Poetry performance -- Imani Maya

Everyone in the world has a voice, whether it is internal, politically driven, used to communicate, heard as art, or not heard at all. Voices are a powerful part of the world and they help shape the values, beliefs, and ways that we live our lives. Certain voices have more power and impact on individuals than others. These voices captivate your attention and enhances a certain emotional reaction or feeling.

Imani Maya, a senior at Duke University, demonstrates these powerful voice qualities and more. Imani did slam poetry in High School and now writes poetry for as a creative outlet and simply for her pure enjoyment. This is a way for her to express herself. Her poems are intimate and dynamic on paper, but when she reads them out loud, they truly come alive. When she reads her poems, her voice has a certain smoothness and calming quality to it.

I first heard these qualities in her voice last April at a performance of my friend’s senior thesis. She performed a spoken word poem at the end of the show and from then, I could not get her voice out of my mind. It was a combination of the powerful voice and impacting words that made her voice stand out. She speaks about powerful subjects, ones that seem to be personal within her writing, but when she performs her poems there is a certain intimacy to it. As a listener, you feel as if you are able to understand or relate to what she is talking about even if you have never directly experienced what she is talking about. Even in the projection and powerfulness of her voice, she is able to bring a calm quality to it. Imani’s voice is pleasant to hear and soothes yours ears, making you want to hear more of it. With the combination of her powerful, yet calming voice and the compelling words that she projects, her voice impacts the listener. This specific exhibit will explore and analyze the particular qualities in Imani’s voice that make it captivating, such as the strength of her projection, her rhythmicity, and the strong emotions portrayed in her voice. There are two poems written by Imani Maya that are used in the recording exmaples down below. One is called “Numb,” which evokes the emotions of numbness, qualm, helplessness, sympathy, lost sense of hope. Then other poem is  called, “Simplifying Complexity,” which evokes the emotions of attentiveness, peace and wonder. Imani’s voice is so powerful and captivating that it can be seen as a form of art. 

By Natalie Lubin.