National Poetry Month – Andrea Gibson

I first heard the name Andrea Gibson about a decade ago when a friend mentioned them (Gibson’s pronouns are they/them/their). My friend said Gibson was their favorite poet and said they were coming to campus and asked if I would come along. I am so very glad I said yes.

Gibson has a way with words and being on stage that I envy – something I know is not in my own body, something that cannot be learned. I fell hard for their poetry that day, purchased their book (Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns), and devoured it. (They’ve had several other books and CDs out since then.)

I’ve lost count at this point of the number of times I’ve seen Gibson perform – stand alone performances, joint performances, conferences, etc. My favorite performance, hands down, was the UntitledTown performance on April 27, 2019, at the Tarlton, formerly The West. Back when I was in college, The West was the first queer space I ever existed in. It was a place to dance and not worry – so to hear Gibson’s poem in this space about the first queer space they ever existed in was something else. Plus, we had the cutest ever sound check with their pupper, Squash. And when Gibson read “A Letter To My Dog, Exploring The Human Condition” directly to Squash, who sat so attentively – this was the sweetest moment of poetry I’ve ever experienced.

During the pandemic, I’ve had a couple opportunities to “sit in” on performances that Gibson has held in their home via Zoom, and I have found these performances just as engaging as in person. (Nothing will ever beat live for poetry or music or art or…, but it’s better than nothing, and my soul still always felt full afterward.)

As with the other poets I’ll be chatting about this month, there is ample opportunity to go down some poetry rabbit holes with Gibson – their own YouTube is a great place to start. You can access links to their collections (You Better Be Lightning, Lord of the Butterflies, Madness Vase, Pansy, and Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns) on their website. You also can follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

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