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Good News for Six Caribbean Writers, Bad News for the Burt Award (Update)

The Burt Award finalists have been named. Congratulations to them all. They are Jamaica’s Diana McCaulay, a repeat finalist having also made the cut in 2015; Trinidad and Tobago’s Tamika Gibson, who previously won the prize in 2016; and Jeanelle Frontin, also from the land of the hummingbird – which has been especially dominant in this year’s Bocas administered prizes. See details here:

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Six shortlisted writers have been named though dampened by the concurrent announcement that the CODE sponsored Burt Award for teen/young adult Caribbean literature is coming to an end. The award was first bestowed in 2014 but with the death of its founder Canadian philanthropist Bill Burt in 2017 has come a shift in priorities – reportedly to environmental matters, which is a pressing concern in these perilous times. The Caribbean leg of the award has been administered these five years by the Bocas Literary Festival in Trinidad and Tobago  in partnership with the Canadian non-profit CODE which runs similar programmes in Africa and among the indigenous community in Canada – all of which will need alternative funding if they are to continue. The purpose and effect of the award has been to generate and distribute new writing from typically marginalized communities with the youth population as a specific target.

This year’s short…

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April 15, 2019 · 5:06 pm

Bocas’ Best: the 2018 Longlist (And Now a Shortlist)

And now there is a short list: “Books by writers from Jamaica and T&T have been named to the shortlist of the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize, the Caribbean’s top literary award, sponsored by One Caribbean Media, parent company of the Express and TV6 and radio network.

For the first time in the eight-year history of the prize, the shortlist consists of just two books: poetry winner Madwoman, by Shara McCallum, and fiction winner Curfew Chronicles, by Jennifer Rahim. There is no non-fiction winner for 2018, as the judges did not believe any of the eligible books “could be held to represent the best of regional writing.”

The two shortlisted titles will now enter the final round of judging, and vie for the overall award of US$10,000, to be presented on 28 April during the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest (25–29 April) in Port of Spain.”

Details here.

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These two books received special commendation but did not make the longlist.

“Six books by writers from five Caribbean countries have been announced on the longlist for the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, sponsored by One Caribbean Media.

Considered the leading literary award for Caribbean writers, the Prize recognises books in three genre categories — poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction — published by Caribbean authors in the preceding year. The writers on the 2018 longlist range from internationally celebrated prizewinners to debut authors.”

But there’s a twist:

‘The 2018 OCM Bocas Prize non-fiction judges have made an unprecedented decision to name no titles to the longlist. “While a few books stood head and shoulders above the rest,” write the judges, “even those had obvious shortcomings, and we believe that this prize ought to be awarded for achievement, not for effort.” None of the eligible books, the judges continue…

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April 3, 2018 · 5:27 pm

Vote for your Favourite Antiguan and Barbudan Book of the Year

I want to thank the four + me (total: 5) people who voted for their favourite Antiguan and Barbudan release of 2017. This is five short of the minimum 10 votes required for a winner to be selected. I’m disappointed but que sera sera. I really thought this would be a fun exercise and an opportunity to boost a local author, local book when it got going. But it never got going despite being heavily shared by me and others and also promoted in the local media. Someone suggested to me that the reason is people have not had a chance to read the books – and indeed a couple others have made that comment. So, perhaps it was ill-conceived. I do find it hard to believe that 10 people haven’t read at least one of the books on this list – authors could vote, as could authors’ family and friends, in addition to readers/fans. I do want to thank the Best of Books for contacting me to contribute a prize of a book donation to the school library of the winning author. Alas, that is shelved as no winner will be declared. Perhaps we can have them re-purpose the donation to the Wadadli Pen 2018 prize package. Wadadli Pen 2018 FlyerThanks for reading, do check out the books (after the jump) and support the authors.

