CREATIVE SPACE #20 OF 2022 (Uploaded October 4th 2022)
CREATIVE SPACE is an award-winning series spotlighting local (Antiguan and Barbudan/Caribbean) art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published exclusively in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 as a blog series and syndicated as of 2019 on Antiguanice.com. Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. It has its first print run in the paper every other Wednesday, with the online extended edition with EXTRAS running here on the blog and full interviews and extras on AntiguanWriter on YouTube. In 2021, the two–part CREATIVE SPACE mini-series on marine culture placed third in the OECS clean oceans journalists challenge. CREATIVE SPACE is created, owned, and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean author, journalist, producer, and freelance writer, editor, and trainer.
Here’s a link to the issue as it appeared in the Daily Observer newspaper on October 5th 2022:
Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with EXTRAS.
CREATIVE SPACE: CLAIMING OUR SPACE BY TELLING OUR STORIES
I’m scheduled to present at the annual Antigua and Barbuda Conference, which will be virtual for a second year running this October, and I mostly opted to present because I recently finished the epic book New Daughters of Africa and I’ve got to talk about it (not just because it took me forever and a day to finish).
The book features 200 (yes, 200!) writers from across the (English-and-non-English-speaking) African Diaspora. The widely critically-acclaimed and NAACP Image award nominated anthology of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction is over 800 pages which is why I’m only now finishing, considering it was published in 2019. The timing is good though as there is, as of August 2022, a new Penguin edition (pictured above – earlier Myriad and Harper Collins editions below).
Gina Prince-Bythewood directed and Viola Davis produced and starred in The Woman King, in theatres as I write this (watch it),
and there is a connection my mind is leaning in to with these unconnected IPs as relates to untold stories. Not truly untold, of course, more like under told, as we have always told our stories in our communities, but untold in a mass media way without diluting the experiences being related or fictionalized.
I am one of two Antiguans and Barbudans in New Daughters of Africa – another Antiguan and Barbudan Jamaica Kincaid was in the 25-years-earlier Daughters of Africa, both volumes edited by British writer of African and Caribbean descent Margaret Busby. American, Antigua-descended on her father’s side, Naomi Jackson’s book, The Star Side of Bird Hill, set in Barbados where her mother is from, is excerpted in New Daughters. It is coming of age and tackles emerging idendity including sexual identity.
My story, “Evening Ritual”, in New Daughters, features a woman who works in resort tourism (Veron) in discourse (with her niece after a school visit to former slave plantation Betty’s Hope) on the plantation economy that preceded and in some ways still informs it. It’s a slice of life that centers gender and Black erasure.
The aunt and niece in this story come from very different spaces. The aunt admits to not understanding the niece but in the cosy space of the kitchen, they care for each other, without ceremony, and see each other and women like them across history in spite of erasure.
Erasure has been a big part of our reality as Black people, colonized, wherever we are in the diaspora, and that’s what makes collections like this so vital. We are claiming our space by telling our stories.
I’ll spotlight just some of New Daughters which is organized by decade of contributing authors’ birth, pre-1900s to 1990s.
In “Ode to My Grandfather at the Somme 1918”, US writer Barbara Chase-Riboud writes of the forgotten World War I serviceman, “He stands a solitary figure in/Dark brown and khaki along the Somme trenches”; Nigerian writer Nnedi Okorafor’s “Zula of the Fourth Grade Playground” hits with “…because in our fourth-grade Catholic school world, I could not be pretty. I was too black, my hair was too coarse, my lips were too big…”; Taiye Selasi who has Ghanaian and Nigerian roots writes in “from The Sex Lives of African Girls”, “In the peculiar hierarchy of African households the only rung lower than motherless child is childless mother.”(p. 603); and Cameroon writer Imbolo Mbue in “A Reversal” has a father saying to his migrant daughter, “I don’t want to leave you here by yourselves, in another man’s country.”– just a sampler.
Among the 60 included Caribbean writers – either descended from or born in the Caribbean, most resident overseas – are Haitian born, US based Danielle Legros George whose “Poem for the Poorest Country in the Western Hemisphere” begins, “O poorest country, this is not your name./You should be called beacon. You should/be called flame”; recently deceased Guyanese writer Andaiye who of her battle with cancer wrote in “Audrey, There’s Rosemary, That’s for Remembrance,” “I remember…people coming in, the women breaking the silence of awkwardness by asking me what I needed washed or ironed or bought for the hospital; the men, not socialized into housework, having nothing to break the silence”; Cuba’s Zuleica Romay Guerra who wrote in “Something about me”, “Forty six years of revolution cannot erase 400 years of slavery”; Dominica’s Celia Sorhaindo, chronicling life after Maria, wrote in “In the Air,” “After the hurricane/came the crazed lines for food…”; and US-based British writer Zadie Smith whose Jamaican mother Yvonne Bailey-Smith is also in this collection and who wrote in “Speech for Langston”, “I was part of a historical and geographic diaspora that has penetrated every corner of this globe, and which no single passport can contain or express”.
That last quote is a fair sum up of this collection.
This article is headlined telling our stories; so I’ll remind of my Jhohadli Writing Project creative writing workshops, two scholarships available at this writing; email email@example.com
Review of New Daughters of Africa in Blogger on Books.
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