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Ottawa Creatives: Barâa Arar, spoken word poet

By Amanda Armstrong on March 10, 2015

Growing up, Barâa Arar had always been one to tell stories. As a young girl, she got in trouble in school for talking too much and interrupting the class. For Barâa, story telling was a way of expressing herself – something that wouldn’t be recognized as a talent until later in life.

During a talent show at camp she performed a poem she had written that caught the attention of her camp counsellor. He recognized her talent for storytelling and encouraged her to come out and perform at a poetry night he ran in Ottawa. Barâa agreed and, unsure of what to expect, performed in her first Ottawa poetry show.

That night turned out to be monumental in Barâa’s life. She met several notable Ottawa poets, including ApollotheChild and Just Jamaal, who encouraged her to come out to Urban Legends poetry nights and continue performing. It took her a few months before she followed through and began open micing at Urban Legends and a few more still before she began competing in slams. In 2013, after nearly a year performing at Urban Legends, she dedicated herself to slamming and, from here, her career as a poet took off.

Since then, Barâa has won several slams and has hosted her own poetry shows. She made the 2014 Urban Legends slam team and went on to compete on the national stage, at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Finals.

After competing on the national stage, Barâa took a bit of a break from slamming and began performing at protests, fundraisers, and social functions. She also organized a poetry night at the main Mosque in Ottawa, called Faith in Words. Barâa has even become co-director of Urban Legends, the poetry show which spawned her beginnings.

Inspired by anything from people watching, to the Fibonacci sequence, to current events, Barâa writes about things she knows to be true. An exercise in empathy, she sometimes writes from the viewpoint of others, which she feels gives her insight into other’s lived experiences. Barâa is a firm believer that everyone has stories worth telling, which is why she aspires to run poetry workshops and encourage people to tell theirs.

In the meantime, Barâa has plenty to keep her busy. Barâa’s craft has reached a crossroads and her poetry is changing form, so she is busy compiling it into a chapbook before moving on to the next chapter. She will also be performing in the Urban Legends Showcase at Versefest, being held at the end of this month.

You can find Barâa Arar on Instagram at @livewellspoken and on Facebook.