Grrrls Night: An interview with host, Jess Meoni

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Times-Tribune article (2018), which revisited the  Grrrls Night

In a brief statement, what is Grrrls Night about?

Grrrls Night is about celebrating local women in variety of performance arts such as music, poetry, spoken word, comedy, and theater. The name is taken from the phrase riot grrrl.

What is your main goal/message for Grrrls Night?

My main goal for Grrrls Night is to provide women with a platform for their creativity and expression. I want the performers to find comfort and relativity in the support and community of this event, but most of all, I want these women to showcase their talents at regular open mic nights to demonstrate they can perform anywhere.

How long have you been hosting Grrrls Night and how has it evolved over time?

Grrrls Night started in 2015 at Ale Mary’s as a sporadic yearly event feature. Sometimes we did it consecutively, sometimes not. I wanted to keep people on their toes and not make it super predictable. I always enjoyed and encouraged new performers, although we still have a substantial veteran base to the event. Grrrls Night started as a response to a personal puzzle in my mind as to why men always outnumbered women at regular open mic nights. I couldn’t figure out why there were not more women out there playing bass, singing, writing jokes, or reciting poetry. I knew they were out there, I just did not understand why they weren’t on the stage. The format of the event has essentially remained the same, with only slight variation in the timing. Sometimes, this was the first space where a girl performed and she was encouraged to move onto other events. Some nights I had up to 20 girls perform, other times only 10 or so, but every time was a cathartic experience.

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Grrrls Night, Photo credit:  Daring Damsel (2016)

How do you think Grrrls Night has provided a safe space for local NEPA female performers, such as writers and musicians?

Although I do believe Grrrls Night creates a space where women feel liberated with their thoughts and musings, I never intended to establish a space where women are patronized or coddled. I wanted Grrrl Night to be a base that women can build from, take that confidence, and showcase their talents anywhere possible. I think these women have proven they are bold with their words and actions, and they impress me every single time. So many come back time and time again and you can see their craft grow before your eyes.

Are there any future plans for Grrrls Night?

I have wanted to make a more comprehensive mixed CD or Spotify playlist of their work to promote.

For this Grrrls Night, the featured performers will be the following:

Mandalyn Rose
Monica Noelle
Angelia Petrillo
Kenna Carey
Amanda Rogan
Ali Pica
Lucy Katherine
Alex Kijek
Isabel Anderson
Stephanie Marie Santore
Algid Leah
Jami Kali

This Grrrls Night will take place this Friday, September 21, 2018 at Bart and Urby’s located at 119 S Main St, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18701 from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

For more info, check out the Grrrls Night Facebook event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/236032480382130/

The Obsequious Pen: Monica Noelle Simon

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Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Today’s featured contributor is local writer, artist, and activist, Monica Noelle Simon. Monica wrote the following about herself and her work:  

Monica Noelle Simon is a poet and visual artist residing in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She explores the world through written word, spoken word poetry, acrylic paint and ink and paper sketches. In 2014, she created #BeKindScranton, a grassroots campaign to bring more compassion and kindness to Northeastern Pennsylvania. Her writing has been published on Elite Daily, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Burningwood Literary Journal, Commonline Journal, Poets of NEPA, and HelloGiggles. Her work can be found at: http://www.poetrybymnoelle.tumblr.com.

 

Here is her poetry:

 

Alligators

Alligators are no joke
They will jump out of the swamp
While a horse peacefully drinks water
And take his whole life under
It seems the horses are just naïve
Almost blind to it
And I guess in the end
The alligator isn’t hungry anymore
But ask me any day of the week
And I’d still rather be the horse

 

Storms

all you need to be a scientist is yourself
and maybe a theory
and maybe a way to test it
to be clear: i never asked for the storm
but i wanted to learn
to test its power, its strength
match it up against my own
so while they all hid in basements,
shouting their warnings from tiny windows
begging me to come inside
i sat still and watched,
a lonely endeavor,
stubbornness masked by science
i am here to learn
maybe it would’ve been better if he reverted back to sea
or if i’d just let the rain suffocate the side of the house
while i sat inside, warm, drinking tea
instead i became the continent
with bustling cities, intricate contidictions,
and i wanted to prove that even after he came,
i would still be standing, and i was,
with a heart collapsed, brain shaken up
inability to tell right from wrong
maybe i never asked for the storm,
but why did i have to wave it on from the shoreline?
and afterwards the people, all dry and warm,
came out from their houses,
all arms with hoarded hugs,
surprised i’d survived it, unsurprised i wasn’t the same
helped me clean up, even among their resentment
i just had to experiment, i just had to observe
a scientist curious about things bigger than myself
always explaining, excusing,
“hey, i never asked for his storm”
and as we wander among the rubble
shattered glass, leveled towns
the question remains…
did i learn?

 

Unsettlement

the unsettlement
… of reading tragic poems laced with love and ugly, the likehood of Ginsberg, Plath, Bukowski, Kerouac. All destined for death, as everyone else. All martyrs and depressants, gasoline added to hearts already on fire–

the unsettlement
… of an apartment much to quiet, air rationed and used up with panic demanding more attention than a lightening storm in February, with ghosts packed in, all faces of people I recognize but don’t know–

the unsettlement
… of the stark difference between the narrative and the reality of burning buildings, flood waters leaking pain and poison all over the goddamned place–

the unsettlement
… of waking up when you’d forgotten, forgotten all of where you’ve been, wondering if you were ever even there. men with theories on philosophy, political climates colder than poles, tricks and treats and trollies, rolling away like runaway cars–

the unsettlement
… of questions never asked, answers flashing like a lighthouse after you’ve already crashed into the shore. summer with it’s long days of playfulness, my atoms bouncing in the heat, I swear I’ve forgotten how to properly breathe. him a problem I’ve grown to love, as if being lulled to sleep by the sound of termites using their teeth, expensive repairs budding from senseless hesitation–

the unsettlement
… of cars and paint and floors speckled with the residue of tears with no label– why was I crying? of murder and suicide, the destination of death and the value of the visit. itineraries and lectures, cookies tasting of magic, secret dances on the beach throwing stones into the waves, proving anything can sink if it’s heavy enough–

the unsettlement
… of what comes next. timelines dissected with joy, happiness, and raw red pain. a blank canvas, we all just wait for life to throw paint. we all just hope it turns out pretty.

 

Monica Noelle will be reading her works alongside other powerful female writers, performers, and musicians at Grrrls Night:  The Galentine’s Edition, this Friday, 2-16-18, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Ale Mary’s, located 126 Franklin Ave. Scranton, PA 18503. There is no cover charge, but a suggested donation to the NEPA Youth Shelter