Michael’s Walk: Travel-writing memoir project

What you’ll be supporting:

#MichaelsWalk * is a two-month research and development road trip through 33 US states for a memoir/travel-writing project.

We are seeking support to fund part of the travel, and the development of the creative projects that will result. Any 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.

I will be accompanied by the wonderful and talented, Teague Leigh and Bayley Turner who will not only be contributing to the memoir in their own ways but working on their own creative projects simultaneously. 

I plan to connect with other Tori Amos fans on the drive and interview people with similar 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 preparing for both my own explorations and the interview process, and Dawn will be helping me analyse the interviews and my own writings. We hope this could inspire further study in the area of relationship violence within queer relationships, an area that is underrepresented in the academic field. 

Making this trip, in 2022 specifically, has been my goal for at least four years. Now we are in the process of booking it, I am more excited and nervous than I’ve ever been before. It will not be a holiday. I have a lot of deep work to do as I face years of compounded trauma head-on and write about it in a way that will hopefully benefit others. 


*not a walk
 Photo credit: Teague Leigh

Why we are doing it:

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 hope to unpack what I’ve been through and how I’ve moved forward with two of the most important people in my life by my side. The fantastic photographer Teague Leigh, will record the trip with photography, and one of my closest friends (and technically ex), Bayley Turner, plans to express the trip with poetry. Three neurodivergent queers with a shared love of 90s alternative rock and a penchant for deep conversation in a car for two months? Who knows what we’ll discover?

We also know we’ll be enriched by the connections we will make along the way with other Tori Amos fans, some we’ve been connected with for years, and others we hope to meet. I intend to interview people across America, exploring what Tori Amos, and Scarlet’s Walk, means to them. Having many voices inform my writing, I’ll be able to tap into what it is like to have closer access to Tori’s career and tours than I have, living in Australia.

If you’d like to meet up with us, please fill out this google form .
 
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! Spotify | Apple | YouTube 
 
But there is not simply one outcome to this trip:

Teague will be photographing to accompany Michael’s travel writing, and will also be simultaneously collecting images to use for various collections, photo essays and an exhibition. 

Bayley will be making her own recordings, writings and notations to develop a poetry collection and/or spoken word project during the journey.

Why we started a GoFundMe?
We have roughly costed the trip as economically as possible for two months:
• Flights (return flights + 6 domestic flights) = $14k
• Accommodation (averaging $100 a night for the three of us) = $6k
• Car hire (roughly $10k) + Petrol ($2.2k) = $12.2k
• Food ($45 pp/day) = $7k
• Travel insurance/sundry
This comes to a total of $39.2k
 
Between us, we have saved $21k towards the trip. The trip will go ahead regardless of the results of this GoFundMe, but we are asking for the outlying $18k to help us on our way, and so we can avoid being in debt on the other side of it. For example, by contributing $100, you could put us up in a motel for a night or two, or cover 1000kms of petrol money. But no amount is too small, $10 will buy one of us a meal one day, that's one less for us to worry about.
 
What we are offering people who support us:

We cannot describe how much we would 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.

We’ll also be offering EXCLUSIVE creative works to those who donate:

~ In March, Michael will share a short story he wrote towards the end of 2019. It is fiction, but extremely personal for several reasons, but most relevant is that since ending the relationship I’m exploring in the memoir, I have been plagued by angry, panic-filled dreams where he is stalking me and will not leave me alone. They come and go, and still trouble me from time to time. But in the 2nd half of 2019, they were the most severe they had ever been. 3 or 4 nights a week for nearly 4 months straight I was waking up full of anxiety and terror. When I wrote this story, they stopped for a good six months at least. 

~ In April, Teague will share a collection of exclusive photos that will be accessible only to those who have donated. They will be offered as a gift and yours to use in any way you see fit as if you had purchased the copyright to them. Please add photo credit whenever you do. 

~ In May, Bayley will share two poems, a ‘Single’ and a ‘B-Side’, from her upcoming poetry project, Ulysses. Collaborating with music producer Matt Katz, Bayley will be creating spoken word sonic scenes that explore her journey so far with gender, spirituality, family, sex and relationship to nature. Donors will receive exclusive access to the tracks, the cover art and a video thank you from Bayley herself. 
 
Tori Amos announced her American tour at the beginning of February which firmed up our travel dates. 

We begin the journey on the 7th of June, catching the final week of the tour, attending 5 shows. This is a wonderful way for us to begin, connect with other fans, and then we launch our drive from LA the day after the closing night show. 

We are also applying for funding through the Australia Council of the Arts. However, this is very competitive and is not at all guaranteed. One thing that works in our favour, however, is to show that we have funding coming from other sources. We are listing this crowdfunding on our application budget and will include the confirmed amount raised at the time of submission. With that in mind, if you can donate, it will be most beneficial to receive the donation by the 26th of February. A donation at any time will help, but whether the grant is successful or not, having the money we need to make and pay for bookings would be ideal. 


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. 


CHECK OUT THE STORE HERE 

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!

 
Bios:
 
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)

Michael Earp 
Organizer
Brunswick East VIC
Bayley Paparella 
Team member
Teague Leigh 
Team member