Love for Lost!

“The book is wonderfully written. I love it very, very much and so does (my son). We read it quite often. We’re going to be going back and making a few more purchases very soon, and I just wanted to say thank you so much for this. It’s really cool what you’re doing and I really hope that you don’t stop and I’m looking forward to reading all of your books with (my son).”

This reader review of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (Spanish language edition: Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe) came to me today via a voice note in my DMs. It was a right on time spirit boost. Shout out to all the readers who remember to show love.

I’ve added this to the Lost! reviews page.

My Books.

My creative writing reviewed.

Speaking of showing books love, I am a reader before I am a writer and my Book Chat/Blogger on Books series allows me to shout out the books I’ve read and loved and/or have something to say about. These are less reviews and more conversations because that’s what I’m always seeking to have.

Here are my quick takes on some of my recent reads, of which the most recent is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I just-just finished.

Have you read that one? How about any of my books? Any other book you wan to show some love? Conversate with me in the comments.

WE CAN & MUST EMANCIPATE OURSELVES — Opal Palmer Adisa

I am emancipation, the door and one path. You are emancipation, the walls and another path. We are emancipation, the roof and windows, a shelter. Emancipation is not complete until we are all emancipated. The first and important step is to scrub our minds of the colonizer ‘s lies and affirm those aspects of our […]

WE CAN & MUST EMANCIPATE OURSELVES — Opal Palmer Adisa

August 1st 1834 was Emancipation Day in the then British West Indies, and today all across the Caribbean and the diaspora, we remember. It’s usually also Carnival season here in Antigua but…COVID. No Carnival for the second year in a row, another reason to be depressed (Carnival is not just a pretty party for us). But we remember. Above links to a post by writer Opal Palmer Adisa of Jamaica, a country naturally in a celebratory mood after their 1, 2, 3 wins in the women’s 100m. Below are some links of past posts on this site related to chattel slavery, Emancipation, and post-Emancipation in Antigua and Barbuda.

Ancestral Remembrance on Emancipation Day

CREATIVE SPACE #8 of 2018 – Watch Night to Emancipation Day

Black Fun Fact: What it means To Shoot Hard Labour

CREATIVE SPACE #13 of 2020 – SAY THEIR NAME: IN MEMORIAM

Older Writing and New

The image above is from a facebook post about my book Musical Youth made back in March 2021. It’s just been added to the Musical Youth Reviews and Endorsements page.

The new writing is a short story I shared in the latest edition of my arts and culture column CREATIVE SPACE. Let me know what you think.

Alice felt tension in her belly. She was an Empath. She could feel the casual malice coming off the one with the long gun, he wanted to use it, even if just to butt something with the heavy end. The others had a general godlike sense of power. It was a thick musty scent, like unwashed bodies.

Read in full ‘Times A-Changing’.

Talking Wadadli Pen

These are the Wadadli Pen 2021 post-Challenge (i.e. from the media arounds after the awards announcement) that attracted some comments and likes. Which is all the excuse I need to share them.

Wadadli Pen, if you’re new here, is a project I launched in 2004 to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. Read more about it here. And if you want to watch more videos, check the channel, and like and subscribe.

Stats Spiking and Books on My Shelves

Re Stats Spiking

When I signed in to the blog today, I got one of those your stats are spiking posts and decided to see what people were viewing/reading for the last quarter

…the last 30 days

…and the last 7 days

If I was to Venn diagram it, the central subset of overlapping interests in the middle would be (beyond the homepage)

The Boy from Willow Bend Study Guide (Author Edition)
The CREATIVE SPACE main page
I won a Grant; Now Ask Me Anything
BOOKS
First Pages – The Boy from Willow Bend

Good to know. The interest in my first book probably has something to do with it being on the schools reading list (in Antigua-Barbuda, Anguilla) and this being the first term of the 2020-2021 school year. The interest in my BOOKS generally is always welcomed. Glad to see CREATIVE SPACE, my local art and culture column, is performing well. Delighted that there’s interest in the #Catapultartstgrant, specifically my Caribbean Creative arts online grant. Now let’s spike those video views.

This post is running long so we’ll talk about Books on My Shelves in the next one. Thanks always for reading and supporting and helping me spike the views.

