JSYWP Participant Evaluation

Spent some time planning today how to engage with children, most of whom will be younger than 12, not all of whom will be interested in writing nor possess the same levels of literacy. That session the JSYWP 2.0 (sponsored by Brenda Lee Browne and Aisha Ralph) will be held this Wednesday 19th August 2015 at the Public Library.

I offered to do this after the Public Library had hosted me and the young man (a 17 year old teen) who (sponsored by Barbara Arrindell) participated in my August 10th to 12th JSYWP 2015 edition.

After each of my workshops, I ask participants to evaluate me.

Got his evaluation today. Here it is:
QUESTION: WHAT, IF ANYTHING, DID YOU GAIN DURING THESE THREE DAYS?First question

QUESTION: WHAT WERE YOUR FAVOURITE PARTS OF THESE THREE DAYS AND WHY?Second question

QUESTION: WOULD YOU RECOMMEND PARTICIPATION TO OTHERS? IF SO, WHY? IF NOT, WHY NOT?Third question

I should note that normally participants evaluate my workshops  on the spot and anonymously but as there was only one participant this summer that wasn’t really an option. I did allow him to email in his evaluation only if he felt he wished to…and he did, so I’ll take him at his word. I have to say that I really enjoyed working with him and hope the mid-week session with the younger children proves as stimulating for me and the participants. Beyond Wednesday, if you would like to find out about future adult, teen, and children workshops being offered under the Jhohadli Writing Project (it’s not just a summer thing) be sure to contact me so that I can email you as plans take shape. Thank you for your support in whatever way it comes and here’re my blogs on day 1, 2, and 3 of the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2015.

JSYWP Day 3

I’ll be doing a writing workshop session for the children, 12 years old and younger, who make use of the public library. This is an extension of the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project, made possible through the sponsorship funds contributed by Aisha Ralph and Brenda Lee Browne (and you, if you still wish to contribute), and participants will be coordinated through the Public Library. So, I’m awaiting the numbers from them but will try to go ahead and plan ideas for an age group I don’t usually work with.

If you’ll remember my day 1 post, I decided to consider doing this after the low response to my call for participants and the library’s indication that there were regular users who could benefit from the programme. Problem was they didn’t fit the age group of the content I’d put together.

So that’ll be JSYWP 2015 2.0

Meantime, today was the wrap as far as the original is concerned. And just as I wound up my awkward farewell to my one and only participant, he said, “I actually have one more piece I want you to critique”. That’s déjà vu you’re feeling if you read yesterday’s account. And I have to tell you, the genuine interest he has shown in the process of improving his writing makes up for the low turnout; I’d rather work with one of him than a roomful of people who really don’t want to be there.

The official survey is yet to be mailed to him (normally I have participants fill them out anonymously to encourage candor but as it was just him, so much for anonymity; I decided instead of doing it on the spot to give him the option of mailing or not mailing it in…his choice). So I don’t know what his total verdict is on the experience is at this point, but I do know that when I asked him today if he enjoyed the stories and poems we’d dissected, his response was an enthusiastic yes, “especially Quiet” (that’s the Danielle Boodoo Fortune poem that surprised a “wow” out of him just yesterday). I asked him if he had any second favourites, and I shouldn’t have been surprised, though I was when he mentioned Haitian-American writer M. J. Fievre’s April. Not surprised because it’s not good; it’s most decidedly good, that’s why I included it in the first place. But he’s a teenager and it’s creative non-fiction from the point of view of the teacher, not the student, would he get it get it. Plus it was the impetus for the writing challenge, I think, he found to be most challenging (“the hardest thing was…” was not a complaint I’d heard with other assignments). I shouldn’t have been surprised though because as he read it out loud, preliminary to our discussion of it, he interrupted himself a couple of times (“damn…damn!”) like he couldn’t believe what he was reading. Obviously, he was responding to it. So, no surprise I suppose that his second favourite was “between April and Settlement 4” (that’s The King of Settlement 4 by Kevin Jared Hosein, Commonwealth Award winning writer out of Trinidad).

One of the other stories we read today was Jumbie Daddy by Neala Bhagwansingh, which I chose for point of view, challenging him to take the same story and write from another character’s point of view – difficult to do on the fly without knowing the character fully but he made a faaaaiiiir go of it. In the in-between, we also watched and discussed the short-short (really short, like one minute short) film Maybe Another Time *insert requisite trigger warning which is impossible to do without giving away spoilers* 

….took him a minute to get past that twist. And no, he wasn’t traumatized by it. In fact, one of the things that’s difficult to gauge with any writer, but young writers especially, is how far they’re willing/able to go… he was relentlessly brave, in his willingness to be vulnerable, going so far as to write about some of his personal pain and the emotional toll after our reading and discussion of Sharon Millar’s Guava Jelly which, as this why it works article says, dares to go “where it hurts…where it feels real”.

