• Bio

    SHORT BIO:

     

     

    Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa is a 26 year old Kenyan, Immigrant, Queer Womyn speaker and performer. A 2017 TEDWomen speaker and ranked 3rd at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam, FreeQuency is an internationally touring author, host, youth-worker, social-justice lecturer, teaching artist and workshop leader who has spent her life at the intersection of arts, education and activism. An award-winning poet/speaker, she and/or her work in Reproductive Justice, #BlackLivesMatter organizing, LGBTQ+ advocacy and poetry have been featured on Upworthy, OkayAfrica, TEDx, the New York Times, For Harriet, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, & other outlets. View her work at www.FreeQuencySpeaks.com.

     

    In addition to writing and performing poetry, FreeQuency has published articles in The Grio, For Harriet, the Feminist Majority Foundation's Campus Leadership Network and is currently a founding member of the New Orleans chapter of the Black Youth Project 100, a founding committee member and host of the New Orleans Youth Open Mic (NOYOM), a blogger with the AfroFashion and Culture Blog Noirlinians and a member of Wildseeds: The New Orleans Octavia Butler Emergent Strategy Collective. She currently works as a community organizer at Women With A Vision, a social justice non-profit whose major focus areas include Reproductive Justice outreach, HIV+ Women's Advocacy, Sex Worker Rights and Drug Policy Reform as well as running the Young Women With A Vision program coordinator.

  • Booking + Contact

    Want FreeQuency to feature at your show? Got another request?

    Word. Then use the form below.

     

  • Buy "BECOMING//BLACK" today!

    For BULK or INTERNATIONAL orders,

    email FreeQuencySpeaks@gmail.com

  • Upcoming Events, Performances, Slams, Workshops & Features

    Stay tuned for the 2017 calendar 

    NACA South Showcase

    October 5th, 2017
    Chattanooga Convention Center 
    Chattanooga, TN

    Join us this fall at the 2017 NACA® South Regional Conference in Chattanooga, TN and reach new heights! Looking for professional development, networking opportunities, fresh programming ideas or great entertainment? You'll find all of this and more at NACA® South 2017.

    In Solidarity We Rise Conference

    Featured Performer & Workshop Leader

    Oct. 12th, 2017
    Washington D.C.

    You can look at it as a traditional conference, but in reality it will be much more. Together we will gather in our nations capitol from across the country to focus on learning how to better support girls and young women; forging new alliances, and strengthening the movement in support of girls and young women.

     

    Core to “In Solidarity” is the leadership and engagement of girls and young women and the use of approaches to learning, strategizing and connecting that are creative, intersectional, and two or multigenerational. There will be pre-conference intensives, workshops and more – all full of surprises!

    We are expecting a sell-out crowd of 1,500 people. We hope you will mark the dates and join us so together we can focus on the needs and potential of all marginalized girls, with girls of color at the center of our conversation. The three integrated strands of In Solidarity are:

     

    HEALING – Understanding the root causes of trauma and discovering new pathways to well being.

    OPPORTUNITY – Exploring diverse and innovative ways to support health, economic security and civic engagement for girls.

    JUSTICE – Catalyze and strengthen the justice reform for girls movement.

     

    Conference planning is underway and more specifics will be available in the coming months. To receive updates and information email us at InSolidarity@NationalCrittenton.org.

    NACA Central Showcase

    Oct. 14th, 2017
    Cox Convention Center
    Oklahoma City, OK

    Join us this fall at the 2017 NACA® Central Regional Conference in Oklahoma City, OK and unmask your opportunities! Looking for professional development, networking opportunities, fresh programming ideas or great entertainment? You'll find all of this and more at NACA® Central 2017.

    TEDWomen 2017: Building Bridges

    Performer/Speaker

    Nov 1st-3rd, 2017

    New Orleans, LA

    TEDWomen is a three-day conference about the power of women and girls to be creators and change-makers. The program of speakers, workshops, events — and daring discussions — has sparked some of TED's most iconic moments yet. TEDWomen brings together a global community of people interested in exploring how change begins: with innovative thinkers who catalyze ideas toward action. Over the past few years, TEDWomen and TEDxWomen have launched some powerful ideas into the world.

