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.
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.
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:)