New on the BlogS

CREATIVE SPACE has been updated. Here’s an excerpt from CREATIVE SPACE 18 – The Arbor Day Fair:

“This is a reminder to plant a tree…or buy a tree…or at least not to cut down a tree for no good reason. Go green!

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This reminder comes courtesy of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Environment’s Arbor Day Plant Fair and Climate Fest, which was held at the Department’s headquarters at the Botanical Gardens near the end of November 2018. I dipped in for a little bit – as I hadn’t been to one in a while. True confession: I didn’t know it was happening (head in sand syndrome) but as I passed by, there was music, and dancing, and eats and fun, everything you want in a nature fair; even, oh yeah, plants, lots of plants.”

Read more.

If you missed CREATIVE SPACE 16 (Veronica Yearwood on the mas tradition connecting Caribbean people and Africa) and 17 (Carolyn Cooper on the unmasking of history), don’t forget to check those out.

And for companies with interests in Antigua and Barbuda, remember the CREATIVE SPACE series is an opportunity to boost your brand while boosting local art and culture. Email me at jhohadli at gmail dot com to find out how.

Meanwhile, new posts on the Wadadli Pen blog include this Did you know about Guyanese author Ian McDonald, this news about Antiguan-Barbudan author Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place on the London stage, and a reminder that you don’t have to be from Wadadli to vote for the Antigua and Barbuda Book of the Year.

In writing and publishing posts that caught my eye from other places, I’ll mention, for those who weren’t watching, in real time, this literary car crash/teachable moment (you can’t copyright titles, don’t accuse someone unless you’re sure, don’t be wrong and strong) i.e. the Nora Roberts/Tomi Adeyemi Drama (yikes!) and this blog Jamaica shout out re the release of the Spanish language edition of my children’s picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (yay! *waves from Antigua*). See my Media page for other shoutouts and news, and for other recent updates on this blog read about my review of The Hate U Give (I also just saw Widows and while I don’t expect I’ll be writing about it, let me just say it was so much more than I expected it to be – which was a straight up heist film – like this youtube reviewer said “it’s really more of a drama with the heist element mixed in”) and my share re my random discovery of Ignatius Sancho (and his place as a Black man in British history).

Hope you’ll check them out.

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Talking Movies: The Hate U Give

I mostly talk books and writing on this site, but if you’ve followed the site, you know that I’m just a lover of the arts, period, and have opinions on things (not just art). I’ve talked movies here before – Roxanne Roxanne and Annihilation, Room and other movies, Suffragette, Queen of Katwe, Bazodee, Creed, Birdman and Foxcatcher, Spotlight, and others. So, let’s talk, The Hate U Give – for my review of the book, click this link; now on to my review of the film.

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The Hate U Give continues the grand tradition of the book – however imperfect – being better than the movie. Yes, there are exceptions but the generalization exists for a reason. It’s inevitable perhaps that something of the nuance of a story stands to be lost in the translation from page to film.

In the Hate U Give, for instance, it made me sad to see Seven, brother of main character and narrator Starr, relegated to little more than scenery even with his story being amalgamated into that of another boy who was erased altogether. In the book, Starr and Seven’s relationship and Seven’s own arc added richness and complexity to the tale. He was as caught between two worlds as she was, three if you think about it – because he went to the same private school she did so moved between black and white spaces, but also within the black spaces he occupied he had his own tug-o-war between his father’s family (the father he shared with Starr) and the distinctly different world of his mother. That scene in the book where his mother shows up at his birthday party was for me one of the book’s emotional high/low points – the closest we get is a dimmed version of his mother and her violent drug kingpin boyfriend showing up at the funeral of Khalil, the boy whose death by police is the story’s inciting incident. In losing so much of Seven, we lose certain dynamics of Starr’s tale – her insider-outsiderness in her own/home world, and the ways she struggles to define family. The tension between her and her brother’s other sister and her friend over their ‘ownership’ of him, not literally but as family, is not an insignificant plot point. However, it is completely gone from the film and in addition to Seven being background, the sister is reduced to a cliché. A huge part of the story’s heart and texture (re the interpersonal relationships) is, therefore, lost to the streamlining of Starr’s story along black and white lines.

