Alexandra Stewart… Poetry Slam winner
By Sue-Ann Wayow
CREATING history once again at the First Citizens National Poetry Slam (FCNPS) is poet and educator Alexandra Stewart.
Stewart, 24, toppled last year’s winner Derron Sandy for the first place position and the $50,000 cash prize at the finals of the poetry slam which took place last Sunday at the Naparima Bowl in San Fernando.
It would be the third time she is copping the first place title and is the only person in the Slam tournament to have won the championships twice consecutively.
The event was held at a south venue for the first time in ten years tying in with the Bowl’s 60th anniversary and the first time with a live audience in two years.
Stewart, delivering her piece just before the defending champion Sandy, spoke passionately about the way men looked at women as if they were a piece of meat, walking down the street, only to snuff out their heartbeat.
Wearing a red cloak, symbolic of the story of Red Riding Hood who was almost tricked by a wolf, she spoke about men being wolves, prowling and preying on innocent women with the message that boys needed to be taught from young how to respect and treat girls and women.
Upon the announcement that she was the first-place winner, Stewart expressed a mixture of emotions, almost on the verge of joyful tears. She thanked all who supported her over the years.
She collected her award from First Citizens Group Deputy CEO – Business Generation, Jason Julien before posing for pictures with the President.
The National Poetry Slam was organsied by Bocas Lit Fest and is one of the largest events for the spoken word art form in the Caribbean.
First Citizens has been the title sponsor since day one and Julien stated that from then to now, the bank has invested $3 million into the performing artists.
Click here to see list of finalists
He also said the bank made an excellent investment into the development of the artform that began in bars and restaurants.
The theme for this year’s FCNPS was “A Season of Change” which symbolised the emergence from the doom and gloom of the pandemic and a new verve and enthusiasm surrounding the evolution of the slam.
In delivering remarks, San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello boasted of the numerous popular artists that got their beginnings by performing on the Naparima Bowl stage and said that even if the country ran out of oil and gas, there was an abundance of natural talent.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell also attended.
Ten poets competed at the final stage against Sandy who still remained in the top three in third position.
He received a $10,000 cash prize.
Dressed in scrubs, his rendition focused on fixing the school system and especially the teachers would could not be bothered with giving children a proper education.
Placing second and gaining $20,000 prize money was Kevin Soyer who spoke on “links” and that the only way to make it to the top in Trinidad and Tobago was by “who know who.”
In giving his feedback he said, “This was my first live slam performance. The energy was amazing. I didn’t anticipate how interactive and responsive the audience would be. It was very different from performing my poetry in front of just cameras and I wasn’t exactly prepared for it, but I have even more respect for all the veteran slam performers. Truly a great experience.”
All poets delivered well, according to the head judge Elisha Bartels who spoke briefly before announcing the winners.
The response of the audience to the pieces was energetic with squeals and screams accompanied by the waving of paper flags as poets delivered one after the other, dramatic presentations of issues the population were dealing with including: potholes, the high price of food – corn beef to be specific, the disconnection between government and faith-based denominational schools, the pains of a woman’s menstrual cycle and of course, Stewart’s winning piece focusing on the crimes involving women.
Julien pledged continued support for the National Poetry Slam agreeing with Regrello that such talent could be marketed internationally.
Bocas Lit Fest CEO Jean Claude Cournand gave an overview of the tournament and thanked First Citizens for supporting them over the years.
The Slam was hosted by Ainka Williams and Thaddeus Jardine (Thaddy Boom).