Gabrielle Bouliane was a videographer and poet, who I met nearly a decade ago, back when I was very much involved in Slam Poetry.
She recently lost her battle with cancer.
She was a visionary, a friend, and a force of nature.
I wish I had known her better.
I did this illustration of her because most of the pictures I’ve been seeing of her in other posts of this sort didn’t really capture her the way I knew her.
To me, Gabrielle will always be in bunny ears–or a cowboy hat.
She is peering at me from behind a camera, or through a LiveJournal icon.
She is capturing something–when everyone else is too busy watching.
I am posting this poem of hers, because I think all of you should read it, whether you knew her or not.
When you hear that I have died, think of this.
Think of cool nights breezes while you walk to meet your friends for a beer on a Thursday. Think of waking up in flannel sheets on a snowy morning and kissing someone you love. Think of hung-over diner breakfasts and the best cup of coffee in the world. Think of the sound of tires on seamed highways while you travel, think of French kissing and leather jackets and push-up bras and bourbon, think of the joy of hard work with friends. Then think of me.
Not sad, not the melancholy solitude of empty skies, but the full days and crowded bars and signed contracts, a smile too big for my face, remember I said I stay busy enough to fit three lives into one. When you hear that I have died, know that I want laughter, and dancing, real dancing, to music that makes you move without thinking, you’re wearing boots and jeans and a great t-shirt and wondering if the girl at the edge thinks you’re cute. And you motherfuckers had best DANCE, none of this bullshit rock-nod hands-in-the-pockets shoegazer nonsense, no, make an ass out of yourself, feel your hips, kick off the high heels and sway on the shoulder of a stranger, when I die, you’d better be laughing your ass off on sidewalks, eating deliciously unhealthy food, drinking shots and tipping your bartender well no matter how much money you make.
And Adam has to read the poem he wrote, and Laura, and June, and Scott Carpenter has to play “Don’t Go Away, Chloe”, no fuck that, every musician I’ve ever made out with or videotaped or road-tripped with has to play, so drink some coffee, baby, it’s gonna be a long night. When you hear that I have died, the best thing you can do is to get laid that night with a comfortable stranger, use my story to get their sympathy, and when you kiss them for the first time, think of me then.
When you hear that I have died, and you will, remember your best revenge is to live well, take risks, save up money and chase your perfect happiness. Beat the system and learn to make your art really support you, craft into something your audience can’t live without. Then make the world an even slightly better place — stop throwing your cigarettes on the ground, vote in the next election, graffiti your life on the eyes of the hungry.
Then just do me one last favor. Please. Love something. Anything. Start with yourself, but find passion in everything, from an apple pie to a novel, make a family, get a degree, walk whatever path is yours with your chin up and feet planted firmly. Have the best stories to tell in the old folk’s home, about lifelong friendships and epic love affairs, about the time you lost everything and yet found yourself happier than when you began.. and remember that time we got in SO much trouble…
Poets.. remember. This is the story that never ends. When one of us leaves, another walks through the door. The pages turn, the sun keeps rising. All you can do in the meanwhile.. is to speak for yourself. Raise your voice high, tell your story, join hands against the dark and sing our souls to the sky. Know the best in me comes from the best in you, that as you tell your story, you will be telling mine, and our lives will be linked together forever, and everyone who hears you will become a part of the change we make.
So when you hear that I have died..
This is her last performance in public:
Please feel free to re-post any of the contents of this post anywhere on the internet, with attribution.
I feel like these last words of hers should be carried to as many people as possible.
Also, if anybody wants the high-res version of my drawing, drop me an e-mail.
If enough people are interested, I can maybe make some prints.
Rest in peace, Gabrielle.
And to the rest of you, bunny up!