As filmed, the only real struggle in Starr’s life is between her pure white private school world and the friendships and romances therein, and the all black world she lives in (the richness of which we don’t really see in the film as we do in the book). The layers have been ironed out for ease of visual storytelling. Speaking of visual storytelling, it’s hard to miss the hopefully unconscious colourism in the casting. Not blaming the cast for this. I’m actually rooting for Amandla Stenberg – have been since Hunger Games – and feel this is the best performance I’ve seen from her to date. But it doesn’t slip notice that the character on the cover of the book is dark-skinned and Amandla is decidedly not, and that the darker skinned Black people in the film are tied to the ghetto life (Seven as a possible exception, though, as noted, he’s in both worlds). It’s a thing white audiences may not notice but which I’ve seen some around the black interwebs comment on.

Speaking of whose gaze, the film is very mindful of courting a crossover audience, while the book was uncompromisingly written from the Black perspective – in an honest way, that cued any person with an open mind and heart to respond to it. So that, for instance, the shooting of Starr’s friend Khalil on the screen is ambiguous in a way it is not in the book – in the book, it’s clear that cop bias – implicit if not explicit – was involved; in the movie, the cop is given a sympathetic out. As a result the commentary on the overzealous cop protected by systemic and latent racism is diluted. We also see this dilution in her relationship with her private school friends, one of whom was a clear mean girl with deliberately tone deaf and racist tendencies in the book; and in the movie is just kind of clueless. The movie bends over backwards to make the antagonists not so bad – some might call it nuance, some might call it white washing.

In trying to serve all masters, pleasing none, some of The Hate U Give’s gravitas – such as it had – is lost, and other moments, the riot scene didn’t have any real sense of danger (to me, I’ve seen that there is disagreement on this point), not like in the book. Though that moment after the fire (the fire King went down for though he didn’t technically set it) did have me worried for Starr’s little brother, so it’s not like I wasn’t emotionally engaged.

One of the characters who was problematic for me in the book is even more so in the movie, a fault of both writing and casting. Disclaimer: I love love love Issa Rae. Loved Awkward Black Girl, respect what she’s doing with Insecure, but the lawyer/activist she plays already read like a stock character, and she doesn’t personalize her in any way. I’m seeing Issa, not the character – but as noted it was a thinly written character to begin with (and, full disclosure, I’m hesitant to dog Issa in any way).

All of that said, the film is not the worst thing ever – a recent google turned up 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and 82 on Metacritic (so clearly I and some of the earlier criticism I saw are the minority view). For me, it’s just okay…which already makes it, as a teen/young adult genre film, miles ahead of Twilight.

-by Joanne C. Hillhouse. If you haven’t checked any of my books as yet, I hope you do. If you have read my books, please consider posting a review to Amazon or Goodreads if you haven’t already done so. Thanks! Also, as needed, be sure to check out my writing and editing services.

Bookish/Artsy Stuff

This is a link-up with book blogs Stacking the Shelves and The Caffeinated Reviewer, so will focus on what bookish/artsy stuff I’ve been up to (I know, I know, it’s all book-ish and artsy around here, but still). For general site updates (interesting stuff there too), check out this link.

Book-ish

Valour
Today I’ve been reading Valour and Vanity by American author Mary Robinette Kowal, fourth in her British regency era historical fantasy fiction glamourist series. For my reviews of previous books in the series – go visit Shades of Milk and Honey, Glamour in Glass, and Without a Summer. I’m enjoying the adventures of Lady Jane and Lord Vincent, whose skill for weaving images out of the ether and getting in to all kinds of life threatening trouble remains undimmed. They’re currently in Venice which is taking me back to my visit to this city of, as Jane puts it, “long graceful canals, arching bridges, and sun-dappled buildings”.

