top of page

The kNew-Born a Kansas City Original Film by Actor Poet t.l. sanders Outgrowth of Pure Poetry

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

The kNew-Born a Kansas City Original Film by actor Poet t.l. sanders is an outgrowth from pure poetry, Fringe Fest KC, KC Stages, The KC Jazz Museum, Local art galleries, and more.

Author Poet t.l. sanders legally changed his name to Poet earlier this year. He is a language artist who created 'kNew' a unique one-person poetrical show over the course of the 2019 Fringe Fest. Out of 75 performances, the one-man show won the Producer's Pick Award. Thanks to Fringe Fest and KC Stages, kNew was then chosen to be one of two live performances at City Stage at Union Station in March 2020. After months of rehearsal, the show was canceled four days before curtain call. Undaunted, Poet spent the shutdown taking private acting instruction, then began working with a camera crew and producer Denny Eugene Dey, Digital Pathways Production. This time, the original film, a prequel to his book, will air for a limited time only, July 18 to August 1. Fringe Festival KC is the biggest celebration of arts and culture in the Kansas City metropolitan region.

As the prequel to the solo show and published work, kNew: The Poetic Screenplay, this new film uses poetic elements as precedence for plot and character development. One actor, six characters. The 2019 performance was hailed as "Equally as riveting as For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange," by Victor En Yu Tan, UMKC professor of lighting. Another reviewer declared, "Go see it! Poet t.l. sanders' kNew program is masterful! This is probably the highest quality performance I've seen in my 9 years of Fringe attendance-- don't miss it! Powerful, beautifully acted, and a testament to perseverance and determination for a chance at a genuine life," writes Laura Marcus Mountjoy.

The kNew-Born—equal to its stage-ready play—invites you to experience conscientious compassion for a convict slash drug addict who craves a connection with his children. While this year's film takes place in the state pen, the original story takes place at the heart of Kansas City: The Blue Room. During this poetrical performance, the audience becomes a part of a meta-open mic like they've never experienced before. Dr. James Dean, a quiet family man who returns to Kansas City to mourn the death of a prodigal father he hardly knew finds his answers at The Vine at open mic night. The Blue Room holds inspires a new vision when the community grieves a prodigal father. Sanders said the storyline came from parts of his own life, especially the part about going to the site of his own father's death and writing the poem that became the book's climax and first stage performance.

Again in this year's film, Terry Dean's character is explored this time more in-depth. Sanders says he'd "like to make the work as a series, each film examining one character more fully." This is profound when you know each character started as one poem on the table in the art studio at DesignWerx in North Kansas City, where the poetry mentorship began. Editor Polly Alice McCann remembers that in 2018 Sanders had all the poems memorized and had even performed some of them. However, the characters had no names, and the story between the poems was empty. After she asked for character names, "Poet brought in a full screenplay in a matter of weeks then spent the rest of the year refocusing it." Sanders commented that being a part of the KC Opera "The Pearl Fishers" made him reconsider how sound as an instrument in performance could heighten the experience of poetry. In turn, Sanders' work suggests that poetry (something Shakespeare and many current musical artists know too well) will heighten the experience of a play.

In The kNew-Born film, you will begin with the character Terry. Known as "The Dean" of the state penitentiary, a prodigious felon, and a prodigal father seeking parole. Over the years, his violent crimes against prison staff and fellow inmates, his drugs and contraband, his blatant disregard for prison rules have prevented this. Now, as he seeks freedom, Terry hopes; he strives; reaches out from within to become a better man than he has ever been. With coercive coaching from a crazy counselor named Dr. Dennis and the unique tool of poetry, Terry battles against himself and the power of addiction?

How did kNew begin? The journey started as a poet's residency at an art gallery in Midtown. kNew: The Poetic Screenplay is a published book created with editor, Polly Alice McCann. This joint project sparked Flying Ketchup Press, continues to promote new and diverse authors in poetry and short story and is growing internationally. In only three years, a small poetry project book with one poet and one editor has become a multi-character, solo show, and a press to promote other poets and mentor them in both poetics and editing. Sanders has appeared in many local performances, including the Black History Month celebration with KC Streetcar and KC Ballet. In turn, Flying Ketchup Press has launched Ketchupedia, a podcast and live poetry Radio show with OneKC 100.1 FM and producer Richard Parilla, to promote poetry in the region. Each outgrowth of the project inspiring the next. While much of the literary world shut down, McCann and an increasing number of poets and writers are reaching out to create more connections in the literary and poetic scene in Kansas City. She says, "Poetry and short narrative are the playground of writers and the kNew project by Poet t.l. sanders proves without a doubt that poetry exists as a foundational building block in any creative community.

