Tag Archives: Writers

Roland Watson-Grant: Caribbean Winner, 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize — Repeating Islands

Jamaican author Roland Watson-Grant is the Caribbean Winner of the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, with “The Disappearance of Mumma Dell”—his winning story of a matriarch’s funeral gone awry, a missing body, a forbidden pear tree and a community under threat is told through the eyes of a teenager. The 2021 overall winner will be announced […]

Roland Watson-Grant: Caribbean Winner, 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize — Repeating Islands

‘I entered Commonwealth Short Story Prize because I write in the spaces where cultures have conversations. I eavesdrop on what one culture –based on geography or time– has to share with another. I couldn’t ignore a platform that is dedicated to the very same thing.’ (Grant)

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is now open for submissions. See this and other deadlines in Opportunities Too.

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Book Publishing Q & A

I responded, last year, to some questions submitted via email by someone doing research for an MA programme. This questioner found me when I had the time (or made the time). That may not always be the case. I thought sharing my responses here might be useful to others who may have similar questions going forward (for days when I don’t have the time). Questions were specific to my books with independent press Caribbean Reads Publishing (which, I believe, was the chosen case study).

*Did you have to re-draft your books before they got published? What were some of the editor’s comments on your work? Did you find these critiques helpful?

Both books went through an editing process (not redrafting but fine tuning). Editing was outsourced to someone knowledgeable in critiquing teen/young adult books, and then a second round of editing, I believe, in house. I don’t remember the specific comments- the only thing that comes to mind is in the case of Musical Youth the addition of a chapter fleshing out one of the characters more, and some language notes, some cultural and some re suitability of content for the target audience. Probably some plot and character points that needed clarifying as well. Some I found helpful, some I did not.

*Can you describe the process of negotiating your contact? Do Caribbean own the rights to the books you have published with them?

I sought my agent’s advice re the contract – something I try to do always. The process was amiable considering the circumstances. The writer owns the rights but certain rights are licensed to the publisher – any rights not specified remain with the author. Standard contract.

*To what extent are you involved in the creative design and illustrations of your books?

The publisher has final say but in each case I’ve had input to varying degrees – with Caribbean Reads especially, it’s been quite collaborative with author feedback sought on character design at various stages.

Lost! character

Does Caribbean Reads provide an illustrator and cover the cost for you?

With traditional publishing, the publisher invests the money in publishing the book, including commissioning (selecting, hiring, and paying) the illustrator (in the case of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure) and cover design (in the case of Musical Youth). They do ask for and consider my recommendations re the artist – which is not the case with every publisher.

*Were there any pro’s or con’s to publishing with Caribbean Reads specifically?

See the video – it doesn’t speak to the nitty gritty of publishing with anyone but it does make a distinction between working with big and small publishers. Caribbean Reads as an independent Caribbean press is on the small side.

*How did Caribbean Reads market your work to boost sales? Which was the most effective method?

A number of ways from sending books out for review to advertising to social media to giveaways to festival bookings to media releases etc. I think a combination of approaches rather than a single thing, and consistency, yields the most success.

*Once your book was published, did Caribbean reads organise book tours or readings to promote the book?

Not a book tour, no, but as noted they did facilitate certain bookings like the Brooklyn Book Fair and, in tandem with my efforts, the Miami Book Fair.

*What advice do you have for writers who want to be successfully published?

See this video

You can check the resources page on the Wadadli Pen blog (i.e. this blog right here) which I maintain – some of my other blogged content re the publishing process is there among the resources by other people that I share (you will need to dig through it to see what is mine as most of it is links to third party sites).

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 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, Oh Gad! and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen, my books, and my freelance writing-editing-coaching-workshop services. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Out-Store Book Event

Out-Store is my spin on in-store because the Best of Books bookstore’s Independence weekend event was held on the sidewalk outside of their store, not indoors, and we were all masked up because #COVID19isreal in these streets. The showcase of local literary talent actually ran over three days. I was there on Saturday afternoon, but I believe it started on Thursday of that weekend. Here are some I believe exclusively Saturday images and videos (courtesy the Best of Books and writer Brenda Lee Browne who was, also, a part of the event).