PossessingEn route to and from the Miami Book Fair (somewhere between three to four hours from Antigua), I started reading Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy (and re-watched the last Avengers film and watched A Quiet Place, since we were delayed on the runway due to engine trouble and then traffic) and it right away began pulling me in (love Alice and can’t recommend enough previous reads The Color Purple, The Temple of My Familiar, In Search of our Mother’s Gardens, Living by the Word, Her Blue Body Everything We Know). I did re-shelve a book in progress, something I rarely do, but re-shelving at least means I’m open to revisiting it; and moved Evolution by Belizean writer Felene Cayetano, whose poetry and fiction I have enjoyed, what I’ve read of it, off the shelf to the active reading pile – haven’t started reading it though. Since we’re on the subject of books, I do hope you’ll consider adding one of mine to your shopping list.

Artsy

the-walking-dead-season-9-rick-grimes-final-episodes-comicbookco-1132739-1280x0.jpgI haven’t watched any new films or much television (it’s been a catch-upcatch-upcatch-up sort of week) but I am watching The Walking Dead again (yes, after my whole has it become soulless torture porn post of a couple years ago). I mean, I never stopped 100 percent but the last couple of seasons (in fact the entire Negan arc), it wasn’t appointment TV for me as it had been in the early seasons. With Andrew Lincoln (whom I’ve loved since Love, Actually) set to leave, I tuned in (maybe to say goodbye, I don’t know) and kinda kept tuning in. In discussing with another Dead head, I said, The Walking Dead without Rick is not the same but it’s not trash…his final episode is rough for fans of the Sheriff (as I am) but, as happens, when we lose someone or there is a major disruption in our lives (or favourite TV show), because things are shifting trying to adjust to the change, new and sometimes interesting things happen even as we grieve…plus the time jump helped.

jane fonda

The only other thing I viewed, apart from clips from my favourite satyrists who make the Drumpfocalypse bearable, was Jane Fonda in Five Acts – which pretty much covered the same ground as her book, My Life So Far, which I read and reviewed some time ago. Still interesting; she’s led an interesting life. One of my takeaways, the way women (even seemingly strong, feminist women like Jane) are conditioned to fit and shape themselves to the men in their lives (an element of male privilege), often at cost of their own identity, but if you live long enough and stay open to self-reflection, you can find yourself…hopefully before it’s too late.

This Week in Site Updates (New Creative Space, MBF, More)

New on the blogs this week are two new CREATIVE SPACE posting here on Jhohadli and  a posting on my trip to the Miami Book Fair over on the Wadadli Pen blog. Below are some excerpts. I hope you’ll check out the full posts and, of course, engage, comment, holler.

Re the CREATIVE SPACE postings, I began the first saying “As I have two lecture type presentations to upload, I’m twinning them as part the Lecture Circuit as both are overdue for posting.” So, that’s just what I did. One, CREATIVE SPACE 16 – MAS’KING, was a lecture (Through the Eyes of the Masqueraders: the Intangible Bond of Caribbean Movement, Music, and Mas) by Antiguan and Barbudan dancer/choreographer Veronica Yearwood at a masquerade festival in Bermuda talking about the masquerade tradition in the Caribbean and its roots in Africa.

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(a slide from her presentation showing the Antigua-Barbuda take on traditional mas)

Excerpt from the post:
‘In her power point, Yearwood showed familiar examples of it in Ghana, Cameroon, Zambia; “The displaced African brought with them the intangible knowledge from their Land. During this era much of that knowledge was laid dormant or sometimes quietly practiced. Added to that knowledge was the forced information indoctrinated by the slave master. During this period there was much change and adaptation and evolution, though the basic knowledge and practices remained. However, what is noteworthy is that some practices had to evolve to accommodate the given environment they were exposed to. One such evolution gave rise to the Caribbean Masquerader.” That Caribbean Masquerade began to truly emerge post-Emancipation. She showed how adaptive it was in terms of the instrumentation – the fife and iron bands in Antigua for example – and how it varied island to island – the tuk band in Barbados for instance.’

To read the full post, CREATIVE SPACE 16 – MAS’KING, go here.

