Two local spoken word poets have been selected to represent the country at the Individual World Poetry Slam 2018 in October in San Diego, California.
The duo of Brendon O’Brien and Keir Roopnarine will be the first T&T-based Spoken Word poets to ever compete at the slam.
However, the duo is now running against the clock to secure funding to attend the event, since they do not have all the required funds.
“We’re eager to get out there and take our Caribbean storytelling to a world stage! There’s just one thing, while we’ve managed to raise funds for visa fees and registration for the event, we’re still working towards funds for travel and accommodation at the event,” O’Brien said on a social media post.
On the post, O’Brien explained, “We’ve heard from the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts that some funding has been approved, but they don’t have any idea of when that would be disbursed to us.”
As such, the poets have turned to the public for help in getting them there by starting a gofundme account.
They are working to raise the remaining US$3,500 (TT$23,602) to cover airfare and accommodations for the competition, as well as daily costs throughout the event.
O’Brien explained that they were very lucky to get into the International World Poetry Slam.
“As far as being selected, the system they have is that poets from the US actually represent particular venues through slams in their states. Outside of that, they have ‘storm poets’, who can register for spaces in the slam after that, but there’s a draw for which poets actually get to make it to the event. And luckily, we both get through in the draw.”
The duo is part of the poetry group The Griot Guild and while they have performed at various spoken word events nationally, this would their first international event as competitors.
O’Brien was present as a member of the coaching staff for the T&T team ‘Poetry in D Gayelle’ which finished second at the Brave New Voices international youth poetry slam event in July. But despite being a regular finalist at the Bocas Lit Fest Poetry slam competition, he has yet to compete in an international tournament.
Roopnarine has also graced several local spoken word events and also presented a workshop alongside O’Brien at the Brave New Voices Festival, introducing young poets from the US to the oral tradition of the Midnight Robber.
Anyone seeking to assist them can contact The Griot Guild via email at thegriot[email protected] or telephone at 297-POET (7638).