Spoken Word: The Poetic Beauty of the Gospel Message

Whether it’s through story, song, or artwork, I’m thankful for the variety of creative ways God’s people reflect the beauty of our Creator. Today I’m sharing an interview with Quina Aragon. She’s a spoken-word artist and poet with a deep love for God and a desire to reach others with the gospel message. And, when you hear her, you’ll understand the beauty of the gift the Lord’s given her—I could listen to her all day!  Don’t miss the video at the end.  It’s a delightful combination of spoken-word poetry and visual animation.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My namequina-39 is Quina Aragon. I was born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in Orlando, Florida. I first heard the gospel in high school through a girl on my volleyball team. I’ve been walking with the Lord since then (2005). I studied interpersonal and organizational communication at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, where I now reside with my husband, Jon, and beautiful daughter, Jael Sofia. We are members at Living Faith Bible Fellowship where we serve as small group leaders. I love eating ripe mangoes and Colombian food (thanks to my husband), watching European soccer, and going to the beach.

How did you first become involved in spoken-word ministry?

I was never any good at poetry, so it was a surprising gift the Lord gave me shortly after becoming a Christian. I saw a video of my friend’s sisters performing a spoken-word piece for their mom on her birthday. I thought it was a pretty cool art form, but I didn’t think I’d ever be able to write or perform poetry. But as I began reading my Bible and journaling, my journal entries often came out as poems expressing what I was learning about Jesus. That same year, my English teacher decided to put on a poetry slam at my high school, and she encouraged me to memorize and perform one of my poems. I was scared to do it, but I went ahead and performed a couple of my poems in front of about 300 fellow students. It went very well.

I performed the next year as well, and students were coming up to me in tears sharing about how they were touched by the poems, which were explicitly about the gospel. That’s when I realized I should probably keep pursuing this art form. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to perform at various venues for poetry nights, Christian hip-hop concerts, and even as an opening for the Tampa show of the Poets in Autumn Tour in 2015. I’ve also had the opportunity to record some of my spoken-word pieces, which can be downloaded for free at Music.QuinaisHidden.com, and to create videos for some of my spoken-word pieces, which can be seen on my YouTube channel: YouTube.com/QuinaAragon.

What encourages your creative process? How do you work best?

Most of my poems are birthed out of spending time with God in prayer, in his Word, and with his people. Something I read from the Bible will encourage or convict or give me hope, and I’ll need to write it down as I try to process it. That sometimes comes out as a poem. Many poems are written out of struggle—with sin, with trials, with doubts—and I wrestle through that by writing. Occasionally I’ll write a piece because I’ve been asked to write about a certain topic. I wrote “Love Made” for my friend’s baby shower, and I wrote “The Hands of Time” for another friend’s wedding reception. I’m not really the best at writing from a prompt. I tend to just write about whatever season of life I’m in, and I’ve found that there are others who can relate to those poems, because they’re going through the same things.

Do you enjoy writing and performing? Is it ever difficult for you?

I enjoy copyediting more than I do writing because I find so much joy in helping others communicate their passions. I do enjoy writing, but it doesn’t come incredibly easy for me, especially if I’m given a topic to write about. I’m not very disciplined with my writing, so I don’t typically write unless something is exploding in my heart and must come out. This goes for poetry as well as blog posts. I think that’s why I don’t create content that frequently.

I really enjoy recording my poems and developing spoken-word video ideas with my husband and friends. I enjoy this much more than performing in front of a live audience. It’s always a great honor for me to perform live, but it doesn’t excite me as much as the intimacy of a recording booth or the creative thinking of storyboarding.

How have you found that poetry can reach people with the gospel?

IMG_5861Since my first time performing a poem in high school, I’ve had people approach me about how my poems have pointed them to Jesus in one way or another. Now that videos and audio tracks are more easily created and shared online, I’m able to share the gospel with people around the world. In fact, most of my online following for spoken word is people from Uganda, South Africa, and Ghana. They have written me frequently about how my spoken word has made the gospel more clear for them or encouraged them in their walk with Christ. This has encouraged me to keep sharing my poems because who knows who may hear these pieces and be led to or strengthened in Christ?

You’ve worked on an animation video for your upcoming spoken word piece for your daughter. Can you share with us about that?

IMG_5864“Love Made” is a spoken-word piece I wrote for the baby shower of my friend Nicole. She asked me to share any poem I had on motherhood or babies. I told her I didn’t have any poems about that, so I wasn’t planning on performing anything for her shower. I was pregnant with my daughter at that time, and on the morning of Nicole’s baby shower I was praying and thanking God for the privilege of being a mom. As I was praying, I was reminded of the joy that has existed in the Trinity for all eternity, and how that joy bubbled over to make creation. I was really struck by the parallel between the act of creation—the self-sufficient, three-in-one God making all things out of love—and the act of a married couple making a baby out of love. So after praying, I wrote the poem “Love Made” in one sitting, and I read it at Nicole’s baby shower that same day. At first, I thought I  should simplify the writing to make it a children’s book, but I later thought it would be best to record the poem and make an animation video that could easily be shared online.

I sent my recording to the wonderful Alex Hitchens to create music for the piece. We wanted to go with a We Bought a Zoo soundtrack feel with the music (light, colorful, playful, emotional, hopeful), and Alex (as usual) exceeded my expectations and brought the poem to life. I was moved to tears when I heard the music he created for the piece.

Then I sent the finished track to Chris Powers from Full of Eyes, and he agreed to create an animation for it. We wanted the animation to be bright and colorful, and for it to feel like an animated children’s book. The idea was for children to be attracted to the colors and sounds of the video, and to learn that God made everything out of his love and for his glory, and that they were made to know and IMG_5862enjoy that love. But just as the poem is meant to minister to adult listeners as much as to children, the video contains a lot of biblical-theological symbolism that requires you to watch it more than once to catch it all. Chris also created a free discussion guide with both “kids’ questions” and “grown-up questions” to accompany the video. He explains the symbolism he used and how even creation points to the climax of all history—the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. So the video and discussion guide can be used together for family devotionals, Sunday school, an adult or children’s Bible study group, or for your own edification. You can also watch the video with Spanish or Portuguese subtitles.

I’m incredibly pleased with how “Love Made” turned out. I teared up when I showed it to my 11-month-old daughter who had her eyes glued to the screen the whole time. To this day, if she’s fussy I sometimes play the video for her to calm down. I pray that one day she’ll grasp the weight of our love for her, and most importantly, God’s love for her in Christ. I’ve gotten feedback from people who have been moved by the video, and many mothers have told me that their kids attentively watched the whole video. I pray that anyone who watches it is moved as I was to worship the Lord who created us out of his love and for his glory.

If you had an afternoon to do whatever you’d like, where would we find you?

Somewhere outside! Probably at the beach. Or possibly getting a massage . . . while reading more fiction . . . on the beach . . . after playing volleyball . . . and eating fish! Hmmm, now I know what I want for my 28th birthday.

Here’s the video for Love Made:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tQCmkfuhzc&w=560&h=315]

Quina Aragon is a wife, mother, and artist who enjoys copyediting, creating spoken-word videos, and writing intermittently for Designed Marriage and the Reformed African American Network. She lives in Tampa, Florida, and is a member of Living Faith Bible Fellowship.