Tag Archives: youth

The Oldest Native by Andre Warner (Wadadli Pen Honourable Mention, 2018)

Andre pic

The oldest native

The dead leaves crunched under his gnarled, old feet the sun beat upon his back as a slave driver. Thirty kilometers left to walk was certainly a feat. But relentlessly he pressed on to complete his mission.

As a lie was told and he had to deliver the truth, as when reading the newsletter he found a lie.

In the headline: “Antigua mourns nation’s oldest citizen ‘Paul Green’ dead at one hundred and ten”.

Now this must be a lie as he was still alive, he had witnessed Paul’s birth with his very eyes!

“How could they” he thought, “Spread such inept deceit?” He held the title of the oldest citizen.

“I Sheldon Redfoot am the oldest there is, as my eyes witnessed the history of the island itself!” he proudly proclaimed as he continued upon his quest for truth, and began his tirade.

“How could they forget he whom contributed to history himself. I may only be a tortoise but I have walked this land so long that I am the only true citizen!”

“I was there when the Europeans landed” he proclaimed “On my back, Columbus himself rested his foot at my behest. I was there when the Caribs fought the invaders man Englishmen tripped over me and when the battle was lost and Caribs were slain, I was the first one to mark their graves. I was there when the first African came as slaves to the white man, the first to carve an escape trail; I led them through the winding brush to the hills of safety away from their master’s whip. I was the one who incited the first rebellion! I boldly bit Massa’s foot who dared to step on my lettuce and it was on my back that the crier stood and declared emancipation. I inspired the first steel pan with the pattern on my back to make such melody.

I created the first coal pot, as it was just old hardened clay tossed from my shell that made the first mold. I was the cornerstone of St. John’s Cathedral; it took me three hours to escape that mortar. My very own beautiful yellow orange and red colors inspired the first festive colors of carnival. His temper soon cooled as he realized, he could not remember when he started his quest or how far to the end.

His heart was soon marred with sadness as he remembered the darker days witnessed. The fear of hurricane Louis as he was rocked by the whirling winds that whipped against his shell and the agonizing wails of the unfortunate souls who were lost in the typhoon; The terrible quake of ‘74 akin to a bellowing behemoth rising from below, as if the devil himself had stubbed his toe. “I Sheldon carry knowledge more vast than any other islander!” he declared igniting his passion once again. “This shell has helped to shape the very culture of this nation albeit accidentally. I will not be forgotten!” As he gazed ahead he saw his destination the address was right but where should have been a thriving newspaper stood a decrepit building. The streets were unoccupied but the skies filled with wondrous vehicles flying in harmony. As a piece of history he was certainly slow. For his quest had taken him ninety years! And as he turned to leave mumbling his displeasure, he was tripped upon and a head was dashed upon a stone. As silence engulfed all he heard the cry “The dictator is dead!”  He walked away knowing he had earned yet another spot in history.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born on April 1998 Andre’ Warner attended the Christian Union Junior Academy. He developed a love for reading through which he was inspired to become a part-time writer. Throughout the years he continued to dominate the field of English at the Clare Hall Secondary School where he earned an numerous awards including a distinction in English A, and English B in CXC. He also earned the Yvette Samuel award for outstanding performance in the field of English. He would also go on to further his studies at the Antigua State College where he studied Literatures in English and proudly earned passes in both units and currently is aspiring to continue his studies further afield at a university level.

Andre

Andre receiving his prize from patron and London Rocks author Brenda Lee Browne.

 

ABOUT THE STORY: This short story is about a red footed tortoise native to Antigua whom upon realizing he is unrecognized as the oldest citizen sets out on a mission to report to the news editors that they have made a false report during his attempt to reach the newspaper he reminisces about roles he unwittingly played throughout history.

PRIZES WON: As with all the honourable mentions, Andre received a training session (Presenting: Telling Your Story Orally) from Barbara Arrindell & Associates, and books and a certificate from 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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From the Mailbox – Cushion Club, Wadadli Pen

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

First, the Cushion Club.

Cushion ClubThe Notice:

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

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

Second, Wadadli Pen.

Group photoThe Notice:

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

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

Here’s what both projects need:

Support.

That’s it.

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

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

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

Thanks for your consideration.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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Mailbox – Ujima

Claytine Nisbett is a former Wadadli Pen volunteer – she was with us for the 2012 season 

powder necklace

Claytine, right, making a book presentation to one of our 2012 winners.

– shout out to her on her new-ish business venture Finders Keepers in Montserrat and on the recent publication of her first book, Life as Josephine .Life as Josephine

 

This post concerns the revival of another of her projects, Ujima, and her call for voluntary guest bloggers.

