and, as is the case with all Wadadli Youth Pen Prize/Wadadli Pen, content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders. All other site content is created by me (Joanne C. Hillhouse) or, in the case of winning Wadadli Pen stories, the specific authors unless otherwise indicated. The same rules apply.


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