Nelly Bess

Black Joy


How uncomfortable are you

That there is nothing to police here


How violent we are to love each other to death

Our laughs a group of hostages killed by compliments

That held us up


Before you made the sidewalk have to


Ain’t it criminal for us to steal this moment

Robbery how we pickpocketed each other’s pain


The corners of a smile

Become two hands in a stick up

Forced to show everything it got


Teeth the only white thing in the room

Jersey raised poet Nelly Bess believes all people are living libraries from which we can learn from. Her mission as an artist is to take words from the page and transform them into lyrical protest. As an organizer Nelly believes in the power of art to educate and build stronger communities. In pursuit of this mission, Nelly has created and facilitated a series of programs for young people as well as adults that use poetry and music to help them find their voices as change agents in their communities.