THE people have spoken. And the first ever NGC Bocas Lit Fest/Newsday’s People’s Choice T&T Book of the Year winner is marketer and radio personality Michelle Borel’s Soulspection: A Collection of Poetry.
The book got 50 per cent of the 2,054 final votes, claiming the winning spot over the five other finalists. The competition was launched on December 15 last year and closed on June 1.
The poetry collection, says the book description on www.bocaslitfest.com, has “writing in a variation of styles from haiku to diamante, Borel uses her words to paint pictures and evoke emotion. She whispers to her readers, telling them they are not alone in their pain. To live this life to the fullest, time must be spent on introspection and retrospection – down to the very depths of your soul.”
Nominations for the contest were open from December 16, 2017 to February 16. The competition was held in two stages, with the public choosing the final six from the 39 nominated, between February 23 and April 25. Stage two saw the winner being chosen from the final six from May 1 to June 1. Anna Lucie-Smith, Bocas Lit Fest festival manager, said there were 1,933 voters in the first round and 2,054 n the second.
The competition attracted a variety of work from a variety of writers, in the categories of children’s literature, fiction, graphic novel, literary non-fiction and poetry. Some of TT’s most recognisable figures were among the nominated works including former Port of Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing and poet and former Newsday reporter Andre Bagoo.
The finalists were: Nichola Harvey’s 21 Powerful P’s to Success; D H Gibbs’ Don’t Go Mango Picking; Shivanee Ramlochan’s Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting; Lyndon Baptiste’s Men and Misfit; Kevin Jared Hosein’s The Repenters and Borel’s Soulspection.
For Borel, 35, her win continues the long line of “well doing” and “firsts” within her family, who come from Cedros. In fact, the late historian Angelo Bissessarsingh described them on his Instagram page as “Cedros nobility.” A March 6, 2009 post said the Borels “have lived here continuously since 1860. The Borels were once owners of St Anne Estate, which was planted in sugar and at one time, the single largest landholding in Cedros. The patriarch of the family, Charles Didier Borel emigrated from Martinique in1855 and settled in Fullerton. Aside from his ownership of St Anne, he owned several ‘moses boats’ (flat-bottomed sailing skiffs) which provided a vital transport link between Cedros and Port of Spain, and a cheaper alternative to the island steamer which operated from 1818-1928.”
Borel’s cousin, the late Rudy King was the first person to take pan to the US, in 1949, she said, and which was corroborated by www.panonthenet.com.
“In thinking of all of those things, it feels very warm because I feel like you are doing something for yourself. It is for those who came before you and those who are to come after you,” she added.
Borel began writing at eight. At eight, she won a newspaper competition which asked her to talk about home.
“At that point in time I spoke about my three homes. I would spend weekends by my mum, weekdays by my grandma and some time by my dad. I spoke of the benefits as well as the other sides of that as a child.”
She has been published in two international poetry publications, The International Who’s Who of Poetry in 2012 and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.
But Soulspection came after she was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare blood disorder.
“When I had my third child, the doctors told me I would most likely not have the ability to see my baby.
“I just felt that seeing I was blessed with life, while alive, I must be alive. I also wanted to give my children something that they could always physically hold on to as opposed to me just having my own personal collection.”
Borel added that she felt the book would give her children the opportunity always to remember that their mother “had a goal and put forward something into it.
“That was my way of allowing them to feel my heartbeat whether I am here or not here.”
She heavily promoted her work, sharing with others and reading from her collection for people willing to hear.
Borel has already finished her second collection, Soulfully Yours, and plans to publish a third as part of a wider Soul series.
Soulspection: A Collection of Poetry is available at Charran’s Bookstore, Amazon.com, www.iuniverse.com and Barnes & Noble.