More Than A Literary Festival

St James teen wins youth essay competition

Seventeen-year-old Samara Dolabaille is the first-place winner of the GCCA+ Bocas Ways of Sunlight Youth Writing Competition.

Administered by the Bocas Lit Fest in partnership with the EU-funded Global Climate Change Alliance+, the writing competition for young authors aged 12 to 18 celebrates the centenary of iconic T&T writer Sam Selvon, taking its name from one of the late T&T author’s best-loved books. It is intended to simultaneously raise awareness of the Global Climate Change Alliance+ goals, and offer a creative outlet for young writers.

Dolabaille, a student of Providence Girls’ Catholic School, won for her essay titled “Who Are You?”, exploring questions of identity and equality in Trinidad and Tobago.

The competition’s second-place winner is 17-year-old Jada-Marie Giles of Arouca, with an essay titled “Trinbagonian Culture”. Sixteen-year-old Rebekkah Murray of Carnbee, Tobago, placed third, with “Next Flight Out of Trinidad and Tobago”.

The three winners will receive cash prizes of TT$6,000, $3,000, and $1,000, respectively.

The judges, writers Tracy Assing and Rawiya Hosein, also singled out one of the younger entrants, 12-year-old Siddiq Ameeral, for special mention.

The GCCA+ Bocas Ways of Sunlight Youth Writing Competition asked young authors to write and submit essays exploring contemporary life in Trinidad and Tobago through themes similar to the ones Selvon wrote about in his book Ways of Sunlight. These include family and community, education and personal development, social and cultural change, migration, relations across boundaries of ethnicity and class, and personal and collective identity.

“Many of these essays displayed an impressive understanding of craft and structure, and made creative use of language. Some notable entries explored current socio-cultural issues with nuance, and also managed to connect these issues to Selvon’s work,” said competition judge Rawiya Hosein.

“These entries were humorous, imaginative, and considered,” added co-judge Tracy Assing. “Many entries focused on migration and tradition, which were Selvon’s favourite themes.”

The GCCA+ Bocas Ways of Sunlight Youth Writing Competition followed on from a series of events celebrating Selvon’s legacy at the 2023 NGC Bocas Lit Fest in April.

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