It’s the most powerful literary movement in today’s T&T: spoken word brings together words, rhythm, and a chance for people to express their concerns and ambitions. Working with the 2Cents Movement, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest is in the vanguard of developing the genre.
First Citizens National Poetry Slam
Open to all ages, the First Citizens National Poetry Slam is T&T’s national spoken word competition, sponsored by First Citizens in collaboration with the Bocas Lit Fest and The 2Cents Movement. Participants go through a three-round process: auditions, semi-finals, and finals (the finale event of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest). Every year, hundreds of poets compete for a grand prize of $50,000.00 — the largest spoken word prize offered in the region — plus a second prize of $20,000 and third prize of $10,000.
Raise the Bar
This exciting championship, launched in 2016, has blossomed from an individual poet competition to a team event where students now train together in preparation for group poetry performances. It comes out of the annual Secondary Schools Speak Out Tour, in which poets of the 2Cents Movement travel to secondary schools nationwide, introducing fellow young people to spoken word.
In the 2017 competition, 17 schools vied to be national champions, and St. George’s College, Barataria, emerged the winners. Each year, over 100 students participate, and we expect the number to grow.
Since the Secondary Schools Speak Out Tour started back in 2013, 133 of the nation’s secondary schools have participated in poetry performances for nearly 73,000 school children. The tour is geared towards promoting art and literacy through actively engaging students in critical thought and explorations of language and creativity, while offering a stimulating and entertaining experience of poetry.
The tour includes free workshops for students to introduce them to writing and performance. Students have the opportunity to work closely with the tour’s popular performance poets, developing newly crafted work. Many of them have gone on to compete in the First Citizens National Poetry Slam.
U.WE Speak and USC Speak
The oldest existing Open Mic in Trinidad and Tobago, U.WE Speak was established at the University of the West Indies campus by Muhammad Muwakil and Nku Davis in 2005 as a space for students to explore societal issues through arts and discussion. Currently, both U.WE Speak and U.SC Speak are produced by the 2 Cents Movement, in collaboration with the Bocas Lit Fest, and remain a compelling part of campus life and a space for creative discourse.