Spoken word poet Alexandra C. Stewart has been named the 2023 winner of the NGC Bocas Youth Writer Award, adding to her list of accolades.
The 25-year-old was announced as the winner of the award, which recognises talented young writers from Trinidad and Tobago, at the closing event of the 2023 NGC Bocas Youth Fest, on Saturday 21 October.
Stewart is no stranger to the literary spotlight, as a three-time champion and eight-time finalist in the First Citizens National Poetry Slam.
The NGC Bocas Youth Writer Award judges commended Stewart for “her evocative and powerful spoken word piece ‘Dear Daughter’, which pushes past ‘page and stage’, living online and rent-free in the minds of anyone lucky enough to hear or read it.”
The award, sponsored by the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago, comes with a cash prize of TT$5,000.
The judges also gave an honourable mention to writer Kela Roberts for her creative nonfiction piece “When I Think About Climate Change” — “which articulates, with persuasive authority, the frustrations of her generation inheriting the burdens of climate change.”
UWI student Scyllina Samuel was the third writer on the award shortlist.
Chaired by Celeste Mohammed — herself the winner of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature — the NGC Bocas Youth Writer Award judging panel also included 2023 First Citizens National Poetry Slam winner Kyle Hernandez, advertising executive and songwriter Julie Harris, and writer and editor Britt McHugh.
Mohammed said the judges were pleased with the award nominations. “It was encouraging to see so many young people who are not only pursuing their passion for writing with resolve, but are also maximising the benefits of social media to make an impact on the consciousness of our wider world,” she added.
Launched in 2021, the NGC Bocas Youth Writer Award goes to the young person in the literary arts whom the judges deem as demonstrating the most impact with their work in the last year. It includes all genres of writing: poetry, playwriting, fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, scriptwriting, spoken word, blog writing, and song lyrics.
The announcement of the winner was a highlight of the two-day 2023 NGC Bocas Youth Fest, held at the Department of Creative and Festival Arts of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine.
Festival attendees, ranging in age from 13 to 25, enjoyed a lively, interactive, and entirely free programme of performances and workshops, a career fair, and the NGC Bocas Youth Debate, among other activities.
The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited is the title sponsor of the NGC Bocas Youth Fest, founded with the aim of making literature more relevant, appealing, and accessible to young people nationwide.