Saturday, June 21, 2008

Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution

Just before school was out, a female colleague and I had a chat about how women often feel like we don’t fit in. We’re the only ones who…(insert life factor of difference here). The truth is, we’re not the only ones, just a decent percentage of those who have been fed a concoction of what we should look like, want to do with our lives, and how to behave. Sure, men get the same bill of goods, but in this country, under Anglo-law, white men have always been in charge of nearly every political-social-cultural-religious-economic institution we can name and no one else has been able to catch up.

As a teacher and creativity coach, I’ve seen black boys dress like TV thugs, and music stars as they try to find an identity they can connect with. I’ve watched girls starve themselves, and do a variety of things (many harmful and irreversible) to get attention for their appearance (and that school up north that is surprised girls made a pact to get pregnant better wake up, ‘cause that’s not news to any teacher who takes time to know their students). I have listened to adult women tell me countless times they’re not “right” for me to profile in my creative work because they’re not good/smart/talented/young/wise/established enough in their art or otherwise.

What’s a person to do? How does one constructively change the way people view each other, treat themselves and strangers, and learn to find their truth without apology?

If you like slam and performance poetry, are a feminist, are pro-LBGT rights, or just anti-oppression in general (and who besides an oppressor would not be?), Word Warriors: 35 Women leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution, edited by Alix Olson, will certainly open your horizons and perhaps give you some answers to these questions that you can live with.

Will you be surprised by what you read? Find caustic venom within? Or finally feel normal because of what you have read within these pages? Only you can answer that.

You may recognize some of the names on the cover including Michelle Tea and Patricia Smith. However, to overlook the others, and miss the words of the trans-gender, intersex, queer, lesbian, and male authors, would be to miss the whole point of their work. These people have voices and they’re ready to be heard.

In the end, I learned a bit about walking in someone else’s skin and found several new poets I find fabulous. Check it out.

Have you read Word Warriors? Share your insight by placing comments here!

[Word Warriors is published by Seal Press. Edited by Alix Olson. Forward by Eve Enlser (creator of The Vagina Monologues and V-Day).]

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