tamarah ynise
Writing poetry and creating artwork, for me, are liberating acts
of self-discovery and self-disclosure. Capturing an idea or a
feeling through words or art can be powerfully transformative.
These creative tools are what I use to connect to the divine in
me (as the divine lives in us all). Through them, I am able to say
the ineffable, able to know the incompreheansible and able to
feel that which my heart may be somewhat hesitant about
engaging. Ultimately, through my chosen expressive forms, I
hope to say something substantive about myself and about the
overall human experience that other people can identify with,
connect to and understand.,
I tapped into my affinity for the written word first. I picked up my writing pen at the tender age of 13 and felt a
sense of familiarity, personal agency and freedom that I never thought possible. I had no language for this new
force in my life, but I knew that through writing I could imagine for myself, create for myself-even-a world of
original colors, images, textures, tastes and sounds that were heretofore absent in my lived reality. Nothing in my
life up until that age pointed in the direction of The Arts as an avocation or passion for me. My aspirations had
always been a bit more grounded and, dare I say, humble. I grew up in the 70’s in a small town in New Jersey . I
spent my formative years immersed in sports. Continuing in that tradition, I played basketball in high school and
did the same as an undergraduate for Rutgers University-Camden. I moved to Philadelphia , PA in 1996 to
pursue graduate work in social work at Temple University . Upon receiving my master’s degree in 1998, I
pursued a professional career as an advocate for adults and children with familial, social, mental and emotional
challenges. My natural impulse has always been to reach out to, to support and to advocate for the voiceless.
Seeing suffering, powerlessness and defeat up close like that day in and day out was a challenge, but I also found
many examples of the resilience of the human spirit and I saw moments of great joy even in the face of incredible
heartbreak. Poetry was then and remains now a wonderful outlet for exploring that double-sided, paradoxical
nature of life. It became a vehicle through which I could see and accept myself and the world around me as being
multifaceted and innately complex.
Continuing to explore other extensions of my inner voice and looking for new outlets of self-expression, I was
blessed to realize a gift for painting abstract art in 2003. Painting, for me, is a way to celebrate and to grapple
with life’s complexity, a way to balance stillness & movement, assonance & dissonance, structure &
formlessness and singularity & multiplicity. I was able to actualize two solo shows in March of 2005 at
Freedom Theater and May of 2005 at AVHQ, respectively, where I displayed 20 original pieces at each
venue. I also mounted an audio-visual intensive, multi-media display of artwork, poetry and spoken word in
December 2005, 2006, and 2007 respectively. In December 2008, I showcased my new medium, wood and
metal, in the Art of Element Fusion Art Show. Whether through written poetry, spoken word or art, I am
preoccupied with constantly framing and re-framing the world and my place in it. This very personal journey
continues to press me forward.
Moving back to Philadelphia after some time away, I committed
myself to exploring my artistry fully. I realize and accepted the
connection between self-expression and living life ‘holistically’,
meaning, embracing all facets of my personhood. I thought it
important, also, to delineate for myself a unique poetic voice: one
that was protean and, thus, could change as I changed and could
become more expansive as I developed as a human being and as
an artist. Spoken Word, as a poetic style, allows for such growth
and fluidity. In an effort to hone that specific attribute of my poetic
voice, I performed at a number of open mic venues throughout
the city of Philadelphia, such as The October Gallery and Warm
Daddy’s. I was a featured poet at the 2004 Philly Fringe Festival
and at the 2005 Philly Black Women’s Arts Festival. In late 2005
and in 2006, I took to the road performing as featured poet at
number of events throughout the country. I self-published my first
book of haikus, Liquid Verbs, in November 2005. My second
book of poetry, Reservoir in My Mouth, was published in
December 2006.
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