THE BOCAS LIT FEST heralds the start of its 2014 Spoken Word season that will come to a close on the final night of the annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest on 27 April.
The three-part season of workshops, performance, and competitions is underway with The COURTS BOCAS Speak Out Secondary Schools Tour across 5 regions: Trinidad South, Central, East, West and Tobago.
Over the next few weeks, dozens of secondary schools students will take part in workshops to acquire the skills of Performance Poetry and Spoken Word. They then move on to compete, through a screening in February, and a grand final in March, for the top prize of a trip to the world’s most prestigious and popular Spoken Word event in the USA, courtesy COURTS.
Leading the workshops will be the dynamic young poets of the 2 Cents Movement who have been making a name for themselves as exemplar exponents of the increasingly popular form that challenges young people to articulate their thoughts creatively.
U.WE Speak and USC Speak events in January and February comprise the wholly performance element of the season. They represent the biggest Open Mic in Trinidad and Tobago with around 200 people attending each session. The event, established at the University of the West Indies in October 2005 by Muhammad Muwakil, now of the Freetown Collective, and Nku Davis remains a compelling part of campus life.
U.WE Speak was initially formed to create space for the arts on the UWI campus and Bocas and the 2 Cents Movement are collaborating to ensure that students, prominent local musicians and poets continue to participate in the Open Mic events.
The purely competition element of the Spoken Word season is the VERSES Bocas Poetry Slam, sponsored by FIRST CITIZENS. Starting in February and continuing through March, it concludes on the final night of the 5-day NGC Bocas Lit Fest on 27 April. In 2013 the Poetry Slam final drew a capacity crowd to the festival’s closing event and the wining performance by Crystal Skeete went viral on youtube with over 69,000 hits. In 2014, FIRST CITIZENS is increasing the size of the prize to reflect the increasing popularity of performance poetry in T&T.
The daily Festival Open Mic jam sessions, also supported by FIRST CITIZENS, will be hosted by poets of the 2 Cents Movement. Members of the public can take part in these lunchtime events between 23-27 April.
What is the 2 Cents Movement?
A youth-led arts non-profit organisation focused on engaging youth in contemporary social issues. Born out of concern for the increasing apathy among the young, the ultimate aim of the 2 Cents Movement is to enhance the way youth think, speak, care and act in the personal and public spheres; make it cool to be conscious; develop change agents. Before becoming the 2 Cents Movement in 2012, the group was originally a university debating society. Projects initiated by the 2 Cents Movement to date include SWRD 101 (a 12 week spoken word course) and 2 Cents for Change (video productions featuring artistes addressing issues, 143,000 views on YouTube).
Projects with the Bocas Lit Fest include VERSES Bocas Poetry Slam (a national spoken word poetry competition sponsored by First Citizens), U.WE Speak, USC Speak and Courts Bocas Speak Out Secondary Schools Tour.