We had the good fortune of connecting with Shawnie Hamer and Sarah Richards Graba of collective.aporia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shawnie & Sarah, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
Sarah Richards Graba: So many things. Rain. Justice. Magic. Art. The roots of plants. Music. A bit of overheard dialogue. The color green. A friend. An obsession.
Shawnie Hamer: There are a lot of things that inspire me, but I think my number one is community. To be a part of a (creative) community is such a gift in so many ways. It creates space for acceptance and love while simultaneously asking us to sit with and expand upon discomfort. I find myself constantly drawn to this oscillation–and the evolution it provides–in my writing and work.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Sarah: This is a lot of questions at once. I think I’m most proud of the global community that we are cultivating. The participants in the workshops, the people submitting to *apo, and the intersections via Innisfree… it’s been astounding how much art we can create, share, and put into the world together. Creative activity will save us. As humans, our collective soul is at stake. I really believe that. And I know that the act of creating, of co-creating, of reveling in creativity, in forming a huge vortex of creative energy— that is what will save us.
Shawnie: I’m 100% most proud of the inclusive spaces we are making for art, creativity, and community. Before launching collective.aporia, I was traveling alone and I found myself really missing my Colorado writing community. I also longed for educational spaces outside of institutions and all the exclusivity they can perpetuate. With aporia, we are using creativity to help bridge gaps across cultures, countries, languages, skill levels, and mediums in our workshops and publications, and we are learning more and more everyday about how to best accomplish this. We’ve struggled along the way, especially financially and with time management, as is almost always the case with creative endeavours, but each time we speak to members of our community and hear about how our offerings have helped them feel connected to their art and the outside world (particularly in this pandemic) we know we are doing something important. What we do comes from radical love, and I hope that our community feels that.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Sarah: geez, this is a lot again. I mean, I guess I would hit up: Denver Art Museum, 16th Street or Pearl St Mall, Wash Park, Coors Field for a baseball game, hiking Royal Arch Trail at Chautauqua Park, and probably a dispensary at some point lol. I’m pretty basic but these are my favorite places in Denver/Boulder area to show people from out of town. 🤷🏻♀️ I guess maybe I’d also hit up a good Korean bbq in Aurora (either Mr. Kim’s or Seoul Restaurant), 퍼니+ (Funny Plus) which is the best 치맥 (chicken and beer) places in Aurora, and my favorite ramen place (Katsu Ramen in Aurora). For sushi and sake, definitely Amu in Boulder. For green chile and Mexican, Efrain’s Lafayette. And if we could catch it, Punketry, Jazzetry, and the midnight full moon reading.
Shawnie: This question has a different meaning for me now that I don’t live in the Front Range area, so instead of my best friend, I think about what I want to see and visit when I’m in town. I’d have to go see my taco fam at McDevitt Taco Supply, do some hikes, maybe make a trip out to some hot springs, see a show at Gold Hill Inn, drink beer on the patio of the Dark Horse, and see as many readings and lectures as possible at Naropa’s Summer Writing program. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Sarah: I think our obvious shout-out is Naropa, JKS, and SWP. Thus, Anne Waldman, Diane di Prima, Allen Ginsberg, Trungpa, and Jack Kerouac.
Shawnie: Like Sarah said, I think collective.aporia first and foremost has to give a shout out to the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. I personally would not be the writer and community organizer I am today without the mentors and guides I met in that space, Sarah included. I also want to shoutout to our team and the organizations they are a part of for the cross-collaboration and support they’ve provided:
- Our *apo-press editor Chris Chady, who is also a part of Wisdom Body Collective and Tiny Spoon Lit Mag
- Our Innisfree Workshop Series Coordinator Andrea Becker, who is a manager of Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe in Boulder, Colorado, owned by Brian Buckley (hi Brian!).
- Vera Linder and Swanee Astrid who have been with us from the very beginning when collective.aporia was just a dream we talked about over cocktails.
- April Joseph
- Jenni Ashby
- Shreeya Shrestha
- Dani Ferrara, who designed our website and is a co-collaborator of Nocturne School of Lucid Writing and the off.collective.
Black and white image of Shawnie reading is credited to Wes Butler Photography