I try to be courageous. The other night I had the honor of reading for an Indigenous Writer's Gathering at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. The Honorable Lt. Governor of British Columbia was in attendance.
I had chosen a piece called 'Queen Elizabeth Goes to the Elk's Hall Bingo', about her ditching a formal event to visit the Tlingit/Tagish folks at the bingo hall. It is less about the Queen being human and more about how the Tlingit/Tagish people would treat her, being that they are royalty as well.
I sat up front at the table, looking at the representative of the Queen, and my heart thundered as I thought; why the blazes did I pick this piece? What if I insult the Lt. Governor? What if there are rabid loyalists present? Worse, my Tlingit friend didn't make it. I had been hoping for backup. Sheila, you owe me, man! Plus, I had worked hard on my Tlingit/Tagish colloquialisms and regional dialect.
I began by saying,
"Your honor, I want you to know I have nothing but respect for the Monarchy. But the piece I will share is about what may happen if the Queen visited the Elk's Hall Bingo in Whitehorse". Her immediate response was
"I lived in Whitehorse"!
"So, have you ever been to Carcross"?
"I LOVE Carcross"!
"That's good. I will just go ahead and read, you'll get this".
She did. She laughed uproariously, and came and gave me a hug at the end, and said,
"The Queen would LOVE this"!
Her aide, in the formal uniform with gold braids and medals, approached me later.
"I want your autograph, and a copy of that piece. And by the way, her family would LOVE it"!
The experience made me realize that being courageous in our art is a necessity. I never would have known that the piece made people laugh, even those who represent the Regent, or maybe especially them.
Courage and risk. A prayer I have always said regarding all of my art,
"Let me be absolutely courageous in my writing".
I not only put blood and bone to the page, but exhale my spirit. And, sometimes, it takes guts to share it with the world. And I am so glad, that in this case, I did.