Four years ago, five friends and Poets piled into Jade Foster’s truck and hit the road for what would be the first of four tours that grew in scope, scale, and mission. What started as a intimate living room, non-slam, and non-academic gathering of poetic queer awesomeness has morphed into sold out venues where hundreds of women are fed and their spirits immersed into the raw and eclectic tribe of wordsmiths and performers. Yet, the energy of the early gatherings has never left.
Foster, the curator and founder of Revival, shared her joys of past tours and anticipation for the upcoming and final, nine city adventure. Foster invites people to experience the connection, love, and outpouring of queer bliss that is Queen Sheba, Natasha T. Miller, Be Steady, and D.C. feature poet Nikky Finney.
This is now your fourth Revival, how has it morphed over the years to become what it is now?
Jade: It started because I was creating a space to exist as a non-academic poet and a non-slam poet. Five of us piled into my Hyundai truck, hit the road, and went from living room to living room. But since then it’s evolved into something bigger than myself. Shows with hundreds of folks in attendance, a rented car, okay!? But I’m sorry, your question was “how” has it evolved, and I think that was through my own persistence, and the love and input and the willingness of our audience to sustain it, to show up, and the ones in my circle who say, “Good job, Jade”.
Poetry is always an expression of the soul. As the founder of this tour, how does this tour express your soul?
Jade: My soul? My passion? I know one of my callings this life around is to help empower folks through cooperative economics. Nothing feels better to me than seeing a bunch of folks giving to each other. I should have come of age in the 90s when everything was “buy black”. But fundraising for the arts and creating pockets that affirm our loving and our stories, is a part of who I am.
Tell me of your experience of having to wear both your “artist” hat and your “business hat”.
Jade: (laughs) Great segway, Michelle! Wow. Being a poet is intangible, and not going anywhere, ever. The first tour, five years ago, I hosted and produced—and I will never make that move again. It’s too much to be clever, cute, reciting poems, and be polite, organized, and driving everywhere. So that’s that.
Tell me of your best memory of your past tours.
Jade: That one-time everybody on the road was beefing with one person in the car, and we had to have a troupe sit down. I had to make it clear that anyone and everyone can go, and the show will continue. The work we had to do was clear.
That one time Be Steady made everybody cry. And all the times after that.
Oh! So many moments before we even hit the road, like when someone donates, or when another person donates. Or when another person donates. Few people understand that the arts business model relies on donations. Otherwise we have to sell ads or charge $50 a ticket. And then what?
What are your expectations for this tour?
Jade: No expectations. Prayed up for sold out houses, safe travels, and for the patience and commitment to see through any trouble.
What can a guest expect on this tour?
Jade: Excellence, as usual. Sex. Sweat. Rhyme. Beauty. Art. Language. [It’s] a way to name themselves and their experiences. [They’ll see] women they have never seen before in the audience. To snap, to jump, to stomp, to shout, and to buy like three books from every person reading. To walk out saying, “Wow, I never imagined” or “Damn, that was the last one?”
Your D.C. feature poet is Nikky Finney. Why was she chosen and how does she fit into the vision of the tour?
Jade: I invited Nikky to feature in 2012 and she was unavailable. So, this year I asked her first. I first heard her at Fire and Ink Black Gay Writers Conference. She was phenomenal. I respect her work, her skill, and the fact that she’s a gracious award-winning poet who has really made the voice of black women heard in American letters.
Nine cities, 12 days, how will you all nurture each other and maintain self-care?
Jade: We have a few off days. We are trying to schedule a spa castle day in Atlanta (laughs). Our road manager Eli really prioritizes self-care. She doesn’t like fast food stops. She wants coconut water in the car at all times. We’re also women, so we lean on each other. We nap with each other, share snacks, and call our lovers. As a producer there’s a balance of checking in with folks and charging ahead. Self-care is extremely important. We have been late to a show or two before, simply because we absolutely had to rest. This year the first half of the tour is nonstop, but we’ve been sure to schedule enough rest.
You end your tour here in D.C. Tell us how you will bring it home.
Nikky Finney. Enough said.
The Revival Tour comes to D.C. on November 1 at 7 p.m. at the Human Rights Campaign located at 1640 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C. In true revival legacy, gather some friends, pile in a car, and make your way to get bathed in the light of this final tour. For more information and to purchase tickets visit, http://revivalpoetry.com/.