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September 30, 2014
Poet Laureate’s night of poetry inspires writers

Vincentians with a love of poetry indulged in a creative experience last Saturday, when they attended a poetry night with Poet Laureate of Brooklyn, Tina Chang.

Chang’s visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines, which was organized by the United States Embassy to Barbados and the OECS, {{more}}was the last stop on a three-island tour in which she shared the story behind her creative process and read original poems that were based on some of her life experiences.

Following her presentation, Chang told SEARCHLIGHT that when she was contacted by the Embassy to do a tour, she did not want to pass up the opportunity to meet the people of the Caribbean.

“I think this feels like the next step for me, where I can move beyond the regional territory to something that feels more international and sharing some of my ideas with those that are abroad. Having that cultural exchange feels really important to me, so it’s just like another level of my own growth,” the poet laureate said.

As a poet laureate of the 21st century, Chang noted that she is always trying to find new ways to define her job. She revealed that she can add this experience to projects that relate to literacy and bringing poetry into public spaces.

Additionally, Chang told SEARCHLIGHT that she hopes her presentation has inspired young poets in the Vincentian community, which seems to be an active one.

“I think it’s just to help them to think about poetry and that they’re capable of writing it. I think the purpose of the presentation and why I made it so personal and showed slides of my life, along with how I processed those ideas in order to make them into poems; I think people were convinced that they themselves can take the simplicities of their own life and make a poem as well, so the poem doesn’t seem so far reaching and the poem doesn’t seem so distant from them and they realize ‘yes I can take the small moments in my own life and the memories that I have and make them and shape them into poems’ because there’s a very lively and artistic community here,” she said.

“What I hope is that after they read their poems to the public, that they’ll gather a sense of inspiration for themselves and a sense of courage for what it is they could do in the future.”

Among the small gathering on Saturday were several young poets who described the experience as a “different” one that they would be able to learn from. Some persons were even brave enough to take to the microphones and share their original pieces with the audience.

Jason Browne, who is familiar with some of Chang’s poetry, told SEARCHLIGHT that he was happy that he was able to attend the poetry night.

“I think that once the work is good it would speak and her work is good,” Browne said.

“In terms of her style and delivery, it’s different than what we would do here in the Caribbean. We have more rhythm in terms of what we do, we rely more on rhyme. Her style is more of a memoir, so there is a bit of a difference there. I found what she brought to be interesting.”

Having been experimenting with poetry for about two years, Kelvin Pompey stated that he was able to learn from attending the event.

“For me, it was a bit different from what I’m used to. Her style and the way she constructs her poems are different from the way I do it; so for me it’s enlightening, the way she flows. It feels more like she’s telling a story through her poetry. It was just a good learning experience to hear how it’s put together,” he said.

Chang expressed interest in working with the US Embassy in the future to give this experience to other persons within the Caribbean. (BK)