Some thoughts on TEDx and how I got here

If you’re visiting following the TEDx event, welcome! I hope to be sharing more of my poetry and thoughts in this space in the weeks and months ahead. Follow along here or find me on social by clicking on the icons.

My living room has darkened around the edges again with another round of thunderstorms this afternoon. As the rain moves in and I’m cocooned in my dark, empty house, it’s about an hour from the final rehearsal for TEDxZumbroRiver 2017, at which I’ll be speaking for (about) 7 minutes. Speaking on stage is kind of new to me, as is sharing my poetry, as is believing I have an “idea worth spreading,” so goes the TED tagline.

I suppose I want my idea to spread, though it’s hard for me to own it as anything that originated with me in particular. But it is my story, and I suppose that is original to me.

The rehearsal is looming and the event is coming up tomorrow because, for me, a friend encouraged me to apply to be a speaker. “I don’t need to do that,” I reasoned. “I have no desire to be known or admired or seen as ‘expert’ in any area,” I thought, somewhat falsely. “What would I even talk about?”

And then I thought of my kids.

I thought of my two little Ugandans, my black babies whose lives seem to matter less to America than mine does. I thought of the rise in hate speech and emboldened hate groups. More than that, I thought of the insidious systems of racial oppression that are invisible to white eyes and yet bolstered by our denial of their existence.

And I do desperately want a better country for them, a better world. I want to be better. I want to show others how to be better. I want to encourage people to care.

So, I applied to pitch my idea at TEDxZumbroRiver Pitch Night in January. I was accepted, and that was an “oh, shoot” moment — what had I done?

I shared a poem to an audience of about 100 people — that was new for me. I was proud to have done it, hopeful that it might have opened a couple minds to a better way.

Then I got invited to have a conversation with a curator and, finally, an invitation to speak at the main event.

Oh, shoot.

What has followed between February and today has been the most arduous and rewarding creative process I’ve ever forced myself through. Creation, if it means anything, is always an act of unearthing, which takes effort, which requires vulnerability, which means pain and elation, frustration and breakthrough. I’ve never spent so long writing so few lines of poetry. I have a document full of “cutting floor” poetry lines that is longer than the final piece. I have, as my final piece of five poems woven together, a work of art that’s worthy of sharing. That’s “worth spreading.”

I can’t wait to share it with you.

At this hour, incredibly, tickets are still available for the event. Please come! My talk is one of ten that will be given tomorrow. I’ve heard four others, and they are each incredible and inspiring in their own way. The entire event will be more than worth the price of admission. Learn more about the event here, or get your ticket already before they sell out.

Can’t make it? My talk will probably be posted online eventually, but it takes several months for them to show up. I’ll be sure to link to it here and on my social channels when it’s live… probably next winter.

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3 comments on “Some thoughts on TEDx and how I got here

  1. Jules says:

    So glad you are in this process, friend! Your message is part of our evolution.

  2. Carol Lovegren says:

    Excited to hear your talk even though we have to wait until next winter. Would also love to hear about your upcoming trip to Uganda.

  3. KIM! So looking forward to your talk tonight! Cannot wait!! You will be amazeballs. #vshedforever