upcoming appearancesWednesday, April 23, 2014, 6 -9 PM
Mahogany Jones presents Denim Day Detroit
4605 Cass Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202
Rhonda Welsh joins a myriad of other talented artists during this evening
of healing and restoration to perform her poem "Naked" from the book Red
Clay Legacy and the new Mahogany Jones project, "Pure."
Thursday, April 24, 2014, 6 PM
Feminenergy @ The Skyline Club
2000 Town Center #2800
Southfield, Michigan 48075
Admission includes Chef John's appetizer, 1 glass of
house wine and live performance poetry
by poets Andrea Daniel and Rhonda Welsh
Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 5:30 PM
Michigan Literary Network Radio
Guest Host Andrea Daniel will interview Rhonda Welsh about life as a poet and
updates on new projects.
deconstructing red clay
Josh Milan’s Honeycomb Music Releases Digital Album “Happy” on Black Friday
Nine Woman Poetry Collective Raw Honey Collaborates with Producer Josh Milan on the Label’s Debut Poetry Release
Just in time for Black Friday, Honeycomb Music brings in the Holiday Season with the new album, “Happy.” Josh Milan, longtime producer, singer, songwriter and DJ, has partnered with poetry collective Raw Honey to develop the digital release. All of the poems are written about the theme happiness and they are backed by Milan’s signature beats and melodies. The lushly produced “Happy” is easy on the ears and even easier on the budget because it is a totally free download available on Nov. 29 -- Black Friday from honeycombmusicstore.com
“Since our inception, we have been overwhelmed by the support fans have given our music releases. This project started as a gesture to thank our supporters and provide broader exposure to some of my poetry colleagues,” said Josh Milan, CEO and Founder of Honeycomb Music. “But it morphed into something much bigger and much more special than we anticipated. The nine women represent a range of different life perspectives. And as the project progressed they have bonded and gained inspiration from each other. They soon dubbed themselves Raw Honey and resolved to let other artists know that it is never too late to pursue artistic dreams.”
Produced by Milan, “Happy” showcases thought-provoking, approachable poetry paired with Jazz, Funk, Techno, World Beat and, of course, House. The poets themselves range in experience from a first-time performer to regulars on the spoken word scene to a seasoned literary writer to an internationally known House Music spoken word artist. Each member of Raw Honey wants to empower others through art.
“What blows me away most about Raw Honey is their courage and their openness. All of the poets are over 30 and some are in their 50s. Although this business is often about youth culture and catering to the mainstream, they have turned that notion on its ear. This poetry project will be inspirational to all types of artists. And, frankly, that makes me happy,” said Milan.
"Happy" features Raw Honey, a female poetry collective, dedicated to changing the world one poem at a time.The members of Raw Honey are: Tantra Zawadi, Rescue Poetix, Debbie “Sanctuary” McRae, Brown Sugah, Sage Youngblood, Rhonda Welsh, Carolyn “Diamond Dancer” Ferrari, B’Nanaz Sweets, and Nicole “Essence” Jenkins-Watson.
Visit honeycombmusicstore.com to download the album on Black Friday.
I recently went to New York. The cool thing is that I sported a swanky red dress. The cooler thing is that I only bit that Big Apple for a few hours. The coolest thing is that I was there for my newest project with Honeycomb Music, LLC.
I am working with Josh Milan who is Honeycomb Music's founder and CEO. The project will available for download at the Honeycomb Music Store on Black Friday -- November 29, 2013.
Featured Poets include: DSanctuary, Essence, Carolyn “Diamondancer” Ferrari, Rescue Poetix, Brown Sugah, B’Nanaz Sweets, Sage Youngblood and Tantra-zawadi. And, of course, me.
Can't tell you everything yet. So please stay tuned for more updates!
Cute outfit? Check. Compliment from high-ranking exec? Check. Broadcast media coverage for a major fundraiser? Check.
It was a good night at my day job’s most significant event of the year. I was on top of the world. Kicking butts and taking names. Making it do what it do. <Insert more braggadocian clichés here.>
My joy was only increased when I ran into a former co-worker. “Blah, blah, blah,” he said. “Yada, yada, yada,” I answered.
We got on the subject of my book, Red Clay Legacy. I pulled it out. He looked at the six year old, heavily airbrushed picture on the back and exclaimed, “That was back when you were hot.”
In an instant, I deflated. I got through the rest of the conversation with wide, wet eyes. The beginning of a headache wrinkled my brow. For reasons too numerous (and tiresome) to name here, I know that he intentionally meant to wound.
One thing continues to bother me. Why do I care what he thinks? He does not pay my bills. He is not privy to my personal life. We are not even friends.
