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March 23, 2021

Poet shares his work and wisdom with JCCC community

Johnson County Community College welcomed Glenn North — poet, author, activist, educator and arts executive — for a live, virtual presentation on February 24 in celebration of Black History Month.

He is currently the Executive Director at the Bruce A. Watkins Cultural Center and has also served at the American Jazz Museum and the Black Archives of Kansas City/Mid-America.

Inspiring Poets of Tomorrow

North was named the first poet laureate of Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine jazz district in 2016. His powerful work focuses on the triumphs and tragedies of the African American experience and issues of social justice.

In addition to writing and presenting his work, he conducts workshops across the country. His mission is to motivate America’s next generation of poets.

“One of my very favorite things is to work and interact with young people,” he said.

The Path to Poetry

North shared it was his grandmother who first introduced him to the art form.

“She was a really smart educator, and she would trick me into learning things,” he said.

On his eighth birthday she gave him the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling — and she challenged him to memorize it.

Looking back, North said his grandmother knew exactly what she was doing. He became immediately enthralled and has been writing poetry ever since.

Do What You Love (With a Twist)

North shared his belief in the transformative power of poetry and recited some of his award-winning work filled with messages of truth, hope and inspiration.

During a Q&A session, he was asked what advice he could offer students wanting to pursue literature as a career.

North shared that from a practical sense, it’s important to choose a career that allows you to provide for yourself and your family.

“But what’s equally important is to pursue something you love,” he said.

Although North found success in a corporate job early in his career, he didn’t feel fulfilled. His solution was to take his talent as a poet and monetize it. That’s when he started doing workshops.

“I didn’t make as much money, but I was so much happier,” he said. “I get so much fulfillment out of poetry and having moments like these to share with people.”

The event was sponsored by JCCC’s Black Student Union (BSU), Student Senate and Multicultural Programming Advisory Council.

Get writing!

Turn your passion for poetry or love of language into a fulfilling career! Explore JCCC’s English courses and get connected to some of poetry’s most powerful works. Or check out BSU’s GetInvolved@JCCC webpage for upcoming poetry events at JCCC.