I was dead ass tired yesterday. Not going to lie. It had just been a weird week. The kind of week that drains you from the beginning, stretches you in the middle, and just keeps slowing down the closer you get to the end.
But my coworker, Sam, and I had already purchased our tickets for Creative Babes’ “Pinot + Poems” event and I definitely couldn’t back out. (No matter how wonderful a nap sounded.)
So at 6pm on Wednesday night, I put some makeup on, (for the first time that day), and drove over to Milo Arts on 3rd.
Parking was pretty uncomplicated—probably because I arrived 20 minutes before the event began. I decided to let Fetty Wap finish his song before I walked inside. I was greeted by a bold sign, pointing me inside of a very old building. A fellow “Creative Babe” had pulled up the same time as me and got out of her car when I did. We wandered around the building together until we found the room of the event. It was the brightest room in the building, by far. Not just because of the wall of open windows, the exposed brick, or the centerpieces of multicolored wildflowers topping the craft tables—but mostly because of the teeth-blaring, genuine smiles on the faces of the women who were setting up and pouring wine. I felt their energy before I could even see their faces. They greeted me and my new friend with the same obsession for punctuality with hugs and wide, open eyes.
“I’m Kelsea!” I proudly said back, involuntarily matching their excitement.
“Kelsea? You do that Gunner Girl thing, right?” one of them asked me.
I nodded a little more ferociously than I probably intended. She told me that she had read the profile of my coworker Sam, who would be joining me later. I was invited to take a custom mason jar and make myself comfy at table.
I didn’t entirely know what I signed up for when I agreed to go to this “thing.”
The title captured me, to be honest. “Pinot and Poems.” I love wine. I love language. Win-win, right?
The tables were adorned with cardstock, pencils, markers, glue sticks, macaroons, magazines, and old books amongst the wildflowers. My inner kindergartner was intrigued. My almost 25-year-old self was ready for wine. What a perfect combination.
After a bit of mingling with more incoming creative babes, including the addition of Sam, the lights dimmed and the event was introduced. This would be a creative workshop on poetry, led by Joy Sullivan.
Joy smiled humbly in the corner while she was being introduced. She held her mason jar of wine close to her body as she walked up to the front of the room. She had a presentation being projected on a screen. Her workshop would be about Poetry as Naming.
I was intrigued.
We began our exercises with an image on the projector that we were instructed to write a 5 line poem about. After we had written our poem, we would go around the room and each read one line. This culmination would become our new poem, inspired by the aforementioned image.
When it was my turn to read my line, I read the shortest line I had written. “Murky.” Joy offered some sincere validation and added my contribution to the growing community poem. It would later become the poem’s title. Every line that was shared made the poem more interesting than the last. By the end, I was almost blown away by how cohesive this work of art had become. It was almost as if it was written by one brilliant mind. So when Joy asked for someone else to read it aloud, my arm shot up. I couldn’t wait to speak it into existence.
After snapping in unison at our bomb-ass-community poem, we moved into the next exercise.
Joy talked us through “art as robbery” and we all suddenly realized what the abundance of magazines and old books were for. We would be creating a poem from the words that already existed in the prints before us. I opened the magazine I had closest to me and began to look for anything I resonated with. I found an article about an African-American inventor. My eyes jumped around the page, stopping only at words that electrified me.
My poemscape was done. There was a minimalist style forming in my poetry, I realized, and I was okay with it. We were given a lot of time for this exercise, so since I finished fairly quickly, I spent the rest of time getting to know the ‘babes’ at my table.
Marley was wearing noticeably bright red beret and a black leather jacket. She had a hoop nose ring in and spoke to me like we had been friends for years. She sat directly in front of me, so I essentially saw the entire workshop through her silhouette. Her contribution to our community poem was “A Midwestern myth busted.” My heart snapped hard for that one.
Ali was sitting directly next to me. Before the workshop started she had shared a one sentence bio of herself that took her 45 minutes to write. It included the words “yogi,” and “mofo.” Her smile and natural beauty were inviting; I was grateful to be sharing this experience with them.
The night ended with a few people sharing their poem-scapes aloud. Two glasses of Pinot-deep, I eager raised my hand to share mine.
“Hi. My name is Kelsea,” I said, as I had since stuck my sticker onto the cardstock that held my poem. “I am African-American and able.”
The room snapped for me.
My soul was glad.