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Chattanooga’s Pride: Meredith Garrett

To celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we are highlighting some of the amazing LGBTQ+ creatives in our community. We are proud to tell the story of Meredith Garrett.

As the pandemic is winding down and many of us are going out-and-about again, a familiar sound has returned to the markets and other hot spots of Chattanooga: a clacking typewriter. Meredith Garrett, better known as the River City Street Poet, has become a familiar face on the streets of Chattanooga again. Meredith is one of the most unique creatives in the city, and it’s not just because of their poems.

Meredith first encountered street poetry in New Orleans (a topic previously explored by Scenic Trend). They were drawn to the raw and quirky style that street performances naturally have, and they soon decided to take a risk and try doing something similar in Chattanooga.

“Going out on a limb and setting up my typewriter is a great metaphor for my evolutionary coming-out story,” Meredith said. “It’s uniquely me. I present myself and my talents unapologetically to the streets.”

So far, Meredith has received nothing but support from the community. They say that they could not be more grateful to be able to create in a place that is so accepting of their art form and their identity.

Through poetry, Meredith is able to connect with the community in a way that many artists can’t. Meredith is directly in front of their audience, talking to them and performing for them as they create their poems. They try to express empathy through their poetry, hoping that this can be a form of healing for those who stop to talk.

“At the very least, I’m offering entertainment or a slice of connection for someone who might be lonely or misunderstood,” Meredith said. “The human heart is so complex, and I love when I get the chance to help someone express themselves.”

While Meredith says the Chattanooga community has been nothing but warm and kind, they still want to ask that allies of LGBTQ+ creators be unafraid to support them.

“Allies are such a vital part of this story. Sure, we support each other in the LGBTQ+ community, but when an ally steps into uncharted territory to back us up, that just warms my heart so much,” Meredith said.

To any local LGBTQ+ artists wanting to become more involved in the arts community, Meredith said:

“Above all, just be yourself. Be gracious with yourself, because you will likely experience a continual coming-out for the duration of your public career. I recently came out as non-binary. Just as we are continually coming out to others, we are discovering more about ourselves. I also don’t let my sexuality totally define me. I am a spouse, a writer, a thinker, a poet, a community member, and I just so happen to be queer. I let people meet me where they are, get to know me, and hopefully, someone who is on the fence about the subject will find it normalized when they interact with me. Difference doesn’t have to be scary.”

View Meredith’s work on Instagram, and make sure to visit the River City Street Poet website!

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