    6400 Press Dr.
    PERFORMANCE
    : 12:30pm
     

    Whether you are an educator, student, administrator, clinician, or activist these challenging times call for clarity in solidarity work with families and communities towards equity. Effectively doing so requires that our practices engage in understanding the multiplicity of personal, social and institutional locations that frame identities within historic, economic and political life. The paradigm of Liberation-based Healing locates these complexities within a societal matrix that shapes relationships of: power, privilege, and oppression- building on the foundations of Critical Consciousness, Empowerment and Accountability in order to interrupt White, Cis-Hetero-Patriarchy as a dominant discourse within a Capitalist context of Coloniality. Founded by The Institute for Family Services (IFS), the LBHC offers strategies that promote healing by interrupting oppressive societal structures with justice-based practices.

    Women of the Bayou Slam
    Nov 4th, 2017

    Houston, TX

    TICKETS

    Sixteen of the Nations top Women Poets from as far as New York, and New Mexico will be having an all out word brawl. Some as seen, on TV One Verses & Flow and are ranked as Top Poets on the poetry circuit. This will be a very powerful show hosted by the amazing Tova Charles from Austin Tx.

    Our special guest feature will be BgirlCity. BgirlCity is a local all female hip hop/breakdancers. Come enjoy some female breakdancers and poplockers that will have you in awe!

    Da Poetry Lounge Showcase

    Nov 7th, 2017

    Los Angeles, CA

    Greenway Court Theatre
    544 N. Fairfax Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA 90036

     

    Admission
    $5 (cash only) on OpenMic nights

     

    The ultimate goal of DPL is to create a communal space for people to be heard. We celebrate poetry in all forms, and welcome all those who are courageous enough to share their stories or are willing to support others that do.

    Not only the largest running open mic venue in America, welcoming an average of 250+ audiences per week, DPL reaches beyond its weekly open mic to inspire the world.

    NACA West Showcase

    Nov 9th-12th, 2017

    Reno, NV

    Join us this fall at the 2017 NACA® West Regional Conference in Reno, NV! Looking for professional development, networking opportunities, fresh programming ideas or great entertainment? You'll find all of this and more at NACA® West 2017.

    As the issue of reparations for the historical crimes of African enslavement in the United States and the rest of the Americas continues to gather momentum, the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) will convene two major events in New Orleans, a Benefit Reception, November 30th and an Area/Regional Town Hall meeting Dec. 2nd.

     

    Among the national and international dignitaries scheduled to participate in the New Orleans gathering are Actor/Activist Humanitarian Danny Glover; Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and Vice Chancellor/President of the University of the West Indies from Jamaica; Ms. Mireille Fanon, daughter of Frantz Fanon, Paris, France; and, Ms. Samia Nkrumah, the daughter of Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana. Ms. Nkrumah has become a vocal advocate for reparations, particularly focusing on engaging Africans from the continent in the movement. Click here for more info

  • Videos

    Check out videos of FreeQuency's poetry and speaking engagements

    "Lessons on Being An African Immigrant in America"

     

    Filmed by the good folks at Poetry Slam Inc on finals stage at the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland where Slam New Orleans took 3rd place overall.

    "The Joys of Motherhood" 

     

    Filmed by the good folks at Button Poetry during the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, New Mexico where FreeQuency placed 10th overall

    Black Girls Rock

    Filmed by the good folks at Write About Now Poetry during a Write About Now feature in Houston, TX

    The "I'm Sorry" Poem

    Filmed by the good folks over at Button Poetry during the 2016 Southern Fried Poetry Slam where Team SNO won for the first time.

    The 7 Deadly American Sins

     

    Filmed by the good folks over at Button Poetry during the 2014 Texas Grand Slam where FreeQuency placed 5th overall

    "The Princess Poem"

     

    Filmed by the good folks at Button Poetry during the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, New Mexico where FreeQuency placed 10th overall

    "For Sandra Bland"

     

    Filmed by the good folks at Poetry Slam Inc. at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam where FreeQuency tied for 3rd place overall

    "Dear White People"

     

    Filmed by the good folks at Poetry Slam Inc. at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam where FreeQuency tied for 3rd place overall

    TEDx Talk on Unlearning

    (Poem at end of talk - "For John Mac") - May be incompatible with some computers

     

    "Education has always had a shaping force in spoken word poet and Tulane student Mwende Katwiwa's life. In this powerful TEDxTalk talk, Mwende, who performs under the stage name FreeQuency and received a standing ovation at the end of the talk, describes the challenges she faced while volunteering at a failing high school in New Orleans."

