Both Sides

I should have posted this already but better late than never, I suppose. The delay is not a reflection of anything but not enough hours in the day. Something this Burt Award judging process reminded me of. I’ve judged writing contests, locally, before, but it was my first experience judging a book prize, and a regional one at that. I would learn that reading that many books on a schedule can have even a book lover whimpering, with no intended aspersions to the books themselves, please, no more. Interestingly, as the process narrows to the top contenders, you get a shot of adrenaline again as you spar with the other judges making a case for this choice over that until you arrive at as close to consensus as you can get with something as subjective as art. I’ve been on both sides of this process now and have intimate knowledge of how vulnerable you feel when you leap into this kind of thing, hoping they’ll pick you, steeling yourself for the probability that they won’t; and, as well, the grave responsibility you feel to give each writer a fair reading, to consider and re-consider. Hopeful on both sides of being surprised.

I remember receiving word a year ago around this time that my unpublished manuscript Musical Youth had been selected for the Burt short list; I remember it was maybe 3 in the morning and I called perhaps the only friend I can call at 3 in the morning without there being a life or death emergency. And the next time we fight, and we will, I have to remember that not only didn’t she immediately hang up the phone on me but she was right there with me, as awake as I was at the news. Musical Youth has been good to me and good for me as a writer, and I continued to do all I can to make sure it fulfills its potential as a book by reaching as many readers as it can. Books are meant to be read, right?
And these second set of Burt winners deserve an audience as well. In the end, I think all four judges agree on that. What’s more I think the core target audience, teens and young adults of the Caribbean, will enjoy the adventures these books take them on both in the moment, and later, on reflection. The top three haven’t been announced as yet (I know something you don’t know LOL) but you’ll see what I mean when they are and when, ultimately, you have the opportunity to read them. Meantime, big up to all who dared, big up to those on the short list, big up to the finalists and ultimate winners. To my fellow judges, it’s been real…seriously.
On the list are:
– Children of the Spider by Imam Baksh, Guyana (manuscript to be published)
– Putting Up a Resistance by Michael Cozier, Trinidad and Tobago (self-published book)
– Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph, Trinidad and Tobago (manuscript to be published)
– Prayer to the Motivator by Kamau Mahakoe, Jamaica (manuscript to be published)
– The Dolphin Catchers by Diana McCaulay, Jamaica (manuscript to be published)
For more, go here.

And given that it’s awards season, I’ll also mention that the Hollick Arvon long list has been announced, and the Bocas long and short list – special congratulations to Dorbrene O’Marde who’s Short Shirt biography Nobody Go Run Me made the long list of the latter. And let’s not forget the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, with four Caribbean writers claiming a spot.
All but one of these will be announced during the Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad. Wishing all contenders success.

And since we’re talking prizes, I should mention that I have already been announced as one of the winners of the Caribbean Writer’s Flash Fiction Prize; and on April 11th, I will be announcing, during the awards ceremony at the Best of Books, the winner takes all winner of the Wadadli Pen 2015 challenge which I coordinate.

Gratitude for both – the opportunity to reap and to plant, the opportunity to see things from both sides. And to all who dare to leap, including myself, continue as Zora Neale Hurston’s mother said to her children to “’jump at the sun. We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.’”


With Thanks

I don’t have official pictures as yet, but I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks to the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Committee for selecting me as the 2014 recipient of the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Award. Thank you seems inadequate when I consider the legacy of Tim Hector, a man who was investigative journalist, philosopher, social and political commentator, sports analyst, teacher, politician, political activist, and among many other things, the man behind the influential Outlet newspaper and its must-read Fan the Flame column.TimHector I don’t feel like I’ve earned this yet, if at all, ever..but I accept it with thanks and a commitment to try to do my best to live up to what it represents.

I was happy to have some members of my family there and some friends when the award was presented by Hector’s widow Jennifer.

Tim Hector Award

Here I am with friend, Marcella (right), thanks to whom I have these initial visual mementos, and Fayola Jardine (centre), who interviewed me and read the citation (which I’ll share with you if and when I get her permission to do so).

with Marcella and Fayola

For more on the life and times of Tim Hector, a good read is Paul Buhle’s A Caribbean Radical’s Story.

Some stuff happening this week

Lots happening this week; send lots of positive energy and support where you can. Thanks. What’s happening: On November 20th – 8 p.m. – Multipurpose Centre (Perry Bay, Antigua), I have been informed, I will be receiving the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Award for my contributions in the areas of journalism, literary arts and youth development. The award, I am further informed, will be presented on the night of the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Annual Lecture. The lecture will be delivered by Professor the Honourable Errol Morrison, OJ image003– president of the University of Technology, Jamaica. His topic will be ‘STEAM and I for Caribbean Development.’


On November 21st – 7 p.m. – The Best of Books (St. Mary’s Street, Antigua), I will be reading excerpts from my new book Musical Youth, and (I’m so excited about this) a select group of 2014 Wadadli Pen finalists will be reading as well. Reading ***

On November 22nd and 23rd – Heritage Hotel, I will be conducting two full day workshops sponsored by CODE. Registration is now closed.


While I have your attention, I would like to remind you that still happening this week and a few more, is the rollout of the Antigua and Barbuda edition of Tongues of the Ocean, which I had the privilege of editing. Please go check it out and show the writers and artists some love by leaving a comment about what you think of their work.

Summer One by Glenroy Aaron. Tongues cover image.

Summer One by Glenroy Aaron. Tongues cover image.

Also, Caribbean Reads Publishing has released Round My Christmas Tree, a new seasonal collection with content from two Antiguan and Barbudan writers, me and Carel Hodge.