But perhaps what Lewis is most known for is being a poet -- and poetry can be done anywhere. If you've ever called your voice mail and left a message of thoughts about a promising poem, then you are indeed a poet. That's what Lewis does. "I'll be driving and I will think of something, and I'll stop at the stoplight and write it down," she says. "Then when I get home, I finish it. Or in the middle of the night, if I'm the least bit coherent, I'll pull myself out of bed and write down a thought. You name it, I write things down on napkins, bills, junk mail. I've even written stuff on my leg before."
Lewis has been writing since she was in the third grade, but "back then it was kind of nerdy. I was getting the creative writing award while other kids got the popularity award," she says, laughing and remembering the awkwardness of school assemblies. In 1997, however, when spoken word came onto the scene full-force with such movies as Love Jones, the awkward, nerdy side of writing disappeared. "I didn't start doing spoken word until 1997.It was just a rush to have feedback and share the stage with talented people and not be the nerd getting the creative writing award -- it was cool to finally not be misunderstood."
If you haven't seen Lewis perform or haven't been to one of her productions, your time is running out as the production company founder and single-mom poet is getting ready to leave Kansas City for good and head to the bumping city of Atlanta for two important reasons: her girls. "I want the kids to see a place that isn't so economically segregated," she says. "I want them to know and see that black people don't always live in the 'hood, that there isn't always a crackhouse on the corner."
Her going-away party will be unlike most because this shindig is open to the public. "It's all about us getting together. It's a circle of friends, and that's what I want it to be about. I want people to remember that this is not business -- I've never known art to be business."
Dear Friends, A Poetry Reading will take place Tuesday, June 6, at the Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., with shows at 6 and 8 p.m. Talent includes Glenn North, Donnell Bennett, members of Girl Talk, and more. Admission is $5. For more information, call 816-523-8087.