Labia Versus the Machine: Round One.

16 Dec

In a recent post, my friend Karen made some interesting comments and observations about women in slam. It’s a topic I’ve thought a lot about and written a lot about, and still endlessly fascinating. I’m going to write a few posts reflecting on what it means to live this profession with this here vagina.

While at iWPS this year, I noticed (on FB) that an ex of mine was very noticeably, openly supporting a few competing poets. Although I was in solid contention after the first night, and made a point to let him know, his silence towards and about me saddened and overwhelmed me. This is a man who I’ve worked very hard to support and promote professionally from the very beginning. This is also a man who, even when we were together, displayed occasional jealousy and ambivalence when I began to be successful in this field.

This relationship didn’t end well, and it’s clear he’s still carrying a lot of sadness which seems to exacerbate the aforementioned behaviors. He’s also incredibly competitive, which explains part of the reason why he didn’t always support me while we were together. Karen’s take on it was simply that it’s impossible to be friends with some exes. Fair. I don’t blame him for that. And this is, in some ways, just one particular love story gone wrong. But this incident inspired me to talk about something I’ve had on my mind for a while.

For a woman poet, particularly one who almost exclusively dates straight men, it’s extremely important to be involved with someone who supports her art. I CANNOT emphasize this enough, and I can not say this too often. If your partner tries to prevent your writing, performing, competing, or touring, overtly or otherwise, I’d recommend you get out of that situation immediately.

If your partner is another poet, I’d highly recommend being involved with one who respects and enjoys your art. If your partner is a civilian, I don’t think it’s crucial that he/she understand your work, be a fan, or/and come to your shows, because poetry really isn’t everyone’s thing. But if this is what you do, make sure you’re involved with someone who gives you space and time to pursue your craft, and who, at the least, can be happy with and for you when you do well.

I love my ex very, very much, but this is an issue we’ve discussed and argued over too many times. And I know too many women artists (most of us, it seems) who have struggled hard for validation in our own homes – as though the weight of the world outside weren’t enough.

Be excellent. Be safe. ❤


One Response to “Labia Versus the Machine: Round One.”

  1. Lauren Wheeler December 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    Hell’s yeah.

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