As a lesbian and a student of writing (mutually inclusive), I process and metaphorically unpack beyond the healthy amount, which requires a lot of time. And a lot of wine. So, sorry for this week’s Feminine Friday delay.
After seeing Salt Lines, I needed a lot of “me” time. Katie Dee, J Bear, our other friend Radio Guy, along with most of the gay community of Iowa City and the greater surrounding area, had our worlds rocked by Denise Jolly, Sonya Renee, and Andrea Gibson. Salt Lines is a traveling troupe of female spoken word poets, all of whom have appeared on final stage or won International Slam Poetry competitions. There is also a fourth member that, for some reason, was not in Iowa. Tara Hardy. You can check them out on facebook individually or as a group, and they have a myspace. I’m so dedicated to making sure they know we’ve blogged about our experience, I’ve had to dig up my old myspace account password and username, and after locking myself out of my own account twice, I got my shit together enough to post a comment on their page. LOOK AT IT HERE. IT TOOK A LOT OF WORK.
Ok so now for my attempt at translating my experience into words. I do not want to reduce these women to just Strong, Black and Lesbian, but for the sake of preserving the novelty of inside jokes, I'll use the phrase as a spring board to take you through the show.
First, STRONG. Denise Jolly was the least in-your-face of the three women. But my goodness was she poignant, intent, determined, honest. "Small never was my size." Sing it sister. There is a delicate quality about this woman that is intimidating.
Second, BLACK. Sonye Renee's opening remark "you need to be as loud as my boobs are big" immediately stole my heart. Then she performed poems about fathers and abortion (two seperate poems, that might be a little too intense if both were mentioned in the same piece in connection with the other... wow now my mind is just racing.) which put Katie Dee and J Bear over the edge.
Apparently, they were crying for the majority of the performance. I didn't even notice. But then again, they didn't even notice me reciting verses along with Andrea Gibson. The old fashioned English Major in me still values the ability to spew verses of poetry. If you ever want the prologue to Romeo and Juliet, I, along with Ronfire99, have got you covered. If you want it in a Christopher Walken voice, just call Ronfire. I was so plugged in, I was so engaged, I was so with it, feeling it, all about it, that the last thing on my brain was crying. I didn't even think that that's what I could have done in this situation. I was so all about every woman on that stage that all I could do was watch and be present. I brought my camera and again, didn't use it. I stick to my principle that it only detaches the viewer from their experience and I'd rather have memories in my heart and in my brain than on an SD card. But again, that's a different blog post.
Third, LESBIAN. I can't begin to tell you how great it was to see Andrea Gibson perform live. And how lame of a way to say that? "How great." I met her and was the most awkward a person can be. I'll just keep telling myself it's part of my charm... She performed "I Do" and the fact that she was in Iowa, where she can, was really quite special. I do love Iowa as a state. They really have their shit together and believe in what America stands for and what it can be. At least, the Iowans I know do. Maybe I just have good taste. Also, her girlfriend is an Iowan and her mother was in the audience so it was twice as precious.
The show was such a rollercoast of emotions. I was laughing then crying then laughing AND crying, then I was pissed, then I was ashamed, then I was determined, then it was over. TOO SOON, TOO SOON.
Sonya and Andrea also did a period poem by a guy named Christian Drake. They introduced it by telling a story about picking a poem that would be inappropriate to do in front of Andrea's GF's momma, and this was the worst they could come up with, so they obviously did it. LOVE THAT. I couldn't find a youtube clip of him doing the poem or Sonya and Andrea, but I found one of Andrea and Katie Wirsing performing "Bloodbath." It's very "Blood in the Board Room." And AWESOME. It's even better that this was originally written by a man. All of us left thinking "I want someone to love me so much they'd have period sex with me."
The video is cut off a bit at the beginning, but I'm over it.
I now want to TiVo Def Jam poetry.
Update 3/23/10: Here is the video of Sonya Renee and Andrea Gibson performing "Bloodbath" at the University of Iowa. You cna probably hear me clapping.
Side Note by Katie Dee: So in preparation for writing this Side Note I went back through and watched all these videos again, to remind myself of the live experience. And damned if I didn't start fucking crying - in the library. CK talked about how she was so focused on the performance that the last thing on her mind was crying but I see it differently - I couldn't help it. From Andrea Gibson's first poem (which was like the 2nd poem they did. I literally cried for the whole damn thing), I was just so entirely filled with their passion and their words that I couldn't help my tears. It was involuntary and automatic to cry, as much as it was to laugh at "Bloodbath." These women - especially live - were so extraordinary. They were all such different kinds of strong, different kinds of poetic - Denise had delicate language, Andrea was the most playful with her words, and Sonya was just strength personified. So yeah, the summary of my experience was that I was so blown away by them that I couldn't contain my emotion. If you have the chance to see them, please do so. You will absolutely not regret it.
Ok, and to make myself less weepy before my next class, I'm sharing with you a new Denise Jolly poem that shows a different side of her - a side I like. Also, HOW GREAT is that bloodbath video? Seriously, I would LOVE to have someone who loved me that much. "This blood on my skin is the photograph I take when I visit your heart." HOLY SHIT. Ok here's the Denise Jolly poem.