I was there (in purple) with (standing, left) Brenda Lee Browne, author of London Rocks and the Just Write journal to jumpstart your creativity.
Just Write books and mugs (the latter created locally by Cedars Pottery).
Pictured in the foreground is Farida Issac’s latest, Live Out Loud: A 90 Day Guided Journal for Women Ready to Live their Best Lives.
Farida Isaac also brought her children’s book Calypso Princess: the Grand Celebration and the companion activity book.
Janice Sutherland was out with her book This Woman Can! The No Bullsh*t Guide for Women Who Lead. This is the first upload to the new Wadadli Pen YouTube channel.
Other videos from the event have been added to the Wadadli Pen channel. Check the ‘Book Event, Independence 2020 Playlist’.
T. Lerisa Simon was out with Gift of God: Finding Treasure in the Darkness and Lemon Tree: Surviving Miscarriage and Other Things We don’t discuss.
Joy Lawrence.

I am pictured here with the original 2014 edition, left, of the Burt Award winning title Musical Youth, and the 2019 second edition, right.

Also present was The Boy from Willow Bend.

That’s me at the end. I am Joanne C. Hillhouse. I write books. I run Wadadli Pen. I blog here. If you use anything from this post, credit where due and link back. If you’re a writer who participated in this event, don’t see yourself, and have a picture of vid to share, you can send to wadadlipen@gmail.com Will do my best to post as soon as time allows. #buylocallit

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A Bright Future for Tomorrow

by Andre J. P. Warner, 21

The quiet crunches of footsteps on the decrepit asphalt echoed in the barren landscape, sparsely occupied by wilted weeds and rundown buildings. Lucas, a lean bronze skinned young man walked towards the coast silently eyeing his destination, his eyes kept low from the blaring sun. His steady pace soon came to a stop as the road took an abrupt plunge into murky waters, filled with detritus. Lucas’s gaze locked on the lone building visible in the distance; partially submerged, with the paint barely reflecting the orange hew it once held. 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.

Steadily swimming, Lucas began to think about what led to the country he lived in being in this state. The answer was simple, it just simply got hotter. Global warming peaked melting the icecaps, elevating sea levels to the point where the sea took 30% of the land. The sea ports, airports, coastline hotels, and all the offshore islands sunk! St Johns, Green Bay, Coolidge and all areas close to the coast along with every beach simply disappeared, so fast were the effects that there was no time to plan for the devastating economic effects. With this new aquatic territory, Sargassum sea-weed flourished, creating many forests around the island inhabited by the most vicious predator, Lionfish. As the kings of the underwater jungle, they destroyed most aquatic wildlife with their indiscriminate feeding. Lucas came back to focus as he reached his destination and began his frantic search, the results were lacking, but the single dosage he found would have to do. Doubling back, he swam to shore for his trek to Scott’s hill where he lived, one of the few decent places left on island.

Lucas approached the base of the hill to his home he heard a sharp crunch, lifting his leg he saw the source, a brown shell. Staring at the shattered remains of the shell he recalled the past behind them. The 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, one that could not even properly fend off Dengue fever. The initial cases were contained but, an unknown fact was that the snails were perfect vector for both dengue and the corona virus. Within the bodies of the snails these viruses fused to create, the Krylan virus. The discovery of this virus was at a point which it was too late; a mortality rate of 55% devastated the island and Antigua was quarantined from the rest of the world. The government in desperation released the strongest toxin possible in an attempt to quell the outbreak, this did yield results but also destroyed local species and biodiversity. Between the deadly virus and the now barren land Antigua was evacuated, with a small group of villagers including Lucas’s grandparents.

