Sandra Garland Tops Writers Society Open Mic Poetry Contest


Sandra Garland (centre) accepts her trophy from Cynclair Musgrove of the Writer Society. Looking on at the right is Dr. Barbara Ambrister, President of the TCI Writers Society.

Avid writer Sandra Garland emerged as the top poet at the Turks and Caicos Islands Writers Society Adult Open Mic Poetry Contest, held at the Opus Restaurant in Providenciales Monday, May 2.


In an evening that showcased a kaleidoscope of deliveries - those that evoked tear-jerking emotions, others which delved into local folklore ballads, to philosophical prose, and to belly-cramping laughter, Garland snared two top places and a second place in the three-category set-up.


Pastor Bradley Handfield, presenting one of his poems

She landed a first and second place in the Events category with a winning piece called “Kiss on the Forehead”, and the second-place entry entitled “View of the Kite”. Rose Higgs placed third in that category with an entry called “Provo Day Vibe”.


Garland topped the Emotions Category with her entry “When Dark Clouds Gather”, besting Jessica Lambert into second place and Kendrea Celsius and Lotitia Williamson who tied for third. That category saw a whopping 25 entries being submitted.

As a result, Garland walked away with the overall title on the judges’ leaderboard with 542 points. Pastor Bradley Handfield finished in second spot with 376 points, with Emily Malcolm rounding off the top three with 189 points.


Handfield copped first and third place in the People Category with the entry “Slave Owners’ Unpaid Debt”, and the third-place submission entitled “John the Lover”. Emily Malcolm bagged second place in that category with her piece “Let me Breathe”.

Garland was elated while grateful to have been crowned the overall winner.


“I am overwhelmed,” she said. “I had no idea that my work has such value, and that the judges would deem it fit for me to be the overall winner. I thank them very, very much. I am really elated.”


Garland also told NewslineTCI that she possessed a rich repertoire of short stories, also revealing that she was working on her memoir with the intention to have it published in a book, if anything, for posterity’s sake.


“I have quite a collection of short stories and poems. And I am working on my biography, and I am hoping to put it together in a book, so that my grandchildren would know who exactly who I was,” she said.


Dance presentation was also part of the presentation

Cynclair Musgrove, Executive Member of the Writers Society, explained that although Garland captured most of the categories, all the entries were fabulous.


“Others were so awesome,” Musgrove said. “Wish I was Oprah, so I could say ‘a prize for you, a prize for you, a prize for everyone’. The contestants are talented.”


She encouraged those who did not win, to not get discouraged, but to continue writing and prepare for the next round of competition.


“Sandra is an icon; she has been writing for a long time, and so, those who did not win, should not feel that their entry was not good enough…they were all wonderful, but Sandra was the champion this time around,” she said.


Dr. Barbara Ambrister, President of the Writers Society described the event as ‘fabulous’.


“For me, I heard the sentiments that I wanted to hear, which was that ‘we waited for a long time for this type of forum, to be able to express ourselves…poems that were written years ago just sitting there unexpressed, (with) no avenue in which to have them aired, and for people to appreciate what is going on and the talent that we have in the Turks and Caicos Islands,” Ambrister said.


She said the Open Mic Poetry Contest was an opportunity to appreciate the creativity in one another in a wholesome and friendly atmosphere.


In the meantime, Handfield said he was happy for the Writers Society, confessing he was a devoted writer but had put away his pen in discouragement because there was no avenue for him to showcase his talent. He said now that there is a body that caters to creative writing, he would now pick up back his pen and get to work.


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