by the 2 Cents Movement
Caribbean development and innovation demands creative thinking in order to chart the course forward towards developing solutions for the region, and imagining the best future for ourselves. The 2 Cents Movement rose out of the passionate desire to nurture this kind of creativity as an approach to nation building through youth development and social change. We believe strongly in the use of applied art, and employ spoken word poetry as a means of creating meaningful dialogue, enhancing literacy, sharing ideas, and positively impacting young people.
Embracing the power of spoken work poetry
Emerging from a debate society at the University of the Southern Caribbean in 2012, we quickly observed that there were different modes of effectively sharing thoughts on particular issues - and one such medium was performance poetry. The art form had already been growing in popularity across Trinidad and Tobago as an offshoot of earlier rapso traditions and a nod to the lyrical vigour of hip hop and dancehall music. Young people embraced the mastery of the practice and its message; we considered how powerful it could be to use spoken word poetry in a strategic way to reach youth and engage their interest in the world around us.
We had a pool of artists who consistently performed their work across the country, who decided to come together and harness their energies to build the craft and enrich it with relevant and captivating stories as told in the most dynamic ways possible. We were able to develop a number of projects that involved these works, and thereby combined the power of poetry with the need for encouraging young people to think and express themselves creatively in safe spaces, which we would eventually help create.
One of our core projects as an organisation has been our work within the education system, with this year being our third instalment of the Courts Bocas Speak Out Tour. In this event we visit over fifty (50) secondary schools annually to host a full poetry showcase and workshops as a lead up to the inter-school poetry competition. Students are immersed in an experience of the art, and are encouraged to devise their own, even within our newer education initiatives such as the Republic Bank Inspire Tour that targets primary school populations nationwide.
One of our largest supporters in this poetry and social engagement work has been the Bocas Lit Fest, the premier literary organisation of the Caribbean region, which hosts the annual First Citizens Poetry Slam as the crowning closer to their weeklong literary arts festival. We have had sold-out audiences of over 1200 patrons, with the winners contending for cash prizes and national recognition for their excellence on the stage. Our partnership with the Bocas Lit Fest ensures that we protect the literary elements of our oratory art. We need to continuously strive for extraordinary skill in our writing and consistently advance our approach to sharing our stories in new and exciting ways.
2016 – Efforts and impact on youth development
Our 2016 efforts towards providing free weekly poetry workshops to youth at multiple sites across Trinidad and Tobago represent our goal of reaching students at the interpersonal level, as we consider arts education to be an integral part in the holistic development of young people. Beyond the programme’s close adherence to the CXC English and CAPE Communication Studies syllabi, this kind of arts exposure enhances the general abilities of students for learning and problem solving, as well as provides a forum for positive expression, leading to improved articulation and levels of self-esteem.
We have seen the power of poetry help to improve students’ ability to reason and think logically, with these skills being applicable across the various disciplines they encounter within their experience of education. Young people need to find channels of expression that lie outside of the often overwhelming worlds of technology and social media. They still need an environment where they feel safe and valued for their ideas, opinions and stories. The 2 Cents Movement seeks to diligently work with these communities to inspire and motivate the next generation of movers and shakers, to think critically, act responsibly and speak out to effect change for the best future for us all.