    Embracing Weakness (A Poem for Strong Black Women)

     

    Filmed by the good people at Poetry Slam Inc. during semi-finals for the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, CA where Slam New Orleans took 3rd place overall!

    GROUP PIECES

    Colored Lens

    A Scribe Called & FreeQuency, Team SNO 2014

     

    Filmed by Russell Simmons' All Def Poetry during a showcase at the 2014 National Poetry Slam

    Keep On Token

    FreeQuency & Akeem Olaj of Team SNO 

     

    Filmed by the good folks over at Write About Now during the 2015 Southern Fried Poetry Slam

    "American Rape Culture"

    FreeQuency and Desiree Dallagiacomo

     

    Filmed by the good folks at Button Poetry for the 2014 National Poetry Slam 

    Audio

    Slam New Orleans aka Team SNO is a collective of performance poets, educators, youth workers, activists and students that strive to promote spoken word poetry as a means of artistic expression, community engagement and literacy expansion. Team SNO has attended 4 of the past 5 National Poetry Slam competitions, earning 3 national titles in this short amount of time. We’ll be featuring three of the groups poets: Honey Sanaa, Kataalyst Alcindor and Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa. Originally aired on April 13th 2016.

     

    My last mix was a retrospective on 90s Hip Hop that included no rappers who identify as female. Obviously this was not on purpose, but it is absolutely proof positive of how deeply I have internalized the patriarchy. Some of the best rappers of all time identify as women, so I've decided to create a mix that only includes female MCs and spoken word artists.

     

    "The fierce willingness to repudiate domination in a holistic manner is the starting point for progressive cultural revolution." - bell hooks

     

    Photo credit: www.renetimmermans.com/

     

    Shaun is joined by Mwende Katwiwa (AKA FreeQuency) from Team Slam New Orleans, the city’s award winning (they got first place in both the 2012 and 2013 National Poetry Slam) slam poetry team. Originally aired August 6th 2015.

    Mwende Katwiwa aka Freequency talks with Gahiji on her book and experience “Becoming Black.”

  • Social Media

    Facebook: FreeQuency aka FreeQ tha Mighty

    Twitter: @FreeQthaMighty

    Instagram: @MwenderInSuspenders

  • FreeQuency in the News

    "5 Powerful Spoken Word Poetry Performances by Women You Need to Watch Right Now"

    4.27.2016 | Teen Vogue

    Not only does FreeQuency carefully pick a witty title for this piece, she digs right into society’s affinity for slut shaming. The work points out that when women experience sexually assault, they are regularly shamed and held responsible, while their attackers are liberated from blame. What’s even more shocking is the way the poet fearlessly takes politicians to task by pointing out their deficiencies when it comes to confronting rape culture.

     

    Read the rest of the article here

     

    ANOTHER RAPE POEM: A LIST OF POEMS THAT BREAK THE SILENCE ON SEXUAL ASSAULT + RAPE CULTURE

    3.9.2016 | Words Dance Publishing

    I’ve been thinking a lot about rape poems, how people basically view them as a trope of the genre at this point, how almost every poet I know has one—whether they use the R-word or not, whether it’s about them or a friend or just the culture we live in. I have one in my second book. For the longest time, I felt guilty about writing another one. Like I’d already used up my opportunity, like if I didn’t have something particularly new to say about the topic, then I shouldn’t bother bringing it up again. But for the last month, it’s been almost all I could write about.

     

    Read the rest of the interview here

    Spotlight Video: Listen Carefully, This Is What Rape Culture Sounds Like In America

    9.7.15 | Femvocates

    "I'm a huge fan of spoken word.  I’m also a huge fan of discussing rape culture.  Mix those two together and you get one of the best spoken word performances I have seen..."

     

    Read the rest of the article here

    Fashion and Culture in America's "Most African City"

    9.7.15 | Abiya Magazine

    Fierce, fresh, fly. These are some of the words that come to mind when describing Denisio Truitt and Mwende Katwiwa’s new blog “Noirlinians.” The self-described “AfroFashion blog” is an ode to African clothes and culture in New Orleans...

