“Home . . . Is A Space In Your Heart”: A Look at Speaking of Home participant, IBé

Arts / Article

By, Adrienne Kleinman, Forecast Public Art  IBé is one of the featured participants in Speaking of Home, St. Paul, to be completed in 2013.

IBe (left) is pictured here at 14 years of age with a few of his classmates

IBé is a talented spoken word artist who has been living in Minnesota since he was 17 years old. He was born in Guinea, and raised in Sierra Leone. After living here for so many years, he still retains his cultural foundational ties to his birthplace. His writings portray a strong sense of self but also a very poignant sense of the outside factors that construct his identity today. IBé’s ability to articulate his thoughts on life when one is seemingly from two cultures has brought him enormous acclaim and a following in the Midwestern region. Included in his praise are numerous awards, including the 2005 Jerome/SASE Verve Grant.

To IBé, home has been adapted not into a physical place, but a metaphorical space because of the great distance he has traveled from his original home. He eloquently describes the positive side of having a spiritual home, “even when the geography changes (as it has), home in my left chest pocket stays the same, innocent and untainted.”  He also expresses this well as is evident in a passage from one of his poems, “Letter to my Children:”

You are not from there             You are not from here             You are from your mom             And from your dad             You are an African-in-America             An African and American             Proudly wear them both             Wherever you go             Knowing home is not a place             Except if that place be a space in your heart . . . 

Minnesota and the Twin Cities have become a very real home to IBé because it is where he became an adult and honed in on his originality, as well as began a family with his wife. He then added that if he were to be hesitant at all to call it home here, it would be “because my idea of home is a little Blacker than this.”

If you are interested in learning more about IBé and his craft, check out his blog or look him up on Facebook.