At last week's thrilling finals of the Courts Bocas Secondary Schools Spoken Word Intercol competition, Shineque Saunders, of Pleasantville Secondary School, rose to the challenge and beat her rivals for the top prize.
The 17-year-old's poem, The Chronicles of a Tomboy, impressed the five judges with its rhyme, relevance, references, its insights, humour and presentation.
For the second year in succession, female competitors outnumbered the males and were the three finalists in 2016.
Camryn Bruno, of Bishop's High School, Tobago, and Alexandra Stewart, 16, of St Joseph's Convent, St Joseph, romped into second and third places, respectively. It is the second year that St Joseph's Convent, St Joseph, has been in the winning three.
Shineque was one of 14 spoken word performers from schools nationwide competing to be champion of the third Courts Bocas Speak Out competition that each year engages with over 25,000 secondary school pupils in over 50 schools.
UWI's Daaga Hall was full on March 12 when hundreds of pupils gathered to support their school's representative in the championship.
Nicole Lonely-Mills of Courts said, “We believe in supporting the country's youth and are very pleased to work with the Bocas Lit Fest and the 2Cents Movement in this valuable and enjoyable project that targets our nation's schoolchildren.”
She presented Shineque Saunders with an iPad and the runners-up with an iPad-mini.
The winner also gets to select her favourite spoken word artist from the 2Cents Movement for a one-year mentorship programme to help develop her oral and literary skills, and to perform at two events at the Sixth NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the country's annual literary festival, during the festival, April 23 – May 1. The Cascadoo Spoken Word Festival also presents the opportunity for the winner to tour with six international spoken word artists in a week of outreach performances for communities of at-risk youth such as YTC and St Jude's Home for Girls.
Marina Salandy-Brown, director of the Bocas Lit Fest, which administers the Intercol, remarked upon the high quality and rich range of subject matter presented for judging.
“Every year we are stunned by what young people have to say about their lives and how they say it. The value of this project, not just in the training and development of discipline and application and the refinement of creative talent, but, importantly, in the platform it provides for the expression of private matters that actually concern us all.”
The Courts Bocas Speak Out Tour is dedicated to raising an appreciation of all forms of self-expression through words, written and spoken, among people of all ages. The project is led by the dynamic young poets of the 2Cents Movement, who have been making a name for themselves as exemplary exponents of the increasingly popular form that challenges young people to articulate their thoughts creatively.
Jean Claude Cournand, Bocas youth outreach coordinator and founder of the 2Cents Movement, said, “We saw some very good work at this year's finals. We want young people to care about themselves and our society and to understand how they can shape and improve it.”
The 2017 Courts Bocas Secondary Schools Tour gets under way again in October.
See: www.bocaslitfest.com for more information about the festival and https://www.facebook.com/The2CentsMovement