Poetry often bridges a connection between one’s soul and words. It is a form of art, one which women of color are taking by storm on social media with their unique voices. These women are not only spreading universal art but are breaking barriers and spreading awareness with poetry as their weapon of choice.
I consider myself a poet as well and so I resonate with the words of other poets. They inspire me to not only resist injustice but appreciate the flaws and blessings I have within myself. Reading poetry allows me to have a deep connection with the author that goes beyond physicality. I read poetry to reflect on and empower myself.
In honor of the women of color on Instagram who are changing society by words and poetry, here are my top five poets I go to for art.
1. Pavana Reddy
Los Angeles-based writer and author of the book Rangoli, Pavana Reddy first used poetry as therapy to heal the wounds caused by the loss of her sister. Reddy initially began sharing her work anonymously under the handle @mazadohta – consisting of the words ‘Maza’ and ‘Dohta’ from her favorite book, “IQ84” by Haruki Murakami, from Reddy’s understanding the words together refer the relationship between the body and mind. After gaining confidence in her work, Reddy began associating her name with her account and work but decided not to change the Instagram handle as it was a part of her journey. Reddy has since inspired many with her resilient poetry.
“Poetry and writing, in general, have saved my life more than once. When you suffer a loss that sends you into this spiral of depression, it’s easy to cling onto anything that helps you feel better, even if it’s only temporary. When I first reached for writing as a way to deal with this hurricane of emotions I was holding inside, I was forced to face all of my fears head-on. And as long as I wanted to grow as a writer, I had to learn to keep being honest with myself,” she told Bastet Noir in an interview.
2. Nikita Gill
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Whenever I have found myself low or hurt, I read women, I call a woman, I turn to women. Because they know how to soften the blows of the world and make me feel understood, like this growing into a body that sometimes scares me isn’t that scary. That it is okay to grieve for your past selves. That holding onto your wild when the world commands you to let it go is a brave thing. It’s powerful. I hope you are all blessed to have friends and sisters who make you feel the same. #internationalwomensday #iwd2019
Nikita Gill is a British-Indian writer and artist living in England. She first began sharing her work on Tumblr and then went on to gain a huge following on her social media handles including Instagram. Having lived in New Delhi at a young age, Gill’s poetry reflects on that experience and depicts her anger and vulnerability.
“There was so much anger inside me. Men would strip me bare with their eyes and comment on my body. My parents wouldn’t let me out past a certain point at night. You literally become caged, because your safety is constantly at risk. And you’re not allowed to be yourself,” Gill told the BookSeller.
Her core readership consists of women in their late teen onwards and Gill writes to these readers as if addressing her younger self.
3. Nayyirah Waheed
Not much is known about author Nayyirah Waheed. She has published two books of poetry, Salt and Nejma, and is active on social media, but she shares her poetry exclusively and nothing personal. The African American poet began writing at a young age which according to some outlets was as young as 11 years old.
Waheed’s work focuses on immigration, self-love and other social issues such as race and identity. She is most well known for her style of writing which makes no use of capitalization or punctuation to reflect her African ancestral tongue.
4. Jasmin Kaur
“Part of the reason why I write and why I choose to render myself very visible through my work, as a Punjabi-Sikh woman, is because I didn’t I grow up seeing women or girls like me ever in a public space,” Jasmine Kaur said.
Kaur is a writer, illustrator, spoken word artist and elementary school teacher. Her writing explores themes of feminism, womanhood, social justice, political oppression, and self-love. In an interview with Women’s March Global, Kaur said a lot of her work is influenced by the oppressive experiences that her people have suffered in her home of Punjab. Her writing reflects the experiences of oppression she has faced growing up as a girl in society.
5. Harpreet M. Dayal
After having lived her whole life in the UK, Harpreet Dayal moved to Canada with her husband. This inspired her to write Svādhyāya (Sanskrit for ‘study of the self’), a collection of poems and musings. She calls it her journey to a better understanding of oneself. Dayal is also the author of another book, a short story for children, and is a spoken word performer.
“I personally think the most important thing is to evoke emotion and really get the listeners to imagine and feel the words. I am learning to use language that will really evoke emotions in the listener,” she told Thirty West Publishing House.
While this list does not do justice to all the creatives out there, it consists of women who inspire me on a daily basis. I hope you find the same peace, love and inspiration you may need in reading these women’s art as I do. I challenge you to read more, learn more, and write more. Poetry is an art of healing for the soul and I invite you to indulge in it.