POW-WOW Herstory


POW-WOW was started by C.C. Carter over seven years ago.  Having traveled on a book tour for over three years and being a part of the slam scene for over ten years, she found that there were little venues that felt non-threatening to her as a woman or as a woman of color. Whereas several spoken word venues that had mostly white patrons felt more accepting, within the African American community the word “bitch and homo” was constant vocabulary spoken by men and other women.  She approached several local organizations within the community, but many felt that the community was not ready for a steady cultural event since the only real successes had been parties.  She started an open mic where men and women would gather to read poetry but with a very “womanist” approach and respect. The poetry venue that started with less than twelve people in the audience now boasts over 75 – 100 people weekly and has hosted some of the elite poets from around the world. POW-WOW and its founder have received over 15 national awards and public recognition and is studied in women and gender studies classes around the country. Eve Ensler, the creator of V-DAY – A worldwide Public Awareness campaign to stop violence against women and girls, dubbed C.C. Carter as an International Vagina Warrior and considers POW-WOW, Inc a necessary organization in the Chicagoland area for creating safe spaces for women artists and their allies.

C.C. Carter  is a Chicagoan with national prominence on the performance poetry scene. Her first book, Body Language, a collection of poetry, was nominated for a 2003 Lambda Literary Award. She is the winner of a host of poetry slams including winning the Fifth Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Competition and the First Annual Behind Our Masks Poetry Slam. She has created and maintained several traditions in the poetry community, including national and local poetry slams for people of color, and the women of color night at Mountain Moving Coffeehouse.  She has participated in hundreds of women’s music festivals, including the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, and has sold out performances on both coasts.


In 2001 she founded POW-WOW, Inc, a weekly spoken word venue that has received honors and award recognition for being a safe space for women to develop, showcase and listen to other women artists.  POW-WOW is a staple for the international and national poetry elite – having showcased Stacyann Chin, sharon bridgforth, Eve Ensler and a host of Def Poetry Jam artists who list POW-WOW as a “must do” on their tour schedules.  C.C. has produced large scale events for the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Chicago Gay Games.


As a result of her arts and activism work, she has received numerous awards and honors, including being inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for her work as an advocate in Arts and Culture and the 2004 Trailblazer Award for her work and curation of Lesbian theatre projects.  In 2005 C.C. Carter was one of six international recipients to be dubbed the esteemed title by Eve Ensler of Vagina Warrior for her work in creating a safe space for women artists who are survivors of violence.  This year she received the 2006 Model of Hope Award by Pride and Equality Magazine. 

Subpages (1): Why The Name POW-WOW