Michael’s Walk: Travel-writing memoir project
What you’ll be supporting/the elevator pitch:
A 2-month road trip around the U.S.A. reimagining the conceptual journey taken by a character the focus of Tori Amos' 2002 album, Scarlet's Walk. A travelogue, a memoir, and an exploration into interpersonal violence experienced within an abusive relationship that lasted 15 years, starting from 2002. Connecting with other Tori Amos fans, interviewing them, and reflecting on how coercive control and manipulative abuse can exist with and without the presence of physical and sexual violence. 3 trans queers, 33 states, 55 days: limitless possibilities for healing.
We were so grateful to receive such generous support to make the travel happen. Now that we are home, we are paying off credit cards and bank loans that were needed to see the trip to fruition. Any continued support is appriciated more than we can express. All support alleviates the financial burden of all three artists.
The memoir will reflect on varying forms of abuse from an LGBTQ perspective and frame it from the narrative of the road trip itself. I will be researching and unpacking emotional and financial abuse, manipulation, grooming, power imbalances and coercive control I experienced within an abusive, 15-year long queer relationship.
The journey is inspired by Tori Amos’ album, Scarlet’s Walk; a concept piece narrating her way around the United States on a journey of self-discovery and reflection. 2022 is the 20th anniversary of the album’s release. I have long planned to replicate the journey and write a book that is simultaneously a travelogue of the trip itself, music journalism reflecting on my and others’ relationship with the album, and an exploration of trauma woven into my life alongside the twenty-year history of its release. It was released the year I moved out of home and into that relationship. Making this trip, in 2022 specifically, has been my goal for at least four years.
I connected with other Tori Amos fans on the drive and interviewed people with experiences of abuse to inform the book. I'm very excited to partner with Dr. Dawn F. Nguyen who is a consulting Psychologist with more than twenty years of experience in advocacy, intervention education, and scholarship in various forms of relationship violence. It's incredible to have this level of academic support, in both my own explorations and the interview process, and Dawn will be helping me analyse the interviews and my own writings.
Photo credit: Teague Leigh
In 2002, I moved out of home at 18, directly into that relationship. At the same time, Tori Amos released Scarlet’s Walk, the album I would most strongly connect with from her (now) 16 studio album discography.
By following Scarlet’s footprints around America in June and July of 2022, I started to unpack what I’ve been through and how I’ve moved forward and I had two of the most important people in my life by my side. The fantastic photographer Teague Leigh, recorded the trip with photography, and Bayley Turner, worked on her own poetry. Three neurodivergent queers with a shared love of 90s alternative rock and a penchant for deep conversation in a car for two months? All manner of discoveries!
Photo credit: Nick De Lorenzo
To read about my connection with Tori Amos, and the story of how Bayley and I met, check out this blog post. (The image above is from me reading this piece at Sydney Writer’s Festival in 2019 at a session called ‘To All The Fandoms I’ve Loved Before’)
If you'd like to listen to Scarlet's Walk, I can highly recommend it!
But there is not simply one outcome to this trip:
Teague photographed the trip to accompany Michael’s travel writing, and simultaneously collected images to use for various collections, photo essays and an exhibition.
Bayley made her own recordings, writings and notations to develop a poetry collection and/or spoken word project during the journey.
What we are offering people who support us:
We cannot describe how much we value any level of support and we’ll be sure to personally thank each contributor in every way we can. Each supporter will receive a personalised postcard and a shout out in the book.
Want something physical while you help us fundraise?
We’ve created an online store of all kinds of merchandise - tees, hoodies, mugs, you name it! We commissioned the fantastic queer artist Jes Layton (@AGeekwithaHat ) to draw Tori for us and designed some clothing we wanted to wear, and thought other fans and supporters would too. We will receive the profit of every sale all of which will also go towards the project.
Want to follow the journey?
Follow Michael on Instagram | Twitter | Newsletter | Patreon
Follow Bayley on Instagram
Follow Teague on Flickr
Follow the hashtag #MichaelsWalk and share, share, share!
Photo credit: Michael Earp
Michael Earp (they/them) is a writer and bookseller living in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia). They are the contributing editor of Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories (2019) and contributor to Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories (2019). The next anthology they are editing, a collection of queered fairy tales, is scheduled for 2023 with Affirm Press. Their writing has also appeared in The Age, The Victorian Writer and Aurealis. For twenty years they have worked between bookselling and publishing as a children’s and young adult specialist, currently managing The Little Bookroom . In 2021 they won the ABA Text Publishing Bookseller of the Year. A passionate advocate for LGBTQIA+ literature for young people, they established the catalogue #AusQueerYA . www.michaelearp.net
Photo credit: Michael Earp
Teague Leigh (he/him) is an autistic trans man from planets unknown, currently residing in Naarm. His writing has recently appeared in Bent Street Journal and Archer Online. Once upon a time he was anthologised in various works and performed his spoken words around the country. Now he is a photographer, letting his landscape images speak for him. Find more of Teague at https://linktr.ee/tlwvision
Photo credit: Meagan Harding
Bayley Turner (she/they) is a proud queer trans woman, writer, performer, and consent advocate living on Wurundjeri country. Her writings have been published and performed in Archer magazine, Mamamia and queer spiritual edited collection ‘Heaven Bent’ among others. Bayley’s work with consent involves consulting with creative teams on policy documentation, facilitating bespoke workshops and presenting at various local and international conferences on the subject of consent practices. Bayley is currently training with Intimacy Directors & Coordinators in New York and working on her long awaited poetry project after the success of immersive performance art experience ‘Eve St John’. bayleyturner.com
Dawn F. Nguyen, Ph.D. is a consulting Psychologist with more than twenty years of experience in advocacy, intervention education, and scholarship in various forms of relationship violence. Her experience includes managing San Diego’s countywide Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Elder Abuse hotline, Teaching and Training in interpersonal, sexual, and organizational violence with a focus on marginalized communities in the academic, public, and private sectors, and advocating for trauma based and research-oriented response to relationship violence. Dr. Nguyen is interested in arts-based treatments for survivors, prevention and intervention services for queer and disabled communities, and evidence-based treatment.
As a survivor of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, Dr. Nguyen has personal experience with the healing she experienced through a connection to music created and performed by Tori Amos, and has long used Tori Amos’ music to facilitate understanding, empathy, and insight in her courses and training.
Dr. Nguyen is excited to partner with Michael Earp to explore the efficacy of arts-based treatment modalities for trauma related symptoms, and to add to the scientific study of prevention, identification, and intervention for intimate partner violence survivors in queer communities.
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Fundraising team: Michael, Teague and Bayley (3)
Brunswick East VIC