When I first saw the advertisement for the Jeremy Frith & Friends showcase, being hosted as part of the Bermuda Festival for the Performing Arts, my focus was mainly on the dope artists being featured. But then, a chat with Yesha about the event had me in my feelings cuz it turned out a) she didn’t know who he was and hadn’t been fully aware that it was meant to be a tribute to him when she agreed to be in the lineup and b) since discovering this had read his poetry and was not excited.
‘He wrote in an exaggerated Bermudian accent.’
That was all I needed to hear.
‘Oh well, nah. I’m not going.’
This festival is pretty much our top stage for performing arts and understandably, Yesha didn’t want to bow out and lose what could be a great opportunity. Also understandably, where the incredible Yesha poets, so I follow. Thus, about two weeks ago on a cold Wednesday night, I found myself sitting in the sold out Earl Cameron Theatre, having what can only be called an out-of-body experience.
Hunched over in my trench coat, scarf on, bag on my arm – I spent three hours unsure if I was going to walk out, my body shivering at the far-fetched-ness of this night. Yes, I get cold when I’m faced with fuckery.
It has taken me since then to drag the damp, lumpy sea bag from the back room, and unpack alllllllllll of the emotions that have been sitting in there getting musty and hard. I’ve left myself voice notes, recorded a 35 minute video rant, talked to anyone who would listen (sorry Modern Mart guy who asked me if knew which aisle the toothpaste was on)… it consumed my life.
Obviously, I knew before buying the ticket that The Event was unlikely to be adjacent to my alley and joked that it would be worth the price if it helped inspire a kick-ass think piece.
By the end of the night, I knew that anything I wrote would be super-contentious, likely further alienating me from white Bermudians, possibly including the Friths, some of whom I enjoy engaging with on a regular basis.
I also knew that I would write it.
I knew I would write it, because that night was, for me, a monumental reinforcement that this type of shit needs to be called out. That sitting in silence while your insides burn and people around you clap and laugh, blissful in their lack of awareness at your raging inferno – that this is no longer a motherfucking option for me.
Actually writing and publishing it? Well, that was a whole other story. I was still overwhelmed with anger and irritation, plus a little concerned about the response. And one question kept niggling at me: Do I include only my viewpoint, or do I attempt to understand the hundreds of people there that certainly did not agree with me?
Creatives tend to live in a world of extremes so I vacillate between wanting to just be a writer who doesn’t give a fuck or response to anyone that doesn’t ‘get it’ (ie Chingas and Ok), and my desire to have deep discussions and debates with people from all backgrounds who share a common goal of building a more just society.
I’ve been doing the latter for my entire career. The issue is that the latter became problematic.
My feet got swollen and tired from running around trying to find the nuanced and acceptable way to talk to people about their racism, patriarchy, homophobia and general not-niceness. There are only so many synonyms for bullshit and - wouldya look at that! - my thesaurus up and went on vacation.
As a result, I traversed the globe to find and carve out this little acre of land and named it Inolongercarewhatyouthink. The flag symbol is a middle finger and our official animal is a cat.
I’ve been living here somewhat peacefully and very vagina-sure. So… whyyyyy was I even considering asking other people their thoughts?
I haven’t gotten to wherever the answer to that question is hiding in the sea bag of emotions. Pretty sure it might be that moldy sweater, brand name ‘You still want people to like you’. I’m not going to unfold it to be sure.
In any case… I put out a call and invited anyone who had attended The Event to come to my home for wine, cheese, and a rousing conversation. A group of people came, half of whom did not see that night the same way I did, and indeed, some of my initial thoughts have swayed just a little bit. A real teeny tiny bit.
So... all of this * gestures to the 790 words prior to this sentence * is a long AF introduction, because, and again that moldy sweater is staring at me, for some reason it was important to let you know that none of what is to come is a knee-jerk reaction. That I have thought and reflected and hemmed and hawed. That I've written and re-written and deleted paragraphs. That I have listened.
For the next little while though… I’m done listening and am going to say what I wanna say.
Not to bridge / create / further a divide.
Not to find common ground.
Not even to vent, although that’s certainly part of it.
But also because middle finger flags and Bermuda Festival tickets ain’t cheap!
And, after all, they got a whole stage in a sold out theatre.
Surely, you lot can allow me a few essays.
This is Part 1 of a series of 3... maybe 4.