Controlled Chaos: The Art of Harriet Showman

Controlled Chaos: The Art of Harriet Showman Arts, Blog, Poetry, The Struggle, Videos
April 13, 2016

“Shouting the poetic truths
of high school journal keepers”

Sonic Youth – ‘Skip Tracer’ / Washing Machine (1995)

“We create our lives with words.
~”i-am-invisible” by gregg davis

Controlled Chaos.

“My name is gregg davis.

No. i am not a boy.”
~”invisible-i-am” (first lines) by gregg davis

I would like to call to your attention – “‘invisible-i-am’ by gregg davis” – a groundbreaking and prescient multimedia artwork by visionary North Carolina writer and artist Harriet Showman.

‘invisible-i-am’ is a book in the form of a teenage girl’s journal, a personal testimony that illustrates, with piercing clarity and uncanny empathy, the destructive effects of bullying on a young person’s psyche.


“That was when i learned about the brutal power of words to create reality. Had i turned myself into a loser? All i did was defend myself the best way i knew how. Fuck. In my reach for survival, i hadn’t factored in the Internet. Anyone who Googled my name in the future would be able to witness my debasement and admission of defeat.”

The book itself is the centerpiece of a larger multimedia enterprise that spans and inhabits the now very familiar social media spaces (a tumblr blog, a twitter account, a youtube channel, a facebook page) which have become the mechanism by which the kind of bullying attacks its protagonist is subjected to are carried out.

It’s a masterful modern take on a classic, and quintessentially American, coming-of-age teenage drama.


Through the 16-year-old Gregg Davis’ eyes we journey through the ugly side of teenage American life, exploring those facets that all too often are happily overlooked – unless being exploited, for the shits and giggles of the ravenous, gawking, finger-pointing and pop-culture-obsessed mob we have gleefully become – from public humiliation & personal betrayal to self-loathing & sexual violence, the confused inner life of a confused American teenage girl – in the (very public) fight of/for her very young life – is transformed, by the words and art of Harriet Showman, into stepping stones to secure a radical-scopic vantage of our society’s greater betrayals & humiliations – the big ones that make the littler personal ones even possible – namely, the racial & class discriminations & divisions feeding into historical systems of oppression and informing every aspect of our current way of life and limiting our integrity, well-being and potential, collectively and as individuals.

Showman’s portrayal of protagonist Gregg Davis’ – warts-and-all – life and opinions is fully-realized and utterly convincing. Anyone who lived life as an American teenager in the late-20th/early-21st century will instantly recognize themselves in it. This is what it’s like. To paraphrase poet Wallace Stevens, “invisible-i-am” is Not Ideas About the Thing but the Thing Itself.

“invisible-i-am” is available for purchase (for kindle and in paperback) on Amazon
Read the first chapter for free on Harriet’s tumblr

Indie Grits Film Festival

Harriet Showman’s short film also titled “invisible-i-am” will be playing at South Carolina’s Indie Grits Film Festival on April 17th at 1:30 PM. [Video at top of this post, text at bottom]

“Propelled by a far-flung artistic vision, festival organizers sought to break down the walls intimidating Southern media makers by creating exhibition opportunities for work often overlooked elsewhere. The spirit of Indie Grits comes from the heart of its host, the Nickelodeon Theatre–South Carolina’s only non-profit, art house theatre–affectionately known as ‘The Nick.'”
~Seth Gadsden & Andy Smith, Indie Grits Film Festival Co-Directors

Be Unafraid to Speak Up!

Harriet Showman’s creativity also includes a musical element,

The 3-song EP I Feel Weird… on Bandcamp (name your price).

Be The Change! by Glittoris

   Hatred fills my mouth like spit.
   Plug your ears and shut your eyes.
   Discomfort outweighs a community shift:
   Progress is stagnant with no confrontation.
   Be unafraid to speak up.
   Be unafraid to speak up.
   Be unafraid to speak up.
   Be unafraid.

Invisible-I-AM (Video Text)

I’d hate to have the sun dictate my life….

Elementary school, play yard, no one wants to be your friend, when it should be so easy. Say hi and instead, they tease me……kids are cruel.


Middle school, puberty. I wish i was invisible. To my crush, i am, but to everyone else….no. You only see me because you need a punching bag, I’m sorry i exist, this is true.

High school, things are better, or so i thought, my two best friends teach me quality over quantity, what’s in numbers but pedophilia, my first love is too old…..but I’m not seen by anyone else, so when no one else wants me, I take what I can get…I thought it was ok.

College, i discover a voice. On stage, I’m not invisible but at the bar, I welcome the cloak. Don’t see me as I see the bottle. The glass. The blunt. The dick. Don’t see me. I don’t see myself, i don’t want to, never wanted to. I write. I look better on paper than i do in person.

Pregnancy. I don’t see him but i feel him. The room is dark but his heart is darker. I am nonexistent for six months. I couldn’t do an abortion. He reappears and yet responsibility still seems to be only my problem, I’m docile. No baby mama drama, it’s the only way and I’m sorry….


Motherhood is tough. He sees me and smiles. It makes me nervous, it feels weird to be seen and appreciated. He doesn’t know I’m damaged and he doesn’t care. He smiles, hugs, and kisses on me, unconditionally he loves me. He sees beauty. I try to see everyday what he sees but i can’t……depressed.

Controlled chaos. I function enough to make it day to day but tomorrow is too far away, the thought so overwhelming, i cry.

Insecure. Afraid of rejection. Love me, i beg spread eagle with strangers on the weekends. My teeth bore during the work week, jokes are plenty. Don’t believe i take antidepressants. I’d rather counseling, at least making me feel less obscure feeds your family.

Pretend. It’s felt, I’m in danger, in danger of myself and i dont know if I want help. I’ve been invisible this long anyway. I’m fading fast, depression is a terminal illness but the masses would say suicide is selfish, is it the same for fast food though? No exercise, i couldn’t find my happy so i found prescription pills in the sun and made a temporary one….

But then there he is. My son. My forever. Keeps me from swallowing, those pills. Those ideas. I’m vocal. Notebooks housing my truths, stages and mics keep me alive and in it all, i don’t know if for help, I’m crying or if this is just another poem but you’re hearing it. Hear me. Love, I’m ready to be seen.

AK Rockefeller

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AK Rockefeller

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