upcoming appearances


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Thursday, February 26, 2015, All Day
Western Wyoming Community College
Rock Springs, WY
Rhonda will appear as part of the Spring Visiting Writers Series.

Bandzoogle: band websites that work

most recent appearances

Friday, Jamuary 23, 2015
Redford Aldersgate Church
Redford, MI

Sunday, November 2, 2014
Stef-n-Ty Store
Detroit, MI

Monday, August 18, 2014
Moving Toward Solutions Conference
Rhonda spoke on "Starting Over...Again: Lessons Learned from Failure"
Ypsilanti, MI

Saturday, August 16, 2014
Girl Power Workshop
Microsoft Store - Somerset - South
Troy, MI

Thursday, June 26, 2014
The Business of Art
Wayne State University's Old Main Building
Detroit, MI 48202
Watch it here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/49235438

Monday, June 23, 2014 
The Craig Fahle Show
WDET 101.9
Listen here: http://wdet.org/shows/craig-fahle-show/episode/panel-discussion-business-of-art-62314-wayne-state/

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Michigan Literary Network Radio

Thursday, April 24, 2014
Feminenergy @ The Skyline Club
Southfield, Michigan 48075

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Mahogany Jones presents Denim Day Detroit 
Detroit, MI 48202


deconstructing red clay

There Can Be Beauty and Purpose Even When You Mess Up | Lesson Five from "Starting Over...Again" 

Fear held me captive. So I took the wrong job. Every day I knew I was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing with the wrong people. It was tough.

But even in the midst of it, I met cool students and faculty. Still there was a void in my heart. I felt like my soul was seeping away. I can barely stand to revisit it -- even now. It was only the glimpses of light and beauty that got me through that prolonged difficult time.

TOMORROW: Sometimes change is good (really, really good).

Love > Fear | Lesson Four from "Starting Over...Again" 

Fear cripples. It maims. It complicates. It drives us to do stupid things like take jobs that we know that we know that we know that we should not take. 

Fear often hides behind words like practicality and responsibility and sensibility. That’s what I called it when I stopped doing what I loved. I was just doing the mature thing. Everything in me told me not to take that job. But I did it anyway.
And from 2010 to 2014, I was miserable almost everyday at work. I don’t even want to share the details. But I will say this: love is greater than fear.
Believe love. Embrace love. Live love. Don’t do what I did. Do not succumb to fear.
TOMORROW: There can be beauty and purpose even when you mess up.

Life Turns on A Dime | Lesson Three from "Starting Over...Again" 

Yes, yes I was a baller.  I was not an Oprah Winfrey/Bill Gates type of baller. But for a girl raised in the heart of the ghetto I'd say that I was balling. And while I didn't exactly love my job I was good at it. My day gig and my poetry gig had me bringing home six figures, driving a Mercedes and traveling when I wanted to travel. To me, that is balling. I was a baller. Until, I was not.

There were 400 of us laid off from the health system. I was hurt, disappointed and pissed off. I had made good decisions and worked hard. A lay-off was not supposed to happen to me. But, it did. To add insult to injury, I had difficulty finding another public relations job. No one would hire me. I became a pissed-off-former-baller-poet.

So one day I took my pissed-off-former-baller-poet self to a gig and I passed the billboard that once featured my creative concepts (because they also had me doing marketing and advertising along with public relations). It had been months since my lay-off and there it was. They had used MY creative concept. You know, the one that I had developed BEFORE they laid me off. So now I was at the height of pissedoffivity.

I took all that pissedoffivity into the gig with me and it oozed throughout my whole angry poet set. I did not tone down this pissedoffivity when a fellow reader asked if I had ever heard of the Inside Out Literary Arts Project. She suggested that I apply for a writer-in-residence position. I said that I would but I did not. After all, Inside Out was for real poets and I just did this thing with words and paper and the mic.

Three days later, the woman who I would later call my Poetry Fairy Godmother called me. Terry Blackhawk asked me to interview. I did and I was hired. I had gotten a job as a poet. Soon after, I started teaching poetry for Wayne State University's Math Corps. I started performing more and writing articles for B.L.A.C. Detroit and Model D. I also started an arts and culture column with the Examiner. I even wrote that book. I wrote Red Clay Legacy.

Not only did I write Red Clay Legacy but jessica Care moore wrote the Foreword and Nikki Giovanni wrote a short review. Yes, that's right. THE Nikki Giovanni wrote about MY book.

Finally I was living the exciting creative life that I wanted to live. I went from Baller to Literary Hustler. I was doing the dang thing baby. It was glorious and sparkly and exciting.

But, then, I became afraid.


Listen to the Still, Small Voice | Lesson Two from "Starting Over...Again" 

Public Relations was not my first choice but I was good at it. My career increased in stature. I secured better and better positions and earned higher and higher salaries. Even though I heard in my spirit that I should write, I didn’t do it much. I attended a writing conference here and there but I didn’t take it seriously.

My life forced me to take writing seriously in 2004 when my husband’s daughter ran away the day before her eighteenth birthday. I had never been able to have biological children so I raised his children as my own. I was devastated. One month later, my sister passed away. I fell apart mentally and physically. The only time that I had peace was from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.

I would wake up early, read the Bible, pray and write in my journal. The journal entries quickly took a turn. Poetry poured out of me and onto the page. There was no process. There were no thoughts of technique. I sat down and the words came directly from my spirit through my hand and onto the paper.

Every other part of the day found me tormented with grief. My face broke out with eczema, my sciatic nerve was causing me extreme pain, my blood pressure was up, my weight was way up and my legs were covered in large red blotches that were hot to the touch (otherwise known as cellulitis).

