Formidable & Loved Part ii: Conversations on Identity & Belonging
I love using food metaphor.
With that, I love ‘setting the table’ for friends and strangers to feast and feel safe enough to have meaningful and courageous conversations.
On the evening of August 17th in downtown Seattle, I had the immense delight and privilege to ‘set the table’ for people to bear witness to a lineup of formidable and loved artists whose bold, erotic, tenacious, and generous repertoires were offered as though we partook uniquely nutritious and delicious ‘meals’ that nourished and strengthened the crowd.
There were eight artists—artists who offered brave and vulnerable pieces of poetry, music, and writing that changed at least a life or two.
These are artists who have been (in varying degrees) silenced, pushed to the margins, harmed, and violated because of their respective identities, and even in such circumstances, they chose to be radiantly kind, and to tell the truth through their stories—for the sake of a safer, and more loving and equitable world.
Because we, the artists, are part of underrepresented communities, we are scarce (in varying degrees) in many of the privileges and benefits of American society, but we are not scarce in our friendships and the richness of love, resilience, and wisdom we learn and receive from one another. We are gonna keep our light shining through.
Photographs of Zach Spoerl and Chris Lovings are yet to be uploaded here. In the meantime, these are my words about these beautiful humans:
There are people in my life who, whenever I hangout with them, I somehow feel constantly wooed and romanced by the earth, the Divine, or however way you name this transcendent being. Whenever I think of Zach Spoerl, I feel incredibly grateful that, of all the times I could be in Seattle, it was the same time he has set foot in this interesting city. What an honor to meet this kind and wise and beautiful man—whohas a generative and loving presence that makes you want to create, feel, sing, and write more. And most of all, he makes you want to love more. If not for people like Zach Spoerl, we would not have nights like this. He is the one who introduced and reintroduced the word formidable to me. And in my season of struggle right now, he is one of the people who knew how to love me so fiercely.
Chris Lovings is a percussionist who is dedicated to bringing the beat, bridging the gap, and being authentic in everything he does— and he does so very, very well. Just like me and Ellen, he’s had his share of living a geographically sporadic life as a military kid who moved so much growing up, which is a journey that might be easy to romanticize but I’m aware have hardships of its own. So, when he says he is dedicated to bridge the gap between people, I very much trust that, because he gets it. He is not only incredibly skilled in the things he does, but he also has a most hospitable and warm presence that welcomes me and others are they are.