It was tricky territory that had to be tread carefully but one of the things that I liked about him was he was always game to push himself past where it was comfortable.

He has work to do still but he knows it, and my hope is that I passed on some tools and strategies to help him do the work.

So, that’s it, day 3, the end…well, until next week’s 2.0

If you have someone 12 and younger and you wish to participate, contact the library. If you wish to support (euphemism for contribute money),  Contact me

JSYWP Day 1

So, Monday…

En route to Day 1 of three days of the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2015 Edition, I met a lady interested in signing her daughter for one of my children’s workshops. Her daughter’s seven; I don’t usually do workshops with children that young. Buuuut It got me thinking, why not put together a workshop specifically for younger children.

Like Wyatt Cenac “I’ll think about it”

(ha, loved this moment on Jon Stewart’s farewell show). Sidebar, off topic… but all things considered, funny, right?

I’ll think about maybe doing something before the summer’s out; I’m re-thinking a lot of things lately, what’s one more, right?

This entire project is something I’ll have to re-think in any case at the end of this run. From 12 to 15 participants in 2013, I had a grand total of one, count ‘em, one, participant on Monday.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was a really good session…

Using stories like Shakirah Bourne’s This Foot is Mine, King Obstinate’s Wet You Han’ (one of my favourite workshop pieces)

, we explored various narrative and broader literary elements, identifying and discussing how the writers approached point of view, use of imagery, dialogue, foreshadowing, establishing setting, etc etc He (yes, it was a teenage boy) really liked Bourne’s story and gave me a side eye for doubting that he/his generation would know the old Obstinate calypso).

Our discussion of Martin Espada’s Two Mexicanos Lynched in Santa Cruz, California, May 3, 1877, got us looking at political/protest poetry, including Strange Fruit (the song popularized by blues singer Billie Holiday) – both deal with lynching – and from that got us discussing the incidents sparking #blacklivesmatter from which we got into him drafting and redrafting a poem (pulling back on the clichés and vagueness, sharpening the focus etc etc) around these issues and then feeling moved to offer up for critique another of his poems. He impressed me not just with his talent but with his maturity (in being open and responsive to critical feedback, in realizing that writing takes work and being prepared to put in the work).

So, yeah, it was a good session, so, yeah…can’t say I’m not disappointed though that there wasn’t more interest…but I’ll take that for what it is and go back to pack.

In the meantime, the plan is to be at the library on Tuesday afternoon 12:30 on and Wednesday afternoon. If you’re in Antigua, mid to late teens, with an interest in writing, there’s still time for you to come out.

New interview: Talking Musical Youth, Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project

So, this aired…

Thanks, Anderson Edghill for reaching out and ABS for broadcasting.

Since I’m all about Musical Youth in this, this seems like a good time to remind you, if you’re reading this, and are a young person resident in Antigua and Barbuda, that there’s a challenge on and then a specific Musical Youth challenge within that challenge.

flyer final

The other thing they asked me about in this interview was the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project. The registration deadline for which is Friday 24th July. That’s for participants. If you want to support this project financially, there’s still time to Contact me.

Thanks for viewing, for listening, for supporting the page, the hustlethe books, the passions, this journey. Blessings as you pursue your own passion. We only get one go-around; let’s make it count.

Registration Closing

The extended registration window for the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project will close on Friday of this week (July 24th 2015). I need to cut it off if I have a shot at planning a meaningful experience for participants. If all I have is one interested young writer, and I currently have only a little better than that, I will proceed and give them my undivided attention on their quest to explore their creativity and potentially improve their writing.

Here’s the back story if you’re hearing of this for the first time. It’s also where you can find the registration form.

If you’re on the fence, maybe this recent post I did on linkedin about the 2013 experience will nudge you in the right direction.

And, yes, donor/patron interest is still welcomed.

p.s. if you’ve called me and not received a call back, I’m not ignoring you…I haven’t been able to reach you. I’ve tried to answer every possible question here on the site to get around that kind of thing but… to address some of the more recent questions. The fee is $100 per day per person. Donor funds will help to offset some of these fees so that what the individual person will have to pay will be less depending on the number of registrants and the number of days (currently the public library is booked from August 10th to 12th…subject to expansion). I can’t confirm how much less until I close off registration which I will be doing at the end of this week.

