$633 of $7,000 goal

Raised by 22 people in 51 months
The Bodies Visible performance series started with one show in Washington DC on March 31, 2014 at The Fridge DC Art Gallery. That show featured international spokenword artist, activist and founder of the #BeBeautiful project Denise Jolly, and was hosted by poet and disability activist Natalie E. Illum (me).  

The goal of that evening was to create a safe performance space for people to embrace their body as is.  It featured Denise and several local performers who identified as having a disability.

By the end of the evening, one thing was clear.  DC needs more spaces where people with disabilities and their allies can perform and celebrate who they are, not just talk about or share their experiences.  So many venues in DC do not have wheelchair accessible performance options, or ASL-Interpretted events.  I aim to change that, in time for our NEXT SHOW ON JULY 9th!!

The Fridge has agreed to be our home, and we hope to continue to produce 3 more shows (September 2014, October 2014 and March 2015) if all goes well.

In 1999, I became I founding board member of the mothertongue collective. Until about 2012, Mothertongue provided a safe space for women, girls and LGBTQ people to have their poems heard.  We welcomed writers who never performed before to internationally-known poets and activists.  The Bodies Visible series will follow a similar model.  The featured performers will predominantly be touring artists and the open mic will be for DMV performers. 

I want to be clear that you do NOT need to have or identify as a person with a dis/ability to perform, nor to you have to disclose what you "have" in order to be heard.  The open mic is open.  However, priority will be given  to those whose bodies are often too visible or invisible and/or not part of the mainstream.  Performers are also not limited to poetry!  I welcome other types of writers, storytellers, academics, musicians, film-makers, comedians, dancers, and performance art that is genre-less for a reason. 

We will have a website, facebook and twitter presence soon, but until then you can e-mail me with an questions at

Please share and participate in this campaign however you are able.  Every act of community-building is an important and valuable step (or however you move through the world).

I'll be keeping you posted as to who our features will be (Mike McGee, Nomy Lamm, Nathan Say, Leslie Freeman, SaraEve Fermin, Lisa Gill, Sheila Black and Emily Rapp) are on my "short list."

Before I release this into the interwebs, I need to acknowlege Sonya Renee Taylor and her organization, The Body is Not An Apology.  Please friend and follow them.  Their collective work is life-changing.  To find out how I know, read this.

Thank you for your time,
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Hello Everyone. Just a quick note to say that the 7/9/14 Bodies Visible Performance is being postponed until we can raise enough money to make this series as accessible and barrier-free as possible. Please continue to spread the word about donations. I really appreciate everyone's support thus far.
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Hello Everyone! I'm excited to say that on May 25th I will be another year older. Huge shout out to all the Geminis in the Universe, able-bodied or otherwise. Please keep sharing this project. If everyone sends it to 1 person outside of my network, who knows where this would spread and whom it could reach. It might be the one person who could really get us started. I'm hoping to announce our feature schedule next week. Stay tuned and happy holiday weekend. Many thanks and enjoy!
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Day 2 brings many more shares! I know in the haze of social media it can get frustrating to see the same links, especially when people are fundraising for new projects. There are so many to choose from, and I appreciate you following mine.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I'm sure several others. Those who identify as having mental health issues are welcome and encouraged to participate in The Bodies Visible series. Here's a poem that started as a Facebook status, just recapping my conversations from yesterday, but also realizing what depression does, how it threads through all my interactions when it is at its strongest grip. For the poets out there, some of the line breaks are off due to formatting. Today is slightly brighter, and the beat goes on. Wishing you the best day possible, even on the worst ones.

I don't know when I fell
in love with the word miserable.
Maybe it's the British in me,
or the lonely, even when
everyone has RSVP'ed,
or my lover comes back
or the prescriptions are all full.

Maybe it's the way she says my name,
like my brother, like my sister tells me
not to worry, this will pass soon. I lied
all day, telling everyone I'd feel better
tomorrow, re-posting social media status'
so I wouldn't have to admit

how much I wish you were actually here.

How selfish it is to always know in advance
that next time I see you may not be enough. Tonight,
a friend told me some people aren't wired for romance.

What if some people are just coded for sadness
the way some people's DNA will unravel
for a shot of Tequila? If I ever
truly become a distillery,
make sure you save
the starter batch for a final toast,

make sure he knows that the best people
I know have always belonged to other people.
I am wired for this. My happiness
is found in the briefest moments:

a promise, the anchor of spotlight. This morning
my coworker said we are dead much longer
than we are ever alive. In 37 years,
I never imagined eternity as anything

better than being surrounded
by those who love me best. I laughed
in my cubicle, said that's the most
depressing thing I'd ever heard.

I spent the whole day wondering
if that was actually true.
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131 shares in less than 24 hours!! Thank YOU for helping me get the word out about The Bodies Visible Performance Series, and huge thanks to those who donated from Day 1.
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$633 of $7,000 goal

Raised by 22 people in 51 months
Created May 19, 2014
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Lynette Hammond
47 months ago

Laura said to support so I did :-)

Lily Claffee
47 months ago

Natalie, you are a great poet. Good luck with this venture. Happy birthday, Laura.

Chloe T
47 months ago

Happy Birthday and nice job supporting a good cause!

47 months ago
48 months ago
Rachel Grinberg
48 months ago

Happy birthday, Laura!

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