Havva Ramadan: A Way With Words
Singer-songwriter, spoken-word artist and poet Havva Ramadan on dealing with difficult topics and using writing to create a safe space.
“I don’t think you pursue writing,” says Havva Ramadan, when asked what inspired her to do what she does. “I think writing pursues you.” Born and raised in London, UK, Ramadan is a singer-songwriter, spoken-word artist and poet who’s amassed thousands of followers on social media for her honest and raw approach to words.
While she’s been writing all her life, shaping and improving her writing skills, even honing them by working with an artist development company for a few years, it wasn’t until TikTok came along that she found a platform to deliver her work ― work that deals with tough topics including grief, mental health and difficult relationships with parents.
One topic she’s not passionate about writing about, however, is love. “When I was continuously releasing music, all I wrote about was love,” she says. “Now I have really developed my writing skills I don’t write about it as much. First, because it’s saturated. A lot of writers write about love and only love. I think I found my niche by looking at an area that was missing, and that was grief, mental health, relationships with parents that weren’t great. I tend to gravitate towards writing about the difficult side of life, but in a poetic matter, because I felt that was missing.”
It’s for this reason that Ramadan passionate about fostering community and creating a place that’s understanding and authentic.
“I never found anything online that helped me when I was at my worst points,” she says. “I found people that spoke about the healed version of everything. Once they got to a certain point, they would start talking or creating about it. I couldn’t find anything that made me feel like I was normal for the crazy way I was dealing with everything that was going on.” As a response, she set out “to create a safe space for people about the things they couldn’t talk about. I felt that was more important than talking about love.”
Ramadan describes how emotions play a big part in her process, observing how “it’s a beautiful thing to make poetry out of some of the saddest things in the world. I guess that’s the way I’ve learned to deal with a lot of what I’ve been through.” She shares that she makes a conscious effort to write from different perspectives. One example she offers is writing a poem about mothers despite not being a mother herself.
“I can write something and put it out there and cry for a month afterwards because it’s come from a place within that’s tortured me,” Ramadan says. “It’s not the writing or speaking or singing process. It’s once it’s out there and everybody reacts to it in the same way I felt it.”
Whether Ramadan is putting words to music, on paper, or speaking them into a microphone, it all comes down to a love of wordplay. “Wordplay is such a beautiful thing,” she says. “You change the sequence of a word or sentence and it means something completely different.
“It’s a beautiful thing to make poetry out of some of the saddest things in the world. I guess that’s the way I’ve learned to deal with a lot of what I’ve been through.”
“One of the most amazing creations we have is words, the fact they have the power to heal or hurt in the same breath and it can be in the same sentence ― a case of changing two words around, and that’ll be the difference of whether it’s ‘healed’ or ‘hurt.’ I think that’s so powerful.”
At the end of our conversation, we ask Ramadan if there was anything she wants to make a point of highlighting. In response, she says, “The most important thing you can do is believe in yourself. The only thing you’ll ever need is within you. If I can encompass that within my lifetime, then I would have been blessed to be here.”
INTERVIEW BY MARC CASTALDO