Two days after the election last week, a group of women artists – comedians, poets, singers, dancers, storytellers, and visual artists – gathered at the Pointless Brewery & Theatre in Ann Arbor for a performance art show called HERsay. The event, organized by friend of the blog Patti Smith, ended up being the perfect antidote for many of the attendees in the wake of the election of Donald Trump and all that represents to thoughtful women (and men.)
Patti, a self-described Ann Arbor townie, is a former legal aid lawyer and current special education teacher. She is the author of two books: Images of America–Downtown Ann Arbor and A History of the People’s Food Co-op Ann Arbor. She also writes for Concentrate, Mittenbrew, The Ann, AADL’s Pulp blog, and the Ann Arbor Observer. Patti serves as a commissioner for the Public Art Commission and the Recreation Advisory Commission, as a board member for A2Geeks, as the board administrator for the food co-op, as a storyteller in the Ann Arbor Storytellers’ Guild, and volunteers for the Ann Arbor Film Festival. She is a frequent public speaker around town, speaking three times at both Ignite and Nerd Nite, and at Tellabration. She lives with her husband, Ken Anderson, and two stepcats in The Village in Ann Arbor — truly vintage living in her favorite city on earth.
Patti wrote the following guest post about the event. All photos by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog. You can read one of the poems recited at the event in my previous post HERE.
At the end of the day, it was because I was tired. Tired of the never-ending arguments about whether women can handle leadership positions what with the fact that we bleed a few days each month, and the way some gleefully toss around the word “bitch” like it is a badge of honor rather than a loaded, sexist word. But it was the ongoing trope that “women aren’t funny” that ultimately spurred me to action.
I know women who are funny, I thought. Hell, I’m pretty funny. I’ve gotten lots of support from my female friends over the years, and I have found that magic happens when women support women. And I have incredible friends who can tell jokes, sing, write poetry, write plays and -—
And there must be a showcase for this talent! To my utter shock, there wasn’t such a showcase in our area — not for a wide variety of female talents, anyway. So I talked to an outstanding woman that I know, and pitched the idea to her. Tori Tomalia is the co-owner of Pointless Brewery and Theater. If you haven’t been there and don’t know their origin story, then you are not only missing out on good beer and improv, but you are also missing one of the most inspirational stories I have ever read.
To my delight, Tori jumped at the idea to host this event that we decided to call HERsay. We put the word out on social media and in our circles of friends. Then something else cool happened. I started getting emails and messages from women all over town — storytellers, visual artists, poets. Women volunteered their time to help with and perform at this event. A talented photographer (Eclectablog’s own Anne Savage) volunteered to take pictures of the event. And within a week, we had a lineup of about a dozen women ready to read poems, show their visual art, tell stories, tell jokes—even read from their high school era journals.
We heard from a bunch of “hers” on Thursday: Lyn Davidge, Callie McKee, Debra Golden, Jenn McKee, Patricia Wheeler, Yvonne Healy, Simran Harvey, Leslie Sobel, Jean Leverich, Felicity Blue, Shannon Coon, Sarah Smalheer, Nina Brennan, Jen Lewis, Joanna Hastings, Sandy Ryder. These are all accomplished women and having them together on one stage was nothing short of incredible.
We wanted to create a space for us to be heard, and we did. I got to be an emcee, and we don’t always hear from a lot of female emcees. We got to hear poems and stories and jokes and I hate to say that we need these spaces and these voices now more than ever—but we really need them now more than ever.
I don’t know a lot of things right now, after this election. I know that we will do HERsay again. And I know that I agree with what I heard from several women and men at and after this show—this is exactly what we needed.