While Lauren Williams, 20, grew up in West Bay, it took a trip to Trinidad and Tobago to open her eyes to the world of Caribbean poetry.
The young writer, who is becoming increasingly active with local literary groups, started writing in 2016 after discovering spoken word.
“Trinidad is well-known for poetry and spoken word, performance and drama. I met some people who were part of a spoken-word community organization. They influenced me to write. From there, I found it to be a great hobby, something great to do with my time and something I am natural at,” Ms. Williams said.
“It’s very therapeutic, very expressive. I feel that I’m not limited.… You can show exactly what you feel, how you feel, what you are seeing and put it into words.”
Two of her biggest writing inspirations are Majeed Karim and Camryn Bruno, both of Trinidad. In Cayman, she looks up to artist and writer Annikki Brown, who she says, “has taught me to just live and wait for life to give inspiration to write.”
Ms. Williams, a student at University College of the Cayman Islands, extends similar advice to other young writers: to relax and enjoy the art form.
“Take everyone’s advice on how to write with a grain of salt. A lot of people out there would criticize you for how you write and how you express things in a negative way. I know people who want you to write better and clearer. But there are other people who want to switch how you write and feel,” Ms. Williams said.
“I say, keep writing and you will see yourself develop. Keep exposing yourself to every type of writing online, seeing people perform. Try different stuff. Get the experience. Don’t let someone question the way you write because it’s your way. Poetry is for expression. It comes in all shapes and forms and sizes and different ways of presenting. So I say, just keep writing.”
As Ms. Williams digs deeper into the world of poetry, she hopes to see more support and awareness of Caymanian writers.
“There are a lot of good writers. Awareness needs to build up through teachers, through schools, through workshops. We are part of the Caribbean. The Caribbean is known for poetry and the poetry scene,” she said.
Ms. Williams visited the Cayman Compass studio to share one of her spoken-word pieces, “Untitled 004.”
In the piece, Ms. Williams said, “I’m arguing with myself and stating my point that insecurity lies within me. I point out things that have been said to me or things I feel, like the most intense of self-hate and being a mistake. A lot of people feel that way. A lot of people label themselves that way.… It just goes back to insecurity and insecurity really rules a lot of humans out there. It’s sad what it can do to someone.”
Untitled 004 by Lauren Williams
I refuse to fill the bowl with chicken soup for my very own soul, and use that big silver spoon mama told me to never eat from
Lessons spoken but never jotted or mentally taken in
I am a pity and the epitome of self hate and I love the idea to accept how to “live with the flaws,” but the thought of a lesser esteemed being can’t quite fit in my pages.
I’m really good at coloring outside the lines and breaking pencil lead because I “write with too much emotion”
I can keep these wooden doors open, the bottom wheel has been broken and the message has already been said, that I am of low esteem, lesser of a being, accepting what has been given to me at this dinner table, dirty counter wherever shall people like me eat.
If I was to describe in full sentences of short and powerful meanings I would cough it out like swallowed chicken bones and hair and say that
I drain, I dry, I coarse, I am a mistake.
I have no choice than to be the opposite of what I want to be, because we all do dream of idealistic humans that we want to be like, a dream
Celebrity celebrating being a perfect double-edged drawing during fame
Like Nobel Prize winners who “do not do it for the prize,” but where am I?
Teenager told to grow old and understand the world before even setting foot in it
Tell me, crowd of listeners, do you really hear what I am saying?
Offstage, they signal me to cough again
I steal away happiness, I kill, steal and destroy
I am the knife on soft skin, I am the hole at the bottom of the barrel, your last taxi money ripped in half
I am the blister that grows between your big toe and his neighbor, 10:45 at night in your cheap leather slippers, as you have miles to reach home.
Say otherwise, I am a written ink mistake on a test where there is no line space left.
I am the cut lip when you have a craving for salt chips. The miniature burn of pure selfish hunger and gluttony
This life is not healthy for you
This life is where I present wreckage to you all, hoping someone would feel the same.
The silver spoon can scoop up a lot of cold soup, but I still can’t drink it.
So tell me, what is there about you? Chicken soup for the soul.