There is never a single story that can capture the collective experiences of any population and the consequences of accepting one narrative as truth is prejudice. At “How to Love THIS Queer Body of Color: An Unapology,” poets present work concerning the experience of being queer and a person of color in contemporary society. The goal of this series is to present the experiences of historically marginalized groups and in a way that displays the diversity of experiences within these populations, as well as to empower the artists and appreciate their work. The value of their experiences is in their diversity, as their stories will work to disassemble notions of universality of experience.
The Spectator staff had the opportunity to do a question and answer session with Ela Barton, one of the event’s organizers. The interview is transcribed below.
CD: What makes spoken word your art of choice? When did you start performing?
EB: I think spoken word chose me. I’ve always loved writing and reading. But I think I learned to love performing. But I think that I continue to choose this art form because of the emotions we are able to evoke with telling our story, how we create change with our stories and how I continue to grow because of it. And like many underpaid artists…this is my affordable therapy.
CD: What was the motivation and thought process in curating How to Love THIS Queer Body of Color:
EB: I feel like I’m in a…period of learning self-love. I am also transitioning. As a Person of Color, this is a different process than we are commonly used to seeing and hearing about. White academia has a different way of explaining Queerness and a different way of viewing Folks of Color. I wanted to make my way, which is never settling on the one story you are told.
CD: Where did you get your inspiration for this?
EB: My friend, Mike McGee, did a show here and his poems were in the format of a relationship in reverse. When I started thinking about my relationship with my body, I realized that I was currently in a break up stage. Having just gone through a break up, I knew that it felt very similar. If I was to start truly loving my body, it wouldn’t happen overnight and why not build that relationship from ruins to restoration? Cause let’s face it, my body isn’t new. Its old and been through some things.
CD: Who are the artists performing in the show?
EB: Myself, Nikkita Oliver, Garfield Hillson, Donte Johnson, Lark Ballinger with a video poem from Queen Jasmeen. I adore all of these artists so much!
CD: When are the next performances?
EB: Thursday, Oct. 29, Friday, Oct. 30, Saturday, Oct. 31 and Sunday Nov.r 1 all starting at 7 p.m. Oh! and a writing workshop in connection with the show on Sunday Nov. 1 at 3 p.m.
CD: What are you hoping that the audience gets out of these performances?
EB: Honestly, I love the TedTalk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Danger of a Single Story.” I’m almost obsessed with it. She says within that TedTalk, “That when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.” I think what I’d like for the audience to get out of it is that there is no single story of a Queer Body of Color. The true strength and resiliency lies within the individual and their experience with the world. Also, I really want to create a show based on that talk. Look out, world.
Coco may be reached at [email protected]