Lately I have been creating a dirth of material for various things like this--for another example, I recently answered an enormous amount of questions for a woman's thesis on Amaranth Borsuk's and my individual and collaborative works. I'm going to make some of that material available here on my blog for people to read if they have interest. I don't want these materials to get lost in my techo-life's shuffle.
Here is my introduction for the workshop tomorrow:
(Lady Gaga praying)I began writing as a child because I felt powerless. As a sensitive little girl, I sensed that culture misrepresented me, misunderstood me, and sometimes erased me altogether. And yet I wanted to participate in culture, to be an active creator of my life and to see myself reflected in the world around me, the people around me. I wanted to love and be loved, to have my voice matter as much as, not more or less than, anyone else’s. Mostly, I wasn’t heard at all, was sent the message or the “text”—only sometimes in direct words—to shut up and obey.
What I didn’t yet realize as a kid, because no one taught me, was that I was already a participant in culture, even if I was only a silent or blind participant. It was a slow awakening, through the process of writing itself, which led me to realize that my silence, my passivity, were actually perpetuating stereotypes, and ultimately my own victimization. I realized we are all connected whether we like it or not, that there is no “outside” to speak of.
Once I realized this, my art-making process began to change. Instead of primarily writing memoir-type, lyric pieces, where I described in vivid detail something that had happened “to” me, I began to work with the materials of culture around me in order to make myself and others more aware of the disturbing messages we perpetuate daily without questioning them. I didn’t necessarily judge these messages—I simply, through processes of transcription and other methods, attempted to show them as they are, in order that a reader might discover them for themselves, in themselves.
Once we discover our culture’s negative messages inside our own bodies, we realize we have the power to stop taking them for granted as “the way it just is or the way someone else decided it will be.” For example, I transcribed an entire episode of MTV’s reality TV show The Hills, often-criticized for it’s potentially “scripted” nature, and in doing so realized that all of life is itself scripted to some degree—that we all allow other people to frame our bodies, our environments, what we believe about our genders, our monies, our relationships, our worth. It took transcribing a reality show to teach me about my own "reality," my own role in perpetuating this problem. In reading my transcription, readers of my work have had similar experiences of awakening.
My hope is that through the process of writing culture, I will begin to co-create with culture, and thereby revolutionize culture, in order to make way for new possibilities in understanding our selves and our vital relationships to one another. To make way for new identities that celebrate individual beauty, yet are ultimately communal, more loving and free.
If you remember one truth about poetry, and about art-making in general, I hope it is that despite the rules some people might tell you exist, you are always the one who sets your life's rules. Whether Candyland or Chutes and Ladders, Jersey Shore or The Hills, we all made this game called culture together, and we and only we can change it from the inside, out. No one's voice doesn't matter.