The thought of the injustice of his ruined nation ignited a fire in Lucas. “You selfish bastards,” he yelled. The politicians and tycoons who profited from pollution, ignoring the consequences. “Those impudent worthle-” it was at this moment Ben realized he could no longer hear himself. With his simmering passion rapidly cooling, he was able to come to the realization that his mike was…off? Eager to return to his speech, Ben rapidly tapped the power button; his futile efforts led to the realization that he had been muted! A rising heat was felt in his cheeks as a slight blush was formed as he slowly raised his head and looked at his audience who had been forgotten in his fervor. There were variety of expressions to be seen, with half of the viewing audience shocked. The expression on his principal’s face was that of restrained anger, who had warned him not to embarrass his institution with “foolishness”. Faces of resentment were worn by the minister who had expected to be praised, not criticized. Visages of amusement and barely restrained laughter adorned the faces of all his classmates. Lastly was resignation in the face of his teacher who begged him not to ‘overdo’. In the corner of his eye Ben spotted a waving hand signaling him to leave, facing the crowd he quickly said “thank you” and strutted off stage. Passing the shocked speaker of ceremonies, on his way to the exit Ben heard her sputter out “T-that was Mr. Ben Mascal and his piece titled ‘A Bright Future for Tomorrow.’ I-I want to thank you all once again for coming out to our sustainable development awards program, here at the parliament building”. The voice faded as Ben left with the knowledge that he was clearly suspended, but with a small smile on his face with the feeling of his message being heard. Staring over the cityscape, with the ocean reflecting the Sun’s glow on his face Ben whispered “it might just be a bright future after-all.”

ABOUT the story: “The exploration of a young man in a now dystopian Antigua ravaged by climate change and its effects. This piece was inspired by my own ‘what if’ scenarios and the award sub-heading.” This story won the 18 to 35 age category and the Imagine a Future/Climate Change themed prize, and tied for the main prize in the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize 2020 Challenge.

Andre hs

ABOUT the author: Antiguan writer with a passion for reading and the literary arts…also fond of chess and hiking. Warner is one of five 2018 Wadadli Pen honourable mentions.

ABOUT prizes won:

Each winner is also set to receive a certificate, a selection of books from The Best of Books Bookstore and cultural items from the Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda.

Prizes – Patrons:

Winner 18 – 35 –
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

Winner ‘Imagine a Future’ Climate Change Theme – 
EC$500 – Juneth Webson (businesswoman and writer – Milo’s First Winter)

Main Prize Winner (tied) – 

EC$500 – Frank B. Armstrong; free eye exam – Paradise Vision Center; US$250 worth of books – Sean Lyons; journal – Just Write journal by Brenda Lee Browne (Just Write); name emblazoned on The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Alstyne Allen Memorial Challenge plaque – The Best of Books

For the full breakdown of ‘who won what’, if not linked, use the site’s search feature.

ABOUT Wadadli Pen: The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize launched in 2004 with a writing Challenge that continues 16 years later. It is Wadadli Pen’s pilot project, in keeping with its mandate to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, encouraging  writers (and visual artists) in Antigua and Barbuda (35 years and younger) to create a piece on any topic, within a Caribbean aesthetic. In 2020, there was also an Imagine a Future climate change challenge. To support the work of Wadadli Pen, contact wadadlipen@gmail.com

 

Please respect the author’s copyright. If you share, excerpt, credit, and link back; do not republish without permission nor without crediting.

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Wadadli Pen Returns After A Year Hiatus With A Bigger Challenge

New sub-themes include Imagine a Future – an opportunity for a writer to create a climate change themed dystopia or futopia depending on which way the creative winds blow; the Wa’omani Prize exclusively for Barbudans; and a comic-strip art challenge. The age categories have also been re-set to 6 and younger, 7 to 12, 13 to 17, and 18 to 35. Launch announcement in this press release (WADADLI PEN LAUNCH RELEASE 2020). A submission form (2020 WADADLI YOUTH PEN PRIZE SUBMISSION FORM) is required. Full submission guidelines at Wadadli Pen 2020.

This photo shows 2006 Wadadli Pen finalists includes Verdanci Benta, Rosalie Richards, Blair Rose, prolific self-published author Rilys Adams, and former independent online newspaper publisher and editor Angelica O’Donoghue.

Wadadli Pen continues to create opportunities for writers and artists in Antigua and Barbuda, nurturing and showcasing the arts since 2004.

