Tale of a Poet
Updated: Jun 24, 2019
My name is Nina Belen Robins and I am a supermarket employee and performance poet out of Westchester.
I began performing my poetry in 2011. I had failed a promotion, was going through a terrible break up, and was on the verge of calling it quits in life, when I decided to take a non matriculated creative writing class at WCC. The professor hosted extra credit slams on Bowery and I began to do them and it opened up an entire world of poetry that saved my life.
I spent all of adolescence and my twenties living in institutional settings, and discovering the poetry scene became the one point of the week that brought me the most joy. I was slamming 3 times a week sometimes. I competed nationally, I wrote a few poetry books, and even got the interest of my husband when he started coming to see me perform.
I want to normalize mental illness. I didn’t experience my mental illness in the real world. I experienced it in a cage. I experienced it in institutions and hospitals and group therapy sessions and daily social work appointments and special schools and a group home, etc. Coming out into the real world from that was a shock to my system. It took a few years to figure out how to interact with the mainstream people. I’m still not great at it.
I love going and performing my poetry about those years to let others know they’re not alone, and to let non-institutionalized people get a glimpse into the world. I always include some random nonsense poems to soften the blow as well. I try to encourage the audience to experience the whole spectrum of emotion.
I think it is very important to normalize mental illness and get rid of the stigma. To let the special-Ed kids know that they’re no different from the regular kids. I wish someone had done that for me. Mostly, I think it’s important to know that we are all human. It’s ok to have faults and make errors and mistakes. We all do it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Poetry did that for me. It’s why I’m still here.
I have made a website with my poems which is ninabelenrobins.com. It has my videos and publications and poetry books.