Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 5th 2014 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, May 5, 2014
Ayanna Gillian Lloyd reads at the Bocas Lit Fest. PHOTO COURTESY BOCAS LIT FEST
I read an excerpt inspired by the
events after the death of my mother.
It dealt with the experience of dressing
her body in the funeral home. Hard
to write and harder to read. Fiction,
even when inspired by life events is
still fiction, though.
The treatment, the selection of the
narrative voice, the causal relationship
between scenes is still critical. Its not
life vomit, it s not therapy, it s art.
I come from a family of readers,
teachers and musicians. About two
years ago I started working on my
writing more seriously, getting down
the stories that had been living in my
It s difficult to say whether there
even is a young literary scene in T&T.
Spoken-word events are more popular
with young people than text-bound
Anyone who is seriously interested
in developing as a writer in T&T
comes to Bocas. Hopefully in future
there will be more literary agents
attending, including those not known
for publishing Caribbean writing. And
it would be great to see panel discus-
sions of the work of young local writ-
Idrees Jali Saleem
Winner of the Verses Bocas Poetry
Slam Finals 2014
Last year I placed fifth in the spo-
ken-word competition. This year I
was part of the open mic events and
was impressed by the way everything
flowed and was held together by a
small band of big hearts.
I met great writers, Earl Lovelace,
Gillian Moor and Vladmir Lucien
amongst others. There were conver-
sations about probable performances
abroad and encouragements to con-
tinue along my path.
I performed a piece on claiming
and creating my identity as a per-
former. While emulating and
acknowledging the greats, I seek my
own print in spoken-word history. It
was performed in the form of an
exchange of banter between myself
and a robot who claims he is respon-
sible for my lyrical prowess.
I have loved writing for as long as
I can remember and I was always a
performer, it runs through my family
on both sides, but I didn t love the
stage. Anxiety was my biggest issue.
But I was introduced to the stage thru
the St Augustine drama club seven
years ago. Two years later I was intro-
duced to spoken word through
Muhammad Muwakil of Freetown
Collective. He was president of an
open-mic forum on campus by the
name of U.We Speak.
The stage is a drug. When you add
"I have something to say" to that mix,
it becomes something exhilarating.
The feeling of competition, especially
when you know how fiery these com-
petitors are, can make your heart
explode. Your composure must be
that of a monk s. But although I was
nervous, the support was extraordi-
St Lucian author of Sounding
I ve always had this strange vision
of how nations come into being: peo-
ple moving around in the same space,
shoulders brushing, ears catching the
various voices and through some
cumulative process, the nation is born.
This is similar to how I see Bocas. A
place where Caribbean literature is
reaffirmed by the numerous events
but also just being in that space, walk-
ing between events, liming.
I met several writers, including
Kwame Dawes, who edited my col-
lection, Kei Miller, who is a pleasure
to meet and a phenomenal poet. Lin-
ton Kwesi Johnson s presence was
powerful for many of us in many
ways. Caz Phillips is most certainly
one of my heroes.
Mervyn Morris is a presence that
is both soft and sturdy. Lorna Good-
ison is a beautiful presence. Younger
writers like Malika Booker, Anthony
Joseph, Lauren Alleyne, Gaiutra
Bahadur, No-Violet Bulawayo, Roland
Watson Grant. So many amazing
Sounding Ground pays tribute to
all kinds of influences. I reflect on
the life and death of Walter Rodney.
There s a poem written when I visited
CLR James grave a few years ago.
The poems flit about the language
complex/continuum of St Lucia. I feel
immensely privileged to have a book
under that category: Caribbean liter-
From Page B1
I have loved writing for as
long as I can remember and
I was always a performer,
it runs through my family
on both sides, but I didn't
love the stage. Anxiety
was my biggest issue. But I
was introduced to the
stage thru the St
Augustine drama club
seven years ago. Two years
later I was introduced to
spoken word through
Muhammad Muwakil of
Freetown Collective. He
was president of an open-
mic forum on campus by
the name of U.We Speak.
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