Chicago poet and activist Leslé Honoré visits with WordPlay Youth, shares inspiration at free Mercan

CINCINNATI, OHIO—Cincinnati teens have been reading and thinking about the work of Chicago artivist and Blaxican poet Leslé Honoré for months in preparation for her Dec. 5 visit to Cincinnati’s Mercantile Library. WordPlay Cincy community engagement coordinator Desirae Hosley, along with Poet-In-Residence Yalie Kamara, made Honoré’s powerful, unflinching poems the focus of this fall’s work with teens at WordPlay Scribes and Aiken High School, who will be sharing their own work with Honoré as she makes her Cincinnati debut.

“The students have been so inspired by Honoré’s work,” says Hosley. “For them to be able to learn about and then meet with and read alongside an activist and artist—or artivist—like her is an opportunity for them to learn, grow and gain so much confidence in themselves.”

Honoré, author of the poetry collection Fist & Fire, is also executive director of the K.L.E.O. Center in Chicago. There, she supports youth finding their voices through the arts and invites people to stand in the gaps that social, economic and racial inequalities create. Known for challenging readers to think, feel and consider the realities born of systemic racism and inequity, Honoré stands as a proud advocate and community leader as well as an inspired writer.

Honoré has read her work at Obama Foundation convenings and events, the Elevated Chicago Symposium, Chicago’s 19th Amendment Commemoration, National Period Day, and other events. She has been featured in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, WBEZ (NPR), The Kendall Moore Show/WVON, and all major Chicago TV news outlets. In October 2019, she was honored as the Community Partner of the Year by One On One. Honoré also hosts a web-based series, Bestie Shine, with her friend, artist David Anthony Geary.

PUBLIC EVENT: FREE at Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut St. from 6-8 pm Register by emailing

VIDEO/PHOTO INTERVIEW OPP: Honoré with Cincinnati youth and WordPlay staff; Thursday, Dec. 5 from 5:30-6 pm; Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut St., 45202; call 513-621-0707 or 513-544-2598 for access.

WordPlay Cincy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to creating spaces for young people to fulfill their potential by discovering, honoring and sharing their voices. WordPlay’s creative workshops are free to Cincinnati’s young people thanks to the generosity of supporters like you. For more information about WordPlay or to make a donation, please email or visit

The Mercantile Library occupies the 11th and part of the 12th stories of The Mercantile Library Building in the heart of downtown Cincinnati and is one of nearly two-dozen surviving membership libraries in the United States. Since 1835, The Mercantile Library has continuously sought out dynamic lecturers and speakers, experts on a wide array of subjects—politics, art, literature, science, religion and more.

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