Class Field Trip in Salt Lake City

on saturday a group of us from my women’s studies class went to an event Afrocentric in Kent held by 365 Poetry.  march is of course women’s history month and 365 poetry was celebrating that along with the focus of black history.

a couple of weeks ago we had a guest lecturer come to speak with us, combining jane eyre, feminism and the lds culture.  he asked if we felt the character jane eyre was a feminist and why she would be.  and then asked us if charlotte bronte was feminist.  being in a world dominated by men and a profession that didn’t welcome women and the stories that were told about women were distorted.  i have read jane eyre before, but breaking the story down and talking more about her character opened me up to excepting her.  i haven’t ever really cared for the novel myself but our lecture spoke with such passion and eloquence that i realized i needed to give her another chance.  she was her own women, because one she had to be and she chose to be when it was so against the grain of society of the time.  he also spoke about how as a writer you put a little bit of yourself in your characters.  he weaved this all in with the latter day saint culture and how as children we are taught to journal for ourselves and for future generations. by writing down everyday happenings you can get a sense of who someone is, perhaps by what they believe, their ideas, their thoughts of the mundane to the trivial.  he also told us that as women our stories matter.  that they should be told and heard. by speaking our stories we are sharing our truths with the world, no matter how painful they may be they should be told.   so at the end of class he invited us all to go to 365 poetry and if any of us had something to share we could or to just join and listen and support others.

so after work i met up with jamie and we rode the frontrunner down to salt lake city.  the cafe that was hosting the event was just around the corner from the train stop. So we had an hour and got some dinner near by and then headed back.

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the cafe we went to was called mestizo coffeehouse. they had a little gallery room that they put us in with white walls filled with art drawings all over.  it made for more of a relaxing atmosphere inside.  the room was packed by the time the readings had started. everyone filled around on the sides of the room standing and sitting where they could.  we listened to stories and poetry and watched a dance presentation. near the end our professor was asked to go up and present and before she presented herself she asked for any of those from the class if any of us would like to get up and recite something.

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so here is the thing i have never read or even shown any body my work besides these blog posts.  i had decided earlier in the week that i wasn’t going to do anything, i was just going to go and watch and listen.  but at some point during the readings, words and feelings started flowing around my mind.  i will use the metaphor of testimony sunday for any lds readers here, its that feeling of all of a sudden realizing that you have something to say and that know that you need to go up and say it.  bare your testimony.  two of the young men in our class got up right away and then our professor looked over at jamie and i and asked and then back at me and at first i shook my head no and then i don’t know i just got up.  i had nothing prepared and for a minute i was freaking out in my head and then everything just started coming to me.  bits of pieces of something i have been working on.

i was so nervous and so sweaty, i won’t go into detail there, just leave it at that.  once it was my turn i stood in front of the mic looked out into the audience, my professor, my friend and then it was like i zoned out and the words just came out.  everything i have been thinking and feeling the last couple of years just came out, fluently and with ease.  the words flowed with my shaking body and voice. i was surprised that i was able to do it and i am so happy that i did it.  it felt great to get it all out to say what i had to say and to have so many to hear me and to not feel judged by it all but to feel safe accepted.

i know that i have already stated this but it just makes it more important for me to share my stories and other women’s stories.  they have importance in them, credit and value. when we rise together and speak out change happens rather than letting fear hold us back.

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thank you to my professor dr. poulson for teaching us and helping us come out of our shells and i am grateful for taking my communications class this semester giving me the confidence to speak in front of others, and to abi goddey for inviting us and for starting such a wonderful space for literature and poetry in our state.

with love,

jess

p.s. if you would like to follow along on facebook- mountains and deserts now has a fan page.

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