The second new posting, CREATIVE SPACE 17 – UNMASKING, was my attempt to share a talk given here in Antigua and Barbuda by a former professor of mine, Dr. Carolyn Cooper, seen here dr cooper with graceflipping through a copy of one of my two children’s picture books, With Gracewith-grace-cover, in Montserrat at the Alliougana Festival of the Word (in fact, she was passing through Antigua to go to the festival when the UWI Open Campus nabbed her to give a talk and those of us in attendance were thankful to them for that).

Excerpt from the post:
‘Her message was about unmasking history, true true history, bringing to light – per the poetry of Mutabaruka – the histories that have been deliberately repressed. And – I might add – our own repression re our histories by her insistence on writing her newspaper column in not only English but also Jamaican patois, freeing our tongue so to speak. Another link to the past and another way of redefining our present and future. We are, after all, as she noted, a folk who have already “from the centre of an oppressive system been able to survive, adapt, create”.’

To read the full post, CREATIVE SPACE 17 – UNMASKING, go here.

The final thing I want to share in this post is the posting at Wadadli Pen about my participation in the Miami Book Fair.

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(ever thankful to anyone who supports with a purchase of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure like this lady at my after-panel book signing)

Excerpt from the post:
“My event was Read Caribbean presents Adventures for Kids and I was delighted to share the stage and do a signing afterwards with co-presenters Marjaun Canady, who was a tough act to follow, Paula-Anne Porter Jones, whom I remember actually, as I reminded her, from my UWI years, and Francie Latour.”

To read the full post, go here.

That’s all for now. Remember to #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda

Kevin Jared Hosein: a writer with a plan | Closeup — Wadadli Pen

‘Kevin Jared Hosein meets me for our interview on the day V.S. Naipaul dies. The 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner is neither dismissively snide nor desperately heartbroken at Naipaul’s passing. It may seem surprising that a prominent literary son of the Trinidadian soil has no strong feelings about Naipaul, one way or another, but […]

via Kevin Jared Hosein: a writer with a plan | Closeup — Wadadli Pen

Books, some of Mine, some of Others’; An Update

First thing Saturday morning, a rep from the Wadadli Pen team was on local radio chatting up our new #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda initiative to select a readers choice Antiguan and Barbudan book of the year (well, technically, the last two years). As I’ve blogged, this initiative is meant to boost new and new-ish Antiguan and Barbudan lit, and fill the gap brought about by the absence of the Wadadli Pen Challenge, which has been a staple of the project since it launched in 2004. Life is heavy sometimes and I needed to put something down; Wadadli Pen was something.  But because it’s something that brings me an immense sense of purpose, I couldn’t let it go altogether. This project is less time intensive but will hopefully pay off for Antigua and Barbuda lit arts. And hopefully when I feel less like I’m flaying and taking in water (yes, in spite of all the recent good news because, happy and thankful as I am about those developments, none of that is the full story; it never is), I can put the full weight of Wadadli Pen on my back again. But enough about me (just keeping it real for a minute). Check out the books (you don’t have to be Antiguan and Barbudan), read the books (which range from children’s books to romance to deep thoughts), read even one of the books (step outside your usual zone), if you like it, go to the Wadadli Pen #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda post linked in the article on this blog, and say why. By so doing, you’ll be registering your vote and giving it a boost which is always a gift to a writer.

Poetry readAntiguaBBarbuda 2018
It brings me great pain that I’m such a snail reader these days but periodically I do finish a book. This week’s finish was book three in Mary Robinette Kowal’s historical fantasy Glamourist series which, as I said in the beginning of my review, I have really come to fall in love with. Excerpt from the book and review:

“She looked at the barely contained chaos and turned to Vincent. He was staring at her with the strangest expression on his face. He blushed and looked away, wetting his lips. Still looking across the yard, he leaned down to whisper, ‘I was thinking about what my father would say if he knew that I found you attractive in trousers.’

Her coat seemed too warm, suddenly. She whispered back, ‘I do not care what he would say, if you like them.’

The corner of his eye wrinkled into his small private smile.”

Read the full review of Without a Summer. Now on to book four, Valour and Vanity.

