Clutching a handkerchief stolen from their girlfriend’s underwear drawer, poet Andrea Gibson stands in black skinny jeans and a sleeveless t-shift in front of an eager crowd at 8pm on Tuesday, March 29 in Orton. They break into a poem about their childhood, an instrumental accompanying them softly in the background. Gibson grins when they finish and says, “you think you need new clothes, you just need poems.”
Throughout the night, they prove that this is true. The energy in the room makes it apparent that writing can be incredibly powerful. Mesmerized by the meticulous and beautifully crafted lines of each poem, the crowd shouts out titles hoping to squeeze in as many pieces as possible in the hour and twenty minutes. Gibson recites an array of work ranging from their dog, to cat calling, living with Lyme disease and more. They are an activist through their work, calling attention to issues of suicide, gender, spirituality, war, class, love and white supremacy.
Claiming the mood of their show’s isn’t always so dark, Gibson fills the space between each poem with amusing anecdotes about growing up in the woods of Maine. They even make time to converse with a birthday girl in the audience and ask for the crowd to throw throat lozenges to the stage.
Andrea Gibson was the first winner of the Women’s World Poetry Slam and is a hugely popular artist in the spoken word community. Based off of the performance at the University of Redlands, one can understand why. The set displayed their charisma and a laid back attitude through casual swearing on stage and a multitude of connections with the audience. Gibson is personable and their work is profound. They will continue to tour and promote activism through their work.