This month, ICAI celebrates and highlights Nastassia Aikman, an incredibly talented Jamaican-Canadian spoken word poet and performing artist.
Tell us a little about your artistic background and journey?
I grew up reading and reciting poetry by the iconic Louise Bennett Coverly, who is a Jamaican poet, performer, storyteller and so much more. She is my biggest inspiration this far. I started writing poetry because of her influence and my exposure to her at a very young age. I wrote and performed my very first piece titled “My Childhood” at an event at church at 16 years old and the reception was incredible. I immigrated to Canada in 2009 and I have been writing and performing ever since in and around the city of Calgary at various events.
The journey has been great so far. It has been such an honour and privilege to have the opportunity to showcase my poetry in and around the city. The reception and support from viewers have also been incredible. I’d like the opportunity to be able to showcase more of my work around the city and beyond. I’d like the opportunity to share my stories and experiences and in doing so motivate other artists to do the same.
When I found out I was the Artist of the Month I was surprised. In shock, disbelief, but extremely grateful and honoured. It is such a privilege to be recognized and have the opportunity to share my story. It is not something that I take for granted. Thank you so much to the ICAI team for the recognition.
I learned about ICAI through Toyin who invited me to perform at an event at the library in 2019. ICAI has been a great experience so far. I have had the opportunity of meeting some amazing artists and even collaborating with a visual artist in the city. That was a first for me and an incredible experience. ICAI has definitely helped me grow and step out of my comfort zone. I am more comfortable writing poetry in my Jamaican dialect “Patois,” but the most recent event I did with ICAI, allowed me to step away from my comfort zone and try something new.
Can you tell us what inspires you to create your works?
Inspiration comes from a few different places. One being my family, friends and often current events. Another source of inspiration comes from me seeing other artists creating and performing, that motivates me as well. My most recent inspiration though, came through Amanda Gorman and her inaugural poem a few months ago. Her piece titled “The Hill We Climb” resonates with me so much.
What would you like to share with the people of Calgary about your works?
I love writing and I believe that my work should have an impact on the reader. I want when people hear or read a piece I have written; they have an experience. So, I always write my pieces and try to incorporate personal experiences, as well current events, and things that people can relate to.
What are the goals you are hoping to achieve in the next few months through your arts?
I am hoping to just continue to share my story and hope that individuals will find meaning, be impacted and inspired by my work. If someone gains inspiration and or finds hope through my work, that would be the ultimate prize for me. My goal is to bring hope, inspiration, influence and meaning to someone who might be feeling despondent especially in these times. My goal is to encourage someone to share their story, be authentic on their journey, do what they love, and walk in their purpose as only they can.