By Kristen McCallum
Are you ready? THE REVIVAL, presented by Jade Foster and the Cereus Arts family, is back for its fourth and final year. This salon-styled poetry tour, a testament to queer women of color and their passion for poetry, is saying farewell. Not without gifting audiences with the kind of soulful awakening and rejuvenation each performance is known for, QWOC style.
THE REVIVAL IV, their largest tour, has the poets hitting stages in nine cities over 12 days. The tour boasts a stellar lineup of resident poets as well as the likes of Cave Canem Fellow Metta Sama in Durham, NC and Jericho Brown in Atlanta, GA. With a special guest appearing in every city, THE REVIVAL IV will be nothing short of its namesake. The first stop on the tour is Boston, MA on October 22 and rounding out with Washington, D.C. on November 1, 2014.
With so many questions in anticipation of the upcoming tour, we went straight to the source, the tour’s producer, Jade Foster. Luckily, she was able to carve out some time in her hectic schedule and answer some of those questions exclusively for ELIXHER.
ELIXHER: Why a farewell tour?
JADE: THE REVIVAL started in my living room, and in my best friend’s living room, and because of the love and support of hundreds of women and collectives. In order to be sustainable, we would have to change that entire model. I’ve decided to go out with a big bang; as opposed to trying to turn it into something it’s not. Plus, this is our fourth tour, and four is just a really good number!
ELIXHER: What is it that you would like the QWOC community to have a better understanding of when they leave a show?
JADE: The arts play such a pivotal role in every community. I hope people leave every show a little different than when they came in. The power of language works that way — it affirms our existence, stimulates our imagination, says, “Look, this is what you going through? Guess what? You’re not alone.” We all need that from time to time. It’s better than a full day’s binge on Netflix.
ELIXHER: You saw a void and filled it with the first THE REVIVAL tour. Years later, do you think you’ve successfully created a safe space for QWOC to express themselves artistically? If not, what do you think still needs to change?
JADE: There was never a void for creative spaces for QWOC. I think that’s just something ambitious people say to validate themselves and feel important. What was missing was inside of me. I didn’t think there was a place for me to be queer and a poet and not hella academic or hella “slammy” — just me. So I created something and invited others. THE REVIVAL has filled a void in me, and I’m pretty much overflowing at this point.
What needs to change is that we have to believe in our own abundance, our own capacity, or our power. And yes petty, so-called “female” things/emails/ instances happen. And so the fuck what? What are we here to do? THE REVIVAL’s purpose was to bring us to the poem. To make poetry accessible, and engaging for women like me. To make the arts a viable/sustainable career choice for women like me. Barnes & Noble, The New York Times best-seller list don’t find my story relevant? Cool. THE REVIVAL makes those avenues irrelevant and just some -ish you pass by at the mall.
ELIXHER: What do you hope is the biggest takeaway from these tours?
JADE: The biggest takeaway from every tour, is that I can do it. We can do it. Whatever I imagine and ask for will come. I get to act as a medium with this project. I feel extremely humbled every step of the way.
ELIXHER: What can we look forward to with THE REVIVAL tour ending?
JADE: THE REVIVAL Movie is slated to premiere this December. And it’s really a definitive marker and catalyst for Black queer women movements, feminism now, conversations now about sexuality, self-love and collective building. So with that project (shout out to our Kickstarter supporters), THE REVIVAL will never really end.
ELIXHER: So finally, what’s next for Jade?
JADE: What’s next for me is a nap!
Sleep well, Jade. You deserve it! But first: THE REVIVAL IV, October 22 – November 1, with an amazingly talented roster of poets in nine cities over 12 days. You don’t want to miss the farewell tour! Go to revivalpoetry.com for tickets and details.
Kristen McCallum is a poet and writer living in Washington Heights, NYC. Growing up in a Jamaican family has made coming out quite the journey. Determined to finally find her place in the QWOC community, Kristen feels new to all of this but it still feels like home. Follow her on Tumblr at kaye-renee.tumblr.com.