By: Kavi Vu // Senior Advisor
When I first started writing poetry, I have to admit that it was for myself. I think much of art is a journey for one to explore and find peace within him/herself, but the next step of my art, I never anticipated. When others are able to relate with and connect to you through your art, it transcends your problems, your story, you, and it becomes this organic thing we call life.
What I mean is, art is the very solid and tangible expression of life.
I think that life does not exist without art and expression.
The suppression of art is the suppression of life.
I recognize that I can only say this because I’ve had such a supportive group of people behind me to say, “Your art is good. Keep going,” but I know many others around me and around the world who are not so fortunate. Some are not encouraged to pursue art, and some don’t see themselves as a “creative type,” as if there is a certain type to live and breathe and feel and express.
When Advancing Justice – Atlanta discussed hosting a monthly open mic with Kollaboration, I was ecstatic. Not just to be able to share my work, but as a means to share that feeling of being able to connect with someone through a reflection of your life. Many of the people I reached out to had never felt inclined to share their story – “nothing is different about me. I don’t stand out. I have nothing interesting to say” – they let society make them believe that. I think that the first step to being a creative artist is to create art.
It’s simple: Did you create? If you created, then you are creative. I think the bar of creativity that we always use is, “how unique is it?” but my advice to anyone looking to become a “creative type” is to keep doing and keep digging. You are the only one in the world with your perspective: with your parents, your upbringing, your siblings, your taste, your friends, your career, your pains, your favorite memories, your thoughts – all in one person that is you. If you put yourself into what you create, it will already be unique by nature.
We have had two open mics so far, and my heart is so full from knowing that some of these artists who signed up are performing for the first or second time, opening up their lives to 50-60 strangers in the room. There’s Marissa Childers, who shared her story of being an adopted Korean American, to Raymond Partolan, who so passionately and courageously talked about his life as an undocumented American, to Eric Sun, who found his purpose and value through hip hop music.
Kollaboration has always been that supportive push for me to embrace my story and my art, and as we host more open mics, I want to see that stage meet people from all walks of life. I want us to be the ones who say, “Your art is good. Please keep going.”
For me, it started with holding a microphone and telling my story, but I’ve realized that my absolute favorite feeling in the world is actually handing over the mic to help amplify someone else’s voice.