ABOUT PETULA

Petula Caesar is an author, poet, journalist, performer, producer, and recording artist, with over two decades of experience as a creator of literary and performance art. At her core, she is a storyteller, and that talent drives all the other ways in which she presents herself as a creative.

 

Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Petula has resided in Baltimore, Maryland since she was a teenager. "I am glad to be from both Paterson and Baltimore. Growing up in Paterson made me physically tough. I spent my days climbing over rocks, running down hard asphalt streets. Concrete is everywhere. The texture of the city itself where I lived was rough. Living in Baltimore made me psychologically tough. Mental toughness is important to have in a place where it is easy to get swept up in a current of bad decisions. Baltimore is a city that was an active part of the slave trade, and I genuinely believe the collective anguish of the stolen Africans who landed here still festers here. Baltimore has a lot of Southern influences and a certain kind of hospitality for those willing to get past the hard exterior. It gave my toughness a kind of charm and grace and humor.” 

Petula got her start writing erotica when she was published in New York Times bestselling author Zane’s erotica anthology “Caramel Flava.” Petula served as publishing editor for Mic Life Magazine and editor-in-chief for Speakerbox Magazine, online publications covering the underground entertainment scene in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Petula branched out into freelance writing and editing, and she has worked on numerous manuscripts. She has been a contributing writer for Baltimore’s former alternative weekly City Paper, The Afro-American Newspapers (Baltimore and DC Editions), and Baltimore Magazine. She has also worked as an editorial assistant at a Simon and Schuster publishing imprint. Petula has performed poetry and storytelling with her band “Luvstruck” to audiences in Baltimore and up and down the East Coast. She can often be found performing or speaking at various signature Baltimore events like Stoop Storytelling, Charm City Kitty Club, Artscape, Poetry Out Loud, or The Baltimore Book Festival. Or you can find her teaching other artists about harnessing their passions at Arts Lab. Petula loves the behind-the-scenes part of live production work just as much as being in front of audiences, and she has also branched out into event direction and production, event curation, arts administration, and artist booking. She has curated, directed, and produced shows at most major venues in Baltimore from Creative Alliance to The Motor House, and has worked with numerous Baltimore-based performers like The 5th L, Navasha Daya, Eze Jackson, Joyce Scott, Jonathan Gilmore, and others. These days you can most often find her speaking about her book, "She's Such A Bright Girl: An American Story" - a memoir that won an honorable mention at the North Street Books Prize for creative non-fiction. Click here to read their review of her work. 

 What does Petula hope to accomplish with her first full-length book, "She's Such A Bright Girl"? Like any other writer, first and foremost I want to tell my story. Black people will find a lot of aspects of my story familiar. But the most important thing I wanted to accomplish is that I want all people to collectively start examining how white supremacy affects all our lives. I want my readers to consider how white supremacy dictates what we think and believe, how it affects our view of their world, our view of the people around us, our view of people we don’t even know. I want us to think about how white supremacy becomes oppression, whether it is systemized oppression doled out through our country’s institutions, or the ways in which Black people self-oppress because of self-hatred that grows out of the idea of white supremacy. It is my hope that ultimately each of us will figure out what we are prepared to do to dismantle this idea.” 

In addition to her writing, Petula wears many other hats. She works in professional development in the non-profit sector with expertise in everything from grant writing and relationship management to strategic planning and stewardship. She also has extensive communications experience. She is the Director of Community Engagement for the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, where she produced a series of virtual concerts entitled "Rock Opera 101" in the summer of 2020 while COVID-19 shut down many such creative endeavors. These shows highlighted the Black creators who significantly contributed to the evolution of rock music and rock musical theater - creators who often are left out of the telling of the history of these art forms. Click here to see and learn more about those shows.

TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS DISCUSSION, EMAIL LEA GILMORE TO RECEIVE THE ZOOM LINK AT LEA@GOVANSPRES.ORG

TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS DISCUSSION, EMAIL LEA GILMORE TO RECEIVE THE ZOOM LINK AT LEA@GOVANSPRES.ORG

"On stage, Petula is a powerful performer, and who better than a poet to bring us into her world, to tell us about her life and her relationship to the skin in which she lives. This world is full of painful contradictions and she is at times poignant and at times playful in it, as she learns to see herself with her own eyes."

‒ ellen cherry, Emmy nominated singer/songwriter

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To contact Petula for bookings or additional information, please email petula@petulacaesar.com.