Bocas Lit Fest

Five months ago the pandemic struck and the 2020 First Citizens National Poetry Slam came to a grinding halt.  Now it is set to resume this Sunday on TV6 at 7.30pm!

Working under current health protocols, title sponsor First Citizens and Slam producers The Bocas Lit Fest have partnered with TV6 to broadcast the remaining stages of this year’s First Citizens National Poetry Slam (FCNPS) on television and via livestream at

The first semi-final is on Sunday 23 August, followed by the second on Sunday 30 August, both at 7.30pm. Together, the semi-final events will feature near forty competitors who topped the January auditions to secure their spot in the FCNPS second round.

Our commitment to the First Citizens National Poetry Slam has never waned over our eight years of partnership with the Bocas Lit Fest. Rather, we have increased our investment over the years.  In 2020, our support remained steadfast even with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe in providing the young people of our nation with a platform for the expression of poetic craftsmanship, social consciousness and entertainment.

Gillian Benjamin, First Citizens’ Senior Manager, Communications & Public Relations

The Slam creative team has retained the 2020 FCNPS theme “Slamageddon”, which derives from the narrative of the American film Armageddon, where the ‘underdogs’ are the planet’s unlikely saviours from impending destruction by an asteroid.  According to the team, “The decision to keep it was a no-brainer as it lands more powerfully now than it did when it was originally conceived pre-pandemic. It speaks to exactly where we find ourselves, amidst competing global crises of failing leadership, economic and environmental collapse, breakdown in human relations and now Covid-19!  And more than ever, we may need to make and embrace space for art in saving the world.”

The writing is on the wall: we need to find the opportunities in this crisis. 2020 continues to be a lesson in resourcefulness, teaching us that there is always a way to do what needs to be done. And what an opportunity we’ve found through the ongoing support of our sponsors First Citizens, and our media partner OCM, to present the Slam to thousands more people, in viewing audiences across the country, region and diaspora!

Marina Salandy-Brown, Bocas Lit Fest Founder & Managing Director

Twelve competitors will advance to the finals, where they will challenge 2019 Slam Champion Alexandra Stewart. The grand finale will be broadcast on TV6 and livestreamed from their website on September 27.

Judging this second round of competition are prize-winning poet Professor Emeritus Funso Aiyejina (head judge), award-winning author Lisa Allen-Agostini, calypsonian and social worker Roderick “Chuck” Gordon, and performance poet Paula Obe.

For regular updates, visit the National Poetry Slam Facebook page, or follow @nationalpoetryslamtt on Instagram and Twitter.


The indigenous peoples from this corner of the world are experts in the act of survival, in the face of death, disease, oppression, control and state neglect. Indigenous presence, representation, wisdom and voice are elements of Trinbagonian society that have not been given enough space in our consciousness as a people, and we would love to amplify that.

Semis 1: Iere

The Amerindians, the First Peoples of Trinidad & Tobago, had first named the island of Trinidad “Iere”, meaning “Land of the Hummingbird”. The hummingbird was a sacred animal to the Amerindians as it signified the soul of their ancestors. Shortly after Christopher Columbus arrived in 1498, the name of land was changed to “Trini” representing the three hills Columbus encountered on first landing on the southern coast of Trinidad.

Semi 2: Banwari

Dated to about 5000 BCE or 7000 B.P (years Before Present), the archaeological site at Banwari Trace in southwestern Trinidad is the oldest pre-Columbian site in the West Indies. At this time, Trinidad was still part of South America. Archaeological research of the site has also shed light on the patterns of migration of Archaic (pre-ceramic) peoples from mainland South America to the Lesser Antilles via Trinidad between 5000 and 2000 BCE.

The role of the poets is to use sound and the spoken word to shape our survival, shape the makings of this new earth, the one that will ensure that the generation after us will have a fighting chance of inheriting a better planet than the one we are experiencing. How do we stop the asteroids, or even, how do we rebuild ourselves after we have been hit?

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