Wadadli Stories

I am tired today, and as the week-ahead and its many demands loom, I kind of just want to pause the world for a while. Unfortunately, that’s not my superpower. So, I’ll just lie here a while longer and reflect on the yesterday that was. The book/lit nerd in me is very happy. Wadadli Pen came to an end (mostly, there are still some loose ends and, ugh, I HATE that but so it is) and the Wadadli Stories Book Fair was the bomb. Here are some visual highlights:

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How committed was I  to my pseudo-pirate get-up? It was hot as a summumma and I was in all black. No the book I’m holding, my children’s picture book, With Grace isn’t about pirates…but I don’t have my tree faerie costume yet *wink*

At Wadadli Stories 3

Forming de fool as we say here ’bout. #WithGrace

 

At Wadadli Stories 6

Okay, one proper one, with my flag in the background.

Okay, enough of that. Wadadli Stories was a book fair organized as a community event by a team of volunteers and contributors, corporate and private/individual. It included readings, reading testing, spelling bees, panels on writing, cosplay, erotica, and more.

cushion club at wadadli stories

The Cushion Club, a project I’ve volunteered with (and a patron of my other major volunteer project, Wadadli Pen) was there to read to the kids in the person of our long time chief, Cedric.

 

cosplay

Do you recognize any of your favourite comic characters? They came to play.

Skellihoppers

This tent used the event to give a visual history of Antiguan mas and to promote in particular the skellihoppers, who will be on the road this Carnival (late July-early August), our 60th anniversary of Carnival, during the opening parade and J’ouvert. The lady in the middle, meanwhile, is wearing a headwrap and trimming made of the madras that makes up our national dress. #local

books

Just some of the books on display including new author Claytine Nisbett’s Life as Josephine and my books Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, Oh Gad!, and With Grace. All available online by the way, so though you couldn’t be here with us, you can still get these and other Antiguan and Barbudan books wherever you’re reading this from.

I was busy much of the day with readings and sessions, and in the evening with the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize 2017 Challenge Awards Ceremony. Obviously, that was my highlight – it’s a project I started in 2004 to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, and, in spite of the challenges, I am happy to say that it is not only still here but continues to grow.

Winners

2017 Challenge winners – prizes are across three age groups 12 and younger, 13 to 17, and 18 to 35, and then the top three. The person in the middle holding the Alstyne Allen Memorial Challenge plaque, sponsored by the Best of Books, is this year’s winner.

For more images from the Wadadli Stories book fair, check the the Best of Books on facebook. For the full breakdown of the 2017 Wadadli Pen Challenge results – who won what and to read the winning pieces, go to the Wadadli Pen blog (well, as I write this, everything isn’t yet uploaded but some of the stories are and more will be throughout the day or maybe the next couple of days; so check back::reasons for the delay? See opening lines of this blog).

This is my Sunday post. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

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Wadadli Stories

Are you excited? The Wadadli Pen Awards, which will be held 5:30 p.m. as part of the Wadadli Stories Book Fair, takes place on May 13th. That’s next week Saturday. We’re looking forward to it here at Wadadli Pen, too. That’s when our Finalists will be rewarded and the ultimate winners announced, which we would […]

via Only One Week to the Wadadli Pen Awards — Wadadli Pen

Wadadli Pen – Just about a week left to get your submissions in

WADADLI PEN- FAQs

Can I submit previously published works?
No. Entries must be original and previously unpublished as with previous years.

Is it too late to submit?
Nope. You have until February 17th 2016 to submit.

What’s creative non-fiction? Does it have to be true?
This is actually covered in Writing Tips below (see hint #2) but short answer, yes, it has to be true (hence, the non-fiction) but it should definitely be creative with its truth telling – i.e. employ a lot of the same literary devices poets and fiction writers use.

Where do I submit? and what’s the submission deadline?
Well, it’s all there in the release but quick answer – wadadlipen@yahoo.com, by February 17th 2016

TTFN

THE DEADLINE IS COMING – FICTION, POETRY AND CREATIVE NON FICTION WELCOMED; DETAILS HERE.