Per her email, the Caribbean-based, youth-focused, solution-oriented blog plans to expand when it begins posting on July 1st 2017, focusing not just on youth but on gender – an area of activism for Nisbett. Contributors do not have to live in the Caribbean but they should have Caribbean roots. And they should be between the ages of 16-39. Is that you?

Here are the details.JCH, Wadadli Pen founder/coordinator & blogger

Ujima Solutions Magazine is the Caribbean youth and Caribbean gender-focused blog whose mission is to not only discuss the problems but to present viable solutions to those problems so we can work on them collectively, leading to necessary change.

What sets us apart? The fact that we are not only talking about the problems but we are suggesting possible solutions to the socio-economic ills that are being faced by Caribbean youth, in addition to resolutions to gender-related matters such as domestic violence, limited access to jobs and job mobilization, human trafficking, improper healthcare systems, etc. Though we understand the fact that both men and women are affected by gender-related issues we cannot ignore the fact that women are disproportionately affected. However, we will not shy away from articles that discusses and presents solutions to the disadvantages that men face.

We also do not limit our articles to Caribbean persons only living in the Caribbean. We at Ujima Solutions do realize that we have Caribbean persons all around the globe who may live in an ethnic enclave of other Caribbean people or may be in constant interaction with other Caribbean persons. Those individuals may realize that there are disadvantages that are affecting Caribbean persons within that country and/or community. We welcome your input too! You are free to submit articles to Ujima Solutions Magazine.

Ujima (Swahili) –  To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.

We are always looking for guest bloggers so if you are interested please contact us at cnjnisbett@yahoo.com with your idea and/or article. Blogs must be Caribbean youth or Caribbean gender-focused and solution oriented. Subjects include but are not limited to:

Gender Equality

Youth Development

Finance

Career

Environment

Youth Violence

Politics

Technology

Economy

Health

Violence Against Women

Domestic Violence

Human Trafficking

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The Year So Far (What’s Blogging)

I was curious, so I checked, which posts on the Wadadli Pen blog have been on fire since the start of the year (5 most popular) and which failed to catch (5 least popular). I decided to post as it gives you an opportunity to check out posts you may have missed.

On Fire:
1. Wadadli Pen has its First Intern – Meet Michaela
2. Mailbox – National Youth Awards (Results!)
3. Nelson’s Dockyard: On Becoming a World Heritage Site
4. Wadadli Pen Challenge 2017 – the Long List
5. Wadadli Pen 2017 Launches

Failed to Catch:
1. (tie) A & B Arts Round Up March 22nd 2017 forward, RIP Sir Derek (a re-post)
3. (tie) Little Prissy Palmer: a short-short by Joanne C. Hillhouse (a re-blog), Four Caribbeans out of 21: the Commonwealth Short Story Long List (though, in all fairness, this was just posted yesterday)
5. (tie) Throwback Q & A: Musical Youth (a re-blog), With Grace Now Available OnlineThe Other Daughter (a re-blog), A & B Arts Round-up February 20th 2017 forward (a re-post), Lorna Goodison to Succeed Mervyn Morris as Jamaica’s Poet Laureate (a re-blog)

Did you miss anything?

And what to make of this… that you like re-posts and re-blogs about as much as you like stale bread?

p.s. the top search terms bringing people to the blog this first quarter of 2017…

“playwright and screenwriter of Antigua and Barbuda” (note: you can find that information here and here)

“king obstinate obituary” (he’s still with us, though you’re welcome to read about him here and read some of his song lyrics here)

“west indies usa by stewart brown” (don’t have anything on this specifically, but you’re welcome to check out the Caribbean bibliography)

“miss antigua dj” (don’t have anything on this)

“wadadli pen” (you’ve come to the right place; welcome!)

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!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth and With Grace). 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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Why I disagree with the decision to turn the Five Islands Secondary School into a university

On August 30th 2016, youth worker Daryl George posted a facebook note that I thought was worth sharing here; primarily because it deals with Education and by extension the youth, and that’s who Wadadli Pen’s work is about – young people (35 and younger). As you are aware, or will be after reading this, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize is about nurturing and showcasing the arts (especially the literary arts) among young people in Antigua and Barbuda. Education is a part of that; and George is a part of Wadadli Pen as the 2016 winner of the annual Wadadli Pen Challenge.

pair glen photo 22

Winner Daryl George with Douglas Allen, brother of Alstyne Allen in whose memory the plaque is named at the 2016 Wadadli Pen Challenge Awards Ceremony. While 2016 was George’s first win, he was by then a Wadadli Pen finalist several times over.

