Women Speak Of…


The image above is the cover of the latest edition of WomanSpeak, published by Bahamian Lynn Sweeting. I’m happy to once again be among the featured writers in this collection. I enjoyed reading last year’s edition and I’m sure this year’s will be equally interesting.

In a release, Sweeting revealed that this new edition is themed Voices of Dissent: Women Writing and Painting to Transform the Culture. It showcases new short fiction, poetry, fairy tales, essays and art by thirty contemporary women writers and painters including cover artist Claudette Dean. Some 15 countries are represented in the collection which dates back to the 1990s and was revived in 2011 after a four year hiatus. Sweeting describes it as “a personal labour of love” which is “poised to become a noted international literary journal and a valuable forum for contemporary women writers and painters everywhere.”

It is already available at lulu.com and will be available as well in select bookstores. According to the book’s introduction, “if you like women’s writing and art that challenges the unjust status quo then this book is a must for your collection.”

Here’s what Sweeting writes in the introduction about some of the entries:

Maria Maria  Acha-Kutcher, artist (Peru) – “Records the real-life images of Feminist activist women demonstrating and fighting in the streets around the world for equal rights and justice.”

Opal Palmer Adisa’s Me Nuh Me Mada (Jamaica) – “Not a breath of fresh air, this poem is more like an earthquake under our feet at a time when we need some shaking up.”

Marion Bethel (Bahamas) – “writes a love song to whales that really is a protest against sonar testing by Americans in Bahamian waters because of the threat it poses to dolphin and whale populations in her country.”

Vashti Bowlah’s Vindira’s Day (Trinidad and Tobago) – “This is a story straight out of today’s headlines… (it) is meant to shock the reader, to inspire the reader to activism, to give a damn, to take a stand, to get a voice, to speak out for justice for women and for an end to the violence.”

Carla Campbell’s All the Little Darkies (Jamaica) – “a scathing criticism of the tourism industry, the way it has turned us into modern day minstrels, our ancient memories lost, our authentic identities withered away behind grinning masks and groveling performances.”

Vahni Capildeo’s Wild Virginity: A Meditation in Three Outflows (Trinidad and Tobago) – “takes a look at the issues of women’s empowerment, autonomy and identity in the Patriarchy.”

Rhonda Claridge’s The Distant Waters Land (Bahamas) – “More than just a beautifully written story, it is an example of new Feminist writing that turns patriarchal Caribbean history on its ear…This is fiction with the power to transform our imaginations, to open our eyes to possibilities for our lives that we never before considered.”

Joanne C. Hillhouse’s She Wears a Feather in her Ear (Antigua) – “turns to poetry, writing a declaration of self acceptance and love that challenges stereotypes of womanhood, beauty and Caribbeanness.”

Sheree Mack’s Dirty Washing (Britain) – “a snapshot of a little girl grappling with poverty and feelings of hopelessness and fear as she works taking in other people’s washing.”

Lelawattee Manoo Rahming’s Lilly and Evie (Trinidad and Tobago) – “In it she retells the Biblical creation story, or perhaps it is the story of what happened in the Time Before the first days of the Bible’s garden…The story is written to take the reader ‘down into the subconscious to retrieve something that was lost and bring it back to consciousness again’.”

Angelique Nixon’s Occupying Dissent Long Time (Bahamas) -“a rant poem from the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

Victoria Sarne (England) + Anita McDonald (America) – “both remind us that the personal is the political in their essay and poem respectively. They work the magic of writer Muriel Rukeyser who said, ‘When a woman tells the truth about her life the world splits open.’ I dare you to read these pieces and not be changed forever.”

Attilah Springer’s Dance Pretty, Fight Deadly (Trinidad and Tobago) – “…lets us listen to the quiet voice of her inner storyteller as it guides her through the ritual dance of the ancient African art of stick fighting. It is the voice of distilled anger, contained, controlled, redirected to the highest good.”

In the conclusion, Sweeting writes, “WomanSpeak is made here at my kitchen table in Nassau. The volumes are small and editions are limited. But it might be the smallness and localness of the books that Caribbean women writers around the world are being drawn to. I am grateful to all the contributing writers and painters for their good work and for believing in the value and necessity of a form for women’s creative expressions…I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. I hope it inspires you to write, paint, create, speak and act to transform the culture.”


Last year, I was the only Antiguan and Barbudan writer in the collection; this year, I have the company of several Antigua and Barbuda based (as in dem lib ya) or rooted (as in they have roots here) writers because yes WE ARE HERE (AH WE YAH!) …Antiguan and Barbudan writers to the world.

Here’s how we represent

Barbara Arrindell
-How Snake Stories were renamed Anansi Stories (fairytale)

Brenda Lee Browne
-Betty Sope (fairytale)

Tanya Evanson
-Apocalypsiata (poetry)

Joanne C. Hillhouse
-All Fall Down (fiction)
-Feather in her Ear (poetry)
-Another Garden (poetry)
-Prison for Two (poetry)
-Corporal Punishment (poetry)

Althea Romeo-Mark
-Neighbours in the Wood Shack (poetry)
-Desiree’s Revenge (poetry)
-Flawless (poetry)
-Play-Mamas (poetry)
-A Kind of Refuge/Living in Limbo (essay)



Excerpt from All Fall Down

I cry most when I think of her. I cry late at night, when there are no more visitors and everyone sleeps. I can’t sleep. I cry, shaking with a rage of my own at what they’ve done to my mother. Her strength – a strength I’ve battled since discovering my own will – has lost potency in the presence of their black shiny boots, and black and gray uniforms. Their power to transform is like that of the preachers laying on hands at the tent revivals my mother took me to as a child. Those dancing, sweating men, bodies heaving around them, had seemed God-like to me then.

Do all the faithful hate like this? Because I have come to hate them.








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