Third Thursday Poetry: Jahan Khalighi. by Blake More
On Thursday, April 18, at 7:30pm The Third Thursday Poetry & Jazz Reading Series will feature Oakland Poet Jahan Khalighi. The reading will take place at the Arena Market cafe and will begin with live improv jazz and an open mic with jazz improv; the reading will conclude with more live improv jazz.
“We should dance, as if dancing were a symbol of peace, as if gyrating arms and fluctuating feet, were the true protest signs, of an anti-war movement.” These were the first lines of a poem that spoken word artist Jahan Khalighi performed at the annual Watershed Poetry Festival in Berkeley, California.
Jahan Khalighi is a first generation Iranian American performance poet, musician, and educator whose work exists at the confluence of social justice, arts education, and environmental consciousness. For much of his adult life, his creative focus has been centered around shedding light on that which is buried beneath the surface, often unseen, unheard and yet essential. This past year, he collaborated with poet, beat-maker, and Oakland native Amani Will to co-write a poetic performance piece for TedXSonoma. Their groundbreaking piece entitled the Event Horizon: Dreaming At The Edge Of Collapse wove deep story and mythic poetics into a narrative that spoke to the challenges and opportunities alive in these times of cultural and environmental turmoil.
Raised in a family of artists, dancers, and teachers, he was exposed to the notion that art-making and creativity is an essential part of life-making. Shaped by the redwood and laurel bay trees of Marin Counties native landscape, influenced by the rich cultural history of Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, mentored under the guidance of June Jordan’s Poetry For The People program, and seasoned by the rich traditions of culture spaces like La Pena Cultural Center and Casa De Cultura, he writes and performs from a desire to contribute to a more just, reverent, and connected world.
Although poetry performance has been his primary form of expression, resistance and art-making, his passion for youth mentorship, and community organizing has been central to his work in the SF Bay Area. From facilitating poetry workshops with incarcerated youth, to leading ten 12th graders in publishing a book that documents their family stories of migration and immigration, Past Is Present: Heritage Stories from Oakland Youth (Published by Chapter 510, 2017), his dedication to youth development is propelled by a strong belief in the transformative power of youth voice and imagination.
In 2017 he joined the Justice Arts Collective, a group of community college students and their mentors with a shared passion for music, dance, poetry, and activism. They came together to create songs and performances to speak out about issues of oppression against people of color. Their debut music video From Mt. Tam To Fruitvale Station, was a tribute to the victims of police brutality and the video won first place in the My Hero Film Festival, as well as being featured at the Oakland International Film Festival.
Third Thursday Poetry & Jazz is supported by The Third Thursday Poetry Group, many anonymous donors, and Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.