The me in the picture was collapsing under the weight of her own life. I was a Lord and Taylor suit wearing, six figure earning, Franklin Planner carrying mess. My weight and blood pressure were up. I barely exercised. I was minimally creative and my spirit was downtrodden. But, he did not know any of that, nor did he care.
After a week of mulling it over, I have decided that I need a tougher skin and, perhaps, a mirror.
Then I would see my wisdom-tinged eyes, my rich brown skin and my soft, pillowy lips. And if I peer closely, I will see a life filled with faith, love, beauty, and adventure.
That is, by any estimation, pretty darn hot.
I didn't grow up hearing that I am beautiful. It was a designation that belonged to women with different features, hair textures, hair lengths, figures and skin tones than me. But somewhere along the line I decided that I can be whatever I deem is so. So I decided to be beautiful. And, strangely enough people started agreeing with me. That's how this thing works. You can be what you want to be. It starts with your thoughts.
So today, I celebrate my beauty. Natural. Unfettered. Uniquely mine.
It's Labor Day Weekend and it's the unofficial end to summer. And what a summer it has been. I would love to tell you that it was filled with sonnets and iambic pentameter, but I barely picked up a pen. I have been all about the lazy, hazy days of summer. Taking walks, dating, eating tasty food, experiencing cultural events and enjoying concerts.
"Sacrilege," you scream. What about the art? What about the grind? Yeah, I have thought about that, too. Believe me. I am all about being an artist and a cultural advocate. But at the end of the day all work and no play makes Rhonda a hot mess accident waiting to happen. And if I am not mistaken, the same is true for you.
As humans, we are wired to need down time. I think that may be even more true of artists. How can we create if we haven't taken the time to live?
I believe in smelling the roses as much as possible. It makes me a better person and it helps me to create better. I encourage you to do the same. Take time to enjoy your life! This summer, I did. And the enjoyment will carry on to the fall as I get back to poetry -- my beautiful constant.
I am grateful for my new project, Raw Clay!
The Holiday Season is upon us! There are some that embrace this time with joy and giddiness. There are still others that see this time of year as a poignant reminder of pain and loss. If you are in the latter category, please allow me to overstep my bounds a little and present you with an alternative.
It seems counterintuitive to express gratitude during times of death and loss. When my sister, Emily, passed away the last thing that I thought about was gratitude. She was my creative soulmate in the family and I always admired her ability to undertake so many creative pursuits simultaneously. But the one thing that I noticed was that she never had the courage to pursue her art seriously. We discussed this a few weeks before she died and we had plans to write a book together. But, she didn't live long enough to make this dream come true. When I released my CD in 2006 and my book in 2010, it was on the wings of her legacy. She left me a legacy of creativity. Gratitude helped me turn it into something tangible.
When Dr. Pamela May, lost her mother to Small Cell Lung Cancer. She celebrated her mother's life by developing The Bettie R. May Foundation for Small Cell Lung Cancer. She shows her gratitude for her mother by offering support to cancer survivors and funds for cancer research. Recently a friend told me that his mother always modeled love through her live. She was a powerful presence because she forgave and showed love even when people wronged her. Even after her death, he continues to be inspired by her legacy of love. Another friend shared with me how her recently deceased grandmother sent care packages, when she was a child living overseas. Those consistent displays of warmth meant the world to her during a very troubled childhood and they continue to inspire her to be a better adult.
I offer these examples in hopes that you will consider embracing gratitude if you are experiencing loss. It's not an easy thing to do. Loss is uncomfortable and undesirable and painful. We don't want it. We resist it at every cost. But it eventually touches most of us. When it touches you, I encourage you to grieve because it's natural to grieve. And it's important to allow yourself to experience those stages. Creativity, love, warmth, and philanthropy are the gifts that loss gave my friends and me when it was filtered through gratitude. When the time comes and you are ready, I pray that you can embrace the lesson that loss can teach you. Who am I to tell you how to live? No one really… I am just a poet. But I have lived long enough to gain a little wisdom, a whole lot of love and a soupcon of gratitude. So what I have I gratefully and humbly offer to you. May your Thanksgiving and your entire holiday season be filled with deep and abiding joy!
The character Sarah Jane Johnson was depicted by actress Susan Kohner.
Sarah Jane is a beautiful girl. She has dreamy brown eyes, long dark brown hair and a super curvy figure. Her parents are both black people. Her mother, Annie, is dark brown with a similarly curvy figure and pleasant full cheeks. Her father, now deceased, was also black but with very light skin and straight hair. Sarah Jane has her father's complexion and hair texture. She has the type of beauty that most people notice immediately. But Sarah Jane has a problem. She hates being black.
One Christmas when she was a child, her mother told her and another little girl the story of Jesus' birth. She promptly asks, "What color is Jesus?" There was discussion back and forth but little Sarah Jane finally settles the matter with, "He was white -- like me." She could not fathom celebrating a Savior of color. There were other incidents. In a fit of tantrum, she rejected a black doll over a white doll. She publicly denounced her mother in front of classmates and work mates. She openly rejected any social settings that involved black people. Sarah Jane wanted nothing to do with the African blood in her veins.
