More Than A Literary Festival

First Citizens National Poetry Slam

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For more information, call the Slam Hotline at 375-2155 or email nationalpoetrytt@gmail.com

HISTORY

2023 marked the 11th edition of the National Poetry Slam which has established itself as the largest stage for Spoken Word in the Caribbean, with a TT$50,000 first place prize, the biggest cash prize  for Spoken Word artists in the world.

In 2020 and 2021, the First Citizens National Poetry Slam was a televised event with live judging broadcast and streamed to the public for free. Closed auditions were held via Zoom, where twenty poets were chosen for the semi-final rounds airing in August of both years.

In 2022, all stages of the championship were accessible for public viewing, for free, and was hosted by popular personalities each year. 2023 marked the return of the annual Spoken Word championship to its traditional in-person, pre-covid schedule, leading up to the annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest. The Grand Slam, once again, is the high-energy closing event of the festival.

Over ten years, the First Citizens National Poetry Slam has seen:

  • 1167 poets auditioned (2013-2023)
  • 348 semi-finalists (2013-2023)
  • 128 finalists (2013-2023)
  • 36 winners (1st – 3rd places)
  • TT $637,000 distributed in prize money
  • 66 Slam events to date

Competing against our Defending Champion
Alexandra Stewart

Semifinalists

Wild Card

Wild Card

Wild Card

Wild Card

Semifinals Judges

Ari-2
Arielle John
Trinidad & Tobago
Spoken Word Poet
David Roberts
David Roberts
Trinidad & Tobago
Judge
elisha_efua_bartels 2023
Elisha Efua Bartels
Trinidad & Tobago
Author
DjelibaJanique live.jfif
Janique Dennis - Prescott
Trinidad & Tobago
Judge
Lawrence Arjoon, Chief Executive Officer, The Heroes Foundation (1)
Lawerence Arjoon
Trinidad & Tobago
Judge

Audition Judges

David Roberts
David Roberts
Trinidad & Tobago
Judge
elisha_efua_bartels 2023
Elisha Efua Bartels
Trinidad & Tobago
Author
Jayron Remy
Jayron ‘DJ Rawkus’ Remy
Trinidad & Tobago
Judge
Lawrence Arjoon, Chief Executive Officer, The Heroes Foundation (1)
Lawerence Arjoon
Trinidad & Tobago
Judge
Nehilet Blackman
Nehilet Blackman
Trinidad & Tobago
Judge

2023 First Citizens National Poetry Slam Rubric

The scoring criteria are:

Voice – Tone quality, breath support, and intonation

Articulation – That includes diction and is how well and correctly the poet forms their vowels and consonants.

The poet demonstrates comfort on stage in performance, confidence in chosen activity, and appropriate expressions.

Gestures and appropriate movement should be consistent with the theme of the piece being performed. The actor utilises body movement to portray characterisation of the piece.

How the poet uses any literary technique employed by the author to produce an effect (tone, irony, figurative language, symbolism, foreshadowing, etc.).

How well the poet organises their ideas and expresses them in complete and coherent sentences. This also considers the style, tone and clarity of the messages articulated. 

The piece being performed is unbroken and consistent. There is intentional effort and concentration on the consistency of the characteristics of people, plot, objects, places, or any other element used in the piece.

Poets will be penalised for exceeding their time.

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Defending Champion

Finalists

Judges

Ari-2
Arielle John
Trinidad & Tobago
Spoken Word Poet
Pat Saunders Headshot
Dr. Patricia Saunders
Author
elisha_efua_bartels 2023
Elisha Efua Bartels
Trinidad & Tobago
Author
Jason Williams
Jason Williams
Media
Stephon Pic 4
Stephon Felmine
Economist

Her Excellency, Paula Mae Weekes

President to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Special Guest Judge.

elisha bartels

Head Judge - Author, Performer

Teresa White

Chief Shared Services Officer,
ANSA McAL Group of Companies

Omari Ashby

Creative Director, SagaboyCulture
Lecturer - Department of Creative and Festival Arts at The University of the West Indies

Kevin Jared Hosein

Author, Educator

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Semifinalists

“The semifinals are where the competition really switches gears and people bring their best work forward. I’m excited to witness even more dynamic, risk-taking poetry that offers seat-gripping performances that we will struggle to forget.”

In the media

“By the level of talent that exudes from our people in Trinidad and Tobago. It was amazing to hear how eloquently an everyday topic, or less-thought-about personal experience, can be captured so creatively and paint a different perspective.”

Behind the Scenes

Derron Sandy is 2021 Grand Slam Champion!

Veteran spoken word performer, and five-time finalist in the First Citizens National Poetry Slam, Derron Sandy, has copped his first Grand Slam win, taking home the grand prize of $50,000!

Dethroning the two-time defending champion, Alexandra Stewart, Derron’s ode to food vendors entitled “The Underground Warlords” was judged the winning performance by this year’s judges — Dennise Demming, Marge Blackman, Kwame Weekes, Paul Keens-Douglas, and Whitney Husbands.

Alexandra came in 2nd place and has won $20,000, and in third place, poet Michael Logie has earned the $10,000 cash prize. 

Congrats to the top 3 winners of the 2021 Slam, and to all the finalists for a spectacular final!

The Grand Slam poets all delivered sizzling performances, providing commentary on pertinent social justice issues and topics near and dear to their hearts. The finals aired on TTT on Sunday October 17 – relive the magic of the performances below!

2019 Grand Slam: Top Performances​

2018 Grand Slam: Top Performances

Behind the Poem

A lot of work goes into the making of that triumphant moment on stage in the Grand Slam. “Behind the Poem” is a video series where finalists in the 2019 First Citizens National Poetry Slam explain their final poem. Each poet gives us a glimpse into the themes and ideas that motivated their final piece in the competition and tells us what problems they may have faced during the writing process

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