What else? Oh, where to send the form. Forms are to be emailed. Each posting on the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project has had a Contact me option (click on that). And please note that the last update said:

Participants: Registration is now in progress. Please download, complete and email this form: Registration Form

The Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2015: an Update

“I love to play on electronics; I don’t like frogs. When I grow up, I would like to be captain, who sails cruise ships … I would like to join this workshop because it will help me to develop my writing skills. Also, after I had entered the Wadadli Pen competition, I like writing a little now.”

Above is an excerpt from one of the post-Wadadli Pen (season 2015) letters that made me seriously consider doing some kind of workshop activity for young writers this summer. I liked the quirkiness and earnestness of it, and wanted to do something to feed the potential revealed in not only this letter and the writer behind it but each cycle of the now 11 year old annual Challenge.

Now, you will have noticed that Wadadli Pen is not the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project but, as I could not afford to do this workshop as a non-profit activity, a la Wadadli Pen, I decided on the JSYWP model in which I get paid for my time but participants’ are sponsored (because interest in participating in a writing workshop does not translate to financial ability to do so; in fact, it’s been my experience as a freelancer offering writing and writing related services, that (certainly in our environment) paying for writing and writing workshop services are low priority even when the interest is there). I decided to put out the call so that those who wished to make this kind of investment in young people in Antigua and Barbuda and the arts could take the initiative to do so. Of course if you are willing and able to pay your child’s way, all the better, that removes a possible hurdle, but they still need to apply using the registration form (just indicate when applying whether or not you’ll be paying your own way if accepted).

Here’s the situation as it stands re the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2015 edition as of June 16th 19th 2015 – two weeks, give or take, after I’d hoped to be able to make a final decision and proceed with the work of putting this together.

I have confirmed pledges (just pledges, not cash yet) enough, with some …finessing, to cover two three participants for two days, with another donor sponsoring a specific participant (pending that participant’s acceptance) for roughly the same time. There are one or two or three other things that might yet change those numbers, but if you’re keeping count, so far, that’s two three donors, three four participants, two days. It’s not nothing and as there’s something, that’s something to build on.

So, I will proceed.

Dates (subject to change): August 10th – 12th 2015

Time: (given that the numbers do not justify having two half day sessions breaking up into teens and adults, it will be one mixed group and the sessions will be in the afternoon) 1 to 4 p.m.

Venue: looks like it’s going to be the new Public Library building. It will be so cool to do something in that community space.

Participants: Registration is now in progress. Please download, complete and email this form: Registration Form

Yes, you still need to complete the form even if you’ve emailed me your interest before. This is the formal registration.

Sponsorship/payment: Confirmed pledgers include Aisha Ralph, writer and Best of Books bookstore manager Barbara Arrindell, writer and founder of the Just Write writers retreat, Brenda Lee Browne. Just double checking with other pledgers before listing their name here. Also if you are a business or a person who still wishes to contribute you can! This is happening – for how many days and for the benefit of how many participants is up to you. Just Contact me re pledging BEFORE I confirm the venue. You can sponsor a participant for one day for as little as $100. Parents, if you wish to send your young writer, that’s how much you’ll be required to commit (commit only, payment details will come later if  your child is accepted) as well ($100 per participant per day) but your child/teen will still need to complete the expression of interest (Registration Form – be sure to include your contact information) as participation will not be confirmed otherwise. I have had instances of people participating because their parents sent them and it really wasn’t for them; what I’m looking for is people who have genuine interest and aptitude for a programme like this – if they don’t, they won’t.

As Tigger used to say TTFN

Seriously, though, that’s it…it’s happening…abridged but happening…there’re still ways you can get involved. So, keep checking back for updates as people and businesses and young writers respond to the call and plans continue to develop.

Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project – in their own words – Part 4

So, the deed is done; the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project (August 12th to 16th 2013) has come and gone. I asked the participants (14 young people aged between 9 and 19) to evaluate and this is what they said.

Q. Would you recommend the JSYWP to others? If so, why? If not, why not?

“Yes, I would recommend it to others because it has personally helped me and so I do believe it would be of great help to others. The activities we did were very helpful in developing writing, reading , observational skills and more…… and I would love to have someone experience the amazing week I did.”

“I would because it can improve other people’s writing skills”
“Yes! Because it will improve their writing”
sharing by kurne
“I would recommend this camp because I don’t feel like enough people can explain themselves and writing would help”

“Yes I would recommend this camp to others because I learn so much in only 5 days”
“Yes I would because it was a great experience and you really learn a lot”at Big Church by Kurne
“Yes because they will become much better at writing”

socializing by Joanne C Hillhouse“I would recommend others to this camp because it is a great way to socialize and to learn more about our culture. And it helps improve your writing skills”

writing at Prince Klaas by Joanne C Hillhouse (2)

“Yes! Especially if writing is their passion. Ms. Hillhouse really evokes the creative spices in your brain and helps you to express them”

“I definitely would recommend it next year because based on my experience, it
is an amazing help.”