Remember to scroll to the bottom of the Blogger on Books page for recent reviews including most-most recent Lisa Allen-Agostini’s Home Home.

More book talk. Of the I wish I could variety.  Like I wish I could catch up on sleep and then disappear to my own private island and read to my heart’s content. These are some of the books I’d pack.

Some of the good news I mentioned above: I am happy to announce the release of ¡perdida! Una Aventura En El Mar Caribe, a Spanish language edition of my most recent book, the children’s picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which came out last November. I will be presenting both editions November 17th 4 p.m. at the Miami Book Fair. In advance of that, I wanted to share the first page as I do for all my books (click on the book titles). Please let me know if you, or anyone you know, would like to review the Spanish language edition as I try  get the word out.

Here’s the Caribbean Reads Publishing newsletter with these updates and news of Musical Youth being added to the Antigua and Barbuda schools curriculum.

While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the latest in the CREATIVE SPACE series – one on the service of British West Indians in WW1, one on our Independence art exhibition, and an update about Eileen Hall – who is Eileen Hall? Well, read to find out.

Linking this up to The Sunday Post by Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s been a while. Also linking to It’s Monday, What are You reading?

Haven’t checked out any of my books yet? Children’s picture books to teen/young adult fics to adult novels; read more. If you’ve read my books, please consider posting a review to Amazon or Goodreads if you haven’t already done so. It makes a big difference. Thanks! For information on my writing and editing services, here’s where you go. – blogger, author, mango lover, Joanne C. Hillhouse.

VOTE YOUR PICK FOR ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA’S BOOK OF THE YEAR: READERS’ CHOICE (Press Release)

Wadadli Pen Logo

The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, a project committed to nurturing and showcasing the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda since 2004, has opened polling for an Antigua and Barbuda Readers’ Choice Book of the Year. This will cover books released throughout 2017 and up to the end of October 30th 2018, and voting will remain open until the end of March 2019.

This is part of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize’s #readAntiguaBarbuda initiative to encourage people to #buylocal and #voteAntiguaBarbuda. The hope is that the initiative will boost awareness of literary content out of Antigua and Barbuda. As the country moves from Independence – a time of heightened cultural awareness – in to Christmas – a time of gift giving, Wadadli Pen sees this as a good time to push the purchase of books by Antiguans and Barbudans.

The Wadadli Pen team is taking a break from the annual Challenge, which has been encouraging and rewarding new writing since Wadadli Pen’s inception and has been the project’s most consistent activity over the years. This invitation to readers to vote on their favourite recent Antiguan and Barbudan book or spoken word CD will fill that void.

There have been no limits placed with respect to book genre, nor whether the books were self-published or found their way to market via an independent press or established publishing house. Some of the books are available locally in print form, others via e-platform and/or audio, and one has a version in translation. Some of the writers are resident here, some abroad; some are born Antiguans-Barbudans, some descended from Antiguans-Barbudans or nationals of other countries who have made Antigua-Barbuda their home. The voting too is very open. You don’t have to be from Antigua and Barbuda, nor have read every book in order to vote – but at minimum you should have read the book for which you’re voting.

What does the author win? At present, only boasting rights. The goal really is to boost awareness of these books and to encourage people to support local talent and #readAntiguaBarbuda

