Who is Unyque?
She’s Unyque Daniel. You can find her on Instagram under the name of @unyquedaniel.
Why not spiritual you may ask? I asked myself the same question before having an interesting talk about that. ‘The word spiritual has a different meaning for everybody, so how can you put me in a box that I cannot even define?’ she said.
From a poet to a social work graduate student from McGill, Unyque Daniel is a young Caribbean woman that is fully aware of her African descent. She was drawn into poetry from a young age because she used to go see her aunt’s poetry sessions. With time, she started journaling in high school and she naturally started to write poems based on her personal experiences and traumas.
Through her poems, Unyque can synthesize in a few lines some of her past emotions while transmitting a message of hope. ‘In order to appreciate the good, you have to go through the bad’ and that explains why you can see duality and juxtaposition in many of her work. According to her, in our life, we create a lot of dichotomies but, we are living between polarities that should not necessarily be divided, like for example; the good and the bad. And this is the design of life that we must embrace.
‘In order to appreciate the good, you have to go through the bad’
Her poem Tawakkul is a memorandum about faith but especially about a perfect trust in the Highest. Tawakkul in Arabic means trusting in God’s plan, even in the darkness, faith in God is important. It means that you must trust the destiny He has planned for you. In Antithesis, one of her most powerful works, Unyque approaches with delicacy the theme of vulnerability by using the duality of death and birth. And again, she talks about faith in this poem; faith in the Highest, God or what she calls The Source.
Black Lives Matter
In the current situation where everybody is in retrospection about racism, Unyque takes her feather to tackle the subject of police brutality and systemic racism. While some of us are being more vulnerable than ever she invites us to self-reflect by offering us an impressive think piece inspired by a biblical psalm (Matthew 24: 6-8). We can see again the poet playing with duality; while seeing the system flaws (bad) we must be aware of the power that is within us, we are the change (good).
‘All this is a glimpse into the heart of a decaying system and the symptoms of its cancer. we are the doctors. the herbalists. the healers. the doulas. here to accompany it as it dies and is born again. all this is the beginning of birth pains.’
In her last work ‘Defund the police’, she reached the nub of the problem with those lines;
‘This is: a knee on the neck of a system
That has never served you or served me.’
– Unyque Daniel
Her social environment is a part of her inspiration but I was curious to know who inspires her the most in regard to poetry and it was fascinating to know that she’s essentially inspired by musical artists like Kendrick Lamar and SZA. But let me say that Lauryn Hill is one of her biggest influences. ‘I know she’s an inspiration for others when I listen to Kendrick I know she has inspired him.’ We can feel the influence of Miss Hill in Unyque’s poems. Unyque gets very personal in her work. She gets vulnerable and she shows us how she’s dealing with the world. Her personality never changes, she welcomes everything coming in her way even if it is good or bad.
Secure the Vibe Mtl
The poet and her best friend, the artist, and entrepreneur Shailah L. Morris @sshailah have created Secure The Vibe Montreal @securethevibemtl, a safe space where black folks are the majority and are able to express themself without censorship. This space is inspired by her experience in Atlanta: ‘Over there, black people are everywhere and you don’t have this feeling of being the minority, they have spaces where they can express themselves (…) and this is something that we need here too, right?’. The goal is to allow people to make meaningful connections and to be part of a community in which they can allow themselves to be.
‘The only thing I can identify myself to is Unyque… which is me’
– Unyque Daniel
On May 23rd, Secure The Vibe Montreal hold their third event to counter social distancing. The two ladies didn’t let COVID-19 get in their way, they created a virtual event and were able to continue community building by letting every artist do what they do best from the comfort of their home. The current situation is also a reminder that a safe space like this one is important for the black community in Montreal and everywhere. Unyque and Shailah knew the urgency of having a safe environment in the city, where people can seek security and the support of a community.
I’ve learned a lot by talking with Unyque. We should allow ourselves to navigate through life without explaining ourselves. Our lives are not about filling boxes, our lives are about our own journey. We have to be fluid and learn to accept the duality of life and every experience. Be unapologetic, have faith, and embrace everything that comes to you.