34 in Poetry Slam Semis

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A TOTAL of 34 poets have earned coveted spots in the semifinal rounds of the 2024 First Citizens National Poetry Slam, marking a significant step forward following rigorous in-person auditions held in San Fernando, Port of Spain, and Tobago.

The announcement of the selections was made on Friday after nearly 100 aspiring poets delivered their verses before a distinguished judging panel.

This year’s panel of judges featured Richard “Chromatics” Rajkumar, Patti-Anne Ali, Victor Edwards, Evelyn Caesar Munroe, and head judge Arielle M John. The auditions showcased a diverse array of poetic expressions, covering topics such as politics, sexuality, religion, and self-esteem.


One of the standout features of the championship, the Wild Cards, promises to infuse an element of excitement into the semifinals. Four poets who narrowly missed the qualifying scores, including the ten-year-old Markus Wylie from Tobago, will compete in pairs during each semifinal. This provides them with the opportunity to join the Grand Slam finalists, adding a fresh burst of youthful energy to the competition.

Reflecting on the audition performances, head judge Arielle M. John commended the quality of the pieces, expressing admiration for the depth and sincerity of the performances. She noted the influx of new talent, stating, “I’m grateful to see so many new faces enter the ring this year. Poets are gaining confidence and really pushing themselves to create powerful, spirited, and truthful work.”


The semifinals are scheduled to take place in two rounds on March 23 and 24 at the Central Bank Auditorium in Port of Spain. Tickets, priced at $100, will soon be available for purchase at selected venues and online at www.bocaslitfest.com/poetry-slam.

The poets competing in the semifinals aim for the chance to perform at the Grand Slam finals on Sunday, April 28, concluding the 2024 NGC Bocas Lit Fest. The winner’s row offers a total of $80,000 courtesy of First Citizens, with first, second, and third places receiving $50,000, $20,000, and $10,000 respectively. Reigning Slam Champion Kyle Hernandez, who automatically advances to the Final, will face off against 14 qualifying poets from the semifinal round.

The 2024 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the largest annual literary event in the Anglophone Caribbean, promises an enriching experience with a diverse program of readings, performances, discussions, workshops, and other exciting events. For updates on the First Citizens National Poetry Slam, follow @nationalpoetryslamtt on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or call the Slam Hotline at 375-2155.

The semifinalists are:

Abdul Majeed Abdal Karim
Abibi-Africa Williams
Alexandra Stewart
Alicia Haynes
Annette Taylor
Celestial Marshall
Daniel Baptiste
Darion Cunningham
Dennis Joseph
Derron Sandy
Dershawn Hernandez
Earth Lezama
Gabrielle Murray
Joel Philip
Kaliq Cook
Kedisha Thomas
Keeron Isaac
Kevin Soyer
Kevin Fortune
Master-Akeem Phillip
Michael Logie
Ronaldo Mohammed
Seth Sylvester
Shakir Gray
Shakira Burton
Shimiah Lewis
Soleil La Barrie
Stephanie Smith
Swasthi Maharaj
Tevin Douglas
Wild Cards:
Gabrielle Abdool
Markus Wylie
Nia Thompson
Renaldo Briggs

For First Citizens National Poetry Slam updates, follow @nationalpoetryslamtt on Facebook,
Instagram, and Twitter or call the Slam Hotline at 375-2155.



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