[Not So Simple: Observations on Poverty and People will be available for purchase through Amazon and local Ventura County bookstores (to be determined) in ONE WEEK 2/23. Here is a preview of what you can expect.]
Stories stimulate and engage the brain. Stories use the whole brain and activate language, sensory, visual, and motor areas. With all the data surrounding storytelling, I made a conscious decision to listen and then tell the stories of those who are homeless.
If we want to tackle poverty, it has to start by listening to those affected by it. Looking at problems through a human-centered lens can kickstart us towards possible solutions.
I’ve heard so many tales over the past three years- too many to count. With each one, there was always something different, something unique. Although there are underlying themes throughout each narrative, I wanted to use art to showcase the variety of each person living outside.
There’s never a single story. Not for school shooters, not for successful CEOs, not for those living on the margins of society. Similar threads for sure, but never clones.
With 21 poems, the second section of poetry in Not So Simple is titled ‘Knowing the Neighbors.’ Realistic, heartbreaking, but hopeful, these poems paint a picture of the different roads people have taken. This week we’ll hear from Tatiana. She caught me after I read at an open mic two years ago. Her story is worth sharing. Her story highlights a part of poverty I hadn’t considered.
On a personal note, I am so excited to share this project with all of you next week. This journey has taught me a lot, and next week marks the completion of a personal goal I set out to accomplish ages ago. Thank you to everyone who has continuously shown support. I appreciate it more than you may know.
Why Don’t They Just Get a Job?
Everyone has a story
So for every story you share
It was Tatiana
With her fingers
grasping my forearm
She thanked me
For thinking of the homeless
She had her own story
I come from Ukraine
And when I was younger my mother
And I took trains to Russia while she
Looked for work
We had no permanent home
which meant no permanent work
After interviews they wanted a number to call
But no phone means no job
Her words reminded me of the line
That people popularly use to describe their view
Why don’t they just get a job?
I shared this with her
My mother tried,
She asked if she could contact them
In a few days to find out.
It rarely worked…
As our conversation closed
& I began to walk home
I kept thinking of Tatiana's story
To escape deep poverty you need a job
In order to get a job you need a place of contact
When that’s not there
You rely on the willingness of a stranger to extend their hand
and subsequently change your narrative
All in the hopes of rewriting a story that is never, ever
as simple as it seems