Being an artist means forever healing your own wounds, and at the same time endlessly exposing them. - Annette Messager
About five years ago, I wrote a poem called “Werewolf” about my struggles with self-abuse and depression. Eventually, a performance of this poem was posted, unbeknown to me, on YouTube. At first, it made me very uncomfortable having all my issues out there for the world to discover in one mouse click. It was one thing to consciously consent to perform to a room of strangers but to let my poem wander freely on the open, cruel range of the internet? Terrifying.
As my success in the slam poetry world grew and my work became more popular, I honestly contemplated taking the video down. After telling coworkers I was a poet, I would silently pray they wouldn’t Google me. It was even awkward with close friends, partners and family. How do you bring something like that up? How long can I postpone them seeing this? It was too uncomfortable. It was too vulnerable. Yet slowly something really miraculous started to happen.
I began to receive messages from people across the country, strangers who saw my poem online. These people, who I had never met, would share deep, personal secrets. They wrote about their own struggles with depression, cutting, abuse, eating disorders, sexual trauma, or even their relationships with their parents. They shared things they admittedly didn’t tell their loved ones. They all thanked me for telling my story and my struggles because it made them feel like they weren’t alone in theirs.
This brutal honesty is one of the awe-inspiring qualities that I love about poetry, both from the writer and the reader/listener. It’s the idea that we are all connected, that we suffer the same and we triumph the same. Serendipitously, every time I felt the urge to take down the video of my poem I would receive the most impacting emails. This dialogue between myself and complete strangers, about my most personal secret became therapeutic and healing for both parties.
“Activism is my rent for living on the planet.” - Alice Walker
I am incredibly honored to announce that I have been awarded a VERVE Grant from Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. With their assistance, I am going to finally actualize a project that I have been pickling in my head for years. Although it has taken some time to become comfortable with the idea of being a poster child of depression, I would like to “pay some rent” for the amazing opportunities with which I have been presented. With the assistance of the VERVE Grant, I will create a website that will hosts a weekly podcast, as well as poetry, prompts and discussion focused around the concept of healing.
I absolutely cannot do this alone. I will never pretend to know it all. I am wandering traveler in this world, as we all are. The point of this podcast is not to tell you where to go, but provide some thought invoking, supportive commentary along the way. To be honest, I am simultaneously ecstatic and terrified by the opportunity to make it happen. The first step in announcing it. The next step is…doing it.
So, here we go.
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- deuscain said: Good luck and have fun :)
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- julieellen said: This is the most exciting thing I have heard in weeks! Also, this is the type of project I would love to help with in any way you need- don’t underestimate how much support you have out here! And let me know if I can help in any way!
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