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UPDATE! (December 20th 2017) Best of Books bookstore has decided to sweeten the pot (as if being the readers’ choice for best Antiguan and Barbudan book weren’t sweet enough). We welcome the extra honey.  So, as posted to their facebook page: “BEST OF BOOKS will provide the winning author with a collection of books to be presented by the author to a school of their choice. In addition all authors receiving over twenty votes will receive a small pile of reference books to be presented by them, in their name, to the secondary school of their choice. Share this with all your fans and encourage them to vote.” Awesome right? Thanks, Best of Books! So the winning author is amplified and a school or two benefits (the only thing that could make this better is if another entity would follow suit and maybe step up with a cash prize for the…

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January 16, 2018 · 4:07 am

And the Winner is…

I can confirm (no photo though) that Fayola has collected her prize – a copy of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure. It seemed like a good opportunity to remind you of the trivia responses – an opportunity to learn a little something-something about Antiguan and Barbudan cultural arts. Thanks for playing, Fayola.

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No, you didn’t sleep and miss another season of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge, but you did miss your opportunity to win a copy of my new book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (a children’s picture book).

The winner had to play to win by responding to trivia questions launched during Independence season and spotlighting local artists. You may remember that this was triggered in part by discussions about the arts (in which I participated) during the Antigua and Barbuda Independence season.

The winner got all but two of the questions correct. She is FAYOLA JARDINE (who is also a 2017 Wadadli Pen Challenge finalist). Peep her answers (and the correct answers) below.

This person won the Dan David prize for Jewish writers
Fayola’s Answer: Jamaica Kincaid
Correct Answer: Jamaica Kincaid
Jamaica Kincaid (born Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson) is a convert to Judaism. The Ovals, Antigua born, US…

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January 14, 2018 · 12:23 am

With Grace Selected for the Virgin Islands Summer Read Challenge

Grateful. Fingers crossed that they like it and that it spreads.


Images from the launch of the GSRC 2017 at Lockhart Elementary School on St. Thomas.

My latest book – the children’s picture book and Caribbean fairytale, With Grace – has been selected for 9th Annual Virgin Islands Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge. It is one of six titles among this year’s picks for the programme, which exclusively spotlights books by Virgin Island and Caribbean authors. As explained in The St. Thomas Source , “The annual activity challenges students from kindergarten to sixth grade to read five or more books during the summer months in an effort to boost students’ literacy. The national initiative enjoys participation from governors of all 50 states and territories… students receive a packet containing two books, tracking sheets and a letter offering motivational words from the governor.”

Mario Picayo, who heads Little Bell Caribbean, also the publisher of With Grace, indicated that the book which has an…

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June 20, 2017 · 6:42 am

Wadadli Pen 2017 Challenge Patrons

Wanted to take a minute to bump this up, because we couldn’t do anything we do without the support of our patrons. So we want to say thank you and encourage you to support the individuals and businesses that support the arts. This 2017 cycle that list includes (but is not limited to):
Art. Culture. Antigua
The Best of Booksthank-you

the Cushion Club of Antigua and Barbuda
the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB)
Frank B. Armstrong/Seven Seas
Jane Seagull (artist)
Joanne C. Hillhouse (author)
Juneth Webson
Raw Island Products
Sweet Dreams

More about all named patrons and their relationship to Wadadli Pen after the jump.

And, yes, there’s still time to get on board if you are an individual or business wishing to support the Wadadli Pen 2017 Challenge Season. Just email us at

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“Did You Know?  With its anthro- root, philanthropy means literally “love of mankind”. Thus, philanthropy is giving money for a purpose or cause benefiting people who you don’t personally know. Individuals have often set up their own permanent philanthropic organizations in the form of foundations. The greatest American philanthropists have included Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller, but tens of millions of us could be considered philanthropists on a much smaller scale.” – Merriam-Webster
This page is our acknowledgment and thanks of our philanthropists right here in Antigua and Barbuda, and its diaspora, who continue to show their love during the season of giving which always precedes the Wadadli Pen Challenge season (which launches in January) by pledging to support our efforts. At Wadadli Pen, when it comes to our annual Challenge, we’ve always operated by the principle that likkle likkle…

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February 9, 2017 · 6:53 pm

With Grace – a Caribbean fairytale – Coming Soon!

