Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chicks With Words

So I promised to come back and blog on my experience presenting at NACCS Tejas Foco. I'm back to do just that.

On Saturday morning, I was giddy and nervous. I had prepared some "remarks" about my poems, but as I sat in my car, sweaty palmed, I read them and rolled my eyes. Too academic. I''m too academic. That's my problem. I want to stick my nasty theory into everything. Ugh.

I crumpled up said theoretical remarks and tossed them into the pile of trash that exists in my backseat. Sometimes, the best remarks come straight from ones... well, you can figure out how this goes.

Our panel was in the MAGC building, pretty separate from the rest of the conference. It was on the second floor, at the end of a dark hallway. I'm feeling less enthused about this whole prospect. A toxic mixture of my ugly ego and my pessimism well up. Ugh. This is going to suck. I'm going to be reading my poems to.. myself and two other panelists.

The room was empty. The lights were off. I take a deep breath. Then, I start paging through my poems, jotting down a few general ideas for how I'll frame my work, though I'm really not sure about it all.

Then, things start to look up. I hear an echo of laughter. The door swings open. Mary Ann and Linda come into the room, my two fellow panelists. I smile at them, make some negative remark about our location, and we laugh together. My spirits begin lifting as we chat about nonsense.

About fifteen minutes later, it's time to get started. By now, the large classroom is pretty well filled! An audience? Why yes, we had an audience. Mary Ann introduces us -- we're a panel of women, she simply explains, women who, for some reason or another, get along, who've formed a bond in writing. We're so different, but we each represent a different aspect of womanhood. In my mind, we're taking apart the negative dichotomy (gwah, academic-speak again) -- there's no virgin/whore here -- we're three aspects of feminine strength. Mary Ann, in her infinite wisdom, called us The Goddess (moi), The Worker (Linda), and The Sister (her!). Lovely.

 I talk about my work, about revisionist mythmaking, why I think it's important, how it's a part of everything I write about, and how our panel, Chicks With Words, is a revisionist act in and of itself. "We're reclaiming the term "Chicks" -- a word that might be thought of as dehumanizing, derogatory even, and turning it into a powerful word, filled with the complexities of femininity" I say, somewhat pleased as to how this is all going now.

I share my poems -- my goddess poems! Oh how fun they are to recite :-D  Linda shared her social justice poems. Mary Ann read two beautiful pieces about her life. Somehow, they connected, snapped together.

By the end of the reading, we took questions, mostly which dealt with our writing processes. I added that I'm a writer BECAUSE a community fostered me into one. It's something I believe in, something I'm passionate about.

And then, the best part? We've agreed to keep this good thing going. The three of us are working on creating a reading series, a workshop series, that will function to forge that writing community for women. This is important work, and it all started with three chicks, three chicks with a handful of words and some ambition.

What's next?

On Saturday, I'm teaching a workshop. Following that, we're lined up to read at our local library in observance of International Women's Day.

We've got big plans, us chicks do.

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