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Poetry slam season is here!

Auditions are underway for the 2020 edition of the region’s biggest platform for spoken word, the First Citizens National Poetry Slam (FCNPS).

Slam season, which ends on May 3 as the closing event of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, began last Sunday at Stages on the Avenue in Port of Spain with the first of five shows making up the first round of the championship.

Since 2018, Slam auditions have taken the form of lively open mic shows, open to the public and held in partnership between key open mic stakeholders True Talk No Lie, One Mic, East Talk, The Next Chapter, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest and the 2Cents Movement. The dates and venues for the remaining shows are as follows: January 23, Toro’s Bar & Lounge, San Fernando and January 26, Apex Bar & Grill, Tobago.

“The 2019 Slam was the best to date – the quality of poetry, the marketing storylines, the inclusion of veteran performers, the opening performance and overall production at finals. This year, I hope to see our marketing campaign educate young performers about certain aspects of our culture. There is no poet without a sound sense of the history of his/her nation – a takeaway for competitors and audience alike,” said Derron Sandy, 2 Cents Movement artistic director and host of the Slam Review.

The 2020 theme – Slamageddon derives from the narrative of the film Armageddon, where the “underdogs” are the planet’s unlikely saviours from impending destruction by an asteroid. According to project coordinator Atiya Douglas, “The theme exposes art as the key force challenging humankind’s approach to competing global crises of failing leadership, economic downturn, environmental collapse and breakdown in human relations. This year, we visit to the past to help create a better future. Here, art presents a possibility of saving the world.”

“Interpretation of the Game of Thrones theme for the 2019 slam was utterly inspiring. We weren’t sure how they would top it, but I’m very impressed this year by the team’s focus on our First Peoples and on the value of ancestral knowledge in addressing present-day problems,” said Bocas Lit Fest founder Marina Salandy-Brown.

Thirty-eight competitors will advance to the semi-finals in March. Two spots are automatically reserved for the 2019 second and third place winners, Shineque Saunders and Deneka Thomas.

Judging the first round of 2020 competition are prize-winning and nominated poets Professor Emeritus Funso Aiyejina (head judge) and Shivanee Ramlochan, calypsonian Roderick “Chuck” Gordon and visiting Fulbright scholar and performance poet Alyea Pierce.

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