Fast forward to my life and this past Thursday morning. It started like any other morning. I had on a suit. I purchased my usual grande soy chai latte. I concentrated on the press releases that I needed to send out and the event I had to attend later. It was completely unremarkable.
That is, until I hear the radio personality talk about some scientist/researcher/knucklehead type who had written a blog about how African-American women are less attractive than women of other races. This was not in the Enquirer or The Star or People Magazine. This was in Psychology Today. A supposedly reputable source…
I spent the rest of the day reeling. African-American women get plenty of reinforcement about their "ugliness" in this society. Especially my type of African-American woman… You know the type: heavy-set sisters with flat noses and short hair and full lips and dark skin.
Our images are rarely shown as beautiful. We are often not the first choice of African-American men or men of other races. When we make it into a mainstream movie, we are most often not the love interest. At best, we get cast as the loud, bodacious, tough-talking friend. Probably all that testosterone…
Oh yeah, didn't I tell you? The article states that African-American people have higher levels of testosterone. It makes the men more attractive and it makes the women less attractive. The underlying subtext is that the less African our features are than the more attractive we are. But isn't it about more than attractiveness? Isn't it more about white as normal and everything else as other? Sarah Jane understood this at a visceral level so she spent a lifetime struggling to fit in with a society that labeled her as unworthy based upon the African blood in her veins.
So what's my point? I'm not sure. I think I am just angry. I am tired of this society calling me ugly. I am tired of trying to prove that my ideas and my existence are just as valid as those of my non-black companions on this earth. And yes, Sarah Jane is just a fictitious character from the 1959 movie, Imitation of Life. But her story rings true and tugs at my heart strings. As black women, there is an underlying subtext that we are not valuable. Sarah Jane, as flawed as she was, understood that societal subtext better than most.
But if I am wise I will take the advice of Sarah Jane's mother, Annie. While I don't agree with her devotion to caring for her employers at any cost, I recognize her as the true beauty in the movie. And in the words of the very wise Annie Johnson, "It's a sin to be ashamed of who you are." The one exception is Psychology Today. They should be ashamed for publishing such a dehumanizing, insulting piece of dreck.
Read the article for yourself:http://theangryblackwoman.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/psychologytoday.jpg
(Thought this poem would be appropriate in the face all this talk about beauty.)
For the Girls
This poem is for the girls
who don't think they're pretty.
The girls who didn't date in high school.
The awkward sisters
who aren't admired for their looks
in the streets.
because they don't fit a narrow idea of beauty.
Not enough bosom.
Not enough booty.
Hair too short.
Skin too dar.
TV-fueled Saturday nights
barren and stark.
This is for that woman.
The one who doesn't know her worth.
Thinks she was deemed inferior at birth.
This is for the girl who doesn't realize
she was fearfully and wonderfully created.
Beautiful by design. Intrinsically fine.
This story was mine.
I dedicate it to you
and all the other girls who
don't think they're pretty.
© Rhonda Welsh 2010
excerpted from Red Clay Legacy
Hey dudes and dudettes. The vernal equinox is upon us. It is finally Spring again. Warmer temps, flowers, lighter clothing, right? Well, theoretically... In Michigan, there is currently an ice storm. Ha! It's all good. We have our love and creativity to keep us warm.
Are you looking for ways to expand your creativity? April is National Poetry Month. Seems like a natural time to try your skills as a poet. If you are a beginner, you can start with something simple like Haiku. If you are a bit more advanced check out a website like the one run by Poetry Magazine for ideas. (At the end of last year, they threw a little love my way via “Harriet the Blog.”)
This is an excerpt from my latest newsletter. Follow this link to read more.
A few years ago, Israel Houghton came out with this dope song, “It’s a New Season.” I sang it and sang it until I moved into my new season. What ensued was my poetry CD, I Saw Myself. Then I moved into another season and I started teaching, started a small press, Crimson Kairos, and released a book, Red Clay Legacy.
Well, guess what ya’ll? It’s about time for another new season. I am working on the CD companion to Red Clay Legacy. It will allow me to record the poems from the book that have become stage favorites. You know... The ones that people always want me to perform at gigs. I am also learning more about my craft, poetry, and I am looking into other genres of expression. Still too shy to elaborate about the other genres... ;o)
And finally, I am working on my second book of poetry. It is a deeper look and far more revealing than my previous work. It seems like the perfect time. It’s a new season and I want to explore and reach and stretch and push the boundaries as much as I possibly can.
I wish the same for you as we embark on this next year. Much love to you as you recreate yourselves and move into your new season!
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