Poetry, Prose, & Profit Series: Jharmaine Boyd

“She use to run. Plead for cups to pass. But now she sits, she waits,

Jharmaine Boyd

 Photo: Courtesy of artist

Photo: Courtesy of artist

Creating provocative art. Encouraging women. Teach Scripture, that’s Jharmaine Boyd

Interview by: Chiereme Fortune

If you had to label yourself in one category, what you choose? Artist, Writer, Creative?

I would consider myself a performance artist because a lot of my work and what I do is performing (writing, poetry, storytelling, acting and music) and I always wanted it be that way.

Let’s talk about your process. How do you prepare for a show?

Normally, I’m inspired by something I have heard or seen. A good quote or really amazing story -something jarring that I’ve heard, in terms of what starts my writing process. When it comes to performing, I start with prayer. Being on stage and realizing all the people I have the space to impact. Sometimes the weight I have to be a representative of Christ can be a heavy and though I love it, I want to make sure I explain the Gospel explicitly. It’s a different process every time. Writing is strenuous, all the rewriting and stripping down takes time. My phone is filled with undone pieces.

How did you develop the business side of your creative hustle?

Looking at other performers mostly. Someone took me under their wing. I wasn’t always a writer. I just kind of fell into it. Talking to other folks def helped.

In addition to being a creative wonder woman, you’re also a follower of Christ. How does this relationship impact or influence your creativity and business?

It’s literally the center of it all. The temptation is to plan out my own path and say these are the things I want to do, but as a believer it has given me freedom to know I’m not out here building my own kingdom. I don’t have to look a certain way to feel successful. It’s freeing to know that I’m not making my own path. I wouldn’t have ever chosen this on my own.  As a believer there’s also a different type of expectation when it comes to sharpening my craft. I’ve gotten into acting and perfecting that craft just like writing and performing my poetry. I may not be a performer for the rest of my life, but I will always be a creative for the rest of my life. It meant going out into secular environments and telling them about Jesus. It can be scary to rely on my own plans, but there is freedom in relying on Christ.

You’re a good food connoisseur and bomb cook. How does that fit into your busy life between your 9-5 and creative pursuits?

Before poetry, I wanted to pursue being a chef.  I realized I couldn’t do both, and I look cooking go. Even though I’m not pursuing it, I still get to build community around this interest, use food as a method of sharing love and the Gospel. I’m just not our here trying to be superwoman doing all this stuff. That’s stressful.  

For Sunday Dinner

I’m working on a project now with the Streetlights organization called, For Sunday Dinner, tackling self-love, and self-esteem issues I’ve faced. It will be dropping in January. I want to talk about beauty from God’s perspective and through the lens of various women.

Teaching scripture is a big component of your package as an artist. Why is that so important to you amongst your other priorities as a believer and artist?

Because God’s word is so powerful. Hebrews tells us that God’s word is sharper than a two-edged sword. It separates spirit and soul and discerns the intentions of the heart. Nothing else can do that but His Word. That’s where eternal life is when we come to know Him through His word. I’ve heard stories of people just reading scripture and being saved. I just don’t want to come with worldly wisdom because the Lord has gifted me with knowledge, but God’s power is in His word. Women’s ministry and groups spend a lot of time talking about our feelings and experiences and that’s good, God is a good of feeling and emotions, but what we think about GOd determines how we live our lives. I think it’s important for women to think deeply about who God is. I have a passion for women to know how to use the Word of God.

How can creatives, poets, writers begin to build a solid brand both on and offline?

I’m not the greatest with social media, but it’s a necessary evil. It wages war against our souls. Comparison and perfectionism are a big part of social media. God gives the right following to the right people. It’s important because the world is on social media. It’s hard. I haven’t figured out, but I do enjoy it and see it’s purpose. I have seen the damage it can do to your soul, but as artists we need it.

5 Minutes until curtain call. What are you doing?

It depends. Most of the time I’m praying asking the Lord to prepare my heart.

Chicago seems like one of the many creative hubs poets, artists and creatives are thriving. What do you love about sharing art in your city?

I love how much Chicago has shaped me. Being able to work with videographers, photogs, living with two creatives challenges me in how I do my own work and work towards my goals. Chicago’s theater scene is amazing and seeing other artists of every kind inspires me. It’s really grown me in so many ways and helped me to see areas I was lacking in. One thing I learned in Chicago is that what I don’t flex (like a muscle) won’t grow. What’s been hard is comparison. Feeling like I need to be certain way. Also, finding my identity there has been hard. Feeling like I should have to fit into a mold. It has awakened a lot of beautiful things, but has also brought a lot of temptations I didn’t struggle with before.

What is the most important thing poets and writers need to remember when working towards pursuing their passion?

Seeking the Lord. I just think that doing this journey with God and having other around you who will tell you the truth is so key. Knowing how you were created and ultimately why trumps everything. Even though my how of performance has changed, my why hasn’t. I was created to glorify God, be and make disciples for Christ. Ask your maker first. Even if He says no to what to you think you should be doing, trust that He has a plan for you. Once you know, don’t get discouraged. Keep going. Ask for prayer. It would be impossible to reach your purpose without God and people. We do life in community.

What are you listening, watching, reading right now?

This is Us - I love this show. The writing and acting are amazing

Writing Well - This book has helped me so much as a writer. I didn’t go to school for writing so this has helped me tremendously in my writing process.

Not Yet Married - I have my days when it would be nice to have a little boo thang, but I do love being single and thirty. God knows that me being single right now will make me the most like Jesus.

Stage Monologue - I use this for acting with my stage coach.

Tell us about Come and Live organization:

Come and Live is an answered prayer. There were so many questions I had and I stumbled across their podcast and so many questions were answered including questions I didn’t know I had. I was eating up this podcast. This org shaped Christian artist to do the work God has sent them here to do. They are the grandfather of Christian music and art. I applied and they reached out to me and now I’m a part of the team. You just can’t do this without other people. They pray for me and encourage me and I’m so grateful for their presence in my life. It’s for all types of artists.

Where can we connect with you and anything we should look out for this year? 

For Sunday Dinner
Releasing a video in January
Been cast for an all-black play called, “A Streetcar Named Desire” in a lead role in February. Another play in January touching on historical racism in Chicago.
Thank you!

Links:
Jharmaine.com
@jharmaineboyd