This one is for the Children

What’s your youngling doing this summer? Well, if in Antigua and Barbuda, consider encouraging them to participate in the Cushion Club Reading Club for Children’s Summer Read Challenge. Read and report (to on at least three books – 1 international (that means from anywhere in the world that’s not the Caribbean), 1 regional (that means one from anywhere in the Caribbean that’s not Antigua-Barbuda), and 1 local (that means one from Antigua-Barbuda).

If you’re not in Antigua, still encourage them to read-a-long. They won’t win any prizes but they will discover perhaps some books outside of their usual library of reads.

I say children in the header but this post extends to teens as well. As you can see, the Challenge is open to lower teens. My Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project, meanwhile, is open to all teens in Antigua and Barbuda, and here’s a reminder re registration.

JSYWP Registration Form 2019

For you at home, here’s a colouring sheet from my book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which I hope you’ll consider for your Summer Read.

(This sheet is by Lost! illustrator Danielle Boodoo-Fortune. Feel free to download and let your kid colour their own vision of Coral and Dolphin’s life under the sea).

(or maybe they want to use Lost! to begin or continue practicing their Spanish by reading it alongside the Spanish language edition)


Judith Krantz Dies: Best-Selling Author And Journalist Was 91 Years Old — Deadline

I don’t remember the plot points but I remember reading I’ll Take Manhattan (probably others) back in the day. I remember the mini-series on TV starring Valerie Bertinelli. I remember there was one for Princess Daisy as well. Most of the books I got back then – the teen years, the 80s – were borrowed from friends or left behind by guests at the hotels where my parents worked (so my reading tastes were at least in part influenced by the beach reads of tourists on their Caribbean vacation) – a flurry of Sydney Sheldon, Jackie Collins, Danielle Steele, Harold Robbins, Colleen McCullough, and more romances and thick dramas than I can remember, and in the midst, the glitz and glamour of the Judith Krantz experience. My reading tastes have changed and I haven’t thought of  that reading time in years. Sure they were kind of soapy (I was, also, very into the actual Soaps back then) but they brought me much reading pleasure back in the day. And that’s a book’s first job.
RIP, Ms. Krantz.

Judith Krantz, whose novels have more than 80 million copies in print, has died. She passed away from natural causes on June 22 in her Bel Air, California home at age 91. Krantz was born Judith Tarcher on January 9, 1928 in New York City, the eldest child of an advertising executive and an attorney.…

via Judith Krantz Dies: Best-Selling Author And Journalist Was 91 Years Old — Deadline

Mailbox Monday Meme (MMM…M)

This is a Mailbox Monday post which begs the question ‘What good books did you receive to curl up with this week while the storms blow through?’

I’m in the Caribbean, so no storms…yet. And, as it happens, no new books either. But I would like to share some new reading if that’s okay.

This week I finished …

Evolution: Weaving in and out of Consciousness while the Truth is Somewhere in the Middle by Felene M. Cayetano – Here’s my review of the poetry collection by the Belizean-American/Garifuna writer – and here’s an excerpt of that review: “That she left in the lumps and the pulpiness made for a richer experience as we almost voyeuristically watched this young woman wrestle and come to terms with herself and her lineage.”

So that’s all of one whole book down for April so far (can you feel the momentum slipping?)

This week I read…

Beneath the Lion’s Wings by Marie Ohanesian Nardin – in which an Italian gondolier courts an American tourist in Venice (so far…I’m only 35 pages in)

New Daughters of Africa (which has some 200 writers and is edited by Margaret Busby) – it’s a thick one but riveting…I’m only about three stories in so I’m still deep in the historical section (the history of African people in America) – it’s not pretty but it’s not dull.

Inferno by Dan Brown – they’re still in the gardens outside of Florence, they’re still running, there are drones and symbols and impossible odds…I still don’t care…but I’m still reading.

