Tag Archives: women

New Book – It’s Madness, Plus

(21/01/19 – ETA: Also new, Peepal Tree Book of Contemporary Caribbean Short Stories, “The collection includes the work of, amongst others, Opal Palmer Adisa, Christine Barrow, Rhoda Bharath, Jacqueline Bishop, Hazel Campbell, Merle Collins, Jacqueline Crooks, Kwame Dawes, Curdella Forbes, Ifeona Fulani, Kevin Jared Hosein, Keith Jardim, Barbara Jenkins, Meiling Jin, Cherie Jones, Helen Klonaris, Sharon Leach, Alecia McKenzie, Sharon Millar, Breanne Mc Ivor, Anton Nimblett, Geoffrey Philp, Velma Pollard, Jennifer Rahim, Raymond Ramcharitar, Jacob Ross, Leone Ross, Olive Senior, Jan Shinebourne and Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw.” Read more.

I’ve been meaning to share announcement re this Caribbean collection focused on madness in the writing of Caribbean wordsmiths.


From an Antiguan-Barbudan standpoint, writings referenced include Freida Cassin’s With Silent Tread and Jamaica Kincaid’s writing in general, it seems, in, for one, a chapter entitled ‘Fighting Mad to Tell Her Story’: Madness, Rage, and Literary Self-Making in Jean Rhys and Jamaica Kincaid. The latter, if I’m reading the preview correctly, argues that “Jean Rhys and Jamaica Kincaid make(s) purposive use of ‘raving’ and ‘raging’ women in projects of literary self-making that are finely attuned to the geopolitical and cultural legacies of colonialism.”

More broadly, the book, Madness in Anglophone Caribbean Literature: On the Edge, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018, edited by Bénédicte Ledent, Evelyn O’Callaghan, and Daria Tunca, “takes an original view of madness as a potential space of political, cultural and artistic resistance, (and) looks at a wide range of Caribbean texts, including recent work”.

I’m interested in this, having touched on mental health issues (born of societal pressures in an uneven world) in my novel Oh Gad! and women dealing with the external and internal messiness of being in a lot of my writing – with the possible exception of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (lol). And I agree that it (madness) has been under-discussed not just in criticism but in our Caribbean reality – plus I’m just interested in feminine emotions and how they are sometimes mis-categorized as irrationality and/or madness, and how on the page female characters are, problematically, expected to be likeable (or else) – and things of that sort.  So, I’ll likely check it out at some point; and you can too.

“This collection takes as its starting point the ubiquitous representation of various forms of mental illness, breakdown and psychopathology in Caribbean writing, and the fact that this topic has been relatively neglected in criticism, especially in Anglophone texts, apart from the scholarship devoted to Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966). The contributions to this volume demonstrate that much remains to be done in rethinking the trope of “madness” across Caribbean literature by local and diaspora writers. This book asks how focusing on literary manifestations of apparent mental aberration can extend our understanding of Caribbean narrative and culture, and can help us to interrogate the norms that have been used to categorize art from the region, as well as the boundaries between notions of rationality, transcendence and insanity across cultures.”

Chapters listed are “Kingston Full of Them”: Madwomen at the Crossroads by Kelly Baker Josephs, “Fighting Mad to Tell Her Story”: Madness, Rage, and Literary Self-Making in Jean Rhys and Jamaica Kincaid by Denise deCaires Narain, Madness and Silence in Caryl Phillips’s A Distant Shore and In the Falling Snow by Ping Su, Speaking of Madness in the First Person/Speaking Madness in the Second Person? Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” by Delphine Munos, What Is “Worse Besides”? An Ecocritical Reading of Madness in Caribbean Literature by Carine M. Mardorossian, Performing Delusional Evil: Jamaica Kincaid’s The Autobiography of My Mother by Rebecca Romdhani, Horizons of Desire in Caribbean Queer Speculative Fiction: Marlon James’s John Crow’s Devil by Michael A. Bucknor, When Seeing Is Believing: Enduring Injustice in Merle Collins’s The Colour of Forgetting by Alison Donnell, Migrant Madness or Poetics of Spirit? Teaching Fiction by Erna Brodber and Kei Miller by Evelyn O’Callaghan, and (Re)Locating Madness and Prophesy: An Interview with Kei Miller by Rebecca Romdhani. (Palgrave)

Should be an interesting read.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder, coordinator, and blogger Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace). All Rights Reserved.

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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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