Rhea Carmon


Indya Kincannon
[email protected]
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Facebook.com:  RheaSunshinePoetry 

Instagram.com:  The5thWoman
YouTube:  Rhea Carmon  |  The 5th Woman Poetry

Audio Streams:

Websites:  RheaCarmon.com  |   The5thWoman.com

  Rhea Carmon
   "Burn with the motivation that only poetry can inspire."

Award-winning wordsmith RheaSunshine is a force that weaves passion, purpose, and power into poetry. She is the creator and Executive Director of the 5th Woman Cohort, which explores the stories of women. Regardless of race, women share the same experiences, fears, joys and more and the 5th Woman allows them to examine these moments without social and political barriers.

For 20 years, RheaSunshine has traveled the nation, sharing her gift of the spoken word and facilitating self-expression, liberation, and healing. This art form has led her to touch lives at universities and educational institutions as well as civic engagements and festivals. She has opened for such artists as Nikki Giovanni, Macy Gray, and Saul Williams and the world constantly expands to make room for her gift. Her upcoming fourth book release titled Through the Clouds explores her battle with Multiple Sclerosis.

“Burn with the motivation that only poetry can inspire!”  - RheaSunshine

RheaSunshine strives to touch hearts and inspire women to scribe their own stories. This artist is evolving from their beginnings in the world of slam poetry to becoming a well-known creative and prolific writer. She has authored three chapbooks and has recorded three audio CDs. Not motherhood, MS, or any obstacle can slow this renaissance woman down. As she states in her writing, she still has poems that she hasn’t even written yet.


Mayor Indya Kincannon has named Rhea Carmon as Knoxville’s new Poet Laureate. Carmon, who performs under the name RheaSunshine, succeeds Dr. Marilyn Kallet, who was named the City’s second poet laureate in June 2018 by Mayor Madeline Rogero, and continued to serve during the first six months of Mayor Kincannon’s term. 

The 20-year veteran of poetry slams and performance stages is also a teacher and mother to two young boys with her husband Marcus. She is the founder and Executive Director of The 5th Woman Cohort, a poetry and performance group. 

"Thank you to the City of Knoxville and Mayor Kincannon for granting me the honor of representing the many amazing poets and writers that we have in our great city,” Carmon said. “I am excited to continue the work performed by former poet laureates R.B. Morris and Marilyn Kallet while lending my own talents to encourage the exposure of local citizens to the art of poetry." 

Kallet champions the choice. 

“Rhea is a poetry presence, a truth-teller and a singer,” Kallet said. “Times are tough, and we can't get together in person as much as we would like. Rhea has met and overcome many obstacles. She has the character and the art to make the best of this difficult time, through poetry!”


June 7-11, 2023 - 31st Annual Southern Fried Regional Poetry Festival
Southern Fried Poetry Festival is coming to Knoxville, TN

April 27, 2023 - Collectively Speaking at Central Cinema at 7 p.m.

April 15, 2023 - Celebrate National Poetry Month at Lawson McGhee Library at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

April 14, 2023 - Poetry Workshop Online Classes at 7 p.m.

January 15, 2023 - A Night at the Arts Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 3 p.m. Tennessee Theatre
Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is joined by Knoxville's Poet Laureate RheaSunshine Poetry, vocalist Michael Rodgers, Indigenous Vibes Studios edutainment group, and Drums Up Guns Down ensemble to present an inspiring and powerful selection of orchestral works, spirituals, gospel music, and more. Free and open to the public.

January 14, 2023 - Southern Fried Mid Season Poetry Slam, 7 p.m. at The Emporium, 100 S. Gay St.
Poets from all over the country coming to perform for a cash prize. A preview of this summer's Southern Fried Poetry Festival. 

