Youth poetry competition at the library on Friday

POSTED: 02/11/13 2:12 PM

St. Maarten – This Friday Soualigan Fyah, a poetry/spoken word contest for high school students between the ages of 13 and 18 will be launched at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.
The competition, which is being organized by 5 Square Miles Productions and Imbali Center for Creative Movement in collaboration with the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, will run every Friday for five weeks from 5-7 p.m.

According to Lysanne Charles, 5 Square Miles Productions founder, the event aims to be a vehicle through which young people can explore their interest in poetry and also have a platform from which to voice their opinions.
“Soualigan Fyah is an idea that I have been walking around with and talking about for some time. After having organized Summer Speaks and Winter’s Words for a few years, I knew I wanted to do something similar for teenagers, so Soualigan Fyah grew out of that desire,” Charles said.

Charles explained that this year’s event was going to be the competition’s soft launch in order to gauge the interest amongst the young people for both poetry and such an event.
“We know that there are some creative young writers out in the community and we want to provide them with the space to engage with their talent on a different level. So we are going to give this an initial run and see how it is received amongst the youngsters,” Charles said.
Charles said that on the first Friday all of those who are interested should come to the Philipsburg Jubilee Library at 5 p.m. The first 30 teenagers who register will compete on the following three Fridays in groups of 10. The best 3 will go through each week and will meet in the final of the competition scheduled for Friday, March 15. Charles explained that a wildcard spot would also be granted to one of the eliminated teenagers. The teenagers will be judged by a different set of veteran poets each week and will also get to experience the work of an older poet at each event.
“The maximum number of participants is 30, but whether 30 teens show up or 10, the competition will run this year. I’m really excited about it and those I have spoken to are also enthused about the competition and about this new opportunity for teenagers to engage with this particular art form,” Charles said.
She said that while it was not being run as a high school competition this year she is still encouraging interested teenagers to go to their English teachers and Creative Arts teachers for support and to also bring along their friends and family members as a support network on the days they are competing.
“It is tough taking that step to the podium at times and because of that we are asking all of those interested in poetry and spoken word come out and support these young people once the competition starts on Friday, February 22. It is important that we create an appreciative environment for them to do this. The first Friday is really for the poets, they will be given packages with the rules of the competition and the category that they will be judged on. They will also get to meet with some of the older poets from Summer Speaks and Winter’s Words and will get to see one of them perform. So launch day is going to be fun,” Charles said.
Charles said that the eventual winner of the competition will perform at the upcoming Summer Speaks 2013 and would also travel to Tortola in October to perform at Microphone Messenjah, an annual poetry event held there.
“This is really all about the opportunity for self-expression, giving voice to their own thoughts. Of course there can be no lewdness and no profanity, but for the rest I’m really interested in hearing what the youth have to say and write about and I know the other poets are also. So I encourage the teenagers, both Dutch and French side based, who are interested in poetry, to come out and take advantage of this opportunity,” Charles said.
For more information contact Charles at LysanneCharles@gmail.com.

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