The Importance of Testimony Through Art. Phenomenal Women Panel ~ Lincoln College

Photograph by Buddha LuvJonz of www/

March 19, 2016 was a busy day for us Bridgeport women. In addition to being among Ladies in Formation, I was also a vendor at a Phenomenal Woman Panel. The women on this panel were gathered together by Martine Senecal. These women spoke about their trials and their journeys toward triumph. Up hill battles beyond the lowest of valleys. Broken hearts, empty wallets, dreams, children, support, opportunity and loving yourself first were among many of the topics that surfaced. We honored the other's stories and discussed the ways that we could relate to each other which managed to create a feeling of oneness in the room. We often go through situations thinking nobody will understand when in reality the person beside you can prove that nothing is really new under the sun. The person beside you could tell you that one thing you need for clarity and sometimes freedom.

Photograph By Lauren Gee of Lincoln College

On March 29, 2016, I was the featured poet for an open mic event curated by Lauren Gee at Lincoln College, Southington, CT. The challenge in performing is that you have to get beyond the discomfort of sharing personal parts of your mind and heart with a room full of people who are often unfamiliar. That is until you speak and they understand. The words become a bridge full of human experience.

The thing that I love about an open mic is how we often share the inspiration for the work before it is performed. One student shared that this date was the anniversary of their brothers death who transitioned in their arms. This poem led to another student talking about a similar loss which led to me reading my poems titled "Momma", (which I wrote shortly after my great grandmother transitioned) in addition to sharing "Maya Angelou". Both of these poems honor their lives and the impact that they had on me as a woman and an artist. We no longer felt unfamiliar to one another when the night was done. We were woven together by experience.

It is not until we share our testimony that we begin to understand the purpose of our struggles. It is not until someone finds inspiration from your survival that you realize how important it is that you survive. Our life challenges only happen in vain if we are silent about them. Nobody will be spared without your warning signals. Not even you, karma also pays attention to silence.

Children innately know not to suffer in silence. They cry and tattle until that random yet destined day when someone deems their age mandatory for their silence. Even at ages as young as four they can build emotional walls that seem impenetrable. It is the blessing of courage that allows us to get beyond the parts of ourselves that often feel shattered and in need of a healing. It is a gift to discover that the healing exists in words that have been stirring within us all along.

I encourage you to share. Tell your stories shamelessly and boldly because you are still here to do so. Your blood still pumps through your veins because you have a story to live and to tell. Even the smallest of details about your life can connect you and another person forever. Take the chance and discover that you are, in fact, not the only one living your pain or joy. You are the one responsible to make known that you are living. Not only surviving. Living.

Find Shanna Melton's newest publication titled "Unraveling My Thoughts on Click the link by visiting the Poetry Page on or click here.

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