By Claire Crittendon & Casey DiBari – Features Editor & Opinion Editor
On Oct. 15, Campus Activities Board (CAB) hosted spoken word artist Jinahie on the first floor of Arnow. The event was attended by around 15 people.
As the event began, students were encouraged to sign up to go on stage and perform open- mic style. They could read poetry, sing or share fun facts with the crowd – the choice was theirs. There were many participants including juniors Duffy Martin and Dubem Okafor. Martin opened up the show by reading their own poetry, while Okafor closed doing the same.
Between the students’ performances, Jinahie would take the stage to share her own poetry. On her account, Jinahie became a professional spoken word artist wholly by accident.
“You just follow the thing you’re curious about, and it feeds you. Love what you love, and it will love you back,” she said. “There’s no rhyme or reason to anything I’ve done, but it’s worked out and I’m very lucky and blessed to have [that happen.]”
Some of Jinahie’s poetry performed that night included a piece she wrote when she was younger, about her father leaving. Another discussed how her mother, an Egyptian immigrant, struggled to perfect her and her daughter’s English.
Her passion for her craft was strikingly evident throughout the night. “Every time I step on stage, I’m very aware that at the time, I felt like this was the only thing that loved me, and now, my goal is to love it back and to spread my love for it with other people,” she said.
Jinahie passed a notepad around at the beginning of the show for a potluck poem. A potluck poem, she explained, is an activity in which she will script the first line of a poem, that night it said, “I remember…,” and allow audience members to add a line of their own.
“I think art happens in community, and I think it’s really interesting what happens when you take people who don’t consider themselves artists or creatives or collaborators and you say, alright, we’re going to do this,” she said. “When you give people a space that is anonymous and safe and free, where they can just sort of pour their heart out and share this experience with other strangers, I think it, it always ends up being a beautiful, beautiful poem.”
Jinahie also invited ve students up to the stage, not explaining the reason. She then asked them one at a time to share their biggest insecurities with the crowd. Among the volunteers was junior Dylan Alves. When asked what prompted him to join, he said, “I’m a very out-there person. I was like, you know what? I don’t [care]. I was like, I hope this is a fun game.”
Jinahie says art, like the majority of practices, is subject to trial and error. “I write down a lot of stuff that will never see the light of day, and I’m okay with that,” she said, “because I know that even then, that’s part of the creative process, you have to give yourself permission to fail. That’s perhaps the scariest but also the most exciting part.”
When asked what she wanted her audience to take away, she said, “I think for me it’s, as cliché as it is, that we are so much more alike than we think, and I think we need the reminder we are not alone in our pain, in our suffering, we are not alone in our joy and our laughter, the human experience is always a shared one. I think what I want people to walk away with is, I’m not alone and people are sharing this with me.”