Editors Note: The following series “Women Making History” is a week-long series curated by Marisa Long as part of the Digital Research Internship Program in partnership with ViaNolaVie. The DRI Program is a Newcomb Insitute technology initiative for undergraduate students combining technology skillsets, feminist leadership, and the digital humanities. You can read Marisa’s full introduction on this series here.
As we reach the last week of Women’s History Month, I wanted to take some time to celebrate women who have made history in New Orleans and women who continue to make history today. This curation of articles is designed to highlight several of these women and to honor all women who have helped to shape New Orleans into the cultural center we know and love whether through art, reform, or entrepreneurship. One of the most beautiful aspects of New Orleans culture is the prominence of art of every variety. In his week-long series, Nolan Storey highlights several women poets, including Sharita A. Sims, in an interview that discusses her connection to New Orleans and what inspires her art. Here’s her story, which was originally published on February 20, 2019.
This content was originally published with Big Easy Magazine, a publication dedicated to being a progressive voice for New Orleans and a soapbox for residents in every neighborhood. You can find this article and more content all about the Big Easy here.
By: Nolan Storey – Staff Poet / Contributing Writer at Big Easy Magazine.
New Orleans is a city that harbors a great deal of talent. When most people think of New Orleans, they think of the music scene, particularly Jazz groups and Brass bands. While it is true that our great city harbors much musical talent, it is also bursting at the seams with creative talent of all sorts. New Orleans is chaos and order colliding. It is a melting pot of cultures in a way that few other cities are. It stands to reason that out of a city that is poetry, great poetic talent arises. In a field historically, unjustly dominated by men, it is important to shine a light on the talented women who are breaking out onto the poetry scene. What follows is a highlight of five rising women poets in New Orleans: Kellyann Bates, Julia Taylor, Sharita Simms, Molly Kirschner and Camille Goering share their thoughts, works and lives in the profiles below.
All of these poets have been previously featured in Big Easy Magazine’s art section! Each Wednesday we feature a local poet’s work! Be sure to check back on Wednesday for new and exciting work from these five! Up this week is Sharita A. Sims.
Of my Own Throne
you can take from me
that I didn’t give
So gather your ego
then let me live,
and even if you don’t,
I’ll be me still
Accept that my life
is not here
for your consumption
or your pleasure,
or your treasure
I am gold of my own
on my own throne”
Nolan: Who are you? How would you describe yourself to someone coming across your work for the first time?
Sharita: I am a gypsy, a spirit scribe, and a revolutionary devoted to building a Utopia of kinship. My expressive skill of writing is greatly motivated by the spirit that moves through me to convey divine messages of introspective consciousness. More socially, I am a writer, doula, and visionary in photography and film direction.
Nolan: When did you first start writing poetry and what’s your goal in doing so?
Sharita: In retrospect, my first journal of poetry was dedicated to healing. I didn’t know that I was healing at the time yet I did know that I was in a dark and confusing place and that the only way through it seemed to flow from the pen onto the pages. I wrote this poetry in high school, at 16 years old. Seeking clarity from a fallen romantic illusion, every day after school, poetry was my savior. I disconnected from the ritual of writing poetry for some years until my sophomore year in college where I needed the same outlet of healing, yet this time, knowing more confidently that I would find refuge in my writing. Then I began my professional journey and in February 2017, releasing my first book of poetry and reflections, Vacuum Reality.
Nolan: What is your connection to New Orleans? What does it mean to you and how does living here effect your poetry?
Sharita: My lineage has been nestled in New Orleans for a very long time, both maternal and paternal. I am my family’s sunflower from the concrete, with roots in Central City I always felt the spotlight on me from my community. My elders, peers, and community kindred would always treat me in such a respected way that further lead me on the path of introspective consciousness and to be in that space and shine from it.
Living in New Orleans, where everything is magic, both dark and light, and where the people tell stories while the colors reflect them, I’ve had a journey of unique observation growing up in the ghetto with Montessori education and Baptist church influence. My experience with New Orleans has always felt that New Orleans herself chose me as one of her special children to be and share the essence of New Orleans through my eyes, mind, and words.
Nolan: What unique challenges or circumstances have you faced being a woman in a field that has been historically (unjustly) dominated by men? How have you overcome these hurdles and how does this come through in your work?
Sharita: Perhaps because I’m a newly professional artist, no challenges resonate with me in a way that felt discriminatory because I am a woman. Again, I am a gypsy. Much of my creative process is on my own back and from my own will. I don’t involve very many people into what I present to the world and how I do so.
Also, I was raised by many matriarchs. My personal experience with patriarchy is different from many women in my community. I’ve always known the women in my world to be more dominant and keeping the order so I walk in the path that was set up for me to shine not because I am a woman but especially because I am a woman.
The struggles of relationships between myself and men conveyed through my literature are due to me embarking on a path of romance that I didn’t witness growing up. The matriarchs that I speak of were more focused on getting done what needed to be done and there weren’t many men around for them to show me examples of intimacy.
Nolan: What are your goals with both your poetry and your live overall moving forward?
Sharita: My creative goals for both my written and spoken poetry are to continue inspiring introspective consciousness, fearless feeling, cultural shifting, self-healing, and to build a Utopia of kinship through literature. Professionally, I will continue publishing books, making appearances, and expanding my words and visions through cinema.
My passion for storytelling flows from poetry to history, to cinema, to music, and movement. My motivation for creating a legacy and life where this all thrives together is because I accept the magic within the being of a black, woman, wordsmith, from New Orleans.
Build with me, at thebrowngypsy.com