St. Louis creative and self-described jack-of-all-trades Kristen Elizabeth went out in late December 2021 expecting to see a poetry show, but toward the end of the evening found herself reading in front of a live audience for the first time in her life before the start of the show. the pandemic. The 25-year-old actress and model is no stranger to the stage, or a camera lens, but she’ll be the first to admit she’s still a newcomer to the vibrant St. Louis poetry community.
Under the moniker of K Money the Poet, Elizabeth has produced a number of written pieces and videos that address taboo topics such as body shaming, self-harm, and abortion, to name a few. The scope of her work also includes disease awareness and dealing with the twisted healthcare system – topics that are almost universally recognizable, but often difficult to discuss. She wants to start conversations by encouraging readers and listeners to lean into their discomfort and educate themselves.
“I’ve always been interested in poetry, even in third or fourth grade. I was always a little afraid to share,” says Elizabeth.
She first confronted that fear in February 2020 after being asked to read at a poetry event hosted by Molly P, a student at Harris-Stowe State University, where Elizabeth is assistant director of communications and marketing.
“I try to go to student events and I give them advice about school or life. That’s my favorite part of my job,” says Elizabeth.
Her role at HSSU includes managing various social media accounts, web editing, and spotlight writing on graduates, while providing support to current students. Elizabeth’s contributions go so far beyond her job description that she was recently recognized for her work at the Salute to Young Leaders Awards reception, where she was named one of 25 Outstanding African American Professionals Under 40 by the St. Louis American Foundation. year.
“By working at a university and encouraging students to pursue their wildest dreams, I wanted to do the same,” she says.
The pandemic struck just a month after Elizabeth’s first public lecture, so she focused on creating videos and even served as a panelist for UrbArts’ Poetry Showcase Virtual Event in April 2021. She was also heavily involved in local pageantry in 2021 as Miss Spirit of St. Louis – a contestant in Miss Missouri USA – as he runs on the platform of “Not Your Traditional Pageant Girl”.
In partnership with the R. Whittington Foundation, Elizabeth used her platform to create the Spirit of St. Louis Scholarship, a fund that has helped clear the balances of multiple HSSU seniors at the point of graduation. From teaching workshops to serving as a judge for HSSU’s 2021 Royal Pageant, Elizabeth has funneled her passion for pageantry into important community outreach. While she spent most of 2021 in a supporting role for others, another traumatic event changed Elizabeth’s artistic trajectory.
“I had a really bad car accident early this year and it made me realize how short life was. I was wondering ‘do you want to model?’ We are going full throttle this year,” says Elizabeth.
Whether coming up with photo shoot ideas or collaborating with a local photographer to manifest someone else’s vision, Elizabeth takes a conscious, multidisciplinary approach to modeling. She has modeled for several publications, including: wedding anniversary magazine† Vigor Magazine and Selin Magazine, to name a few. If her face is starting to look familiar, it might be because she was part of a brand shoot for supermarket chain Save a Lot, and she recently appeared on KMOV 4 News as a live model for Patrice J. Bridal earlier this month.
“The non-traditional model is that people are not used to seeing, but doing it anyway and doing it well. That’s the achievement for me,” says Elizabeth.
Elizabeth admits her acting career is just getting started, but she’s excited to build her resume with future opportunities in commercials, print ads, and TV. She currently has a contract with three agencies and recently landed a role in an anti-gun violence project with the city of Saint Louis.
†[Acting] is also a great tool for poetry. I’ve learned that if you’re animated while acting and reading your poems, the audience really tunes in and engages with you,” she says.
Since returning to the podium in late 2021, Elizabeth has taken victories at the Pen Up or Shut Up Poetry Battles and the Saint Louis Poetry Slam Grand Slam events. She credits Gregory Maurice, a staunch member of the local poetry community, who convinced her to take the stage on that fateful December night.
“St. Louis has so much talent. This is the most talented city ever. If everyone really helped each other shout out and put each other on the map, we’d really be the next New York or Atlanta or Los Angeles because so many great people come from here,” says Elizabeth. She cites several members of the local community as vital to her success with her mother at the top of the list.
“I remember the first slam my mom went to on February 27. And that was the first slam I won,” she says. Elizabeth describes her mother as her biggest supporter, from driving to performing to cooking and attending almost every event.
When the Riverfront Times Announcing the inaugural edition of Art A’Fair earlier this year, Elizabeth reached out with a unique proposal: an Art A’Fair Poetry Exhibition featuring 10 of St. Louis’s toughest, most talented wordsmiths, including Shy The Poet, Leethal the Poet , Phree, Louis Conphliction, Ray Lay Down the Truth, Who is Ardimus, Gray, T-Spirit and Gregory Maurice.
“I am absolutely new to the St. Louis poetry scene. There are so many great poets here, so I personally felt the need to invite and pay tribute to them,” says Elizabeth.
Suffice it to say, the Riverfront Times seized the opportunity to partner with K Money the Poet. As a result, poetry is now a featured part of tonight’s Art A’Fair, our new celebration of art and music in St. Louis on Cherokee Street at multiple locations, including the Golden Record, Earthbound Beer and more. The poetry exhibition takes place in the Luminary with two half-hour blocks from 8pm and 9pm. Buy your tickets for the event here.
“It sounds like there’s a lot going on, but I’m so passionate about it that I have to find ways to make it all work,” she says.
Following Art A’Fair, Elizabeth plans to build on her momentum with a number of projects currently in the works, including a new book titled Y’all aren’t ready for that conversation† Keep up to date with all of Elizabeth’s artistic endeavors at @thekristenelizabethh on Instagram and her website.