Liebster Links

LiebsterI was nominated for the Leibster Award by Bookish Owlette. No I don’t get a shiny trophy; I get this virtual badge, and an opportunity to share more and connect with other members of the blogging community (read the rules here). I don’t do these a lot (because, time) but, with thanks to the blog that nominated me, I’m leaping in to this one. Let’s go.

I’m supposed to answer some questions:

1.Have you ever met an author or celebrity in real life? Who and what happened!?

I’ve been fortunate to meet a number of authors – I’m an author myself and sometimes participate in events where our paths cross. I try not to go mute when it’s an author I’m in awe of, emphasis on try. But my first experience meeting a big shot writer was when I was assigned to be Derek Walcott’s …something…usher? chaperone?…at a university dinner when I was still a student. He had recently won the Nobel prize so everyone wanted his autograph and thought I could get it for them. Fun *sarcasm*. But one of my literary collectibles is a picture of me and Walcott (who died earlier this year) from that night.

2.What inspires your blog content and design?

Re the design, I want ease of navigation and colour wise I just pick colours I like – initially it was black and orange, two colours I love, but I was advised that it was too dark and tried to brighten it up a bit with a lighter palette. I really started blogging as part of my author platform and have been feeling my way – I like talking books, I talk about my journey as a writer, and I participate in these fabulous memes.

3.Which Hogwarts House are you in?

I have no idea. Have never read a Harry Potter book and have seen only bits and pieces of the film… or films, I’m not sure – could be different parts of the same film. I did watch all of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them though so I’m not totally out of the loop. I still don’t know the houses though.

4.Would you do this, get $100,000 every week = marry the one person you hate, and loathe.

No. Well…do we have to live together?… nah, still no.

5.What is the story behind your blog name?

Jhohadli is a pen name a dorm mate gave me in university. I liked it so I kept it. It’s a blend of my name and my island’s indigenous name.

6.Time Machine and Magic Wand in hand, if you could be any person in the world, who would you be and why?

I still want to be myself but I wouldn’t mind hanging with Zora Neale Hurston in a jazz club in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance.

7.What’s your dream job?

Writer making real money.

8.What is the main obstacle you face in your blog?

Time to blog is a factor. I maintain two blogs. But I like it, though sometimes I struggle with how much to share.

9.Most embarrassing moment.

…speaking of, this feels like an overshare trap… pass.

10.If you could be a supernatural being, what would you be?

I’m going to count Storm as a supernatural being. Not only is she one of my favourite super heroes I’ve written a whole (unpublished) rant about why, now that Wonder Woman’s got hers, Storm needs her origins movie…for the sistahs.

11.Which fictional character would you marry?

Lol…literary crushes I’ve had a few…  I don’t know if I’d marry them but I was drawn to Cloud Racer in Orenda, a historical novel centered among the Iroquois by Kate Cameron, and Fire in Colin Channer’s Waiting in Vain, a contemporary romance. Mr. Darcy, from the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice just popped in to my head…probably has to do with me rewatching the movie recently and, yes, he’s an a*shole for most of it but then he isn’t, you know.
I’m also supposed to give 11 random facts about myself.

My sister island is Barbuda (and she still needs hurricane relief help, so help if you can). Yes, islands have sisters.

I have one too.

I was once a majorette.

Graces Merry Makers

I love Carnival. (Image above is from last Carnival when I and some friends performed as the tree faerie from my children’s picture book With Grace).

I’m not the athlete in my family (that’s my niece).

I’m not the musician either but I did play guitar in my teens – which helped when I was writing my book Musical Youth.

When I was a kid we lit starlites and rockets and lit up the night during Guy Fawkes (fun!). We didn’t do Halloween (though it seems to be catching on lately; think any of the kids will dress up next year as one of the characters from my picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventurefrom Caribbean Reads facebook); I might not do Halloween but that’d be kind of dope.

When music hits me I feel no pain.

My island has 365 beaches, one for every day of the year; but who’s counting.

IMG_4397

Author photo shoot with Emile Hill at one of the 365.

 

Raised Catholic.

My first author photo was taken by my friend Jane in her backyard.

365Antigua photo by Jane

(It was, as pictured, for the back cover of the re-issue of my first book The Boy from Willow Bend)

 

Now, I’m supposed to nominate 11 blogs.

Books & Munches.

Dressed to Read.

Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Blame it on Chocolate.

Bonaire Bliss.

Jenea’s Book Obsession.

Darlene’s Book Nook.

African Book Addict.

Library of Clean Reads.

Bermuda Onion.

Puss Reboots.

And now I have to give them 11 questions (okay, these are going to be totally random okay because it’s 3:35 a.m. here and my eyes are closing).

Do you watch The Crown? (I tried but it didn’t take; how about you?)

Have you read Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (it’s what I’m reading right now)

How do you recharge?

Have you ever been fishing?

What’s your favourite work of visual art?

What makes you happy?

Who’s your favourite stand-up comedian?

What, to your mind, is the greatest shift/change in human history?

How much of your time does social media eat up?

Apart from your own, what’s your favourite country?

Marcus Garvey was a character in my most recent read, Glorious by Bernice McFadden (read my review here). What’s your favourite book which includes, as a character, a person known from real life?

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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.

MusicalYouth
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.’

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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.

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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.