The Orlando Palmer Prose Prize 2019 for the best selected prose has been awarded to our very own Ms. Michelle Allyshia Belle, a Newtown-born Dominican native, for her submission: “Rude Awakening”, published in Interviewing the Caribbean literary magazine, spring edition, 2019 in Volume 4, Issue Number 2. At present, Michelle studies Psychology in China.
The Spring issue of the magazine was centered around the theme “Caribbean Femininity and Masculinity: Gender Justice”. Michelle’s story is based on a young boy who has had to move from his home in a rural village in Dominica to town, and his vicarious experience with domestic violence in the home. It also touches on the way domestic violence is received by the larger society, and its effect.
“Upon receiving the news that I had won the story, I was ecstatic of course but still a bit surprised because I still mostly write for fun. It has been one of hobbies for a long time, and it’s something that I thoroughly enjoy doing but without much thought,” she shares.
“Sometimes there’s just a story or a poem or something bubbling in my head and I have to get it out and so sometimes I just share it with friends or I never share it at all. It’s just something I’m passionate about, something you do for fun but for a long time I never tried capitalizing off that,” Belle explained.
Belle’s love for reading, which she did avidly from a young age, spiraled into an equal love for writing. Her work mainly focuses on themes such as Caribbean living, African roots and issues unique to the black community. She has also won Dominica’s Independence Short Story competition in 2014 and 2015, and placed third in 2013, 2017 and 2019 respectively.
Her win inspires her to encourage others who are also talented to share their talents and abilities with the world, like she did.
“I’m really encouraging everyone; there’s no need to hide your light, or to even be shy, it’s your talent, it’s art. Whatever it is you should try sharing with the world. There is really no limit to our potential, no limit to what we can do and the things we can reach. A lot of the limits that we think are there are really in our minds,” she believes.
Belle continued, “Talent can’t fit into a box, so whatever yours may be, young and old people out there, I’m just encouraging us to shine and not be limited. Our island may be small but that doesn’t mean our mentality should be small as well. So go for it!”
Michelle hopes that this award will give her more opportunities to share her literary works with the wider public and inspire other Dominicans to put out more of their literary products. She intends to seek an even wider audience by submitting works to more international avenues, and has hope for publishing her own book some time in the future. She recently had a poem published on a platform which shares experiences and achievements of black people in China. It can be read at the following link: https://blacklivitychina.com/2020/01/18/why-the-black-nod-exists-in-china-too/
Copies of Interviewing the Caribbean magazine which features Michelle’s story, Rude Awakening, may be purchased at: