I made this decision when I was sexually assaulted and found myself having to share a stage with the person who harmed me. I thought of the work that was put into it and above all, the people who were there to see me and found it impossible to cancel the event. I wore a smile and completely blocked the experience from my mind in order to prevent it from seeping into my reading, performance. When the night was done and I was home, I finally gave myself permission to disclose the incident to a couple of friends and saw that what happened was not only not my fault but that it was also more serious than what I was allowing myself to admit because I needed to downplay the situation well enough to have the courage to follow through with the event. I promised myself that if I could do something about it, I wouldn´t stay in such a situation again.
Ever since making this decision, I haven´t had a major objection to being part of a program until recently. Knowing the possible atmosphere of that space sent chills down my spine and what I felt was undeniable. A decision wasn´t hard to make, what was hard was understanding how to communicate my stance in a way that let the organisers know that although honoured by the invitation, I won´t be reciting.
For how long must we separate the artist from their art? For how long must we contend with people and their unbecoming ways because they are talented? I hate how we continue to give hurtful people space and room. There are people who wear their words and selves like a costume, they are an act, they don´t believe or understand the meaning of the beautiful things they speak of in the wonderful poems they write.
Like a friend rightfully noted, these people are often gatekeepers or are tied to influential people in the industry and it´s somewhat impossible to cancel them beyond cutting personal interaction with them. It means they still pop up and many times you´ll watch them be revered and lauded by your peers and everyone else.
Some people cannot afford to speak up or turn down some opportunities and it saddens me. This and people who newly join the circus and aren´t aware of how things work and they end up being taken advantage of and hurt in ways that could have been prevented if only they had known…
I´m thankful for and to everyone who has led me to a corner and showed me the ropes about things. I have managed to move along without much damage… but watching people be toxic, abusive, hurtful, destructive is never not heart-breaking… I wish we had a better community.
Idle Worship screening at different festivals this year has really led me to continuous meditations on audience. Where is my work presented? Who is it presented to? Who is present? I´m in the process of answering these questions but I know that I don´t wish to share the mic with people who aren´t seeking to be transformed by the power in the wonderful poems they write.
Mark me absent.