Spoken Word Poets and Performers–
“I’m Queer. I’ll always be vocal. I think the LGBTQ community is pushing society to be more compassionate, thoughtful, honest, and vibrant – sometimes in ways that have nothing to do with sexuality, but just have to do with coming fully into one’s self, whoever that self is, and poking holes into too-easily-accepted ‘norm.'”
Shira, born in Israel, now lives in Brooklyn. She is a songwriter, producer, visual artist, and poet. Shira said she started attending the Cantab Lounge in Boston when she was 16, just to watch; she performed for the first time when she was 18-years-old. Shira joined the slam team at Hampshire College, and made her way onto the Boston team in 2007, which she said was a powerful experience.
“Performing poetry absolutely made me more confident in my voice and made me believe that what I have to say matters. When I started college I wasn’t sure that I wanted to ever talk about being trans and my experiences as a queer person. As I started writing and performing more, I had a few close friends and fellow poets encourage me to write more about my experiences as a trans person—that validation that my stories were worth sharing pushed me to write more and more about things I’d been too afraid to share with others. That growth and confidence has seeped into every area of my life and made me a stronger person.”
Miles first got into spoken word poetry in high school. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s in Individualized Studies in English, Social Justice and Youth Studies. In 2010, Miles represented the U of M at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational; he placed 3rd in the nation and was named Best Male Poet. In 2012, Miles won the award for Best Poem by a Male Poet at the Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam Invitational.
“As a mostly femme presenting woman, it is important for me to write and perform poems about my queerness and relationships because I am often ‘read as straight.’ I hope that being outspoken about being a big queer will banish the phrase ‘but she doesn’t look gay’ from everyone’s vocabulary in the world, encourage people not to make assumptions on anyone’s gender or sexuality based on their appearance, and dismantle femme invisibility as much as I can.”
Megan says she has been a writer and performer for as long as she can remember but got into spoken word during her freshman year of college. Megan teaches an online poetry, writing and editing course called “Poems That Don’t Suck.” In 2012, she toured the United States and Canada for 100 days delivering electric readings of her poetry and signing books. Megan lives in Brooklyn with her dog, Taco.
“Visibility is the most important tool to fighting homophobia…and the arts is one of the best ways to show people other experiences…your life would be so much less rich without all these different experiences, and because LGBT people are themselves so diverse, we have so much to learn from each other. So showing these stories, giving people a platform, where there’s no fear, that’s a really important step to bringing acceptance and actual harmony to the arts and beyond.”
Liz is the artistic director for All out Arts, Fresh Fruit Festival— New York’s celebration of LGBTQ arts and culture. Liz is a director, playwright and producer. In 2008 she founded In Extremis Theater Company. Liz is a native New Yorker and lives in the West Village.
“Art is for the oppressed….We have so much that we feel we can’t say, that we can’t get out; and the more oppressed you are, the more artistic you are. Because it’s either you make art, you laugh, you love or you die…that’s it. So this is just the way that we live, this is the only way that we can live happily; how many places can we be free, can we be ourselves, can we be applauded for being that?”
Chauvet, who is also a licensed massage therapist, moved from North Carolina to New York City to escape the oppression of living in the South as a gay and multi-racial woman.
“It’s a nice forum to express yourself in a poetic way and to be able to play with ideas…words in a way that you can’t in a traditional play…Society has changed so much—you no longer have to wonder who is a gay person, you can go online and see 50,000 of them with one click. It’s fascinating to watch the culture progress and so quickly and I feel so pleased to be a little tiny part of that.”
Jack, now 39, moved to New York when he was 22-years-old. He is a member of the Fresh Fruits Festival and a poet. Jack lives in Astoria.