     

    Read the rest of the interview here

    Poet Breaks Down to Complicated Joys of Black Motherhood

    7.23.15 | Huffington Post

     

    The Kenyan-native performed her powerful poem at the 2015 Women Of The World Poetry Slam this past March in Albuquerque, New Mexico. FreeQuency talks about how much she wanted to be a mother, until she realized what motherhood is really like for so many black women in the U.S.,“Now I’m 23 years old and I don’t know if I have what it takes to stomach motherhood in this country,"

     

     

    Read the rest of the article here

    A Moving Tribute to the Women Raising Black Children in America

    7.14.15 | BLAVITY

    These poets talk about the nuances of Black motherhood. Their one-liners will speak truth to feelings you never knew how to express and leave you stunned, tearful and gasping for more...

     

    See the original post here

    ‘Noirlinians’ Fashion Bloggers Say New Orleans Is “The Most African U.S. City”

    7.7.15 | OkayAfrica

    The “AfroFashion” blog Noirlinians is the brainchild of two friends interested in exploring the complex relationship between culture and identity throughout the African diaspora.

     

    Read the rest of the article here

    UNAPOLOGETICALLY BLACK:

    Activism on (and off) the streets with BYP100

    3.15.15 | Antigravity Magazine

     

    Several things distinguished New Orleans' "Black Lives Matter" protests from out city's usual sign savings, including that much of the visible leadership was young Black women, part of what may be an emergent new generation of civil rights organizers with a radically different analysis and approach...

     

    See the original post here

    Women are the majority of rape victims in the United States and across the world, yet somehow their is some sort of consensus that her morals need to be questioned, rather than approach this as a sex crime. This frustrating issue was explored in a slam poetry event in Oakland, CA at the prelims of the 2o14 National Poetry Slam by artists Freequency and Desiree Dallagiacomo. Their 3 minute piece called “American Rape Culture” points to a specific area of pop culture which they say has a massive effect on how we view rape today.

     

    Read the rest of the article here

    Think We Live in a Post Racial Society? Watch this Video

    2.19.15 | Blavity

    Poem reposted on Blavity.com. Originally posted by Button Poetry

    How Rape Has Become a Staple of American Culture

    1.30.15 | Everyday Feminism

    With this spoken word piece, witness the fierce courage it takes to stand up to rape culture, call out the offending songs, and stop singing along...

     

    Read the rest of the article here

    "Recently Read:

    A New Orleans Writer's Roundup"

    1.16.15 | Press Street

    In her introduction, Katwiwa describes being moved while reading widely circulated criticisms Chief Elk had made of Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues and its corresponding “V-Day,” while she—Katwiwa—was overseeing a production of that performance at Tulane...

     

    See the original post here 

    "8 Hit Songs With Hidden Meanings

    That Should Never Be Played Again"

    1.1.15 | Upworthy

    "Why are these kinds of songs so dangerous?

     

    If a song like "Blurred Lines" is a #1 hit, what does that say to a rape victim? It says we, as a society, are not taking rape seriously. So how is a rape victim supposed to trust a system that's part of this rape culture? They often don't...

      

    Read the rest of the article here

    "Listen Carefully, This is What Rape Culture Sounds Like in America"

    12.22.14 | HuffPost

     

    "Two women just explained the insidious nature of rape culture in under three minutes. At the 2014 National Poetry Slam in August, spoken word artists Desireé Dallagiacomo and Mwende Katwiwa (a.k.a FreeQuency) performed the poem"American Rape Culture," and explained how some of the songs we sing along to on the radio are directly contributing to rape culture..."

     

     

    Read the rest of the article here

     

    "Millennials and the Age of Tumblr Activism"

    12.19.14 | New York Times

     

    "Mwende Katwiwa, 23, creator of the FreeQuency Frequently Writes Tumblr and a community organizer offline, thinks Tumblr has helped create new opportunities for engagement. “The last national movement in the black community didn’t have access to social media like this,” Ms. Katwiwa said. “Without those retweets and reposts, we wouldn’t still be talking about Trayvon Martin...”

     

     

    Read the rest of the article here

    "Competitor Profile"

    10.16.14 | Texas Grand Slam

    "Poetry, specifically spoken word was introduced to me as a safe space for Queer youth and for Youth of Color to learn and grown in their identities and activism through art based expressions (poetry, hip hop, Djing, breakdancing, stepping) Through this program, I became a youth activist and found that my greatest tool was my tongue (it was definitely not my two feet dancing), and I began identifying as a poet and activist. This was a crucial stage of my life when I discovered that activism was really what I felt passionate about..."