Exploring GendArtivism

‘Good Hair’ by Rhonda Williams (Indira Wills) untangles the issues around Black women’s hair. Her subject’s larger than life ‘fro asserts, “Black hair of any texture is the embodiment of good hair. Black hair is beautiful, and we are intrinsically beautiful too.”

That’s right, a new CREATIVE SPACE. Read it here.

Cover Reveal (The Jungle Outside)

This is the cover of The Jungle Outside. It’s a children’s picture book now available for pre-order wherever you get your books.

Dante and his Tanti find there’s much to explore in the jungle outside, but can he overcome his fear to taste the sweet fruit of life?

The Jungle Outside is part of a series of Caribbean children’s books being rolled out by Harper Collins (UK) as part of its Big Cat series, distributed internationally; it is scheduled for release in February 2021 and is currently available for pre-order at the various online retailers – or I don’t see why you couldn’t get early order in through your local bookstore.

With Jungle, we have another Wadadli-Trini collaboration as the illustrator is Danielle Boodoo-Fortune who also illustrated Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure. This will be my third children’s book after Lost! (an earlier edition of which was published as Fish Outta Water with Antiguan-Barbudan illustrator Zavian Archibald who illustrates Turtle Beach by local author Barbara A. Arrindell, another of the new books in the Big Cat series) and With Grace; and my seventh book overall after The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, and Musical Youth.

Speaking of Musical Youth, an instagram reader review today warmed my heart as it lit a fire in me. Ifthisisparadise wrote:
“I started a personal project to read more Caribbean published YA after seeing the same 3-5 US/UK published fare on the #ReadCaribbean tag. The next one up was MUSICAL YOUTH by Joanne C. Hillhouse from CaribbeanReads Publishing based in St. Kitts, which placed second in the 2014 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. CODE didn’t accept submissions for 2020 which is cause for concern because each Burt award title I’ve read to date has been the kind of Caribbean YA story I’ve never read before. … It took one line of Antiguan Creole for MUSICAL YOUTH to steal the show…When it comes to our stories I do not view how we speak as disposable brawta so that was expected. What I did not expect to see was my musical childhood brought to life. Zahara shy about carrying around her guitar case (in my case, violin) was me. The summer musical production; the Teen Splash event; the classist demarcations of schools, neighbourhoods, vehicles, clothes, people; the uniforms; the colourism. Oh gad man, down to the prayer warrior mummy who prayed before practice and the performance. Some of the characters made me think of Naomi Jackson’s THE STAR SIDE OF BIRD HILL, except here we have a grandmother who is in many ways closed off from Zahara, stringently permissive, and abusive all in an effort to rear a granddaughter unlike the daughter; as Zahara believes she’s a faded, inadequate substitute for the daughter lost. To witness her and her boyfriend Shaka’s exploration of themselves, their self-growth, their careful observations of family, friends, and classmates felt like such a privilege, like hovering over well tended hallowed ground. At their final performance of the summer musical production, I imagined the venue as a mish mash of Little Theatre (the musicians visible right in front of the stage) and the Philip Sherlock Centre on UWI, Mona campus. I visualized myself in the seat, looking over at Zahara’s grandmother in the aisle because (the) place was packed but she wasn’t going to miss it. At the end, with grandparents in the aisle dancing, and the teacher crying because the heart was so full full full I cried to. I was the children and their mothers and grandmothers and I wondered if Antiguan kids read this and felt any small part of what I did. I thought of Hillhouse’s foreword in which she thanked “all the teens who will be making Musical Youth a young adult bestseller”: #positivethinking she had the confidence to put on the page because she knew she hadn’t sacrificed centreing them for anyone or anything.”

#Thankful #heartfull

In Case You Missed It: CREATIVE SPACE

It occurs to me I haven’t done a CREATIVE SPACE round up post since this one in July, in which I explained the column had found a new home running every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer newspaper before being archived here on the blog. With Extras.

Since then, I’ve written on the book To Shoot Hard Labour and the history it captures, local food, clay and my family’s history in it (making the front page of the paper for the second time in the column’s run), popular local DJ Jime, anti-Blackness, and, most recently, a tale of two kings (one long dead, one recently deceased).

Get caught up.