Native of Nowhere
Glenis Gale Redmond, a self-proclaimed native of nowhere, was raised in an Air Force family. Through their many relocations, Glenis’ young mind was already creating and collecting the memories and knowledge that laid the framework for her future as a poet. She was a voracious reader, begging to be allowed the library card she received at the age of five. Her favorite characters were likable underdogs like Ramona the Pest and Pippi Longstocking. She found refuge and hope in their stories. Little did she know then, reading was a precursor to her writing, and she was setting her future with every book she read.
When not reading, she could be found dancing to Motown, either in her room or down the Tacoma, Washington sidewalks. Her favorite pastime, however, was catching words in the family home. Whenever there was company, she would settle down in the den and open her ears like a porous, couch-side sponge, soaking in the words. Poetry found Glenis for the first time while the family was stationed in Italy during the early seventies. She was standing in an auditorium during a Black History program where she heard Yolanda Walker, in her opinion, the coolest black girl that ever lived, recite Jacki Earley’s socio-political poem, 1,968 Winters. It was this poem that initiated Glenis into the poetry world. Read more about Glenis’ Initiation Poem.
Years later, poetry found Glenis again, this time driving down a street in Richmond, Virginia. She had been a counselor for seven years after receiving her B.A. in Psychology from Erskine College. She had also worked on her Master’s degree in Child and Family Studies at Texas Tech University. At the time, she was enrolled in the PhD program for Counseling Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth. She was also pregnant with her twin daughters, Amber and Celeste. Driving that day, Glenis had the distinct realization that she was on the wrong path. Poetry was calling her back. Amid the protests of her professors, she left the program, and embarked on the road she travels to this day.
Now, twenty years later, she is a full-time poet, traveling, writing, performing and teaching.
Influenced by her background in counseling, she has found one of her chief talents in working with at-risk teens, using poetry to draw them out of the shells they have built around their hearts and helping them to reach out to the world and express themselves.
Through their words and the words of others, many begin to find healing. Poem: “Bruised” for At-Risk-Teens
She has also designed workshops for both amateur and professional writers, from ages 9-90. She teaches them how to access their inner voices and creativity, and how to let their light shine out to the world through their words.
She has been published most recently in Meridians, African Voices, EMRYS, Asheville Poetry Review,Kakalak: A Journal of Carolina Poets, Appalachian Heritage and the Appalachian Journal. Her manuscript Under The Sun was short listed by Autumn House Press. Her poems soothe, illicit and inspire others to pick up their pen and travel their own poetic road. When Glenis performs, audiences are brought to their feet by the grace, intensity, and passion with which she gives life to her poetry. She floats, glides, and pounds her way across the stage, her voice rings out, then becomes soft. Within moments, she has even the most stoic of audiences in her palm.
Through her poetry, Glenis has found community and belonging. She has been associated with many organizations such as YWCA, Girl Scouts, Our Voice, Project STEAM, NC Center for Advancement of Teachers and NC Center for Non-Profits, homeless shelters, half-way houses, Blue Cross Blue Shield,and Helpmate.
Once a native of nowhere, Glenis now knows that she belongs everywhere.
Boards & Professional Affiliations
Curatorial Board, The Chord Magazine, 2018.
Board Member of EMRYS, 2018.
Member of SC Poetry Society, 2018.
Member of EMRYS, 1999 to Present.
Asheville Arts Museum, 2010 to 2012.
NC Humanities Council, 2009 to Present.
Associated Writing Program, 2008 to Present.
Asheville Area Arts Council, 2003-2006.
Project STEAM! 2003-2005.
Flat Rock Playhouse, 2004-2005.
Grants, Fellowships and Awards
Third place and Finalist of James Applewhite Prize, 2018.
Runner-up for the Bechtel Essay Prize, 2018.
Dick Riley Diversity Leadership Fellow, 2014.
Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival Winner, 2014.
Women Making History Award, 2013.
Danny C. Plattner Award, Best Poem in Appalachian Heritage, 2012.Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival winner, 2011.
Cave Canem Fellow, 2010.
18th Annual Arida Arts Symposium Honoree, 2010.
Denny C. Plattner Poetry Award, 2008.
Best Poet WNC, Mt. Xpress, 1999 to Present.
North Carolina Literary Fellowship, 2005-2006.
William Matthews Award, 2002.
Vermont Studio Center Fellowship 1997.
Carrie McCray Literary Award, 1995.
Atlantic Center for the Arts Fellowship, 1995.
The White House, Washington DC
Department of Education, Washington DC
The Library of Congress, Washington DC
Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa, FL
Ruth Eckerd Performance Hall, Clearwater, FL
Van Wezel Performance Arts Hall, Sarasota, FL
Peace Center for the Performing Arts, Greenville, SC
Duke University, Durham, NC
University of North Carolina, Wilmington, NC
Diana Wortham Theater, Asheville, NC
Nuyorican Poets Café, NYC
Princeton Library, Princeton, NJ
Theatreworks, Jacksonville, FL
Broadway Center, Tacoma, WA
Arts Northwest Keynote, Tacoma, WA
Asheville WordFest, Asheville, NC
Princeton Library, Princeton, NJ
Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC
Erskine College, Due West, SC
Paddington International Poetry Slam, London England
University of Hawaii at Manoa, HI
Hope College, Holland, MI
Acadiana Arts Council, Lafayette, LA
Glenis started her poetic journey in Greenville, South Carolina in Ms. Sergeant’s english class at Woodmont Junior and Senior High School and then later flared her writer wings in the nineties, when she moved to Asheville, North Carolina.
