Hopeful writer creates subliminal content to last, with words of reflection and inspiration.
There are times where we recognize mirrors of empowerment and empathy, through pained smoke in the air. The chaos clears as you envision yourself through the intricate words of poetry and prose. A single moment of clarity presents itself, finding transparency within you. Reluctantly acknowledging yet owning your place here. This secures your feet to the given path you have found yourself on. I’ve caught myself living through the words and work of Nika Renee. A Kansas City, Kansas poet reflecting her passionate aura through her writing talents.
A Wyandotte county raised woman, Renee’s connection to the Kansas City community mirrored my own in grabbing my attention in our initial interview this summer. From elementary school all the way through to her attendance at Wyandotte High School, the writer was given encouragement for her art from her teachers throughout. Even being recognized in other learning spaces such as her time participating in Girl Scouts where the leaders pushed her to persevere through words. She began discussing her interest in poetry, always remembering the distinct feelings that come with reading new pieces. Her free-spirited attitude longed for the creative space to write her own. “It’s who I am and I’m not my authentic self if I’m not doing it”, stated Renee. She expressed gratitude for her family fostering her authenticity with their contribution of journals and notebooks.
Renee admits that she was once reluctant to share/read her work initially for being criticized for talking “too white”. A phrase that so many Black writers have been unfortunately subjected to. The other hesitation came from grappling with the very emotional experience that takes place when opening yourself up to others. Thankfully, through a Kansas City mentor initiative she was met with an understanding to help build her confidence and began submitting pieces to various writing contests.
When considering how the love of poetry aligned more with her choice of the writing genre, she speaks of the benefits that many other poets and readers find in the work. “It’s a catalyst to bringing me through the really bad stuff”, she expressed. That statement became even more profound as our conversation continued to cover some of the work she has done in the community. At the Crossroads Hospice and Palliative Care in Independence, Mo she volunteered her time as a scribe recorder.
As a scribe to a 90-year-old couple living out their last days together at the facility, she documented their experiences in a journal that could be shared and passed down to their family after their departure. Not only did she emphasize how this personally changed the way she lived her life, but it also struck such a significant chord with me as well. In this instance, the historic importance of writers was evident beyond measure. To think intently on what we give to each other, even after we or they are gone from this plane is remarkable. Being able to encapsulate someone’s existence in a way that clings to this world in such a tangible way can provide feelings of such wonder.
Considering the amazement, I felt in our discussion, I asked Renee what she thought some of the most common misconceptions were with being a writer. “I think it’s that we’re emo, depressed or mentally unstable. Also, that we’re supposed to have visual pieces to accompany our work”, she conveyed. The sentiment was surely not lost on me as that was felt from my point of view and other writers I had spoken to as well. It somehow still demonstrated the integrity that our words have, to stand alone and still reach so many people through this medium.
Although it’s not necessarily visual, Renee share support for other writers by creating a platform where those in the field can come together to collaborate and celebrate each other in her Village Scribe and Artist Exchange group. The well-rounded poet has been commissioned for projects such as a Black Lives Matter coloring book, contributing to a documentary on The Blue River and an MLK event for The Heartland Conservation Society. Not to mention, she continues to provide soulful vibes to the city with her recently open tea shop, Soulcentricitea, located in Kansas City, Missouri.
Renee insight and reflective words have grace the pages of 3 published books so far. The Spirit of the Quest: Reflections on the Journey of the Soul, Spirit of the Quest II: Intensity’s Slave and her latest book I reviewed, The Spirit of the Quest III: For the Love of the Sky. The collection of poems draws you into the tango of words transcribed in poems like “Forbidden”, “Trail Mix”, “Wandering Girl”, and “Home”. The last stanza of one poem specifically left me with a daunting introspective look at myself.
here made for this
are artists bliss
arti is born from brokenness
vision thrives in emptiness”
Emptiness expands to a witnessing and opportunity for newness or resurgence without obstruction or struggle of sight. Nika Renee’s words and actions unapologetically open our eyes to a creativity that will outlast time and space. Relinquishing a beauty in blossoming outside of these small boxes we’ve broken out of. Small cuts may appear from shard glass or wood fragments, but the freedom heals those wounds as we intentionally build worlds larger than our imaginations can hold.
Join us next week for our upcoming artist review: Tiffanie Roberson