Love, loss and violence: KC artist and poet using gift to break cycle of violence

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A local artist and poet are teaming up and using their talents to try to break the cycle of violence in Kansas City. And they’re finding inspiration in a woman who lost her son to gun violence.

Rosilyn Temple founded the group Mothers in Charge after someone shot her son to death.

“I thought it would never happen to me. But it did,” Temple said. “My son Antonio was murdered in 2011 on November the 23rd, which was Thanksgiving Eve, and it basically almost destroyed me.”

“Rosylin Temple was a huge inspiration to me,” local artist Ada Koch said. “It’s incredibly sad that she had to lose a son that she loved so much. When she goes to scenes of crimes and helps those families, she has to relive her sadness all over again all of the time.”

Rosilyn Temple reflecting while looking at artwork featuring herself and her son, Antonio, who was murdered in 2011.

To honor Rosilyn, Koch painted a portrait of this mother and son. Her art caught the eye of Glenn North, a local poet who works at the Black Archives in Kansas City. They started combining forces to make a deeper impact on an inner city community plagued by a rising murder rate.

“I’d love to think that there are poems I’ve written that have changed the way people think and consequently, changed the way they’ve acted,” North said. “I’m just jotting down notes, lines, thoughts. Something will click and then it’s like looking at a bunch of puzzle pieces and you can see how they all come together. That’s when the poem gets written.”

They recently collaborated to create a haunting and mesmerizing portrait of mother’s hugging their dead babies. They have high hopes it will convince people to put their guns down.

“I want people to feel a little bit of what Rosylin is feeling,” Koch said, “to understand her pain, understand her sadness.”

“There is so much gun violence,” North said. “If we can start to rethink some of those things and look for a solution, then the poem did what it’s supposed to do.”

“Before you take that gun and take somebody’s life, think first. Cause it’s something you never get over. We never, I’ve never gotten over this,” Temple said.

Their original art and poems are currently on display at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center at 2012 Baltimore in Kansas City.

Below is Glenn’s poem in its entirety:

“Embracing Ghosts”

Oh the unfathomable joy to watch a mother embracing her child,

The tactile and tangible love that knows no bounds.

I have heard it described as to forever have your heart walk outside your body.

And oh, the unspeakable pain when that heartbeat stops.

When the carnivorous streets consume the meat of youth.

What is a mother to do with her flailing, empty arms.

There is no earthly relief for the relentless grief, no quiet comfort, no sense of peace,

But it is my belief that a mother’s love beyond comprehension

Exceeds the limits of this dimension

And through the mystery of memory, and the sight of heavenly hosts,

Her supernatural arms can embrace ghosts.