On Sunday 26th March, Bocas Lit Fest and 2 Cents Movement hosted the First Citizens National Poetry Slam 2017 (#FCNPS2017) at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, in the Daaga Auditorium.
To give a taste of what Spoken Word poetry is and what the judges are looking for, a member from a local group of youth poets called 6Geng came on stage as the night’s sacrificial poet. His name is Abdul Majeed Abdal Karim and his piece was filled with social commentary. He shed light on what seems to be the common mindset of humans in the Western world and a lot more. He referred to warfare in the Middle East and related it to gun violence here at home.
Keir Roopnarine, the first competitor to grace the stage delivered a poem coming from the perspective of a woman in love with a man that abuses her. Her story began with a man that was loved by many women but she was the only woman that he was interested in. This man fought to be able to one day show how much he loved this girl. Soon after achieving his goal he became an abusive partner and the girl was too deep in love to leave.
Deneka Thomas, followed afterwards and her piece spoke about a battle between Mother Earth and humans, the dominant species on our planet. She mentioned that the reason why some inhabitants of the Earth are now extinct is because of negative human activities. She spoke on things that we do on a regular basis that hurt ourselves, other species and the Earth itself.
Brendon O’Brien, performed an ode to his brother? Beginning as a more comical piece, connecting with the crowd from early and quickly changing the tone of the poem after a couple jokes. He showed another view on women being victims in abusive relationships from the perspective of a relative of the abuser.
David Lennard, performing his piece as “V” the character he created to carry out this piece. Throwing, in local palance, “picong” (pronounced pea-kong, meaning taunting or ridicule) for other poets in the competition. He made reference to Idrees Saleem’s piece from the FCNPS 2016 finals, “Poetic Justice League” and even to Michael Logie’s line of t-shirts with his own poetic quotes.
Korena Baggan, “I want to write poetry” was the first line of her poem. A couple lines later completely shocking the audience when she added a sensual twist to her piece. “Let’s make music”, followed soon after, pointing out that the squeaking noise that the springs of a mattress make when lovers fornicate can be perceived as musical. Definitely the most unexpected piece performed on that night.
Pooja Dookie, showed off the depths of her mind through poetic rhymes. Telling the story of a lost woman, lost in love with a man. However, she felt no comfort in being lost. She knew within herself and her conscientiousness that there was something wrong but before she could pinpoint exactly what the problem was, it was already too late.
Trevon Phillip, “Cheesecake”, “most people love cheesecake” says Trevon. Soon after he revealed that cheesecake was a metaphor for money. He then went on to poetically tell the story of a man who got arrested and threw 35-40 years of his life away by participating in illegal activities all for “cheesecake”.
Kirby, the competition’s youngest performer, definitely came out to compete. Her vibrant and powerful piece told the story of criminals living in safety after committing numerous crimes. Her piece showed that in her view, criminals aren’t afraid of the government because it seems as though no matter who is in power, they’re still safe while living their unlawful lives.
Deja Lewis, a member of the local poetry group, 6Geng, performed next. Her piece spoke out against the hypocrisy shown by members of the church. She told a story of her friend who had been neglected entry into the church. Her friend, Elijah, committed suicide and she did the eulogy for the funeral. However, she they didn’t allow the body in the casket into the church because suicide is a sin.
That performance concluded the first half of the event and there was a fifteen minute intermission.
Darrion Narine, “The Prince of Theatre” a name he seems to have given himself, announced that he just went through a bad breakup and asked the crowd to bear with him. He extended his arm out and looked at his palm as if he were holding a letter in his hand and he began, “Dear KFC”. Clearly a comical piece and he is known for these.
D’Izraiel Billy, a cultural soul, mentioned iconic Caribbean artists like the late Derek Walcott and Singing Sandra in her piece. Commentary in the form of poetry, commenting on the lies that mothers of bandits and thieves speak to defend their sons who continuously hurt their mothers by their own actions. “Mama said my son never been no trouble” was both the opening and closing line of her piece.
Kenson Laudat, wrote and performed a piece for his friend who had been murdered recently. A fast paced piece that tackled many problems that our society faces today. Problems such as persons ignoring that God is part of the equation, killings for the “right reasons” and so much more. His performance flowed from beginning to end with no noticeable flaws and this was his first time on the semi finals stage.
Idrees Saleem, a spoken word educator and former champion of this competition, performed next. With vengeance written between each line of the poem, he targeted rapists and paedophiles residing within this nation. Claiming that they make him feel like he’s their sworn enemy and reading a new headline on the topic makes him feel like bursting into action.
Emmanuel Villafana, told the story of a father, a plumber, a jack – of all trades, an abusive man who was seemingly proud of his ways. The man’s son told the story of his experiences in class at school to his teacher and classmates through Villafana’s poetry. Witnessing seeing his mother being abused by his father and seeing his mother retaliating was heart wrenching to say the least. The story wasn’t concluded in the performance but the school bell’s ring did end the performance.
Alexandra Stewart, Alzheimer’s was her topic. Specifically, experiencing her grandfather as a victim of the mental illness. At a young age she had to introduce herself to her grandfather on a regular basis and that was frightening to her. She even developed the fear of becoming a victim of Alzheimer’s herself.
Udochukwu Ibeleme, joined on next. One can only assume that the piece was entitled “Big Man Ting”. His piece targeted men who do immoral things that should be looked down upon but then these same men turn around and claim to be “big men”, demanding respect when they do not deserve it.
Derron Philanders, performed a letter to Aaron “Voice” St. Louis, two time consecutive International Soca Monarch, and by extension the youth of Trinidad and Tobago. Uplifting young males in general, begging and pleading that they stay away from the temptations of drugs and violence.
Marcus Millette let it be known that he was at a conference where he came out to discuss problems that we face today, calling for person’s to come together and shout in uprising against what is wrong. He called upon students of today who are doing their examinations and he wants them to fight alongside him to create a better future.
Of the thirty six competitors in the semi final round, half performed on Sunday last and the other half will be performing this Sunday at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus. Ten competitors in total will advance to the final round and compete for the grand prize of $50,000!
Tomorrow at 6 PM sharp the second set of semi-finalists would be gracing the stage to fight for their chance to reach the finals. You don’t want to miss this!
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