Artist: Jessica Ayala

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Jessica Ayala is a published author, spoken word artist and writer-in-residence at Charlotte Street Foundation from Colombia South America. Her work is a merging of oral tradition, storytelling, poetry and percussion sounds inviting a unique conversation between her words and the native drum. As a writer, Ayala draws inspiration from the untold stories of the undocumented, indigenous, immigrant voice-creating spaces for dialogue, education, and reflection. Her recent collection of poetry, Huelga, takes a critical look at the social, political and cultural injustices of Latin America shining light on the stories of those she calls los invisibles, the invisible. She is currently on tour with Huelga and working on publishing her second book, Just A Kid From Ipiales, a poetic memoir documenting her unique journey as an immigrant youth living in the United States.

Ayala immigrated to the United States at the age of three learning to speak and write in the English language by the third grade. She published her first series of poems at the age of eight for The Young Authors Conference. Her recent poetry has been published in two anthologies winning an Honorable Mention in the 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is the recipient of the 2000 Missouri Speaker of the Year Award by the Metropolitan Community College League of Competitive Acting and Poetry. Additionally, Jessica is the recipient of the 2010 Legacy Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts and Social Justice for MCCKC.

Just A Kid From Ipiales is projected to make it's debut Fall of 2018. Her first book, Huelga, joins the Kansas City POP! Poetry series of writers as book #32. Huelga is a collection of poems spanning ten years during Ayala's time inside the classroom, lobbying, and working with DACA students awakening the untold stories of the indigenous diaspora of The Americas.