A Peek Into Raw Poetry
At the end of the slam, performers waited to hear their name for the announcement of the CUPSI Team. (Photo by Sydni Jean)
Rabiyatu Jalloh performs frequently and is not a stranger to the University Park audience. Once she steps on the stage, the whole atmosphere changes and you can hear the roar of people in the audience, eager to what powerful message she has to share through spoken word.
Jalloh is a senior majoring in African-American Studies and Education/Public Policy. Her passion in her writing about social justice and oppression has given her a platform in the Penn State community.
After started to write enthusiastically in middle school, Jalloh discovered her passion for poetry because of Russell Simmons’s “Def Jam,” a spoken word television series. In “Def Jam,” Simmons would bring local poets to perform. Many modern celebrities were on the show such as Kanye West or Erykah Badu.
One poem that resonated with her was by a poet named Sunni Patterson from New Orleans. Her poem was about Hurricane Katrina called “We Made It,” and it was the first piece of work that resonated with her. Later in journey, she said she read her poetry to a family member and they told her it wasn’t good which motivated her to stop writing until she entered college.
In her freshman year at Penn State, Jalloh met a girl named Indigo. They shared their poetry together; they wrote and shared their personal stories. Indigo told Jalloh her poetry is beautiful and to never stop writing. Jalloh wrote about her issues as a black woman and anger. She used poetry to make her anger useful.
Jalloh continued to write and became a part of an organization called Writers Organized to Represent Diverse Stories, or W.O.R.D.S. She heard about the organization through the people around her and decided to start going to meetings.
W.O.R.D.S helped Jalloh grow as a writer and a poet with leadership position, performing, and writing new work to share with her members. She performs for most of the W.O.R.D.S poetry slam and also at different events for people of color. Recently, she won first place for the poetry slam to compete in W.O.R.D.S competition team. She has been on the competition team since her sophomore year.
W.O.R.D.S has brought her into a community with artistic people and given her the opportunity to go to competitions for her poetry. She has been able to work with teams and improve her professional development and collaboration skills.
Hearing others and the way they write helps formulate how Jalloh wants to write. She has learned to use the experiences in her life and language to speak and create images about racial and gender issues deeper. Jalloh doesn’t tell the story; she tells her story.
She is planning to get her Ph.D. or a M.F.A in Poetry in the future. Everyone knows to Rabiyatu Jalloh through articles, videos, and her performances. Her poetry has given her a huge platform and spotlight here on Penn State’s campus. She has been nominated and won awards for Performing Arts and Poetry in award shows such as Ashe Awards and Black Women Rock.
Video: Creativity Means Patience
Rabiyatu Jalloh shares a sneak peek into the procees and content of a new poem.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Sydni Jean is from Philadelphia, PA and also has minors in French and Theatre. One of her career aspirations is to work as a Director of Communications at a news media station. She wants to also work as a Communications Manager in non-profit organizations because she wants to help others in a way that she is good at.
She has worked as a Social Media Manager for student-run organizations such as The Underground. Also, she was able to intern in Shanghai, China at the International Channel Shanghai. Currently, she is the External Relations Chair for BLUEprint Peer Mentoring Organization on Penn State’s Campus and an intern at WPSU.