When asked what he will do in the future, Poet t.l. sanders, a former HS English Teacher and a curriculum specialist is currently in his second post-graduate degree. Sanders said he hopes to one day take his performance and poetry mentorships and workshops into prisons to enact the story of his film in real-time. "Poetry is Life," he says. And that is the heart of this word power in action. Find the original screenplay as a book for sale online and in Kindle or order locally through AfterWord Tavern & Shelves. Coming soon to bookstores and libraries, watch out for more poetry from Flying Ketchup Press in Kansas City, MO.

Sanders is an educational speaker and a spoken word artist at many state events and conferences. Find him on YouTube under Bethephenom and on Twitter @PoetTLSanders or A modern-day renaissance man who lives to build minds and loves to body build. He speaks French. He plays bass. He is a cage-fighting martial artist. He educates. Give him a stage, he articulates. Lend him an ear, he motivates. He is a National Writing Project Teacher Consultant, a current curriculum director, and a former elementary, middle, and high school English teacher. Poet embraces the value of our shared stories. Whether he is public speaking, teaching, writing or breathing, he has a passion for empowering people. His goal is to inspire, evolve, and expand language one word at a time.

What did reviewers think of kNew: The Poetic Screenplay?

"Intense, gripping . . . a one-two punch . . . written in fire and delivered with thunder," writes reviewer Kelly Luck.

kNew is a powerful storytelling performance that will leave you astounded by Sanders' unparalleled talent as a writer and performer. The caliber of his creativity, stage presence, and delivery deserve to be elevated to a broader stage and audience-Look out Broadway. This is one for you! I'm reminded of the phenomenal 1975 theater performance of Tony Perkins in "Equus." An absolutely masterful show that most certainly IS the BEST of the BEST!

~Teresa Bronston Mckinley

Come see The kNew-Born online at Fringe Festival 2020. Tickets are $25 for single admission, and you'll get access to all the shows for one day,or buy a season pass! July 18 to August 1.

Title: The kNew-Born

Dates of Show: July 18, to August 1, 2021

Artist Talks: Recordings on our Poetry Radio Show

Online: Fringe Festival KC 2021

Genre: Drama, Film, Music, Spoken Word

Ratings: Parental Guidance

Warnings: Adult Language, Other - Drug Use

Run Time: 51 minutes

Poet AKA Àtwist – The Language Artist, is a modern-day renaissance man who lives to build minds and loves to body build. He speaks French. He plays bass. He is a cage fighting martial artist. He educates. Give him a stage, he articulates. Lend him an ear, he motivates. He is a National Writing Project Teacher Consultant, a current curriculum director, and former elementary, middle, and high school English teacher (with 16 years of teaching experience), Poet embraces the value of our shared stories. Whether he is public speaking, teaching, writing or breathing, he has a passion for empowering people. Find him on YouTube under Bethephenom, on Twitter and Instagram @PoetTLSanders and on Facebook:

We wanted another poet to catch the fire of being our "Paper Poet in Residence" to work with an editor to develop a full poetry collection. So who is our new Poet in Residence ?


Hasna Salam, artist and poet, is our new poet in residence for 2020-2021. Her book, "Poems in Glass" was selected by our editors because of its hybrid use of both art, poetry, and raising awareness for social reform. An architect by profession. She credits her post-graduate studies from Harvard in landscape architecture for her current work in sculpture; work that translates her observations and study of nature through glass forms encompasses casting, kiln-formed glass, Fritography, and torchworking. In her sculptures, Hasna concentrates on social reform through the narrative of both color and light citing the phenomenological responses to layers of filtered light and shadow in the environment to convey her artivism.

"Art should resolve world issues. Art should have a voice that resonates loud and clear across boundaries. Art should be the champion of change." She writes, “Sharing these stories creates awareness of the problem, which in turn facilitates the platform for conversations and resolutions to take place.”

53 views0 comments


bottom of page