So, here you are, a single person just hanging out in the world, minding your own business, feeling really good about yourself and then BAM!! What's that around the corner?? It's Valentine's Day, and it is coming to take you out! Am I being dramatic? Maybe a little. But, that's my right. I am a proudly single, openly queer, openly trans* person of color and I don't think I have EVER seen a Valentine's Day card with someone that looks like me on it. Yet, every February for as long as I can remember, I have been force-fed hearts on cute, little cut-out paper and overpriced chocolates like I am supposed to embrace a holiday that wants me to feel bad for not having a "special someone." Valentine's Day ain't about me -- and it might not be about all of you either (and that's okay).
About five years ago, I was sitting at a table with a bunch of my friends that cross many colors, gender identities, sexualities, relationship statuses... and all I could think was, "where the heck is OUR day?" So, that year, I got a few of them together and we piloted a show that has been giving us something epic to do every year called Cupid Ain't @#$%!: An Anti-Valentine's Day Poetry Movement. Whether folks needed a place to talk about that horrible break-up they just had or had poems about the current political climate that couldn't fit into the niceties of Valentine's Day, it became something more than just a response to a corporate holiday. It became a day that validates all types of people that may be single, or that just may feel unimpressed by the restrictions placed on us by Valentine's season.
So what if some of us are bitter? Some of us just happen to have other feelings around February 14 besides romantic acts of love -- and everyone deserves an alternative if what is being offered in the mainstream doesn't quite fit their needs. For me, that is what Cupid Ain't @#$%! has been. It has been getting together poets from all over to share in radical acts of poetry that go beyond the love of our romantic partners. Sometimes we need to spit a bad poem about a failed relationship, an embarrassing sexually explicit snafu or critique some of the larger systemic problems in the world amid a slew of curse words and suggestive language.
Even more so, the feeling of needing to be validated is not owned by any one identity. Every year we get hundreds of LGBTQ folks and heterosexual folks of various colors, ableness, ages, etc. needing someplace to be and a community to belong to. There is something powerful about gathering together such a wide array of folks that wouldn't have come together otherwise except for something like an Anti-Valentine's Day where we can laugh and cry together. You don't have to dislike Valentine's Day to join us, you just need to have a want for some fierce laughter, the most awkward of love poems and a whole lot of politically inspired prowess. I'm so excited for this to be our sixth season having just finished our first London-based show and starting back up in the U.S. We will hopefully catch you in your hometown whether you are single, coupled or on the hunt!
Check out the upcoming shows below and a clip of our co-curator, Regie Cabico performing on Def Poetry Jam! Additionally, our featured poets and performers for this year includes: MJ Harris, Natasha Muse, Alok Vaid Menon, Lady Sarkazym, Mouth, Janani Bala, Sam LaRoche, Paula Varjack, Kamari Roméo, Saida Agostini, Baruch Porras-Hernandez and myself!
U.S. Tour Dates:
Cupid Ain't @#$%!: Dearborn Feb 13th at the University of Michigan
Cupid Ain't @#$%!: NYC Feb 17th at 61 Local
Cupid Ain't @#$%!: Philly Feb 18th at the Asian Arts Initiative
Cupid Ain't @#$%!: Oakland Feb 22nd at the Living Room Project
Cupid Ain't @#$%!: DC Feb 28th at the Black Fox Lounge