I am a Vermont Artist: Rajnii Eddins
Rajnii’s lifelong love of words was inspired by his mother. At the age of eleven, Rajnii became the youngest member of the African-American Writers’ Alliance in Seattle, founded by Randee Eddins.
Rajnii is passionate about the power of words to start conversations and foster healing—particularly among young people. He has been involved with the Young Writers Project and the Children’s Literacy Foundation, and served as a coach for Muslim Girls Making Change. In April, he published his first book of poetry, Their Names Are Mine.
Rajnii shared his thoughts about being an artist in Vermont.
How has living as an artist in Vermont affected your creative process?
Living in Vermont has influenced my art in many dynamic ways. The homogeneity has increased my awareness of the need to speak up about white supremacy and to hold space more intentionally for a myriad of underheard voices and narratives. I have also been inspired by many different artists to expand my capacity for collaboration across multiple genres of musical expression. The land itself being the original home to the Abenaki people has often spoken to me in profound ways and being in nature I feel there is so much to be gained from the spirit that existed here prior to colonization and is still here.
What is something about your art that has changed over time?
Over time my art has become more nuanced and I have gained insight through experience of the need to express myself courageously and vulnerably, not just as a form of mental hygiene and catharsis for myself, but also as a modeling for welcoming us all to express ourselves and our stories authentically and without filtering while recognizing this will serve for the health and sincere well- being of community.
What is your vision for the next several years?
My vision for the next several years is to continue to grow and expand my craft and its impact and outreach in Vermont, New England, and the entire country, to create and encourage more platforms for shared story for human beings of all backgrounds. My vision is also to facilitate on a greater scale, engagements to deconstruct race while affirming common humanity.
It is my intention to do this with students, educators, police departments, workers in the judicial system, professionals in any capacity, and community members in general. This seems to me to be the greatest import of my art at this time in Vermont’s and the greater nation’s history. In good conscience, I cannot do less.
Visit Rajnii’s Facebook page.
Listen to a VPR interview with Rajnii.
Read a Children’s Literacy Foundation Q&A with Rajnii.
Read a review of Their Names Are Mine in Seven Days.
Visit Rajnii’s I AM… 2021 online exhibit.
The “I am a Vermont Artist” series explores how artists’ creative expressions reflect their experiences of ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, or age. Covering all artistic disciplines, and a range of backgrounds—from New Americans to the state’s first residents—we hope to amplify voices that deepen our understanding of what it means to be a Vermont artist.