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Your StorySlam Host Is Ready for Battle


Just like our stories, our scars make us one-of-a-kind.

This year, in honor of Memorial Day, First Person Arts is presenting a special StorySlam on the theme “Battle Scars.” This Slam is part of Commonspace LIVE, a collaboration with WHYY featuring 7 days of live recordings for our new radio show and podcast.

Lovella Calica, Founder and Director of Warrior Writers, will be our host for the evening. Warrior Writers is a national nonprofit with the mission of supporting veterans in the discovery of the arts as a transformative tool. This is the first time Lovella is performing with us, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Meet Lovella!

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FPA: What can you tell us about one of your own battle scars that you’ve earned on the way to becoming an artist, yourself?

LC: Well, since I’m trying to publish a memoir about this sometime this year, I might as well start to put it out there. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. That is my biggest battle scar, and it has led me to becoming in artist.

FPA: What was a story you experienced through Warrior Writers that changed the way you see the world, caught you off guard, or shook you to your core?

LC: One time, at a poetry reading, one of our participants was telling a story about how he was really struggling with depression and suicide. He said that he was on the ledge of his apartment building when he got a text from me about a book we were putting together. He chose not to end his life because I invited him to be involved in our community.

FPA. Many people want or need to tell their stories, but it can be an inner battle just to step up to the mic! What’s your advice for our Slam warriors looking to muster up the courage to share a personal experience at the “Battle Scars” StorySlam?

LC: As a poet who has read and listened to many other poets, I am incredibly grateful to them for sharing their writing/stories/art with me. Other people’s experiences and perspectives have affected me in positive ways. They have helped me learn and grow, and have inspired me. I believe that we can communicate for these reasons. We can’t keep everything to ourselves — we never know how it might affect others to hear from us. Besides, what can it hurt? It’s just a mic and some people!

FPA: Why did you create Warrior Writers?

LC: I hadn’t meant to found an organization, actually. I had been working with anti-war veterans for a few years, and had become quite close with a lot of young, post 9/11 veterans. We became good friends. They confided in me, cried on my shoulder, and shared their pain. As a writer and trauma survivor myself, I knew how critical writing was to my continued survival, and eventual thriving. So I decided to share my writing with my veteran friends. Afterwards, I asked if any of them wrote and asked them to share their writing/poetry. When I heard their powerful and high-quality writing, I thought of myself, ‘Other people have to hear this.’ Then I decided that I wanted to put together a book of their writing, and lead a weekend workshop, so we could write together and support each other. We knew that weekend that we had started something, and weren’t going to stop — that we were going to continue growing. We are celebrating our ten-year birthday this year, and we hope you will help us publish our fifth anthology by checking us out at www.warriorwriters.org.

FPA: What do people need to know about veterans today that they don’t already know?

LC: To be honest, there are a million things to know! The first thing is that when most people think of veterans, they think of Vietnam veterans, and while that’s true, that is not the only reality. There are hundreds of thousands of veterans that are in their 30s, like me. They are young, female, people of color, and even anti-war. There’s a real diversity of veterans out there. You need to know that they are just like you. Most of them didn’t join just to be killers. Many joined for college money, to get out of their hometown, to get away from their family, or just to serve. And more importantly, they need us — just as we need them — to move forward together, and to create the society we want and deserve.

Event Details
First Person Arts StorySlam: Battle Scars
Hosted by Lovella Calica
Live music by Eric Coyne

DATE Tuesday, May 23
TIMES 7PM Doors, 8PM Show
VENUE FringeArts
TICKETS $10 – or – $7 for members of WHYY, First Person Arts, and FringeArts | BUY

No body’s perfect. From broken limbs to heartbreak, and everywhere in between, we want to hear all about your scrapes, scruffs, dings, and dents!

Interview by Kathleen Lafferty, Intern
Photo by Sosena Solomon, courtesy of the Leeway Foundation.

Upcoming Events
  • StorySlam: Windfall
  • Date: August 27, 2019
  • Time: 7:30 PM
  • Venue: CSZ Philadelphia
  • Location: 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107