Is it just me or did Christmas pull a ninja move on us?
Happy to see you, boo, but how are you here already (out of nowhere)?
Okay, well, sit down; let’s get caught up.
Let me share, as I do, the most popular (as in most viewed, shared, liked, commented on) writings added to the site this year (2018). Well, sort of. It’s a top 5, as the top 10 most popular posts on the site this year included 5 pages. Posts are the updates and pages are the fixed content to the left.
Pages in the top 10 are the CREATIVE SPACE main page – this is where new entries for the series, spotlighting Antiguan and Barbudan art and culture, and inviting businesses operating in Antigua and Barbuda to boost local art and culture while boosting their own brand, first drops – the series came to the blog and to Antiguanice.com this year, and will eventually make its way on to other types of platforms if I have my way, but first ran some years ago as a series in Zing, the LIAT inflight magazine; CREATIVE SPACE #16 of 2018 – The Lecture Circuit – Mas’king – this is the most popular post in the series and part of the top 10 for the year despite only being added in November, a testament, I think to the popularity of its subject afro-Caribbean folk dancer, choreographer, and founder of the Antigua Dance Academy Veronica Yearwood, and also her subject mas (i.e. the Carnival masquerade); Blogger on Books Vl (2018) – this is the landing page of the 2018 iteration of the series in which I review books I’ve read and where you can read the latest reviews; CREATIVE SPACE #4 of 2018 – It’s Game, Set, and…Win for Tennis Antigua-Barbuda – this is the second most popular post in the aforementioned series and dates all the way back to May when it was inspired by a regional tournament at the national tennis centre; and the third most popular, the first CREATIVE SPACE – Creative Space #1 of 2018 – Playing to Inspire 2, featuring the Kanneh-Mason clan, one of whom went on to play later in the year at the Royal wedding of 2018.
(Joss Stone with Antiguan-Barbudan songstress Asher Otto in one of the year’s CREATIVE SPACEs above; and regional authors N. C. Marks, Dr. Carolyn Cooper, and Barbara A. Arrindell in another below)
And now for the posts-posts in the top 10 (or top 5 posts of 2018) top to bottom:
D. Gisele Isaac – Daughter of the Antigua & Barbuda Soil , which is not the sort of thing I usually write on the site (and for non-Antiguans-and-Barbudans reading the site it is a particularly deep cut that may leave you wondering …who?) – though she is an author (her book is Considering Venus) and I write about books and authors quite a bit. My purpose for writing about her this time was about re-asserting her us-ness, that she is not just a political foil and thus fair game, but family, part of our Antiguan and Barbudan family (and whatever no doubt naïve feelings I have about that usurping partisan politics). It is my view that if she is accused, as she is, that she deserves a fair chance to make her case in the court of law and be freed from this limbo of a life she’s been forced to live since the first charge was laid against her (with all of the other factors that attend – bail, diminished income/loss of income, twice weekly check-ins with the police, confiscation of passport so that she cannot travel etc.). The obvious rebuttal to what I’ve written is how do you know she’s not guilty; I don’t, I only believe that she isn’t based on everything I know about her and my understanding of the case against her. But that is moot. This is not about what I believe, or what her detractors and accusers believe but about justice, what is just and what is seen to be just. Let her make her case in our court of law rather than continuing to allow the process to drag as it has for years now. What kind of life is this? As someone on the page Standing with Gisele (which you can find on facebook) asserted, explaining why they do not support this platform advocating on her behalf, this is not new, she is not the only one to have seen justice so slowed. And I understand that point of view, I have no defense against it, except I
speak write (because my pen is my tool) for her because I know her and I have felt frustrated and pained watching her go through this and I just wanted to share a bit of her as I know her and, as I said, hopefully, remind that she is a her and not just a pawn. As Audrey said about calling in to the radio station to speak up for Nikki in my novel Oh Gad! she wanted to remind Them that she hab smadee. Gisele doesn’t need me for that, obviously, she has a big and tight family, but I know (from what she said to me after the post went live) that she appreciated it because you never really know who your people are until you’re going through it. This post has not only been viewed by a lot of people, but shared by a lot of people; and no doubt even venturing to speak her name has earned me both good and bad will. I accept that but that interest has made it the blog’s most viewed and shared post of the year. So what’s done is done.
