It was an evening of poetry and prose that shone the spotlight on women’s experiences of life in the Caribbean.
The event, dubbed Word. Sound. Power: An Evening of Caribbean Poetry and Prose, was organised by the Women and Development Unit (WAND) of the UWI Open Campus, and the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, Nita Barrow Unit of the UWI Cave Hill Campus.
Head of WAND Taitu Heron herself a performance poet, told the audience that it was also about “holding space for other women to step forward. And the space we do occupy in terms of our lived experiences is a valid one, and we need to take up more of that space in a manner that encourages men, particularly those who are related to us, who are friends, who are fathers, who are brothers, those women who have men as partners or as fathers or husbands or brethren, to [be] welcome to be in a space devoid of ego and entitlement.”
She added that it was important now, more than ever, for women to make their voices heard.
“We recognize that the divine feminine is making her comeback, making her presence known and felt more and more. There’s a war raging against [the] female body and also against the environment, Mother Earth. A lot of bleeding is happening. There’s need for peace, balance, and healing.
“So it is obvious that more women need to step forward and be given room to step forward, or take up space and step forward, and offer balance in the way in which the world, our homes, our communities and our societies, are being organised,” Heron said.
And one by one, women stepped forward with their stories, exploring themes of coming of age, female sexuality, domestic abuse, rape, womanhood and the complexities of female friendship. One common theme throughout the evening was menstruation; once a taboo subject, it is gradually making its way to the mainstream.
The first to share was 14-year-old poet Kya Knight, whose piece, ‘Girls and Bleeding’, set the stage for other performers to share their own experience with that aspect of womanhood. Other performers included University Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at UWI Mona; Dr Debra Providence of the UWI St Augustine Campus; writer and editor Linda M. Deane; and performance artiste Sonia Williams.
Said Heron: “This evening is also a space that acknowledges difference between women in terms of class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious practice, or even political affiliation. And as such, it is a space that acknowledges that the experience of one woman does not equate [to] the experience of all women, or even another woman…
“So woman, word and sound is all of these, and it is going to be much more as each of us will move our spirits, voices and bodies in our own unique way, with our own magic, as we reflect on the experiences that we have had or witnessed, and the stories that we have to tell… Because if we don’t tell our stories, who will?” (MCW)