Joanne C. Hillhouse, noted Antiguan writer, asked me to contribute one or two of my books to the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. The guidelines for the 2013 competition state: Our goal is to encourage the literary arts and to create as many avenues as possible for showcasing some of the best young writing coming out of Antigua and Barbuda. Joanne C. Hillhouse, the founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, started this competition in 2003. The website indicates that originally it was for young people 18 and under, with special prizes for those under 12. The competition is now open to those under 35. Successful competitors may have their work published on the website or there may be audio and live recordings. Workshops have also been held.
I have had occasion to see work from this group, some from young people under 15, and was very impressed, and so was very pleased to be able to contribute in a way that I could. No, it may not seem to be about children’s literature ( this is a children’s literature blog, after all), but it is about young people writing, and this could be one more way of producing a greater belief in ourselves as writers of fiction for children.
I applaud this initiative by Joanne and the sponsors who have helped to keep this going, and wonder how many more such initiatives exist in the Caribbean. I had mentioned a previous initiative where the Bocas Lit Fest , Trinidad and Tobago, had produced a publication of writing by young people and children. (See my post June 30, 2012: Stories written by children for children).
There are now many literary festivals in the Caribbean and this is very inspiring. They often have a children’s section, which as far as I know, tends to be about reading/telling stories to children, etc, rather than the actual celebrating of the writers of children’s literature, especially if these should actually be the young people themselves. This would be an important development. Therefore if you know of any more initiatives like these, please share it with me so that I can in turn share it with my associates/readers. Can you imagine across the Caribbean celebrating literature written by the young for the young. What a something!