Amena Brown Q+A: Poetry in an Age of Lament
How the spoken-word poet uses art to speak truth about race, faith, and womanhood.
In 2002, Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion Movement, invited an unknown artist named Amena Brown to perform her spoken-word poetry at a vision-casting event called One Day Link. The conference was simulcast to over 20,000 people. At the time, Brown had been turned down by graduate schools and faced disappointment. “I did my poem [at the event] and knew that God was trying to say to me, ‘This is why you didn’t get into grad school, and my plans for your life are different than your plans for your life,’” says Brown.
Since then, Brown has toured with Gungor and performed and spoken at Creativity World Forum, Chick-Fil-A Leadercast, the National Poetry Slam, and the annual IF: Gathering, where she will co-lead a pre-conference session for women of color. She participates in the Atlanta poetry scene at Urban Grind Coffee and Java Monkey and over the last seven years has produced four spoken-word albums. Her fifth album, Amena Brown Live, releases this November.
I spoke recently with Brown about poetry, racism, and how performance art impacts her life and faith.
So much of your work as a spoken-word poet involves music and rhythm. With that in mind, what kind of worship music compels you the most? And where do you worship?
The church [my husband and I] attend is called Icon Church—it’s a small, new church plant, and it’s right in our neighborhood [in Atlanta], which we really love. One thing I love about the worship experience there is that it is has soul. I grew up listening to choir music and gospel music and am a lover of soul music in general, so that’s the music that speaks to me about God. In our church service, there’s a mix of what would probably be considered …