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In conversation with award-winning poet and spoken word artist Aminah Rahman

14th May 2021
In conversation with award-winning poet and spoken word artist Aminah Rahman

(Photo courtesy of Aminah Rahman)

Aminah Rahman is a 17-year-old multi-award-winning published poet and spoken word artist. The A-level student is a third-generation Bangladeshi and the only daughter of her family. Her maternal grandfather settled in Cambridge in 1957 and her mother Shahida was born and raised in Cambridge in 1971, where she still lives today.

Aminah wrote her first poetry collection Poems by Aminah in 2016. She then wrote Soul Change, a collection of poems about social issues that affect humanity today. Five of Aminah’s poems have been published in Young Writers UK anthologies. Aminah is featured in the June 2020 edition of Writing magazine, the UK’s biggest and bestselling magazine for writers, where she talks about her passion for poetry. Aminah was also recognised as one of the ‘Top 6 Most Influential Muslim Youth’ in Hayati magazine, Nigeria’s #1 Muslimah fashion and lifestyle magazine.

In 2015, she won the Young Muslim Writers Awards Key Stage 2 Poetry category, two years later she was the joint winner of the Cambridge News and Media Education Awards: Pupil of the Year award. She also took part in the BBC Upload Festival 2020, a festival that showcases talent from across England and the Channel Islands. Aminah represented Cambridgeshire with her poem ‘Please’. She has spoken at numerous events, actively promoting inclusion and diversity.

What drew you to poetry?

My interest in poetry began when I was eight years old. I remember studying poetry in an English class and I instantly fell in love with it. I loved the rhythm of it all, and I knew that this was something I wanted to explore.

You are an award-winning published poet at a young age, did that early success cement your passion and what advice do you have for any young budding poet seeking to get published?

Yes, it definitely did cement my passion and this was all very motivating. This has made me realise that dreams can come true. For young budding poets, write down whatever comes to you and tell your story. Every person has their own, unique story to tell, so get out there, seize the opportunities and most importantly, be you.

 

Does being an ethnic minority, a woman and Muslim shape the way you write or the subject matters you choose?

Yes, it does. I believe that ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the creative sector. This makes me think carefully about what I write. Sometimes, writing is undervalued, and I would like to change this perception.

 

Who is your favourite poet? 

Amanda Gorman is my favourite poet because she is so inspirational. She reminds me that there is light, and hope in this world. She screams positivity, which encourages me to do the same.

 

What is the difference between poetry and spoken word artistry and which do you gravitate towards more?

Writing poetry and getting your thoughts down is significantly different from performing in front of an audience. Performing spoken word allows you to express yourself using your own voice, and establish a connection with the people around you, which is why I love performing.

I have always done from a young age. Writing poetry is also relaxing for me as it allows me to process my thoughts and feelings and also reflect upon myself. 

 

Do you think poetry is adequately taught in schools?

Yes, I do. poetry is a special form of expression. It has so many positive impacts and poetry helps us to see things in a different light. This creativity enables children to find new ways of communicating as well.

In 2018, the Washington Post reported that that poetry reading has doubled since 2012 in the US, while stats from UK book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan show that sales grew substantially, what do you attribute the resurgence to?

The resurgence may have been due to uncertainty of the future. Poems are the unspoken feelings of the author and poetry is a deep way of conveying emotions.
I also think that social media has contributed to the increase in poetry reading and sales. Social media allows poets to present their work with colour, images and sound. Reading poems provides a sense of comfort and unity.

Interview by Elham Asaad Buaras

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