Shaniqua looks back on May’s Poetic Insight, which focused on Mental Health.
We continued our focus on mental health at Poetic Insight with a very special night at Urban Xchange Bar & Grill on May 28th. Openness and honesty was expressed in abundance through poetry, spoken word and shared personal experiences, which was truly inspiring and brought everyone closer together.
After opening the night with my poem, Wiping Away The Mask, and speaking about some of my mental health struggles, Luca took to the stage to share a monologue about depression, touching on the importance of speaking to others and remembering to smile.
Jessica was next onstage, sharing Focus, her poem about depression that we have all come to love. She was then followed by her best friend Elisha, who spoke about his personal life experiences, touching on dealing with depression as well.
With the theme being mental health, I went on to do something completely different, leaving the stage open for anyone to get up and share poetry, spoken word or their experiences with mental health. I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to say what was on their hearts or minds, enabling them to freely express themselves and provide inspiration to anyone who may be in need of it.
First to be brave and take the mic was Benny Bruce, who had come along to Poetic Insight for the first time and blew us all away with a deep spoken word poem called Broken Mirrors. The vulnerability and rawness displayed was beautiful, setting a great example for so many young black men who may be suppressing their emotions or mental health struggles.
Next was returning poet, Jerri, who read a powerful poem about body image, which fitted in perfectly, because it was this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week. After her poem, a first-time attendee bravely shared with us about her daughter’s struggle with self-harm and how important it is to keep raising awareness of mental health, as well as commending everyone on their bravery for sharing onstage.
What also made the night really special was Samirah returning to Poetic Insight, exactly a year after she first came to the poetry night. It was like she had come full circle, performing the first poem she came back to poetry with – the very powerful Control – before telling us about her own mental health struggles and how she had taken time out to heal, which was the best thing she could have ever done.
To also bring the event full circle, I ended with a performance of my poem, Mental Struggle, and encouraged everyone to look after their mental health, look out for each other and not suffer in silence.