Writing is Your Business is Back – Register Now

ETA: Want to pitch Writing is Your Business l and Persuasive Public Speaking to your boss or HR manager, here’s a letter explaining what it’s all about: Letter to businesses April 2017

I first offered this course in 2016. Engagement was successful and reviews were positive. It’s been a minute, but it’s back, still under the banner of Barbara Arrindell & Associates .

If you’re a working person in Antigua and Barbuda who wants to improve her/his written (and/or oral) communication skills, here’s where you start:

flyer

To download registration form, right click above or download this: BA & A registration both 2017

 

Wadadli Pen 2016 Winner: a Response

This concerns the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize and I already shared it on that blog, but I thought it merited a double post because Wadadli Pen is one of the things I am most passionate about, most invested in, and which, for all I’ve written, feels like my most valuable contribution to date as a literary arts activist. The programme, which I launched in 2004 to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, isn’t about me. It is about every young writer who embraces the opportunity to use his/her voice, tell his/her stories, and by so doing add to the narrative of our lives – because that’s what storytellers do as they interpret and imagine who we are, have been, could be, and might have been. I really value this programme and it’s good when I’m reminded that I’m not alone in so doing. Daryl George , a youth worker, was asked, as the 2016 Challenge winner to pen a response, and his response goes further than I had anticipated in underscoring the value he places on the Wadadli Pen programme. Thank you, Daryl.

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Above, scenes of Daryl from the Wadadli Pen Challenge 2016 Awards ceremony; below, Daryl’s letter.

It gives me great pleasure to provide the response for the 2016 edition of the Wadadli Pen Prize. The Wadadli Pen Challenge, going on 12 years strong, is the only literary competition in Antigua and Barbuda geared towards youth, and one of only a very few in the entire Caribbean. Thanks must go out, first and foremost, to Joanne Hillhouse: the time, energy, and effort necessary to arrange the Wadadli Pen Challenge is significant, yet she does it anyway. So too for the many sponsors who do believe in young people and who have put their money where their mouth is when it comes to investing in our youth and our culture.

Writing for the Wadadli Pen Challenge this year wasn’t easy: and that is precisely why it’s so beneficial, year in and year out. It is only through effort that we can grow, and only through difficulty can we triumph. We had a number of young persons enter the Wadadli Pen Challenge in 2016, and I believe that the process of writing a cohesive story or poem in 600 words or less, tailoring each word and each sentence for maximum impact, has allowed these young persons to increase their writing ability just a little bit more. I hope that those who had the fortune to receive feedback from this challenge will continue to broaden their talents, and to hone their skills to become even better writers.

With the good also comes the bad, and with the yin also comes the yang. I was disappointed this year at the coverage, or lack thereof, from a number of prominent local media houses. In a time where positive stories about youth seem to grow rarer and rarer, I do believe that this was an opportunity for them to step up and provide coverage in order to motivate those youth seeking positive avenues for their expression. I also am disappointed in the lack of supporting initiatives from relevant government stakeholders in pushing the culture of Antigua and Barbuda: too often we focus on promoting the “sexy” issues and topics around our youth while ignoring the amazing ability of the literary arts to act as a powerful force in promoting our local culture.

That being said, I look forward to 2017. I look forward to youth across Antigua and Barbuda sitting down, whether with pen and paper or on their laptops, and dreaming. Using their words to paint landscapes, using their imagination to create vivid images, and using their creativity to touch the soul of others. I look forward to youth stretching themselves to come up with their own unique stories, their own personal characters. And I look forward to reading all about their adventures next year and in years to come.

Only days left to register, generous fee

This is an official letter that went out to businesses some weeks ago. It concerns my partnership with Barbara Arrindell & Associates, and aspires to bring my writing knowledge and experience to an adult education platform targeted at professionals and entrepreneurs. I’m posting here as I continue to prepare for my first class, hopeful that, if you’re in Antigua and Barbuda, you will pass it on to any individual or business that might benefit from either the written or oral communication courses.

Dear Sir /Madam:

Over the last few months, Barbara A Arrindell & Associates has conducted a number of evening classes aimed at improving a person’s communication and public speaking skills. In some cases, individuals take the class to facilitate their own personal growth and development but many participants receive full or part scholarships from their place of employment.

