“The Hook” is building community and bringing people together in Cedar Rapids through story-telling, poetry and other performance. The creative collaborative began in January 2016 with poetry readings and curated live performances. Now it's expanded to ARTLoud, a program that intersects poetry, music, and dance, and a new series that takes place in the living rooms of regular folks around the city.
Akwi Nji, the woman behind “The Hook” says the non-profit aims to get people in the Cedar Rapids community into the same room to share art, and in the process, their stories. Nji says the live nature of the events, particularly in the poetry readings, is essential to their success.
"It lends itself to authenticity and honesty. There's something true about being in a space where, with spoken word and performance poetry, you're allowing into that space youth [and] oftentimes underrepresented people in our community, because that traditionally and historically is a medium through which they express themselves."
That mix of perspectives is purposeful, and, Nji feels, unique for a place like Cedar Rapids.
"It's a very metropolitan approach, using spoken word in what we're doing. A lot of people are like 'This is happening in Cedar Rapids?!" Yes, it's happening and people are coming. So being able to offer opportunities that young people, and even ethnic minorities, are naturally tuned into, and then folding into that demographic everybody else in the community, is something that's really important to us."
In this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Nji about the non-profit.