Cue dramatic music

“…the most heartfelt thank you .. from your young man .. ok .. he made me feel good .. complete with why it was such an amazing experience …don’t stop providing these opportunities, Joanne …” – this was from one of the patrons of the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2015 commenting on the response of the young man whose participation she made possible – a young man by the way who I can report continues to write as he’s sent me new stuff asking me to take a look at it.

Gotta embrace the feelgood feedback even as you consider the future (the IS THERE A FUTURE?) Dum.Dum.Dum.Dum.Dum.

***

In case you missed it, you read up on my blogging of day one, day two, day three of JSYWP 2015, and  the JSYWP 2015 2.0, plus participant evaluation; as well as information about my efforts to create and tailor workshops for various age groups, in and out of institutions (like schools) right here in Antigua and Barbuda.

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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

Fresh Perspective

We may not always be able to afford an editor, but we can ask readers (including but not limited to other writers) for feedback on fresh work or work that feels stuck, when we feel ready. I say when we feel ready because the job of the person giving feedback is not to stroke our ego but to give an honest assessment (what works, what needs work). It won’t always be easy to hear, but, if we’re committed to craft, we will need to hear it and at least consider it; even if we ultimately decide that it’s just another opinion and not one with which we necessarily agree.

Oh, and when asking people for feedback, unless you’re a part of a writers’ group where that’s the buy-in (and even then there are no guarantees), understand that they may either refuse or fail to follow through because …well, the cold, hard truth of it is people have lives…and sometimes not even best intentions is enough. But if they do take the time to read and give us feedback, especially when that feedback helps us to see the work more clearly, well that’s a gift. And gifts deserve a thank you. So (though this has been done several times over in person) thanks to everyone who has ever given me any kind of feedback (one or one, or in writers groups, workshops, classes…paid, unpaid, formal, informal) even if it had me kicking walls or lying in a puddle, it continues to help me grow.

All of that said, just a reminder that I’ll be holding the first of the year’s writing workshops under the Jhohadli Writing Project Saturday 24th January right here in Antigua for an EC$50 fee per hour. The session will run for about two hours. Space is still available. Contact me if you want to join us. I mention this as it’s particularly ideal for people seeking feedback on works in progress (in that you may be stuck half way or even a third of the way through, or have a first or even a few drafts and need a fresh perspective).

Schools Tour and Wadadli Pen Teaser

Just sent off confirmations to three schools which responded positively to my invitation to register for this mini-schools tour I’m doing in February. The purpose is two-fold: to promote Musical Youth DSC_0349and to give some time. On the latter point, I get requests to visits schools periodically. This is a form of community service as schools here don’t exactly have a budget for author visits. I’ve done many of these visits over the years, stmarys2 but the last year or so I’ve turned down a lot more than I’ve accepted (time, life… you know). When I came up with the idea to team up with Best of Books to visit some of these schools it was with the intention of consolidating some of these requests into a manageable time frame. I told them when I was available and asked them to book if they were interested. I explained that I would be reading from Musical Youth and since so many of these requests are about inspiring in students a love of the written word and perhaps giving them some pointers to improve their own writing, I will be doing at least one smaller interactive session each visit.

I won’t say where-I’ll-be-when until I receive their acknowledgment of my confirmation but I will say there is still one date available so if you’re a teacher attached to a secondary school in Antigua and you would like a visit, you can Contact me to try to book that date. I won’t be scheduling any other school visits at this time unfortunately.

Of course, one thing I hope will come out of this is regular engagement with the schools as part of the Jhohadli Writing Project (as I’ve written here before the intention is for this project to have different streams including adult workshops like the one I’ll be having later this month and teen streams like I’d like to activate in the schools, if there’s interest…then if there is interest, the challenge is to figure out how to fund that, especially if schools and students don’t have a budget for those types of programmes. Perhaps there are philanthropists out there who would like to fund such a programme – perhaps not. Time will tell.

In the meantime I’m looking forward to the confirmed school stops. It’s a small thing but I am happy that I’m able to do it and that Best of Books will be partnering with me on it.

The stops will also give me an opportunity to plug the Wadadli Pen 2015 Challenge. Yes, after much hemming and hawing there will be a Challenge, a much more streamlined Challenge in deference to the time and resources challenge that almost made 2015 a gap year. Follow the page or check back for details. I’ll do my best to launch it before the end of the month. So that’s your teaser…

Until later.

JHOHADLI WRITING PROJECT – NEXT CHAPTER

Building on the success of the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project, on the potential I see every Wadadli Pen Challenge season, on the opportunities I’ve had to work with youth and writers here in Antigua and Barbuda (and beyond), Untitled3band drawing on my experiences as a freelance writer, journalist, editor, and educator, I’m proposing a series of developmental writing sessions.

Writer or not, flip through, because you never know…one of these might be just what you need as you work on building those writing skills or finishing that writing project. For now, this is a feeler. If interested in any of the programmes, send me an email, and if there’s sufficient interest, we’ll make it happen.

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 Introduction to Writing

This would be for the little ones, say between 6 and 12. I’ve had a few people ask me about ongoing writing programmes for imaginative youngsters or those who need to open up their imagination. This programme would aspire to introduce them to fun and age appropriate literature and art, encourage them to imagine, and challenge them to give voice to their own imaginings. While not a grammar course, it would also try to instill some fundamentals of good writing.

