The National Cultural Foundation
St. James, Barbados
At age 22, the spoken word artiste has produced a three-book series called HER-ricane. The HER-ricane series is a collection of poetry narrating the lives of powerful Caribbean women and the history of their region.
T’afari said it was during the COVID-19 lockdown period last year that the idea to publish her works came to mind.
“It began with me describing my emotions and things I had overcome but then I realised that I could build a concept with the pieces. I began to actually research women who were inspiring to me. I always had a love for history and I am a feminist so it came together organically. During the first lockdown I realise I didn’t want to let the time go by and not have anything to show for it,” she said.
The artiste explained that the spoken word album she was working on was almost complete when she realised that she had too many pieces for the album.
“I decided to create books and separate them according to themes. It took me about three months. The editing and publishing were time-consuming.”
But, for the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) muliti-awardee, the journey to become a published author was extremely insightful and fulfilling. T’afari said she is grateful that the National Cultural Foundation’s (NCF) COVID-19 Grant was made available just at the time she was ready to publish.
“The NCF grant really helped me to get things moving and to pay the people who were originally helping me. They were helping me because we are friends and they really wanted to get the ideas out.”
“The grant gave me a lot more access to printing, the printing process for example COSCAP [getting everything licenced correctly and other technical things we don’t normally consider]. When writing we often think of the creative process but it is the professional and business angle I got to be a part of this time around.”
T’afari said the NCF grant is a “great initiative”.
“Things like the cover art I was able to pay for professionally and the editing process as well. Instead of struggling to do everything myself I was able to pay professionals. It is definitely a great initiative at NCF and I am glad that artistes are able to have access to this Fund.”
The former student of Combermere, who holds a Bachelor’s in Literature and is now studying a Master’s in Creative Arts at UWI, Cave Hill Campus, said having access to the NCF grant pushed her to be more business-minded.
“It taught me a lot of things like planning and how to budget carefully. I planned the launch efficiently and even created contracts. I made sure that things were scheduled for a particular time. It makes you very organised. It leaves you less stressed. It made me more business-minded and I appreciate my art a lot more.”
The writer said since the books have been made available late last year she has received positive feedback with most people confessing that they have learnt a lot from the book. She plans to donate copies to the Ministry of Education, Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
T’afari , who is also Irving Burgie Literary Award for Excellence in Literary and Creative Arts winner, began writing at age 10. She confesses that she uses everything around her as ideas for her spoken word pieces.
“I get my inspiration from my life then I try to relate that to others. I also draw from the women around me, my mother and her experiences. She is a single parent so I get those types of stories you don’t always hear bout. For this last project I have to say special thanks to my mum April Jones, Christian Paul-Gibson the producer and, Shai Skeete and Mikayla Estwick co-writers.”
The young author is encouraging other creative artistes to utilise the NCF grant or any other financial help in order to realise their dreams.
“Reach our people who can show you and encourage you based on what they have done on their own path and journey. This can propel your dream. You may think it is a hobby and it is something you love doing so you don’t really tend to value your impact. Don’t be afraid to know the value of your work. It is your own voice, your work, your creative expression so retain your authenticity as an artiste,” T’afari advised.
Click this link to view all three books in the HER-icane Series.
Written by: Ashley Dyall