Sitting in on writing sessions for CSW’s House Ensemble is both a learning process to observe and engage. The bouncing around of ideas and the courage of words that live in us should never be undermined. Because this is the root of developing a CSW show. In a room full of writers, performers, poets and facilitators, we each bring what we know, what we’d like to know, and what we don’t to fuel discussion. And in relation to our upcoming show of Handsome Animals, the bravery and strength to relive our personal experiences and relationship with gender unravels a dynamic, uncomfortable, redeeming, abstract, terrifying, and intimate connection to our bodies.

The social construction of gender has become an ever-increasing topic in our society, I think, as it should. There are countless numbers of conversations on what it means and what it represents to us. But what does the “social construction of gender” mean? This is something I think is one of CSW’s biggest points, and something that should be thought of as both intimate and public, a paradox, an inconsistency, and fluid performance of ourselves. A social construction is something that simply does not exist in our “natural world” but merely a mold, guideline and invention of society. Constructs are just like a set of rules, and once those rules become a norm, it becomes the foundation of what is considered “right” or “wrong.” However, this is where gender as a construct becomes messy. Idealizations, characteristics, beliefs about natural abilities, and “scripted” ways of behaving fluctuates from culture to culture. And human being to human being.


Here are some recollections I’ve gathered in essence of our conversation on gender:

  1. Some of us are more aware of our own gender than others. What it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman is entirely our own.
  2. Social constructions have shaped gender into what defines a male or female. But when we “violate” these norms or blur them, often, we are criticized for our individuality.
  3. The sexualization of gender has become a powerful asset to how we think about our bodies in social spaces and moreover, how sexuality has become an outlet to defining someone’s gender expression and identity.
  4. Sexual orientation is distinct from gender identity. But the way we treat sexuality in relation to gender differs from a man and a woman.
  5. As writers, performers and directors, it is a challenge. How do we remain as inclusive as possible? How do we talk about something as fluid, sensitive and personal as gender?






I am ecstatic and extremely grateful that I have gotten the chance to work with Chicago Slam Works, for it’s mission and pursuit is “igniting poetry through performance.” As a theatre artist and writer, this combination could not be more ideal. In a sense, this opportunity has felt like trying on the perfect pair of… Continue Reading

This post is by new Chicago Slam Works Blogger, Dylan Weir. A short tangent, if you’ll allow. After watching 12 Years A Slave (stay with me) I read somewhere that the film started with a question from director Steve McQueen: ‘why aren’t there any American films about slavery from the perspective of slaves, why don’t… Continue Reading

Emily Calvo is writer, painter, and freelance marketing director with a vivacity that belies her recent recovery from cancer.  She just released a book called Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd, which allows her to combine her ability as a writer and a painter by integrating the text of her poetry into watercolor paintings.  The book… Continue Reading

Imagine a future in which human life is mechanized, efficient and clean. Now imagine a future in which the messiness of emotion is indelible, in which The Singularity cannot un-complicate sex or self-loathing, cannot erase religious zeal or conflicting opinions about the awesomeness of brunch or the goofy infectiousness of teen fashion trends. This is… Continue Reading

Being on the board of Chicago Slam Works affords me great opportunities to increase exposure to poetry. As a poet and Green Mill regular, I enjoy sharing my work with others. As an artist, I found another way.  I’m calling it creating “Wall Poems.”   Continue Reading