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November 28, 2018
Authentic: Chloe Cole-Wilson
Even as a kid, Chloe Cole-Wilson wanted to help people. “And,” she says, “I was always very good with words.” Now, as artistic director for Basement Poetry, she combines her passion and her power: using her words to help.
Basement Poetry is a performance art group focusing on slam poetry and movement theater, dedicated to creating a courageous and safe place to connect with others. It grew, like so many movements, out of a desire to create what didn’t already exist. “It started out with five women sitting in a classroom at NCC,” says Chloe. “We looked at each other, and were like: there’s not enough art for women, for women of color, for Millennials, for us.”
From their first performances, it grew to touch the Lehigh Valley at large. Deirdre Van Walters now serves as the organization’s president; Kristina Haynes as vice president; Zinnia Santiago as secretary; and Brooke Whitmire as technical and marketing director. Their annual fundraiser, A Night of Soul, will take place in 2019 at the Ice House.
Their shows are personal, emotionally intense, and focus on topics from mental health to gender, race, and identity; next year’s performance, Heal, will look at sexual abuse and trauma. “The coolest part, the most interesting and vital part,” says Chloe, “is community organizing. It’s about creating intimate spaces to talk about social and political issues that can be polarizing.” Audience members will approach performers after a show to express gratitude for the experience, having been moved in person, human to human.
“We live in an age of movement,” says Chloe. “Constantly going from one destination to the next. We try our best to create these spaces to keep us sacred. Removing outside stressors. Focusing on one topic at hand. And getting people involved.”
Find out more about Basement Poetry on Facebook @BasementPoems