To contribute prizes so that we can reward all this effort, contact us at wadadlipen@gmail.com

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on 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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Carib Plus Lit News (Early November 2019)

Happy Independence, Antigua and Barbuda.

Original Posting November 1st 2019>and on November 2nd ETA SX Salon & Womanspeak.

The WomenSpeak Project in Trinidad and Tobago teams with the Institute for Gender and Development for ‘Write to Speak’

The WomenSpeak Project in partnership with The Institute for Gender and Development Studies invite you to register for the “Write to Speak” spoken word workshop for women. In this workshop participants will be exposed to the tools for developing their style through poetry: exploring verbal fluency, finding and projecting their unique voice, transforming memory into an intentional story, characterization, and the basics to writing a poem. Participants will have the opportunity to work individually and in groups to explore advocacy and prepare their very own spoken word piece with facilitator Alyea Pierce, a spoken word poet and Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow. Write to Speak will be held on November 16th 2019 at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the UWI, St. Augustine. Contact womenspeakproject@gmail.com for more information.

SX Salon Number 31 is Now Available Online

With this issue, SX Salon transitions editors, with Rachel L. Mordecai taking on the role of SX Salon editor and Ronald Cummings taking on the role of book review editor. Vanessa K. Valdés and Kelly Baker Josephs will both still be part of the larger Small Axe Project, but are leaving SX Salon in Rachel’s and Ron’s hands. A special discussion section of Issue 31 (focused on online publishing) is guest-edited by outgoing editor Kelly Baker Josephs and outgoing book review editor Vanessa K. Valdés. The pieces collected in this section include reflective essays by Peter James Hudson of The Public Archive, by Vanessa K. Valdés, and by Jyothi Natarajan of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop website, as well as interchanges between Social Text Online editors Anna McCarthy, Tavia Nyong’o, and Marie Buck, and between Kelly Baker Josephs and the Caribbean Review of Books editor Nicholas Laughlin. The essays offer brief, compelling histories of the contributors’ respective platforms as they speak to Josephs and Valdés’s prompts, but the discussion also raises distinct questions of representation in digital space. Also in this issue, reviews of  Crossing the Line: Early Creole Novels and Anglophone Caribbean Culture in the Age of Emancipation by Candace Ward, Caribbean Critique: Antillean Critical Theory from Toussaint to Glissant by Nick Nesbitt, Slave Old Man: A Novel by Patrick Chamoiseau, Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon by Anthony Joseph, and Stolen Time: Black Fad Performance and the Calypso Craze by Shane Vogel. The Poetry and Prose section contains a story by Cynthia James as well as two multi-modal, digital-literature offerings: Urayoán Noel’s “Bagku” and “Cinquain sin quien,” and Joey De Jesus’s “Black Flag.” As SX Salon continues in its role as an innovative and important platform vis-a-vis Caribbean literature and literary criticism, Rosamond S. King will continue in her role as creative editor. To contact, SX Salon, email rlm@smallaxe.net

About the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize

This has been in Opportunities Too for some time, but in case you missed it (I’m posting this on the last day for submissions, which also happens to be Antigua and Barbuda’s Independence Day, November 1st). From the official release: The 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize is accepting entries from 1 September to 1 November 2019. The competition is administered by Commonwealth Writers and is free to enter. The prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words). The five regional winners receive £2,500 each and the overall winner receives a total of £5,000. In addition to English, submissions are accepted in Bengali, Chinese, French, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil, and Turkish. Stories that have been translated into English from any language are also accepted. The prize is open to citizens of all Commonwealth countries and judged by an international panel, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. The judges for the 2020 prize are: Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Chair), Mohale Mashigo (Africa), William Phuan (Asia), Heather O’Neill (Canada and Europe), Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw (Caribbean), and Nic Low (Pacific). The five regional winning stories are published online by the literary magazine Granta. Past winners of the prize have gone on to win other literary competitions and secure book deals. The overall winner is announced at a ceremony which is held in a different region of the Commonwealth each year. All the regional winners are invited to attend this special event which provides opportunities to network with other writers and engage the media. Janet Steel, Programme Manager of Commonwealth Writers, said: ‘The prize is at the heart of all the work we do at Commonwealth Writers. It’s a chance for new voices to shine from around the Commonwealth and be recognised on a global platform.’ Constantia Soteriou, Cypriot writer and overall winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, said: ‘I feel honoured and happy to win this amazing prize; it feels like a reward for all the hard work I have been doing over the last eight years, writing about the perspectives of women on the political and historical events of Cyprus. ‘This prize is a recognition for giving voice to those who did not have the chance to be heard before; those who were left behind.’ Those interested in applying can find out more about eligibility, rules, and the submission process [here].

