Poet Highlights LGBT Issues Through Poetry, Documentary

By Sarah Wallace

The band King Median, composed of Kalamazoo students, introduced the poet Natasha Miller to Kalamazoo College’s Recital Hall last Friday at 7:30 pm. They were expected to play one or two songs, but entertained the audience further due to Miller’s traffic delay. Though Miller’s entrance was setback, it was worth the wait.

Poet Natasha Miller was brought to campus by the Conscious Communication and Gender and Sexuality Living Learning Houses in their aim to promote healthy discussion amongst people of all sexual orientations, race, and other backgrounds. The event included a 20-minute preview of the documentary she is currently directing called TransParent.

Miller’s documentary focuses on the story of transgender teenager Shelley Hilliard, born as Henry, who was murdered in Detroit in 2011, and was known to many people as “the person who walked realness for her house.”

The goal of her film is to bring attention to the transgender community, and their stories that often go untold. She chose to reflect on Hilliard’s story because she grew up in Detroit, and had a lot of access to the story.

“I was a part of the LGBT community and I knew what the ‘T’ stood for, but I didn’t know what was behind what it stood for, and now I do,” Miller said.

In the second part of the event, Miller performed spoken word poetry, which began her career seven years ago. The poems Miller recited reflected past personal experiences and pains, inspired by real-events like the murder of her brother, as well as mistreatment by her ex-girlfriend. They are “pain with a different face” as Miller said, transforming her pains into humor, though still powerful pieces of poetry.

The poems she recited included “If I Happen to Die Before my Mother,” “Halloween Suggestions for your Ex-Lover,” and “The Other Black Man.”

By using film as her medium, Miller wanted to reach a larger audience to convey Shelley’s story. Though she is a director, she remains as a lover of the spoken word, and called it the “base for everything [she does].”

 

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