WM Spotlight: Amena Brown

By February 22, 2010Uncategorized

We are so excited to feature Amena Brown, a talented artist for our WM Spotlight. Writer. Poet. Spoken Word Artist. Early on it was apparent that Amena Browns words had the power to excite, ignite and inspire…

Where did you grow up and what were some of your hobbies or interests as a young girl?

I grew up in three places: North Carolina (Goldsboro and Chapel Hill), Maryland (Silver Spring), and Texas (San Antonio). My mom was in the military. When I was growing up I loved to read. I was a big bookworm (still am), spent a lot of time in bookstores and the library (still do lol). I loved to write and use my imagination. Hmm…I guess not much has changed. lol

When and how did you realize that you had a passion for poetry and a desire to share this gift with others?

I realized I loved writing poetry when I was about 12 years old. That’s when I started writing on my own outside of school and I started keeping a journal. I wrote for years and would never share anything I’d written. My mom chanced upon one of my notebooks and told me she thought what I was writing was really good. In high school I competed in speech competitions at my church by memorizing poems by Maya Angelou or James Weldon Johnson. My mom would say, I wish you would read some of your own work. I shrugged my shoulders, like awww mom, you think everything I do is good because you’re supposed to…you’re my mom. lol So my last year of high school, she took one of my poems and entered it into a contest without telling me. I won but a part of winning was going to an event and reading my poem. I was really nervous but reading my own work wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. I’ve been performing my own work ever since.

What is spoken word poetry and how do you describe your creative work?

Spoken word poetry is poetry written to be performed. It is typically free verse, with lots of rhythm and rhyme. I would describe most of the poetry I write as spoken word or performance poetry, although I write some pieces that are written to be read instead of performed. I think another part of my creative work is linking together poetry and drama to communicate truth and hope. I’m in the process of linking together different poems, songs, and monologues that will all come together as a stage experience.

Have you ever had an embarrassing or humorous experience while on stage?

Most of my stage work involves having everything I say memorized. I forget OFTEN! Normally the audience doesn’t know, but it’s humorous for me and people who know the poems really well when I’m up there freestyling and shuffling lines around until I remember what I was really supposed to say. lol Another funny experience I had was at a youth event this year. I was the opening to the youth conference and there was a big countdown. The students were used to the opening being an exciting experience that rocked, but this year the team planning the event wanted to do something different. They wanted the event to open quietly with more focus on who God is, less hype. So, the countdown ends, the lights go black and then come up on me. The students weren’t sure if they should cheer or what. So I start my poem, and one guy standing right in front of the stage literally stared at me with the most confused face during my whole poem…like um this is not what I expected after that countdown…seriously! LOL It took the students a little bit of time to get used to spoken word but after a couple of times that were with it.

How do you go about writing a new poem or creative piece?

Poems are interesting creatures. I’ve learned over time that they can’t be controlled or cajoled really. I’m at their mercy. lol Sometimes they come in layers, sometimes they come all at once, most times they take way longer than I think they will to be finished. I think that’s the mystery of art. That’s how we know that inspiration comes from someone way bigger and greater than we are. Overall my poems, writing, stage ideas, come from a hodge podge of life, experience, stories, music, and somehow the different themes eventually show up on the page together.

Who has been a significant influence in your life and ministry?

There have been so many I won’t be able to name them all here, but I’ll try to name a few. Of course my family tree has been a big influence on me. I come from people who worked hard and sacrificed a lot to make a good life for themselves and their families, preachers, musicians, believers in God. I carry a lot of who they were, and are, with me. Growing up I was also exposed to some amazing women speakers: Claudette Copeland, Cynthia James, Iona Locke. Seeing them confirmed for me that God was calling me to be a speaker, they really inspired me. Music has also had a significant influence on me and what I write. My parents exposed me to great music and I still write a lot of pieces while listening to music.

What have you learned from your relationship with Christ how has it impacted your relationship with others and if you could share one message with today’s modern young women, what would you tell them?

My relationship with Jesus is everything. To be honest, sometimes I don’t realize that. I get caught up in being worried, feeling uncertain, being selfish, and a host of other things that distract from what’s real. But at the end of all of that, Jesus is it. I don’t have a life to live or a purpose for anything I’m doing without him and no matter what I go through in life he always brings me back to that. Jesus has made me less religious, more real and honest, and definitely more hopeful. A life with Jesus is reason to smile and see the world through a different lens. One message I would say to other young women is to be your beautiful self, just like you are. Accept yourself and learn to love you. Grow closer to God and remember that you can only get who you are from him, not what you do or how you look, not your relationships, school, or career. God is the only unshakeable thing to build identity on.

As a role model if you were to write a poem for specifically for the hearts of todays modern young women what would it be?

I’m not sure what that poem would be. Probably a combination of two poems. One is called “Margaret” which I specifically wrote for young girls and women. The other is a poem i haven’t released yet but it’s called “Dance With Him” about how God is calling each of us to follow and let him lead in the dance of life.

Where do you see yourself in a couple of years with the ministry and art God’s given you?

In a couple of years, I see myself having completed some show ideas about how to incorporate spoken word, music, and creative themes together. I also see myself putting together a few events that will bring together people around my age of different faiths and cultures.

To learn more about Amena Brown click here.

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