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June 17, 2019

Poet: Jocelyn Randolph, Dancer: Harnoor Singh, Musician: Yoonhwan Kim

EVEN THE NIGHTMARES

 

As a little girl, I never liked stuffed animals. Instead, I would hide them under my bed and fall asleep holding my walkman as it gave me superpowers

I believed I had a cape created from music beats. As the songs blasted in my ears, I became invincible. Through nightmares, I could tiptoe around the monsters coming to harm me on music notes, on lyrics telling me to survive

To survive by loudly loving the creatures coming to harm me. And every night as I pretended to be asleep, my father would drunkenly stumble into my room. He would unplug my dreams and give me an alcoholic's kiss on my forehead

He would say, "Jocelyn, I am so sorry for everything. I will always love you, no matter what I do." And for the first time, love told me she would not always be perfect or feel like falling asleep being held by music

Love told me she would not always be a hero, but sometimes a human believed to be a nightmare. As a child, I loved everyone consumed by darkness just as much as I loved dreaming. I loved them just as much as I was curious about the fireplace

 

I knew they could burn me because my mother said so. She would say, "Honey, do not get too close. If you touch them, they will singe your heart. Burns will cause scars"

Then, healing was not scary. Scars were the battle wounds you bragged about on the playground, and sacrifice did not mean being taken advantage of

This was a time when I would fit the entire universe into my pocket heart not knowing it would tear holes right through the bottom of my soul

When I was a child, the only problem I thought I would ever have was deciding which song I would save the world to. And c’ mon what was the point in becoming a superhero every night if I couldn’t tell the entire world they were loved and deserved to be. Even the nightmares

 

2017

Jocelyn Randolph

Origin Story

I was introduced to writing Spoken Word Poetry in 2015/2016, by an organization at Penn State, named W.O.R.D.S, Writers Organized to Represent Diverse Stories. This organization saved me in many ways. During a time I had so many negative emotions trapped inside of myself, W.O.R.D.S introduced me to a new form of self-expression as well as a community full of acceptance and support. I participated, along with many other great artists, in open mics and poetry slams. We'd even start performing poetry in the middle of huge parties and socials. These moments remain some of the coolest experiences I've ever had in my life. Through this organization, I was blessed to meet many different people and learn how they experience the world around us. We were all struggling and managed to come together as a community to embrace our pain and share our love. We laughed together, through the tears. 

The Performance

Harnoor invited me to perform with him and Yoonhwan at an event named Cultural Conversations. Harnoor truly pulled us all together and helped me throughout the creative process of this poem. We had such a fun time working together!!! The show was set in a very intimate performance space which allowed us to have a beautiful connection with our audience. Fun Fact: Both Harnoor and Yoonhwan were freestyling their parts!!  GREATLY TALENTED INDIVIDUALS! It was a privilege to work with them.

Who's That Girl?

When I reminisce on the woman I was in this video, among others, I sometimes have trouble recognizing her. My pain was so immense. I was mourning the death of my father as well as dealing with the weight of a separate trauma. I was so desperately trying to find an escape. During this time, I found temporary solace through many toxic behaviors. I was chasing the release and running in all the wrong directions. However, performing became a healthier outlet. I'd walk on stage and scream my heart out. I'd pray to be seen. I'd pray someone would save me from myself. 

Honestly, this part of my life seems as if it were decades ago. She's so different from the woman I am today. I still have the same heart and sensitivity. I still believe I can save the world, but throughout the years, I learned how to save myself. I learned how to transform pain into resilience. I transformed my chains into wings. My past into a testimony. My existence is quieter now. I'm not demanding people to feel my pain or eager to spill. I watch these videos, and I love the woman I see. She was a survivor, and despite all the pain, she loved greatly. She had no self-worth yet treated everyone with kindness. I'm grateful for who I once was.

Behind the Scenes: Cultural Conversations