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Zenna Lewis

The Caribbean Magazine Plus (CMP) Poetry Contest 2021 award ceremony held on October 9, was a huge success thanks to its parent company, Arawak Media.

New poets are now recognised and had their chance to bask in the glow of their accomplishments as it has given them a “boost of motivation” and “courage” to do more.

The top two finalists out of three were all first-timers to submitting their work to the wider public.

Candice Diane-Skerrette, first-place finisher from T&T, with her entry “Let Girls be Girls”, said about her inspiration for her entry: “The inspiration was based on reading an article about the experience of a foreigner in another Caribbean island with street harassment and the emotions that the individual spoke about, it resonated with me and kind of made me reflect on experiences a lot of us have had as women and Caribbean women in particular.”

Candice only shared her work with family members until CMP ran the contest. Now she said she has more courage and will share more of her work as she now has confidence that she is on the right path with her efforts.

“It has really given me a lot of courage,” she said,

In second place was Zenna Lewis from St Vincent and the Grenadines, with her entry “Madam Anxiety”.

“The inspiration for my piece came from my own personal experiences and my own personal struggles with anxiety and depression,” she said.

“Being a teacher I had to learn how to cope with my anxiety and some days are better than somewhere she tends to take full control over my mental space and she blocks me from seeing my true potential as an individual.”

Zenna has always kept to herself as her anxiety held her back, but no more.

She said entering the competition “was the boost of motivation for me because of my anxiety has been that issue that I had to overcome in order to see the potential in my writing pieces.”

Kwame McPherson, author and speaker and the contest lead judge as well as the host of the award ceremony, said he was more than grateful to Arawak Media and CMP for allowing him to help new artists to the public space.

The award-winning author has written countless books to go along with his awards. He said about Zenna’s piece that he was “drawn” to it because his latest work is on depression and anxiety.

“It was really poignant in that sense and relevant to what I had written. And I saw similarities to what I had put into my book and to what you have you had the prose you have created and the diversity in it. It was again another powerful piece and very thought-provoking,” he said.

Ysanna John, who placed third and is from the British Virgin Islands by way of SVG, is also a teacher and the most experienced of the trio as she has submitted works before for wider publication and dissemination.

She said: “My first competition my first writing competition that I entered was when I was in secondary school. My first competition was in Farmer’s Week in SVG and I won that competition.”

Last year, John also entered the Commonwealth Secretariat Short Story Competition but didn’t place. She plans to enter again this year.

The entire award ceremony is on CMP’s YouTube Channel or the Facebook page @ Caribbean Magazine Plus. Visit the website CaribMagPlus for more information.