By Rebecca Lynn
A typical Monday at Makeshift Boston was transformed into an evening of storytelling and fundraising by Empowered: A Night of Poetry and Music, an exciting and impactful event organized by Jamileh Sabety-Javid, founder of Boston-based event organizing and promotion group, JSJ Events.
Empowered showcased a poetry open mic, spoken word, and musical performances by local artists, to raise funds for Jane Doe Inc., a non-profit social justice coalition dedicated to helping victims of sexual and domestic violence.
The evening offered nothing less than electric and thought-provoking performances, beginning with the first featured act, local poet and journalist Evan J. Cutts, whose poetry was an expression of unapologetic joy and vivid imagination. His poem “Encounter with Joy” encouraged audience members to hold onto happiness whenever they can in his words, “This happiness is yours, is yours, is yours. Let it catch you. Leap into your arms.”
Lowell-based poet and community organizer Ricky Orng explored themes of culture, family, and home as he shared a sentiment and struggle familiar to many, “I just wanna make my family proud.”
Each poetic performance was met with strong applause and audience testimonials of feeling “full” and “contemplative.”
Local Berklee students, singer-songwriter Rachel Gonzalez and guitarist Amin Mortada, closed out the event with an extended acoustic set including a standout portrayal of the emotional journey of navigating toxic relationships. Their finale, “Other Side of The World” by Melissa Polinar, draped the audience in a warm, hopeful glow with lyrics like, “We believe the sun is brighter on the other side.”
“My goal for JSJ events is to empower local artists and non-profits,” shared Sabety-Javid.
When organizing events, the JSJ team looks for organizations that inspire them and share that inspiration by connecting with local artists. The partnerships they make leverage the building momentum to organize a fundraising show.
One of the challenges in supporting these artists and organizations is promoting the event to attract a sufficient turnout. JSJ Events relies heavily on its team of volunteers to spread the word about their events and find organizations to help raise funds. Sabety-Javid recognizes the strength of her team and encourages others not to let fear get in the way of asking for help.
As a millennial of color who has had the privilege to travel much of the globe, Sabety-Javid truly values community service. When she recognizes a need in her community, she rises to meet it. “My encouragement to up and coming artists, organizers, and millennials of color is this: ‘While you are finding a way for your voices to be heard, make a positive and lasting impact in your community.’”
Empowered was a positive and moving representation of Boston’s organizational ability to showcase their artistic communities, and Sabety-Javid’s efforts to support Jane Doe Inc. are a beautiful reminder of the power that lies in combining poetry, music, and community.
All photos were taken by Kates Eyvazzadeh