Employers understand that in today’s competitive environment that employees who fill key roles need to be able to speak confidently and to make presentations with ease. We are sending you this information as you may wish to register for the course and/or consider encouraging and investing in your associates so that they can be more successful at their job(s).

Full letter here: Letter to businesses

Registration forms:
registration Pubic speaking
registration Written communication

Classes begin April 19th 2016 – so register now!

Very (did I mention very!) generous fee.

 

Mission Possible: Read

This summer, in Antigua and Barbuda, we (meaning me and Cedric of Wadadli Pen and the Cushion Club, respectively, with some overlap in between) decided to challenge our young constituency to spend part of their summer reading. Now, obviously, Cedric who volunteers his Saturdays with the reading Club and I who have done the same with less frequency (and not at all, lately) and who also run the annual Wadadli Pen writing challenge, believe that reading is its own reward. But we got ahead of ourselves and before long were offering a prize to the child who reads the most from an extensive reading list we came up with with the help of the Map Shop and the Best of Books (two local book stores). Cedric’s already collected the first of those prizes from a generous donor at which point we were like well, I guess we’re doing this and we put the word out to the media and on social media. Next thing Best of Books and Cindy’s Bookstore were offering discounts to anyone shopping at their stores and taking the Challenge. Then my publisher CaribbeanReads was getting in on the action with a Musical Youth Challenge within the larger Challenge (more on that in another post, another time). The reason for this post, on realizing that I’ve been blogging about this over at my other blog but have been so busy pushing my Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project over here that I forgot to mention it here – crossed wires. But then I came across this picture of me reading to children at the Public Library Summer camp in …I wanna say 2013 (?)…DSC_0344and it seemed a good time to mention it.

Parents, read with your children, go sign them up at the library – the public library (they can’t take out books just yet unfortunately but they could pass the day or part of it reading) or other community libraries, buy them the books (take advantage of those discounts), or trade or borrow books as I used to do back in the day, some of these books may already be in your family’s personal library (and make family there as extensive as you need it to be). Take the challenge, not just for the prize, but for the discovery, the adventure, the joy of reading. Details here.

Pieces of the Past

There are pieces of paper stuffed in the holes. 12 of them, four to a row. At first it’s the paper that fascinates. The very idea of it. No one had seen paper since the last of the trees was uprooted for timber, 30 or so years ago. She’d been a little girl then, and her Tanty had still been alive. That’s how she knew what the thing with the holes was, a coal pot, for cooking, though only rarely used for cooking by then. At picnics and on Fridays when her Tanty turned cornmeal for the fungee. It nearly knocked her down, this vision, memory, of Tanty bent over the coal pot, bathed in sweat, rump doing a circular dance, like a wine, to a soca beat, as she ground the grains of corn meal into something at once soft and solid. She hadn’t had fungee since Tanty’s death but she could taste it now, the savouriness of it, the sliminess of the okroe mixed in, because fungee wasn’t fungee without okroe and though she detested okroe, she loved her Tanty’s fungee. She always told herself she had time to learn it; it was a fancy more than anything as she wasn’t much for cooking, even then, before cooking became obsolete and everything became pre-packaged and tasteless, and functional, like food wasn’t meant to be. The coal pot was at the old house, tucked under it with the electric typewriter, the blue water tank, and other useless things. The land was being reclaimed now that Future Tech had perfected the art of personal breathers allowing what was left of humanity to leave the domed living spaces sour with recycled air and make a go of recolonizing the earth. Nothing was as it had been, but her feet still took her home to the peach house, where improbably aloe and bougainvillea, and the Century plant her Tanty’s grandmother had planted when they’d first moved into the house on the hill, bloomed. There were no more trees, and, as such no more oxygen, but there were these plants defying everything and insisting on life. And there was the coal pot, under the house, with bits of paper stuffed into the holes where the pot would sit soaking up the heat from the coals below. The clay of the coal pot was cool to her touch, and at the touch of it, feelings surged up inside of her; tears, a lump, memories. Tanty, gone. When she pulled out the first of the papers, it was instinctive, a way of distracting herself from feelings she didn’t know what to do with, and then at the sight of what was written, the feelings pushed against her shaky resolve anyway. Tanty’s handwriting.