December 8, 2022 - Collectively Speaking at 7 p.m. at Central Cinema, 1205 N. Central St.
Part of Collectively Speaking with Melody Dalili Open Mic

August 11, 2022 - Collectively Speaking at 7 p.m. at Central Cinema, 1205 N. Central St.
Part of Collectively Speaking with Ed Mabrey Open Mic and Rising Star "Beckett"

August 10, 2022 - BusBoys and Poets on Instagram Live at 8 p.m.
Part of the Busboys and Poets Instagram Live at @BusBoysAndPoets

July 3, 2022 - Black Poet Laureates at 6 p.m.
Listen every 1st Sunday at Black Poet Laureates YouTube

April 22, 2022 - Mayor Indya Kincannon's State of the City Address
Reading a poem at the address

April 10, 2022 - Poets in Progress

Rhea will be reading with Oak Ridge Poet Laureate Erin Elizabeth Smith, Amy Wright and Carmon Sense at Flying Anvil Theater, 2-4 p.m. $10 at the door. 

April 4, 11, 18, 25, 2022 - National Poetry Month Readings
During April RheaSunshine will be doing a short reading every Monday at 7 p.m.

March 6, 2022 - Black Poet Laureates Women's History Month
The 1st Sunday of every month, Black Poet Laureates from across the nation come together to present an online reading.  Tune in to the Black Poet Laureates YouTube channel to see and hear from amazing poets from all over the country.  The next event is March 6, 2022 at 6 pm.  
More info

March 5, 2022 - RheaSunshine's Beyond the Spark Podcast
RheaSunshine's podcast begins streaming on March 5 and podcasts will be released every 1st and 3rd Saturday.

February 18, 2022 - Knoxville Youth Poet Laureate Program
The Knoxville Youth Poet Laureate program aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, diversity and tolerance, and youth voice across the city of Knoxville. The Knoxville Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of the Office of the Mayor, Knoxville Writer’s Guild, and Knoxville Arts & Culture Alliance, in partnership with Urban Word, and supported by the PEN Center USA, and the Academy of American Poets. Semi-finals will be held virtually on the 5th Woman YouTube Live on March 13, 2022 at 5pm.

Students ages 13-19 who live in the City of Knoxville are eligible for consideration. Applications are due Friday, February 18, 2022 at 11:59 PM CT. Applicants who advance will perform at a semifinal round on Saturday, March 12 at 4pm. The top three finalists will perform at Knoxville National Poetry Month Celebration in April, where one youth will be honored with the title of Knoxville Youth Poet Laureate.
Learn more about the program and how to apply

February 10, 2022
Shoe Game and RheaSunshine presents Collectively Speaking, hosted by RheaSunshine Knoxville's Laureate.  Headliners: four-time Emmy Winner & Slam Master Bluz from Charlotte, NC, and public speaker & spoken word artist Dasan Ahanu from Raleigh, NC.  Plus Rising Star, Knoxville's own Lelani. 
7 to 10 p.m.
Central Cinema (1205 N. Central St.)
Tickets and information

January 29, 2022
Reading and signing event at The Bottom. Let the Sun Shine book is available for purchase - Click Here.

December 9, 2021
Collectively Speaking Open Mic with Poet Laureate Rhea Carmon
New open mic in Knoxville - 2nd Thursday of even months!
7 to 10 p.m.
More information

November 18, 2021
United Way ADT Event

November 15, 2021
New Chapbook - Let The Sun Shine In
Available through Iris Press and Amazon on November 15.

November 12, 2021
The 2021 5th Woman Cohort will present their work virtually on November 12 at 8 pm. Purchase a ticket and come ready to be blown away by the poetry of Jazmin Witherspoon, Chloe McMurray, Elisha Brewer and Aneja Rateiri.

November 8, 2021
UT Creative Writing Series
Online Reading by Rhea Carmon at 7 p.m.
Register at tiny.utk.edu/carmon

September 23-24, 2021
Event with KSO
The 5th Woman took the stage with Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and Reimagined Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. 

July 20-August 19, 2021
Youth Summer Spokenword Program
Dates include: July 21 & 23, July 28 & 30, August 3 & 5, August 10 & 12, August 17 & 19
Program is for ages 14-19

July 9, 2021
Secret City Poetry Night
8 p.m. at the Grove Theatre at 123 Randolph St.

June 13, 2021
Youth Poetry Slam
Change Center at 203 Harriet Tubman

May 6, 2021
The Maker City presents: The Power of Poetry
Event features Rhea Carmon, Black Atticus, Travis Tench and Kelle Jolly
6-8:30 p.m. 
Free and online; register here

April 30, 2021
Virtual Poetry Slam
Watch event on The 5th Woman Poetry on YouTube
8:30-10:30 p.m.

