In February of this year I received an email indicating that I was one of ten authors chosen to participate in Cropper Foundation’s Creative Writers Workshop in June. I was alone at home when the email came in and the feelings were completely unexpected. I felt like it was not really happening, and actually imagined that no one else had submitted poetry and so I was chosen to make up a quota. I had applied on a whim submitting six poems to compete with other Caribbean writers, never really believing that what I wrote could be seen as poetry.
I had never entered a writing competition before and had only shared my poems with one friend and anonymously on my blog. In fact, I’d never referred to them as poems and called them Scribbles instead. So, receiving that email and subsequently sending my acceptance letter was a pretty surreal experience. I felt like I was someone else, like a little kid about to steal cookies from the cookie jar, with the anticipation of something delicious and thrilling, and the fear of being caught where I wasn’t supposed to be. Was this really meant for me?
The workshop, sponsored by the Cropper Foundation, and organised in partnership with the Department of Creative and Festival Arts at The University of the West Indies (UWI), took place from June 29th to July 13th in the quiet seaside town of Balandra on the north-eastern coast of Trinidad. Over sixty applicants from across the Caribbean submitted fiction, non-fiction and poetry for a chance to spend two weeks with two incredible moderators, novelist Dr. Merle Hodge (Crick, Crack Monkey and For the Life of Laetitia), and poet and short story writer Professor Funso Aiyejina, winner of the 2000 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa) for The Legend of the Rockhills and Other Stories.
I had no idea what was in store. A friend of mine had been a participant in 2008 and when sought she offered the best advice: Expect nothing. Appreciate everything.
I never imagined that my life would be forever changed.