AUSTIN (KXAN) — Black Mamas ATX and Torch Literary Arts organized a poetry night in recognition of Black Maternal Health Week and in celebration of National Poetry Month.

‘Breaking Water: An evening of poetry and storytelling’ was inspired by Wangechi Mutu’s Water Woman, and spoke to Black women’s physical and mythical connection to water, specifically during and around the process of childbirth.

‘Breaking Water’ highlighted the power of art to raise awareness and called others to choose change.

Tova Charles, Jennine ‘Doc’ Krueger, and Qi Dada of Riders Against the Storm shared original poetry along with birth storytellers from Black Mamas ATX.

Torch Literary Arts’ mission to “promote the work of Black women by publishing and promoting creative writing by emerging and experienced writers alike” aligns with Black Mamas ATX’s goal to reduce and ultimately eliminate the alarming maternal mortality and morbidity rates among Black women.

“Sharing our stories amplifies the full lives of our community,” Executive Director of Torch Literary Arts, Amanda Johnston said. “These poems and birth stories capture the joy and challenges we face as we enter the world and what we can do to make it better for generations to come.”

The theme for this year’s BMHW is ‘Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy!’

Kelenne Blake, Executive Director of Black Mamas ATX said she could think of no better way to celebrate than by owning and telling our stories of birth, triumph and joy at The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria Amphitheatre. 

Black Mamas ATX’s mission is to ensure that Black women survive and thrive before, during, and after childbirth. To realize their vision of a world without maternal health disparities, they plan to reduce and ultimately eliminate the alarming maternal mortality and morbidity rates among Black mothers in Central Texas.

Torch Literary Arts, a nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women, has featured work by Colleen J. McElroy, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson and others. They also offer free programs to help budding writers excel.

As part of its series of events for BMHW, Black Mamas ATX and five other organizations under the Maternal Health Equity Collaborative are inviting pregnant and postpartum families with kids under three years old to a community baby shower on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1345 Philomena St. Austin, TX, 78723. Diapers, wipes, car seats, strollers and more are available for free.