When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution May Reflection

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.

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When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution + UHC BOOK FESTIVAL

Great, great news to start a Friday!

When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution will be an exhibitor at the Utah Humanities Council’s 14th Annual Book Festival! How exciting is that? A celebration of books + A celebration of words and writing? I can think of no better way to spend a day.

For those of you unfamiliar with the When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic–we are an open mic that meets once a month with a focus on encouraging and supporting the voices of women and the trans community. When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution is an open mic dedicated to being there for those who have felt marginalized and those who are ready to start a creative revolution within their own lives. For more information, feel free to check out this interview I did with Gavin Sheehan, of City Weekly’s Gavin’s Underground.

And the Book Festival is going to be amazing. The big day for the festival is the 22nd of October, but keep in mind that events will be going on statewide for the entire month! Check the website for more information and to find out if your favorite authors will be hitting your town!

A few things:

In readiness for this awesome opportunity, When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution will be having our first zine! For Salt Lake/Utah artists and writers–SUBMIT YOUR WORK!! If you believe in the mission of When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution–I want you! If you believe in creative revolutions–I want you! If you believe that feminist art is an important aspect of the larger art/creative scenes–I want you! Submit your stuff NO LATER than Sunday the 16! (please!) The email to send it to: rebelgrrrl.theblog@gmail.com

I’ll also be looking for people interested in helping with tabling on the big day, Saturday October 22! If you’re free to be around, please let me know! It’ll be a super fabulous day and I’m so excited to be a part of it!!

(PS: This is Day 5 of my blog-a-day challenge!)

On the eve of an anniversary

This is an impossible entry to start. For one thing, where do I even start? Knowing that is difficult. Do I start with how much I’ve wanted to be in a group like Radar productions in SF, with an intricate network of awesome writers? Do I start with how terrified I was at the very concept of ME being in charge of an open mic? How far off such a vision was for me? When you see open mic hosts, you usually see dedicated writers with a huge amount of stage presence, something that I have yet to truly acquire (though I am getting there!).

Adria covers a song by the Waifs, much to the delight of the audience.

Seriously. Where do you start?

How about just this:

WOW.

It’s been one year. A whole year. I started When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic last May, thanks to the persistence of friends who told me that the idea was great, and it needed to be more than just an idea. It needed to be realized. I thought for weeks before the kick off of where would be a good place to host it? When? What kind of format? What do I need to know? How do I get people involved? I tried to contact organizers of women’s open mics to see how they ran theirs and, while we’re at it, do you have any advice?

Turned out things weren’t as hard as I was making them. Running an open mic is easy, because really, it’s not about you. It’s about the community that builds around the open mic. It’s about the poets and writers and musicians who find your open mic and stay, about the poets and writers and musicians who find your open mic and stay for a time, but when their time is done, they go. It’s a transient thing, on one night you could have 15 people, on another night, 6. Yet that very nature is what makes it so fucking magical.

In one year of running the When She Speaks Open Mic (once a month, every fourth Saturday!), I’ve seen so much talent that it’s just mind blowing. And the scary thing is: the amount of talent and heart that I have seen at these open mics is just a tiny portion of the insane amount of talent that you could find on any night in this city, or this state!

When I think about the fact that it’s been a year since When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution got off the ground, I feel a deep sense of happiness. I’ve been lucky to be part of a revolutionary but small open mic that has a lot of potential to grow and become bigger and better. I’m so excited to be a part of this and I’m so excited to develop it into a force for a real creative community, one that will continue to be revolutionary in its mission to acknowledge and encourage women and the transgender, bisexual, and queer community to stand up and speak out. There is nothing more important than finding and embracing our voice, and one year later, this is still the biggest lesson.

“When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to SPEAK.” Audre Lorde

I’m going to end this with four final words, dedicated to everyone that has supported and continues to support this, and I mean every syllable from the depths of my soul:

Thank you. You’re amazing.

PS: If you’re interested in being a part of the magic of this open mic, we will be meeting for the When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution Birthday Party/Open Mic at Cakewalk Vegan Bakery, 434 S 900 E, Salt Lake City on Saturday May 28, from 7pm-9pm! And yes, there will be cake!)

Lilith Fair? bah. humbug.

I know what my problem is.

Well. Before I go into that I’m going to say it’s not just my problem. It’s a problem on my side and on the side of Lilith Fair.

My problem: my music tastes are just to rock and roll. My tastes aren’t easily suited toward singer/songwriter material (you’ve gotta REALLY prove yourself to stand out in my mind). My tastes are geared toward the rock and roll stars who say “Fuck you world, I’m doing my own thing and I’m gonna do it in ways that are badass and you’re gonna regret fucking with me.”

Lilith Fair…doesn’t. I mean—it’s not completely void of attitude. The Gossip is on tour, and they used to really fit the rock ‘n’ roll attitude that gets me so high. Their new sound is a bit too pop, honestly. Not for me.

So I’ve decided I no longer care about Lilith Fair. I appreciate what they’re doing, but the way this year’s tour has been a mess of “here’s some information, now wait for more; oh here’s more, but that’s not all! You’ll have to wait for the rest” and so on has annoyed the crap out of me. The fair and its corporate sponsor of CBS have tapped so many musicians that an ideal lineup is impossible.

Especially if you’re me.

I give up on Lilith Fair. If I had the money, I’d book my tix to  the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. At least they know what they’re doing and you’ll see everyone on the scheduled list. (By the way…what’s up with the Butchies being on the performance list? Umm…) (there are other problems with MichFest, but that’s a topic for another time.)

But really, what I really need?

I need a fucking LadyFest. I need a women’s music festival with edge. I need a women’s festival that features women who kick ass and take names. Angry women. Think: Skin, from Skunk Anansie. Think: Lita Ford. Think: Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy. Think: Otep.

I have a feeling I’ll be waiting a while for this.

Oh, and while I’m in wishful thinking mode: I need a music festival that’s DIY based. Where the enthusiasm isn’t in the “OH, some big festival is organizing this festival and it’s hitting my area! Yes!”

Screw that. I want music-ly inclined people throughout the US to come together. Share names. What bands are in your area that are cool/doing something edgy/something interesting and just aren’t all that well known? What about similar bands in Phoenix? Atlanta? Some small town in the outskirts of Denver?

What kind of contacts can we create with local music venues? how can we showcase the people who aren’t getting the attention they deserve?

I think the idea of a “make-your-own-music-festival” would be awesome. I think that’s what Ladyfest is. And that’s why I need it. But here’s a thought: the makers of local ladyfests should not stop at the creation and execution of their own ladyfests. There needs to be sharing of information from one city to another. That way artists don’t have to be stuck in their respective city. Doors can open for them in other cities and other states.

Is it too much to ask for a musical revolution? An emphasis on the real underground spirit and DIY ethic?

Maybe. But I’m still asking. And in serious thoughts: where’s the nearest LadyFest near Salt Lake City? I doubt we’d have time to organize one here—I don’t have the contacts yet, let alone bands that’d be interested—so I may have to look somewhere else.

And on a final note: I think a queer music festival of the same nature would be kick-ass. Anyone wanna help me make this happen? Let’s talk. For real.

Thanks for listening to me rant. I apologize for the rawness of the entry. But Lilith Fair has been bothering me for a while.

PS: Interested in Lady Fest  ’10? There are some meetings going on for sure in the UK. Check out the LadyFest ’10 website. After this is published, that’s what I’ll be doing.