Janiece Miller, 27, of Binghamton, lives a life based on inspiration. Between her day job and her poetry’s mission to help others find a light, she acts as a living reminder for those in Binghamton to keep pushing forward.
Miller works with those fighting addiction at the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier (MHAST), and she said she is inspired by the strength and stories of those in the organization.
“People don’t normally understand how or why [they] got in these circumstances, and why it’s not so easy to bounce back and how [they] got there in the first place, so a lot of it is people not opening up — not feeling that they’re worthy of people listening to what they have to say,” she said.
Along with her work at MHAST, Miller writes and performs poetry and said her poetry was a form of expression that came from self-motivation, inspiration and emotion. Writing poetry comes naturally to her since she’s been writing her whole life, and performing it was a form of opening up.
“I am very private,” Miller said. “It was a way of processing and releasing what I was feeling.”
Miller’s poems are interactive, and in one of her poems, “Survivor,” the audience is asked to participate in affirming “I am a survivor.” This declarative statement comes after she asks, “How could you even think you had the right to control?” After a series of statements and questions, Miller affirms that she is a survivor, and repeats this declarative form in her poem “Resilient.”
“Resilience, hope and motivation will help me succeed,” the poem reads. “I am the face of resilience, I am powerful … Master of defeat I repeat, I am the Queen.”
Miller’s poetry also expresses the experience of dealing with trauma, and she said the declarative statements in her poems serve as a reminder of recovery.
“Although you’ve been through these things, that you may have been broken before, you always come back from it,” she said.
Miller’s experience with tumult and struggle allows her poetry to speak volumes through direct and unapologetic language, and Miller said her ability to empathize bolsters her poetry.
“[I] write for other people,” she said. “Say I have a friend, for example, and they’re going through something in life, or I hear something. Things inspire me. Even just a word. So you can say a word and if I get inspired by it, and it clicks on that time, I just write from there.”
Miller embraces the word “queen” as a pronoun in addition to using she/her, standing in solidarity with women by hosting a women’s group on Facebook where women can share their feelings, accomplishments and suffering in a safe haven. Miller said her work is connected to her femininity and she wants women to feel brave after hearing her poetry.
“A lot of women suffer from low self-esteem or feel like they have to stand behind a man — for a long time that was the culture,” Miller said. “But the reality is that a lot of women are stronger and we just aren’t recognized for it.”