CREATIVE SPACE #5 of 2020 (uploaded April 22nd 2020)

CREATIVE SPACE is a series spotlighting local art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 and ran to 2019 on Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. There are plans for its continued evolution across multiple media platforms. CREATIVE SPACE is created, owned, and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean author, journalist, and freelancer.

Here’s a link to the issue as it appeared in the Daily Observer: CREATIVE SPACE DO 5

Best of Books 2Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with extras.

If you would like to be featured or to sponsor a future installment of the online edition of CREATIVE SPACE, BOOSTing your BRAND while boosting Antigua-Barbuda Art and Culture (contact Joanne to find out how)


Sugar Ridge 1
2018. Antiguan and Barbudan authors at Sugar Ridge. Left to right, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Brenda Lee Browne (author of London Rocks – no ebook found but still recommended reading), and Kimolisa Mings (the poetry collection listed is only the tip of the iceberg – she is quite prolific)

I didn’t plan to write about books so soon after my Guabancex review but I just got asked to rec some local books for lockdown. So, in support of making sure we #stayathome as much as possible, I’ll be recommending ebooks and audio books only. Also, I’ll be reccing only books I’ve actually read and, disclaimer, one or two of them might be mine.

Best of Books 1
The Antiguan and Barbudan bookshelf at the Best of Books bookstore via their facebook. Remember to support our brick and mortar bookshops where we can.


Time to TalkCricketing legend Curtly Ambrose’s Time To Talk is an accessible and entertaining read even if you’re not a fan of the game. As I said in a review I wrote in 2016 when the book came out, the cricketing stats, behind-the-scenes of the big games, and fantasy dream team at the end will mean more if you are an aficionado, but in this story of an island boy who became a man of the world, there is enough straight talk and dressing room disclosures to keep the rest of us entertained.


Pepperpot1-524x800 Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean is not Antiguan and Barbudan but your #gyalfromOttosAntigua is in it (a ghost story called Amelia at Devil’s Bridge) along with writers from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Belize, Barbados, and Bahamas.


King Short Shirt Nobody Go Run Me Dorbrene O’Marde’s Nobody Go Run Me, the biography of King Short Shirt, is so far the only local book longlisted for one of the Caribbean’s biggest book awards, Bocas. One of the things I love about this is the story behind the stories that make up the best of the Antiguan-Barbudan song book (especially the Shelly Tobitt classics). In fact, D. Gisele Isaac (author of Considering Venus, The Sweetest Mango, and No Seed, and an award winning journalist and op-ed writer) described it in a Caribbean Writer journal review as “two books in one, since the end-notes and appendices are themselves, so interesting and educational.”

Women’s Fiction

Lucy I’m using this to define women-centered books and there is none better than Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid. It’s the semi-autobiographical story of a young island woman working as a nanny in New York, and discovering herself in the process. British writer Ann Morgan for whom this was the Antigua-Barbuda pick when she was reading the world described it as “fresh, feisty and at times alarming”. I would add only how elegant and lyrical the writing is.

Coming of Age Fiction

annie Kincaid again; Annie John this time: a book late local critic Tim Hector called “a profound examination of the human condition, as a child, in an island.” I will add my own teen/young adult novel, Musical Youth, a Burt Award winning title, which Caribbean Beat said, “speaks directly to young readers, but with concerns of colourism, class clashes, and society’s skewed expectations for boys and girls.” MUSICAL_YOUTH_Cover_FRONT_Final


The Politics of Black Women's Hair The Politics of Black Women’s Hair by Althea Prince speaks to the personal and historical in its examination of our relationship with our hair. Linisa George, a local writer well known for her Brown Girl in the Ring staged-poem, once wrote that “It speaks to the reality and the great injustice that we continue to put our young black girls through.” I’ll also rec here Dreamland Barbuda: A Study of the History and Development of Communal Land Ownership on the Island by Asha Frank, which I consider “essential” for anyone seeking to understand the point of view of Barbudans pushing back on central government’s actions vis-à-vis our sister island. Dreamland Barbuda

Historical Fiction

unburnable Marie Elena John’s Unburnable actually begins in modern day but it looks back to the past, and the relations among various communities – separated by race and class – on the island of Dominica in helping one woman understand her present. It is richly descriptive and deeply probing. Essence called it “electrifying”.


Dust Althea Romeo Mark’s If Only the Dust would Settle uses prose and poetry to track the writer’s journey from Antigua to the USVI to America to Africa to the UK, and finally Switzerland where she still lives and writes today. It is particularly insightful re the immigrant experience.

Picture book 

Beautiful Blackbird Lost Cover Front 4 Yohan  I have three, Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan, my own Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Floree Williams Whyte’s The Wonderful World of Yohan. The latter in particular is a great get for boys, especially boys who are reluctant readers who will join the titular character in finding adventure in the imagination and in real life.


Love poem If you like love songs with low lights, you’ll like She Wanted a Love Poem by Kimolisa Mings, a good one for couples to read together and connect.


Dancing 10 cover One of mine: Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, specifically the 10th anniversary edition where you’ll find the original novella and many other stories and poems by me (not all romance).  I’ll break my own rule re having read the book to add Rilzy Adams, a past Wadadli Pen finalist who has been ridiculously prolific in recent years. How prolific? Her most recent is Love in the Time of Corona, about exes who find themselves quarantining “together in the apartment they’ve been ‘spite sharing’ for the past three months.” How’d she write and publish it so fast? Your guess is as good as mine. Corona


woman can I haven’t read Janice Sutherland’s This Woman Can but her 13 Strategies to Elevate Your Career was clear and practical, so it should be worth checking out.


the road to wadi halfa Claudia E.R. Francis’ The Road to Wadi Halfa has everything for the lover of the spy action thriller – a kidnapping from an island resort  to struggle to survive and escape a terrorist camp on the on the other side of the world, family and corporate shenanigans. Plus, if you like it, it’s part of a family of books.

For a full listing of local books, check Antiguan and Barbudan Writings at


All Rights Reserved. Sharing or excerpting with link and credit is okay. But for re-publication of CREATIVE SPACE or any other content on this site contact Joanne – also use this link to contact Joanne for appearances (reading, speaking, discussions), workshops/courses, writing, editing, or other offered service.