Khadijah Halliday’s passion for writing stems from within. Her soul comes alive whenever she writes, and thus, sheer art is born.
She’s loved writing for as long as she could remember and it’s undoubtedly a part of her. The 18-year-old has won a number of competitions—in fact, she’s on a winning streak—and it’s clear that she was born to succeed.
In an interview with YO! on Tuesday November 12, Khadijah told us all about her love for writing and her latest victory: she’s the winner of the ‘I am a Youth of a Small Island’ international competition (15-19 Poetry category).
“Participants were encouraged to creatively comment on what living in a small island is like,(its) challenges and what not,” she said.
“My submission was entitled ‘To Those Who Haven’t Visited My Island’. I spoke about how people who haven’t visited islands especially the Caribbean, automatically think it’s just beaches and scenery. They think of us but they don’t really think of us like actual people—more like Stock images. One of my lines that I think encapsulates what I’m trying to say in the entire piece is ‘those who haven’t visited my island don’t think that little islands like mine can have big problems like theirs,’” she added.
“The competition opened a new avenue of thought for me,” she stated.
Writing is therapeutic for the teen and although she’s somewhat reserved, on stage, she showcases a different side.
“People think that I’m shy because I’m really quiet but when I get on stage no one calls me quiet. When I start my poems to me it’s not me on stage—it’s my message—and from the beginning to the end, I’m perfectly fine. I really enjoy myself in the moment,” she shared.
Her love for writing has opened many doors for her.
“I attended a workshop this summer—it was highly selective—and for two weeks we got exposed to different genres of writing.It was really amazing. Kenyon College in the U.S. is known as the writer’s college and it’s one of the prime undergrad colleges for writers; creative writing especially,” she said.
“We stayed on campus andit was like a mini college experience. We had classes all day and for hours we’d be writing. We got critique on our work and at the end each of us had to put a piece and they made this anthology; I was published in the anthology,” the student added.
Khadijah has many notches on her belt. The ambitious student won the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s (ECCB) Youth Essay Competition earlier this year;she also participated in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition in 2018 and 2019 and received a gold award for her entries.
Born in Grenada but Saint Lucian at heart, Khadijah’s aiming for the stars.
According to her, “I want to be a psychologist and a writer. I want to contribute as much as possible to as many people’s healing as much as I can.One of my greatest passions apart from writing is mental health which is really stigmatized in the Caribbean; that is one of the reasons I turned to writing. That’s an avenue from which I’ve gained healing and I really want to try my best to heal as many people as possible.”
“I don’t want to leave the world as just one number in 7 billion—I want to be as much as possible the number that changed a great proportion of that 7 billion and that’s why I said I don’t want to just make a change I want to be the change,” she added.
‘To Those Who Haven’t Visited My Island’ By Khadijah Ashanna Halliday (Excerpt)
Those who haven’t visited my island… paint postcard coloured beaches and Pixar blue skies with the brushes of their imagination.
Those who haven’t visited my island… expect beaming, bubbly heads atop painted bodies kissing the island’s head at night and day.
Those who haven’t visited my island… imagine that my island offers them an escape from harsh reality as a night of sleep offers from a long day of work.
Those who haven’t lived on my island don’t think that “little” islands like mine can have big problems like theirs.
Somewhere between the anticipation of cerulean blue waters making love to sandy white shores… the people who haven’t lived on my island forget that where people exist, problems do as well and that the allure of the aqua skies is not enough to erase this reality.
Read the full poem on Facebook: Official YO! Magazine
Other Noteworthy Accomplishments (Some)
- Dean’s List (Sir Arthur Lewis Community College) – Lower Sixth Form (Junior) Semester 1 & 2
- Academic Merit (St. Joseph’s Convent) – Forms 1 to 5 (Every term)
- Placed 1st in class (SJC) – Forms 1 to 5 (Every year)
- CXC Merit List (Top 10 Caribbean) – CAPE Spanish Unit 1 – 2019
- CXC Merit List (Top 10 Caribbean) – CSEC English Literature – 2018
- 1st Place – Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Essay Competition – Mar 2017
- 2nd Place – Eastern Caribbean Central Bank OECS Essay Competition – Nov 2017
- National Awards of Excellence – Outstanding Performance in Caribbean Examinations Council – CSEC English Literature 2018 (1st on island, 8th in Caribbean) Jan 2019
- Selected to represent school at Dereck Walcott Festival in Trinidad – Oct 2019
- Playwright – Currently co-writing the script for SALCC’s Drama Club’s major annual production to be screened in January 2020.
- 1st Place – United Nations Development Program St Lucia National ACT Now Climate Change Video Competition – May 2018
- 2nd Place – St Lucia Caribbean Youth Environmental Network Earth Hour Video Competition – Apr 2017