Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Natasha Ria El-Scari

Natasha Ria El-Scari is a poet, performer, writer, Cave Canem fellow, 2016 Ragdale Residency recipient and educator for over a decade. Her poetry, academic papers, and personal essays have been published in anthologies, literary and online journals.  She has opened for and introduced many great writers, singers and activists, and has been featured at a host of universities and venues nationwide.

Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Natasha has a BA from Jackson State University and a MA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Natasha’s Black Feminist approach is reflected in her writing, poetry and performance pieces. Once asked in an interview what makes her unique she replied, “…most people lie to themselves, but I like to reveal myself.”

In 2015 Natasha released her first book, Screaming Times (Spartan Press, 2015). Of her work, critic and poet Denise Low writes, “Poems lift off the page, almost reading themselves. Unlike some performance poetry, her words translate well to the printed page.” Her second book, The Only Other (Main Street Rag, 2016) dives into the taboo voice of the other woman. Natasha’s CDs, DragonButterFirefly (2006), This is Love… (2010), CuddleComplex (2016) and DVD Live at the Blue Room (2015) display how Natasha connects with any crowd with maternal warmth and unrelenting honesty.

This mother of two teenagers is also the founder and curator of Black Space Black Art, an organization created to promote the exhibition of African American visual arts and businesses. She is also the founder and curator of the El-Scari Harvey Art Gallery, a small gallery who focuses on exhibiting marginalized artists. For book purchases, details and booking:

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  1. […] Natasha Ria El-Scari is in Kansas City, Missouri where she is working on Steelife, a book about four generations of black feminism. In this collection El-Scari draws from her daughters, her late sister, her mother, and her grandmothers. Steelife will be El-Scari’s first self published work. She feels that self publishing is “the most black feminist act” that she can do. It allows her to retain complete control over the work. “I was not even considering any gaze let alone the white male gaze, or the white female gaze, or the black male gaze. I am really just making sure that I give exactly what I want to in this work,” El-Scari says. The work is quite academic. Through interviews over more than 20 years, El-Scari has collected stories from the generations of women and girls in her family. She hopes the book will be out by October. El-Scari is also a poet. Some of her work speaks to the “secret life of breath-holding” that black mothers endure. The unique fears for their sons who are vulnerable to the violence of a society that treats black men differently than white men. Other work manifests as something of a love poem to our own flesh. When her sister passed at age 32, El-Scari considered that she was only gone in the flesh. This made her realize that the flesh is everything and prompted a careful consideration of what this means. El-Scari has a love of stories and story telling. Her work draws on the oral tradition of African American storytelling. It is important that work “always be able to invite our audience into it so even if they miss some of the meaning or they don’t even like it, they can at least appreciate the storytelling quality of it,” she says. As a child El-Scari loved hearing adults tell stories, particularly those she wasn’t supposed to hear. This love of storytelling is present throughout her work. To hear more from Natasha Ria El-Scari including readings of her powerful poetry, listen to the complete interview. […]


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