EASY MAGAZINE: Words write up her alley
One of the youngest local authors discovered her talent in an unusual way. Well, at first she did not even consider it to be a talent because she always got into trouble when her skills were put to the test and at one point she was almost kicked out of school.
Nevertheless, she was able to home in on her gift of writing with guidance from her teacher Mrs Bourne, and now Lashawna Griffith is on her way to becoming a literary master.
“My first creative burst was at St Paul’s. I was nine years old and I wrote a piece about my teacher Mrs Bam for a class competition. My mother was called to the school and she was told I was using my talent the wrong way.
“Mrs Bam had a big bottom and I wrote about how it would hit my table when she was walking and I got an A; but my mum told me to stop writing about teachers. When I went to school at Lodge I got into trouble again.”
In Lashawna’s mind she was just highlighting the qualities she had observed in her teachers and had thought of it as fun. However, she got a wake-up call that put everything into perspective. She realised that her idea of fun was a bit mischievous.
“A teacher told me my uniform was short but hers was really tight so I started to write. When the children in my class heard what I was doing they came to me and said, “Add this teacher, add that teacher” and it turned into a long piece and my teacher Mrs Bourne took it away.
“For punishment she said I had to read it at speech day and I was scared because it wasn’t anything to read at speech day in front of “Bizzy” Williams nor Sir Henry Fraser. When I started to get to the disrespectful parts the entire school went wild. The students were excited and cheering but the teachers tried to get me sent home.”
Lady Luck would again smile on Lashawna.
“When I went to the principal’s office I realised he knew my grandmother. He asked about her welfare and I told him she was good and asked if he wanted her number but he told me to go to class. So I was lucky that I wasn’t suspended.
“However, I must credit Mrs Bourne because she put me into the school’s drama club and I learnt about theatre arts. I was even able to sit that exam without choosing it as a subject, and I did well.”
Learning her lesson and understanding the true potential of her talent, Lashawna wanted to see how far she could go with her poetry. When she discovered that literary arts was a viable business she started paying attention to social issues and used her pen to express the images and ideas in her head.
“When I am at UWI [University of the West Indies] and I get bored, I write about things I encountered during the day. One day some of my friends said, ‘Lashawna, you could do something with this’, so I started a Facebook page,” said the final year student of political science.
“I posted random poems to see how people would respond and the feedback was good, but it was only when I did my website in 2014 that people said I should put them in a book.
“Eventually I decided to start gathering material for a book. I did some research so I could better understand the salary of an author and to understand what is royalties. It didn’t take me long to put together the book because I had already written a variety of poems I saved on my computer.”
The 23-year-old has a little black book she travels with to jot down ideas or to take note of interesting things she sees or hears.
Her book Unlock The Door, which was released on her mother’s birthday, is a collection of a range of poems dealing with relationship issues.
“I normally get ideas on the bus or van. When I am travelling to UWI I would hear conversations that spark ideas. One time I heard a woman telling her friend about her boyfriend. She was, like, “You believe my man horn me?” and I tuned in because I liked the expression she was giving.
“So the piece entitled I Can’t Hate You Damien developed from a scene on the bus. Another woman was on the phone shouting, “How you could do this to me, Damien?” and she was crying. When I got home I told my mum I had another piece for the book – about a lady who was sad her boyfriend left her but still expressed her love for him.”
Lashawna did not tell her mother when she was going to publish the book; she wanted it to be a surprise. As a matter of fact, she only discussed a few ideas with her and when her mother found out her book was released on her birthday she was overwhelmed with joy, noting it was a sweet birthday surprise.
The name came from a church friend when the two of them were going to Sunday School and her friend told her to unlock the door. She got the idea to self publish the book from acclaimed poet DJ Simmonds and it took her a single day to create the online cover. Amazed by the feedback she got from viewers, she decided to make a paperback copy but with a different cover style.
Lashawna was 21 at the time she published her book of 37 poems, and since then she has been featured in magazines and news articles across the hemisphere and she was even on the cover of an African magazine. However, this is just the beginning for her. Before her 24th birthday she wants to publish a second book named Release The Energy Within. She said her readers would get to learn more about her religious side. (SB)