SX Blog


2016 Small Axe Literary Competition

10 November 2016

Winners, runners-up and shortlist

It is our pleasure to announce the 2016 Small Axe Literary Competition winners and runners-up in the short fiction and poetry categories. The works of these artists will be published in Small Axe 53, July 2017.

Since its inauguration in 2009, the Small Axe Literary Competition has been at the vanguard of spotting emerging Caribbean writers. Many of our carefully selected winners during the last six years have moved on to sign contracts with esteemed publishing houses. This is not a coincidence. The Small Axe Literary Competition's changing panel of judges is continuously represented by some of the best creative writers working within the Caribbean region and its diaspora. These judges excel in identifying extraordinary literary achievements. This year’s judges include Diana McCaulay, Monique Roffey, and Sasenarine Persaud in the short fiction category, and James Christopher Aboud, Honor Ford-Smith, and Tanya Shirley in the poetry competition. You can find the judges’ bios on our website here. Take a look into our Literary Competition archive to learn about past judges and winners.

This year we received a record number of submissions in both the poetry and short fiction categories. Outstanding entries from across the region and its diaspora have each been thoroughly evaluated and ranked in a blind review process. While the high quality of each submission challenges the selection process, two submissions in each category were particularly noticeable.

Short Fiction

First Place: “Mango Feast” by Portia Subran, of Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago

Portia Subran is a Trinidadian artist and writer. Her artwork has been featured in Arc magazine, children’s novels and has been displayed at the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago end of year exhibitions. In 2013, she was announced the winner of the Potbake Productions 2011-2013 Caribbean Short Story Competition with her work, “Unclipped Wings.” This work was later published in the short story collection Jewels of the Caribbean. Her short story “A New Life in a New Time” was published in the 2016 speculative fiction anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean. 

You can learn more about Subran’s art and writing and connect with her on social media on Facebook and Instagram

Second Place: “Public Notice” by Ayanna Gillian Lloyd, of Diego Martin, Trinidad and Tobago

Ayanna Gillian Lloyd is a fiction and creative non-fiction writer from Trinidad and Tobago.  Her work has been published in The Caribbean Writer and shortlisted for the Small Axe Literary Competition and the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. She has also been featured in the Bocas Lit Fest “Who's Next?” segment in 2014 and 2015. She is a Consulting Fiction Editor of Moko magazine and a 2016 Callaloo Writing Workshop Fellow.


First Place: “Learning to Swim” by Soyini Ayanna Forde, of Trinidad and Tobago

Soyini Ayanna Forde grew up and spent the majority of her life in Trinidad and Tobago. Her poetry and creative nonfiction can be found in Apogee, Cleaver, Moko, sx salon, the Caribbean Writer and and Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire. Taste of Hibiscus, her poetry chapbook, is available from Dancing Girl Press. Her fiction appears inside Akashic Books’ Duppy Thursday series and St. Somewhere Journal. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her writing was listed as a notable essay of 2016 in The Best American Essays. A graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program, she resides in Florida, pines for fresh Julie mango and blogs about race, feminism and West Indian pop culture while working on her first full-length collection of poems.

Second Place: “Extra Lessons” by Chenee Daley, originally from Savanna-la-mar now living in Kingston, Jamaica

Chenee Daley notes: I’m a Westmoreland transplant, who found myself, some years ago, in Kingston. I try to live my life exhaustingly but I also don’t do anything I don’t love anymore. At the moment I’m completing a degree in Literature with a minor in music at the UWI Mona. I write very vulnerable poetry but also dabble in other short-form writing like songs.

Congratulations to our winners!


The Shortlist
Below is the shortlist compiled by our judges. These are writers to look out for in the future. We are delighted to share their names and the titles of their entries with our readers below.

Short Fiction

“The Mango Tree” by Lisa J. Latouche, of Roseau, Dominica

“African Burial Ground” by Heather Barker, of St. Thomas, Barbados

“Ma Diablesse” by Brandon Mc Ivor, of Trinidad who now lives in Yawatahama, Japan

“Purgatorium” by Rae-ann Smith, of San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago

“The Seascape” by Hazel McShine, of Maraval, Trinidad and Tobago


“Lajablesse in Oakland” by Rosamond S. King, of Brooklyn, New York, USA

“Message from Nur Al-Masri” by Sharif El Gammal-Ortiz, of Carolina, Puerto Rico

“Darkening/Freeport” by Richard Georges, of Tortola, British Virgin Islands

“Afterbirth” by Summer Edward, of Realspring Valsayn, Trinidad, now lives in Philadelphia, USA

“The Best Medicine” by Juleus Ghunta, of Jamaica, now lives in Tottori-ken, Japan

“The Dog Breeders House” by Ioney Smallhorne, of Nottingham, England

“Eureka!” by Jannine T. Horsford, of Glencoe, Trinidad and Tobago 


If you are an emerging writer in the Caribbean, you should already be starting to think about your contribution to our 2017 Literary Competition. Please check our website in March when the competition will open for submissions. The deadline for new submissions will be April 2017. Keep in mind that from 2017 we will accept submissions in English, French, and Spanish.

We look forward to hearing from you!