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Speak Like a Girl

Exclusive Albion Interview

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Speak Like a Girl
Heartjournalonline

SPEAK LIKE A GIRL Exclusive Interview – 3/27/2016

Abigail Radwick: Hello Megan and Olivia! Thank you so much for your time. I personally was really touched by your performance at Albion and have an understanding of basic slam poetry myself, so it was great to have you visit.

Olivia Gatwood: Aw, yeah, it was great being there.

AR: I would like to record this conversation so I have a complete record I that okay?

OG: Yeah, that’s fine!

AR: I will also send you a copy of the article to approve that it is honestly written and you are not misquoted before I submit it for publication. Is that okay?

Megan Falley: Yeah, that’s great!

AR: Okay, awesome! Please note that the “you” in all of my questions is general and applies to both of you. You may have one or both of you answer the question in full or you can both chime in when you feel you have something of importance to say.

How was your experience at Albion?

MF: *laughter* You’re going to need to remind us what school that was. We’re on a fifty-state tour.

OG: Is that where we got… I know I have a note.

MF: Can you tell us a little bit about it?

AR: Purple and gold, really small private liberal arts school in Michigan, it’s halfway between Marshall and Jackson. You were performing at the Kellogg Center, the KC Stack.

OG: Oh, it was a really small event, yeah?

AR: Yeah! It was a pretty small event, but we’re a pretty small school.

OG: It was great! We’ve really have grown to value some of our smaller audiences because I think for us safety has been really important, to feel safe while we’re performing. It’s really for the audience to feel safe with us, but equally important that we feel safe with our audiences. So it’s been really great for us to have stops along the way that are smaller crowds of people who are there because of interest and desire and need for feminism, and it also helps us get to know the crowd. You can see every face in the crowd and their reactions, which is really great, and I think Albion definitely gave us that.

AR: How often to do you visit college campuses?

MG: We’re on several college campuses a week. Right now, this semester alone, we have about fifty college stages, it’s pretty nonstop. We had a show in Springfield, Illinois last night, and we’re headed to Mississippi for a show tomorrow, so we’re on an eight hour drive.

AR: Wow! I’m glad I could sort of break up the boredom. *laughs*

MG: Oh yes, we appreciate this time.

AR: *laughs* Why do you feel that it is important to perform on college campuses?

OG: I think that for us, there’s a clear and ongoing topic across country in terms of where sexual assault is happening and how it’s happening. College campuses have been at the forefront of that conversations often but despite that, despite that publicity, we’re not seeing those numbers go down and that they are not being dealt with, in more human or logical and legal ways. So I think for us it’s been really clear that there’s a problem, and really clear there’s not a solution being put in place. So for us, it kind of started for us though as a demand from colleges than us seeking out colleges. So we didn’t start saying “we want to tour college campuses,” the campuses came to us largely, and then we slowly built our show around that group. A lot of the research we offer is for college age students, a lot of the cultural references we make are often for people of college age. I think that sexual assault is extremely prevalent, I think it’s an epidemic on college campuses.

MG: I think college is such a microcosm of society at large, but it’s also super concentrated. So there are so there are so many instances, especially with universities with dorm life, and people are not commuting, so much of that social stuff is intertwined. For a lot of people it’s early in being sexual with each other. So many people often different social settings, it’s probably one of the most social times of our lives, and… Then the things that are happening largely in the world are happening there. So they’re great concentrated place to get out our message.

AR: We don’t have many speakers who talk about sexual assault, so I thought it was wonderful that you guys were able to do that. Did Albion reach out to you?

OG: We actually booked for Albion at a college conference, so in some ways, yes. We did a small showcase for colleges and Albion expressed interest.

AR: At what other venues and audiences do you feel it is important to perform?

OG: Arguably, everybody! Everyone needs to hear what we are saying. Feminism is for everybody. I think that sexual assault also affects every single community, on this planet. It’s such a wild epidemic, affects people of all ages, all genders, all sexualities. But to be more specific, I think we’re really interested in getting involved in younger audiences as well. We’ve gone to summer camps, which is a really important thing for us. We’re also interested in performing at high school age venues, kinda get the message in early. We also want to get fresh branches each semester. It’s becoming illuminating for us the lack of education that students are receiving about sexual assault and that starts from a very young age, so we wanna try to mend that wound before it begins to rip.

