Najah Amatullah has been writing since she was a young girl, turning school assignments into portfolio excerpts. She has been performing even longer, from Sunday school holiday showcases to competitive speech recitations, from the high school jazz choir ensemble to the poet’s stage in college.
Najah’s “day job” is teaching English in Oklahoma City Public Schools. Her goal is to encourage kids to let their creativity work for them instead of get them in trouble.
She wrote for several news and magazine publications from college to 2013 – The Loop Magazine, OKC.net, and VANE Magazine among them. She wrote creative reviews for a restaurant and entertainment venue, Urban Roots, that seemed like a second home while it was open. She blogged for Soul Medicine, a collective of friends, and for a website, KAE, most recently. She has maintained her own blog at various Internet addresses since junior high school.
The opportunity to compete in poetry slams nationally in 2010 and 2011 narrowly escaped Najah’s grasp. In 2012, she renewed her adventures on stage, performing at Oklahoma City’s Natural Hair Meetup Day in late spring; before rapper Jabee at the Norman Music Festival; and in her first solo show in summer at Urban Roots, called “The Risk to Bloom.” Her first self-published poetry book went on sale in March 2014, carrying the same title.
In 2015, Najah wrote the poem “Black Future” for her friend, hip hop artist Jabee, who turned the poem into an album: “In the Black Future There’s a Place So Dangerously Absurd.” The outtakes, or B sides, of that album were titled “Juneteenth” and released on that day 2016. The official album released in August of the same year.
Currently, Najah is working on a second book of poems, some social media- and poetry-enhanced secondary curriculum, and her video podcast “The Truly Beautiful and Inspired Teacher.” She is attempting to find and maintain the wonder and the transcendence of the language arts in a changing world and an America that doesn’t seem to value its teachers. She is also seeking to bridge the gap between teachers and students and the community. She believes the efforts should be collaborative for highest achievement.
Najah creates hand-lettered prints of original short poems for individual ordering (look up @poeticdecornaj on Instagram) and performs and speaks when and where she is asked. Photos, quotes, and poem fragments can be found on her Instagram and Facebook pages as well as her website www.najahama.com.