Getting to Know: Basmah, aka Bas The Poet
This week, we celebrate 1 year of iEMPOW3R and what better way than to share another Q&A article as part of our #iGEN project!
Another inspiring young lady, an elite poet, writer, youth and mental health advocate, out here doing her thing, and being phenomenal!
Meet Basmah, aka, Bas The Poet!
If someone were to ask “who is Bas The Poet?” how would you describe yourself?
I would describe myself as outgoing, hardworking, loving, caring, open-minded, supportive, courageous and above all, kind. My bravery also plays a big part in who I am — I won’t let fear squander opportunities for my future and my ability to express myself. I learnt how to strive for what I want with the most powerful tool I have: creativity. I’m able to construct and navigate who I am through my work.
How did you get into poetry? Please can you tell us a little about your work and take us through your journey to date?
My first exposure to poetry was through a two-day SLAMbassadors workshop run by The Poetry Society. We were mentored by Joelle Taylor, Deanna Rodger, and Poet Curious, who was my teacher at the time. That was the first time I ever wrote a poem and had the wonderful experience of performing it at the Arts Theatre. I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps as he also had an interest in poetry, and I admired his work so much. Since then, I knew poetry was something I wanted to pursue, and I’ve never looked back.
It opened many doors for me such as being a participant in various national poetry competitions and performances. More recently, I was commissioned to co-direct a film and to write a poem that ties dance with architecture for the London Festival of Architecture 2021. The project is called Ten-A-City, a play on ‘tenacity’ in which the Impact Dance Studio in London commissioned 10 cities around the world to create their own entries. This project was in collaboration with Impact Dance’s partners, Tp Bennett, the world’s leading architectural firm. I worked with two incredible dancers from the studio, and I couldn’t be prouder of the film! I had the pleasure of watching the film being screened at The Scoop on Saturday 26th June 2021 for the LFA. An experience I’ll cherish forever!
I publish my poetry through my Instagram and Twitter which are both @basthepoet. Each poem is a little piece of myself, hoping the reader finds a little piece of themselves within my poems too.
I haven’t performed on stage in a very long time but I will be performing at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on 18th September 2021 so I’m really excited to get back onto the stage and perform!
Some of your work talks about mental health issues. What do you believe to be the main issues young people need support with and are concerned about, especially after the last year? How can youth-led organisations help?
I’m glad more people are raising awareness and having discussions about mental health issues — we all have it (from time to time) so let’s talk about it! Young people struggle with a range of issues that can affect their mental health such as social media, body image, feeling alone or completely isolating oneself and so on, thus heightening their feelings of anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, sometimes young people do not know where or who to go to for help. They may feel alone and that no one understands, which can exacerbate these issues, but some people do understand and who want to and can help! Youth-led organisations are great as they provide a sense of community whilst promoting a safe space for young people to seek help and freely talk about their issues with others who may also be going through or have gone through a similar situation. My work with the North London based youth organisation, Exposure, has provided me with the safe space to bring these issues to light.
What would you say to a young person with a passion for writing and poetry, that’s a little shy to share their work?
Writing can be a very personal thing and I can understand why someone may feel a little shy to share their work — I am the same sometimes! Sharing your work doesn’t always mean publishing it via a public medium. If you feel comfortable sharing it with someone within your close circle, then go for it! Receiving feedback — whether it is positive or constructive criticism — will allow you to improve on your work and inspires and motivates you to keep writing! I believe a piece of art is never really finished and that’s what I love about writing — I can always come back to it with new ideas to enhance it further. In the meantime, read! The inspiration and motivation for your own writing can sometimes stem from the books you read, whether that’s fiction or non-fiction. Your story is worth knowing about so put it in writing!
Where does Basmah see herself in the future? And what steps are you taking now, to build the future you’re working towards?
I see myself on stage a lot more in the future. I would also love to see myself signing my own published poetry book. By seeking out new experiences, I am constantly gaining and strengthening my skills. I’ve connected and worked with so many wonderful and incredibly talented people who inspire me to keep going and to keep writing. Taking it one day at a time with my poetry will slowly establish the future that I am working towards as I am giving myself the space to grow and learn as a writer.
Who are the three most influential people to you?
My family — that’s five people — but I will not be where I am now without the constant support and unconditional love from them. They influence so much of my work and push me to work hard, to be a better version of myself every single day, and to carpe diem.
What does empowerment look and feel like to Basmah? And have you had any empowering moments you’d like to share?
Empowerment looks different every day and is defined by how we want to construct our reality. It feels empowering to be able to express and be unapologetically myself, and to have my work resonate with a wider audience. Empowerment is also the ability to work on yourself: to heal from the past, stay mindful in the present, and work on your future. Uplifting others whilst uplifting yourself is empowering too.
What does authenticity mean to you?
Authenticity challenges me to explore my individuality. My authenticity comes from challenging and manipulating my own creativity as I know my creativity is constantly revolutionising. These new experiences and perspectives can inspire our work and allow us to create incredible art. More importantly, my authenticity comes from my ability to let myself unlearn, relearn, and discover myself. Therefore, this allows my creativity to flourish beyond my own boundaries.
iEMPOW3R is a social enterprise that looks to empower people from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds. What’s the one thing you’d like to see from us (this can be anything, big or small)?
Competitions are always fun! Have people tell their stories and showcase their wonderful talent in fun and creative ways. All I wish for iEMPOW3R is that it continues to amplify the voices of people from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds — and it’s doing a good job already!
And lastly, what does Basmah do for fun?
I like to play games with my family such as UNO (my favourite — I like striking someone with a +4 card!) and Monopoly. I like to read and I’m currently reading ‘The Map of Salt and Stars’ by Zeyn Joukhadar. I also like to watch movies, especially childhood movies — nothing tops the nostalgia that comes with it!