Martin and Galloway capture top prizes in 2015 VYBZING Challenge

After a keenly contested final, 27-year-old Quinn Martin and 30-year-old Richard James Galloway have emerged winners in the 16-29 and 30-35 age categories, respectively, of the VYBZING St. Kitts and Nevis Spoken Word Challenge hosted by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The Final took place on May 8, 2015 at Sweet Lime, Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis.

Martin’s piece titled, ‘From the ‘Eart’ got the judges’ nod ahead of second place finisher, 21-year-old, Wricherley Gumbs’ ‘Potential and these Inhibitions’ and ‘Naked Truth’ by third place winner, 19-year-old Jonelle Irish. The winning performance by Galloway in the 30-35 age group was titled, ‘Message from the Future.’ Both Martin and Galloway received USD1000 each, Gumbs USD750 and Irish USD500.

Describing the VYBZING Spoken Word Challenge as a “worthwhile and necessary initiative to revitalise and promote the poetic abilities of the youth of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Martin, a Basseterre resident said that for him, the challenge was a “platform to test my own creative abilities, as well as afford me the chance to influence and encourage others who may be artistically inclined, but otherwise lacking impetus to express themselves poetically.”

‘From the Eart’ was one of three pieces written by Martin for the Challenge. “From the ‘Eart was written in approximately two days. It was the last of three pieces that I had written for the contest, after being indecisive and not fully satisfied with the first two… The overall composition process was exciting as I regularly added and omitted sections in order to ensure that it directly addressed the topic. As new ideas came to me I would scribble them on paper while at work, only to add them to my piece when I was able to,” he said.

“I am elated and proud to have contributed to the realization of this worthwhile initiative and to have been adjudged the winner of this year’s competition. I was very impressed by the calibre of talent that was exhibited by all of the participants at this year’s spoken word contest. I believed that I had done an exceptional job and had executed my piece precisely as I had intended to, but I was unsure of who would have taken the title after we had all performed. Everybody’s piece was unique, well put together and captured the audience’s attention to a great degree,” Martin stated.

A fellow Basseterre resident, Richard James Galloway is no stranger to the spoken word stage, having competed as recently as March in a local poetry slam. “I have been writing poetic pieces for a long time but starting performing spoken word elements five years ago. My very first performance was at Sunshine’s Beach Bar in Nevis at an event featuring Ms. Culturama contestants.”

Stating that he was confident about his chances from the first time he saw the VYBZING Challenge poster, Galloway said ideas for ‘Message From the Future’  were bouncing around in his head for a few weeks before he put pen to paper to create the final piece in four days.

For Gumbs, the VYBZING Challenge presented an avenue to share his personal experiences, “I have always possessed a strong passion for creative arts. As a young entrepreneur whose business is centered on educating the youth, the Challenge sparked my interest. My team partner Javan Nisbett and I, explored the topic for several days… [and] over the course of two weeks, we were able to produce the final piece after long nights of intensive preparations assuring the quality and creativity of our piece.”

Anticipation of a “dynamic competition,” was the impetus for Jonelle Irish’s entry to the Challenge. Revealing that her piece ‘Naked Truth’ was created in less than 30 minutes with a few days of editing, Irish said she has been writing since the third grade. “I have always been a lover of poetry and no doubt that when poetry gave birth to a different form of itself, I would love that too…” Noting that she performs quite often, Irish said she plans to continue to invest in her art and growth as a performer, meshing her craft with motivational speaking to use her words to help others.

The other finalists in the Challenge were: Mervil Nisbett, Sanjay Caines, Seymona Hutton, Jihan Williams, Kadeise Hendrickson, Creus Richardson and Karisa Willett.

CDB’s Information Services Manager and Coordinator of the VYBZING Programme, Angela Parris congratulated all the participants on their outstanding performances, “All of the performers brought their ‘A game’ and we were extremely pleased with the quality of the pieces and the performances. We encourage everyone to go online to our VYBZING Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/CDBVYBZING to vote for their favourite performance. The People’s Choice prize of USD250 will be awarded to the performer whose video receives the most ‘likes.’ Voting opens Tuesday, May 12 and closes May 17, 2015.

Focusing on the topic, “Creative Industries and Youth: Unleashing Potential and Growth,” residents of St. Kitts and Nevis ages 16-35, were tasked with using the spoken word art form to share their vision of the Caribbean in 2040, identifying challenges to be overcome and recommending solutions to promote the potential of the Region’s creative industries.

VYBZING is the Caribbean Development Bank’s primary vehicle for youth engagement and its main activities occur just ahead of the Bank’s Annual Board of Governors’ Meetings which will this year be held in St. Kitts and Nevis on May 20 and 21. The Spoken Word Challenge is just one of the four activities held under the VYBZING programme. The others include a youth workshop, youth forum and youth presentation.

2015 VYBZING St. Kitts and Nevis is in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture’s Department of Youth Empowerment.

VYBZING Challenge winners