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Top Honours for UWI Creative Writing Students at Bocas Lit Fest 2019

For Release Upon Receipt - June 3, 2019

St. Augustine

Where can a Master’s in Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Creative Writing take you in 2019? To the top categories of three prestigious awards at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest! MFA in Creative Writing students at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St Augustine Campus: Alexandra Stewart, Rehannah Khan and Otancia Noel prove that the calibre of student writing is on par with the best writers in the Caribbean. Alexandra Stewart was crowned the first place champion of the First Citizens National Poetry Slam Final – the biggest night in poetry for the Bocas Lit Fest. She was also part of the festival’s “Inspired by the Archives” panel discussion.  Rehannah Khan was shortlisted for the 6th and final edition of Bocas Lit Fest’s CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature and Otancia Noel was longlisted for the festival’s Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize.

Dr Muli Amaye, lecturer in the Department of Literary, Cultural and Communication Studies and coordinator of the MFA in Creative Writing programme in the Faculty of Humanities and Education (FHE) was overjoyed at the success of her students citing: “I would like to recognise our students Otancia, Rehannah and Alexandra for their outstanding work that has been singled out by independent judges during Bocas 2019. Our MFA students come to us with their talent and we are able to help them to shape what they do and push them to find their best work. However, it has to be recognised that the talent is theirs alone and we are both proud and humbled to have the chance to work with all our students.”

Speaking about her nomination, Otancia Noel noted that she wouldn’t have entered the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize competition if it wasn’t for her supervisor, Dr Muli Amaye’s encouragement. “She push my limits to tell a story that needed to be told.” Rehannah Khan noted that being shortlisted for the CODE Burt Award gave her a great sense of validation, but “it’s just the beginning for me and my writing career. There is a long way to go, and I look forward to seeing where my writing takes me next. UWI has given me more confidence, allowing me to explore things from multiple perspectives.” Being a MFA student at The UWI St. Augustine, according to Alexandra Stewart gave her the opportunity to have her first reading at the “Inspired by the Archives” event during Bocas. “I applied to submit a pitch about a story based on the research I conducted about the women in the Michael Goldberg Collection and my story was selected to be read at BOCAS. This would not have been possible without the unrelenting support from my professors and my family.”

Applications are open for UWI’s Master’s in Fine Arts (MFA) programme and other postgraduate programmes. For more information, please visit:

About MFA Students

Alexandra Stewart

Alexandra is a story writer, spoken word poet and teaching artist. This year she was crowned the First Place Champion of the First Citizens National Poetry Slam. In this same competition she is a four-time finalist and 2017’s second place champion. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and working to complete her first manuscript of short stories. Alexandra is determined to use her art to start conversations that continue beyond the stage. You can find her on Facebook at Alexandra C Stewart. 

Rehannah Khan

Rehannah is a final year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing student at the UWI. She also holds a BSc (Hons) in Information Systems and Management from the University of London, but books have always been her first love. She is especially passionate about Children’s and Young Adult Literature, and writing stories with diverse and under-represented characters, particularly those set in the Caribbean. She also has a keen interest in folklore and mythology. Her as yet unpublished novel ‘The Mermaid Pools’ (and Final Thesis for her MFA degree) is a Young Adult Multicultural Fantasy, which was shortlisted for the 2019 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature.  Rehannah is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in the Caribbean South Regional Chapter

Otancia Noel

Otancia is a forty-four year old, mother of five and holds a BA from COSTAATT in Literatures in English and Mass Communication and is currently finishing her MFA in Creative Writing Prose Fiction at UWI.

About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website: