Monday, 19 March 2012

march 19, 2012

tonight, i went to see a show that's part of a local series called the ottawa youth poetry slam. anyone 12 to 19 years old can get up on the stage and read or perform something there.

no rules, no judgments. just getting up and doing what they want to do; saying what they want or need to say. it's amazing. they give so much, and we give tons of love right back to them.

i've only been to this event a couple of times, but when i need a pick-me-up and to feel like there are earnest, open, vulnerable people left in this world, i go and watch these amazing adults-to-be stand up and say it like it is for them. i don't know why i find it all so reassuring because, really, most of the poems they perform are not light or joyous or even particularly hopeful. they discuss suicide and mental illness and bullying and the devastation of feeling left out or judged or used by people or alienated by our government. i guess i feel inspired by it because they aren't being silent. they're eloquent and outspoken, and they see that their social and political context is really fucked up.

after the show tonight, my friend a.n. and i went back to my place and had dinner and talked for hours. we talked about art, creating, love, intimacy, the recent women of the world international poetry slam in colorado and how different the culture and experience there was compared to more mainstream, male-oriented slam.

then we started talking about stigma and struggle; how there are these things that you habitually keep to yourself rather than risking naming them - like anxiety, insecurity, depression, diagnoses of mental illness, fears about being or seeming crazy - all for fear of being placed into a category that you won't be able to escape afterward. usually, disclosing these things means being painted as either a passive victim of a condition or a failure for not trying hard enough to get out from under it.

we talked about how heavy those things are to carry around. how managing chronic conditions - mental, emotional or physical - is more of a burden than it needs to be because we spend so much time pretending or minimizing or justifying ourselves. like all things, chronic conditions oscillate between good and bad, and the bad isn't always visible or recognizable to the outside eye.

it was tremendously freeing to have such a frank talk about all this tonight. i hope everyone out there gets a chance, at one point or another, to mend the notion that these things shouldn't exist out in the open.

No comments:

Post a Comment