I am very excited to bring you this guest post today, one of the biggest desires Carlos and I had when we started Eternal Graffiti is to just simply showcase the amazing things our contemporaries are doing. There are a lot of great things going on in all pockets of the globe and it is our desire for those things to be continually celebrated. Our friend Rhea “RheaSunshine” Carmon launched a campaign on Facebook asking poets to send a video to her about a woman in their life and what she meant to them. This campaign would help to foster awareness to a larger audience about her show and the work she was doing in Knoxville, TN. Rhea is a staple of the Tennessee Poetry scene, and is highly regarded in the regional and national poetry scene. She is a mother a wife a poet and an all around great person.
The 5th Woman is my brain baby. It is my attempt to bring women from all walks of life together to understand our common struggles and situations. It strips women down to their basic beauty and allows the world to see and appreciate them for all that they encompass. There are certain commonalities that women have that allow them to come together no matter what their background, beliefs, culture or preference. I wanted to use my passion of poetry to highlight those things and tell people that women deserve their attention.
I named the show “The 5th Woman: Poetry” as a connection to one of my favorite Nina Simone songs “Four Women”. In the song, each woman tells her own characteristics and then names herself. I felt as though the song was missing some women’s walk, their struggles and their stories and that the best way to get those across to the world was through poetry. So I created the 5th Woman and named her poetry. The show opens with the song Four Women sung by some amazing vocalists but then goes into the poets description of poetry through their eyes. What follows is a voyage into all that is “woman” written as poetry and displayed using dancers, actors/actresses, music, African drums, visual artists and whatever other arts I can connect to these stories.
It started off simply as my one-woman show that would tell different women’s testimonies and lives through poetry. However, as I thought about it, it wasn’t enough for only me to tell those stories. Women are beautiful, powerful, resilient, and responsible for life and I couldn’t take that task on all by myself. So I asked for help. In 2013, I asked 4 other female poets to take the journey with me to delve into their relationships, struggles, laughs and concerns.
It was a success and I decided then that I would continue to do the show each year, changing the poets that participated, and find new ways to share women’s stories. With the first show completed, I got serious about the process that would produce a different show every year. Five female poets take 5 months to write spokenword pieces that push them beyond themselves. Once, the pieces are written the cast visualizes how to share the work using other artistic mediums to convey the poetry.
When I first started the show, I wanted it to be a platform for female poets in my city. I wanted to celebrate women and at the same time share with my city my love for spoken word and performance poetry. To my surprise, “The 5th Woman” 2015 is reaching far beyond the confines of my little city. At my husbands urging, I asked poets that I have known for years to share why they love women, simply as a way to spread the word about the stage show. Ideally, the more people that show support, the more people I reach, and the more people come out to the show.
Now people from all over the nation are sharing poems and positive words about women. Contrary to the picture that is often painted on television and in some music, women are being uplifted and honored. “The 5th Woman” has become power and encouragement for myself and women from all walks of life.
She has become a movement and I can’t wait to see what future holds for her.
You can find out more about the show on the Facebook page here