Sheniz Janmohamed (MFA) is a firm believer in fostering community through collaboration, compassion, and creativity. In her own practice, she strives to embody words through performance, land art and writing in the ghazal form. She is inspired by ecology, nature reconnection, and place language, and seeks to explore their connections to her ancestry and heritage. A poet, artist educator and land artist, Sheniz’s work has been featured at venues around the world, including the Jaipur Literature Festival, Alliance Française de Nairobi and the Aga Khan Museum. She is also the author of two collections of poetry: Bleeding Light (Mawenzi House, 2010) and Firesmoke (Mawenzi House, 2014). Sheniz visits dozens of schools and organisations each year to teach, perform, and inspire creativity in her students. In 2015, Sheniz was awarded the Lois Birkenshaw-Fleming Creative Teaching Scholarship, and she holds a Artist Educator Mentor certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto). Sheniz is currently working on her third collection of ghazals.
I did read poetry in high school, and some of my favourites included Tupac Shakur and Robert Frost (how is that for a combination?) There were some poems that spoke to me deeply, and one of those poems was Christopher Pearse Cranch's “Thought.” I loved his poem so much that I printed it and mounted it to my wall.
I started writing poems when I was quite little, perhaps age 6 or 7, as my family remembers me misprounouncing poems as “polems.” I started writing more frequently in my pre-teens, and by high school, I was writing poetry and lyrics every day in the cafeteria. While I had always thought of myself as a poet, I only started to admit it to others when I was publishing and performing more professionally.
A poet's job is to confront the uncomfortable, to familiarize the unfamiliar, to make magic of the every day, to capture fleeting moments, to hold vigil, to bring the reader closer to the fire.
There are so many poems that I adore and that hold special meaning for me, but I would love the challenge of memorizing Gerard Manley Hopkins' “Pied Beauty.” I was first introduced to this poem in my Modern Poetry class in university, and the rhythm, coupled with the alliteration, made it a delicious poem to read. I can only imagine it would be equally as fun to memorise and perform, as there is a lot to work with and play with in the form and structure of the poem.