'Women of Word', poetry and dance performance returns to 'Boro for the 9th year

Category:  News
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 at 9:20 PM

Local group Women of Word (WOW) returned for their ninth year at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, with the event held in the Diebold Performing Arts Center on March 21. A recurring presentation at EU’s Women’s History Month, WOW features performers reading their original works of poetry that cover a variety of polarizing topics. 

The full title for the performance was “Women of Word: Featuring a Few Man-Made Words.”

The featured poets included: Thasia Anne, Marge Wonner, Luchetta “Cookie” Manus, Heidi Blakeslee, Matt Borczon, Darryl M. Brown, and new additions Barbara Crone, Jamie Sharnell and Mark Valentine Jr.

Sharnell had been doing open-mic readings in Erie prior to being introduced to WOW by Thasia Anne. “I was a feature poet one night and [Thasia] offered to me to do it and I took it on the spot,” said Sharnell. “I love it, it’s a stress reliever.” 

“I never thought that I’d be in it, but I’m glad to be a part of it,” said Valentine Jr.

The director, producer and participating poet, Thasia Anne, is the mastermind behind WOW, and has been featured in every production since its inception. Anne is an alumna from EUP who earned her degree in social work, as well as a minor in theatre, back in 2016. 

“What we try to do here, very respectfully, is give both sides of an issue,” said Anne. “People will say, ‘I never thought or looked at it that way’.”

During this year’s rendition, WOW included the poignant themes of homelessness, religion, disabilities, death, fear and failure.

The featured poets’ differing views on topics like “failure” included Anne’s take on the subject. “For me, failure would be just not trying; it doesn’t mean that I have to succeed, it’s just not trying.” 

Another interesting inclusion was the dancer, Brett Fallon, who came into the spotlight following the “fear” poetry set, taking each of the poet’s card containing their irrational fears and tearing them apart. Part of the interactivity with the WOW production had runners encouraging audience members to write down these fears on a card, which Fallon would then destroy.

On the topic on disability, Valentine Jr. wrote about his own struggles. “I had a flair and I just put it all in writing, exactly how I felt and it turned out beautiful and hopefully it touched somebody.”

One of the standout readings came from Anne and Brown, who presented their work on the theme of “death.” This dealt with their personal losses in the past.

“If I get you to feel what I feel, I’ve done a good job. If I get you to feel anything at all, then I’ve done a great job,” said Brown. 

Being a longtime friend with Anne, Brown had been asked to feature his poetry. He tackled the topic of homelessness. “I used to work as a manager for a homeless shelter and [Thasia] wanted a homeless set for the Word,” stated Brown. 

When asked what state of mind one must be when writing their poetry, Brown said that, “whatever is in my head or my heart at the time, that is what leads to whatever I write.” 

Collin Alekson | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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