May has been a month of extreme growth and development, for both myself personally and for When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic. Huge, Wonderful, Incredible changes. 2012 will be a year I remember for a long time (and the year’s not even over!)
First of all: in the spirit of taking risks, embracing the punk aesthetic that I love so much (yet find myself terrified to fully embrace), and celebrating 2 years of When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution as an open mic–I dyed my hair pink. Let me repeat that one more time, in case you are skimming over and missed that previous line. I DYED MY HAIR PINK. Not pastel pink. No light or subtle colors for me. This is the first time I’ve ever dyed my hair like this, and there is no halfway point on this. As soon as I promised myself that THIS was the month that it would happen, I knew that the only way to do this would be as bright and bold as possible. and voila. The whole process was made exceptionally easy thanks to a friend of mine who generously agreed to help me make this the best experience ever. She did such a great job! The success of this is so much a part of her excellent abilities, and you’ll have to excuse me, but she is amazing. Her name, if you’re curious, is Tami Porter-Jones and she’s a pretty fabulous writer, and her first book is out and available on amazon. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, of stories with characters who draw you in, and great writing, then you should for sure check out her book, which is available on amazon or right here. Do yourself a favor and get in on the action.
So yeah. My hair is now bright pink. And I’m loving every second of it.
This month has also made me acutely aware of how important starting the When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic/community was. It’s been an incredible two years, full of a lot of wondering “am I doing the right thing?” and “is this going to last/be worth it?” The answer was always pretty obvious, but here, two years later, the answer is unquestionable. YES. It was. And it’s an amazing community of writers/performers and I’m so grateful to see how it’s grown and developed, with such an amazing group of core supporters and new people at the same time. There is DEFINITELY a reason this little open mic with a huge spirit won City Weekly’s Best Poetry Open Mic in 2012.
A little food for thought, should anyone outside of Salt Lake read this post/about the awesome that is WSSIHtR: Don’t spend your time wishing that something like this existed in your area. Seriously. All it takes is the guts to start your own revolution. You say you want a space dedicated to creative women writers and musicians? Make it happen. Talk to your friends. Talk to venues around your town. Coffee shops, bookstores, libraries–find somewhere! And the best part about organizing an open mic that people don’t really tell you (especially when you’re *just* starting out) is how freakin’ easy it is. Bring the passion. Bring the support. Advertise as much as you can over facebook. Invite everyone you meet. Post fliers everywhere. And most of all: BE THERE. Be ready for nights that ROCK, where the talent is so dynamic and contagious that you’re freewriting poetic verse by the end of the night even though you’ve never been a poet. Be ready for the nights where it is your small core group sharing stuff in a supportive environment, testing out new/old material among friends. Be prepared for these and everything in between. Most of all–be persistent. In creating a community like this, it’s you who has the role of the fearless leader. Without you this wouldn’t exist. Don’t give into your fears. Embrace that inner pit bull, grab the bone and GO.
They say that you are your own worst enemy. What they don’t say ENOUGH is the more important message that the movie Whip It conveys.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN HERO.
It’s up to you to create, to bring people together, to make a scene, to start your own damn revolution….so what are you waiting for?
This message is absolutely something I’ve learned over the trials and successes of running the When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic, and if you are interested in more information, in starting your own variation on the theme, please feel free to let me know, either in the comments or an email at rebelgrrrl.theblog at gmail.com
Final thought for this post: having a project like WSSIHtR has been a really interesting way to track my growth. The very first open mic two years ago, I was so terrified being onstage, in front of people. SO terrified. And now here I am running City Weekly’s Best Poetry Open Mic and just last weekend I hosted the Salt Lake City Women of the World Poetry Slam qualifier. That was unquestionably the biggest thing I’ve done to date. The community and spirit of slam was actually part of my influence in starting WSSIHtR, and hosting a slam event is COMPLETELY different from an open mic–at least in terms of format. The general idea is the same. Thanks to my two years with WSSIHtR, thanks to my learning to come to terms with being in front of people, sharing my own words, my own spirit, and offering myself up to the altar of the creative community has taught me a lot. And I rocked the slam as the host. So much fun. It was definitely a learning experience in terms of the stuff that was different from slam to open mic, and I was far from perfect, but I did my best to keep up the energy and got the hang of it pretty well. For me being onstage is a unique experience. I am myself, but amplified. Weird sentiment but totally accurate. I don’t really disguise myself in a character created exclusively for the stage, and for me I think it works. It’s definitely more vulnerable, when people are seeing you pretty much as you are, but once you realize that you’re in control, that you’re the driver and by the way, you’re kick ass, it’s pretty fun. It’s getting to a point that works that is the real challenge. And it doesn’t come overnight. But damn is it a learning experience, and one that leads to more self-knowledge, more self-confidence, and a bigger appreciation for all the little steps that led you to your state of knowledge.
It’s on that note that I’ll end this blog with a BIG GIANT shout out to everyone past and present who has helped make When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution such a huge success. While it takes one person to lead, an open mic like this cannot exist without a supportive and engaged community. And everyone adds to the spirit that is built up over time.
Also–the future is shining pretty brightly. When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution is getting better every day.
–One last note, and I ended the May WSSIHtR open mic with this idea–When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution started on a dare, on a vague notion that something like this could happen and work, but no certainty whatsoever. It’s through dares like this one that hidden paths can be uncovered, that monsters can be defeated, that we can learn to overcome our fears. So for the month of June (and beyond?)–be daring. Have you always thought that your hair would be cooler neon green? Screw convention–do it! Have you been wanting to do something but you keep convincing yourself out of it? Stop rationalizing your fears. Dare yourself to do one thing every month that scares you. Just try. Even if it’s not the best experience in the world, you’ll have learned something. And we live once. What are we living for if we’re too cautious? Too safe? Give yourself permission to start your journey to flight.