A Man Who Wears Many Hats

Few supermen come in six feet, slightly heavy framed, and aspirit that can out blast a bull horn when it comes to commandingattention. But to many, Kuroji Ntu is an everyday Clark Kent and isas familiar to the District’s poetry scene as cafes andcoffee shops. Ntu’s poetry is known for its searing opennessand heart-felt enthusiasm, guaranteeing to treat listeners who makeit through his quirky jokes and continuous commentary.

Born in Okinawa, Japan but raised in AsburyPark, New Jersey, Ntu looks back on his experiences growing up in afamily that traveled often and eventually became completely reliantupon his mother. Drawing on their familiarity to reach and teachthose going through similar tribulations with messages that reachthe heart faster than a speeding bullet.

Like many, Ntu experienced the separation ofhis parents at a very young age. He describes a childhood where hewas often in between his parent’s tumultuous emotions duringtheir divorce and sought poetry for validation and refuge. Hevividly remembers writing his first poem when he was seven yearsold, In the Middle. “I started writing because I feltlike no one was listening.” he says.

Though his parents were divorced, his fatherremained active in Ntu’s life but going back and forthbetween parents contributed to the confusion that plagued his homelife and created a very rocky path to adulthood. He says, “Iwould go to my mother’s house after being at myfather’s house and she would ask if his girlfriend had beenover; then I would go to my father’s house and he would askthe same questions my mother asked.”

At 15 he ran away from home, but was lateraccepted into Syracuse University. Just as this seemed like a turnaround in Ntu’s life, he choose to leave the university inhis sophomore year. He later changed his name as many as threetimes in an effort to break painful family ties and eventuallydecided to move to D.C.

At 31, Ntu is not only a poet but also asocial service worker who is able to use his childhood experiencesto draw strength and encouragement for others. One open mic devoteeMarlene said “for some, a troubled childhood can really makea person become stagnant, but Kuroji uses these experienced toconnect to youth, telling them that they are not alone.”

One poem he often recites is one which endswith the line “Mommy if I let you in, will you promise not tobe mad at me?” In the piece which was inspired by his ownexperiences, he talks about a young girl who had concealed apregnancy from her mother. By the end of the piece the girl birthsthe baby alone in the bathroom and is brought back to consciousnesswith her mothers incessant knocking on the door.

Currently, he works with DC T.A.N.F,which is an outreach program that provides temporary assistance toneedy families. As a social service worker in this program he makesregular visits to the homes of clients to ensure they are able toprovide basic necessities for their families. Ntu is also thefounder of All About The Babies, an after school programthat meets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and focuses on creativewriting, performance, and visual arts; targeting youth between theages of six and 14.

Even with all of this, Ntu manages to co-hosta poetry cipher at Café Mawonaj on 625 T St. from 8 pm to 11pm, avidly promoting community networking. While he isn’t abird or a plane, or able to leap tall buildings in a singlebound—his work, his spirit, and his ability to touch everyonehe meets is definitely more powerful than a locomotive.