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A Space to Get it Out

When Aimee Herman (they) has the microphone, they have the power.

“As someone who was raised female, to go on stage and read raunchy, sexy, but feminist works, it’s like, ‘I have the mic; I have the power,” the nonbinary author and teacher says of performance poetry. “I walk off stage and those words still belong to me — you can't touch me. And I like encouraging other people to explore spoken-word performance as well, because many of us are raised with a lot of shame around being open about sex, being curious about sex. So it's really important to me to create and foster and encourage spaces to counter that shame.”

Herman builds those shame-free spaces through writing and performance workshops, like the less-lascivious Queer Art Organics open mic on Sunday, Jan. 28, and a Queer Erotic Poetry event on Saturday, Feb. 10, both hosted by Rocky Mountain Equality (RMEQ) and held at Junkyard Social Club (2525 Frontier Ave., Boulder).

The Naropa grad will lead a generative writing workshop from 4:30-5:30 p.m. before the Queer Art Organics open mic from 6-8 p.m. Herman avoids getting prescriptive while teaching workshops, preferring to offer prompts with no requirement on the form a response takes. 

“I'm not telling you to write a poem,” Herman says. “Just put words on the page, be messy, go in a different direction. It's a space to just get it out.”

The Queer Art Organics brand was incubated in Brooklyn, where New Jersey-native Herman says their “heart was born.” They found community in The BK through performance: burlesque, poetry, music — often events Herman hosted. When they moved to Boulder in 2021, Herman was hungry to find that community again. RMEQ has partnered with Herman on a number of projects, including a performance during the 2023 Trans Day of Remembrance, and a co-hosting gig with Ren Dawe for Queer Circus in June.

“I grew up where you got to be gay in June,” Herman says. “That was the month where the flags came out and all of a sudden everyone loves you for being gay, and you get this parade and how wonderful! And then July 1, the flags came down. Organizations like Rocky Mountain Equality are a reminder that we get to be out all the time. RMEQ brings us out, they give us reasons to celebrate ourselves, and they also educate.”

Herman builds on RMEQ’s celebration of LGBTQ+ people by featuring a local queer poet at Queer Art Organics open mic events, no matter how much — or little — experience the artist has. This month’s featured artist is Trey Casen Williams, aka Kolyah Shoni, a poet of page and stage who also is a multi instrumentalist, singer, and visual artist.

“It's very important to me that I don't care what your bio is,” Herman says of choosing featured artists. “I've met people with the fanciest bios who are not that great as performers. So if somebody asks me to be the featured artist, I almost always say yes, and I'm never disappointed.”

For those interested in dabbling in adult-themed poetry, Herman will host Queer Erotic Poetry on Feb. 10, where they hope patrons will come with “an open mind looking to be titillated in some way.”

“I think good erotica — it's so subjective what people are interested in — but in my mind, good erotica digs a little bit at us, maybe even makes us just a little bit uncomfortable, but really curious as well,” Herman says. “My hope is that [participants] are entertained and that they're introduced to new voices as well.”

Participants at Queer Erotic Poetry will get to enjoy live performances by Eli Whittington, Doc Martin, Tyler Hurula, D.L. Cordero, Aerik Francis, Mahogany Imani, and Jona Fine.


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