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Irijah speaks . . . Voice of and for the voiceless

by Barbados Today
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Irijah Nyzingha Alkins is a passionate woman: a fiery poet and yet a calming soul.

The 22-year-old spoken word artiste wrote her first piece in 2017 and since then she has been triggering her creative pen.

“I try to be a voice for the people who aren’t allowed one. I want people to put themselves in the shoes of the unheard, the unacknowledged, the unfaired and what they feel,” she told Bajan Vibes.

Irijah is a “serious” case of intellect and brains. The past student of Queen’s College was aspiring to be a doctor but then decided that she wanted to pursue economics at the university. Since taking leave from the maths-based subject and graduating in 2015, she switched to the Faculty of Humanities for a Bachelor’s Degree in French and Literatures of English.

Her mother, who she preferred to leave unnamed, has been her biggest supporter through the years. She gained recognition in 2017 when she entered the National Independence Festival for Creative Arts (NIFCA).

“A few nights after my semi-final round, a photo of me performing was on the front of [a national paper] and an article surrounding my performance was also in that paper and that was essentially when the support from my parents blossomed but my mother had been attending all rounds of the event with me before the newspaper article.”

Irijah has been writing small, personal poems from 2015. She maintains her calm by keeping her mantra in mind: “I gine be good”. Simple, yet effective, Irijah said she has proven that it works time and time again.

The aspiring child psychologist looks up to local singer Crab Soldier. “I listen to his music for peace and it helps me to write as well. It was a song of his Everyday Life Part Two which propelled me to write a piece called Public Enemy Number One, which I entered in NIFCA 2019; it was awarded gold. So definitely, Crab Soldier is an encouragement for me.”

She said there really is no difference between whom she is onstage and who she is offstage.

“There is not much difference. Both aspects of me are unfettered. The Irijah offstage is still passionate but more private and carries many more emotions than are emitted onstage.”

The aspiring author said Barbados and the world at large can look out for her upcoming anthology, which is set to be released next month.

“I am going to be a best-selling author. I love reading and also writing novels. I write about things that are on my mind. It is almost always something personal that I examine in a local and often international perspective.

She added: “I have a poem about the way women are disrespected because I was thinking about my own encounter with disrespect. So I delved further into disrespect in the workplace and on social media. I find myself writing what my mind is telling me. I am always in my own mind.”

The creative said she plans to teach and attain a degree in child psychology.

“I can [then] help children and people in general. I also love music and I have every intention of creating music of my own in the future,” she said.

Names of some of her pieces include Cavity, Write or Wrong, A is for Addict, My Selfish Me and Mind Games. Her pieces are always thought-provoking.

“There is always a message of or messages behind my pieces. I want people to be moved by the truth in my words. Whether it moves them to do better, strive for greater or to just acknowledge the fact that what I speak in real life is often a harsh reality.”

Irijah’s words definitely create resonance and understanding. “I want my words to resonate with them in such a way that they look at these people, people like me in society with more understanding and move to improve their outlooks and our outlooks, once this is possible.” (MR)

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