It Takes a Village

Nasra Adem - Acknowledging the Frame

Nasra shares a deep understanding of the UNIGNORABLE issues of poverty. In the spoken word poem, It Takes a Village, Nasra creates stories and pictures of poverty by creating images varying from children lacking nourishment, teenagers dropping out of school, to adults struggling to make ends meet.

On September 20th, Nasra captivated a room of 800 attendees at our United Way Campaign Kickoff Luncheon and took us to places that help us see - and feel - what poverty is like and why it’s UNIGNORABLE.

It Takes a Village

we are all too familiar with the saying

“it takes a village to raise a child”

but what happens when that child grows old

has children of their own

is erased from the narrative of care

and compassion

and is instead injected into one bound in

shame and fear

when their own childhood village

was a fumbling mess of bone and regret

a lonesome hut in an emotional desert

where no one spoke of the orchestra

of rumbling stomachs

or the anger that grew from its pit

we are all too familiar

with the poems


and speeches of how we got here

the clutch of greed

around entire nations throats

the way it has stopped the flow of breath

and the music of who we are

the myths of race and gender

and their constant severing of ties

of responsibility

of humanity

until we are all too much

or too little

and always always searching

in elementary school breakfast club

i would search for the reason to exist at the bottom of my cereal bowl

scrape at the rainbow coloured grain and wonder how much of its magic

i could gather

mould into a shield made for sparkly children

those deserving of a chance

a home, with parents who spoke softly and weren’t broken by borders

a future, where people who looked like me lived to be 100 and still laughed

in high school

i laughed a lot

until the pressure to fit in created a dam in my throat

blocking any truth, creation, or cry for help

i left early


in a whirlpool of suppressed emotion

searching for anything to break the levee

it took a village

a sympathetic principal, a psychiatrist, an overworked single mother, benefit cheques, dance

teachers, friends that were young and hollow and hungry for the same care

to remind me, you can not stifle an ocean

and that it takes a village

to assembly line the dream

of a world that will meet our needs

and dream along with us

it takes a village

to say

all children deserve to base their worth on their humanity not their family’s income

to say

all adults deserve healing no matter how deep rooted their traumas

to say

a village

a neighbourhood

a school

a city

can know you

see you

to say

your story

your life is unignorable

because it is a map of who you are, not your circumstances

to say

we are all one decision away from the worst moment of our lives

but that also means we are always one decision away from our best

and to say

poverty is unignorable because it affects us all

because it paints a picture of what and who we care about

from northside to southside, to the west end, to downtown

it’s time to ask ourselves,

what kind of artists are we

if we aren’t acknowledging everyone in the frame?

Thank you, Nasra, for your wise and inspiring words. You are definitely shining a spotlight on the UNIGNORABLE issue of poverty in our community!

About Nasra

Nasra Adem is a former Youth Poet Laureate for the City of Edmonton, Nasra helped launch the Black Arts Matter Festival and is curator of the “Sister 2 Sister” artist collective. You can find more about Nasra: @_nasRAD