Here’s what he had to say about plans to re-purpose a new secondary school in Five Islands, Antigua into a university. Short answer: he disagrees. Here’s why.

Simply put, I’m not in favor of turning the Five Islands Secondary School (FISS) into a University. I’m going to attempt to explain why I disagree with the decision, while trying to be as fair and as balanced as possible, using as much hard data as possible, and Feel free to agree or disagree – BUT please back up your opinion with relevant data and information Background of the FISS – The decision that led to the creation of the FSS was due to the noted overcrowding of a number of schools in the St. John’s vicinity – notably the Princess Margaret School and the Ottos Comprehensive school, both of which were over the threshold of the maximum recommended number of students (http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Antigua%20and%20Barbuda/Antigua-Draft-Ed-Sector-Plan_2013-2018.pdf). A study was done by UWI/Profiles Inc, commissioned by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, to develop a draft Education Sector Plan from 2013-2018, which will be simply titled “the study” (http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Antigua%20and%20Barbuda/Antigua-Draft-Ed-Sector-Plan_2013-2018.pdf) . The study noted that PMS, OCS, and other “town” schools such as the Clare Hall Secondary School, Antigua Grammar School, and Antigua Girls High school had little space to accommodate additional structures. The study also noted that major secondary schools are currently accommodating 2.5 times (250% capacity) the students they were originally built to hold. As a result, it was deemed necessary to build new schools to accommodate the overcrowding issue. Using national census and other population data, it was found that there were two areas which would benefit the most from new school plant: the Grays Farm/Greenbay/Hatton area and the Clare Hall, Cassada Gardens and Potters Community. The decision was made to place the Grays Farm/Greenbay/Hatton School in the Five Islands community. It was funded by the Chinese government to include a gymnasium, IT and science labs and Olympic sized swimming pool. The decision to place the school in Five Islands was made allegedly due to lack of space within the communities it was intended to serve, with Five Islands being the closest point where sufficient land space was available (http://antiguaobserver.com/baldwin-spencer-displeased-with-decision-to-re-purpose-five-islands-school/). A statement was also made that another secondary school to serve the Clare Hall/Potters/Piggots community would be built in the near future at Tomlinsons (http://antiguaobserver.com/new-five-islands-school-soon-to-come/).

1. The decision to transition is not based on any relevant, country specific information or data – From the outset, the reasons given for turning FISS into a University seemed to lack any sort of relevant, country specific information, data, or study. It was noted, according to one technical official, that even after meeting with Cabinet, there has been no study commissioned that would provide any hard data or evidence that a university is more necessary, important, or urgent for the development of Antigua and Barbuda than a secondary school (http://antiguaobserver.com/npta-places-its-objection-to-repurposing-five-islznds-secondary-school-on-record/) . While there have been various justifications for the change coming from the Minister of Education and the Prime Minister, none of these have been backed up with any sort of data. It is especially concerning that no country-specific information or data has been produced to justify the decision with the ability of data driven decisions to optimize resources, reduce costs, increase accuracy and accountability, and in general create effective and efficient policy decisions (http://www.journalcra.com/article/role-data-strategic-decision-making-process).

2. Technical officials not in support of the change – A number of well known, respected, and learned technical experts and authorities have clearly articulated reasons for not transitioning the school into a university. These include Alistair Thomas and the National Parents-Teachers Association (NPTA) (http://antiguaobserver.com/npta-places-its-objection-to-repurposing-five-islznds-secondary-school-on-record/), Ashworth Azille and the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (ABUT) (http://antiguaobserver.com/abut-supports-idea-of-five-islands-facility-remaining-a-secondary-school/), educator and former principal of the Antigua State College Pecheeta Spencer (http://antiguaobserver.com/education-stalwart-favours-five-islands-school/) and others. What is concerning is that there is a notable lack of other non-governmental affiliated officials who are in support of the project. Public and technical buy in is extremely important in making effective policy decisions.

3. The move will cost tens of millions of dollars – The move to transition the FISS to a university will cost the population of Antigua and Barbuda tens of millions of dollars. As the facility was built for a secondary school and not a university, millions of dollars will have to be spent to upgrade the facility. PM Browne estimated that at least US $18 million (EC $50 million) (http://www.mnialive.com/articles/five-islands-school-in-antigua-to-be-expanded-to-become-university-of-antigua-barbuda) will be necessary to upgrade the facility into a university. Whether this is in the form of a loan, grant, or mixed funding has not yet been revealed. In addition, an additional EC$ 10 million has had to be budgeted to allow schools to accommodate additional students (http://radiozdk.com/main/2016/04/government-works-to-tackle-overcrowding-in-secondary-schools/) . It could be argued that at least some of these funds could have been saved if the FISS had been opened to accommodate some of these students.

