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Female Vincentian poets – writing from the heart

Female Vincentian poets  – writing from the heart

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Writing comes from a place deep within for Debra Providence.

A writer since she was a student at the Girls’ High School, Providence is renowned for her work in poetry and has been published in a few literary magazines across the region, including “Seen and Heard”, a collection of poems by Vincentian women poets.{{more}}

Meanwhile, the younger, virtually unknown Laucel Harry speaks poetry, what others may term as “floetry”, inspired by her passion for Christ and a drive to share the Gospel with others. Her inspiration and motivation, she told SEARCHLIGHT, came through Passion 4 Christ Movement (P4CM), a group of “floetists” whose aim is to spread the Gospel through creative arts.

How they started

Providence, a lecturer at the Division of Arts, Science and General Studies of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, credits her father Edward Providence and mother Annis Bailey Providence for being instrumental in creating her enthusiasm for writing.

“My passion for reading, which fuels my passion for writing, was cultivated by my parents from a very young age. Both of them, in their very own way. My father introduced me to graphic novels and my mother to other types of fiction,” Providence said. That interest in reading later on developed into a love and art of writing, and writing well.

Providence remembers that when she was around 12 years old and a student of the GHS, she began writing.

“I was going over some old journals or diaries that I kept when I was in secondary school, when I was around the age of twelve or thirteen. That was when I really started writing and the type of writing I engaged in at that time. It was very emotional and very personal. They reflect the state of mind I was in at that time,” Providence related.

Somewhat interested in writing while she was younger, Harry remembers her rhyming days, concocting poems similar to ‘roses are red, violets are blue, that sorta thing,’ she said, smiling.

“But now I’m grown, and they’re much longer and with more meaning,” she said, adding that her poetry has developed as she is inspired by God and the persons within the ministry Passion 4 Christ Movement.

“It was, I think, back in 2009. I was at a conference, and this young man he went up and he did a spoken word poem. And I was so in tune with him like ‘Wow’ I didn’t know that that exists,” Harry said.

The young man, she added, introduced her to the P4CM.

After her introduction to the group, Harry fell in love with an art form which allows her to express her thoughts and also motivate others in Christ.

“I just followed them and it was just mind-blowing to hear a lot …they’re just young people who have a passion for Christ and they doing in spoken word poetry…they have a rhythm behind in and all of that so that influenced me to start to write,” Harry said.

According to its website, p4cm seeks to internationally impact the world for Christ and teach biblical lessons in a creative way.

The creative process

“Where poetry is concerned again, it is an emotional thing, so I would just write. Get my words out, get my thoughts out. There is a trigger of course, it may be an event, it might be a comment and then I write,’ said Providence, describing the process of writing poetry.

When it comes to prose however, a bit more structuring is involved as she carefully thinks about a character, the situations the character must go through in order to develop the story.

She also forms stories out of prompts and is involved in competitions which support her art form. Whatever she writes, though, is fueled by a desire to express herself.

“I’m inspired by a lot of things, but at the heart of it, it is this desire to express myself, confront my thoughts and to do so creatively.”

This habit of writing, Providence said, comes so naturally that words will flow once she is triggered by a certain situation.

“I found that whenever I was in a particular emotional state…the words will just flow, the ideas would flow, the emotion and the passion would come out and cultivating that habit of writing at an early age has led to where I am now. There is consistency, I find, in my responses to situations. It’s just a way of expressing yourself, writing about your experience, relaying whatever is in my head at that time. It is something that I cultivated overtime; it’s just something that I developed.”

She has a special preference for speculative fiction and also enjoys Caribbean Folklore, what she describes a local fairy tales.

Harry enjoys brainstorming about what to write next. For up to two days, the budding poet will seek inspiration or at times it’s simple and spontaneous.

“I brainstorm and I also pray about it, that God will give me inspiration to write. It probably gives me a day or two to brainstorm or I will be somewhere and something just hits me, and I write in down one time,” Harry explained.

She is inspired by God and the experiences of others and her experiences as well. The experiences she stated are told in a way so that the negative isn’t highlighted, but the positives are shown, as a way to inspire persons.

The performance

Fairly new to performing poetry on stage, Harry envisions herself as a part of the audience to make the process easier. “I just pretend that I’m there alone in front of a mirror or when speaking to the audience, I’m putting myself in there …so it would make me comfortable,” she explained.

Harry has performed at several church functions in St Vincent; the feedback she stated, has been good thus far.

“I would say something and they’re down there like wow…how did she know that and it all goes back to how God is helping me to put it in a way so that it would encourage others,” she stated.

She intends to keep on growing and improve on her performance. One thing she is in the process of adjusting, is reading without the script in hand.

“I’m working towards it,” she said, smiling coyly.

Having performed in the USA, England and Barbados, Providence explained that feedback is varied. At times persons may not quite understand her poetry, as it is at times personal. However, persons have shown their appreciation for the work she has performed.

“Sometimes people identify with what you say. Sometimes it’s of a personal nature, so unless someone in the audience has gone through a similar experience, they may not identify with it (poetry) the same way. Well, a lot of people may say it’s pretty good; I’m always appreciative for that feedback. Again it doesn’t always happen,” she explained.

Challenges for Providence

Providence, who is currently working on a collection, explained that as a writer, she encounters a few challenges.

The availability of resources, in terms of publishing, was just one challenge identified.

“In order for you to be published, you have to have capital.”

Another challenge Providence related is audience reception, adding that there is a wider audience overseas, in terms of reception.

Providence opined that though there is some poetry and prose published in St Vincent, there seems to be a focus on historical work.

“There has been poetry published and maybe some prose, but the majority tends to be historical text, which is important and praiseworthy, but it kind of tells you where the market leads in St Vincent,” Providence stated.

Despite whatever challenges Harry may face as she grows in the art, she passes on a bit of advice to the younger persons who have dreams and hopes or whose artistic form of expression some may not understand. “Don’t give up; keep on going and go with God,”she said.

Providence advises younger writers to read as widely as possible and practise writing as regularly as possible. Borrowing advice from her favorite author Terri Pratcher, Providence says that he suggests stepping away from the television and Internet and writing at least 100 words per day. She also suggests networking with other writers and learning more about Vincentian and Caribbean poets.