Two years ago, Ashley Vargas was hospitalized after a failed suicide attempt. A piece of paper and a small pencil became her keys to recovery.
She wrote stanzas that became poems. And when she left the hospital, she took her work to the Human Experience, a weekly open mic event in the Arts District.
Though she had lots of poems, she had never shared them with an audience. She found that doing so freed her soul and let her love herself.
With Rell Davis, she founded the Truth Collective, a hybrid poetry slam and free space for artists to express their work. Vargas, 30, hosts a slam at Classic Jewel on Bonneville Avenue the second Tuesday of every month.
A big part of Truth Collective’s mission is immersing kids in poetry and equipping them with the tools of self-expression. On Aug. 29, the collective will host a youth slam at Equipo Academy on East Bonanza Road.
Meanwhile, Vargas keeps writing, and sharing. You can catch her performing Monday nights at the Human Experience open mic at Hop Nuts Brewing on Main Street.
Vargas’ dream of becoming a published writer has come true. Two of her poems were recently published in “Clark, Poetry from Clark County, Nevada,” an anthology of Southern Nevada poets. This fall she will be published in Red Rock Review.
Vargas says poetry has turned “what once was pain and misery into drive and power.”
Vegas Stripped is an Emmy Award-winning series by visual journalist Rachel Aston. Her videos are posted weekly at reviewjournal.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @rookie__rae on Twitter.