4. Economic and social benefits mentioned are not the whole picture – Much of the argument around turning the FISS into a University has been centered around economic and social benefits to local Antiguans and Barbudans. These economic benefits include shops, restaurants, accommodation, and other businesses to provide goods and services to those working and studying at the university (http://www.caribbeantimes.ag/minister-browne-university-antigua-must/) in particular within the Five Islands community. It is undisputable that a university will provide significant employment and economic opportunity, especially for Five Islands and other surrounding communities. However, Universities often incur a negative cost on the society, particular with regards to UWI with which the University will be affiliated with. For example, the Barbados government is at least US$100 million (Bbs $200 million) in debt to their UWI branch (http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/07/13/uwi-crippled/) and other UWI territories such as Trinidad have had to make significant cash injections just to keep the university afloat (http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,205968.html). While it should be noted that there are other benefits to social capital that universities can provide that are not easily quantified, there must be a cost-benefit analysis done to ensure that government will be able to support any University that may be established in Antigua.

In short, the decision to establish a university in Antigua and Barbuda is commendable. However, instead of making rash policy decisions that are not supported by data and may cost the taxpayers of Antigua and Barbuda hundreds of millions of dollars, it is imperative for the policy makers to listen to the advice of technical officials and make sound decisions that are best for the long term future of Antigua and Barbuda.

Please note – if you would like to copy or quote me, please feel free to do so as long as I receive proper attribution.

Thanks, Daryl, for giving us permission to share; and for being a part of the conversation.

As a reminder, this site is not about politics but about young people and the arts (including nurturing, education); comments that veer from that will not be approved.

 

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CARIFESTA…

“After spending months in preparation, scores of the nation’s most talented youngsters are now set to miss out on the region’s biggest cultural competition and festival. Culture Director Vaughn Walter confirmed about 70 people, including the National Youth Choir, National Youth Steel Orchestra and the nation’s culinary team have been cut from the delegation slated to attend Carifesta XII in Haiti from August 21 to 30.” This is from the Daily Observer (you can read the full article here)

I actually came across this article shortly after reading of this year’s CARIFESTA announcement and wondering the same thing I’ve wondered since I became a published author (more than 10 years ago) and started thinking representing my country and the literary arts at CARIFESTA might be something I’d like to do. Clearly, it wasn’t meant to be (and I’m fortunate to have had, through my own initiative and invitations from abroad, other opportunities to represent Antigua and Barbuda and the literary arts) but that thing I still wonder as relates to CARIFESTA is what’s the selection process (how do artistes get tapped for the delegation)? It’s such a wonderful opportunity to showcase the breadth of our creative arts, I like to hope that all Antiguan and Barbudan artists have a fair shot of getting on the CARIFESTA train. Obviously my priority is always the literary arts but in general, it’s something I still wonder. Inquiring minds. If I find out, I’ll let you know…after all, part of what I try to pass on here is Opportunities, and the budget constraints may make my questioning moot this time around, but not irrelevant in my view, as for artistes who’d like a shot at making the cut, there’s always next CARIFESTA.

Which bring me to the crux of the article (which I decided to share here primarily because it involved the arts, Antigua and Barbuda, and especially young people in Antigua and Barbuda involved in the arts which is what we’re about encouraging here at Wadadli Pen), the disappointment you can read, behind the numbers, of all those originally selected on hearing that after all the time they’ve put in in rehearsals etc, that they’ve been unceremoniously cut. Feels like the arts getting the shaft again.

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,  Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, 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 Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Adapting

student writing workshop 2workshop 2workshop 3That’s what I think of when I look at these pictures from my Saturday afternoon session at Anguilla Lit Fest alongside Yona Deshommes of Atria. It was a fun session of letting the imagination run wild, really wild, as we nudged the participants, all very creative young people, in to imagining their own stories. It’s a reminder that when creating, or for that matter just being, you allow yourself to feel free to fly or fail or flounder when you don’t feel like your choices, your actions or inactions, your very words are being scrutinized, and found wanting. Drop other elements into the water and judgment is … inevitable. But in that moment around that table, we tried to make them feel free to imagine, because in that space there was no right or wrong, just the next sentence.

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, Oh Gad!, and Musical Youth). 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 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. And using any creative work without crediting the creator will open you up to legal action. Respect copyright.

See my other blogs related to the Anguilla Lit Fest here, here, and here.

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