The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, a writing competition for Antiguan and Barbudan youths, debuted in 2004. It was founded by Joanne C. Hillhouse, author of the Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, in partnership with Considering Venus author D. Gisele Isaac, who also penned the screenplays for No Seed and The Sweetest Mango, and the Young Explorer publication. It aimed to promote a love of the written word among young people, provide opportunity to nurture their talent and showcase/preserve their writings, while channeling youthful energies into creative endeavours.
Between 2004 and 2006, the competition’s initial run, it focused exclusively on fiction writing; welcoming submissions in any genre as long as they had a Caribbean sensibility and stayed within the 600 word limit. In excess of 130 stories were received during the competition’s initial run; and, with corporate support the winners were amply rewarded.
Hillhouse also managed, during this time, to conduct writing workshops, produce audio recordings of the winning stories (with assistance from ABS radio; and later HAMA productions and the Optimist youth drama group), provide opportunities for winners to showcase their stories (at Word Up! – a showcase and fundraiser in partnership with the Museum), launch a short-lived website (part of the French Alliance funded OECS cultural portal), and promote their efforts (with assistance from various media including Antiguanice.com which sponsored a web page and now does so again).
The competition returned in 2010 as part of a series of Black History Month activities organized by several partners (including judges former Independence Literary competition coordinator Brenda Lee Browne and D. Gisele Isaac); it included a visual arts component (helmed by artist Mark Brown) and expanded age range (35 and younger). Hillhouse became resolved to keep it going, this time in partnership with the Best of Books
, a long time sponsor, and founder, in 2010, of the Wadadli Pen Open Mic.
For details of the annual BEST OF BOOKS ‘WADADLI PEN CHALLENGE’
, visit http://wadadlipen.wordpress.com
– maintained by Hillhouse since 2010 as the online home of Wadadli Pen and a portal to the Antigua and Barbuda literary arts.
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