I was lucky enough to be a part of an exciting project, which is the very first all-female poetry show on an Islamic TV network!
I interviewed the force behind this, Shahina Khatun, a presenter and producer on Islam Channel, who tells us all about the new show.
Muslim Girl: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Shahina Khatun: I graduated with a degree in Journalism and have worked as a junior reporter in local newspapers and had internships in mainstream media outlets such as Sky News. I’m currently presenting Islam Channel’s morning show, Women’s AM, as well as contributing to the launch of new and exciting programmes such as Step Up — a show for young Muslim girls.
But the most exciting project I have been working on for the past year is a brand new poetry show called Lyrically Speaking, which showcases talented Muslim female poets and spoken word artists from across the U.K.
Tell us about the show.
This is the very first Muslim women’s programme that is dedicated to showcasing female talent in poetry and spoken word in the U.K. The series has five episodes and does not shy away from topics such as race, colourism, colonialism, mental health, politics, and global affairs.
It is a performance and discussion-based programme and is the first of its kind.
The first episode aired Sunday, Dec. 18, and will air weekly on Sundays at 7:30 P.M. GMT. (Episode 2 has been postponed to the following week due to an emergency fundraising show for Syria). All episodes can be viewed on Islam Channel (Sky 806) or on: www.islamchannel.tv
Please feel free to leave comments on the Lyrically Speaking Facebook page, as we want to hear your views on the poetry and issues that we explore each week.
What inspired you to start this project?
My lifelong passion for poetry has been re-ignited with a vengeance in the past two years!
When I’ve performed pieces at events, the overwhelming response has made me realise how powerful we can be. I found I was able to discuss complex and sensitive issues such as depression, global events etc., and gain empathy towards those issues just from reciting poetry. Combine this revelation with my passion for correct and positive representation of Muslim women, especially in a climate where there are so many misconceptions surrounding women and Islam.
As a Muslim woman, I felt that poetry is an effective medium through which I could get my voice heard and even challenge incorrect perceptions about Muslim women and Islam.
Ultimately, it was the fact that not enough Muslim women are visible in practising this powerful art form, which led me to proposing the idea for this show.
Have you always been interested in poetry?
As far back as my memory takes me. I loved the whole rhyming aspect to it, especially as a child. Growing up with four brothers who were really into rap music, I developed a huge respect for the art of rapping. Rap is poetry and rap artists’ use of metaphors and imagery has also influenced my growing love for words and poetry.
We had a lot of applications, but 99% of these poets had never performed in front of a camera. This is understandable because, as I mentioned before, there are limited platforms for Muslim women poets.
Throughout my life, I have dipped in and out of writing poetry and some can be read on my blog: Lyrically Speaking! I hope to publish a book of my poetry in the future, if Allah Wills.
Tell us about the participants.
The artists are Muslim women from a range of backgrounds from across the U.K. We have had poets travel from Newcastle, Wales, Kent and London. The group is made of multi-talented individuals that, as well as being poets, include journalists, bloggers, visual artists, medical and science students.
They are a passionate bunch of eloquent sisters who are already immersed in amazing work and are set to achieve many great things in the future.
What has been the biggest challenge in making this project a reality?
Well, I have to admit, it hasn’t been a bed of roses! It was a very intense project to take on. As an independent channel, Islam Channel does not have the manpower and resources that mainstream channels enjoy — so to pull off a show like this was no easy feat!
Also, we had a lot of applications, but 99% of these poets had never performed in front of a camera. This is understandable because, as I mentioned before, there are limited platforms for Muslim women poets.
We felt that, unfortunately, they lacked the confidence needed to perform under pressure whilst being in front of a camera, but I hope this will change in time especially as the poetry and spoken word movement is growing quickly within the Muslim community.
Do you have plans for future shows?
If Allah Wills! My mind is always buzzing with ideas, but I am aware of how much hard work and dedication it takes to get a project like this off the ground. However, I do have plans, so watch this space!