About the Sharjah International Literary Festival

Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Musical Youth etc. and founder/coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize) is scheduled to be a guest author at the Sharjah International Book Fair.  According to Gulf Today, “The 38th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2019) will be a dream come true for book lovers, with more than 60 international authors and cultural personalities set to participate in the third largest book fair in the world.” This includes American comedian and host Steve Harvey, acclaimed African American author Bernice McFadden (The Book of Harlan, Sugar), and, among others editor of the global anthology New Daughters of Africa UK-based Margaret Busby. Hillhouse will be part of a New Daughters panel and another panel on young adult literature, in addition to a scheduled school visit. We’re sure she’ll report on the experience on her return.

About the Burt Award

This book is the last Burt Award winner, look for it and the other winning titles as Burt Award editions on your book shelves soon. What’s the Burt Award? and is this just a shameless attempt to point you to a post that addresses that very question and highlights all the teen/young adult Caribbean prizes that came out of this contest? Yes… why?

About the V. S. Pritchett Short Story Prize

I’m not sure if anyone from the Caribbean has won or even been shortlisted for this UK Prize before. No names jump out at me. But one surely did when I checked the long list for 2019. Well, two – Diana McCaulay and her story Picking Crabs in Negril.

Diana McCauley at the launch of her first book Dog-Heart with renowned Jamaican poet Mervyn Morris. (Photo courtesy Diana McCauley)

She is one of 11 finalists for the prize, valued at 1000 pounds. Here are the details. Diana may be known to readers of the blog as we’ve interviewed her and reviewed her Burt award winning book Gone to Drift, mentioned most recently in a post we did on the Burt Award. Congratulations to her on her continued achievements -after becoming a Burt award finalist for a second time this year, with a manuscript shortly to be published by Peepal Tree Press.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator 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 – Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe). All rights reserved. 

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Antiguan and Barbudan Writers Talking CARIFESTA Inclusion (or Lack Thereof)

This post started with this

It was shared to social media by a member of the Antigua and Barbuda literary community (tagging the local cultural gatekeepers and local authors like me) with the following question: “any of our writers have been invited to be part of the official Carifesta delegation sent by the Government and People of Antigua & Barbuada Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission. These 14 sessions of Carifesta outside of Antigua & Barbuda … which writers have formed part of the delegation? Is writing considered to be art? Is it an expression of who we are?”

Naturally, I assumed the poser of the question knew the answer to the question posed and was posing the question with purpose and I didn’t want to be drawn in.

Also, I don’t typically respond to everything I’m tagged in but I guess I had time ‘today’. I responded for the same reason I’m sharing the conversation here (without identifying the speakers, since I have not sought their permission to do so) because I am a writer and literary arts advocate who has made more than clear where I see gaps in the boosting of arts, including literary arts, by the powers that be. The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize was launched in 2004 because of a developmental gap I perceived as relates to local lit arts.  Disclaimer alert! Disclaimer alert! I am not saying nothing has been done. To do so would be disingenuous at best, a lie at worst. But there are gaps re lit arts (arts, really) support and inclusion generally, and (very important) consistently; and the process by which the CARIFESTA delegation is selected has never been particularly clear to me (with no intended shade at the artists who have represented us, this is something I queried in an article some years ago – not the selectees but the process by which selection is made). So, I think it’s fair that the question is being asked, reluctant as I am to be drawn in because criticism of any kind is too often interpreted as hateration and grudgefulness etc. But, and this brings me to the other reason I’m sharing this conversation (near verbatim), Antigua and Barbuda is reportedly next in the line-up (after Trinidad and Tobago this year) to host CARIFESTA, making this conversation about literary arts inclusion even more pertinent.

