isabelle thye

What we learned about ‘courage’ from a poetry & art jam

In Own Your Story, we strive to design ‘fun, explorative, experiential’ experiences that help people find joy in life through connection, creation and service.

When we organize a poetry and art jam with the theme ‘courage’, our core belief is that everyone is creative and ‘creativity’ is a way of expressing who we are in a truthful manner.

Being creative takes risk because we have to turn something from our inner world into a tangible creation without guarantee of acceptance, any feedback is personal when we create from our hearts.

This is why ‘courage’ is important, just like the quote from Nelson Mandela — ‘courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it’.

Poetry and art

As the co-creator of this event, my brother Hui and I are inspired by Rupi Kaur’s poetry collection ‘Milk and Honey’. She infuses her Punjabi root in her poems while her drawings are line sketches that make creation seems easy. Straying away from conventional poetry, I was surprised to see how harsh some criticisms were on Goodreads despite her hitting the global bestselling list.

That was when I understood the power of being creative — we might not please everyone with what we have to say, but people who go through a similar journey will find comfort and space to heal through our work.

The sketch of event concept

Define Courage

From the benefit of hindsight, we nailed the ice-breaking activity when we asked the participants to find a partner, get their partner to define courage, and draw it out.

By letting participants define the theme, we find the connection that binds us when we observed a consistent pattern surrounding courage — fear, uncertainties, faith and taking action. Having that common understanding formed the foundation of a safe space to be ourselves and be vulnerable.

Inspiration & Creation

Besides Rupi Kaur’s simple and impactful work, we take inspiration from spoken word poets In-Q and Prince EA.

From In-Q’s poem ‘Life is Beautiful’, Hui created a series of visual artwork to portray the connectivity between an individual and the world.

1. The world is connected
1. The world is connected

2. We are the centre of our world
2. We are the centre of our world

3. Life is beautiful when we connect with the world

From Prince EA’s ‘Everybody dies, but not everybody lives’, Hui’s artwork portray breaking out of our shell.

We are connected to the world

We develop ego and the light dims
We are trapped in our own shell

Break through and live!

After going through this reflective process, the participants are given 30 minutes to create their own work in the form of words or/and visual art.


Creation and stories

By the end of the event, we overran by 30 minutes but I was deeply moved by the creations and stories that everyone shared. As the host, I felt that it was only right that everybody got heard.

In the process, we saw ourselves in others, we cheered for their honesty and vulnerability, we appreciated the collective meaning of being human.

This event showed me that if we are able to create a safe space, it was possible to get strangers to unveil their deepest emotions.

Instead of judging and comparing, we learn to listen and empathise. We find meaning through people’s stories. We define our individual identity and collective identity as human beings as we exchanged stories.

At the end of it, my heart was filled with love and appreciation for the trust and kindness we received. Our shared experience created a space where we all belonged.

Courage doesn't come from me and you, it comes from us, when we tell each other 'it's okay to be you'.

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