Artist Spotlight: Rebekah Stewart
Where does your journey begin?
My journey began when I attended a Poetry Slam event at my college. At that time I was just an observer. But after the event finished I felt inspired. I began working on my first poem, ‘Judge me not.’ I performed it at the next opportunity and won first place.
Poetry Slam provided a platform for me to share my talent and build my confidence. So when I started university I had a burning desire to do the same for others. So I created a platform. I started holding Poetry Slam events at my university. I didn’t realize how popular poetry was until the first few events. This helped shape me as a person. But it wasn’t until years later that my upcoming book, Whilst you Wait started to become a reality.
What is your biggest struggle whilst producing your work?
My biggest struggle when producing my work is the ‘fear of the unknown’; especially when I’m performing to a new audience, because I don’t always know how I’m going to be perceived and whether they will fully understand the concept of the poem. There’s always that feeling of vulnerability when you’re pouring out your heart. However, over the years I’ve learnt to adopt a different attitude; that if at least one person is influenced or impacted by my poetry in a positive way, my labor is not in vain.
Who/what keeps you going?
The response and feedback I get after performing a poem is one of the things that keeps me going. When someone can relate to what is being said.
My parents have also kept me going; my dad has always given me the right advice at the right time and taught me to value my gift. And my Mum has always supported me at events from the very beginning.
Is identity an important theme in your work?
I believe identity is an important theme in my work. Most of my poetry is driven by empathy and compassion for people. For example, when I heard about the Eric Garner story it inspired me to write a poem called ‘Police Brutality’. There are also several poems in my upcoming book about identity, stigma and conviction, such as ‘Picture This’, ‘Criminal Record’ and ‘The Prison Cell.’ These are prominent issues in my community. But equally my heart goes out to those who can’t speak for themselves, the broken, the forgotten, and the lost.
What advice would you give to aspiring poets?
‘Don’t look down on small beginnings.’ Every influential person has to start from somewhere. It may be a small open mic; it may be church gatherings or your college Poetry Slam, like me. So take the opportunities that arise to ‘speak’ because that one opportunity, that one event, will eventually lead to another.
Upcoming Event: Whilst You Wait | Book Launch | Feb 2019
Click here for tickets