Slam poet hits literary festival

Photo taken from Redmond's website.

Spring is in the air as WCU’s Literacy Festival kicks off with authors from around the United States coming to Cullowhee to speak about their literature.

The festivities began Sunday, March 18 with Glenis Redmond, a slam poet from South Carolina as she discussed her recent book Under the Sun and performed some of her famous poems.

The room was full of students and faculty as Redmond took the stage. She began with a story of her great-grandmother, Katie Latimore, who lived to be 101. She spoke of her eyes that were a piercing blue before she passed away. The poem, titled She, was full of emotion as Redmond danced and sang across the stage. You could tell the words hit the audience by the silence before the applause.

In between poems Redmond discussed her life as an African-American woman, being a single mom and the joys of raising her two daughters. She began writing poems at the age of 12. From poems about her daughters, to poems about curses, to even a poem in letter format directed to the family that slaved her ancestors, Redmond’s poems are very emotional. Another poem she presented, titled What My Hand Say, was dedicated to her great-grandfather who went through the struggle of being a slave. Redmond performed the poem in a phrase known as persona poem, where she performed as though her great-grandfather would have.

Ryan Harris, junior at WCU, attended the event without prior knowledge of who Redmond was.

“I enjoyed her emotion and her animation. It wasn’t just reading, it was communicating a message,” said Harris. “I want to say she was being an actor but she wasn’t acting, it was true emotion.”

Redmond was the recipient of the Best Poet of Western North Carolina for 1999 and 2002 and is the keynote speaker of many organizations across the East coast.

Redmond is currently working on her second book What My Hand Say and regularly hosts workshops for rising writers.