My response in that thread was: No, I have never been invited to be part of the official Carifesta delegation sent by the Government and People of Antigua & Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission (responding because I was tagged and speaking only for myself). I can’t say which writers from Wadadli have formed part of the past 14 sessions of Carifesta (nor how decisions re the composition of the delegation are made). Yes, writing is an art and, yes, an expression of who we are.

Other writers’ response in that thread:

Other writer 1 –
Never been invited, however was asked to supply 50 books to be taken…when explained that they had to contact the publishers…and publisher willing to ship, however, needs specific details…told to contact secretariat…now what is the number? Who will pay for the books and if sold at Carifesta, what is my percentage…not a meeting or formal letter/email… I was contacted by [name redacted] by phone with follow up WhatsApp messages…

Other writer 2 –
[Name redacted] same with me concerning WhatsApp messages. In the end, I explained that I couldn’t send any books due to financial constraints. From what I understand, books would have been on display, but [redacted] never mentioned a delegation or anything along those lines. Plus by delegation, who would be covering flight and board? *Le sigh*

Other writer 3 –
I’m so clueless, this is the first I’m hearing of it. *goes and stands in the corner*

Other writer 2 –
[Name redacted] *joins you as it feels like writers in Antigua are not taken seriously*

Other writer 4 –
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm

 

That, to the best of my knowledge, was the end of that conversation. And since I have no connected image, I’ll share this vid from a few years ago which begins Ah Write!

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator 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 which has a Spanish language edition). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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Congrats, NAACP Lit Award Winners

A little late but – having shared the nominees, previously – I want to say congratulations to this year’s NAACP lit award winners. Namely,

Michelle Obama – Biography/Autobiography – Becoming
Margot Lee Shetterly – Children’s Fiction – Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
David Mann and Shaun Sanders – Debut Author – Us Against the World: Our Secrets to Love, Marriage, and Family
Tayari Jones – Fiction – An American Marriage *An American Marriage recently won the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction, among many other accolades including being an Oprah’s Book Club selection.*
Daymond John – Instructional – Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life
Donna L. Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, Minyon Moore, and Veronica Chambers – Non Fiction – For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics
Alice Walker – Poetry – Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart
Jacqueline Woodson – Youth/Teens – The Dream of America

Congrats to them all and to all the nominees. The full list and book and author information here.

Pictured are a mix of winning and nominated books; credit for the information to the African American Literary Book Club.

 

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Angles of Light 2

Earlier this year, I shared audio of my reading on Chapel FM (in Leeds, England) programme Angles of Light. The Juleus Ghunta (author Tata and the Big Bad Bull author) production will broadcast part 2 on March 23rd as part of Chapel FM’s annual arts festival, Writing on Air (WOA). It will feature readings by 26 poets, including John Robert Lee, Nancy Anne Miller, Marion Bethel, Mervyn Morris, MJ Fievre, Chadd Cumberbatch, and Ann–Margaret Lim. The show will be one and a half hours long.

Here’s the day’s programme:

WOA Programme 2019_Anges of Light_Mar 23rd.jpg

Angles of Light 2 is at 9:45 p.m. Here’s where you can listen live.

As someone who tries through Wadadli Pen to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, one way being through this platform, Juleus Ghunta (my list buddy: we both have books – my Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and his Tata and the Big Bad Bull – with Caribbean Reads publishing) deserves credit for bringing Caribbean writers to a platform to which he has access. Respect.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, and author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Oh Gad!, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All rights reserved. Subscribe to this site to keep up with future updates.

