KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Aisha Arij has come a long way since writing in her diaries. The 17-year-old stumbled upon spokenword her freshman year of high school.
She says a friend invited her to poetry practice at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, but one person almost got in the way of her getting involved.
"I was so scared because there was a boy there who I was nervous to see and I was like, 'I don't want to go, this is too much,'" Arij laughed.
Despite the jitters, she went. She says after seeing her classmates pour their passion and emotions into their poetry, she was hooked.
The high school senior now uses it to tell her own story. In her poem, "Dear Mama," Arij recalls a time in life when she watched her mother become a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her father.
"I had been thinking about everything she provided for me and my sisters through her years of hardships," said Arij. " It was written from my guilt of not being there for her like I feel like I should have been all this time."
Arij says it's her way of letting her mother know she recognizes the effort her mother put into raising her into the young woman she's become today.
By revealing this part of her childhood, Arij hopes it will raise awareness and speak volumes to her listeners.
"I would like for people, when they hear my poetry, just to recognize that traumatic things happen to everybody," said Arij. "It is my story, but mainly to bring awareness to taboos and things that aren't really being talked about."
Arij says poetry has also opened her eyes to different perspectives and helped her to mature over the years.
"I've gained a better understanding of what people go through now," said Arij. "I was the one to make jokes about stuff, but now I know it's more serious than that."
As her senior year nears the end, Arij is preparing to compete with Lincoln Prep's poetry slam team. In March, they won the Louder Than A Bomb KC poetry slam, which allows them to compete against youth slam teams around the nation on HBO's Brave New Voices.
After graduating, Arij says she plans to study medicine or the arts. She wants to attend Loyola University Chicago.