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Black History Month: Emoja Soul Celebrates Black Poets at Crystal Bridges

Leora Jackson

This Saturday, February 4, at 1 p.m., Emoja Soul, a local poetry and spoken word organization, will be presenting a Gallery Conversation in Crystal Bridges’ gallery in celebration of Black History Month and African American poets and writers. I contacted Leora Jackson, one of the founders of the group, to get some insight into the group and the upcoming performance. –LD


What’s the history of Emoja Soul? 

Emoja Soul is a group I put together for people interested in poetry, writing, and literacy. It sort of came together as an idea of mine. I wanted to influence young people and allow for other people to celebrate culture and history through writing, poetry and other dramatic arts. It was founded in July, 2012, and began with a group of African American authors in Northwest Arkansas.  Now it has involved many other people, all of whom are volunteers. Some are poets, some are speakers, and some just come in to express themselves at Poetic Justice.


What kind of events do you usually hold?

The majority are poetry events. We also do dramatic arts for adults and youth. We do fashion shows where kids get to dress up as historical characters from the past and present. We let the kids take the spotlight. We’ve done advocacy things.  And every two months we hold Poetic Justice, an open-mic poetry night. Some of the people who participate are poets, some are people who just want to speak out on issues. In the world today there are a lot of justice issues going on, and it’s great that we can talk about it in a poetic form. We allow people to come out and speak on that situation. It allows people to have a voice. Sometimes people sing or dance, do comedy, or just talk about their issues. Lately they have been at the Artists Laboratory off of South College in Fayetteville.


What can guests expect at the event here at Crystal Bridges?

This will be a celebration of African American poets of the past. I reached out to some people in my group.  Some will give tributes to poets such as Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Langston Hughes, among others, who we felt needed recognition. Some of these will be basic poetry readings, some will be song.  It’s taking the place of our Poetic Justice event this month.


 What other events do you have coming up?

There’s one coming up on the 25th of February, a Black History Month Showcase for kids at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville from 6 to 8 p.m. The kids will come in dressed up as various historic figures, like Misty Copeland, a famous African American ballet dancer; Coretta Scott King; Martin Luther King; Michelle Obama, Jackie Robinson…. The School of Rock and the Youth Choir will perform, and there will be some dance and poetry readings as well.


Don’t miss Emoja Soul’s performance in the galleries at Crystal Bridges this weekend!  

You can learn more about upcoming events with Emoja Soul on their Facebook page:




Is the total black, being spoken
From the earth’s inside.
There are many kinds of open.
How a diamond comes into a knot of flame
How a sound comes into a word, coloured
By who pays what for speaking.


Some words are open
Like a diamond on glass windows
Singing out within the crash of passing sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
In a perforated book—buy and sign and tear apart—
And come whatever wills all chances
The stub remains
An ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
Breeding like adders. Others know sun
Seeking like gypsies over my tongue
To explode through my lips
Like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Some words
Bedevil me.


Love is a word another kind of open—
As a diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am black because I come from the earth’s inside
Take my word for jewel in your open light.