I probably would’ve read more if I hadn’t started a new editing assignment this week and, Murphy’s Law, my eyes hadn’t started acting up around the same time (and yet I still watched …what’d I watch… Game of Thrones, John Oliver, Train to Busan (without English subtitles and I still dug it because, zombies), and every episode of that new Netflix zombie series because I can never turn off a zombie show… when I should’ve been sleeping)

This week I also read…

This amazing review (it’s so fun finding reviews!) of my book Musical Youth…in French. I had to use google translate to decode it (so fun!)… and I shared it here on the blog; it ends: ‘To my knowledge, there is no French translation available, much less Creole, but I hope that “Musical Youth” will become a classic of literature for generations to come. And why not an audiovisual adaptation to immortalize this illustration of our time?’

Woah! I actually really appreciate this…it’s been a challenging week…but this was good; this was good

Another writer’s recollection of a visit to Claude McKay country which I posted on my other blog with her permission – don’t know who Claude McKay is? You should. He was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance in addition to being at the vanguard of Caribbean literature…also I love the idea of a poetry garden (what am I talking about? read the post)

Some other interesting stuff (poems, short fiction, lectures, interviews) I added to the Wadadli Pen Reading Room and Gallery 33rd edition

Oh and I grabbed…

A Callaloo journal I’ve had since 2012 from my shelf…so the pile in progress has not gotten any shorter…and I’m still scouting for new books…it’s a sickness I tell you.


WWW Wednesday

Another day, another meme; this one the WWW Wednesday meme over at Taking on a World of Words.

The three questions are …
What are you currently reading?
Way too many books, a partial list of which includes (the ones I made progress on this week) –

Marie Ohanesian Nardin’s Beneath the Lion’s Wings – sent to me by the author some time ago – I lost my place and had to start over but it’s going better this time around – love revisiting Venice

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolf – passed to me by a friend when it came out – I’m only now reading it – and right now just don’t care that much about what I’m reading

Evolution – a poetry collection – by Belizean writer Felene Cayetano – almost done

One of my comics – this one a classic X-Men Women one-shot – X-Men are my favourite super heroes as you might have guessed from recent reviews of comics featuring Gambit and Rogue, and Storm and T’Challa

Inferno by Dan Brown – still not really engaged, still reading

New Daughters of Africa – edited by Margaret Busby – loving this one so far – it’s thick though so it might still stake some time


And a handful (3) of unpublished academic theses specific to Antigua and Barbuda; a literary journal; and a very (very very) short business ebook

What did you recently finish reading?
Recent is relative especially since my stride buckled in March with two Did-Not-Finish (which is unusual for me). I did finish listening to James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and reviewed an ARC of a children’s book The Masquerade Dance by Carol Ottley-Mitchell.

The Masquerade Dance

What will you be reading next?
Well, I just booked a new book editing assignment, am currently in negotiations re another one, and fielding an inquiry re a third; so (knock on wood) I’ll be busy with client manuscripts for a bit.

Can’t wait…but I have to

The Can’t Wait Wednesday meme is an opportunity to talk about a book you can’t wait to read but (drats!) will have to…you know, until you get it…or finish reading the books you’re actively reading…or find time to read…sigh…but yeah, that book. Also linking this post to WWW Wednesday.

red.pngFor me right now, that book is America-based, Jamaican writer Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf. I did a new book alert about it over on my other blog, so you can go there for more details about it but suffice it to say that it’s fantasy, which is a genre I love; it is genre underpinned by African mythology, which the world needs more of;  and it’s by an award winning, universally acclaimed author who four novels in hasn’t told the same story twice (granted I’ve only read two of those stories, the slavery era narrative The Book of Night Women and the late 70s to 90s crime epic A Brief History of Seven Killings) – and in both cases he writes long and it can feel convoluted and confusing (and I personally know people who’ve tapped out) but it’s always interesting and always unlike anything I’ve read before. So, I’m really looking forward to reading this one, like if I got it right now, I’d likely drop everything else I’m currently reading – sorry, Inferno, Fire and Fury, Evolution, Beneath Lion’s Wings, even you The Fire Next Time and Sonny’s Blue, Wartime at Woolworths and the others, but I’m really hyped for this one … okay, I wouldn’t drop them, but I might put them down. Congrats to Marlon for his film rights already being optioned by Michael Bae Jordan (notable roles have included Wallace from The Wire, Oscar Grant from Fruitvale Station, Adonis from Creed, and, oh yeah, Killmonger from Black Panther); and shout out to April Sinclair who also recently had film production news (with Octavia Spencer and Gabrielle Union attached) come out re a book I read and loved years ago Coffee Will Make You Back. That’s the dream, right there.

