Jae Nichelle shares spoken word art

Poet at work: Jae Nichelle orchestrates a haiku collaboration with the audience. Nichelle performed Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 at the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center.

Poet Jae Nichelle read selections from her new collection, titled “The Porch (As Sanctuary)”, Wednesday night Oct. 13, 2021 at the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center.

“Anything that you’re scared to talk about, scared to say to somebody, start by writing it,” Nichelle said.

The art form has been important to her ever since she was a child in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“I was a shy child. So really, my notebook, as cliche as it sounds, was the one thing, one place that I could go, where I could really freely express myself and my thoughts,” Nichelle said.

Her topics ranged from courage and love, to levity and sobering gravity. Previously, a recording of her performing “Friends With Benefits” (which is about anxiety) at the 2017 Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival went viral.

Nichelle is a recent graduate in linguistics and English from Tulane University. She talks about her college experience, and how she was going through things she didn’t feel comfortable opening up about to others. Writing became her freedom during times of struggle.

“It can be a very isolating time for some. And either way, it’s a time for a lot of different changes, and a lot of growth.The things that you’re going through, you know, figuring out who you are and things like that. Totally normal,” Nichelle said.

From her poetry, she hopes to reach students that are going through similar situations. Her writing is meant to give others comfort who may not be ready to talk about what they are going through.

“I really feel excited when I get to talk to college students because I know that there are some things that maybe people think that they’re only happening to them, and I can come here and say, like, no, you are not alone in this,” Nichelle said.

She also performed other selected poems throughout the night, segmented with crowd discussion and a group haiku. The callback theme for the night was “an alternate universe,” which correlates to her new work.

Edited by Ellie Walker, Kyle Manthe