April 28, 2021
Stand Together Poem

Friday, April 2 - Friday, April 30, 2021
Poetry in Motion 
National Poetry Month campaign
Poetry in MotionPoet pop-up performances on Mondays and Fridays in April at KAT Transit stops. Poets and locations listed below:
• Friday, April 2 - Friday, April 30
• Friday, April 2 - Jazmin Witherspoon - Magnolia Ave
• Monday, April 5 - Sean Monett
• Friday, April 9 - Jazmin Witherspoon - Clinton Hwy
• Monday, April 12 - Sean B. Monett
• Friday, April 16 - Heather Michelle Howell - 16th and Baxter outbound, Jazmin Witherspoon - Magnolia Ave., Rhea Carmon - Clinton Hwy
• Monday, April 19 - Sean Monett, Heather Michelle Howell, 16th and Baxter outbound, Rebecca Parr
• Friday, April 23 - Sara Minges - Cumberland Avenue at Philip Fulmer Way, near the new Student Center
• Saturday, April 24 - Poetry Pop-Up event with Rhea Carmon and other participants at 4 p.m. at Market Square
• Monday, April 26 - Sara Minges - Cumberland Avenue at Philip Fulmer Way, near the new Student Center, Sean B. Monett

  Thursday, April 1, 2021
1 p.m.
Poetry in Motion kick-off event at Knoxville Station, 301 Church Ave. 

KAT's Belinda Woodiel-Brill, Mayor Indya Kincannon and Knoxville Poet Laureate Rhea Carmon kick off the Poetry in Motion campaign to celebrate National Poetry Month and public transit with pop-up poetry readings at KAT transit stops on Mondays and Fridays throughout April.

March 21, 2021
Meet Your Poet Laureate virtual event at 6 p.m.
Watch on ZoomFacebook and Instagram.

March 15, 2021
Rhea speaks to WUOT's Chrissy Kueper about coming to Knoxville and becoming a poet. Listen: 

January 21, 2021
Knoxville Poet Laureate Reacts to Amanda Gorman Poem (WBIR)

January 20, 2021
Video of Rhea for Black History Month

December 29, 2020
Knoxville Poet Laureate Inspires Younger Generation

November 4, 2020
Laughing Out Loud to Medicine Poem with Kelly Jolly

October 23, 2020
Fifth Episode of "Beyond the Spark" by The 5th Woman Poetry
Click here for a playlist of the series.

October 20, 2020
Rhea participated in the Poetry vs Hip Hop sponsored by the Hip Hop Caucus and Respect My Vote campaign. Watch the video replay.

October 18, 2020
Rhea's Spoken Word Sundays series starts. First poem was entitled "Conversations".

October 14, 2020
The poem "Clothe Yourself with a Vote" was created to encourage Knoxville to get out and vote in the election.

October 9, 2020

Third Episode of "Beyond the Spark" by The 5th Woman Poetry
Click here for a playlist of the series.

October 5, 2020
In "Home is Knoxville," RheaSunshine exalts the beauty found in our city and reminds us to experience nature as a balm during complicated times.

October 2, 2020
Second Episode of "Beyond the Spark" by The 5th Woman Poetry
Click here for a playlist of the series.

September 28, 2020
RheaSunshine will be interviewed on the Insisterhood Podcast and talk about life as a poet, teacher, wife and mother. Interview aired Oct. 5, 2020.

September 25, 2020
The 5th Woman Web Series "Beyond the Spark" premiered Sept. 25, 2020. RheaSunshine is the creative behind the series.  She is also one of the team coaches, a facilitator, and the Executive Producer of the show. The series works with 6 creatives to challenge them to create virtually and bring understanding to a wealth of topics. Episodes will be released every week on Friday at 7 p.m. following the first premiere. Click here for playlist of episodes.

September 23, 2020

RheaSunshine performed her poem "After the Black" for the WUOT Bunker Series Finale! anniversary series. You can find it at 37:20 into the Night 3 Video at https://youtu.be/lcRbTlRVrDY?t=2240.