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Two of My Faves

Cleaning out some files just now, I came across a release I neglected to share when it was still news (read it here: OESnews18-PresAward_6-2-2018). It concerns two Caribbean literary giants – Earl Lovelace of Trinidad and Tobago, and America-based Edwidge Dandicat of Haiti – being awarded by the St. Martin’s Book Fair. From the release: “The Presidents Award is presented to individuals and institutions whose work is noted
for its excellence and for combining literary, cultural, and liberation components in the service of progress, of their people or nation, and of humanity,” said Lasana M. Sekou, projects director at House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). I saw the accompanying photo and wanted to share it along with a note on each of these writers, two of my faves and writers you should know if you don’t already.

nerissa golden pic of danticat_lovelace_BF18_6-2-18.jpg

Their books (the ones I’ve read)

Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994) – This was an Oprah’s Book Club pick (1998) right around the time a book club I was then a part of introduced me to it. Oprah being the literary king and queen maker at the time, it launched her in to the stratosphere not only as a major modern Caribbean voice but as a major author. It was uncomfortable and moving, dealing as it does with home, the mother-daughter dynamic, and purity tests for girls;  definitely a must-read.

The Farming of Bones (1998) – I credit the book club I was a part of at the time for introducing me to this one and unearthing, for me, a part of Caribbean history I knew  nothing about –  the massacre at the border between the two countries of Haitians by Dominicans at the behest of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1937. It rocked me in so many ways, thinking about how Haiti has inspired (as the singular example of Black people freeing themselves from bondage) and suffered (paying for their claiming of their ownership of themselves and their country) to this day; thinking of how so many Dominicans have, since the 1980s and continuing, made Antigua their home by that point, of earlier migration, decades before my birth of eastern Caribbean people to the Dominican Republic and other parts of Latin America, of Caribbean people moving for all sorts of reasons, economic and otherwise, of Black people, darker Black people especially, too often being treated as a stain upon the world, undesirables, of how to reconcile all of this ugliness, especially when from slavery to economic recolonization, we won’t even face it. What I liked about this book was the way it insisted we face it. The tensions between Haiti and the DR persist to this day (and Dandicat has become quite a vocal advocate for the humanity of Haitian people in these battles), Haiti is still treated like the world’s problem and not a self-determining nation that showed us the way, the colourist attitudes and their underpinnings in our enslavement is an issue we’ve barely scratched the surface of, but one of the things I like about fiction is how it mixes these big racial, social, historical, and geo political issues in to an engaging, and all too human, story that we can’t shake, long after we’ve forgotten the details. This is a masterpiece and easily one of my favourite books, period.

Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (2010) – a collection of essays that while they spoke to the challenges of writing about Haiti, spoke to me as a writer trying to write truthfully, the bravery that that requires, and the fear that I may not be up to the task. I love this book for the insights it gives to Dandicat’s journeying but also for the ways it challenges me on my own.

Eight Days: A Story of Haiti (2010) – this gripping children’s book of a child trapped in the days after the major Haiti quake of that same year. I believe it was a fundraiser as the country struggled (struggles still) to find its footing; it was also a favourite of the Cushion Club Reading Club for Kids with which I volunteer (… or have).

Dandicat’s short fiction – of her loose short fiction, my favourite of the ones I’ve read is Ghosts which was published in the New Yorker.

Still on my to read list – Behind the Mountains (2002), The Dew Breaker (2004) , Anacaona: Golden Flower (2005),  Brother, I’m Dying (2007), Claire of the Sea Light (2013) – I’ve actually read excerpts of this one but not the whole book though the excerpts I’ve read make me want to read it in full, and Untwine (2015). Actually I could probably add all the books by her that I haven’t read yet to this list but I’m sticking with the ones already on my TBR.

