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Artist Profile: Salome P. Agbaroji ’27 Is ‘All of the Above’

Salome P. Agbaroji ’27 Sitting Down Image
Salome P. Agbaroji ’27 Sitting Down Image By Courtesy of Salome P. Agbaroji
By Roberto C. Quesada, Crimson Staff Writer

Salome P. Agbaroji ’27 is no stranger to the big stage. At only 18, she has performed spoken word poetry at both the United Nations and the White House. Yet in an interview with The Harvard Crimson, the National Youth Poet Laureate revealed that art was a part of her life long before she was publicly recognized.

“It wasn’t necessarily an intentional choice to become a creative writer,” Agbaroji said. “It was just something that was always within me. Creativity was always present in my relationship with language.”

Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, Agbaroji grew up surrounded by motivated artists that helped her explore the arts.

“There’s a really vibrant arts culture,” she said. “Pretty much anyone at my high school, you can point out and say, ‘Freestyle now,’ and then they’ll pull some words out of something.”

Agbaroji also finds inspiration in her Nigerian roots. While her identity as a child of immigrants originally seemed like a roadblock — as there was pressure to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer — Agbaroji found beautiful art and inspiration in her Igbo background.

“I weave in aspects of my Nigerian identity all throughout,” Agbaroji said. “There are a lot of poets in the Igbo tradition because spoken word runs in our blood.”

Agbaroji discovered spoken word poetry as a formal activity through the internet. Later, she began being more intentional about writing spoken word. She began going to poetry workshops at the local library and preparing spoken poetry. Her ideas often come at the most unexpected times, and sometimes she is struck by concepts against her own will.

“This is the poem and I was just the vessel,” she said. “And that comes with trusting my artistic impulses. That comes with not censoring myself.”

Her poetry covers a wide range of issues, from Black femininity to global issues like education and literacy. However, Agbaroji’s poems have one thing in common: confronting injustice.

“One of the commonalities between all the myriad of topics I write about is the fact that they tend to shed light on some form of injustice,” Agbaroji said.

She explained that performing on larger platforms has made her explore new ways of discussing issues personal to her. One such poem is “In The Palms Of Your Hands,” a poem about Black joy. Originally commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for a Black History Month installation, it was so successful that Agbaroji performed it at the White House.

“I made the decision within myself,” she said. “This is going to be a happy poem. This isn’t going to be a trauma piece. It isn’t going to be a piece about chains and whips, and cotton and plantations. It’s going to be a poem celebrating.”

Don’t be mistaken, however — spoken word poet is only one of Agbaroji’s many titles. In addition to poetry, Agabroji produces music, writes raps, and creates songs.

“I really look for any form to use words creatively, whether it’s on a beat, whether it’s in a script,” she said.

Agbaroji is part of a campus group called “All of the Above,” where she works to bring diverse art forms on campus together.

“I want to see how artistic fusion can be born in such a diverse place like this,” she said.

Agbaroji also advised upcoming artists to be authentic, as that is how she was able to find the inner voice that she says every person has.

“Being yourself is the hardest thing you can be,” she said.

Agbaroji certainly walks the talk, combining tradition and innovation to make artwork that empowers.

—Staff writer Roberto C. Quesada can be reached at

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