Also on my, it’s taking me too damn long to get to them radar are books like Come Let Us Sing Anyway by Leone Ross, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, Barraccoon by Zora Neale Hurston, N. K. Jemison’s The Fifth Season (also sequels The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky), and so much more, including quite recently, Milkman by Anna Burns thanks to blogger Claire ‘Word by Word’. So many books, so little…books. In time. In time.

Top Ten ‘Fall’

This is the Top Ten Tuesday which, this week, is about your fall TBR. There’s a question mark around the whole thing because my TBR (i.e. books I wish to read) are the books I have been reading…and because I’m in the Caribbean and we don’t have fall here. But I’m doing this anyway; call it stress relief.

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – I’m actually listening to the audio book while I work and do other things so as you can imagine I get distracted and have to go back and that slows the reading; but when I am able to focus on it, it’s quite spooky and interesting.

black rose2. The Black Rose by Tananarive Due – why oh why can’t I finish this book …I mean, I know why, and it’s definitely not the book; it’s me, it’s time.

WithoutSummer-rough-rev-500x7473. Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal – this book is in an even worse way – it feels slower than other installments in the series so that’s part of it – but still.

kellerman4. Straight into Darkness by Faye Kellerman – this has been my most active read of the TBR…so much so I feel like I should be done with it already…but I’m no closer to having a clue whodunit.

agostini5.  Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini – I’ve started it and when I paused it had started to pick up; that’s all I’ve got so far.

6. Beneath the Lion’s Wings by Marie Ohanesian Nardin – This is set in Venice and the imagery – the gondolas, the water taxis, is making me nostalgic to go back.

on a water taxi venice travels throwback photoI have struggled to find time to read this though, part of that might have to do with the fact that the author sent me an electronic copy instead of a physical copy; my work has me on the computer a lot and when I’m taking a break, I don’t want to be looking at the screen. So I’m inching along even more than normal.

7. The Storm limited series written by Eric Jerome Dickey – glad to be finally reading this; though my teenage self wishes she could just put everything down and lose herself in it.

8. Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin – listening to the audio book – might need to start it over (see my problem ‘reading’ audio books in this and every post where they’re mentioned)

9. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery – someone in my social media timeline mentioned this recently as a personal fave and it stoked my interest; I started listening to it this week.

10. Freedom Song by Amit Chaudhuri – I’m not in to this vivid as the imagery is but I’m not one to give up on a book (shelve for another time sure but give up altogether is rare); we’ll see.

beowulf2Bonus: Author: the Portraits of Beowulf Sheehan got it just before the weekend and almost finished…I mean, it is a picture book of so many authors I love (plus I’m in it) which is what made me so soup to start flipping through it.

There are other things but this is as close to a top 10 as I can get.


Tonight just as the reading event, Celebrating Ourselves (or, as I’m calling it, the barefoot readings because literally we were barefoot on the wooden floor which is often used for yoga) at the Shed (at Sugar Ridge, Antigua), an intimate open venue with views of both the sea and the hills, ended fireworks exploded across the night sky. It was as if we’d ordered it. Which of course we hadn’t. Good timing though.

