JAMICIA Mc Calmon-Nelson is a young, up and coming Guyanese poet who recently won the National Poetry Slam as part of the Guyana Prize for Literature Literary Festival 2023. The Pepperpot Magazine sat down with Jamicia to talk about her life and her journey through her poetic career.
“As it relates to poetry in particular, I remember writing my first poem at the time of the Trinidad & Tobago political upheaval. I remember my older sister who introduced me to poetry. She sent me a spoken word titled, ‘That Girl’ and the poem truly resonated with me,” Nelson told us in an interview.
From there, Nelson shared that she started becoming deeply involved in a spoken word group in the twin Island Republic, which dealt with critical issues.
She recalled that her poetry life took off when she was given numerous opportunities to display her poetry skills at her church’s youth group.
She noted that she was also given the opportunities to recite poems for international events, including events hosted by the United Nations.
Nelson described some of her challenges as sometimes doubting herself and her ability. As one of her challenges, she highlighted the lack of resources available to young creatives that will aid in harnessing the skills..
“One of the things that I have been advocating for is a writer’s guild. Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, I was introduced to a writer’s guild by one of my mentors, but my exposure to such a thing was short-lived, but if I was exposed to this feature a long time ago, probably by now, I would have been a prolific writer,” Nelson told the Pepperpot Magazine.
She is, however, advocating for a Guyana’s writers guild that would mentor Guyanese writers and poets, particularly the young ones.
However, she believes that her ability and the experience she has garnered so far, has allowed her to mentor mostly young people in poetry.
Following her win at the recently held Poetry Slam, Jamicia is currently preparing her mind for the Guyana Prize for Literature Short Story and Poems Competition.
Therefore, she noted that she is channelling all her energies and focus in that direction by ensuring she has her catalogue of poems and short stories together.
The young poet noted that some of her mentors include her ‘mom’, a poet in her church community who goes by the name of Tandika Austin, Marissa Stuart, who now resides in Jamaica, and Shondell France.
She is also beginning to connect herself with other people in the same field who are willing to mentor her and cause her to develop her craft to the highest calibre.
According to her, her pieces whenever she writes poetry are often inspired by social and personal issues.
She also attributes her inspiration to her spiritual walk with God as well as things that are happening in her country, and also things that are occurring in her personal life.
Jamicia continues to advocate for more Guyanese writers to be given more opportunities to build their craft, in terms of poetry and short story writing.