Teen Stream – Creative

This is for anyone in the teen bracket; into being creative, interested in learning more about craft and open to receiving constructive feedback on works-in-progress. As we work together, participants will hopefully become stronger artistes, and more aware of the great art in and beyond their world.

Teen Stream – Non Creative

This won’t be any less fun than the creative stream but it targets young people more interested in fact-based writing; from future journalists to those sweating the college entry essay. As someone who’s worked many years as a journalist, taught CAPE level communications and led youth media workshops, I believe I can help these young people hone and apply their skills.

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Adult Writing Group

This is for grown folks, the closeted or not so closeted writers who want to put pen to paper, or maybe already have but need to be in an environment that encourages and supports their writing. Writers who have pieces they need feedback on may find this group particularly useful. I have to warn you that I’m going to push writers in this group in particular to begin pushing themselves to submit publishable works to appropriate markets and contests; and if we can raise funding to participate in literary activities beyond our borders, this is the group that’s most likely to do it. For this group, it’s about listening to the music within, finding a rhythm, and dancing like no body’s looking.

Adult Writing Group – Business Stream

This is the writing group for working folks and entrepreneurs hoping to learn more about professional writing, from basics like the letter seeking employment to the press release seeking to inform people about your businesses and services to blogs seeking to communicate with existing and potential clientele using social media platforms. You don’t always have to have a big budget to get the word out, and if you’re employed building communication skills is one way of making yourself more invaluable to your company.

 

SCHEDULE

You’re busy, I’m busy; we’ll need flexibility from time to time – as long as we respect each others’ time. That said, we would aim for hourly sessions, every other week, alternating weeks for each green lit programme.

FEES

This is not yet fixed but would be dependent on factors like overhead, the number of registrants, the age of the group etc. I do want to keep it accessible; that said, just so you have something to consider while you’re considering, the minimum would be $50 per session. A non-refundable deposit would cover the first month’s sessions. Plus, if a programme is at least 3/4s subscribed, it would be my goal to offer a sponsored spot to someone who cannot afford to pay but has proven interest and potential.

SPACES

A minimum of five participants would be needed to activate each session and the cap would be 10 in order to keep it manageable.

LOCATION

To be determined; but factor in field trips as well.

PROGRAMME NOTES

It would be expected that participants have a real interest in working on their writing skills; if you do not put in the work, you may be asked to leave and your spot will open up an opportunity to someone else.

Note to PTAs and School administrators, in-school workshops are also an option. I’ve had enough school invites over the years to know that there is some interest and there’s certainly a will, we just have to find a way.

If you’re reading this and you’re interested in providing scholarships for an individual or a school, much like the patrons who sponsored someone for the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project, contact me.

Keep in mind that nothing written here is written in stone; this is just to gauge interest. If interested in any of the sessions and resident in Antigua and Barbuda, email me your questions or expression of interest.

If you’re not resident in Antigua and Barbuda, hold on, technology is on our side. Meanwhile, you can still make use of my coaching services, and my manuscript evaluation and/or editing services.

I want to say, finally, that I, too, am a student of writing, we’re all learning from each other. I’m doing this as a professional pursuit but also because I love writing, I love the literary arts, and I find fulfillment in seeing others blossom as well.

I’ve spent time in the classroom but I find that I work well in smaller groups, with people who are about it. Also, as a writer, I won’t say I’m always as disciplined as I need to be, but I try to prioritize my writing, find a workable rhythm; that’s part of what I’m encouraging you to do with these sessions. However, I’m spreading it out a bit so that we get into a routine without it being, or worse, feeling, routine. I hope to apply some of what works for me as I work with you but I favour interaction so I’ll be listening to you too. I look forward to hearing from you.

Joanne C. Hillhouse

 

Caribbean Woman

woman post

Caribbean Woman

By jhohadli

Her voice has a
Boom-Boom-Boom
Like a bass drum
Or a cannon
It tek up space
Hugging the hyped-up wind
To itself
And engaging it in
A duet
A riot of noise and motion
Like protopunk
Only without the aggression
For her voice bubbles
Like bennalypsoca or a heaping cauldron
Of near-done red bean soup
Well-seasoned and fragrant
It has the heft of a full bodied woman
The type you imagine
Fans the coal pot arch –
You know the type I mean
She might be skinny like Squeeze
(Who knows?)
But her voice has body
And the joyous lilt of a woman at ease
In her own skin
The kind of woman who
When grudgeful smadee
Skin teet’ and sneeze
“You get fat eeeeh!”
Look the joy-snatcher in the eye
And show them she steel
Because her voice might laugh –
Yes, it blast a good belly laugh –
But she, she don’t play.

copyright belongs to Joanne C. Hillhouse.

See other journaled poems and short stories.

JHOHADLI LIT NEWS

I’ve been circulating a newsletter to friends and colleagues about every month or so for over a year now to promote my books, my projects, and developments on the literary arts scene in Antigua and Barbuda. It’s not intended as an ego trip, though I accept that some will see it as that. Not much I can do about that. What it is, though, is an excess of enthusiasm and a reflection of the book marketing research I did between one part of my writing and publishing career and the next, and my commitment (after being tentative about promotion earlier in my career and paying the price for that) to (forget about perception and just) do the work, do all I can to give my books – my writing career and my publishing career – a fighting chance. It’s never occurred to me to share the newsletter here on the site, but I think I’m going to start doing that. Here’s the most recent one.