Spoken Word Poet
Painting, performance or prose- art and it’s many forms inject a shot of courage and bravery into the artist. It takes grit and gumption to bare your soul and be judged for your work. But who are the faces that create these wonders? We talk to those that have mastered the arts and carved a niche for themselves
When you ask Afra to tell you a little about herself, her instinctive reaction is to begin with her family. As the daughter of an Emirati father and a Japanese American mother, she views herself as a bit of a travelling poet. “I go where the stage takes me. I have an obsession with maps, pirates and space travel,” she adds, “I love old musicals and sneakers.”
Finding a way to infuse comedy into her poetry, Afra likes to make her poems accessible, relatable and personal. “I think the trick is to find a happy medium. For instance, one of my signature poems is about food. I start off talking about how much I love good food and then it progresses to talk about how food ends up consuming you instead of you consuming it. It gets quite deep and emotional towards the end. I love watching the crowd laugh along till they get to that moment in the poem where there is stark silence because they realize that I’m actually talking about a serious issue,” she explains.
Discovering a sense of freedom and peace in the world of spoken word poetry, Afra has used the art form to explore issues and aspects of herself that she would have never been able to. “I think there is something so universal about poetry. It is such a beautiful medium to be part of. I’ve performed at several different national and international events and I can’t imagine my life without it. I love being on stage. I love the applause. I love making people laugh and cry in the same poem,” she says.
For Afra, the journey to the stage is lit with significant events. “I’m mostly self taught, but a while ago, I was at a leadership conference and one of the participants stood up and performed a spoken word poem. I was so mesmerized by it that I just wanted to do it too. Then a few days, I went to a spoken word workshop and that was that. The person who ran the workshop was the first person to hear me read something I’d written and I’ve never looked back.”
Afra believes she is blessed to have the art form be a part of her life. Spoken word poetry, in this country, has developed a fledging community that supports its talented artists. “It has opened doors to opportunities I never imagined. Being part of that scene has also given me some amazing friends and a community of love and support. It is incredibly scary to get up on stage and put your heart and soul on display through your poetry.”