Joanne C. Hillhouse wins the Sabga Award for Caribbean Excellence

In “Antiguan author wins prestigious award” the Antigua Observer reports that author Joanne C. Hillhouse is one of the winners of the Anthony N. Sabga Award for Caribbean Excellence this year. The prize will be awarded in a ceremony in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Fifty-seven of the Caribbean’s most exceptional sons and daughters have been bestowed with the Sabga Award for Caribbean Excellence since its inception in 2006. Author Joanne C Hillhouse is the first person from Antigua and Barbuda to receive this honour.

On March 1, in Port of Spain, the Chairman of the Eminent Persons Panel, Professor Compton Bourne, and Programme Director, Maria Superville-Neilson, announced the 2023 Laureates.

They are as follows: Joanne C Hillhouse, author, Antigua and Barbuda (Arts and Letters); Dr Adesh Sirjusingh, public health doctor, Trinidad and Tobago (Public and Civic Contributions); Dr Mahendra Persaud, agri-scientist, Guyana (Science and Technology).

A formal ceremony will take place in June when the three individuals will be inducted into the College of Laureates in Port of Spain. Each will receive an Anthony N Sabga Awards commemorative coin and citation. In addition, in recognition and support of the work they do that continues to uplift the region, the Laureates will each be presented with a substantial cash prize.

The awards which began as a biennial event are in four categories: Arts and Letters, Entrepreneurship, Public and Civic Contributions, and Science and Technology.

According to the Anthony N Sabga Awards (ANSA), the first such recognition programme of its kind in the region, “This is privately funded, free of political and other influence, and offers tangible, significant benefit to the Laureates. “It is the most noteworthy philanthropic initiative by a Caribbean organisation in recent times. The goal of the ANSA Caribbean Awards for Excellence is to recognise significant Caribbean achievement, to encourage and to support the pursuit of excellence by Caribbean persons, for the benefit of the region. The ANSA McAL Foundation is convinced that talent needs to be sought out, brought to light and encouraged. It is in this context that these awards were conceived.”

The ANSA Caribbean Excellence website describes Joanne Hillhouse as one of Antigua and Barbuda’s foremost contemporary writers. She is the author of seven books: two novellas, an adult contemporary novel, and three children’s picture books.

She resides in Antigua and has said: “The Antigua I write about is the Antigua that I live and breathe every day, and I write it as we experience it, now.”

Much of Antigua’s literary culture rests on the author’s shoulders. She runs the non-profit, Wadadli Pen, which organises a range of activities to support local writers, and awards an annual prize. Her services to the literary arts also include a newspaper column, a blog, and her longtime participation in the Cushion Club, reading to children.

The 50-year-old writer was the first runner-up for the coveted Burt Award for Young Adult Caribbean Literature in 2014, for her manuscript, Musical Youth, which was published later that year.

She has also won the David Hough literary prize, awarded to writers working in the Caribbean. Her work has been published in international journals, including Columbia Review and PEN America. Her books include, The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!

Caribbean writer and critic, UWI Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris, says of her: “Joanne Hillhouse deserves to be better known. I believe that as the word spreads, she will be recognised as an important Caribbean writer doing distinctive work.”

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