2.15.18, 9.27.19

“hey y’all!

like ____ just said, my name is Iyaniwura Olarewaju, and I’m a senior at Cornell University

literally everything I study and do research on is science-y, but I’ve been writing since 2011. I don’t have a lot of poems from back then because when I started out I would burn everything

I was a very emotional pre-teen, and nothing made sense in my head so I would put my thoughts on paper, and then I would burn them

it was a great form of release back then, but I just got this iPad so I don’t think my dad would be very happy with me if I set it on fire


even with all my flame-filled years of experience, I didn’t start sharing my poetry til 2017. that’s when I started my blog, Vessel in the Valley, and that’s the first time I got on stage with my writing

it was really weird

I was sitting in a chair, because I knew I was gonna get shaky

fun fact, it’s really hard to stand in heels for more than 3 minutes when you don’t go to the gym, but I digress

I didn’t usually have a name for my poems back then, and this one doesn’t have a name either

I just want to talk about Esther

full transparency, I don’t do Spoken Word, I just Speak the Word

I have the rhythm and the flow, my voice just doesn’t go boom like the Button Poets do

and it doesn’t need to

when the time comes, I can speak soft and smooth with a voice that feels like honey, I could sing melodies if I wanted to

I does that, among other things

but a few months ago, I got asked if I’d be free to perform some poetry on a Friday night, and now it’s 2:23 on a Friday morning and I’m finally getting ready

I really like the theme for tonight, songs of freedom

songs can bring freedom. I feel the release sometimes, when I remember to let go

words can bring freedom too, when you remember to use them

I’m finally getting ready to talk about the time when I couldn’t

there’s a lot of time, almost a year’s worth, that I just don’t have

it was taken from me

nothing made sense in my head but I didn’t have any paper left to put my thoughts on, they were all covered with notes for my chem final, I had a chem final soon

I couldn’t get my thoughts straight so I didn’t say anything

didn’t say no, didn’t say yes

didn’t say much of anything

nothing was making sense, so I waited to see if it would

it didn’t

and then a few months later, things were making even less sense in my head, so I said even less since I was already lost

I had already lost

my freedom

and my voice had gone with it

so I didn’t say much of anything, for a few months I just ran because I felt so scared, so confused, but when I finally recognized what I was running from, it’s like I gave up

I have very few memories from 2018, because it was just me in the Valley

looking back, I know God was there too, but I had completely given up on myself

it felt like he had taken me with him, since I hadn’t told him not to

it felt like it was my fault, so I locked myself in shame, in pain

it took so. long. for me to find any semblance of freedom

when I talk about the Valley, I am talking about Psalm 23

that was half of the inspiration for the name of my blog, Vessel in the Valley

“even when I’m feeling low, He fills me up”

that’s what it says in the search bar as you scroll through the site

the other half came from 2 Timothy, where it talks about the Vessels that are used for His honor

I made a commitment to stick with Him even when we went through the depths, but I didn’t realize how deep my seas would get

even now, I know they can get deeper

but at least now, I know that if He’s never left me, He never will

I wouldn’t have made it here on my own, I didn’t even want to

I’d really given up

since I’ve lost my freedom, since I was able to find Him in my prison, I have to ask if He brought me here for such a time as this

every day, everywhere I go, I ask “is this what You brought me here for? is this what You brought me through for? is it time?”

I’ve lost my voice, but I have it now, and I’m learning how to use it again

in the learning, I’m speaking, I’m singing my songs of freedom, I’m saying no, I’m saying yes

I’m using melodies and rhythms and flows and whatever I can to speak, to be my own witness, to bring myself justice

I cannot stay silent, because I know it’s only death that follows

I know that my voice can bring deliverance, my voice will bring deliverance

He’s given me a second chance

He’s helping me talk about the time that I couldn’t

*some silence*

sooo yeah, that was just the tip of the iceberg, but I really pray that everyone heard the Word they needed to hear. whether you’re asking Him to use you as His Vessel, or you’ve found yourself, lost in the Valley, or you feel like Esther, looking for a Mordecai to remind you that God really may have brought you here for a time just like this, I pray you got that. thanks y’all


‘Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” ‘

Esther 4:13-14

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