A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 293: Paper Dolls


Sierra DeMulder

“Some weeks you’ll remember how hard it is to breathe in public,
but know this:
the person who did this to you is broken. Not you.
The person who did this to you is out there,
choking on the glass of his chest.
It is a windshield
and his heartbeat is a baseball bat:
regret this, regret this.”

Poet Sierra DeMulder provides an incredibly powerful conclusion to the poems I’ve published on this blog over the last few days. I was hoping to discover the power of art to combat the warped culture of sexual assault and harassment that persists in our world. What I found through these amazing works provided to me by poet Meggie Royer is a strength beyond what I could have imagined. What I found was the hope that arises from the sorrowful truth, spoken without fear and shame, that works away, letter by letter, phrase by phrase, to wash away the filth and the guilt that so many victims carry.

I feel I’ve been given a window into something that I have never experienced, yet helps me realize how important it is to speak out, to stand up for people, to give dignity, respect and true compassion.

Here is a bio of Sierra DeMulder from her website. Following that is the full poem, “Paper Dolls”…

Sierra DeMulder is an internationally touring performance poet and educator, a two-time National Poetry Slam champion, and a thrice-published author of The Bones BelowNew Shoes on a Dead Horse (2010, 2012, Write Bloody Publishing), and We Slept Here (Button Poetry, 2015). A 2014 McKnight Fellowship recipient, Sierra’s work has been featured by NPR, Huffington Post, Nike, To Write Love on Her Arms, The Advocate, and more. In addition to performing, Sierra is the curriculum director of the Slam Camp at Indiana University, an annual writing summer camp for high school students, and one of the founders of Button Poetry, the largest digital distributor of spoken word in the world. Her latest full-length collection, Today Means Amen, was released early 2016 by Andrews McMeel.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 292: Haunt Me


Hieu Minh Nguyen

“Me too” is not just a show of solidarity among women who have endured sexual harassment and assault. The toxic and destructive culture that has bred that awfulness knows no gender boundaries. A part of this picture includes men and boys who have experienced its horrors and indignities.

This week I have been sharing the work of poets who have addressed different aspects of these things. Today it is American poet Hieu Minh Nguyen. From his website:

Hieu Minh Nguyen is the author of This Way to the Sugar (Write Bloody Press, 2014) which was a finalist for both a Minnesota Book Awards and a Lambda Literary Awards. A queer Vietnamese American poet, Hieu is a Kundiman fellow and a poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine. His work has also appeared in the Southern Indiana Review, Guernica, Ninth Letter, Devil’s Lake, Bat City Review, the Paris-American, and elsewhere. Hieu is a nationally touring poet, performer, and teaching artist. He lives in Minneapolis where he flails his arms and forgets to take his clothes out of the dryer.

And he has a sense of humor, too, as you can see. This spoken word video is powerful and real. Fair warning that some of the language is strong, however there is nothing in this presentation that comes close to the obscenities he is working to exorcise from his heart and soul.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 290: Courage to Listen, Courage to Act


Meggie Royer

“Me too” – Two small English words that are being used now to bring light and truth to a ghastly sickness in our culture. The number of women I know and care for that have posted this to their status on Facebook keeps rising, and with each one my heart breaks a bit more. I am angered. I am frustrated.

In case this is the first time you’ve been introduced to the recent “Me too” phenomenon, the status update has become viral following the sexual assault and harassment allegations brought against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. But it is not just tied into that man and his history of horrible behavior. In fact, that is just one of many straws that have piled so high that it seems that camel’s back won’t just break but explode. The Weinstein story has served to shed a light on something that cannot, must not continue: A toxic masculinity and warped expression of sexuality combined with massive male insecurities and abhorrent sense of entitlement. It is a culture that shrugs off rape, makes excuses for the basest of behavior and turns a blind eye and deaf ear to its victims. It is sick, period.

For God’s sake, enough is enough.

I have become Facebook friends with a poet I greatly admire, a young American named Meggie Royer. I’ve posted a poem by her on this blog before. As I’ve gotten to know her through her work, I’ve come to realize that she is another woman who has endured rape. By that I mean she has not only endured the horrible act of rape but all the surrounding awfulness that occurs, always to the woman and never to the man, it seems. To her great credit, and probably because she is an artist of considerable skill, she has taken that experience and turned it into art and action. Meggie works at a domestic violence shelter and uses her ability to express so many difficult if not impossible things for others to express. From a distance and across the internet, I have come to respect her greatly.

Today, and for the rest of this week, I want to share poetry that addresses sexual assault and harassment, and the sick culture that gives birth to it. It is art as communicator, helping others to empathize and experience; and it is art as weapon of destruction, to tear down this awful system in order to give rise to something healthy and equal in its place.  I asked Meggie for some suggestions and she provided some exceptional ones.

Here is a link to a poem she herself published recently. Please take the time to read it, especially if you know that you need to understand more what women who have been assaulted have gone through and continue to go through. All of us, but especially men, need to have the courage to listen and then the courage to act.