October 24th 2014 is the submission deadline for the 2015 Burt Award for Young Adult Caribbean Literature. Last year around this time…hmm…I hadn’t even started work on my entry…again, not proud of that…just a statement of fact that some serious binge writing followed by a rush to get it off took place in the Hillhouse household in October 2013. Hopefully, this year’s entries are already well advanced if not off already.
Placing second for this prize has been one of the highlights of my writing life to date. In fact, it felt like a win, a moment, a breakthrough for this journeying writer, as you can tell from the picture.
As I type this, I’m waist deep in edit notes trying to get the book, Musical Youth, to press with publisher CaribbeanReads, I’m working with the Burt Award organizers, CODE, to try to bring a writing workshop here to Antigua *fingerscrossed*, and I’ve just been announced as one of the judges for the 2015 Burt Awards alongside Debbie Jacob, Verna Wilkins, and Richard Scrimger – read all about my co-panelists here.
Each of these developments has me feeling both daunted and excited, by turns overwhelmed and expectant. Whatever the ups and downs of editing, I’m being reminded how much I love these musical teens, I’m glad that an opportunity may be coming to other talented Antiguans and Barbudans (and possibly others in the Eastern Caribbean) through this programme, and I do not take lightly the opportunity to be a part of selecting the next winners.
Beyond all of that, that this prize is bringing fresh and modern literature to Caribbean teens and young adults is a good thing. I hope more Antiguan and Barbudan and really Caribbean writers take up the opportunity, and when those books hit the market as they will thanks to the arrangement between CODE and the publishers (yes, I’ve also been involved in trying to identify groups in Antigua and Barbuda which can make sure those books get into the hands of our teens and young adults), I hope teens across the Caribbean nyam dem up like good food.