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By Theresa Roach

Crystal L. Turner, often known simply as Kirei, is no stranger to being misjudged and underestimated based on appearance alone. The poet spoken word artist says she has shocked her audiences on occasion by not being “soft,” as expected for a female poet.

During album release party, High Heels & Handcuffs, Turner will share poetry that explores the role gender plays in the life of a spoken word performance artist.

“I chose the title because I am one of few females in a male dominated art form. I love what I do, but the expectations people have (for women) can also be a hindrance. Therefore, the handcuffs,” said Turner, a petite young woman. “People see me as cute, dainty and everything else, so when I talk about heavy topics people are surprised.”

High Heels & Handcuffs will take place from 5 to 7 pm Saturday, Nov. 19 at the gallery, 134 1/2 W. Second Street. This performance event requires guests to dress in red and black, colors Turner says are representative of the theme of her work.

“They're dynamic colors. I feel like it really represents the theme. It's in your face and I want to get away from the idea that women have to be soft when they express themselves,” Turner said.

Guests will be encouraged to share their own poetry during an open mic portion of the evening.

Admission costs $5 at the door and guests can purchase the album, High Heels & Handcuffs, for $10 from Turner. The University of Michigan – Flint sophomore has also published a book of poetry, Papyrus & Rose Petals, which will be on sale during the event.

Light refreshments will be served. For more information about either event, email the gallery at manager@buckhamgallery.org or call (810) 239-6233.

Buckham Gallery is an artist-run, not-for-profit exhibition and performance space. The gallery was established in 1984 as a center for innovative and diverse contemporary visual and performance art for Flint and surrounding areas. The artist-member volunteers who run the gallery are eager to exhibit artists from as many diverse locations as possible. It is the philosophy of the gallery to create an open atmosphere which allows both emerging and established artists to take charge of their own creative pursuits.

© Theresa Roach, 2011