Mission Possible: Read

This summer, in Antigua and Barbuda, we (meaning me and Cedric of Wadadli Pen and the Cushion Club, respectively, with some overlap in between) decided to challenge our young constituency to spend part of their summer reading. Now, obviously, Cedric who volunteers his Saturdays with the reading Club and I who have done the same with less frequency (and not at all, lately) and who also run the annual Wadadli Pen writing challenge, believe that reading is its own reward. But we got ahead of ourselves and before long were offering a prize to the child who reads the most from an extensive reading list we came up with with the help of the Map Shop and the Best of Books (two local book stores). Cedric’s already collected the first of those prizes from a generous donor at which point we were like well, I guess we’re doing this and we put the word out to the media and on social media. Next thing Best of Books and Cindy’s Bookstore were offering discounts to anyone shopping at their stores and taking the Challenge. Then my publisher CaribbeanReads was getting in on the action with a Musical Youth Challenge within the larger Challenge (more on that in another post, another time). The reason for this post, on realizing that I’ve been blogging about this over at my other blog but have been so busy pushing my Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project over here that I forgot to mention it here – crossed wires. But then I came across this picture of me reading to children at the Public Library Summer camp in …I wanna say 2013 (?)…DSC_0344and it seemed a good time to mention it.

Parents, read with your children, go sign them up at the library – the public library (they can’t take out books just yet unfortunately but they could pass the day or part of it reading) or other community libraries, buy them the books (take advantage of those discounts), or trade or borrow books as I used to do back in the day, some of these books may already be in your family’s personal library (and make family there as extensive as you need it to be). Take the challenge, not just for the prize, but for the discovery, the adventure, the joy of reading. Details here.

Wadadli Pen at 11

Winners of the 2015 Wadadli Pen flanked by guest presenter Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau (whose new CD is I am Speaking)and co-founder/coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (whose latest books are Musical Youth and the Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Stories). Pictured between them are Olsfred James, Melicia McCalmon, Judah Christian, Avriel Walters, Margaret Irish and Ondrej Austin-Josiah. Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

Winners of the 2015 Wadadli Pen flanked by guest presenter Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau (whose new CD is I am Speaking)and co-founder/coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (whose latest books are Musical Youth and the Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Stories). Pictured between them are Olsfred James, Melicia McCalmon, Judah Christian, Avriel Walters, Margaret Irish and Ondrej Austin-Josiah. Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

When I started the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize in 2004 (hopelessly dewy-eyed I was), I couldn’t see 11 years down the road. But time flies and here we are and remarkably, Wadadli Pen is still alive (it’s been touch and go a few times). I want to keep it going, I do. I’m working on grant funding applications (again), hopefully learning from past mistakes and hopefully able to harness the resources needed to deliver what this programme can deliver…when I dream of it. Fingers crossed. And if you’ve got ideas or support (money or time to give to these grand ambitions for this little project that could, email wadadlipen@yahoo.com)

Meanwhile, this is a link to the outcome of the 2015 Challenge, and here are some visual highlights from the most recent awards ceremony held last Saturday (April 11th 2015)…and look, we made the front page of one of the local daily papers:

Observer

FLOW rep, Gavinia Michael, assisted with gift presentation to Wadadli Pen 2015 winner Margaret Irish (right). Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

FLOW rep, Gavinia Michael, assisted with gift presentation to Wadadli Pen 2015 winner Margaret Irish (right). Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

Winner, Margaret Irish, posed up with the Challenge trophy sponsored by the Best of Books. Gavinia Michael of FLOW assists with the presentation. Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

Winner, Margaret Irish, posed up with the Challenge trophy sponsored by the Best of Books. Gavinia Michael of FLOW assists with the presentation. Photo by Glen Toussaint/Best of Books.

Gavinia Michael of FLOW presents the cable company's gift of a EC$500 gift certificate for books at the Best of Books to winner Margaret Irish. Photo by Barbara Arrindell/Best of Books.

Gavinia Michael of FLOW presents the cable company’s gift of a EC$500 gift certificate for books at the Best of Books to winner Margaret Irish. Photo by Barbara Arrindell/Best of Books.

One of the Best of Books picks, Melicia McCalmon, collects her gifts from Best of Books and the Burt Award sponsors CODE.

One of the Best of Books picks, Melicia McCalmon, collects her gifts from Best of Books and the Burt Award sponsors CODE. Presenting is Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau who performed pieces from her spoken word CD I am Speaking during the awards ceremony – and another piece during the Wadadli Pen Open Mic that followed. FYI, the Wadadli Pen Open Mic takes place the second Saturday of every month at the Best of Books bookstore on St. Mary’s Street.

Margaret Irish reading her story, Justice.

Margaret Irish reading her story, Justice.

Every year at the awards, we are reminded why it’s all worth it. And then there are letters like this the day after:

“I write to express appreciation to you and your team for allowing young writers like [my son] to explore their writing potential. He was quite reluctant to enter at first, but warmed up to the challenge. Excited, elated and ecstatic are just a few of the words that could explain how he felt, by being able to share his story and be rewarded for his effort.”

 

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.’”