Guest / Limited Access /

As a teen, Amena Brown listened to hip-hop and dreamed of being the next Lauryn Hill; she even had a stage name, "Teknique." But she never could quite make her rhymes mesh with the beat and the bars of the music, so she turned to spoken word poetry instead. Maybe she couldn't emcee, but when she took the stage for a poetry slam, Amena Brown was the bomb.

Today, her inspiring presentations are highly sought by churches and conferences (Catalyst, RightNow, Thirsty, and the National Youth Workers Convention, to name a few). In faith-based settings, Brown recites one- to four-minute poems with titles such as "Resurrection," "He Is Here," "Masterpiece," and "In the Beginning." In the secular setting of an open-mic poetry slam—often in Atlanta, where she lives—she'll perform rhymes like "First Crush," "Stupid Girl," and "A Few Good Men." All are delivered with passion, precision, and lively wordplay.

Brown believes the church is catching on to spoken word poetry. "More people are seeing how the spoken word form can articulate a message or make a point in a different way from a speaker or a song. And there are more poets performing God-ward content."

Question & Answer

You majored in English at Spelman College, right?

Yes. At first I thought about becoming a preacher. But I got into poetry, and wanted to get my MFA in poetry. I was denied at all three schools I applied to. At first I was angry at God, but then I started doing more with spoken word. It wasn't my plan, but it definitely was God's.

Why spoken word poems?

For a long time, I didn't want to perform my own poems. I would enter speech competitions, memorizing things by Maya Angelou or James Weldon Johnson, but I never won. My mom thought I should perform my own poems, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
April
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedDon't Be Ashamed to Listen to Your Heart
Don't Be Ashamed to Listen to Your Heart
Desire gets a bad rap in Christian circles. Jen Pollock Michel explains why it shouldn’t.
TrendingMark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
Mark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
(UPDATED) Driscoll offers 8-step solution to followers: 'Current climate is not healthy for me or for this church.'
Editor's PickDesire and Deliverance
Desire and Deliverance
Three new documentaries examine Christian faith, homosexuality, and the question of change.
Comments
Christianity Today
Poet Amena Brown Speaks the Truth in Rhythm and Rhymes
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.