Bocas Lit Fest

Defending Champion



Arielle John
Trinidad & Tobago
 Dr. Patricia Saunders
Elisha Efua Bartels
Trinidad & Tobago
Jason Williams
Stephon Felmine

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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“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.”

Trudy Louison – Group Marketing and Communications Officer – Events, CSR and PR for First Citizens Tweet

Behind the Scenes


2022 marks the 10th Anniversary of the National Poetry Slam which has now established itself as the largest stage for spoken word in the Caribbean, with a TT$50,000 first place prize, one of the highest value awards for Spoken Word artists in the world.

From 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 competition will be accessible for public viewing, for free, and will be hosted by popular personalities and event organizers before a panel of live judges. Twenty hopeful winners will progress to the semifinal round which will take place before an in-studio audience and broadcasted on television.

Ten years, the First Citizens National Poetry Slam has seen:

  • 1009 poets auditioned (2013-2021)
  • 298 semi-finalists (2013-2021)
  • 99 finalists (2013-2021)
  • 30 winners (1st – 3rd places)
  • TT$450,000 distributed in prize money
  • 52 Slam events to date

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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