Bring Who You Are

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Guest writer Natasha Ria El-Scari continued the character theme, but encouraged the writers to think about themselves as characters.

“You can bring exactly who you are to your writing,” Natasha said in her presentation.

After energizing everyone with a dance party to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, Natasha shared some touching poetry from Malika Booker’s Pepperseed and talked about her own call to be a writer.

She also offered some great advice for writers, including:

  • Be willing to study your craft on your own.
  • Build yourself a writing community, but also be willing to coach yourself. Writers need each other to help keep themselves accountable.
  • Write the difficult work.

She finished off her session by having the writers write and share poems about themselves using a fill in the blank prompt adapted from the poem “Where I’m From.” Although most of the young writers were more interested in fiction, the prompt generated awesome poetic detail and rhythm, revealing a lot of poetic potential.  

Natasha is a writer, Cave Canem fellow, and educator. She writes poetry, academic papers, and personal essays, often from a Black Feminist approach that is reflected in her poetry and performances. Her work has been published in anthologies and literary journals.

Since she began writing poetry, Natasha said that she has never thrown a single draft away. As of 2009, she had written around 11,000 poems.

To learn more about Natasha and see videos of her performances, visit her website at natasharia.com.

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–Lacey Brummer, Program Intern

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