Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Survival is my revolution"

The title of this post is one of the lines of poetry from the Sexual Assault Awareness Month "Enemies of Silence" event. I love the line because it made me think of how incredible it is what some people can do with past sexual trauma. How they can turn it into anger and beauty and power and art and change. And then I also realized not everyone is so lucky. Sometimes the only thing people can do is survive. That is a revolution in itself. 

So obviously, last night's event was AMAZING. Also super intense. So many amazing women performing. Honestly, there were several times when I thought, "What the heck am I doing here?" Particularly when I realized that most of the performers were formidable poets, writers and performers ALL THE TIME. Like this is what they DO. 

Example:
Me: Hi, I'm Christa. I wrote this book. It's coming out next fall.
Woman 1: I'm Kristiana Colon. It's nice to meet you.
(moments later)
MC of the evening: Our first performer is Kristiana Colon. You've probably seen her on Def Poetry Jam or heard her on WBEZ. She's a poet, playwright, holds an MFA from The Art Institute of Chicago, is published in several anthologies and her latest awards include...

"I wrote this book"---> Yes, this is the Christa equivalent of "I carried a watermelon"

The entire night was filled with these formidable women, including: Misty De Berry, KrisDeLaRash, Lani Montreal, The Pow-Wow performing artists, etc. 

BUT, in spite of my misgiving about reading (thank goodness for all those theater classes), the night went really well. I had several friends in the audience (thank you everyone!) and only my legs shook when I read from TRAINWRECK. 

And it got me more invigorated and excited about the book. It got me excited about the next Voices and Faces Testimonial Writing Workshop in the fall. I got to see one of the survivors who was in the workshop with me (Sarah Sullivan). She's started this amazing group called Threads of Compassion where she and others knit scarves to give to rape victims in hospital ERs. Talk about using something you are good at and turning it into awesome.

At the end of the night, one of the women read a poem she wrote to her daughter. It moved me so much because it talked about all the deeply complicated messages that we give to our girls about rape and what they "have" to do to protect themselves. (don't wear bikinis, you can't sleepover at that girl's house, don't sit like that, etc.). She talked about how we give them these messages so that if anything bad ever happens, they won't be shamed. Because if anything bad happens, they will be asked: what were you wearing, how much had you been drinking, who were you hanging out with, etc. One line of her poem, "My shaming is your shield," left me undone. Kicked me in the gut and made me realize that yes, this is the culture that our girls are inheriting.

I have much more to say, but will leave it at this: I am so grateful to those there. So grateful for all your supportive words. So grateful to have been included in this evening. And also, so grateful to Mike Happ who actually got me to the right place:)

15 comments:

Elisabeth said...

How moving. It sounds like the event was really great! The work that you do is so important, and I really applaud you for doing it. On a more superficial note, you look fantastic. I love your dress! :-D

moljoe said...

I was thinking of you last night- sounds like it went great and of course, I have "watermelon" moments all of the time! So proud of you :)

Doug said...

Someone has to carry the watermelon!
I spoke to 150 strangers in a church service recently about the Clarke Crow, also known as the "Camp Robber Crow" because it sits passively on a branch until a hiker puts down her backpack, then the bird swoops down and picks the pack apart looking for food. Afterward I learned that my audience included professors from Brandeis, BU, Boston College, Tufts and Wellesley. I felt like Steve Martin in The Jerk. Banjo. Watermelon. Stupid little hat. Stupid little analogy. But they all found beauty and truth in my little story. So I'm grateful these events are populated by sparrows and the crows perch only in our own brains.

Brinda said...

I'm so proud to know you. Your work is as important as any of those listed. The power of words...

Giles Hash said...

Sounds like a great event! As a man, I was raised to honor and respect women. I wish ALL men would treat women the way they DESERVE to be treated so that these events don't need to happen.

Elodie said...

Ok first I had to laugh at your line "Somebody had to carry the watermelon"...Somebody always does but that somebody also shines because you, my friend, also don´t belong in a corner :D

Wonderful post, Christa and very moving...everything from those courageous people just like you taking on their revolution...It´s hard to find words and you somehow all do (words, scarfs, books, poems who can make us thing hard and long!). Yep, wonderful post!

Jolene Perry said...

I got all teary-eyed.

What an awesome night, SO glad you were asked to be there. Just think, in a few years they'll announce you as something like - Christa Desir, multi-publisher YA author, NYT Best seller, has been awarded . . .
Oh. And is pals with John Green :-D

Lucy V Morgan said...

So glad that the evening went well (and you look so poised and elegant in those pictures). You're a bunch of very brave people.

Also, I frickin' love your watermelon.

Mandie Baxter said...

Okay...I'm tearing up. You are an incredible lady! Watermelon and all. :D

Brandy Colbert said...

Aaaah, I cannot WAIT to read your book. Sounds like a wonderful night. Extra points for the Dirty Dancing reference.

Oh, and you look fantastic.

Jessica Silva said...

aweee you have no idea how much I wish I could've been there :( someday I'll have money to fly around and visit all my friends' events, including yours!! especially for something so amazing. OH CHRISTA <3 you don't need a bunch of pub credits or awards to be amazing because you ALREADY ARE.

Jessica Love said...

Your book is important!

This is awesome. You do good stuff out there, Christa. Thank you.

Angela Cothran said...

The title of your post gave me CHILLS!!!

Lyla said...

^Agreed! Thank you for all that you do. And yes, the watermelon IS important. :)

I've left you a blog award over at: http://lylawrites.blogspot.com/2012/04/blog-awards-galore-sequel.html

Sarah Pearson said...

This sounds as though it was an incredibly moving evening. I'm so glad you got to experience it.