When Whitney Greenaway started writing poetry at the age of thirteen about teenage love, she never realized that her hobby would propel her to eventually participate in one of the leading poetry competitions in the US and Canada.
Greenaway was born in Hollywood, Florida but she got her early educational grooming in Dominica where she was taken to at one year and months old. Her mother is Lorraine Greenaway, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lovertie Greenaway of Goodwill, Dominica. She attended Convent Preparatory School and Sacred Heart Preschool (popularly known as Ms. Burton’s Preschool).
Probably it was her grandmother who actually got Greenaway into poetry. “I was forbidden by my grandmother to watch any television at all so my idea of relaxation was a good book and very soon I needed an outlet for all my ideas and new vocabulary,” she told Dominica News Online. “I started with mere lines about teenage love and thought nothing of it until I moved to Florida and got introduced to open mics in Tampa.”
But it was in New York her poetry career took off when she was introduced to a type of poetry called Slam Poetry. “Simply put, it is a competition where poets compete against each other and are judged on a scale of one to ten by a few judges picked from the audience,” Greenaway explained.
In New York Greenaway decided to partipate in an open mic poetry recitation at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in Lower East Side, which is one of the most famous venues for Slam Poetry in the US. Althought being extremely nervous she managed to score 30 out of 30. Her big break came in December 2010 when she performed at the Cafe and came out first among 19 other poets paving the way for her participation in ‘Friday Night Slam’ which is
described as the best of the best in New York.
She won a spot on the Nuyorican Slam Team on May 13, 2011 when she competed against six other poets and won. Now she is heading to the National Poetry Slam in August. “The National Poetry Slam is held every year in August for about a week,” Greenaway explained. “Over four hundred poets (about 80 teams consisting of 4 to 5 poets) from all over the U.S and Canada compete for a chance to be the The National Slam Team Winner for that year. This year it is being held in Boston from August 8th to 13th and I am very honored and excited to know that I’m going to be a part of that experience.”
Explaining her work, Greenaway stated, “Thus far, I’ve only written about experiences that are true to my life, making me very vulnerable and open on the mic, but it is absolutely exhilarating to share my heart with the world.”
Greenaway, who normally use the stage name Witness, said poetry has increased her self confidence and personal growth. She thanks her family and friends who always encourage her and she spoke of her never fading love for Dominica, which she says she will always be called home.
“I’m hoping that eventually Slam Poetry can be an art we use in Dominica for entertainment, talent discovery and general ideas,” she said.