by Jaixia Ellis (age 13)

Thinking about how the elder
felt when I asked her all those personal questions.
Did she feel I was intruding?
Self-Portrait by Effie Quansah-George, age 9

Thinking how I felt reading
out loud to a bunch of strangers on camera.
Was I saying things the right way?

Thinking in the beginning
if this is a waste of time being here.
In the end I realized I thought wrong.

The old lady came from Grenada.
Some things she said about her early life
made me think of mine.
Her smile, the look in her eyes.
Do we have a connection?

Thinking about the old lady, how I felt.
I had learned something special.
That was an experience!


About the author

Jaixia Ellis, known as ‘Jai’, is thirteen years old and lives in England. She is of mixed heritage; her mother’s family are from Jamaica and her father is English. She is a member of the Writing, Acting and Publishing Project for Youngsters (WAPPY) and her hobbies and interests include writing, reading, singing, arts and crafts, and modelling. Jaixa is looking forward to writing her first novel one day. Her poem, ‘Fingers Crossed’ was published in 'The Soul of a Child', and her artwork was chosen for the front cover.

About the illustrator

Effie Quansah-George is nine years old and lives in England. Her mother is Ghanaian and her father is from Grenada. She has three older brothers and a niece who is two years old.  She enjoys Physical Education, English (especially reading and writing poetry), Science, Design and Technology, and ICT at school. Effie loves sports, dancing, fashion, and being part of the Writing, Acting and Publishing Project for Youngsters (WAPPY). In the future she would like to be a fashion designer. Her poem, 'Haiti' was published in 'The Soul of a Child' when she was seven.
by Damian Balassone

When night has fallen from the sky
I light the dark with loving eye,
I stand above the angry sea,
above the gulls that circle me.

I stand above the angry sea,
yet sailors cannot fathom me,
ignoring my rotating light
I shine on them from lonely heights.

Ignoring my rotating light,
they lose themselves within the night,
but still I long to set them free;
if they would fix their eyes on me!

I stand above the angry sea,
a thousand miles from Kingston quay,
and though lost travelers pass me by,
I light the night with loving eye.


About the author...

Damian Balassone lives in Australia. His writing has appeared in a variety of Australian and international publications, including OverlandArena MagazineEureka StreetAustralian RationalistNew FormalistLucid RhythmsTime of Singingtongues of the ocean, and Green Left Weekly. His second full-length volume of poetry is forthcoming from Ginninderra Press in 2013. His work was recently included in And the Crowd Goes Wild!, an anthology of sports poems for children.
The December 2012 issue of Anansesem signals yet another milestone in our journey into the creative potentialities of Caribbean children's writing and illustration. We are always proud of what our contributors bring to the table and this issue is no different.

As usual, we publish a selection from the notebooks and drawing pads of Caribbean children and teens. Thirteen-year-old Jaixia Ellis' introspective poem, 'Thinking', and nine-year-old Effie Quansah-George's expressive 'Self-portrait', impressed us with their clarity and honesty. Effie also reinterprets Anansi in her spirited, tongue-in-cheek poem, 'An Anansi Warning'.

Our adult contributors touch on a range of themes. On the fiction front, Jamaican writer Lisa Shaw effectively explores the generation gap in her story, 'Power’s Back, Grandpa', illustrated by Janiene Facey. In the story 'Connor Conrad and the Forest Children' Trinidadian writer Krys-Darcelle Dumas pays tribute to her island's folklore in an accessible, contemporary story about a group of children who encounter forest douens.

In the non-fiction realm, our Managing Editor interviews Marsha Gomes-Mckie, the new Regional Advisor of the Caribbean South Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and Loekie Morales, a Sint Maartener children's writer embracing the possibilities of self-publishing. We publish a review of Mark Greenwood's new picturebook 'Drummer Boy of John John' which tells of the creation of the steelpan. We also welcome back Carmen Milagros-Torres, whose well-researched essay on the traditional vejigante character in Puerto Rican Carnival both delights and informs. 'The Vejgantes are Coming' is lovingly illustrated by Erick Ortiz Gelpi.