Next in line is a post I did spotlighting a book by another author (for more books remember you can flip through the menu to the left for Joanne’s Extra-ness which will lead to my blogger on books posts reviewing the books I read). This book was Tata and the Big Bad Bull, a children’s picture book about bullying by Jamaican author Juleus Ghunta. We are with the same publisher Caribbean Reads (which also publishes two of my six books of fiction – teen/young adult novel Musical Youth and children’s picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure) and having been moved by this writer’s poetry in the past, I was cool with agreeing to review an advance copy. Good thing I liked it though; that could’ve been awkward.
(The Boy from Willow Bend cover – cover art by Heather Doram, inset, and me, 2009-ish; photo taken by friend and photographer Jane Rodriguez-Javier for the book’s re-issue)
The Boy from Willow Bend Study Guide (Author Edition) is up there which is good because I did it to support the efforts of teachers – Willow Bend, my first book, is on schools reading lists in Antigua and Barbuda, and Anguilla (as far as I know). I essentially did a FAQ answering the most commonly searched questions about the book, my first book – with gratitude for the continuing interest in it among readers, students, teachers, any and all of you who keep this book in print. This post I have to say was both fun and a challenge – fun because it provided an opportunity to revisit characters and a world that holds some nostalgia for me (characters who were the fulfillment of my dream of becoming a published author), a challenge because it’s me asking myself to remember motivations and choices re a literary work I wrote half a lifetime ago. So, yeah. My only note to students engaging with this post is don’t plagiarize; take it for the offer of supporting material that it’s intended to be and form your own ideas re The Boy from Willow Bend.
The next most popular post saw me leaping in to the #MeToo conversation – something I’d contemplated for some time as this is to my mind a long overdue conversation and, I hope, tide change; but I decided to focus on my Caribbean where we’ve had our versions of #MeToo and #TimesUp in #lifeinleggings #tambourinearmy and others (for the people in the back asking when is MeToo going to hit the Caribbean). As I type this comment, today today I read two stories that could easily fit under this umbrella. One involved American actress Eliza Dushku – who played Faith, a personal and fan favourite, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the anti-cheerleader-cheerleader in Bring it On, among other works – who got booted from Bull, a TV show I’ve never heard of when she dared speak on harassment on set (Eliza, you may remember, was also assaulted, allegedly allegedly, as a child on the set of the movie True Lies). She ultimately receive 9 mill from CBS, Bull’s network, for wrongful dismissal. The other involved a local (to Antigua) rape survivor who accused the lawyer assigned to her case of sexual harassment and was ignored and eventually had her complaint dismissed for lack of evidence. People refer to this era as some dark period determined to ruin good men (I’ve heard men and women spew this ridiculous rhetoric). Stories like the ones cited here will hopefully remind all of us who is truly being ruined – and yet who is finally finding their voice – in these dark times. #metoo #lifeinleggings
And then, rounding out the top 5, there was East Coast Sunset which you should experience at least once in your life: “…Colours slide in, soft; the shy side of all those showy reds and oranges and yellows…As the wild waves and the quiet night sidle up to each other and the world slows its spinning. Not ready to go to sleep yet, but heavy in its bones as the burden of being lifts.” This was a bit of creative non-fiction narrative poetry in response to viewing a sunset from the wrong side of the island. This was my first post of 2018.
What can I learn from the posts and pages with which you chose to engage? 1, there’s interest in the CREATIVE SPACE series, now I just need to translate that interest in to sponsors; 2, you come here for the books but you appreciate when I write other things – whether that’s what’s topical or just what’s on my mind. So, that’s good. I will endeavor in 2019 to continue bringing you content to grab and hold and engage your interest. I appreciate the high traffic as well to, in descending order, The Boy from Willow Bend’s reviews page, my BOOKS page, my author BiO, performance reviews re my professional freelance writing-editing-training services, a breakdown of my services, evidence of my publications and projects, the main page re my professional background and introducing my services, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight’s reviews page, reviews of other creative works of mine or of my writing in general, and the Jhohadli Writing Project page. This speaks to interest in what I do and am trying to do, and I appreciate that. I appreciate you.
Finally, this (Joanne’s Picks – Aretha. Queen of Soul) was not one of my top posts of the year (alas) but, I will pull editorial rank to remind you that we said good bye to the voice of the 20th century, the Queen of Soul in 2018. RIP to her. May her music continue to move us.
Play that music. Eat some food. Connect with your loved ones. Merry Christmas. See you on the other side.