The stories behind the rhymes: Jai Harris breaks down some of her best poetry

Categories: Profiles

Jai Harris by Hustle Man.jpg
Hustle Man

Some segments of our society have a problem with respecting older people, but on the track "On Their Shoulders," Harris acknowledges their strength. Here, she longs for the community of a society faced against the common enemy of injustice and demonstrates viscerally how the legacy of her elders remains are a part of who she is. The very earthly quality she gives this spiritual connection is almost magical. For a moment, just by listening, the vision of a wiser, more experienced generation comes into view.

I stand on the shoulders of those who have come before me
I digest their every words and I exhale poetry
Time traveling, changing scenery
To a time when things seemed to be
More focused on the community
Hearing stories of their unity
Wishing we could go back to the way things used to be

"I think the biggest thing we could do right now is embrace our elders." declares Harris.
"That's probably the most important thing because there's so many tools that they have, so many experiences that they've gone through that we can't even fathom.

"To me, I felt like [my poetry] was a reflection of my ancestors working through me," Harris continues. "Nobody had to formally train me to write something because it's something that was natural, something that was given to me as a gift. I studied Sonia Sanchez, and I was transcribing an interview of hers, and she mentioned that when she writes, she sees white lights sometimes, and it's blank almost, and she'll wake up the next day, and she'll read what she wrote, and she's just kind of dumbfounded.

"I've had those moments where I'll get up the next day, like, 'I wrote this? That's crazy.' So, to me, that's my anscestors, that's God, that's a higher power that's working through me to tell these stories and continue this legacy because that form of storytelling is entertaining, it's educating, and it can live forever"

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