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Susan Stinson

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09:27 pm: Fat Imagination at Organ Recital
That was an incredible night of fat art. Seriously, I've never experienced anything like that — one tremendously moving piece after the other. I feel as if my blood is moving through my body a little more freely after that. Great to see so many folks I haven't seen in too many years. Also: tin foil walls.

I'm typing riding backwards on the train home, so disruptions might happen. I want to tell you a little more about Fat Imagination Monday night.

You should know that most people there were coming straight from work on a cold, windy February Monday night. Kelli Dunham is organizing a week-long storytelling festival in on bodies, health and healthcare while doing a demanding fulltime job. Everybody is under extra pressure because the threat of loss of healthcare, jobs, homes, because of tension created or increased by so many things right now. This night of storytelling was an act of resistance. It was a profound one.

People came out! The seats were full. JACK is a community arts space, and I was reminded of how important that is. The women's bookstores used to work like that for me and communities I was in Northampton. I miss them. (The library, too, at times in other forms.) We moved the sturdy, armless chairs from the back tier of the low risers to the floor to create more accessible seating. (Chairs with arms often cut into my legs or don't fit at all. I'm not the only one.) There was a mike, a stool, and a music stand. There was a table covered with a cloth with pictures of Divine as an altar with photos and objects to remember Heather MacAllister and other beloved folks who have died.

Glenn Marla and Hana Malia curated the event. I would grab the chance to see Glenn perform any time, and advise everybody else to do the same. Both of them were so good, and their gifts, art, and community engagement drew the whole thing together and held us in the common warm, attentive space in such skilled, warm, funny ways.   Glenn opened with the story of a call he made to his mother on the night of the presidential election. He had a painted cat food can phone, a great mother puppet, and painted pasta backdrop with ricotta cheese that dropped from above like a great cloud. Glenn's story made me braver because he was making such wonderful, moving, tender-hearted, honest art out of things that sound a lot like the chronic gut ache I've had in response to so such much news coming out of the election. It was amazing. 

Later, Hana also told a great story, that swung from something that had happened that day at work to a gnarly old fat dyke of a teacher she had had when she was a kid, who used to ask her to stay after school to practice yelling out the window to encourage her to speak up more in class and went swimming with the class, locker room and all, with her one very present and one missing breast. Then Hana sat down in her gold glitter skirt and general utter gorgeousness and sang the Bonnie Raitt/John Prine song, "Angel From Montgomery."  Sang it so beautifully!  I've loved that song ever since my older brother brought a Bonnie Raitt album home from college.  It was as if Hana was laying a gift especially for me on the Divine tablecloth table.  Also, Hana was visibly moved by my story in a way that was another deep gift.  Deeper, really, than I can say. 

Everybody who read was great. It's really true. I keep losing the signal and am going to be overtaken by events once I get home, but if you seek out the other storytellers at the Organ Recital site or the Fat Imagination event page, you won't be sorry.  Here they are:

Roz the Diva
Geleni Fontaine
Fancy Feast
Bryson Rose
Janie Martinez
Leah Strock

PS  I wrote about the first fat event Glenn Marla performed in -- it was one I read in, too.  It was a benefit for Nolose called Jiggle-O.

Photo credit Kelli Dunham

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