Public Media Arts Hub

Video by PBS Utah

How poetry allows this spoken word artist to 'finally take a breath'

SALT LAKE CITY — For Jaruwat Maendl, a 20-year-old award-winning spoken word artist, poetry not only helped him come to terms with who he is, it also helped to shed a light on what goes on inside the mind of a person living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia.

"It's like being underwater and you can't breathe and then suddenly all the water's gone and like you can finally take a breath," he said, describing how poetry allows him to communicate with the outside world.

Maendl, who goes by J.P., said he doesn't write anything down while he's crafting his poems.

"It's all just in my head. Every last bit of it," he said of the rhymes, alliterations and metaphors that come through.

"I like to describe it as a bunch or words just floating around, and I just reach up and grab them," he said.

Maendl also uses his art to confront issues concerning race and identity, and the experience of feeling like an "other" among his peers.

In 10th grade, he was introduced to Poetry Out Loud, a national recitation competition where contestants recite someone else's poem.

In doing that competition, "I found that I could express myself and it was like 'whoa,' like that was like so much stuff inside of me that I was all of a sudden able to just tell people and that was with someone else's words. So then I was like, 'I bet you I could do that with my own words.'"

Maendl also found power in transforming words that were used to mock him into words of empowerment through his art. In his pursuit to master those words, Maendl also wanted to make sure that other students at his high school could find strength in their voice through poetry. He helped found the slam poetry club in 2019 at Herriman High School before heading off to Seton Hall University to study chemistry and physics.

How do you lose a train?


How do you lose a train?
Easy, with a Capital A-D Capital H-D
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
Ananan And just like you'll find in my mind nothing but disorder,
Well well well that and a sign that says out of order.
You see my mind is nothing short a Hoarder,
It takes every thought and thing I'd like to Say ananan and stores it Away, for for for
For another Day. For when that door closes softly behind me,
and the sweet sounds will Echo Elegantly through the Empty house
down the dark hallways and Bouncing Back again,
unobstructed by any other noise within my head
I mean me, I mean be, be be be begins ananan And thus begins the
descent into Insane Insanity
which some might say holds no Gravity
to Depravity,
But, upon first instance of a sane Mind Mixing actions of Morality
one can only Explain as an Insane, instant of Insanity.
In which the human Brain has Transcended the Plain of humanity.
Oh, the humanity in what I call Simply,
Sane insanity,
for it is more Insane
for me to try and Maintain my Sanity.
When every thought besieges my mind
lays waste to the valleys and cities I've built and hidden inside.
Inside inside inside Inside, inside, Trapped inside a cage like a bird that doesn't sing. You see the words are my thoughts that I haven't to bring, Out into the air, to flow free it isn't fair, that you can just say what you want ananan and I st st st struggle to say one single thing. And yes, I know sometimes my words flow like milk and honey, And yes I know at first this might sound just a little bit funny.
When I say what's been said hasn't been said so I can say, saying what needs
to be said isn't said by needing to say, say the words trapped inside,
trapped inside just like a lead, a lead weight to my thoughts who once,
oh once fed, fed my mouth with words that needed to be said. But trapped inside
the cage of my mind the keys have been lost in a place I cannot find.
Inside, inside trapped inside a cage like a bird that doesn't sing.

I'm Sorry

I eye ye I lost my train of thought. A train?
He says. How do you lose a train?
He says,
He says you,
he says blue
he says you blue blue blue said the kid with the two colored shoes and Red
he Said I see Brown which is something I Found not to be True like the deep color Blue found in his left hand Shoe.
So why tell why should Lies,
when we both know he Ties, the shoes that he Would Wears.
Tell me What Would make him Dare,
to say all these Things, when we know that it Brings, A painful sarcastic Remark, what Jaruwat did you get dressed in the Dark.
and well that's when when then when then again again again
I'm sorry I
lost my train of thought again. A a a train?
How do you lose a train? Well its easy,
I mean hardI mean hard to say, well interesting fact about trains
do you know why the rails are so far apart, you probably don't think about that well I do,
its because of ancient wagons in actine Rome
and there rolling wheels rolling down rolling streets made of stone
and how the wheels pushed the rocks a side
and left a path for other wheels to roll through
and that's the size we set the rails to
but A Train?
how do you lose a train? well a Train in my Brain might as well be a Plane,
it'll take all the Pain and what I see as Insane.
I wont have to stand here and Explain in the Huracan
the Rain Storm of all of my thoughts,
cause just like in the aching world
how all roads lead to Rome, the path ways the neurons find in my mind all go to the same place that's right standing here is my fear in my thoughts take flight I can remember
How do you lose a train?
Easy, with a Capital AD Capital HD
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

March 2018

This report originally appeared on PBS Utah's "This Is Utah."

Support Canvas

Sustain our coverage of culture, arts and literature.

Send Us Your Ideas
Let us know what you'd like to see on ArtsCanvas. Your thoughts and opinions matter.