“Yes I would recommend the camp to others because I think it would  improve their writing skills and inspire them as it has done me. But I think the course could use more handouts with more info concerning writing.”

Josh and Orique by Joanne C Hillhouse

*with photos by Kurne Williams for Silston Library.

*Tuition sponsors of the JSYWP were: Anonymous, Brenda Lee Browne, Caribbean Water Treatment, Dr. Jillia Bird, Paperclips, Sanhall Trademarks Ltd., Shirley Heights Lookout, and Townhouse Mega Store.

*The following also provided patronage and/or assistance: The Best of Books, Koren Norton, Charmaine Thomas, Silston Library, St. John’s Cooperative Credit Union, Carol Mitchell, and Marie Elena John.

The Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project – in their own words – Part 3

So, the deed is done; the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project (August 12th to 16th 2013) has come and gone. I asked the participants (14 young people aged between 9 and 19) to evaluate and this is what they said.

Q. What was your favourite part of the JSYWP?

Maounda sharing by Kurne“Sharing our stories”
Michaela sharing by Joanne C Hillhouse

“My favourite part of the camp was sharing time, where everyone shared a piece that they’ve written p.s. the snacks were pretty good”

reading and sharing by Kurne

at Big Church by Kurne (3)“The trips out”
“when we went on the walks”
“the walking to different historical sites”at the museum by  Kurne

“The educational games at the start of the classes”
“that we played a game every morning as soon as we came”

games by Kurne
“the games”

at big church by Kurne (2)“Sharing time and taking the trips”

“Carol Mitchell”Carol Mitchell 5 by Joanne C Hillhouse
“When Carol Mitchell came and spoke to us about a plot”

Kurne and Kadija by Joanne C Hillhouse (2)“My favourite part of the camp was the snacks, I’m kidding but I did enjoy them. Usinig visual prompts and going on the walks to get inspiration was definitely the best. Meeting new people was also great.”

“My favourite part of this camp was looking at the images and creating a story from them. Also listening to the various styles of writing in the other participants”

“Honestly…I enjoyed everything and it would be a bit difficult to decide….. loved all of it.”

*with photos by Kurne Williams for Silston Library

*Tuition sponsors of the JSYWP were: Anonymous, Brenda Lee Browne, Caribbean Water Treatment, Dr. Jillia Bird, Paperclips, Sanhall Trademarks Ltd., Shirley Heights Lookout, and Townhouse Mega Store.

*The following also provided patronage and/or assistance: The Best of Books, Koren Norton, Charmaine Thomas, Silston Library, St. John’s Cooperative Credit Union, Carol Mitchell, and Marie Elena John.

The Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project – in their own words – Part 2

So, the deed is done; the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project (August 12th to 16th 2013) has come and gone. I asked the participants (14 young people aged between 9 and 19) to evaluate and this is what they said.

Q. What did you gain from the JSYWP?

“Better writing skills”
“You can make a story out of everything”Chammaiah and Terique by Joanne C Hillhouse
“An understanding of the different ways to write and that your dialogue should match your character”
“I think that all the advice you gave me really helped me to write better stories”
“how to write stories properly”
“I gained a lot of tips in writing to make it more realistic”
“More big words and I also got a lot of healthy criticism to better my writing skills”
“I learned a lot from this camp. I can honestly say that my writing has improved from this experience and because of it I’m sure I will get better. Highlight of my summer.”
“I definitely gained more confidence in my writing and extra knowledge on writing stories, books, etc.”

Keondre and Raeanna by Joanne C Hillhouse

Keondre by Kurne

me with Aaliyah by Kurne

listening by Kurne

“I gained courage to share my work with others, I learned to look beyond/deeper than what’s on the surface and to show the readers rather than telling them, which makes the piece much more interesting. I also learned that detail is very
important.”

*additional photos by Kurne Williams for the Silston Library.

*Tuition sponsors of the JSYWP were: Anonymous, Brenda Lee Browne, Caribbean Water Treatment, Dr. Jillia Bird, Paperclips, Sanhall Trademarks Ltd., Shirley Heights Lookout, and Townhouse Mega Store.

*The following also provided patronage and/or assistance: The Best of Books, Koren Norton, Charmaine Thomas, Silston Library, St. John’s Cooperative Credit Union, Carol Mitchell, and Marie Elena John.