The winners of the 2011 Wadadli Pen Challenge were announced and awarded Saturday night during day one of the Best of Books 10-year-anniversary Outdoor Book and Story Fair at the University Centre.
The overall winner was stay-at-home-mom and Anglican youth worker Devra Thomas, author of Sands and Butterflies. Eleven year old Minoah Magnet student Orique Gordon, author of The Lost Coin tied for second place with Shakeema Edwards, a 17-year-old Antigua State College student and author of The Curse of the Kumina. Princess Margaret school student Chatrisse Beazer, 16-year-old author of The Legend of Banana Boy, was third.
The judges praised the “natural dialogue” and “lovely pace” of Sands and Butterflies, a story involving a mother-daughter beach adventure but about much more. The Lost Coin, a story told from a unique perspective, was said to have a “nice rhythm” while the author of Curse of the Kumina “pack(ed) in conflict, humor and a resolution” in her story. The Legend of Banana Boy, meanwhile, was a bit of old school storytelling with an unlikely super hero which was described as having “nice tension and natural rhythm”.
Here’s how it breaks down.
Orique S. Gordon
Gordon, also, won the 12 and under category. Zuri Holder, a 10-year-old Sunnyside Tutorial student, placed second, in this category, with his jumbie story The Scary Night, and Buckleys Primary student Keillia Mentor, also 10, placed third for her folktale-ish Mongoose in a Hole.
Among 13 to 17s, Beazer won, Edwards was second, and another State College student, Ardis Lavelle, 17, placed third with her quirky poem – the only poem among the top entries – Pre-School Days.
The biggest response, meanwhile, came from the oldest group, the 18 to 35s. Thomas won this category en route to claiming the overall prize, while S A Dixon, placed second with Cocos Nucifera and Latisha Walker-Jacobs placed third with Market Day.
Kudos also went to those who took up the challenge of illustrating stories; in particular Hudle Jennings, an aspiring graphic artist who won first and second place in the art challenge, and third placed Freya Platts-Costeloe, an eight-year-old island Academy student. Jennings won for her illustrations of Thomas’ Sands and Edwards’ Kumina; while Platts-Costeloe was singled out for one of two illustrations she did of Holder’s Scary Night.
Prizes awarded to these winners came from ABI Insurance – the largest donor in this year’s competition and sponsor of the 13 to 17 category, Caribbean Alliance and Edison Arts – major contributors to winners of the art prize, the Best of Books, Frank B. Armstrong, the International Women’s Club of Antigua and Barbuda, the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival, K & E Party Time, Benetton, artist Jennifer Meranto and writers – local and Stateside – D. Gisele Isaac (author of Considering Venus), Floree Williams (author of Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses, Through the Window), Marcel Marshall (author of All That Glitters), Jewell Parker Rhodes (author of Ninth Ward), and Hillhouse (The Boy from Willow Bend).
Wadadli Pen founder/coordinator, Joanne C. Hillhouse, wishes to personally thank all sponsors, all writers who took a shot, and especially her 2011 partners – the Best of Books, Brenda Lee Browne, Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau, and Renee Phillip.
Story excerpts were read during the Saturday night presentation, and all winning stories, illustrations, and more information on the competition can be found online at http://wadadlipen.wordpress.com