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…Guyanese youth seeking to ignite local interest in poetry through published book
By Lisa Hamilton
When Tarik Braithwaite started writing poems in his early years he had no idea that one day his own published work would receive local and international recognition, thereby encouraging other Guyanese to showcase their work.
However, fate and hard work would have it that Braithwaite, a 25-year-old poet and author, now gifts to the world his talent captured within his book ‘Trapped In Thought’.
Braithwaite holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Guyana and his mind is set on achieving his Legal Education Certificate (LEC). But, while some may apply the stereotype of those in the field being restrained or candid, Braithwaite proves, as the saying goes: ‘Art is a basic human right’.
Apart from poetry, he also dabbles in rap music, drawing, sculpting, tutoring and sport activities.
“There’s a little bit of everything when it comes to me,” he told the Village Voice News recently. “I like to explore. If it’s something that I see and witness for myself, I would be able to do it. I might not get it directly at first, but once I practice I’m sure to have it done.”
This is the type of determined spirit that Braithwaite armed himself with when he decided that he wanted to write and publish a book of poems.
Initially, he gained exposure through performing spoken word poetry for three nights at Franale’s Hip Hop and Poetry Night. As his passion for the art form grew, he began to take it more seriously by making it his “second study” and learning all he could about it online.
Soon enough, he developed his style of freeform poetry which is easily relatable. His poetry style is termed ‘confessional’, meaning that he describes mostly moments of individual experiences.
When he cemented his plan to publish a book it still took him over a year to achieve his goals. Apart from filling it with content, he faced publishing-related constraints in Guyana; the challenges that come with editing and designing a book; and the absolute need to properly manage his finances.
Braithwaite recounted: “I’m living in Guyana, so it’s very hard as a Caribbean author to get that kind of exposure. I remember having three publishers reach out to me, I would have sent a copy of my book to them to explore the options of publishing with them and they were all — for the lack of a better term — rip-offs.”
He manoeuvred these hurdles through consistent research and by applying what he learned practically. Added to this, he reached out and received support, in particular, from coordinator and assistant editor, Jahdiel Harry and planner, Tehillah Sobers.
Eventually, he eyed the finish line. His book, ‘Trapped In Thought’, has been published for some three months now. Out of mind, readers learn of his deep experiences and of the experiences of others shared with him.
“When it comes to poetry, it’s not only about the writing, it’s a way of expressing yourself. We go through so many things in life and our experiences, they can teach us something. So, the title ‘Trapped In Thought’ really and truly paints a picture of the reality of someone that is there contemplating the reality of life,” he explained.
As a means of giving back and promoting Guyanese talent, his book also includes a bonus section that features six Guyanese poets. They are Quanisha Patterson, Shauquan Michael, Revon Jordan, Romelia Hughes, Tkeisha Waaldijk and Sadiya Yahya.
The book has received great local support thus far while, internationally, it has been nominated for the 2021 Readers Choice Awards under the section ‘General Fiction’. It is one of Braithwaite’s biggest achievements to date as a Caribbean author.
Asked what would be his advice to other artistic Guyanese who want to share their work but are facing challenges, Braithwaite said:
“Don’t give up. I feel as though when a challenge is ahead of us we always give up. [Accepting] failure instead of making failure your motivation. We give up too fast and my advice for everybody is keep pushing. There is always an option, you just need to sit and work out the strategies.”
To access Trapped in Thought, persons can search for ‘Trapped In Thought: A Collection of Poems’ on Amazon.com. In Guyana, persons can contact The Book Hub at 592-629-1091 or The Book Cub, online.