Marina Thomas, known as Marina the Poet, will be featuring an encore presentation of “Black Diamonds and Pearls: Rise Up and Shine!” at UNC Charlotte on Sat, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m.

The performance is an adaptation of a book of poetry Thomas wrote more than 20 years ago called “If I Decide to Fly!”

The play is designed to uplift and encourage African American men and boys, Thomas said.

“I felt like there wasn’t enough positive verbiage and text in the universe for them,” she said. “I wanted to put something positive in the universe that they could go to, to uplift themselves and kind of remind themselves of who they are.”

The play, originally performed at Queens University, will include poetry, monologues, music and dance addressing issues like slavery, relationships, self-empowerment and community.

Thomas, 48, wrote and directed the play. She’s originally from New York and has lived in Charlotte for seven years. Thomas has many inspirations for this piece – God, her cast, her faith – but one of her greatest inspirations, she said, is her grandfather, James Cousar.

“He was the first man I ever fell in love with,” she said.

Her father is another positive male image, which is what drives her to celebrate other black men.

Thomas’ next projects include publishing a book called “Listening to the Silence.” She is also collaborating with the Arts House to bring a jazz café to the Qcity every other Saturday beginning in December. The café will be called “Jazzy Blues.”

Date: Saturday, Nov. 14
Time: 7:30 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m.
Location: UNC Charlotte, Rowe Arts Building
Cost: $10 General Admission, $5 College ID Student

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