Nation Linguist

“The oral tradition on the other hand demands not only the griot but the audience to complete the community: the noise and sounds that the maker makes are responded to by the audience and are returned to him. Hence we have the creation of a continuum where meaning truly resides.”

— Kamau Brathwaite, “Nation Language”, the History of the Voice (1984)

Nation Linguist is Barbados’ first spoken word poetry residency programme and the brainchild of Frenetic Arts Director Luci Hammans and the Barbados Museum and Historical Society’s Natalie McGuire-Batson. It is designed to give performance poets and storytellers the time, space, and resources to create their best works and chronicle Barbadian history and heritage.

We honour the legacy of the great Kamau Brathwaite, highlighting the development of the oral tradition in Barbados, and elevating our nation language for which he was an active and avid advocate. 

Nation Linguist is an incubator programme wherein the artist-in-residence will create new work based on the exhibitions of the Barbados Museum, deliver workshops, showcase their work, and receive mentorship from the island’s griots. They will also be tasked with contributing to a national poetry archive with a view to chronicling the tradition which was so near and dear to Brathwaite’s heart.

Image courtesy of Nation News, Barbados.

Interested in the Programme?

Applications for the April to June residency period are open! You can submit your application here. The deadline for application is March 20th, 2020. Please note that there is a fee of $10 (BDS) attached to your application. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be a Barbadian to apply for the residency?
No you don’t! However, you must be based in Barbados for the duration of the residency (April 6th to June 30th).

When will I know if I have been chosen for the residency?
All applicants will be notified of the status of their application via email on or before April 1st, 2020.

How do I pay the application fee?
You can pay the application fee at the Barbados Museum, or email us at to arrange payment to the programme co-ordinator Cyndi Marshall.