I asked my students to write an essay-as-message to their teenage selves, inspired by this blog post by Jillian Lauren. Serendipitously, their assignment happened the same weekend I was swept away to Washington, DC, for an exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art displaying some punk rock flyers I’d made and saved from my own teenage years. Henry Rollins, the enthusiastic DJ/host, did a good job of reviewing the whole weekend here in the LA Weekly and I interviewed curator Roger Gastman for The Rumpus. I was a small part of the whole thing, but it meant a lot to me. My teens were angst-filled, but maybe no more than anyone else’s…

ignition flyer framed

flyer by Shawna Kenney

I left home at 17, moved to the big city (DC) from my small Maryland town, fought a lot with my parents, fell into helpless hopeless first love, struggled hard financially while longing for higher education, and booked punk shows with my best friend at a local club for fun. These flyers symbolize the bright spots swirling in all that mess of memory. Nothing gave me as much joy as sitting down with a Sharpie, some glue, scissors, tape and paper, ready to tell the world about an upcoming show. The movement of the marker, cutting of the paper, internal tickle of laughter in my throat… there was no reward greater than these moments of creation themselves. Writing is the same. It’s all an act of faith. I’d tell my teenage self this: Keep going. Keep creating. Stay alive.

corcoran hall

hall of flyers, Corcoran Gallery


corcroan text

didactic text, Cocoran Gallery

shawna and ian corcoran

Shawna and Ian MacKaye, Corcoran Gallery