Oct. 4, Creative Colloquy — an organization dedicated to fostering the literary arts through performance and publication — held their third annual pub crawl. During the event, 15 performances were spread across seven venues at three different times.
“One Person’s Trash” was first. The performance centered around the literary journal of the same name and Jake Nau, the man who created it. Nau is a UW Tacoma alumnus who spent a large part of his adult life working with the homeless and people at risk. “One Person’s Trash” is a collection of both fiction and nonfiction poetry as well as short stories written by people who are — or were — homeless. This work is designed to directly aid homeless people in two ways. Nau says that he intended “One Person’s Trash” to remind its readers of the deep inner lives of those among us who are cast off into the periphery by callous indifference and pure chance, and provide a way for people who are homeless to earn income through involvement in the arts.
To show the impact that the people in these desperate situations have left on him, Nau read a story of how he came to understand that sometimes people break, and the ways in which they become broken. Nau shared his story, and the stories of people who have touched his life, with all the care and compassion that he could have mustered. He impressed upon his listeners that there are three ways people break:
- Through a great and monstrous calamity
- Through a death of a thousand cuts
The last one he emphasized. Sometimes there is no reason why bad things happen, and no one is as far from the bottom as they would like to believe.
Joining Nau on stage were Sam Miller and Alex Nickerson; the latter of which is a recent UWT graduate and the previous editor-in-chief of “Tahoma West.” Nickerson read two poems from the most recent edition of “One Person’s Trash.” Miller told the audience about his own experiences with homelessness, and how he works with at-risk youth around Pierce County. Using humor, he brought serious issues before the audience in an accessible tone.
The journal is currently collecting stories for its third volume, and can be purchased for $3 from independent distributors who are homeless themselves. All profits are retained by the distributors, as per Nau’s design. More information can be found at onepersonstrash.org.
The “Drunken Telegraph: King Harvest” was next. This set was performed by Megan Sukys and Tad Monroe. A King Harvest was something that some say was ritual, others myth — it was a process in which a “King” was elected at the Spring Equinox, allowed to rule and have a fantastic time during summer, and then ritually executed to assure the fertility of the land in the next year. The belief was that grief was a necessary condition to achieve healing. Following this theme, Sukys and Monroe told the audience about their experiences with the oral traditions of their families, how these informed their identity, and what happened when their perceptions were tested.
Monroe told a story about real world cowboys and the dissonance between actual self and idealized potential self. Anger stews in the gulf between the two selfs and threatens to consume its bearer. He spoke of the freedom felt in releasing oneself from the perception of what one should be, and allowing oneself to just be.
Sukys told the stories she formed her identity around, and how one by one they were proven to be fabrications by her elders to protect her family’s image. She told her story as if it were her absolution; the past cannot change, but one can free the past from the confines of mythology, so one can understand and move forward.
“Tahoma West Presents,” was the final show. Collaborators for the UWT journal shared poetry and short fiction about current events. Nau and Nickerson make their returns by performing in this set. The stars, however, were a few of the current editors for the journal, including Beck Adelante and Jenny Miller.
Telling stories about not being ruled by addiction 20 years in the future, what happened behind the scenes during the inauguration, self actualization following the dissolution of a marriage, and all the things Queer means, the speakers for “Tahoma West Presents” spoke with raw emotions, a slice of their hearts.
Miller spoke of her self actualization. Her words weaving images so sensuous that one could be in the scenes she described. She insisted that the best thing a person can do is know that they can take up space, they are permitted to use their voice, and permitted to exist — so they should do so.
Adelante spoke of what Queer means to them in their poem “Words Words Words.” Their fight against so many people who call their identity and personhood into question. Giving the feeling that this was a Button Poetry reading, Adelante used flow and passion to keep their audience enraptured and hanging onto their every word, telling the audience, “Queer like I’m right here … Queer like I just want to live.” After their performance, Adelante urged that anyone with something they need to say should send their story to “Tahoma West.”
By the end of the night, all the performers had shared visceral parts of who they are. Perhaps these stories will be in their respective publications, perhaps they were isolated events. Either way, it was a great opportunity to hear the stories from these local artists.