I’m a writer on the hustle myself, eh…but through the Wadadli Pen programme and the related blog, I try to create opportunity for other Antiguan and Barbudan Creatives. Wadadli Pen, for perspective, is a youth writing programme I started here in 2004, shortly after the publication of my first book, The Boy from Willow Bend.
I keep a mailing list of past finalists, and sometimes opportunities will come up that I think this or that one is right for and I’ll reach out to them to let them know. That’s what prompted a recent exchange with Ariel Dunnah, who, though the window of opportunity had closed by the time she got back to me, wrote back and completely surprised me with her response:
“I would like to thank you for the opportunity and I appreciate your interest in me. You have been most helpful and gracious throughout this journey of recognizing my abilities and developing my potential. I am thankful for (your) continuous support.”
This filled my heart up, a reminder that the effort is not in vain, because helping young writers to recognize their abilities and develop their potential is what our efforts, not just mine but all the partners and patrons through time, is about. One other, Liscia Lawrence, wrote extensively on the impact of Wadadli Pen on her earlier this year, and just as I did with that one, I thought I’d share Ariel’s considerably shorter note, because, yay, it’s really good to know the programme is making a difference. The marketing and fundraising side of me also sees this as an opportunity to leverage the enthusiasm of the young people who have benefited from Wadadli Pen into more support for the programme to keep doing what we do. I’m not even going to pretend. The programme needs help if it’s going to continue and Dunnah’s email is only the latest example of why it should.
Now, since the second part of Wadadli Pen’s mandate is showcasing the talent it discovers. Here’s Ariel Dunnah’s showcase:
A Grain of Salt (honourable mention in the 18 to 35 age category of the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge):
“Good Morning” he grumbled without opening his eyes or turning his head. The response was an irritating silence. He shifted in his seat to glare at the lack of manners that shared a bus seat with him and his eyes widened. His heart skipped a beat, and then slowed to a heavy thump landing somewhere in a pit in his gut. Donovan weighed the prospects of being greeted by an empty bus seat versus the vilest ugliest creature to ever walk earth. Read the whole story.
Angela’s Baby (second place in the 13 to 17 age category of the 2012 Wadadli Pen Challenge):
“It is me the islands’ feared ancient dread, but the blood is on your hands instead, I’m the reason you mourn this baby’s death, Girl as long as dey have woman giving birth, an ol’ higue like me can never dead.” Read the whole story.
Every Rose has its Thorn (first place in the 13 to 17 age category and second place overall of the 2012 Wadadli Pen Challenge):
I went to the bathroom, retrieved a glass of water from the kitchen and was about to return into my bed when I heard a floorboard creak in Rosheda’s room. I tiptoed to her door and slightly pushed it open. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw next. Read the whole story.
La Diablesse (second place in the 18 to 35 age category and third place overall of the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge):
She’d like to find it again but she doesn’t want to brave the dark anymore than is necessary
Every stir in this hollow is resounding
So she walks the lonely roads looking for wondering men willing to help the pretty lady Read the full poem.
Love that this talented young lady also took a shot at the 2014 art challenge. You can see her art work here.
So thanks, Ariel, for your kind words and you’re welcome, reader, because I feel certain you’ll enjoy reading her stories and poem, especially the poem, which is one of my Wadadli Pen favourites.