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Friday Feature: Natasha Ria El-Scari

Natasha Ria El-Scari is a poet, performer, writer, Cave Canem alum, Ragdale Residency recipient and facilitator/educator for over two decades. Her poetry, academic papers, and personal essays have been published in anthologies, literary and online journals.  Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Natasha has a BA from Jackson State University and an MA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 2015, Natasha released her first book, Screaming Times (Spartan Press, 2015). Her second book, The Only Other (Main Street Rag, 2016) dives into the taboo voice of the other woman. In 2019 Natasha released her first self-published and non-fiction book in collaboration with her son entitled, Mama Sutra: Love and Lovemaking Advice to My Son.  In 2020, Natasha self-released, I Say, T(He)y Say a chapbook about a special decade in her maternal grandmother’s life. In the same month she released Growing Up Sina, her first novel created after challenging herself creatively to grow outside of her first love, poetry. Her forthcoming work, Steelife, explores her feminist upbringing and the evolution of her womanhood. She recently released Te Deum: Lessons a performative collaboration with a chorale ensemble. Natasha’s CDs, DragonButterFirefly (2006), This is Love…(2010), CuddleComplex (2016), We Found Us (2023) and DVD Live at the Blue Room (2015) establish her as a spoken word artist.. This mother of two adult children and a bonus son is also the founder and curator of Black Space Black Art, an organization created to promote the exhibition of African American visual arts and businesses. She is also the founder and curator of the Natasha Ria Art Gallery, a small powerhouse that focuses on exhibiting marginalized visual artists. Natasha and her musician husband Kevin plan to open a day/overnight urban retreat space for creatives in the future. Follow Natasha on Instagram and Twitter.

The Viewing


Big Mama's Funeral

was pink, her suit pink, her casket pink, flowers, pink

and her hands were hidden.


The Funeral Director

said that it was best to cover

Big Mama’s hands. They didn’t look like

they belonged on her body.


I wanted to witness, one last time

the pea shelling hands-

faster than a machine at removing

each eye from its socket into the tin bowl.

If I shelled, silently, I got to listen


to woman-talk.

As the sun went down

the bowl weighed heavier between my knees

where the gnats gathered

with each pea drop.


The Funeral Director

thought fit to add another layer of pink

taffeta to cover her hands.

He thought we would be as pleased as he,

until her great granddaughter

and self-proclaimed pink lover whispered,

Where are her hands, did you bury them first?


Show her gnarled hands not just her pristine faith.

Do not shroud her history like she was ugly.

Show her dirty weapons.

Display the things that saved us.


Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, retreats, and special events. Donate to help Torch amplify Black women writers.


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