AR: Why did you select those poems specifically for Albion? Or is that part of a set?

MF: We change our setlist so to so, but largely we are trying to hit some of the main basic topics: queer identity, rape culture’s existence in media and news and how it impacts us on a subliminal level but then also real accounts – our own, or ones we’ve heard about, our experiences with assault – and then there’s inclusion of sex positivity because it’s really powerful to be able to reclaim sex as something for us in a society that tells us it’s not. And body positivity for a largely female audience, it’s important to incorporate in each show.

OG: I agree. With all of it.

AR: Do you have any specific poem do you think important for college student to hear?

MG: I think the poem that encapsulates our entire message out of everything in our show is “Say No”: it starts with a public proposal at a baseball stadium and I think that poem encapsulates our large message which is how infinite gender violence is. How people on an everyday level who are not committing horrific acts of violence or rape or sexual assault or murder, are still contributing in acts of violence against women. And I think that poem has our core message in it.

AR: I read the link, which was helpful in understanding your relationship. How do you two feel being such close friends affects your performances?

MG: I think we live in a society that pits women against each other and tells them to not be friends. Women are celebrated the most when they are “the darling” of something, if they’re the only women in their field it’s a powerful thing; women are celebrated if you’re not like other girls, because in our society to be a woman is an insult, and I think us cultivating and putting time and care and trust into our friendship is inherently a feminist thing to do and a direct reaction against the idea that women can work together without a catfight or work together and support each other. So I think that it only helps, and we hope that we are so sincerely loving and supporting of one another that it gives other women permission to seek that out in their own lives and cultivate that kind of society.

AR: I definitely agree with all that. Olivia, anything to add?

OG: I mean I completely disagree with everything she said. [laughter from both girls]

AR. Oh, for sure. *laughs* What advice would you have for aspiring slam poets?

OG: I think one thing that is important to do is to figure out what you like, and seek out artists that you like. Do that in your own life, seek out people you like, and really figure out what about their writing performance that you love, and try to mimic it. I think a lot of art is imitation, and I think that’s a great place to start. That being said, you can’t do that about reading, actively watching slam poems on YouTube, reading their word on the page, and going to slam poetry events is really helpful – but I feel like sometimes we have this pressure to create an original voice. And I think that puts a lot of pressure on young people to be trailblazers in some way. But I think the thing to do is figure out what’s drawing you to slam poetry and why, and try to reflect that in your own work in a way that doesn’t plagiarize their work that you admire, but instead compliment it, and I think that can be a great way to start out – and then you’ll find your own voice.

MF: I think there’s sort of a bravery and motherfuckery to the art form about being honest and telling your story. In addition, the art form has pushed us, in many ways, to focus on tragedy, which is not everyone’s story, and not always the most compelling way to tell a story. And I guess to know why does writing feel good for you? is it cathartic, fantastical – use your writing as your friend, and what you need to live your life better, and having a deep knowledge of self.

AR: This is my last question: if you could leave the Albion student body with one message, what would it be?

MF. I don’t know that the message is specific to Albion – I don’t know if we got to know y’all that much – but I’d like to ask, if don’t identify as feminist, why? If feminism truly means equality of sexes, why they wouldn’t consider themselves a feminist. And to explore forces that lead you to believe feminism is a bad thing.

OG: I also think it’s useful to be critical of world around them, look at things with a critical eye, and don’t let people tell you you’re overreacting if things are bothering you.I think it’s important that people don’t say “oh it’s just a movie” or “oh it’s just music,” I think it’s useful for students to walk through the world understanding what kind of messages were being said, and how that affects who we are and how we relate to other people.

AR: Alright, that’s all I have for you. Do you have questions for me, or do you need to get back to the road?

OG: I think we’re good, thanks so much for giving us a call!

AR: You’re welcome! Thank you so much for your time and go kick some ass.

Megan and Olivia both laugh and say goodbye.

*FAQs like how these wonderful women met, how and why they write, and how they incorporate feminism into their poems at: http://www.speaklikeagirl.com/#!faq/c16im

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