Linita Simon’s ‘The Walk’ wins top prize at Wadadli Pen competition

Linita Simon, winner of the 2024 Wadadli Pen competition (Photo via Wadadli Pen)
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By Robert Andre Emmanuel

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Linita Simon, a teacher by profession, has won the main prize for this year’s Wadadli Pen competition.

Her short story, The Walk, received accolades from Joanne Hillhouse and the team at Wadadli Pen for being structurally and atmospherically inventive and interesting.

Unfortunately, she was not at Sunday’s award ceremony to receive her prizes, which included her name being added to the Alstyne Allen Memorial Plaque, more than $600 in cash, a custom-made journal, a copy of a former Wadadli Pen winner’s book, Birthday Shot by Rilys Adams, a session on independent publishing with Adams, and a bottle of wine.

Simon also received the award for the adult category, snagging $350 and several other books.

Chief judge, Floree Williams-Whyte, a writer and publisher, and her team (which includes past Wadadli Pen winner Vanessa Thomas, and bookseller with Ten Pages bookstore Glen Toussaint) said of the entry and its selection: “‘The Walk’ is a pleasant read which gently awakens your curiosity. The writer skilfully reveals the answers just as ‘The Walk’ ends. This piece received top marks for creativity, writing skills, and originality.”

Previously long and short listed in 2021 and 2023, respectively, Simon who is a teacher of eight-to-ten-year-olds brings her love of writing “poems, stories, chants, and songs” to the classroom, using it in her teaching.

Wadadli Pen, founded by Joanne C Hillhouse, and now in its 20th edition of the competition, was created to give young literary aspirants from Antigua and Barbuda a chance to express and grow their creative skills with the pen.

Meanwhile, cousins Chioma Ochasi from the Antigua Girls High School, and Zende Hazelwood from St Anthonys Secondary School won the ’13-to-17’ and ’12-and-younger’ age categories respectively.

Both won their respective categories in 2023 as well.

Ochasi, who wrote These Flock of Feathers, received a $460 cash prize, a book entitled Toolkit for Teens from Koren Norton Consulting.

She will also attend a Jhohadli Writing Project workshop by Joanne Hillhouse.

Hazelwood, who wrote A Caribbean Garden Scene, will have his name once again added to the Zuri Holder Achievement Award plaque.

He will also receive a $350 cash prize, be a guest attendee at a Jhohadli Writing Project workshop by Joanne Hillhouse, and receive a copy of The Wonderful World of Yohan written by Floree Williams Whyte.

Caroline Constant-Vera-Ortiz who collaborated with her son Carlos Vera-Ortiz, a University of the West Indies Five Islands student, on her submission, Careful What You Wish For, received a prize for being long-listed; Carlos also made the long list with a solo submission Antiguans? as his sister, Sir Novelle Richards Academy student Carla Vera-Ortiz, joined the family with her submission Mad-tigua.

Other long-listed writers were Nia-Kai Campbell of Island Academy for Caribbean Senses; Sheniqua Greaves The Cultivatress’ Folly; Antigua Girls High School student Lilian Munoz with Heart of the Caribbean;  Paula Simon with Whispers of the Caribbean Breeze; St John’s Lutheran Primary School students Tercada Welsh, Emeral Soufan, and Sapphyre Roberts with Our Country.  Fellow student Kemar Withy joined them with I am Proud.

The winners were chosen from 88 submissions to this year’s competition and the school with the most submissions was the St John’s Lutheran with 28.

A teacher at the St John’s Lutheran Primary School said that her students, up until the deadline, were eager to participate in the competition and quench their literary thirst.

St John’s Lutheran Primary School received stacks of books from the Best of Books and Harper Collins, as well as a $500 cash prize.

The Lutheran Primary School teacher also thanked Hillhouse for attending the school and offering students advice on how to become better writers, which she said gave students more motivation to show their skills.

Carlos Vera-Ortiz added that Wadadli Pen was not strictly only a competition, but an opportunity for him and participants to learn and grow, and listen to feedback from established authors.

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