Tamara Lowe, a poet from the northern town of Portsmouth, kicked off the annual Bocas Lit Fest on Friday 23rd April, with her poem “To You Who Love Him.” She was the first in a packed lineup of Regional authors, poets and spoken word artists to perform at the 2021 staging of the annual three-day event presented by the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago.
“This is so surreal for me,” says Lowe, who made her Festival debut this year and was encouraged to enter by Dominican author/poet and 2020 Bocas participant Celia Sorhaindo. “I submitted the poem with no real expectations and to be selected, and then to participate – it is just a great feeling. I was blown away! I am grateful to the organisers of the Bocas Lit Festival for this amazing opportunity.”
Her performance was delivered in the signature open mic event “Stand and Deliver,” this year in virtual format due to COVID-19 limitations. Hosted by Jayron Remy AKA DJ Rawkus of Trinidad, the segment featured fellow Trinis Alex de Verteuil and Chris Baball and Rita Leone and Lexington Wilks of Grenada. “Stand and Deliver” ended with another Dominican, Makyba Breezie who read a short story.
From her childhood days, Lowe was an avid reader and lover of poetry and knew that she had a gift for writing poems when, at 13 years old, she wrote one about death. “My mom said it was really good,” she recalls.
Over the years, she has performed at the Nature Island Literary Festival, at events held by the Dominica Reading Association, at the Dominica Festival of Arts -Domfesta (she will again be performing at the 2021 staging) and at poetry events held locally and online.
Lowe, who serves as the Country Manager of Tropical Shipping, an international shipping company, says despite her love of poetry, she never considered a career in the arts, because she did not understand back then the possibility of what it could become. Now with her performance at Bocas, she is truly owning her gift.
“I have referred to myself as a poet, but have experienced a little bit of impostor syndrome. When I was informed that my piece was chosen for the Festival, I felt like I finally owned that title, even more so when I found out that my poem was the piece kicking off the Festival! I felt so honored and it thoroughly quenched my thirst for the ‘validation’ that I secretly craved as an artist!”
She says her poems are inspired by “everyone and everything” around her.
“I read a lot and do extensive research on topics that interest me, and also read and listen to inspiring poets like Maya Angelou, Dionne Brand, Canisia Lubrin and Aja Monet, to name a few. I live with a sense of discovery and wonderment that allows me to find content in the most unexpected places. It is a beautiful experience.”
“To You Who Love Him,” the poem which she delivered at Bocas Lit Fest, speaks to the need for our black men to be loved and emphasises that this love is worth fighting for. Another of her poems, “A Mother and Son” examines the beauty revealed in that unconditional bond between a mother and her son, while “To Little Black Girls Who May Never Be Told” is a motivation piece for Black women and girls to understand and own their power and #blackgirlmagic.
Lowe says she hopes that viewers enjoyed her Bocas performance and were inspired by her words. “Through my work, I want people to understand the beauty and power in words. I also want my work to effect change.”
Sorhaindo certainly thinks she has what it takes, “Tammy is an amazing poet and her delivery is emotional and moving, she says.
With the help of author Delroy ‘Nesta’ Williams, Sorhaindo manages the Nature Island Literary Festival Facebook page. Though the event has not occurred for some time, the platform is used to motivate, inspire and share useful literary information with fellow Dominicans including Lowe.
Apart from the “Stand and Deliver” segment, the three-day NGC Bocas Lit Fest saw panel discussions on topics to include Caribbean LGBTQ issues, current readership of Caribbean literature as well as literary reviews, a virtual walking tour, an activity-packed children’s programme and other performances.
The Bocas Lit Fest is a year-round writing and literary arts development organisation, with numerous initiatives forging links and opportunities between writers, readers, publishers and others. The annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest, named as one of the world’s best, is the organisation’s signature annual event. The organisation administers major regional writing prizes out of the festival, which provide crucial support for Caribbean writers, including the prestigious OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and The Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize. This year’s Bocas Prize was awarded to St Lucia-born, Canada-based, poet Canisa Lubrin for her book-length poem Dyzgraphxst. She will receive a prize of US$10,000.00 courtesy of One Caribbean Media.
Bocas Lit Fest
Dominican Poet Tamara Lowe
(*note there are two photos, one in portrait layout and the other in landscape. Please use the format that works best on your platform)
LINK TO DOWNLOAD PERFORMANCE OF “TO YOU WHO LOVED HIM” AT BOCAS LIT FEST 2021