Culture

Renée Stewart sings her piece, “Black Crows” a ballad during the 2016 "Women Speak" event. (Submitted)
Renée Stewart sings her piece, “Black Crows” a ballad during the 2016 "Women Speak" event. (Submitted)

Women of Appalachia Project “Women Speak” Featured at Bowen House


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The Bowen House is pleased to announce it will host the 8th Annual Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) “Women Speak” performance, a juried presentation of poetry, story and song, showcasing women artists from throughout Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. The event will be held in the performance space on March 17, 2017, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Logan’s own, poet Sherri Saines, will be among the featured artists.
“I’ve been a part of this project since almost the beginning,” said Saines. “I am excited to share it with my community. It is a night of authentic performance, singing and speaking. Much of it is humorous; some is wrenching; all is heartfelt. Each event leaves me fulfilled, with feelings of hope and goodwill.”

The work of 28 spoken word artists, poets, storytellers and musicians will be presented, a mash-up of seasoned and emerging artists. Along with the Bowen House, performances have been or will be hosted at five other venues throughout Ohio; ARTS/West, Athens; the esteemed Columbus Poetry Forum, on High Street; The Pump House Fine Arts Center, Chillicothe; Ohio University, Athens campus and Parkersburg Art Center, Parkersburg, WV as well.

Many people have an image of an Appalachian woman, and they look down on her. The mission of WOAP is to showcase the way in which female artists respond to the Appalachian region as a source of inspiration, bringing together women from diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences to embrace the stereotype – to show the whole woman; beyond the superficial factors that people use to judge her.

When asked how living in Appalachia has influenced her life and therefore her art, Kentucky poet Barbara Biggs said, “I have lived many places, but for the last 18 years, I have called the Ohio River Valley of Southern Ohio and Eastern Kentucky home. I write about my garden, the maple trees, my children, my small successes and large failures from a desk with a view of an ancient barn. I don’t think I’d enjoy the things that I find myself looking forward to (crocus in snow, sorghum season, hiking for pawpaws, spring planting if I still lived in New York or Tucson. I find myself being fiercely protective of the place, too. Living in Appalachia is a constant give and take: we take the history and tradition and make them new to give to our children.”

“I combine elements of blues and folk, and like to use the big gospel style voice that I remember hearing from a church pew,” said singer-songwriter Renée Stewart. “But the element that is most consistent in my songwriting are the stories that my papaw shared, so beautifully illustrated with his words when I was a child as we walked the foothills of Appalachia.”

The presentation is free to the public though donations in support of WOAP will be gratefully accepted. There will be a reception immediately following the performance. Refreshments will be served.

For more information go to womenofappalachia.com or visit WOA on Facebook. For questions, email womenofappalachia@gmail.com

Rose Smith, poet and juror WOAP 'Women Speak" 2016, reads from her selection of "Ida Poems," a series devoted to a loved one suffering from bipolar disorder. (Submitted)
Rose Smith, poet and juror WOAP ‘Women Speak” 2016, reads from her selection of “Ida Poems,” a series devoted to a loved one suffering from bipolar disorder. (Submitted)