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Poetry making playground debuts installation at the Westside Center For Justice on April 6

Westside Center for Justice

The co-founders of Kuumba Lynx joined with eight renowned poets to create a one-of-its kind multi-sensory immersive “poetry making experience” where artists animate poems with interactive artistic installations that take up about 3000 square feet at the Westside Center for Justice on California and Harrison. The grand opening for the experience is Saturday, April 6, at 7 p.m.

“We have reimagined and physicalized original poems from several renowned poets, in a way that allows people of all ages to call on their inner-child and play,” explained Jaquanda Saulter, co-founder of Kuumba Lynx. The installation consists of eight interactive works that animate specific poems, and are designed to “tap into our radical imagination and engage our ancestral geometries, sacred syllable inheritance, metaphorical joys, genetic word wisdoms, and righteous rhymes.”

It is called “the ‘Poetry Playground’ because it fuses poetics, tangible objects, illustration, fabrications/design, multi-media and life-size interactive and reflective installations to create a completely immersive experience,” according to Jacinda Hall, co-founder and co-curator. Hall and Saulter have been co-executive directors of Kuumba Lynx for nearly three decades, where they have trained thousands of young poets and artists across Chicago.

The renowned poets participating in the experience include Chicago’s inaugural Poet Laureate, Avery R. Young, and an interdisciplinary artist and educator. Young, a New Chicago 2022 awardee, a Cave Canem Fellow and co-director of the Floating Museum, has been featured in BreakBeat Poets, Teaching Black, Poetry Magazine and elsewhere.  E’mon Lauren also joins the experience. She is Chicago’s first Youth Poet Laureate and has been featured in Vogue, Chicago Magazine and the Chicago Tribune. Young and Lauren are joined by Emmy Award-nominated poet and vocalist Liza Garza; multi-disciplinary artist and storyteller Vania Luna; teacher, Social Emotional Learning Specialist Sonjanita Moore; and artist and storyteller Lala Bolander; multi-disciplinary storyteller and West Side father Sejahari Villegas; artist and poet Ayesha Riaz.

The experience includes specific times and productions for classes and other large groups, on Mondays through Fridays at 10:30 a.m. Groups looking to schedule should text Jacinda at 773-550-4229 or email Jaquanda at [email protected].

The experience is located at the Movement and Justice Gallery within the Westside Center for Justice. The Gallery opened in 2017 to host an exhibit of 50 years of history of the Black Panther Party, and has also hosted a number of other community-oriented exhibits and experiences, including “Mitigation” form Free Write Arts; and Black Summer curated by Kristiana Colon. The Westside Center for Justice is most known as the building that hosts the almost eponymous Westside Justice Center legal nonprofit. The WSCJ has been in existence for nine years.

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