Sugar Ridge 1.jpg

Earlier, the venue had provided a bird’s eye view of the sun as it did its slow slide down to the horizon – we didn’t actually see it hit the horizon nor catch sight of the elusive, mirage-y green flash due to cloud cover, but the haze was part of the show. Just beautiful. So beautiful we couldn’t help remarking as we mingled pre-reading on more deeply and frequently appreciating living where the world vacations.

This was the event

33403333_10155321700632633_3227424024636162048_n I was second in the line-up behind Kimolisa Mings who read from her collection She wanted a Love Poem. Sugar Ridge 2In addition to the readings she did from the book and her work in progress, she shared at my request the first chapter of her samurai narrative poem Dark Warrior. Her poems shared were moments in a relationship, moments we recognize or are seduced by because of their mood and flow, and her delivery was the easy, seductive warm tones to which Antiguan open mic regulars have become accustomed.

I read from all but two of my books plus one of my published poems using a musical theme to connect the readings. This included Ode to the Pan Man published in The Caribbean Writer, excerpts from Musical Youth, The Boy from Willow Bend (my first real reading of my first book if you can believe that), With Grace (complete with an audience sing-a-long

) and one of the other writings from Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings (Soca Night). I think it went well…I hope the audience agrees.

The young lady that followed, Sherona, a teen and recent Christ the King High School Queen of the Form winner was a bold and new addition. Always great to hear young voices coming in to their own.

Sugar Ridge 4Brenda Lee Browne, a co-organizer of the event with Janis Hough, read from her debut novella London Rocks which I wrote about recently in my CREATIVE SPACE series and from the Althea Prince edited collection So the Nailhead Bend So the Story End – a strong end to the night’s presentations.

Post-intermission we had a brief Q & A.

… and then the fireworks.

ETA: It was technically Sunday (foreday morning as we say in Antigua) when I posted this so I’m going to go ahead and make it my Sunday Post (shout out to fellow coffee lover the Caffeinated Reviewer for hosting this meme). It’ll give me the opportunity to rec the books of my fellow authors from the barefoot reading Celebrating Ourselves. You can find all of their books listed in the bibliography of books by Antiguans and Barbudans I maintain at my other blog. But for our purposes here today I’m going to shout out Brenda Lee Browne’s London Rocks which is an immersive experience of London Afro-Caribbean life of the late 70s/early 80s through the experiences of a lost youth who finds his way through the dub culture of the day. Lovers Rock2I rooted for Dante all through this and appreciated the window to another world, plus for capturing the moody dark corners of life and the dance floor, London Rocks is a must. Also shouting out Kimolisa Mings’ She Wanted a Love Poem which as I wrote in my review here “moves through the stages and variations of love. The best pieces are the mini-stories; the details of mood and moments, character and plot, things observed and things unsaid laced through her seductive flow, helping to lift some of those stories above the easy clichés of love poetry.” ming DarkI also have to link up her narrative poem Dark Warrior Vol. 1 (Manga in verse) because it was the first part of this that I requested and now I need to read the rest. What else? Well obviously I hope you’ll check out my books as well. These are the ones I read from at the event The Boy from Willow Bend - COVER.p65 cover with-grace-cover Dancing cover 2. All listed books are available online and remember one of the ways to get a book in to your local brick and mortar bookstore is to put it on their radar by asking them for it (demand leads to supply).

Re blogs mine and others I wanted to share from the past week, there’s the review of Trinidad’s Lisa Allen-Agostini’s book Home Home at Did You Ever Stop To Think, Bookshelf Fantasies’ review of Stephen King’s The Outsider (Agostini’s was already on my radar but King’s sounds super interesting and as you might remember from my King post, I haven’t read him in a while though I reference him often in my workshops), and my review of the Rogue and Gambit comics mini-series…and it’s a hazy kind of sunny in Antigua today, the kind of Sunday where you just want to laze about. So in between reading prep for a workshop I’ll  be attending this coming week, I’m doing that – listening to music and reading. Today’s read Elaine Spires’ Singles Holiday which I think I have a shot at finishing today. Fingers crossed.

Event photos by Janis Hough.