Review: Unlock the Door by La Shawna Griffith

Who is La Shawna Griffith? 

La Shawna Griffith is an emerging poet who was born and resides in beautiful Barbados. She is twenty- two years of age. She truly loves writing pieces to promote change in the world. Her goal is to become a voice for the voiceless, a hope and an inspiration.

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Why is this?

Due to La Shawna aspiring to be a great literary legend like her idol and role model Miss Maya Angelou who was a phenomenal poet and revolutionary and it is no surprise that La Shawna’s favorite poem is “I know Why The Caged Bird Sings”.

Maya Angelo 1 Maya Angelo 2

What does poetry mean to her ?

She states clearly "Poetry is my diary ... and it is a book that can never be filled …
La Shawna has been making serious waves as she has been featured in two online magazines which are the Afro news which is an African online newspaper where she was on the front page and also World Poetry Canada on their featured artiste page both in July.

She has also had her work read in Don Bank Australia by a fellow poet who was so in love with her work that he read the original piece “ The Clock” to all of the poets whom attended the Don Bank Show!

La Shawna has taken that step further being the 1st black Barbadian to enter Noisside Poetry Competition which is indeed a great achievement  as entrants to this competition are from thirty countries around the world.

In addition, La Shawna entered NIFCA 2015 where she advanced to the semi finals with one of herself penned pieces “The Budge Hit” where she played the character Malicious Patsy.

NIFCA - Copy

On October 19th  2015  she was invited to an interview with Teisha Hinds on the Midmorning Mix to speak about her 1st publication entitled La Shawna- Unlock The Door which she published at the tender age of twenty – one.

The book La Shawna- Unlock The Door which is collection of thirty seven self penned poems is making great strides as it has received great reviews on Amazon and Good reads respectively.

In July 2016 La Shawna received a review and a feature in India by a renowned Indian Poet who wrote a beautiful review about her book in Kitaab International as well as Bureaucracy Today Magazine.

La Shawna has been receiving great reviews from locals as she has recently begun local distribution of her book. The book is being distributed by The University Of The West Indies Book Shop for $45.00 BDS.

La Shawna is truly making waves for Barbados and continues to put Barbados on the map with her poetic skills...




Pages 90.



La Shawna lives in Barbados, is twenty-two years old, and is a final year student at University with a view to “become a voice for the voiceless, a hope and an inspiration”. Further, to “promote change in the world”, she has brought out her first poetry collection — Unlock the Door, which is available on Kindle and Amazon stores worldwide. She expresses her raison d’etre for being a poet in this poem:

La Shawna - Unlock The Door artwork

I Have To Be Poet

I have to be a poet

I cannot sit and see

We are different

We think and analyse differently

The world to sum is just a world

To me a poet

It is a collection of ideas



All pleading to be a colour in my masterpiece

Her poetry is relentlessly detailed; summing up the challenges faced by the poet in her life and circumstances. Her book encompasses an overwhelming amount of precisely observed details which take care to refrain from overt declarations of meaning. It is prudent to argue that poems invite the reader to find and interpret the patterns that link the details. The poet as a speaker is nowhere to be found, yet present everywhere. They are saturated with an assertive sensibility. The precise descriptions and shifts of perspective attest to the fineness of the observer as in her poem:

I Am Tired:

I’ve had happiness and sadness

I swear it has been tough

But you don’t realize that . . .

I have grown

Or are they still looking for

The little girl that they have always known . . .

The proliferation of details signal the pleasures of her poetry while her ability to contextualize the poems in relation to life without indulging in over-interpretation is laudable. There is a feeling a reader may get that her poems are forced into a confessional mode. Elements of the poet’s interior life, especially in relation to responses to circumstances assume an indelible importance.

Dangerous Feelings

Where screams are the only things known

These feelings are so dangerous

I keep them hidden

I want to explore them

And be a slave to your passion

Poetry is her refuge; she turns the limitations of alienation imposed upon her poetic thoughts by the tiredness of being alone — I have no family/I am alone/With myself/With no identity/No culture no anything — into a source of strength. Most crucial circumstances against which La Shawna struggles is her relationship with her psychological and emotional frame which in turn is driven by a psychological necessity.

If This Was A Dream Do Not EVER WAKE ME!

My fantasies about you are so strong

They cloud my reality

I don’t know what is real from what is fiction

Did you just kiss me?

La Shawna tends to be a poet of history, love and yearning; she is wistfully passionate about these. Unfortunately, these exist in the realm of suffering and change; the dilemma of a poet.

I Love you Dianna — Damien’s Reply

The scents of your hair as you hold me at night

The way nothing else mattered but you

Being in my arms all night

The warmth


Desires we shared on my bed

Don’t you remember the first time?

I undressed you?

She expresses her feelings through sparse poetry — an attribute which is contrary to what is considered a sound pillar of mature poetry, i.e. condensed poetry — saying a little, conveying a great deal. She is hidden within her poems, which represent celebrations of instincts and resistance to tyranny.

I am fearless!

Fear is an unknown emotion

As we are trained assassins

Armour on

It’s metallic and heavy

It lashes unto my body

Holding me in place

A smirk escapes from my face

la shawna 2

With her voice contemporary but skeptical, the bulk of the book overwhelms with components like “unlock the door of love”; “unlock the door of darkness and light”; “unlock the issues” and “shut the door”, but the poet, it seems from a reading of her first book, will mature with the passage of time in terms of her poetic ruminations and style, as in the present one, her “pen” is really, as she admits, “behaving maliciously” and is more like a running commentary with occasional outbursts of ecstasy. The rare stuff, i.e. the stanzas that bring unmeasurable bliss, and which strike a reader of poetry like lightning is what young poets aspire for and the next book of La Shawna, it is hoped, will meet that criterion. Good poetry should have vision and wisdom without which the literary world would be greatly impoverished. La Shawna’s first book gives the assurance that her next one would be illuminating and also baffling.

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K. K. Srivastava is an Indian Civil Servant and an acclaimed poet and literary reviewer with three poetry collections — Ineluctable Stillness (2005); An Armless Hand Writes (2008 & 2012) and Shadows of the Real (2012). He reviews for The Pioneer, Kitaab Singapore, Daily Star and Bureaucracy Today.

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