More Than A Literary Festival

The 2023 First Citizens National Poetry Slam has moved into the semi-final round, with 30 poets making the cut. The 3-day hybrid auditions showcased performers of all ages, including veterans, past winners, and newcomers, and was streamed live on the National Poetry Slam’s Facebook page and the Bocas Lit Fest’s YouTube channel.

72 hopefuls auditioned in person and via Zoom before a judging panel including David Roberts, Nehilet Blackman, Jayron “DJ Rawkus” Remy, Lawrence Arjoon, and head judge Elisha Efua Bartels. 

The semi-finals will be split into two rounds, scheduled to take place on 25 and 26 March at the Little Carib Theatre. Tickets, priced at $100, will soon be available for purchase at selected venues and online at

The Wild Cards element, a crowd favourite, is being reintroduced, allowing four poets whose scores fell slightly short of qualifying to compete in pairs, on each semi-final day, for the chance to join the Slam finalists.

The poets now in contention will vie for a chance to perform at the finals on Sunday 30 April, as the First Citizens National Poetry Slam returns this year to its traditional place as the popular concluding event of the 2023 NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

The largest annual literary event in the Anglophone Caribbean, the 2023 NGC Bocas Lit Fest will run from 28 to 30 April, with a diverse programme of readings, performances, discussions, workshops, and more.

“I love that the hybrid format exists,” said head judge Elisha Efua Bartels, “because it opens up more access to competitors and audiences.” The audition performances featured a diverse range of thought-provoking topics, including migrant exploitation, crime, and comedic stories of struggles with dieting. Bartels also commented on the quality of audition pieces witnessed by the panel. “We saw a wide range of performances that varied in content, tone, style, and delivery, which shows great promise for the elevated standard of poems for the upcoming semifinals.” 

For First Citizens National Poetry Slam updates, follow @nationalpoetryslamtt on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Abdul Majeed Abdal KarimMarcus Millette
Akile WallaceMaria Donald
Amy YeatesMichael Logie
Chaquille CharlesMishael Henry
Deneka ThomasPhillip Storm
Derron SandyRay Clarke
Dominique FridayRenaldo Briggs
Fédon HonoréRenessa John
Geron RuizRonaldo Mohammed
Isaiah JohnSeth Sylvester

Javaughn Forde

Shakir Gray
Joel PhilipSoleil La Barrie
Keeron IsaacStephanie Smith
Kyle HernandezTerriq Betaudier
Marcus HazelTerryl Betaudier

Wild Cards

Alexandria Douglas

Cheyenne Caliste

Jabari Collins

Sade Hinkson

30 poets head to National Poetry Slam semis

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