It is perhaps too strong to say that I was not stoked to attend the body positive feminist art and poetry show last night. I at least knew that there would be cupcakes, which is an immediate and obvious improvement over the hummus and pita platters that characterized the living room poetry of the mid-1990s.
I miss the 1990s. I never thought that would be the case at the time, but the whole period seems like something of a golden age to me now. I suppose all rapidly aging people feel this way about the years of their youth, but there was something about the naive, ironic detachment of that time which is utterly charming to me. This was a decade when we were so innocent that we could afford to be cynics. I remember fondly the afternoon I spent burning 99 CDs for my neighbor, who was participating in some sort of “Rock Against Rape” benefit at the local lesbian coffee shop. I was the only person she knew with a CD burner. 1996 for the win.
I had a 1990s flashback last night at the Mariposa fundraiser at The Parish in The Plaza District benefiting the YWCA. If nothing else, the 1990s counterculture in Oklahoma can best be characterized as poetry rich. There weren’t many of us lefty weirdos in the Metro, but we were all at open mics of one kind or another; either performing or having been dragged there as moral support.
The difference – and it is a significant one- was one of quality. The poetry was good. The food was good as it was catered by the likes of Cuppies and Joes, and Republic. The turn out was impressive. Clearly, something has happened in OKC to take us from the days of 6 people in a living room in the far northwest reading eye-roll inducing free verse poetry to the 100+ people in The Plaza last night (a neighborhood that scarcely existed back in the day) listening to poetry that actually – I kinda liked.
I swore off poetry after I hit 20. It seemed trite to me. A silly pursuit for teenage girls and pretentious assholes. Something you grow out of. Even though I kept my volumes by Rumi and Neruda and Plath, I still felt like it was time to move on.
And so when Morgan Coleman got on stage to read some poetry, I readied my eye-rolling muscles like the dick I am.
She fucking blew me away. Her poetry was immediate, personal, violent – not like a kick, but like a birth- and it was substantive.
Najah Hylton immediately repeated the feat. My social justice muscles are pretty well developed, having been a liberal arts major and all, but if Najah had declared her candidacy for president after her set, I would have volunteered to knock on doors, cold call Republicans, whatever. I literally would do whatever she wanted me to do. Seriously, email me. I’m in love with you.
I felt like a complete ass. That’s how I know that I have seen real art. Anything that can dissolve my preconceptions is worth my attention, and worth yours, because my preconceptions are usually right on the money.
Speaking of money, give these people money. They deserve it. The YWCA is awesome.