#27: Confidence Omenai
Arriving in Denver from Tulsa just a few years ago, Confidence Omenai brought years of hands-on experience to the local performance-poetry scene as a slam poet, author, teacher and activist. She quickly rose among the ranks of Slam Nuba, serving both as a member of the national slam team and, for the last two years, as the group’s representative at the annual Women of the World poetry slam, where she made the finals both times. And she’s headed back to WoWPS again on March 15, bringing her no-nonsense voice to the stage for a third year. The name “Confidence” fits Omenai like a second skin — as do her answers to the 100CC questionnaire. Stand back, because Confidence is in the house.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Zora Neale Hurston. Her literary genius was stunted by the times in which she lived. I own and have read her collected works multiple times and feel as though we are kindred spirits.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
U.S. Representative Maxine Waters. Her unapologetic refusal to normalize white nationalism or legitimize legislative acts of terrorism against the American people is refreshing. She grounds me every time she speaks. Her views make me feel sane in a country where alternative facts, fascism, greed and smoke screens rule the airwaves.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
It has become common practice in some circles for promoters to offer exposure to an artist in lieu of legal tender. These shenanigans need to die, post-haste.
What's your day job?
My company Only Confidence Inc. offers classes that focus on using writing to guide you through emotional blocks, breaking negative cycles and mastering a multitude of life skills. I also teach poetry with multiple organizations in local schools.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I would build schools all over the world, starting in Tulsa, Denver, Lagos, Nigeria, Belize and Cuba, dedicated to teaching our unconquered history, Yoruba language courses, Choctaw language courses, poetry and law. Next, I would start on building trauma recovery centers focused on Post-Traumatic Slavery Disorder and create a giant national database that details ancestry of slave-owners and their descendants, so we could directly connect who is benefiting off of wealth created by our ancestors’ free labor.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
From the moment I first set eyes on the sunrise over those mountains, I was certain it would be my home. This community of artists, poets, filmmakers and playwrights is saturated with genius and genuine lovers of freedom, and the work we create together tethers me to this place. When they leave, I’ll leave. The rising rents and gentrification of community spaces like the Gypsy Coffee House and now Crossroads Theater, which is currently trying to fight its way off the chopping block, along with the criminalization of homelessness in this city, make me want to leave.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Hold sacred the spaces that nourish the arts by financially supporting them.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
This is a nearly impossible question to answer, because all of my children and friends are extremely gifted artists.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
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My intention is to open doors for my children and those in my global community to step into purpose and power while I walk through every open door and kick down a few closed ones.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
I believe Muslim artists and women of color using their art as activism will rise to a new place of prominence in Denver.
Learn more about Confidence Omenai online. Omenai will join Denver Mercury Poetry Slam representative Assetou Xango in representing Denver at the 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam in Dallas; there’s still time to donate to her travel costs at GoFundMe. Find more information about WoWPS and Slam Nuba.