See how one artist, Mojdeh Stoakley, is tapping in to her rational soul through poetry in our latest video.
Mojdeh Stoakley: In the Baha’i faith, the role of the artist is actually pretty exalted. It’s in part a way of enacting prayer in a different way, but also it’s a communication tool. If we see the arts as a communication tool and as prayer and if this is my life’s work and work is worship in the faith, then that, theoretically, at least my logical next steps, right, were that I ought to seek ways to use my art to propel some sort of positive social change to serve humanity somehow.
In 19th century Persia, Mírzá Buzurg had a dream. He went to a wise man who thought it prophecy. He said, “The ocean that you dreamed of is the vastness of the world and the ocean’s creatures, it’s divine and diverse people’s.” So, he gathered many to speak of his dream. He was a vision of majesty and strength. The sight of perfection. He turned to one man, a commoner, who seemed distressed. “I imagine you were a fish without a shadow for so long. Grazing the algae as you swam along the bottom, but as his hair danced at the top of the water, you schismed into every part of yourself a thousand tiny fish’s scales shimmering in the flickers of lights that sneaks through the silhouette of his mane. Each fraction fish creating first remembrance, erasing the memories that accumulated before, but grasp tightly, and you’ll be lifted from the water a thousand times. You won’t be able to breath, but you’ll finally see. You’ll be lifted onto sunshine and know what it means to be in tandem with another body. It will be exhausting. It will take your breath. I imagine, as each fish can’t hold on any longer, falling back into the water, as you become one again.”
Mojdeh Stoakley an award winning writer, poet, performer, photographer, & educator! She’s performed in front of thousands, and lead slam teams to finals stages! She’s been called “The Margret Cho of Poetry,” so you know you’ll laugh when she channels her eccentric immigrant parents and you will have conversations with your own empathy when she explores the resilience of a nerdy bi-racial child who was constantly afraid of impending homelessness.
Mojdeh is the new Director of the National Poetry Slam, and the new Education Director for Poets with Class at the Poetry Center designing unique and innovative programs for youth kindergarten through university and beyond!
She’s represented Chicago multiple times at the National Poetry Slam, Individual World Poetry Slam, Rustbelt, & Southern Fried Slam in addition to coaching youth competing in Louder Than A Bomb, and executive produced festivals like Lethal Poetry’s Nights of Sight & Sound, the world’s largest mobile art show Art On Track, and PSi certified slams, through Lethal Poetry.
Mojdeh received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is the founder of Interfaith Poets, Lethal Poetry Inc and LUCID Art Lab, and sits on the board of Surviving The Mic – arts organizations that activate artists as social servants. She is interested in how the arts can effect social and cognitive development among youth and populations who’ve experienced trauma. When she’s not being a creative savant and community leader, she is engaged in HIV prevention research at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health.