For nearly two years, I’ve had the privilege of participating, competing, and winning in the Albuquerque slam poetry scene. I’ve learned a lot and met many talented, delightful people. I’ve contributed a new voice and perspective. Over the last few months, however, I’ve felt slightly disillusioned with the atmosphere. I’ve wondered if it was me, the audience, or the behind-the-scenes aspects of Albuquerque slam. But in the last two weeks, I’ve observed behaviors and had experiences that have pushed my mild sense of something’s-not-quite-right into anger and sadness. I’ve realized that a handful of those who run the behind-the-scenes aspects aren’t aligned with my values and vision for what poetry, artistry and community are about.
I have therefore decided, for the time being, to withdraw my participation in the Albuquerque slam poetry scene. I will continue to write, perform, collaborate and hopefully publish – in the Albuquerque area and beyond – but will be more mindful of ensuring my poetry activities take place with fellow artists, and in settings, that truly support and embody integrity, respect, justice, inclusion, community, clarity, responsibility, accountability and excellence. I think my last slam – where the audience and I were inspired by my performance, I was the only woman in the final round, I placed second over one of Albuquerque’s top performance poets, and I missed first place (which went to a veteran poetry slam team member and city champion ) by .1 point – is an excellent note on which to end for now.
Some may view this somewhat formal statement as unnecessary, overly dramatic, or politically unwise. But feigning indifference about matters I care about, staying silent to stay in the good graces of people with positional power, or failing to act when action is called for is also not in alignment with my values or my vision for the world. Not taking a stand is to be complicit, and failing to voice one’s stance so others can hear it maintains the status quo many of us artists are committed to changing. To speak of change, indignity and injustice on stage, and then to live otherwise off stage is to perpetuate the problems we rail against, dilute the precious power of spoken word, and dishonor our truths. It is to be cynics, hypocrites and victims. I am none of these.
I encourage you to likewise take a stand for what you care about and commit to living in fierce integrity with your values and goals. I heartily thank you for your enthusiasm for my work and your ongoing support. And, I look forward to continue evolving as a writer and artist – my best work is yet to come!