The holidays can bring about feelings of joy, love and gratitude for the things in life we often take for granted. When surrounded by family, friends, loved ones and established support systems, the holiday season is a wonderful time.
But for those who have lost a loved one, and the holidays are a brutal reminder of their absence, Guerilla Poets is here for you.
Shane Manier, the founder of Guerilla Poets, understands and realizes processing death around the holidays is tough, so the group is hosting Carry Their Name, an event to share stories about lost loved ones and remember their names.
Guerilla Poets started in 2012 when Manier was participating in an open mic event. After reading a poem, a man approached her and expressed gratitude for her reading, as he was planning to go home and commit suicide but was thus deterred.
“That was the first moment that I realized like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s therapeutic for you to write, but it can literally save other people’s lives,’” Manier said. “So that’s when we decided to found Guerilla Poets.”
The organization first started as a flash mob that would gather at spots like light rail stations, Walmarts and other locations where poetry isn’t as easily accessible. Soon, school systems, libraries and other organization
s in Charlotte and the state at large were asking Manier and Guerilla Poets to hold workshops in arts, poetry and music.
“We do art, poetry and music workshops as a way to empower, uplift and inform,” Manier said.
“So basically just providing artistic skill sets so they get people motivated to survive and have a better quality of life.”
It’s new event, hosted
at Charlotte Art League, will be an outlet for those to remember the ones that they’ve lost in an opportunity to process death and grieve in a safe atmosphere. Participants areinvited to bring a photo of their loved one and tell a short story. Then, they will say the loved one’s name and the audience will repeat it back in unison.
“There’s a lot of power in a name,” Manier said about the practice of repeating the loved one’s name. “So the crowd will respond with the name and they will be given a candle they can light, and we’ll keep the candles burning through the whole event.”
Manier sees the tension and grief in the students that she works with in North Carolina school systems around the holidays. While some are celebrating and readying themselves for family vacations and gatherings, she understands that grieving is a difficult process. Without the proper outlets for expression, youth may lash out aggressively. With an event like Carry Their Name, Manier hopes to bring a different energy to those who are grieving.
“I’m in several different school systems and in every single school system the students are struggling so hard through the holidays and tension is high,” she noted. “We’re hoping that it’ll be a way to process death, and to cope, and to also bring more warmth and togetherness instead of everyone lashing out because they are still grieving.”
Although the event is free, Guerilla Poets is accepting donations for Behailu Arts Academy, an after-school program for kids with little to no access to the arts.
Carry Their Name is on Dec. 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Charlotte Art League, located at 4100 Raleigh St.