“My two favourite things about Trinidad and Tobago are speed guns and tow trucks.”
That provocative opening line from Kyle Hernandez would have arrested the full attention of every licensed driver in T&T viewing the free online livestream of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest last Sunday.
The 2021 Bocas Lit Fest committee presented five top young poets in Hernandez, Derron Sandy, Shineque Saunders, Javaughn Forde and Shimiah Lewis in a special feature called Pavement Poets on what was the final day of a weekend full scholiastic exchanges and literary performances.
“Yuh ever see Port of Spain when dey see a tow truck? Is like, oh shucks, who foot does cyah move like dey toe stuck, when dey see a tow truck. Shouting in de people dem store like bandits announcing a hold up. PBM thirty-seven thirty-four, anybody driving PMB thirty-seven,thirty-four…
“It doh even have to be your fault or your vehicle, but as soon as yuh see dat cable pull, yuh feel things yuh never thought yuh was capable of feelin’. To see a stranger’s two font wheels in the sky. $500 go bye bye and your pocket mourn the loss. I mean is not your car but you understand de cost so yuh try to stop dem of course officer he coming back for sure he is my sister, brother, dog, uncle-in-law,” Hernandez continued to a conceivable litany of virtual living room snaps.
Hernandez delivered by far the most entertaining piece of the well produced event that saw the five poets perform one after the other during an impressive ten-minute-plus continuous one shot sequence, filmed inside and around The Writers Centre building on Alcazar Street, Woodbrook.
The virtual audience would have been tickled further when Hernandez, a past winner of The Motif Poetry Slam in Edinburgh, Scotland, openly professed the reasoning for his uncanny love for speed guns.
“Ah like speed guns tho. Well, de ones that warn yuh from de other side. You could be pushing 120 in yuh lil 120 Y, avert yuh eyes and is plenty lights, like flickering unlawful fireflies, fire bun Babylon if yuh share ticket yuh need to try harder, is fast we fast, who could drive past a brethren on ah by pass and beep, beep, beep this system that does beat we, secrets we keep for each other, deplorable, applaudable, squat on Government land because real estate not affordable,” he said to more silent virtual cheers.
The meaning of family
Shimiah Lewis and Javaughn Forde, meanwhile, utilised their screen time to share earnest if not completely different interpretations of what it means to be a family.
“Family is folklore. Unlikely characters creating culture, bridging gaps setting the foundation for future generations. Family is different personalities, like Jab Jab and Papa Bois, Soucouyant and La Diablesse, Mama Glow and Douen yet still they stand as the parents of our tradition. And they may not always mesh,” Lewis began twisting of the concept into a cultural metaphor.
The petite poetess argued that although families may not always get along they should always look out for one another.
“Family is messy like Port of Spain after Carnival Monday. And family is conflict like a fight that break out during Jouvert. But thais how it is because family will fight all those who oppose and clean up the mess for the sake of love,” Lewis continued.
While no one gets to choose the family they are born into, they can choose the family they create, Forde asserted when he held centre screen.
“Everybody family different… For some family might mean no one gets left behind. For others family might mean look we get born a step behind. Yuh doh get to pick and choose de family yuh born into. If your family doh family de way yuh like. When yuh get de opportunity make sure that your family, family right,” Forde said.
Earlier Derron Sandy and Shineque Saunders tackled issues of humility and pride from the respective of a parental and romantic relationship, respectively.
“My mother had pride, understand what I say when I say pride. She refuse to have us ride in free buses to school. Now you might call my mother a fool. But buses to her meant embarrassment and sufferation,” Sandy said in relating a story of his fiercely independent upbringing.
Saunders, meanwhile, demonstrated that real humility is having the courage to admit wrong when she delved into some literary self-reflection.
“This is an apology, to the guy that spoke love like scripture. That made me find sanctuary in the cracks of his smile. And gave me an arm to rest my head and my troubles and even if that arm fell asleep, he never did.
“And at first you showed no emotions and I thought that meant you felt nothing. It turns out it meant you felt everything. Every sharp cut answer. Every shrug. Every pull away. Every I love you left hanging and I wish you told me I wasn’t treating you the right way
“See I’ve never been a ride or die kind of girl but you were the first guy to make me want to say till death do us part. Dey say home is where de heart is, so I’ve been homeless for about a year and half now and I’ve since moved on from what I thought home was and started rebuilding my walls. So, this apology is just me laying de bricks,” Saunders concluded.