In the slideshow on our homepage we are pleased to display the work of this issue's Featured Illustrators. Jamaican-American illustrator Danielle C. McManus-Sladek's mixed-media illustrations from her self-published picturebook My Grandma’s Journey, warm the cockles of the heart and capture the spirit of childhood memory. Mike Blanc's illustrations from I Came From the Water: One Haitian Boy's Incredible Tale of Survival have the narrative quality of animated movie stills; they remind us of what can be achieved when traditional drawing meets digital illustration.

As we have previously done, we also welcome Guests from Around the World in this issue. In the poem 'Trouble', Goldie Alexander confronts the social stigma and stereotype of ungovernable youth. Australian poet David Bassalone regales us in his distinct voice with the poem 'The Lighthouse' in which the architectural feature of the lighthouse, so familiar an aspect of Caribbean landscapes, takes on symbolic significance. At just 14 years old, Benjamin Jasinski-Eshun memorializes the 2012 Olympics and displays understated wisdom in his reflective poem 'No One Can Outrun Bolt', while Conrad Burdekin celebrates family ties in his effervescent poems 'Hugs' and 'Gorgeous Granny'. We also happily publish British-Iraqi and British-Kenyan child artists Sara Abed and Ida Mwangi, and the upbeat illustrations of English illustrator, Lilian Fitchett.

Lastly, Sayada Ramdial provides us with cheer-inducing, Christmas-themed cover art. A versatile illustrator and graphic artist from Trinidad and Tobago, Ramdial enjoys creating expressive and sometimes humour-driven images. She recently launched her own design company, Designed For A Smile, the first project of which was a line of greeting cards celebrating the spirit of Trinidad and Tobago Christmas. In 2012, Sayada graduated with honours from SCAD, University for Creative Careers, where she earned her B.F.A in Illustration, with a minor in Drawing.

On behalf of the Anansesem team,

Summer Edward
Managing Editor

By Kids/Teens

• An Anansi Warning (poetry) by Effie Quansah-George (9 years old)
• Effie, Self-Portrait (illustration) by Effie Quansah-George (9 years old)
• Thinking (poetry) by Jaixia Ellis (13 years old)

Contributions by the Young at Heart


• Power’s Back, Grandpa by Lisa Shaw
• Connor Conrad and the Forest Children by Krys-Darcelle Dumas


• Gomes-Mckie Takes the Helm: Interview with New Regional Advisor of the SCBWI Caribbean South Chapter by Summer Edward
• Review of Drummer Boy of John John by Summer Edward
• Sint Maartener Children's Writer Embraces Self-Publishing- Interview with Loekie Morales by Summer Edward
• The Vejigantes Are Coming by Carmen Milagros-Torres


• Micky and Ricky by Janiene Facey
• Grandpa Tells Stories by Janiene Facey
• A Vejigante by Erick Ortiz Gelpi
• Illustrations from My Grandma’s Journey by Featured Illustrator, Danielle C. McManus-Sladek
• Illustrations from I Came From the Water by Featured Illustrator, Mike Blanc

Guests from Around the World

• Anansi Spider by Ida Mwangi (illustration, ten years old)
• Caribbean Sunset by Sara Abed (illustration, 10 years old)
• Doggie Hug by Lilian Fitchett (illustration)
• Gorgeous Granny by Conrad Burdekin (poetry)
• Granny by Lilian Fitchett (illustration)
• Hugs by Conrad Burdekin (poetry)
• No One Can Outrun Bolt by Benjamin Jasinski-Eshun (poetry, 14 years old)
• The Lighthouse by Damian Balassone (poetry)
• Trouble by Goldie Alexander (poetry)


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Featured Illustrators: Danielle C. McManus-Sladek

Power's Back, Grandpa