Poetry might be something you’ve ignored since you were forced to read it in ninth grade English. However, thanks to IN-Q (National Poetry Slam champion, award-winning poet, and multi-platinum songwriter), poetry is finding a fresh voice and global audience.
In his new book Inquire Within, he inspires the reader to do just that, moving us through a gamut of topics to consider and challenging us to ask questions about ourselves, our beliefs, and the world at large.
His poems and stories are both personal and universal, contemplating topics of love, loss, forgiveness, transformation, and belief.Today In: ForbesWomen
We sat down to discuss these themes and more…take a read:
Darrah Brustein: The book starts with the stanza: “Defining myself / Is like confining myself / So I undefined myself / To find myself”. In a world where people crave definitions, context, and order, if someone were to ask you my least favorite question, “What do you do?”, what would you say?
IN-Q: I would answer honestly and say that I’m a poet and songwriter. I love what I do, so I enjoy discussing my art, but I don’t like to be defined by other people’s perceptions of it. That being said, the line above is referring to my own personal definitions in every area of my life. We can trap ourselves in the prison of who we think we are, which is the fastest way to stop growth.
Brustein: How would you answer the question, “Who are you?”
IN-Q: Well, that all depends upon my mood and how deep I want to get. The truth is, I’m constantly changing and evolving who I am, as we all are. There are many parts of myself that seem foundational to who I am, but I still try to remain open to learning something new or changing my mind. In Inquire Within, I discuss the differences between ideas and ideologies, and how ideologies can become your identity to the point where changing your mind means giving up your identity. I try my best not to trap myself inside my conscious or unconscious beliefs, and allow them to change as I change.
Brustein: You cover a variety of meaningful topics in this book, so let’s talk about some of them and what you’ve learned about them. Forgiveness...
IN-Q: I’ve learned that the person you hate doesn’t feel that hate. You feel that hate. Forgiving others is necessary to be free from the pain of a difficult situation and find empowerment in moving forward.
IN-Q: Love yourself in the way that you want to be loved and you will attract those who will do the same.
IN-Q: Happiness is a daily practice. If you want to be happy you have to choose to focus your energy and thoughts on the things in life that bring you joy. It’s like building a muscle. The more happiness you experience, the more you expand, and the more happiness you can contain.
IN-Q: It’s the only thing you can’t make more of, so appreciate the time you have, and love as if there is no tomorrow.
Brustein: You’ve found a powerful way to express divisive beliefs in an approachable manner through your writing. Things like racism, politics, climate change, and gun laws. If you could wave a magic wand, into whose hands would this book land, and what do you hope those readers would experience?
IN-Q: I’m really not trying to reach a specific demographic. I only hope that whoever winds up holding the book in their hands or listening to the audiobook takes from it what they need to inspire them in their own life. My poems are created because I am moved by, angered by, or passionate about a subject, and I feel the need to express it through my voice. Ultimately, I want others to do the same and to realize that we are all in this together. Empathy is what the world needs most right now.
Brustein: Let’s talk about the title of the book Inquire Within. Why is this message so important?
IN-Q: It is an invitation for the reader to inquire within the pages of the book and to inquire within themselves. I also had to inquire within myself to create the book. We are living in a modern age where we are trained to search for the answers outside of ourselves. Technology has connected the whole world and simultaneously made people feel more isolated than ever before. Consumerism is constantly trying to take our money, our likes, our attention, our information. If we want to know something, we automatically search on Google or listen to a podcast. While those tools are incredible, there is a difference between using your tools and having your tools use you. Many of us have lost our connection with the true voice inside that can give the best answer for us. So the next time you’re going through something or you have a specific problem, instead of searching outside of yourself, take some time on your own, embrace the silence, and inquire within.
Brustein: To anyone reading this who dreams of being a poet, entertainer, writer, and/or artist, what advice do you have for them?
IN-Q: Always start with something that inspires, moves, or annoys you. If you choose a subject that truly sparks you, the rest of the poem or piece of art will create itself, as long as you give it enough time and space. Don’t judge yourself while you’re creating to the point where you don’t finish or share it. Your mind should be in the car but your heart should be in the driver’s seat. No one in the world has your unique voice and experiences. So when you’re courageous enough to share them fully, it makes other people feel less alone. Your voice is a gift, use it.
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This article was originally published on Forbes.com.