Home Local News Poet, writer, activist Navita Gunter passes

Poet, writer, activist Navita Gunter passes

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Navita Gunter

Navita Gunter, a cervical cancer survivor, noted poet, and motivational speaker, has passed away.

“Today one of my friends of 26 years passed away,” posted her notable friend Henry Jones on Facebook. “Her name is Navita Gunter who was a poet, an author, an activist, an open-mic Poetry host (Kijiji Coffee House), a mother, a grandmother, a mentor to many, a fighter and so much more. She overcame many obstacles in her life.

“There’s a lot I need to say and want to say about her. I and other poets plan to do something special to commemorate her literary legacy. Also, she was the third member of the poetry and music trio I was in called ‘Generations.’ A year ago, she and I talked about bringing James C. Floyd, her and I together to do a reunion performance. That would have been great.

“RIP peace, my sister. You can rest now without your pain. We love and miss you. We won’t forget you and will nourish the seeds you planted. Please pray for her daughter Sarita Criswell and her family.”

Gunter used her experience of being a cancer survivor to help encourage women to take control of their cervical health and to know that “…this cancer does not have to be a death sentence if caught in time!”

“The diagnosis is a life changing experience,” she said in an interview. “It was a total surprise to me. I went in for a routine pap smear, but it had been a while since I’d had one. The gynecologist said, ‘Ms. Gunter, we think we’ve found something. We believe you have Stage 2 cervical cancer.’ My world went out of focus for a minute.

Gunter authored the book, The Day My Vagina Tried to Kill Me, to share her experience. 

She also founded the Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee which was one of the first community organizations dedicated to women’s health and wellness.

Navita used her tools as a poet and writer to educate and increase awareness of women (especially African American women) in the community about HPV and cervical cancer which in turn reduces cancer incidences and mortality.

“What do you say about a shining light?” Gunter’s daughter, Sarita Criswell posted to Facebook.  “The one who has been through everything with you—held you through good times and bad, through thick and thin? What do you say when that light is gone?

“Navita Gunter lived a life of love and service. She helped whoever she could. When she was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer, after beating it, her next thought was, ‘how could I help others?’ She founded the Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee in 2001 and until her most recent illness, continued to advocate for any that were in need.

“She was also a poet and author; the self-titled ‘Queen of Nashville Poetry,’ you would find her reigning at Kijiji’s Coffee House every Saturday night.

“To me she was just mom and memaw to her grandsons. She will be greatly missed.”

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