Kenyetta Overton, Project Co-Creator / Facilitator, Performance Poet, Visual Artist
Philadelphia native Kenyetta Overton (under the moniker KoKo Hans) has written and performed poetry as a Spoken Word artist since 2001. As KoKo Hans she was a featured poet at the Moonstone Readings series at Robin’s Bookstore in 2003. She was featured at the Black Women’s Arts Festival in 2004 and 2005 and served as a co-coordinator of the 2005 event. Ms. Overton also appeared at the 7th Annual Womynfest at the Rotunda in 2006. As KoKo Hans, Ms. Overton has performed at several other venues including Zion Train, Kyber Pass, The Free Library of Philadelphia, the African American Historical and Cultural Museum, Painted Bride Arts Center, October Gallery, Community College of Philadelphia, and World Café Live. Ms. Overton was twice featured on Temple University WRTI’s popular weekly radio show The Bridge hosted by J. Michael Harrison, which presents local and internationally renowned performers including poet and educator Dr. Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, performance poets Ursula Rucker and the Twin Poets to its listening audience. She has read her poetic works at The Kelly Writers House at University of Penn.
In 2003 Ms. Overton received international attention as KoKo Hans when she was chosen as a semi-finalist by The International Library of Poetry. Her poem, Eternal Union was published by the organization in the anthology Eternal Portraits and was included in the recorded collection of poems, Sound of Poetry. In the same year the publisher named her one of the best poets of the year and her poem, A Peace of Mine was featured in the anthology entitled The Best Poems and Poets of 2003.
Spurred on by the increase in bullying and violent acts being perpetrated on young people by young people in private and public schools in Philadelphia and around the country, Ms. Overton in 2004 created The Murals of the Mind Project™ (aka M.O.M. ™ and formerly known as Young Poets Uprising), a creative writing concern for youth ages six to 13. Initially, The Project focused on encouraging youth to actively engage in the process of written and spoken word poetry for the purposes of conflict resolution and self-expression and increased academic and social capabilities. However, The Project has since morphed to include several other forms of creative writing, including observation, journaling, and short story writing. In 2007, Ms. Overton expanded MOM to include high school age youth and young adults 18 years and above.
Ms. Overton has facilitated The Murals of the Mind Project™ at several schools and organizations, including St. Peter’s School, Delaware Valley High School Center City, and Diversified Community Services. Most recently, Ms. Overton facilitated M.O.M. workshops for the Lindy Scholars Program, a literacy enrichment project for middle school youth through Lindy Center Civic Engagement at Drexel University. She has also served as a guest motivational speaker at the Delaware Valley High School Center City and MetEast High School in Camden, New Jersey, speaking to students about the benefits of using creative writing and journaling for positive self expression, conflict resolution and academic improvement. In her talks Ms. Overton speaks to young people about college, career and life choices as well.
Ms. Overton has produced and hosted her own open mic show, Word South of the Border Live @ Las Cazuelas, which featured poets and musicians from around the tri-state area. She has self-published two chapbooks, Open Mic – The Poetic Rantings of a Mad Women (2004) and Tons of Poetry (2004), an anthology of poems featuring original works written by M.O.M. participating scholars from St. Peter’s School. Her anthology chapbook, Vocal Uprising features work created by Lindy Scholars Summer Program was completed in 2010. In 2011 Ms. Overton, Lindy Scholars, their parents and counselors, who participate in M.O.M. workshops, were contributing artist to the Artistic Rebuttal Book Project; an arts advocacy project originally created for the annual Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, which has since morphed into a full-fledged advocacy movement that plans to produce artistic rebuttal books regularly. Ms. Overton also serves as a mentor to girls and young women from various communities and cultures, supporting them in their academic, social, creative, and career pursuits.
Ms. Overton is an accomplished visual artist, creating sculptures and relief art on canvas and wood. Her work was featured alongside the work of world renowned artists Dane Tilghman and Cal Massey. In 2005 Ms. Overton’s work was on display during the Black Women’s Arts Festival. And, in 2010 and 2011 her work was auctioned during Drexel University’s Arts Administration Graduate Association’s Annual Art Auction. She has served as an artists-in-residence at the Please Touch Museum and created commissioned work for various university officials and business professionals in Philadelphia, Paris, Atlanta, Norfolk, Chicago and the UK.
For more than 20 years Ms. Overton has lent her administrative, events planning / coordinating, marketing, sales and service, and research abilities to several corporate entities, including those in the employment recruiting and consulting, business development, healthcare, insurance, investment banking, academic and the pharmaceutical industries. Through her enterprise, Overton Professional Services (OPS), Ms. Overton provides expertise in resume, curriculum vitae, personal statement, personal biography, and cover letter writing; as well as interview and wardrobe prep, and document organization. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Women and the National Council of Negro Women. She regularly contributes to Feed the Children, UNCF, and Kiva, an organization that offers global financial support through micro-lending to people creating, building and expanding businesses.
Ms. Overton holds an Associates of Science and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing from the University of Phoenix. She was named to the 2006 National Dean’s list and in 2007 was nominated to participate in the International Scholars Laureate Program’s Delegation on Business and is a member of the Golden Key Honour Society. Ms. Overton is expected to receive her Master of Science in Arts Administration in 2012 from Drexel University. Future educational endeavors being considered by Ms. Overton include pursuing a certificate in Preventing Violence & Promoting Peace and post graduate studies in Creativity and Innovation. Opportunities to expand The M.O.M. Project globally are being examined.