Seth Sylvester: More than Words

by Evelena K. Bruce

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Seth Sylvester – Champion of the 2016 First Citizens National Poetry Slam at his St. Augustine home. Photo Credit: Lopes and Lopes Photography.

On Sunday May 1st 2016, twenty-three-year-old Seth Sylvester, bested 13 other performance poets and walked away with the TT$20,000prize at the First Citizens National Poetry Slam.

The powerful performance that won him the top spot was surprising for some followers of the slam, who had been unfamiliar with Seth prior to 2016 – this year was only his second time entering the competition. After forgetting his lines in the semi-finals of the 2015 slam he was knocked out of the contest. Seth describes his experience in last year’s slam as “a good one”, but admits that he hadn’t prepared properly and wasn’t ready for the competition.  2016 however has definitely treated him well; a video of his semi-final performance was a social media sensation, earning thousands of likes and shares relatively over-night. Seth though, had no expectation that the piece, that some fans have dubbed “Ode to Desha”, would have garnered the attention it did

“…I didn’t think it would have done so well. I thought it was alright but the day after, JC (Jean Claude Cournand – 2 Cents Movement Founder and Director) asked me for the words so he could share it, it was at 20 shares. The next morning it was like the whole island was talking about it. I was getting called to appear on Morning Edition – I don’t even get up that early!”.

He also took the opportunity to clarify the issue of his unrequited love for television news anchor Desha Rambhajan

“I thought it was a good topic. People told me I sounded like a stalker but I don’t have TV here (at his St. Augustine apartment), so I’ve only watched the news twice in the last 6 months. So as far as stalking her goes – I think I just chose a good topic is all. One that lots of people could relate to.”

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Teachers’ Son- Seth grew up in Point Fortin, the last of four children. His Mother and Father are a primary school principal; and a pastor and retired secondary school vice-principal respectively. Photo credit: Lopes and Lopes Photography

 

A Biology major at the University of the Southern Caribbean, when he’s not studying or at his job as a Pharmacy Technician at SuperPharm Valsayn, Seth says he likes to spend his days at home in Point Fortin with his family and misses life in his hometown. Given the depth of his message and his new-found popularity, naturally we wanted to sit down with Seth to get to know him better by asking him a few questions of paramount importance…

Do you say ‘Bake and Shark’ or ‘Shark and Bake’?

‘Bake and Shark’…I never heard anyone say Shark and Bake before.

There’s a whole debate over it, I’ve heard people say it before

Who? People from where? Trinidad?

D.C. or Marvel?

D.C.

Is it Desha or nothing for you?

No, no, I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say any such thing. At the end of the day you can’t help who you fall for.

What are the top 3 qualities you look for in a woman?

She has to love God. She has to love herself so she can love me. I’d hope she was well educated.

What Secondary School did you attend?

St. Benedict’s College.

How many siblings do you have?

There used to be 4 of us, my sister is 30, brother is 29 and I lost a brother last year, he would have been 27.

If you could choose one age and be that age forever what age would you choose?

9! I’d be 9 forever. When I was 9 I had no worries in the world! I was just running up and down in school kicking a ball and coming 1st in test.

What’s the first song on your music playlist?

Sade “Cherish the day”. I can listen to Sade all day… (he goes on to list his favorite Sade songs)…other than Sade, Corrine Bailey Rae and Gospel music.

If you could have 3 wishes granted, what would they be?

To go back in time to when I was 9; for the cure for AIDS to be available for all and to have my brother back.  

You can invite any 4 famous persons to dinner, whose names are on the invitations?

Samuel Selvon (author of A brighter Sun); God; Sade; Zinedine Zidane.

If you could learn any skill, what would you learn?

I always wanted to learn to play the violin. The Alternative Quartet, they amaze me! Do they teach classes?

Have you ever played an instrument?

Yes. Drums (trap set)… the heel and toe used to really throw me off. I used to use my toes alone. 

Ever rode a motorcycle?

I would never do that. I remember one time this guy was going on an interview. Going up the mosquito creek and rain just burst out and there he was in his nice shirt, nice tie, nice pants, Clarks on his feet. Going up on his motorbike and rain just come down and soak him. I was laughing so much! He had an envelope too eh! With documents. The envelope soaking wet. Why would you do that?

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Smiling Seth – Seth laughs while answering his interview questions. Photo credit: Lopes and Lopes Photography.

If you could go anywhere in the world for a visit where would you go?

Africa. I really want to visit Africa. I want to see some lions, some elephants…

If you could eliminate one thing from your daily schedule, what would it be?

Procrastination.

If you could choose an imaginary friend. Who would you choose and why?

Well the thing is, I had an imaginary friend until recently, but I had to get rid of him. He was taking up too much of my time. His name was Matthew. Can’t remember why I called him that, but his name was Matthew. He was around a good few years.

If you could sit on a bench in the most scenic place on earth and have a conversation with one person, who would you sit with?

My Grandmother…most of the things she used to say, I was too young to understand them but now that I’m older, I realize some of the things she said were really true. I really miss my Grandmother. She was the only grandparent I ever knew.

If you could be in a movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and which character would you play?

Justice League. Batman.

If you could live in any time period in history, when would you live?

…Maybe 2047. If I’m still alive by then. I think the world is going to end in 2047. 47 is the most recurring number in the universe…I’ve always wanted to ask Dwayne Bravo why number 47. Why 47 on his back? Depending on the answer, then I’ll know if the world is ending in 2047

(no pressure Dwayne Bravo)

10 years from now, where is Seth Sylvester working? What is he doing?

Hopefully changing lives. Making the world a better place for others.

 Most importantly, how do you think Game of Thrones ends?

(He laughs) Bran controls the dragons and destroys the white walkers. Fire is the only thing that could destroy the white walkers.

Which characters do you think survive at the end of GoT?

(He stops to think for a minute) I really don’t know, BUT IF THEY KILL SANSA STARK!

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A Brighter Sun- Focused on completing his undergraduate degree in Biology, Seth already wise beyond his years, hopes to change lives.

 

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