Poetry Slam Competition Empowers Primary School Students in St. Ann’s East

I’m still so behind in my posting of these articles…Today I post an article that was published on Saturday 14th May, 2016 in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. When I was invited to cover the poetry slam by the library’s Corporate Communications Manager I didn’t know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised.

Hosted by the Honourable Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and MP for St. Ann’s East (Trinidad) in collaboration with the San Juan library, it was well received by all in attendance. I only met the minister on a few occasions but speaking with her, the intention behind the event was a genuine as the students’ desire to contribute to this wonderful artform.

You can read it on Newsday here.


On Friday 6th May the first annual Poetry Slam for primary schools in the St. Ann’s East Constituency was hosted under the patronage of Dr. The Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly in collaboration with the San Juan library at the Audio Visual Room of the National Library of TT.

The objective of the competition was to foster an appreciation of both national pride and develop the writing and oratory skills of the participants. The event was very well received by both the children and adults present alike and was the brainchild of Gadsby-Dolly who is also the Minister of Community Development Culture and the Arts as well as MP for St. Ann’s East.

The children came out in all their glory to wow audiences and showcase their talent, skills and hard work to their eager parents, teachers and peers. The sch

ools that participated was San Juan Presbyterian, Bourg Mulatresse RC, La Pastora Government and Maracas SDA.

There were two age categories – 7-9 years old and 10 -12 years old and book hampers were awarded to every student that took part as well as tablets and books for the 1st prize winners, the former to reinforce that each participate was a winner and deserved recognition.

In the 7-9 age category Caleb Leon thrilled guests with his rendition of ‘Trinbagonian Homecoming’ which he wrote himself! As tiny and young as he is, he recited his poem with ease and jubilation.

After coming off stage he literally jumped for joy and hugged his teacher still r

iding on the high of his energetic performance. Many who have experienced this know what that is like. It was no surprise he came out on top winning the first prize in his category.

Isabel Bryan of the San Juan Presbyterian Primary School came in second with the animated performance of her poem – ‘Nation Building’. The third prize went to Sheldon Alfred of Bourg Mulatresse RC for his poem ‘I am who I am’ and the fourth prize was won by Daniel Theodore and T’Mia Guytan of La Pastora Government Primary for their poem – ‘Tasty T&T’.

In the 10 – 12 age category Abiola Hector of La Pastora Government copped the first prize with the passionate recital of her poem ‘Building our Nation’. The second and third prize went to Mariah Getto of Bourg Mulatresse RC and Isaac Bryan of San Juan Presbyterian respectively for their poems and ‘I stand tall’ and ‘Nation building.’ The fourth prize went to L’lyse Hislop of Maracas SDA for the poem ‘Our wonderful nation.’

There were also impromptu competitions to which the children bravely volunteered to take the stage to the entertainment and enjoyment of the adoring audience.

Gadsby-Dolly admits there were some challenges as teachers expressed difficulty in getting students to contribute in this way especially so

close to SEA time as they were heavily involved in the process. However, she says her objective was fulfilled which was to encourage literacy and provide a platform for students in literature and the arts to perform their skills and contribute in that way.

The minister applauded the efforts of the staff at the San Juan library, the teachers and students of the schools chosen within the constituency, the librarians at the various libraries who volunteered as judges and of course the prizes which were sponsored by businessmen within the constituency.

One of the aims was to foster interaction with schools within the constituency and Gadsby-Dolly says she measured the success of the initiative by the time and passion invested by the students to take the stage, participate and share.

The Minister tells the Newsday that her team will be making it an annual event and is looking forward to bigger things for the students next year.


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