Thursday, December 12, 2019

Write Club ATL Welcomed Me to the Stage & SOVEREIGN Reached Half of Total Funding Goal

This post originally appeared within my publication BAMF Mag and was shared with subscribers to BAMF Daily.

Kelli Lynn Grey takes the mic.
Photo by Melanie Sharon.
I have a problem with people mistaking me for what they call the fae. This is to say, they think I’m some sort of human embodiment of a fairy who just stumbled right out of a dark forest, my mind on mischief and magic.

I get it. I guess. I mean, my dad kind of started it by deriving my childhood nickname, Tink, from what he perceived as my likeness to Peter Pan’s companion, the fairy Tinkerbell.

I also don’t really get it.

I am okay embracing the weird truth that I know A LOT of people who think it’s totally normal to imagine humans as the descendants of mystical beings. But, it feels short-sighted that they jump right to the fae when they see me — no offense to the fae among us, of course.

With my dad, it still feels sweet (and relatively normal) that he sees a shadow of my childhood self before seeing the whole of me. With everyone else, it’s like they are deliberately choosing to ignore the core of who I am and fixating only on what makes them feel whimsically inspired.

I much preferred meeting an ex-Mormon writer at a workshop one time who told me I struck her as a panther. I also really love Atlanta’s monthly reading series Write Club because it self identifies as an act of “tender bloodsport.” In other words, we’re all panthers there — or, at least, we’re all encouraged to embrace the side of ourselves which gracefully takes no BS and lays deep truths bare onstage before an audience hungry to judge which ones of us have most effectively slayed the others with just the right balance of authenticity, mystery, poise, wit and fire.

One month ago, I was invited to the Write Club stage, and I slayed with this poem about my assigned topic, history. I had nothing up until the day of the show. Then I went and sat down on one of the many ginkgo covered terraces of the historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery where I live in Rome, Georgia, USA. I began writing what came up for me as a result of being in that space, every word of it true. Then I drove the hour to the city of Atlanta, arriving almost just in time to take my place on the stage.

To show for my efforts, I have the following things:

1. A tiny plastic trophy very close to my heart.

2. The satisfaction that my chosen charity Peachtree NORML Foundation received my share of the door.

3. The introduction to five other writers — each of whom delivered a stunning performance, truth be told. (Here’s to you: Zack Linly, Leo Starr, Allison Dayne, Audrey Taylor Ward and AnĂ¯sa Lewis.)

If done well, Write Club is a forum where we all walk away with something of value. It is also a charitable fundraiser and an honored US tradition — practiced not just in Atlanta but also in Denver, Los Angeles and, its birthplace, Chicago.

Write Club ATL’s Nov. 2019 ensemble.
Photo provided courtesy of the author and Write Club Atlanta.

I like feeling connected to the creative pulse of all those cities. It makes me feel like I’m a panther with a pack — or something like it. Thank you, Ian Belknap, for having the vision for Write Club and making it so. I hope to meet you one day. Thank you, Myke Johns and Nicholas Tecosky, for offering me a place within Write Club Atlanta.

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For those of you following the campaign for SOVEREIGN: Recovery Poems, "History" will be included in this collection as well. Writing it to perform at Write Club synchronized with me crossing my $4K milestone for SOVEREIGN, counting funds raised both through the official platform and elsewhere. I'm currently halfway to my $9K goal. Since finalizing my divorce last month and stepping further away from my role as a musical instrument salesperson, I also need donations more than ever! I deeply appreciate any contribution you're inspired to make. To review, a minimum of $20 USD secures a signed copy of SOVEREIGN plus an invitation to the launch party. Anything additional helps me navigate this time of transition--which includes coming out of pocket for my chosen forms of cancer care. Click here to see the official GoFundMe page.  Alternatively, donation may be received via CashApp. My user ID = $poetmom445. A recording of "History" is embedded below.