Though busy mothering her twin daughters at the time, she became an integral part of the already vibrant poetry scene. She kept busy by deepening her craft by participating in weekly slams by night in coffee houses, clubs and colleges and then by day teaching as a teaching artist in classrooms across the country. Simultaneously, she toured with an acting troupe, Poetry Alive! where she performed classic and contemporary poetry to students across the world. She performed five days a week, three shows a day.
Glenis is a poetic fire-starter: She founded the first Greenville Poetry Slam in 1995 and took the first all-women’s team to Nationals. Glenis is a two-time Individual Southern Fried Slam Champion and a two-time top ten finalist at the National Poetry Slam.
She was one of the original founders of WordSlam, the youth slam movement in Asheville, NC that began in 2007.
She also participated on the task force that created the first Writer-in-Residence at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, NC.
In 2011, she is a founder of Peace Voices, a poetry program dedicated to poetic outreach and engagement in the community through the Education and Outreach Department The Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville, South Carolina.
Glenis is a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist and is listed in their National Touring Directory.
Glenis Redmond believes that a Teaching Artist is a person that has the ability to translate their art form educationally, while simultaneously inspiring and empowering both teachers and students to experience and practice their art form.
As an teaching artist, Glenis demonstrates the art of poetry through lectures, exercises and hands-on experiences. She has been an artist committed to teaching poetry through Arts Integration for the last two decades.
Glenis began her tenure as a teaching artist in Greenville, South Carolina as an artist-on-roster for the South Carolina Arts Commission in 1994. Then, branched out to teaching in both of the Carolinas in classrooms as a Teaching Artist. In 2000 she signed with The Loyd Artists Agency and began working nationally; performing and teaching not only in K-12 schools, but also on the collegiate level and in various arts communities.
Her work is classroom tested and teacher approved. When Glenis walks into a classroom, she changes it into a safe space of creativity, where students are encouraged to explore their poetic depths. When students grasp the tools that Glenis teaches, the poet in them awakens. Glenis says her goal is not to make everyone a poet like herself, but for them to realize the poetry that they carry in their hearts. Many teachers remark after a residency with Glenis, ” I learned things about my students that I never knew.”
Glenis Redmond is a poet, educator, performer and counselor all rolled in one soulful bunch. Her work draws inspiration from her life, her family, and her African-American heritage. Through her transformative workshops and performances, she encourages participants to draw upon their own lives and experiences to tell their stories.
My poems come from my core. Then, I pour what percolates onto journal pages. They are hot-inked scribblings, handwritten epiphanies that morph and manifest into soul driven colloquial anthems. My poems stand up – sing and dance of lineage or lack thereof. They come from a deep-seated oceanic need to know about my heritage. What I cannot answer, I imagine.
While making poems, like my mama handmade all our clothes, I become a mystic making peace with the many pieces of my life. I confront the weighted history of the red clay South. I dig deep. I strive to say the unsayable, while listening to the music of the multitudes that walk with me: my known and my unknown ancestors that seek to be heard.
I am labeled as a performance poet, but I say the line is much longer. It extends to the mother country, I am a griot, a storyteller given the task of re-membering — stitching and singing my line back into being. I write to right the past as much I can.
A Native-American Omaha elder translated my role as a poet into: Woman-that-Flies-with-Words. It is my hope that my words morph into wings and take flight. As a teaching artist, I am an imagination activist, helping students and teacher access their poetry perched within.
Stitching hot-ink red clay scribblings. Historical anthems of ancestral voices
Glenis believes that we all defy categorization, but knows that it is our human nature to label and define. Thus, she has been deemed a poet and a teaching artist. However, she understands that she is this and more. We all are. This is where the term Imagination Activist enters. When she sits in a poetic circle with others, she is still informed by her counselor training and in this circle, she helps participants discover their depths and enables them to venture on their own creative paths.
Glenis’ Creative Walk: In 1992, Glenis was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Her doctor told her “you are not going to die from this (musculoskeletal pain disorder) “but you are going to sure wish that you would have.” In search for answers of how to live her life with this illness, Glenis found the key to her new life while watching Bill Moyer’s Language of Life on PBS. It came in the form of a poem by Lucille Clifton. (poem below)
After hearing Clifton’s poem, Glenis felt hit by a creative lightening bolt. She was activated to begin her journey as a poet and a teaching artist. She literally and metaphorically got off of her sick bed. Though she still suffers from fibromyalgia, her focus and gaze has turned to poetry.
Now, Glenis creates an empowering environment for others whereever she goes – whether schools, colleges, prisons, conferences, festivals or corporations. She makes a safe space where people can delve into their inner world and investigate what matters to them in their lives. She gives participants tools to deeply reflect upon their lives and then the opportunity practice those creative skills. Glenis believes these skills translate to everyday living, if people utilize them. Glenis is an Imagination Activist. She helps young people and adults go deep and live their lives more fully.
Watch Glenis at TedX Greenville
won’t you celebrate with me
by Lucille Clifton
won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.