Women of the World: Voice Becomes Fire Part II.

Here is the second half of the 2014 Women of the World article, featuring Imani Cezanne and Carrie Rudzinski.  We hope you enjoy!


What does poetry mean to you as woman?

IMANI CEZANNE: As a woman of color, there are countless things I have to fight for that others don’t. Things I’m not “allowed” to do or have. But as a writer, my writing has always been mine. My poetry is the only thing they can’t take.

Attending the 2014 WOWPS, what was the most exciting thing that happened for you personally, aside from placing in top four?

 CEZANNE:Aside from placing 2nd in the Women of the World Poetry Slam, the most exciting thing that happened was the one-minute round. One of the first rules I learned about poetry slam was, “You do not do new poems at a slam.” I was so busy the months leading up to WOWPS that I did not even have time to write the piece until a couple days before. I spent hours rehearsing it because I would not get a chance to perform it in front of an audience. I was so nervous but I had no other choice but to do the poem I had. I ended up tying for first with the champion, Dominique Christina that round. To say I was relieved would qualify for understatement of the year.

What inspired you to participate at WOWPS?

CEZANNE: A lot of people think this was my first time participating. It was not. I went to WOWPS in 2011 and got extremely sick. I did my poems but I knew there was no way I would make it to finals. I told myself that next time I came, I would be ready.

What advice can you give to girls/women who would like to perform their poetry but are shy or scared of judgment?

CEZANNE:The open-mics are one of the least judgmental places I’ve ever experienced. The people are there specifically to hear what you have to say. Performing poetry isn’t for anyone else but you. Just like writing it. It’s another level of therapy.

In a haiku, can you describe your emotions, feelings, sense of accomplishments gained at the 2014 WOWPS.

Second best really
ain’t that bad, I say. Means there’s
Something to work for


What does poetry mean to you as woman?

 CARRIE RUDZINSKI: Poetry has always been a way for me to be honest about things I actually couldn’t or didn’t know how to talk about. In my early performance work, my poems were so image heavy that people would say “I don’t know what you’re talking about but I know how you feel.” And I think in reality I was saying my truth and still hiding it – the message, the sentiment, the emotion was all there – but I was still scared to say it. I’ve grown as a writer and performer but most of all, I’ve grown as a human being through poetry. I’ve continued to say my truth and to find therapy through writing and speaking. Poetry is a way to show love, gratitude, anger, and power: standing on stage for three uninterrupted minutes and being given the platform to speak from my heart is one of the most thrilling feelings in the entire world. I never want it to go away.

Attending the 2014 WOWPS, what was the most exciting thing that happened to you personally, aside from placing in the top four ?

RUDZINSKI: The most exciting thing that happened for me on a personal level was seeing Gypsee Yo’s performance of her one-woman show Harabel. I was just clinging to Tatyana Brown and weeping the whole time. It was so joyous to see my friend, and someone I consider a mentor, to break open and in turn break me open. My body, my soul, my heart so desperately needed that experience, especially at a competition where my whole self is so stressed, so focused, so wrapped up internally. Praise be the gospel according to Gypsee.

What inspired you to participate at WOWPS?

 RUDZINSKI:This was my fourth WOWPS competition and the first time I went I just wanted to see what the fuss was about: I wanted to know why we needed an all-female competition. And I absolutely loved it. WOWPS has since become my favorite competition. And this time was important: I’d come so close to Finals Stage so many times at WOWPS but kept missing it. I needed to prove something to myself about my own power, to have confidence in my ability.

What advice can you give to girls/women who would like to perform their poetry but are shy or scared of judgment?

 RUDZINSKI:Speaking your truth is probably the most powerful opportunity we are given as humans.. You’ve already started full out running towards the edge of the cliff by writing what’s inside of you: performing on stage is the jump into that waterfall, the release of everything you’ve had wrapped up inside of you, the pure therapy of saying your own words out loud. I believe everyone deserves that opportunity. You can own everything about yourself. I believe it.

In a haiku, can you describe your emotions, feelings, sense of accomplishments gained at the 2014 WOWPS.

In a parking lot
or on Finals Stage, it is
still my heart beating.


Follow Imani Cezanne at: http://imanicezanne.tumblr.com

Follow Carrie Rudzinski at: http://carrierudzinski.tumblr.com

Poet’s Bios:

Born and raised in San Diego, CA, Imani Cezanne is a passionate poet, workshop facilitator, community organizer and slam coach. She just recently returned home from taking 2nd place at the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas. In the past four years Imani Cezanne has been on four National Poetry Slam teams (San Diego (2), Oakland and Da Poetry Lounge), three of which placed in the top six at the National Poetry Slam. Last season, along with two of her team members, she was invited to perform on the TV One network’s Verses and Flow, a cable television show dedicated to showcasing performance poets from around the country, all while obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies from San Francisco State University. Imani has continued to grow as an artist while working with some of the country’s leading poets including Rudy Francisco, Ant Black, and Natasha Miller and been coached by San Diego’s Chris Wilson (San Diego Slam Team) and Da Poetry Lounge’s Shihan Van Clief (Da Poetry Lounge Slam Team). Imani is also the founding President of S.P.E.A.K. (Spoken Poetry Expressed by All Kinds), San Francisco State University’s first poetry-centered organization. She organized and hosted S.P.E.A.K.’s bi-monthly open mics  which has showcased nationally known artists such as Rudy Francisco, Prentice Powell, Marshall Jones and more. She facilitates their monthly writing workshops and coached SFSU’s first ever poetry slam team to 5th in the nation at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational this year.

Named Best Female Poet at her first national poetry competition in 2008, Carrie Rudzinski has since performed her work across the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and India. Ranked 4th in the world at the 2014 Women of the World Poetry Slam and 7th in the world at the 2013 Individual World Poetry Slam, Carrie has represented Boston, Denver, and Los Angeles over the course of 10 national poetry competitions. She recently accepted a Part-time faculty position teaching Poetry and Performance at California State University Northridge during the Spring 2014 semester. Her work has been published in such collections as Muzzle, Words Dance, OnMag, Catalyst , Alight, and University of California Press Vol. 3. Her most recent book, The Shotgun Speaks, was published in 2013 and is available on Amazon.


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