National Poetry Month Celebration
Jamila Reddy is a writer, director, and facilitator of dreams. As a director, she creates multimedia theatrical experiences for diverse audiences; infusing live music, movement, and spoken word poetry into traditional theatre. As a poet, she draws heavily on narrative storytelling, each poem an intimate lens into a moment from her personal and collective history. At the heart of all her artistic work is an insatiable curiosity about the human condition. Jamila's poetry has been featured at La-Ti-Do, the premier musical theatre/spoken word cabaret series in the District, “The Garden” open mic series at Bloombars, and Busboys and Poets. Recent directing credits include Bodies (an original devised piece that explores the way the Western world regards illness, diagnosis, and flaw) for the Hangar Wedge, James and the Giant Peach for the Hangar KIDSTUFF season, and Greg Keller’sThe Family Play (reading), all during her 2013 Drama League Director’s Fellowship. Previous directing credits include Danielle Mohlman’s Stopgap at the Capital Fringe Festival (Field Trip Theatre), Ntoztake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf at the University of North Carolina (Lab!Theatre), and several devised productions with Ebony Readers Onyx Theatre, a spoken word/theatre collective at UNC. Currently residing in Washington, D.C., Jamila is a teaching artist for Split This Rock, a non-profit collective of poets, artists, and activists. She is currently co-devising The Archeology of Whimsy [Working Title], a multi-disciplinary storytelling spectacle with director and experiential architect, Lian Walden. Together, they curate artistic and social ventures (from guerilla tea parties for strangers in the park to immersive art parties) that aim to transform not only people’s perspective but also how people engage with one another and the world around them. Jamila is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (BA: Sociology, Theatre).
Where do you draw your inspiration from to write poetry?
Almost all of my poems are born from [real and imagined] moments from my own life. I am inspired to write because I am curious about the world and my place in it. My poetry comes from a hunger to understand. In the process of writing, I often discover things about myself that I didn’t even know. For example, “my sister” becomes “a book I do not know how to write.” “My name” becomes “the music of loose change.”
By using this heightened language, I am able to uncover some truths.
My dad used to always say, “you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’re coming from.” My poetry is this mantra in written form. I am inspired by the complexities of human existence—of my existence—and by telling the parts of my story that I already know, I am able to better understand how my story will continue.
What advice do you have for someone that is threatened by poetry?
"Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom." - Marilyn Ferguson
What is an interesting fact about you?
My first time out of the country, I almost drowned in the Nile River. And I got malaria. Needless to say, it was a pretty uninformed venture…But says a lot about my personality. I tend to the waters- no pun intended- with both feet.
Where are you from/Where do you live?
I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina, and I live currently in Washington, D.C.
Who is your favorite poet?