Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Andrea Hawkins-Kamper—The Woman You See Demands to be Heard

Andrea Hawkins-Kamper

Before baseball intervened yesterday, this year’s National Poetry Month series seemed to have developed a trend—refugees.  There are all kinds of refugees and not all of them are fleeing war or persecution.  Some are fleeing the torment of their own biological bodies and their escape brings them to real and potential rejection and dangers.  These are the refugees of gender identity.  You may have heard of them.  They have been in the news a lot lately.  And like Syrians on an overloaded boat they find some who will welcome them and others overcome with fear and hatred determined to drive them back to where ever they came from.
Meet Andrea Hawkins-Kemper, a tall, commanding woman with rippling bright red hair, piercing blue eyes, and a ready, slightly bemused smile.  A few months ago she walked into the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry, Illinois looking for a supportive community and a place to share her spiritual path.  I am sure she hoped she could find a safe place where a transgender man, the Rev. Sean Parker Dennison is the minister.  
Sometime later Andrea got up at a Haystacks Coffee House Open Mic to read her poetry. It was  powerful, challenging, gut wrenching, but defiantly hopeful.  She left nothing on the table.  Not only was it fearlessly emotionally honest, but it was finely crafted by someone who knew her way around words.  
Performing at Haystacks Coffee House Open Mic.

Andrea is an accomplished author, poet, artist, and photographer. She’s proudly owned by three cats and a Chihuahua, all rescues, and lives with her partner in the vast wasteland of Chicago’s outer suburbs.
She’s an accidental Unitarian, which might help explain her belief in the essential validity of one’s path to the Divine—even if that path is no path. “Each of us ends up at the same Clearing, no matter the route we take to get there,” she says.   
Andrea was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky by way of Phoenix, Arizona, and spent more time as a child with Corvidaecrows and ravens—than she did with Homo Sapiens.
She recently performed at the Elgin Literary Festival, which is a part of the Elgin Fringe Festival. She’s been a featured performer at Sappho’s Salon in Chicago, as well as a regular performer at regional science fiction conventions, where the feminist slant to her poetry is often unexpected. She is also a regular performer at various open mic/open jam events in the region. Her poetry has been published in several regional anthologies, as well as included with her photography in an online literary journal in 2008.
You can follow her journey at ourladynhytefall.com and www.patreon.com/ladynhytefall .
An artist with many talents.

Medical Necessity

It’s eight-thirty on a Sunday morning.
I sit in Starbucks and read about monsters, demons, and superheroes from the book I keep in my purse,
I drink coffee and relax, for today is one of the good days.
I tuck my hair behind my ear, and smile as I glance the swell of my chest.
Even after all this time, it still surprises me.
I see my hips spilling outward over the seat, the very representation of the earth mother-
            And I sigh, remembering that those hips are only fat and muscle,
nothing more,
Because bone doesn’t move,
not then, not now and not ever again.
I sigh and
I remember the rich and fertile plains of my thighs,
            Marked only by the hills of injection sites and scar tissue,
                        Those rough cliffs of self-inflicted and necessary pain,
            And I see things as they will be,
            The smooth line running between the clefts of converted flesh and split muscle,
                        Into the cavern of my strictly fictional womb,
                                    And I rejoice.
                        I rejoice in this rebirth,
                        I rejoice in this renewal,
            I rejoice that I have come to this most holy altar of reconstruction,
                        Made of stainless steel, autoclaves, and tubing,
                        Of blood and pain and lights,
            I rejoice in all the conversations,
                        All the confrontations,
                        All of the confirmations,
                        I rejoice in all of it,
            Because I have found salvation in a scalpel and a skilled hand.

—Andrea Hawkins-Kamper

The Ferrywoman

This world was not made for me.
It was not made for those whose oil burns through the night,
            For those who cannot trim their wicks,
                        whose darkness is a favourite stuffed animal to cuddle.

This is a world of where the grittiness of life
            is not seen under the focus-group veneer of slick perfection and social media,
This is a world where to be Other is to be a ghost moving through walls and windows,
A candle lit to commemorate the dead,
            Ritual reduced to just words and gestures devoid of meaning or action,
            Love for the sake of conformity and not for the sake of necessity,
No, I was not made for this world.

I had a dream once where I met Charon,
            He’s a rather nice old man,
                        happy to talk to any old soul with two bits,
                                    a mythological phone-a-friend,
                        only you’re dead and he’s the Ferryman to Hell.
            I asked him if I could have his job.
If I could ferry the dead from one shore to another,
Here a stroke, there a stroke, easy does it now.
I dreamed he said yes, and I became the Ferrywoman.
Dressed in black robes,
I went back and forth across that dark river,
            ignoring the cries of the souls trapped below.
                        For they did not pay for their passage, and they were not my problem.
It was a most wonderful dream.
            And that is the world I was made for,
            not this one.
            Not this one.

—Andrea Hawkins-Kamper


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