Feminartsy Ideas Fest – Rosanna Stevens

We’re super excited for our inaugural Feminartsy Ideas Fest 2017, a day of feminism and creativity being held on Saturday 20 May at Gorman Arts Centre. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be catching up with our Ideas Fest speakers so you can get to know them a bit better. Today, meet Rosanna Stevens…

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a writer and a musician who is constantly having crises because I keep escaping what is actually happening right now by remembering the past, or projecting onto the unknowable future. I like to return to the present by singing, playing piano, walking, and patting my dogs.

Do you identify as a feminist? Why?

I identify as a feminist. I understand feminism to be encompassing rather than exclusionary: we all want a different idea of a better society. But feminism is the grounds upon which we listen to one another, and hold space for each other, and praise and critique one another using values of compassion, patience, respect, and love.

How do you think creativity can influence or support our advocacy and activism?

I think creativity offers an environment within which we can express ourselves, appreciate one another’s expressions, emote, connect, and laugh more. To me, emotionality, emotional maturity, and laughter are key components of a sustainable feminist practice. Also, I admire music, humour, performance, painting, sculpture, dance, composition, and speech for all having profound roles in historical movements because they have mobilised people. They have resounded with people. They have represented cultural resistance, and offered neighbours and friends narratives and ways of belonging to cling to in times of upheaval or uncertainty. I MEAN LOOK AT LES MISERABLES THE MUSICAL: CAN YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING?

What is one impact you’d like to have on the world?

I’d just like to make people feel welcome, and loved, and valued for their abilities. And that’s a really hard thing to do when you’re writing on topics like menstruation, or you’re writing humour, which have been culturally designed to make people feel like you’re a bandit for wanting to learn or write about them at all – especially if you’re a woman or female-identifying. I think also when we talk about ‘impact’ it sounds so grandiose, but I’m not talking about becoming Queen of the World. When my father’s mother died a few years ago, I realised that everyone only remembered her as loving and kind to all of her grandchildren. I was so in awe of that achievement. It is a legacy I want to emulate. I have all these books from her house, and in one of them is a list of all the things she was trying to be calm and happy about, and it was a reminder that we are all human: we all struggle – but the memory of the love and care and humour she showed all the children in her life is what she is survived by.

What are you looking forward to about the Feminartsy Ideas Fest?

These kinds of events always have some incredible surprise moment, where someone says something you just needed to hear on that day, in that moment, and you write it down. So, no pressure – but I’m looking forward to that moment.

How did you find your feminist voice initially, and why are you drawn to writing?

I’m constantly finding my feminist voice! I’m not sure we ever find it, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing – we’re constantly evolving and so is our feminism, so we should be always looking for feminism and our feminist voice.

I think I’m drawn to writing because there’s a spirit that lives inside of me that’s told me since I was a kid, ‘Writing is all you’ve got. It’s that or music. You should be terrified. You will never be a lawyer or an accountant, which means you will never be able to do anything other than trade songs and stories for bread. You can’t even grow edible life: once you killed a cactus. Good luck.’ And I’ve really taken that voice to heart. (Actual answer: writers changed my life as a child. Tamora Pierce and Jackie French taught me my feminism. Writers including bel hooks, Aileen Moreton Robinson, Irini Savvides, Tina Fey, Jennifer Saunders, and Miriam Toews are my role models. When I don’t write, I can live, but when I’m unable to write, I’m beside myself.)

Rosanna Stevens will be speaking at the Feminartsy Ideas Fest in a session about finding your feminist voice. Find out more, and book your ticket here!

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