What a year. This year burst at the seams with uncertainty and anxiety. Personally, I've had my own crying sessions. I almost didn't post this, however, for the past couple of years, I've shared my most memorable moments as an artist for that year. Last year I listed 19 and the year before that 18, so naturally it seemed right to carry on the tradition with 20 for this year. To reflect and remember the good is motivation for the present and foundational for the future. I'm so grateful to the folks who made this year sustainable for me, who checked in on my well-being and who continued to give me space to be an artist. Much of this list is because of you. So without further delay, here is my top 20 most memorable moments of 2020 in no particular order.
1. Competing at the Peabody Slam for the first time! I've been waiting a long time to be invited to this slam and when I say a long time, I mean years. Big thank you to Baba Ngoma for the invitation!
2. Competing at the Lizard Lounge for the first time! This was another poetry slam bucket list item. And I won!
3. Competing at the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Dallas, TX! It was the best I had ever done at that slam. Although I didn't make final stage, I ranked in the top 25 among 84 poets from all over the country. But my favorite part of being there was celebrating my birthday! I turned 37 on 3/7 this year and the WOWPs final stage afterparty sort of became my lowkey birthday celebration!
4. Facilitating poetry workshops for Sandglass Theater in Vermont. I've had the pleasure of collaborating with this amazing puppet theater on several occasions but this particular project called Rock the Boat, a play geared for a young audience. I wrote the poems for the play and though we were unable to have an in-person show, you can check out the virtual version HERE.
5. Performing at Loomis Chaffee alongside Mind Evolution, Influence, Kassidi Jones, and Tarishi Midnight Shuler. I particularly enjoyed the Q & A which actually led to me writing a piece called "Response to if I ever get asked about doing too many Black poems".
6. Reenacting Sojourner Truth at the New York State Museum! I never thought I'd be reenacting Sojourner for now more than five years. Shout out to Lezlie Dana for casting me as Sojourner Truth in "The Stone that Started the Ripple" written by Patricia Nugent. It has been quite the journey since, no pun intended.
7. Performing in Whitewashed: the racism project...Our last show was in January and it was SOLD OUT! I'm really honored to still be a part of the this important artivist work now that we're adapting it to film. Stay tuned for that!
8. Toni Morrison is one of my favorite writers and in February I was invited to share an original poem in honor of her on her birthday as part of the opening of a tribute exhibit put on by the NYS Writers Institute! Speaking of, I think the NYS Writers Institute has made this list every year! Thank you for the continued support and opportunity to do what I do best.
9. Okay, up until now the list has been moment pre-shutdown, quarantine, cancellations...you see where I'm going with this? This next one was the first among many pivots I made this year to keep going. I had to change Poetic Vibe's 4th Anniversary from an in-person celebration to a virtual affair. It was amazing! I'm so grateful to all the poets who went live that day. I couldn't believe we pulled it off. I was so happy, I shed some tears over it.
10. Having my poem "for the days ahead" appear on the windows of The Arts Center of the Capital Region. The same poem was featured later in the year in the Community Foundation's Annual Report and quite frankly, it's my favorite among the poems I wrote this year. I wrote it to give people hope but it's been doing exactly that for me as well. You can read it HERE.
11. Performing my one woman show, "Simone," for the YWCA series. This was another make it work moment. I thumbtacked black fabric to a wall in my apartment, set up my phone, and practiced how it would look to the viewer watching it live. It was a virtual performance that I can say I am really proud of.
12. I can't talk about most memorable without talking about the rallies and protests that I spoke at this year. Generally, I hadn't been out of my neighborhood and I definitely hadn't been out of the city I live in for several months but I was compelled to put on my mask and show up! May we continue pressing on in our fight against systemic racism and police violence on Black people.
13. Painting my first mural ever! Let me tell you how manifestation works. I was in conversation with two friends of mine about murals and I literally said I want to paint a mural someday. The very next day, I received a message asking if I'd be willing to paint a mural. THE NEXT DAY. I wish I could manifest that quickly all the time lol.
14. Reenacting Shirley Chisholm! Last year, I said to myself that I'd like to reenact a more recent person and the two I had in mind were Shirley Chisholm and Nina Simone. Thank you to the League of Women Voters for making that Shirley Chisholm dream come true!
15. Do you see a manifesting theme yet? I've also really wanted a piano for a long time now. I used to play classical when I was younger and let's face it, if I want to do Nina Simone, I should probably have a piano. Well turns out, I was gifted one this year! I'm rusty on the keys but just wait and see when I get my rhythm back!
16. Having my poem, "the girl dream" appear on Write About Now! Enough said. But speaking on poem exposure, I also had poems published in Jaded Ibis Press's Scarlet and in the Porter Gulch Review as well as an interview of me in Pine Hills Review this year!
17. Working with Amplified Voices to create mural art in Albany! That's right! More murals! What a wonderful project Amplified Voices is in empowering young artists and being a part of the process fed my spirit tremendously. Big shoutout to Jade Warrick aka TrashKid for the vision and the invitation to collaborate.
18. Performing a set on CETV put on by Collectiveffort this year! If you haven't seen any episodes...you are missing out on some amazing Capital Region talent.
19. I've got 2 memorable moments that happened in Cambridge, NY at events put on by Hubbard Hall. The first was a BLM vigil that was beautifully put together. I got heckled but managed to make it though my performance set. Then some weeks later, I went back to be in a play called The Susan B. Anthony Project and I was playing...you guessed it! Sojourner Truth. What an experience it is to perform with a mask on and with socially distanced stage directions. I had a great time figuring it all out with my theater comrades.
20. Performing for Sculptured Walk at The Mount in Lenox, MA. If you've never been to The Mount, it is a gorgeous property with an outdoor landscape fit for a wedding. This was one of the very few in-person socially distant events that I could participate in this year. Thank you to Bill Yehle for having me be a part of the poet trail that day.
Well, there it is! My top 20 most memorable moments of 2020! I know for 2021, I'm looking forward to Womanist: a multimedia experience on MLK weekend, the filmed version of Whitewashed: the racism project and so much more. I may have stayed home most of this year but I didn't quarantine my dreams. That part as hard as it was and at times with interruption after interruption, somehow this list was possible. May we all have a grand 2021 and I wish you all a very happy and fulfilling new year!