This feature is part of Blavity’s Quarantine Creators series which spotlights Black creatives offering artistic, educational and uplifting resources amid the coronavirus pandemic. Our unique penchant for creativity has been put on full display as we aim to navigate this crisis. Whether you’re on the frontlines or protecting yourself and others by staying at home, don’t sleep on this Black genius we’re about to serve you.

As performance venues and cafes remain closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, journalist Keyaira Kelly found a way for Black women creatives to share their work in lieu of open mic nights that are indefinitely no longer. 

The 30-year-old Brooklynite created #BlackWomenWriteNow, an Instagram Live series which operates as a safe space for peace and camaraderie in these isolating times — and the response has been overwhelming. Kelly is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in places like Essence, XoNecole and TheGrio. She’s also the host and creator of Talk To Your Mom, a podcast facilitating transparency and connection among generations of women.

As shelter-in-place orders continue, many of the cute cafes, quirky bars and brunch spots that help to give New York City its unique appeal remain closed until further notice. But it wasn't necessarily the physical locations Kelly missed, it was the mere experience of kicking it with her fellow women.

“During this time, I’ve really only gotten to interact with my sister and my boyfriend. While I love them dearly, being around groups of women really refreshes my spirit. Writing has always been my way to heal — the 'make a career out of it' thing developed over time,” she told Blavity. 

Enter #BlackWomenWriteNow. The broadcast, which launched April 15, features Black women in various states of dopeness sharing their poetry, stories, artistry and conversation. Basically, imagine a lit, melanated space where open mic nights meet your kiki sessions with your girls. 

“I desired to create a safe space online for women to express their words and their stories in supportive fellowship with other writers. Writing is so often a solitary art. With #BlackWomenWriteNow, I want all my sisters to know that we are all in this together, even when we are alone,” Kelly said. 

The sessions, which air live on Wednesdays, are an hour long and feature 8-10 presenters. What the women choose to share is even a surprise to Kelly and at their discretion. 

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Tonight was a GORGEOUS vibe. Thank you to all of the beautiful women who brought their words, work and support to this live. I think we have something beautiful to cultivate here, and I’m honored to till the soil. So grateful to these women for lending their time and talent to this space ????❤️LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT MORE! Hit the REPLAY in my live stories for the next 24 hours ???? (in order of appearance) @charisefrazier @alwaysmlove @itstracyg @melchante @acameald @missmorganhoney @goldinggirl617 @iamdeborahj @awordwitharamide . . . . . . . . . . #blackwomen #melaninmagic #blackwomenofinstagram #writerscommunity #writers #writersofig #blackcreators #blackgirls #blackwomenwritenow

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“There has been everything! We had sultry, sensual poetry to excerpts from dating columns. Some women read from self-published books, while others shared pieces that are in progress. I don’t pre-screen the pieces for the most part, so it’s been so fun reacting to them live,” she said. 

The writer is overwhelmed and humbled with the series’ positive reception. The first session welcomed 500 viewers, and the multi-hyphenate creator plans to continue her work after the quarantine has lifted.

Kelly believes that #BlackWomenWriteNow allows a place for solace and inspiration. She noted that some participants in the sessions have told her they were grateful to get their work out to a bigger audience, while other writers who just listened in without participating sent her a text afterward telling her how the session inspired them to pick up a pen and create again. In these weird times, the best thing you can give someone is inspiration. 

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The second #BLACKWOMENWRITENOW is going down TODAY. So excited to welcome more talented, brilliant, open women into this space! For those who missed it, In the absence of poetry cafes and other creative in-person workshops during quarantine, I wanted to keep the spirit of those spaces alive with a digital rendering of those communities. #BlackWomenWriteNow encourages Black women to share their written work–poetry, spoken word, acting, storytelling etc, in safe fellowship with hundreds of women. See y’all tonight! @thedanielleyoung @camillewanliss @Vastiapascale @shana.lynnette @_cristalyyy @oksoblog @ebychimba @iamcharlia TAG YOUR FAV BLACK WOMAN WRITER!! . . . . . #blackwomen #melaninmagic #blackwomenofinstagram #writerscommunity #writers #writersofig #blackcreators #blackgirls

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“I believe women come to #BlackWomenWriteNow for so many reasons, but the commonality between all of them is sisterhood. We are so isolated right now, and if for one hour every other week we don’t feel so alone, I’ve done my job,” she said. 

Kelly has also been inspired by other creators during quarantine. Namely, she’s been shamelessly brushing up on her hip-shaking game and loosening up her root chakra. 

“Last night I did a 'Whining 101' class with @heychazeen! It’s hard for me to admit as a Black woman that I struggle with moving my hips like that, but she really broke it down and helped a sista out! I also have been loving the VERZUZ series — and any DJ who spins during this time has my whole heart,” she told Blavity. 

Check out the first episode of #BlackWomenWriteNow below: