Let’s get straight into it, because it really cannot wait! I had the privilege to interview the gorgeous Amerah regarding her talented profession of spoken word and poetry. As a young, British woman with so much passion and energy, we can all learn a lot from her walk of life. I have deliberatly kept these answers unedited, because reading what Amerah had to say was so uplifting and her personality has really shone through. Enjoy…!
1. Welcome to Hijablicious and Happy New Year! How does it feel to reach 2014?
Alhamdililah. I feel very blessed; work wise it hasn’t started yet, although plans for this year have been in the books for a while now. I really look forward to everything to come this year Inshallah. Are you ready for 2014?.. TOO LATE!
2. For those of you who do not know, tell us a little bit about yourself.
You know the kid in class always staring out the window? That kid is me when someone asks me to talk about myself. So apologies if I sound really lame, here it goes..
My name is Amerah Saleh also known as voiceofthepoets or soul poet. I hope you’ve figured…. I’m a poet! In saying that the ‘real’ term is spoken word artist- which just means instead of publishing I get on a mic and perform. I’m 20, have been doing this for 5 years now (time really does fly subhanallah). This is going bad I can sense it. I’m also a workshop facilitator, basically I go around schools in the UK inspiring young people through creativity. I’m a project coordinator, which means I bring my creative ideas to life: not all of them, the cuts can’t handle all the ideas we young people have.
To honestly have an idea of what I do, you’d need to go to a local open mic night in your area; I work for an organisation called beatfreeks (on all social media) if you’re from Birmingham then you’re a lucky one!
3. Where and how did this passion for spoken word come about?
Oh, I’ve always loved creative writing, it started off with short stories. You know the really dark ones when you’re in your early teens yeah that sort of thing. I then happened to fall into script writing with Birmingham rep theatre until I was about 17, but then I watched a TED talk called ‘Sarah Kay- if I should have a daughter’ (if you have 7 minutes I suggest you watch the beauty of that piece) and I stand here today a spoken word artist/ poet.
4. What is a normal day like for you?
I can not begin to explain, an average day will start at 10am, a few meetings, rehearsals or a workshop then an event. On an early day I’ll get home at 9, otherwise it’s later. If ever work happens to finish at 5 or so, a bunch of artists will meet for impromptu jam session in any coffee shop; yes we’re them loud artists distracting you in the coffee shops aha. Work doesn’t stop, funding applications, emails and all go on until 3am sometimes. It’s not a job; at all. It’s a lifestyle I LOVE and wouldn’t change for the world. I can be in Birmingham today, and London tomorrow to be in derby the day after.
5. Is there anyone or anything that keeps you motivated and inspired?
Anyone that annoys me, that’s generally anything political. I’m a political artist by trade but I have wrote non political poems; yes I even have ONE (just one) heartbreak poem. I love young people and the ideas they have, the creativity we don’t even realise that lies within us baffles my mind. With every person I meet, every young person in my workshop, I never know if in 10/20 years time they will reference me; it’s the beauty of the unknown I’m in love with.
6. What is a particular challenge you face as a poet and how do you overcome it?
I see no challenges, no barriers to break only minds to feed. Tell you a secret; I used to fear being a Muslim hijabi, in a world of poetry it scared the living day lights out of me. But I adapted and feel so at home in the arts, on the rare occasion I do get that ‘look’ I make sure it’s my words they judge not what I look like.
7. One of the highlights we picked up from this year was being invited to Tedx, what was that experience like?
I had 4 days notice. As I said before I started poetry through TED, TEDx is the son of TED. Ahh. It was a beautiful experience, honestly something that thrills me to this day.
I remember at the end of the day, we had helium balloons so I wrote a letter to Allah (which I till have the picture of) saying thank you and letting it off to the sky. In a moment of such happiness I had to turn to my lord and appreciate what I had, alhamdililah.
8. What has been your personal highlight of 2013?
I have a few but in no order;
I met HRH Prince William and got a epic picture of us laughing.
I was in the Birmingham Post and Mail
I met beatfreeks- who became family and now I work with them to engage young people through creativity
Oh and my sister had a little baby girl
9. For those looking to pursue a creative career and are also of your age, what would be your advice?
Passion, I live on passion so much I forget to eat sometimes (that’s not even a joke). I’m fuelled by it, the drive to make change, the determination to leave my mark and the vision I want people to share with me. That and networking, go to local nights, share your work, you will get clapped whether you were good or bad; but it’s the confidence, the community and family spirit in that room that will help you. Come to one of my workshops, I’m not great, but you can help me as much as I can help you.
10. Since when were you and Prince William buddies and how did that happen?
*hides* A poet asked him “2pac or biggie” and that picture was born. Five artists were chosen to meet him on his visit to Birmingham new library, I happened to be one of them. Honestly that laugh was 50% nerves but shh don’t tell anyone.
11. What can we see for the future of Soul’Poet over 2014?
There’s a lot. I don’t know how much I can spill, hopefully a theatre production in Autumn, workshops all over the country, performances everywhere. Maybe internationally? I don’t know. A few collaborations up my sleeve too, very angry ones I tell you! I want to meet people, I want to explore my mind, my soul and places. I want to challenge myself, set tasks, to really push myself harder than ever.
12. If you could collaborate with anyone in your industry, who would it be and why?
There’s people I dream to collaborate with and people I’m lucky to collaborate with. I won’t say which is which though.
Kate Tempest- London based beaut.
Nafeesa Hamid- Birmingham’s talent.
Alysia Harris- The Strivers Row (American)
Amal Kassir- have you heard her?!
David Cameron- HA!
Sanasiino- London’s voice.
Leona Lewis- an acoustic song to spoken word. My dreams are far too big sometimes.
13. A quick question from our fashionistas – do you have a particular style or rule?
Bow ties are always professionally stylish. That’s my own saying I just made up now- I’m lame I know. I don’t believe in judging what others are wearing; they could have 10x better faith than me. And likewise for others. You look awesome, don’t change it for no one.
14. A quick message to your fans?
*cringe* I despise the word fans. One direction have fans, Justin Bieber has fans. (Sorry to the directioners and beliebers out there x_x) Fame has fans, it’s a sense of following, supporters and family.
So to my followers and supporters, you beautiful people; you are stronger than you believe, more beautiful than you can ever imagine and more creative than you ever realise.
Whether you work behind a desk, or behind a mic; you’re helping someone, and satisfaction is a big part of success.
Amerah Saleh x
I hope you would agree, Amerah got me thinking about the last time I embraced something I love in order to make a positive difference. Thank you so much Amerah! Much love from Hijablicous and we wish you the best on your journey.
Show her you love on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmerahSalehPoetry
Till next time,
Humaira is a full-time student, part-time photographer, regular writer and all round happy soul. She likes to live life to the full and works on various other projects including running her own blog and contributing to other publications. She will be bringing us the latest from the world of fashion and style, particularly under the new revolution of Islamic influence on 21st century vogue. Stay tuned to read all her articles!View all Humaira Ashraf posts.