Doctors didn’t know what was wrong. I hid it from my family because it was so close to my sister’s passing. But when I wrote I was flooded with peace. I shared the poems and people began to take notice. I was invited to read at luncheons and retreats and as an opener for singers. It was exciting.

The more I wrote the more my grief healed. By 2006, I had released a CD with original compositions by Audrey Mabins. The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) hired me in 2007 as the only poet featured during their two-week long Reopening Ceremonies. My salary at work was really, really high. I had a good gig and art -- kinda’ like a twofer.

The still, small voice that spoke to me about writing began to make more sense. One of my heroes is Araminta Ross (better known as Harriet Tubman). She attributed the voice of God as the motivating force behind the many missions to free her and ultimately many others from slavery.

I call that voice the Holy Spirit. That still, small voice spoke words to emancipate me from mental slavery (Marcus Garvey said it first and Bob Marley sang about it). Grief is an ugly, twisted yet natural condition. The still, small voice gave me what I needed to move forward.

My life made sense to me. And, for a little while, all was well.
TOMORROW: Life turns on a dime.

Be Flexible | Lesson One from "Starting Over...Again" 

The Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (DC-NABJ) was meeting at the Museum of African American History. It was long ago when the museum was still on Frederick Street and not yet housed in a glorious edifice at the corner of Warren and Brush. It was probably 1995.

The meeting was sparsely attended because it was during the JOA and journalists from the The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press were on strike. At this point they were tired of the strike. They were tired of attending meetings. They were tired of being tired. 

Meanwhile, my life made sense to me. I was married and working in public relations for a large non-profit. I was a DC-NABJ board member. My career was moving in the "right" direction. Yet I had not followed my high school dream of being a television news broadcaster because I didn't think I had the right look physically.

   "You are too fat and not pretty enough," taunted the loud, evil voice in my head.

I didn't follow my undergrad dream of being a film maker because it did not feel practical enough to pursue.

   "That's too risky," warned the loud, evil voice in my head.

And, I didn't follow my lifelong dream of writing because I didn't think I was a good writer.

   "Really? A writer? You can't even write! You have got to be kidding," laughed the loud, evil voice in my head.

But, don't cry for me Argentina. I thought I was making good decisions. My life made sense to me - - until that day when something changed.

Elizabeth Atkins ran in excited and breathless. She was the race relations reporter for The Detroit News and I admired her immensely. Her usually serious demeanor was crackling with electricity. She seemed different. By the end of the meeting she said something very close to, "I wrote a book and I just got a book deal." In that moment, before I could fully digest her words or even be excited for her, I heard my spirit quietly say something like, "You should write a book, too." 

That day I also learned a powerful lesson about starting over. Many journalists were angry and bitter during the strike. To this day, discussing it hits a nerve with so many reporters. But Elizabeth didn't allow the experience to make her bitter. She reinvented herself as an author and her book White Chocolate went on to be a huge success. She started over by being flexible.

TOMORROW: Listen to the still, small voice.

Starting Over...Again 

“Change is the only constant in life.” Heraclitus said it long ago and many of us have lived it.  Some of us have lived it in a ball on the floor with a box of tissues. But after the tears and the rants and the curses thrown up to heaven we realized we had to reinvent ourselves. With our talents, skills and creativity we had to learn to start over...again. And sometimes again and again until we got it right or until change returned for another round. ~ Program Book Description of Starting Over...Again

Failure. It plagues us all. It has plagued me many times. Though I have shed many tears ultimately, "I rise. I rise. I rise." (Thank you for your words Dr. Angelou.) When I find myself sad and downtrodden, I know it is time to reinvent myself yet again. Yesterday I spoke to a group of social workers, non profit leaders and teens about the importance of starting over. I have learned many things during my brushes with failure. Today and for the next seven days, I will share my lessons with you.

But just so you can be ahead of the curve, here they are:

1. Be flexible.
2. Listen to the still, small voice.
3. Life turns on a dime.
5. There can be beauty and purpose even when you mess up.
6. Sometimes change is good (really, really good.)
7. Life has beautiful surprises.

As always, thank you for your time and attention. Your support encourages me more than you will ever imagine. *mwah* ~ Rhonda

TOMORROW: Be flexible.

i'm wishing on a star 

"Star bright. Star light. First star I see tonight. I wish I may. I wish I might. Get this wish I wish tonight."

I did this almost every summer night as a kid. My silent, unshared wishes typically had to do with Barbie, a cute boy, ice cream or whatever else was going on in my little baby head. I can't think of one time those wishes came true.

But, don't cry for me Argentina! I have known my share of fulfilled dreams and wishes. Recordings. Books. Speaking engagements. Really good love. Interviews. Dope vacations and trips. Great People. Yet, when I don't get my own way or when something doesn't happen as soon as I want I am more apt to think about those unfulfilled "star" wishes than all the good that has occurred in life. I focus on the failure and disappointment and hurt and forget all about the amazing.

Is that just human nature or am I just wack? LOL Maybe, a little bit of both. Because from where I sit this day, of sound mind and glorious body, it is a pretty good life I lead. Perhaps, I could just stand to be a little more grateful.

I challenge you to join me. Could you be a little more grateful, too? Let's do it together. And, let's keep wishing on stars, too. Who knows? It might just be our time.

Just for kicks, my favorite version of "Wishing on a Star" as performed by Seal:

Black Friday Special! 

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.

the red dress, the big apple and the honeycomb  

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!


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