Spirituality in poetry: UB senior discusses recent book 'But God: A start'
Eboni Hinnant is your everyday student. She hangs out with friends, goes to classes and contributes her time to a local school in Buffalo.
She also has self-published a book.
Hinnant, a senior international studies major with a minor in education, is fresh off the release of her latest book But God: A start.
In January, Hinnant released the collection that recounts her journeys and struggles though poetry. After returning from studying in Amsterdam in the fall of 2015, she dedicated all of last year to developing the book, breaking down her own “self-imposed barriers,” insecurities and vulnerabilities to put into text.
"Struggle is truly my fuel, as odd as that may sound. It's what allows me to be bare and vulnerable in my work,” Hinnant said. “I write poetry when I feel the need to get something out or perhaps when I experience something that affects me and I have thoughts about it – my thoughts just come out in metaphors and similes."
Hinnant writes in a standard poetry form, but also addresses some poems in the form of a prayer.
Hinnant is not focused on adhering to any one religion in her poems but rather is focused on building her spiritual self through her work. The book is geared toward helping people choose different starting points for building their sense of spirituality.
One of her pieces in But God: A start addresses her trip to the supermarket when she had little money. She was frustrated because it was around Christmastime and she hadn't started her part time job yet.
Hinnant, with only $9 in her pocket, interacted with the grocery bagger who attempted to make her smile. He tried to bring her cheer in spite of her “blank face,” as she hoped the transaction would finish.
“So of course I'm thinking I only have $9 but I'm like what's a dollar anyway,” Hinnant said. “I'm not doing anything crazy with $9 so I dropped a dollar in his tip jar and wished him a Merry Christmas."
She wasn’t happy because of her limited funds, so she decided to give back to the man who had been nice to her anyway.
"On my way home, I thought about the power in that small moment and took to writing. And out came a poem titled ‘Giving’ in my book,” Hinnant said.
Hinnant writes when inspiration strikes.
The inspiration that Hinnant receives before writing her poetry has carried over to her readers, too.
Hinnant did not plan on sharing her work with the general public. She originally intended to share it with family and close friends. But after receiving encouragement from her mother and friends, she felt confident sharing it with anyone she could.
Her fellow students appreciate and connect with her work.
"For me personally, it was the fact that some of the issues that I feel like I have within myself, she was praying that God helped her with,” said Victoria Kehinde, a senior health and human services major. “Like for example, teaching her how to forgive people who've done her wrong, that's something that I currently struggle with – sometimes, we do have to let things go."
Isaiah Davis, a UB alumnus, connects most with Hinnant's work due to its sense of humility.
“When you're coming before God, it's like, we're in a place right now when we kind of feel like we have to have it together,” Davis said. “So we feel like we, like regular, as in like being adults, getting our schoolwork together, you know, trying to pay bills. She’s constantly reminding herself and being open with God."
Hinnant’s poetry is in-tune with her life and her perspective on spirituality. Rather than keeping her thoughts to herself or just sharing them on social media like most people do, Hinnant has found a unique outlet for her thoughts and talents.
Catherine Campbell is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org