The books in the running are A 2nd Anthology of Radical Thoughts & Empowering Perspectives by Marcus Mottley, The ABCs of the Black Panther Party by S. Khalilah Brann (w/Chemay Morales-James), Be With You: A Valentine’s Romance by Roxy Wilson, Bothism by Tanya Evanson, The Cleansing of the Souls by Romenita Barrett, Delilah the Donkey and the Missing Tooth by Anne Harewood George (w/illustrator Izzy Bean), Dreamland Barbuda: A Study of the History and Development of Communal Land Ownership on the Island by Asha Frank, Explore Antigua and Barbuda and its companion colouring book by Gemma Handy w/ Irene Danic and illustrator Manuel Morgado, F.A.K.E.! by Vivian Luke, Frank Walter: the Last Universal Man by Frank Walter (w/Barbara Paca), A Friend Indeed by Kimolisa Mings, Friends to Forever: A BWWM Friends to Lovers Romance by Roxy Wilson, Fu You Tongue Heavy Lakka 56 by Iyaba Ibo Mandingo, The Gift (Falling Like A Johnson Book 1) by Rilzy Adams, Gillie’s World by Gillian McDonald Howie, God’s Sovereignty Over Our Lives by Aloma Mason-Stanislaus, Greer’s Alphas: A Paranormal Menage by Roxy Wilson, Hidden Secrets of St. Croix by Clarice C. Clarke, Hol de Line and Other Stories by Mary Geo Quinn, How to Work Six Jobs on an Island: An Island Boy’s Dream by Shawn N. Maile, I Do…NOT by Kimolisa Mings, If the Shoe Fits by Kimolisa Mings, Into the Black Widow’s Web by K. N. Mings, Just One More Time (Falling Like A Johnson Book 3) by Rilzy Adams, Just Write Antigua Journal by Brenda Lee Browne, Learning Bible-verses: the Vow, the Wow, the Now by W. Elloy D. de Freitas, Legend of Integrity and Courage by Nuffield J. Burnette, Life as Josephine by Claytine Nisbett, London Rocks by Brenda Lee Browne, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure by Joanne C. Hillhouse (w/illustrator Danielle Boodoo-Fortune), also available as ¡Perdida! Una Aventura en El Mar Caribe, Meant to Be: A BWWM Friends to Lovers Romance (Loving A Morrison Book 1) by Roxy Wilson, Milo’s First Winter (Milo’s Adventures)(w/illustrator Ros Webb), My Guardian Vampire: a BBW Paranormal Romance by Roxy Wilson, The Nakedness of New by Althea Romeo-Mark, Off Key by Rilzy Adams, The Plantations of Antigua, the Sweet Success of Sugar, Volume I by Agnes Meeker (w/Donald Dery), The Royal Wedding by Dotsie Isaac, The Shout: For HALCYION STEEL’S CHAMPIONSHIP PANORAMA 1975 by Franklyn Jones, Sunny Dreams Of Rainbows (The Secret Lives of Babies) by Jacquelin Webson and Faye France (w/illustrator Ros Webb), When Grandma Comes to Stay (When Family Comes to Stay Book 1) by Jacquelin Webson and Faye France (w/illustrator Jayamini Attanayake), Will you be Mine? (Falling like a Johnson Book 2) by Rilzy Adams, Will You Be My Friend? (Making Friends Book 1) by Jacquelin Webson and Faye France (w/illustrator tullipstudio), and The Wonderful World of Yohan by Floree Williams Whyte (with illustrator Stoogeco). Forty-three books and/or CDs in all.

childrens fiction read AntiguaBarbuda 2018
Children’s fiction, above; adult fiction, below.Fiction readAntiguaBarbuda 2018Non Fiction readAntiguaBarbuda 2018Non-fiction above; poetry, below.

Poetry readAntiguaBBarbuda 2018

This Readers Choice Book of the Year initiative was attempted last year but has been revamped; so, if you voted for any of the listed books before, you will need to vote again. A minimum of 20 votes will be required for a winner to be declared. Let’s get it up to 2000 votes and debunk that tired myth about Antigua and Barbuda not being a reading public.

To vote go to https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/readantiguabarbuda-voteantiguabarbuda and leave a comment indicating your choice (parents, remember to help your children to vote for books in the children’s fiction genre) and (optionally) a reason for your choice by the end of March 2019. And remember, Christmas is coming #buylocal #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda

ETA: Linking this to the book meme Talk of the Town because this is the talk of my town, because you don’t have to be Antiguan and Barbudan to #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda and because I love it when books travel.

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Haven’t checked out any of my books yet? Children’s picture books to teen/young adult fics to adult novels; read more. If you’ve read my books, please consider posting a review to Amazon or Goodreads if you haven’t already done so. It makes a big difference. Thanks! For information on my writing and editing services, here’s where you go. – blogger, author, mango lover, Joanne C. Hillhouse