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Ottawa Creatives: Jenny Rational Rebel Meya

By Amanda Armstrong on March 17, 2015

Jenny Meya was first introduced to poetry in the sixth grade. Stanzas, falling meter, iambic pentameter – at first these things meant little to Jenny, who had always wanted to be a dancer. Jenny had always told stories through dance. It wasn’t until she started middle school that she discovered her passion for telling stories through words and that poetry became her daily love.

The beginning of middle school brought her first real crush, who became the inspiration for many of her poems. After her crush ended in heartbreak, Jenny took a break from writing poetry and vowed never to write in that style again. When she began writing again, it was not about a person, but about growth and acceptance.

In 2012, Jenny discovered Youtube videos of spoken word artists and was inspired by a spoken word group called The Strivers Row. Their stories, voices, and body language made her want to write poetry for the stage. It was then that Jenny began attending spoken word shows in Ottawa. A shy person, it took Jenny about a year to find the courage to tell her stories on stage. During this time, she was published in an anthology of short stories by the Canadian Poetry Institute called Fireside Dreams. In 2013, she performed at her first Urban Legends open mic, where she became a regular slammer.

When Jenny takes the stage, her poems are often stories of politics, something she feels is present in all that we do. She writes to teach lessons, tell stories, and stir debate. For Jenny, her writing is a means of discovery – a way to learn about the world.

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Since becoming a regular slammer, Jenny has performed and competed in many other events. In 2014, she was one of the features at an event called Poems for Wishes, which raised money for the Children’s Wish Foundation, hosted by Barâa Arar. She also competed at Versefest and was one of the top 12 finalists for the Urban Legends Poetry Team that year. In September, she placed 2nd in the House of Paint 500G Slam Competition.

This year has been off to a busy start for Jenny. She had her first solo feature show at an event called Words to Live By. She also performed at a Black History Month show at the University of Ottawa, called Soulful Expressions, and another Black History Month event to raise money for diabetes research. Later this month, she will be performing at Versefest, alongside Apollo the Child and Barâa Arar.