Young poets tackle social issues

| 11/05/2018
CNS Local Life

(L-R) JC Connor, of New Self Help Community Foundation; competition winners Romilly Miller (second place), Lauren Williams (first place) and Sanaa Archer and Bella Grieff (third place); and James Myles of Youth Services Unit

(CNS Local Life): Lauren Williams of the University College of the Cayman Islands has won this year’s “Creative Frame of Mind in Love” Poetry Slam finals, which was staged by the New Self-Help Community Foundation to celebrate Child Month. Competing with 11 other young poets live on-air, in an hour-long YouthFlex broadcast, the 20-year-old won $500, impressing the judges with the force, conviction and lyricism of her original composition, “Bang, Bang!” stated a press release.

Her “spoken word” poem dealt with the realities of those children who grow up in the Caribbean and experience absentee parents and gun violence. Williams said that she will use the prize money towards buying a laptop for university.

Cayman Prep and High School student Romilly Miller placed second in the competition, winning $400. The 18-year-old’s poem, “My Anxiety,” was about coping mechanisms and the self-esteem of teens battling anxiety and mental health issues.

Third-place winners were poetry slam duo Sanaa Archer and Bella Grieff, both 16 and also from Prep. The students, who will share the $300 prize money, penned and performed “Statistics,” which contextualised social issue statistics affecting teens such as gender non-conformity, gun violence and depression.

“Each poet had three minutes to perform their piece which meant they had to be short and intense,” said Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly. “I am glad to hear the final was publicised live on Radio Cayman and the poems were entertaining and informative.”

Increasingly popular, poetry slams are fast-paced competitive events where original poems often deal with personal and/or consciousness-raising topics. Contestants at the Wednesday, 2 May 2018 event were judged on originality, performance, stage presence, writing ability and thematic understanding.

As well as cash prizes, the winners also earned the chance to perform in June’s Talent X-Position of the Arts. The annual youth talent show is also organised by New Self-Help Community Foundation.

“I was happy to see so many young people take part and produce high-quality poetry pieces,” said James Myles, Youth Services Unit Coordinator and YouthFlex producer. “The Cayman Islands is blessed with very talented young people and thanks to the New Self-Help Community Foundation, the Youth Services Unit, Radio Cayman and the Young Caymanian Leadership Award recipient, Faith Gealey, we were able to showcase their poetic skills.”

Other finalists were from John Gray High School, Cayman Prep & High School and Clifton Hunter High School, Cayman Islands Further Education Centre, and the Lighthouse School.

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Category: Education, Language, Poetry

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