I’ve read less of Lovelace (less even than I realized) and yet he looms just as large in my literary imagination – in part because he is always part of everyone’s conversation as a pure Caribbean artist who has influenced the way we tell our stories to the world, and is many people’s favourites. The one I remember reading, again with my book club back in the late 90s/early aughts, I believe, is The Wine of Astonishment (1982) – with that iconic cover and its use of Trinidad traditional stick fighting culture (an extension of Africa in the lives of these displaced Africans). The details are fuzzy but the Bolo character is one of the things/people/entities that imprinted on me from this book (and from many Caribbean books I’ve read); I love a great character. I’m now realizing as I write this that I may have only thought I read The Dragon Can’t Dance; it is one of those Caribbean classics you grow up with until it feels like you’ve read it because you know it so well…only, maybe not (this was me and Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea for the longest while). I can’t say for sure which probably means I need to re/read it. So I’m going to put The Dragon Can’t Dance back on the TBR alongside the ones already there – Is Just a Movie and Salt.

Their impact

Lovelace is “celebrated for his descriptive, dramatic fiction about West Indian culture. Using Trinidadian speech patterns and standard English, he probes the paradoxes often inherent in social change as well as the clash between rural and urban cultures.” (Britannica)

“Earl Lovelace is well known for his groundbreaking novels about carnival and
religion in Trinidad and Tobago, The Dragon Can’t Dance and The Wine of
Astonishment. His more recent award-winning novels, Salt and Is Just a Movie have
advanced his regional and international standing as a noted Caribbean author.” (from the press release re the St . Martin Book Fair 2018)

I remember we did an informal poll on the now (unfortunately) defunct Caribbean Literary Salon re favourite Caribbean writer and Lovelace won easily.

His awards include a 1980 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 1986 National Endowment for the Humanities grant, the 1997 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for best book (Salt), being shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 1998, a 2002 Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of the West Indies, the 2011 Grand Prize for Caribbean Literature (Is Just a Movie), and the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize, fiction category and overall winner (Is Just a Movie) among others.

“Edwidge Danticat, (born January 19, 1969, Port-au-Prince, Haiti), Haitian American author whose works focus on the lives of women and their relationships. She also addresse(s) issues of power, injustice, and poverty.” (Britannica)

“Edwidge Danticat (Haiti/USA), a much in-demand writer around the world, is the
author of Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!; The
Farming of Bones; and Claire of the Sea Light. She is the editor of The Butterfly’s Way:
Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States. A MacArthur fellow, Danticat
has written six books for children and young adults. Her memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, is a
USA National Book Critics Circle Award winner.” (from the press release re the St . Martin Book Fair 2018)

When this blog posted on Caribbean Favourites in 2010, four Dandicat books were listed with fans of the book crediting The Farming of Bones for “unflinchingly and vividly rendering (a brutal chapter in Haitian-Dominican Republic history)”, Breath, Eyes, Memory’s “simply beautiful writing”, Krik? Krak? as a book that “weaves love, heartbreak, pride, pain, and raw human emotion” in to its storytelling (this fan also described Dandicat as “truly gifted in her story telling”), and The Dew Breaker as an example of “truly amazing writing” and “a powerful exploration of the effect of political violence on individuals and communities”.

Dandicat was named by Harper’s Bazaar as ‘1 of 20 people in their twenties who will make a difference’, featured in The New York Times as one of ’30 under 30′ people to watch, and called one of the ’15 Gutsiest Women of the Year’ by Jane magazine. She received fiction awards from Essence and Seventeen magazines. She won a Pushcart for Between the Pool and the Gardenias’, Granta magazine’s Best Young American Novelist prize (1996), the American Book Award for The Farming of Bones (1999), the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for The Dew Breaker (2005), and the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for Create Dangerously (2011), among others. She is a repeat National Book Award nominee (Krik? Krak?, Brother, I’m Dying) and the recipient of honorary degrees from Smith College (2012), Yale (2013), and the University of the West Indies (2017) – possibly more. She is a MacArthur Fellows Program Genius Grant recipient (2009).

“Both authors are also courageous advocates for the advancement of Caribbean
sovereignty and human rights” (from the press release re the St . Martin Book Fair 2018)

Our crossings

I’ve met each of these authors at least once – Lovelace at the International Congress of Caribbean Writers (2013) and Dandicat at the Miami Book Fair (2018). It can be fun to meet your heroes…it can be uneventful; one was one of these and one was the other but both remain as mental keepsakes for a writer (me!) very much inspired by them both.

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. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com 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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