When She Speaks …
Despite going to college in Austin, I’ve never been much into the open mic or the slam scene. Put me in a drama class and I was okay to perform because there was a script and they weren’t my words. I wanted my writing read by people, but performed ….? And god help me, I’m really not a poet. No really, I’m not.
But about three years ago, something changed in my world. A woman who was, at the time a friend of mine (and whom I have now been dating for almost 3 years) came up with this idea. This crazy, strange, “what do you mean this isn’t being done already?!” idea. She created a safe space for women to speak their minds nut not just in poetry. At her open mic, the voices of women could come together to read their stories, share their experiences, perform poetry, and sing songs. How amazing is that, really? To have a space where women aren’t competing with men for time at the mic, but sharing the space with them.
I’ll admit, at first it seems like a strange idea to wrap one’s head around. Especially in an art community where it is assumed that things are gender-equal. Why do women need a safe space? The answer is simple: because we are still looking for it, especially in a state like Utah.
When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution doesn’t exclude anyone, but it is a place where women can stand up and say “wait a minute, this is why my voice matters.” It’s a place that doesn’t have the pressure of so many of the open mics out there. For someone like me, who spends all her free time writing but is never sure how her words sound aloud, it is freeing. I can stand up and read that short story or that passage from the book and not be worried that people are checking their watches.
I got thinking about this today because September is an important month for those of us who are writers. This month we celebrate those books that have, in clear violation of the power of the First Amendment, been banned or challenged. How often do we see open mics do that? At this event, there are banned books everywhere, books you often didn’t realize had been banned or challenged. At this open mic, those words are celebrated, read out loud, and people get to stand up and read their own words that someday could be banned.
No, I wasn’t asked to write this post. But it’s been circulating in my brain, this idea of the importance of celebrating those words that are just not heard or read. We still celebrate male voices over female ones but at a tiny little open mic in Salt Lake, the ground is made equal. As a queer woman who writes, that equality matters. When She Speaks is one of the few places where I can read my bisexual characters and I don’t see people rolling their eyes when I talk about the biphobia and discrimination. Instead, I see acceptance and hear questions asked. And that matters.
So yes! September is Banned Books Month and When She Speaks is planning on celebrating.
What are you going to do?
When She Speaks …
The Fourth Saturday of the month (September 28th.)
Jitterbug Coffeehop (1855 S 700 E Salt Lake City, UT)