Art Beat: ‘De-Fend’ Monologue Festival May 21 focused on stories of survival and power

Jeannemisha Martinez Carter is not only an artist, karate practitioner, writer and photographer, she is also a reporter for My Edmonds News, Lynnwood Today and MLTnews. You might have seen her name over the last few years on articles or images, but there is so much more to this inspiring Edmonds individual. I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Carter regarding the upcoming De-Fend Monologue Festival.

In 2010, Carter started the Carter Karate Institute of Peace in memory of her parents. Over the years, the institute — currently awaiting 501(c)3 status — has supported different community causes, but Carter has wanted to expand. She has been involved with martial arts for 48 years now, starting at a young age in Anchorage. She was drawn to the meaning of martial arts, of finding what you need in life and focusing on the individual and what the individual can do for the community and for the self.

Jeannemisha Martinez Carter

Carter has taught karate around the world, teaching students in Africa, London and now in Edmonds. The focus of many of the classes that the Carter Karate Institute of Peace offers is working with women and children — especially survivors of multiple forms of abuse — and empowering individuals through martial arts.

Currently, Carter teaches over Zoom every day except Sunday and is in the studio one day a week. She will be restarting lessons at the YWCA in September. Anyone can take these classes and there are scholarships available; it is important to Carter that all have access to her classes.

Carter is passionate about the work she does. She teaches her students how to stand up for themselves, what to do in situations — in the mind and body — when you are uncomfortable.

As Carter has looked to expand the reach of her institute, it occurred to her to pull together her love for martial arts and her degree in acting, culminating in the De-Fend Monologue Festival. The goal is to continue this festival each year and expand its reach. The festival is meant to empower women through stories of survival, racism and physical abuse. It is a vehicle for women to speak out loud what they are afraid to say. Some participants have voiced their inhibitions about standing in front of others and sharing these stories, and Carter has supported them through the process, providing a safe space: “iIf you have to cry, cry.”

For those who would like to be involved in this or future Monologue Festivals, it is important to know that you do not have to be an actor. It is for all who want to get their voice out, their soul heard, and their heart in a place where they feel good about sticking up for who they are.

Kibibi Monié

De-Fend features Pacific Northwest women writers’ storytelling of survival stories and includes Kibibi Monié, executive director of Nu Black Arts West and a storyteller for over 30 years. The event will be at the Phoenix Theater in Edmonds on Saturday, May 21 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 seniors, $5 students and an option to pay what you can. The Phoenix Theater is hosting this event, which means that all festival proceeds will benefit the institute’s work with young people — in the hope that peace through knowledge will be their lifelong priority.

— By Rachel Gardner

Rachel Gardner has a heartfelt appreciation for art in all forms and believes everyone is an artist, some just don’t know it yet. A dedicated and involved Edmonds resident, she can often be spotted onstage cracking jokes between sets or in the audience enjoying local live performances. She enjoys being playful with her art and finding unique ways of expression, like forming a boho-grunge-folk ukulele trio with local Edmonds moms.

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