The Antigua launch of With Grace is set for December 21st 2016 at the Best of Books on St. Mary’s Street, Antigua. Start time 6 p.m. Bring along a child and be eligible to win a prize. With Grace will be available shortly in the wider Caribbean and international marketplace. Thanks as always for your support. – Joanne C. Hillhouse

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I am thrilled to debut my first faerie tale.

Fairytales are, the world over, among my and many children’s introduction to literature…

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (English – Lewis Carroll)
Anansi Stories (African + African-Caribbean – Ashanti tribe)
Bambi (German – Felix Salten)
Cinderella (French – Charles Perrault)
Goldilocks and the Three Bears (English – Robert Southy)
Hansel and Gretel (German – the Brothers Grimm)
Little Red Riding Hood (French – Charles Perrault)
Rapunzel (German – the Brothers Grimm)
Rumpelstiltskin (German – the Brothers Grimm)
Sleeping Beauty (French – Charles Perrault)
Snow White (German – the Brothers Grimm)
The Boy who cried Wolf (Greek – Aesop)
The Elves and the Shoemaker (German – the Brothers Grimm)
The Gingerbread Man (English – Joseph Jacobs)
The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs (Greek – Aesop)
The Little Mermaid (Danish – Hans Christian Anderson)
The Pied Piper (German – the Brothers Grimm)
The Princess and…

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December 17, 2016 · 10:46 am

Nonsuch Heritage Club Students Attend the Opening of a World Heritage Site Exhibition in Kingston


Three children and one parent representative from the Nonsuch Heritage Club (formed in conjunction with and to execute the Dialogues in the African Diaspora Museums Connect project between Jamaica and the United States) travelled from Portland to Kingston to attend the opening of the Blue and Johncrow Mountain (a World Heritage Site) exhibition which was held at the offices of The African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/ Jamaica Memory Bank.

Among those in attendance were: Daynia Deans (President of The Nosuch Primary School Heritage Club); Hugh Wilson; Faith-Anna Stewart; Maureen Jones (Parent representative) and Venice Parchment (Jamaican Coordinator for the Dialogues in the African Diaspora project).

It was a proud moment for the newly formed Nonsuch Heritage Club as this was their first visit to a museum, first time viewing an exhibition and they were one of the first set of persons to view the exhibit. At the opening of the exhibit…

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March 6, 2016 · 11:54 pm

The Boy inspires Art…and Conversation


The coolest thing happened this week. A teacher sent me some pictures  made by students in her class; the pictures, their interpretation of scenes from my first book The Boy from Willow Bend.
The Boy from Willow Bend1
I’ve received a few Willow Bend related emails over the years. The first one that stands out is from a university student in Italy. It blew my mind then that Vere had travelled as far as Italy and that she had selected him for her class project in her course on post colonial literature. “I really liked because of the kindness of the protagonist and the idea of Caribbean life and atmosphere it gave to me,” she wrote, adding. “I chose your book from the many my teacher proposed to me.”

Mind blown.

To more established writers, maybe a small thing – I don’t know; but for a newly minted writer from a small place a world away, that…

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February 13, 2016 · 6:48 am

School Visit – Blanchisseuse Government Primary School


Last Friday I did something that I had never done before; I visited a school in the capacity of an author. The school was Blanchisseuse Government Primary School. As a ‘brain cooler’ Ms. Noreiga, the teacher who jointly teaches standard four and five read Selima and the Merfolk to her class. She read a few pages a day until they completed the book a few months ago. During the period Ms. Noreiga was reading the book to her class she would send me messages, telling me how much her class was enjoying the book and how insistent they were that she read to them every day. The children also sent messages through her, my favourite was that the book should be a movie. With all those beautiful, encouraging messages I promised that I would visit these students and read to them as they had requested.

It is good manners and good…

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May 17, 2015 · 6:09 pm