“Bring the slimy, okra water to a boil before adding the corn meal”

If the others in her scouting team thought it odd, the sight of her crying over a cracked coal pot and a badly scribbled note on scrap paper, they had the good sense to look away as they continued foraging among the remains.

Coal pot, or as it's referred to in my book of the same name, Oh Gad!

Coal pot, or as it’s referred to in my book of the same name, Oh Gad!

For today’s writing exercise, I decided for the first time to try one of these blog prompts; this one specifically:From the Collection of the Artist This is what became of that experiment.

Wadadli Pen at 11

Winners of the 2015 Wadadli Pen flanked by guest presenter Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau (whose new CD is I am Speaking)and co-founder/coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (whose latest books are Musical Youth and the Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Stories). Pictured between them are Olsfred James, Melicia McCalmon, Judah Christian, Avriel Walters, Margaret Irish and Ondrej Austin-Josiah. Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

Winners of the 2015 Wadadli Pen flanked by guest presenter Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau (whose new CD is I am Speaking)and co-founder/coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (whose latest books are Musical Youth and the Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Stories). Pictured between them are Olsfred James, Melicia McCalmon, Judah Christian, Avriel Walters, Margaret Irish and Ondrej Austin-Josiah. Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

When I started the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize in 2004 (hopelessly dewy-eyed I was), I couldn’t see 11 years down the road. But time flies and here we are and remarkably, Wadadli Pen is still alive (it’s been touch and go a few times). I want to keep it going, I do. I’m working on grant funding applications (again), hopefully learning from past mistakes and hopefully able to harness the resources needed to deliver what this programme can deliver…when I dream of it. Fingers crossed. And if you’ve got ideas or support (money or time to give to these grand ambitions for this little project that could, email wadadlipen@yahoo.com)

Meanwhile, this is a link to the outcome of the 2015 Challenge, and here are some visual highlights from the most recent awards ceremony held last Saturday (April 11th 2015)…and look, we made the front page of one of the local daily papers:

Observer

FLOW rep, Gavinia Michael, assisted with gift presentation to Wadadli Pen 2015 winner Margaret Irish (right). Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

FLOW rep, Gavinia Michael, assisted with gift presentation to Wadadli Pen 2015 winner Margaret Irish (right). Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

Winner, Margaret Irish, posed up with the Challenge trophy sponsored by the Best of Books. Gavinia Michael of FLOW assists with the presentation. Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

Winner, Margaret Irish, posed up with the Challenge trophy sponsored by the Best of Books. Gavinia Michael of FLOW assists with the presentation. Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

Gavinia Michael of FLOW presents the cable company's gift of a EC$500 gift certificate for books at the Best of Books to winner Margaret Irish. Photo by Barbara Arrindell/Best of Books.

Gavinia Michael of FLOW presents the cable company’s gift of a EC$500 gift certificate for books at the Best of Books to winner Margaret Irish. Photo by Barbara Arrindell/Best of Books.

One of the Best of Books picks, Melicia McCalmon, collects her gifts from Best of Books and the Burt Award sponsors CODE.

One of the Best of Books picks, Melicia McCalmon, collects her gifts from Best of Books and the Burt Award sponsors CODE. Presenting is Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau who performed pieces from her spoken word CD I am Speaking during the awards ceremony – and another piece during the Wadadli Pen Open Mic that followed. FYI, the Wadadli Pen Open Mic takes place the second Saturday of every month at the Best of Books bookstore on St. Mary’s Street.

Margaret Irish reading her story, Justice.

Margaret Irish reading her story, Justice.

Every year at the awards, we are reminded why it’s all worth it. And then there are letters like this the day after:

“I write to express appreciation to you and your team for allowing young writers like [my son] to explore their writing potential. He was quite reluctant to enter at first, but warmed up to the challenge. Excited, elated and ecstatic are just a few of the words that could explain how he felt, by being able to share his story and be rewarded for his effort.”