Once a restless med-school-tracked student, Megan Atencia was forced to press the reset button on everything she once identified with after an almost fatal suicide attempt. Now a teaching artist and poet, Megan has overcome a buttload of obstacles in the past year (and beyond) to get to where she is now.
((Listen to her episode here or keep reading or do both of those things))
Before she reached one of the darkest times in her life, Megan was a songwriter and band manager, she said. When her grandma passed away, on top of other life-altering events, she realized that the creative outlets she once had access to were gone. She spoke about feeling like there was no way to express what she was going through on the show.
“I was at the edge of a building about to jump off and a friend literally pulled me off and was like ‘You need to change something,’” she said.
Against her family’s wishes, and with only $400 in her pocket, Megan chose to move out of her home and completely reset her life and college studies.
She changed her Global Health pre-med courses around and added English Literature to her course load. After taking a slam poetry class at ASU, Megan took her creative writing skills to the stage, drawn to the all-inclusive environment of spoken word.
“(Slam poetry) was founded on the idea that more people should be allowed into creative spaces – poetry isn’t just for the ivory tower of academia,” she said.
Her slam poetry experiences eventually led to a friend asking her to do weekly poetry workshops at a local mental health institute for children and young adults.
“So often these kids have never had a chance to be heard, and the moment that you take a second to just listen –– that’s the most therapeutic thing possible — listening and giving them that space to express,” she said on this episode.
Less than a year after her suicide attempt, Megan is now a college graduate and slam poetry ninja (she’ll deny it), having published four poems and instructed several workshops aimed at poetry and adjunctive therapy.
She is also much more open to discuss her experiences and is even working to turn one of the most depressing periods of her life into a poem.
“I’ve only been able to write about that suicide attempt recently… and it turned into an eight page poem,” Megan said, laughing at the poem’s length during the show.
She is continuing to work to make sure that as many people as possible have access to creative outlets to process what they are experiencing.
Megan said that Phoenix is still working on having it’s own slam poetry space but is hopeful that she, along with several top level Phoenix poets, will be able to revamp the Phoenix slam poetry scene and find a new place to bring poets together.
“The most amazing thing about poets is that we are all awkward. We’re all strange and weird and quirky. Whenever you go into an open mic space or a slam space, there are no expectations for you to be anything other than that weird quirky self that you always are,” she said.
You can follow Megan and all of the cool shit she does on her website here, her Facebook or her Twitter. She also said on the podcast that she is more than willing to connect with anyone interested in poetry over email.
Megan also offered up some resources for getting into Arizona’s poetry scene, which I am listing in number form because I’m boring and there is a lot –but listen to the podcast for the fulllllllll details. 😉
- Check out The Four Chambers page.
- First Fridays – “they always have a poet of some sort come up,”
- Volunteer or attend the Women of the World Poetry Slam as a volunteer,
- Go to open mics and Phoenix poetry events.
- Start something: “If you see a need in your community and you have people around you that are willing to build with you, don’t be afraid to go out and start your own thing.”
- Latch onto the people around you: “Even if it’s you and your three friends and you are going to share coffee with each other at King Coffee or Cartel or wherever you hang out then do it.”
- Talk to event organizers and hosts: “It will feel awkward–but it will be fine.”
- When all else fails email/stalk Megan.
****Special note for this episode****
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts or in need of help, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. There are also several resources available to you in Arizona, viewable here.
I LOVE EVERYONE READING THIS AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUOUS LOVE AND SUPPORT!!!! 😀