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Black poets and writers celebrated in Kansas City, Missouri

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Posted at 10:28 PM, Feb 08, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Black poets and other writers read their work Thursday night at ‘A Nation in Exile’ event at 21c Museum at the Kansas City Hotel.

“I just think it’s important for every single person who feels like they have a story to tell to actually write and share their work,” said Natasha Ria El-Scari, poet and writer.

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A poet recently honored as Kansas City's first poet laureate says the art can help others find themselves.

“Poetry is a tool for building community, poetry as a tool for finding agency, accountability and responsibility, self-expression and care,” said Melissa Ferrer Civil. “This idea of we were exiled from each other, the land, the culture from ourselves. What does it take to return home? What does it look like and feel like, taste like?”

The event was designed to share work from local writers, but to also celebrate writers who are publishing to learn more about the writing culture and industry.

“This is a very big deal for Kansas City,” said El-Scari. “It’s the Grammy's of writing in a way. We all get to come and celebrate work. I will be sharing original poetry around the idea of exile and also home. I actually have poems that speak to both of those things simultaneously."

Local poets make sure to pass on the history of their art in KCMO.

“Kansas City has a rich history of African American poetry," El-Scari said. "You have people who have created work for decades and we recognize they are a part of a continuum, and we teach the generations that come behind us. This is a really sweet spot to be in because KC has amazing musicians so we get to combine poetry and music a lot."

The work continues to get their art out into the community.

“We want to inspire what is normally a passive audience, who would come see art, feel feeling walk away and not knowing what to do with their feeling, we hope to inspire them into action,” said Ferrer Civil.

The proceeds raised benefited Uzazi Village, a local black maternal healthcare organization.

“All of the voices matter it’s never too many of a voice," El-Scari said. "So whatever you have in your heart that’s telling you to write, go ahead and get started."

For more poetry events:

https://anationinexile.com/