KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jeanette Powers isn't only a poet, but also one of the largest promoters for poetry in the Kansas City area. When she's not on stage and behind a microphone, she's giving other poets a platform to share their own voices.
Powers is responsible for helping pump life into one of the main open mic venues in the metro. She started at Uptown Arts Bar as a bartender. Now, years later, she's programming and coordinating shows in that same space.
"I work with people to put their show ideas onto the stage," said Powers. "We work together to make sure it gets promoted and runs smoothly the night of the show."
Aside from building up the community, Powers writes her own truth through poetry. She says as her life changes, her writing does too. Her current focus is making people smile and laugh, despite what they may be going through.
"We all have experienced so much trauma and poetry is such an important vehicle to express that trauma and get it out of your system," said Powers. "But there's also the moving past that. I see so much pain in the world that my singular focus is making people laugh."
Powers believes poetry can play many different roles in a person's life. She says it taught her that her imagination had no boundaries and helped her feel free, but she also believes poets have a responsibility not just to themselves, but to the world around them.
"The poet is the first historian. It is the poets who tell the story of what's happening, not the newscasters and not the book writers, but the actual people on the ground who are writing the experience of the now," said Powers. "For me, poetry is the first stop on learning your history."
Even though it's part of her profession, Powers doesn't view poetry as something solely to be used to chase a paycheck. Many poets struggle without a full-time job, but Powers says she sees a silver lining.
"Because there's not a lot of money in poetry, that also is a liberation because then you can really just express your soul and maybe our souls don't need to be for sale."