Alexandra Stewart makes history becoming the first National Poetry Slam Champion to successfully defend her title!
Now twenty-two years old, Stewart goes down as the first winner in the eight-year history of the First Citizens National Poetry Slam to prevail for a second time, making it the fifth time a woman has copped first place. She was followed by debut Slam competitor Kevin Soyer and second time finalist Ahmad Abdullah-Muhammad.
Stewart learnt of her top-scoring performance, along with Soyer and Abdullah-Muhammad, on TV6’s Morning Edition on Monday morning. The announcement followed the broadcast of the competition’s first-ever televised finale on Sunday evening on TV6, where only the top three were revealed to several thousand viewers, impressively, the Slam’s largest audience to date.
Underscoring the senseless harm of racism, Stewart’s piece earned her the generous reward of $50,000, with Soyer picking up $20,000 and Abdullah-Muhammad $10,000, all courtesy title sponsor First Citizens.
Head of Brand and Marketing Larry Olton reinforced First Citizens’ support for the Slam, “The educational value; the development of the literary arts; and the platform for positive self-discovery and expression provided by the Slam are some of the key reasons we remain committed to this partnership with the Bocas Lit Fest, and by extension the National Poetry Slam, and have invested so heavily in it as reflected in our cash prizes.”
Twelve performers, among them seven first-time finalists, sought to dethrone Stewart in this extraordinary presentation of the Caribbean’s biggest event in Spoken Word, produced by the Bocas Lit Fest in collaboration with TV6. Consistent with previous years, the pieces covered the spectrum of current local and global affairs, including domestic violence, racism, colourism, corruption, child abandonment, depression, sexploitation, sexism, masculinity, maternal love, and the desire and need to breathe.
Head judge, award-winning poet Funso Aiyejina observed, “It is evident that our young men and women are dealing, directly or vicariously, with a lot of pain and trauma. But it was not all doom and gloom. There were funny lines here and there and many of the poets saw beyond darkness to the hope that allows them to rise and shine most days.” He added, “On many counts, this year’s Bocas Lit Fest and the National Poetry Slam are testimonies to the enduring nature of the human spirit.”
Aiyejina led a distinguished panel of judges in the final round of competition, which counted award-winning writer and comedian Lisa Allen-Agostini, established performance poet Paula Obe, alongside songwriter and three-time International Soca Monarch Aaron “Voice” St Louis.
Follow @nationalpoetryslamtt on Instagram and @FCNPS on facebook to catch the 2020 winning performances, as well as for updates on the repeat broadcast of the First Citizens National Poetry Slam finals on TV6.