     

    Read the rest of the interview here

     

    "Woman With A Vision"

    5.15.14 | The New Wave

    "That inspiration coupled with self-motivation continued to fuel her desire for volunteerism throughout her Tulane years. She has been recognized with a Jim Runsdorf Excellence in Public Service Student Award, the Bruce J. Heim Foundation Fellowship and a Public Service Fellowship with the Tulane Center for Public Service, where she has served as a student advisory board member, among other honors... 

    Read the rest of the article here

    "Unplugged"

    4.29.14 | Brassy Brown

    "BrassyBrown.com chats with Spoken Word Artist FreeQuency aka FreeQ tha Mighty for National Poetry month"

     

    Read the rest of the interview here

    "Feminist You Should Know"

    2.23.14 | BUST Magazine

    "Recently I sat down with the lovely and talented Mwende Katwiwa — a.k.a. FreeQuency, a spoken word artist, recent recipient of the Feminist You Should Know Award, and senior at Tulane University. Ms. Katwiwa is 22 and double majoring in Political Economy with International Perspectives, and African & African Diaspora studies...

     

    Read the rest of the interview here

    "Local Poets Represent LA"

    2014 | The Drum Newspaper

    "Born in Kenya, Katwiwa calls New Orleans home. She attended her first spoken word show in middle school, called Project 2050. “I had never heard poetry that was so relevant to my life and experiences,” she said. “I was so used to poetry being an ‘art for art’s sake’ based on what I had been taught and the poetry I encountered in school..."

     

    Read the rest of the interview+article here

     

    "Highlighting Women Innovators"

    2013 | Melissa Harris-Perry's Anna Cooper Project

    "With a name like Winnovators, which means women innovators, it kind of sounds like you’re reaching out to those crowds, but for us it was more having this universal connecting appeal to whatever crowd it is. It should be of interest to anyone that something is being innovated, and we’re just highlighting the fact that it’s women because we have an understanding that in our society women’s inventions, women’s ideas may not be as valued or easily and readily publicized..."

     

    Read the rest of the interview here

    "Learning to Unlearn"

    11.14.13 | Tulane Hullabaloo

    "...Among the most poignant moments of the evening involved Tulane senior and spoken word artist, Mwende Katwiwa (aka FreeQuency)...FreeQuency then shared a powerful and searing piece of slam poetry entitled “For John Mac,” the name by which she and her fellow volunteers referred to John McDonogh High, and received the loudest applause of the night..."

     

    Read the rest of the article here

    "Competitor Profile"

    10.18.13 | Texas Grand Slam

    1. How has your poetry changed since you started slamming?

     

     

    It hasn’t. I would never change my poetry just for the sake of competition. Other than time limits, nothing has changed and even with that I always just write my poetry then tailor them to the time limits after and have 2 separate pieces, 1 to slam with and 1 to just write.

     

    Read the rest of the interview here

  • Published Work

    April 30th, 2015

    Book Becoming//Black published

    February 16th, 2015

     

    FreeQuency's first collection of poems

     

    Get your copy today

    Poem 'The 7 Deadly American Sins' published in

    "Trayvon Martin, Race & American Justice:

    Writing Wrong"

     

     

    Trayvon Martin, Race, and “American Justice”: Writing Wrong is the first comprehensive text to analyze not only the killing of Trayvon Martin, but the implications of this event for the state of race in the United States. Bringing together contributions from a variety of disciplines and approaches, this text pushes readers to answer the question: “In the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin, and the acquittal of his killer, how post-racial can we claim to be?” This collection of short and powerful chapters is at times angering and at times hopeful, but always thought provoking, critical, and poignant. This interdisciplinary volume is well suited for undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty in sociology, social work, law, communication, and education. This book can also be read by anyone interested in social justice and equity through the lens of race in the 21st century. 

     

     

    Click here for a preview of the book

    December 27th, 2014

    November 17th, 2014

    Interview Published on Winnovating.com

    "Loretta Ross: Winnovating Reproductive Justice"

    September 30th, 2014

    August 13, 2014

    Article Self Published FreeQthaMighty.tumblr.com:

    "On White People, Solidarity, and (not) Marching for Mike Brown

    August 2014

    Article+Interview on

    Feminist Campus:

    "On The Power of Activism and Defeating TRAP Laws in Louisiana"

     

    February 3rd, 2014

    December 23rd, 2013