Poets in the spotlight
A prisoner opined that Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith could be part of "the cure" to the country's crime problem. Nicholas Khan expressed this belief when he performed in a wild card position at the second semi-finals of the First Citizens National Poetry Slam at the Central Bank auditorium, Port of Spain on Sunday night.
The audience was moved by Khan's vivid depiction of life in the nation's prisons where "Rastas don't know love" and "Muslims do not know peace." He reflected on troubles in the criminal justice system, including prisoners' matters being delayed because lawyers fail to appear in court.
Khan claimed lawyers are "paid to stay silent." After describing life in prison as "wake up to die again," Khan looked at the audience and said, "I'm sick of cells. Who has the cure?" He asked, "Gary is that you?" Echoing Griffith's "one shot one kill" statement, Khan believed the CoP was making a difference.
Another wild card performer, David Dennis, questioned the independence of TT's media. "Mr media, your role is not only to inform but to reform." Dennis questioned the seeming unfair balance in reporting of stories which happen to rich and poor people in society. He said the latter could be arrested for marijuana possession. But Dennis said the description is changed to "a plant-like substance" for the former.
Coryal Sylvester viewed the Venezuelan crisis through the eyes of a Venezuelan refugee. In her poem, she said Venezuelan women did whatever they had to do to escape the horrors taking place in their country. Sylvester said many Venezuelans did not expect to be trafficked or end up in detention centres in TT.
Marcus Mollette impressed the audience with his poem about life in a crime hotspot in TT. As he talked about the fine line between the police and criminals, including corrupt police officers, Mollette said, "I don't talk much." Seth Sylvester had the audience laughing as he told them about his problems to get rats out of his house. Alexandra Stewart reflected on the richness of TT's oral traditions in her performance.
In his poem, Chaquille Charles told the audience, "You don't know pain until you get robbed in a public toilet. Winston Trotman slammed men who take women for granted. "Women are not toys to be played with." After reflecting on this issue in a few more verses, Trotman opined, "The problem is really me."
The finals will take place at the National Academy for the Performing Arts on May 5. The semi-final round has 40 participants and is split into two shows. The finalists are not selected until after the second semi-final. The 15 finalists advancing to the final on May 5 will be announced tomorrow.
"Poets in the spotlight"