Crystal Skeete-St Hillaire, the only Tobagonian who competed in the First Citizens Poetry Slam finals on Sunday, did not capture the first prize in the competition. But she still feels a sense of accomplishment since she believes her message from God was well delivered and received.
The 32-year-old doctor with the Tobago Regional Health Authority told Newsday Tobago last month, she was on a mission to share the word of God, and felt the need to use the Poetry Slam platform to encourage the audience to seek and love him.
On Sunday at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port of Spain, after battling poets from Trinidad vying for the $50,000 first prize with her poem The Unsung Mothers, Skeete-St Hillaire was not among the top three announced, so she is not sure how close she was to the title.
"My piece did go a few seconds over the allotted time, so I would have received a time penalty for that. And with the stiff level of competition, that would have cost me.”
However, she told Newsday Tobago, she is anxiously anticipating what plans God has for her future.
“As long as he (God) gives me issues to speak about, I will continue to speak for him by the grace of God. Overall I just give God all the praise, all glory and honour and I just know that this piece – based on the audience's reaction, I know it would have touched a lot of lives. Now it’s just about time we break the silence as many continue to suffer from these issues of infertility.”
Her poem is written in the first person and outlines a number of issues faced by women who are unable to conceive or carry a child to full term.
“It was a great night with some outstanding competitors, all who were passionate about the issue that they selected. The issue that was placed in my heart, I believe it was given and instructed by God.
"It also looked at the issue through the lives of different Bible characters including Sarah, Rachel and Elizabeth.”
The piece uses the extended metaphor of a soldier in bloody battle to represent the battle of women facing recurrent miscarriages, stillbirth and infertility – the women who are often overlooked on Mother’s Day although they are mothers.
The poem reads in part: “As soldier, I march with camouflaged smiles through torturous trenches lined with clots of my own blood and strips of my own flesh. I march silently through assault with deadly questions of ‘Why you not pregnant yet?' I cross rivers of red as my body creates casualties of its young comrades – victims of fibroid bombs and friendly hormonal fire.I want to know, is it nearing midnight on my biological clock? Commander when will this tour of duty end? Lord if you will, then it will be done. But why, why will you will this to me?”
It ends with a reply from God, assuring that he knows the pain of watching his child die, challenging the soldier that she is too pregnant with self to receive his blessing, and final assurance that victory lies in him.”