By Marcus Brock, Media Field Strategist at GLAAD Photo Courtesy of Jade Foster
On Friday, October 5 in Brooklyn, New York, a group of independent artists will come together with Cereus Arts to kick off the international poetry tour, THE REVIVAL. The night of women, wine and the word honors a queer tradition and demands a safe space showcasing queer women of color, including such local poets as, Cave Canem, t’ai freedom ford, Solsis and folksinger, B. Steady. Other cities include, Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta, Durham and Washington, DC.
Jade Foster, producer for THE REVIVAL, and art student based in Washington, DC is very committed to getting women together and empowering women’s voices.
“We are doing this because we have so many stories, and instead of begging the mainstream to tell them, we will tell them ourselves,” says producer, Jade Foster. “That’s the point of a poet. To remind folks that their experiences, their trials and triumphs are real. That they matter. Just through the simple act of talking to each other, we become more than women, we become testament. That’s the point of the tour.”
GLAAD had the opportunity to speak with Jade Foster, who gave us some insight into the significance and purpose behind the tour.
THE REVIVAL proudly proclaims that it demands ‘space?’ What is at the core of the space that THE REVIVAL is trying to create?
Through this poetry tour, women open their homes to complete strangers. The home is more like a sanctuary and we invite people into that space to show that we matter to each other. And, it’s an open space in which we are black, women and queer. Also, as we let women into the space of someone’s home, it expresses an even greater point to women, that point being, we might be strangers, but we are still connected and belong to one another in many ways. There can be one hundred women in the room and that is affirming within itself—it signifies that “I am not alone.” So, at the core, this is about community and building sisterhood, but we welcome everyone.
How did the idea of beginning a poetry tour come into fruition?
I am a poet first and a poet a last. Every word is an extension of my being. In the beginning I would perform at open mics. I also became involved within the academic and “slam” scene. Ultimately, I had to create my own space because I knew I wanted to reach more people and feature other local poets who were committed to sharing similar messages.
THE REVIVAL is described as a “dance of the tongues” and that language is so vital to the mission of THE REVIVAL? Can you elaborate more on this idea about how language operates in this queer women’s space?
The language and the word come first, but they all tell different stories. It’s natural and necessary all at once. Everyone has written a poem at some point in their life and it’s a deliberate way of telling your own history and expressing yourself. If we all spoke the same language there would be no division between us.
For myself, you write what you know. You write what you envision. You write what you dream. You write what you want. The poem is not done until it’s shared. I think we all have so many shared values and everything that I want and envision probably parallels with another person that is standing in that space.
How does THE REVIVAL counter mainstream narratives?
I’ve often asked myself: “Why are you trying to erase me? The state of the arts do not often show the point of view we are trying to create through THE REVIVAL. People can become complacent and forget to question that there is a space for African American culture that should be uplifted and that deserves interest.
People of color are not being included in many statistical studies of the arts or in the mainstream as they should be. Honestly, I do not feel that I am counter-culture to anybody’s mainstream. This is my culture. If I’m in Brooklyn, I’m partying with Brooklyn Boihood. If I want the news, I’m going to Elix(HER). I can’t be concerned with the middle-lane culture–women have been doing this for years. But also, safe spaces have existed for years. One can look to films like Brother to Brother, Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes to get those historical cues. Gay did not pop up yesterday. These spaces are tribes, circles and efforts. It’s an ancient effort and it’s not counter culture.
What can attendees expect to hear from the local poets during the tour?
Oh my stars! Amazing poets like t’ai freedom ford of Common Fellow and Black Poetry Society will be speaking. Subjects will cover love, sex, hip-hop, and politics. It’s brazen. It’s raw. Kim Crosby will take on a very feminist and political point in teaching us how to love ourselves.
I remember seeing my first piece in Red Summer in Atlanta when I was 19. That has stayed with me. Last year, I opened the tour with a piece from June Jordan, but I’m not certain about this time, yet. I usually open the night with a piece from our ancestors to recognize why we are here.
The salon-styled poetry tour kicks off in Brooklyn this Friday, October 5 at 7 pm. You can find a listing of the tour in a city near you, here. In addition, advanced tickets can also be purchased.
Click THE REVIVAL VIDEO.