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Andrea Gibson: A voice of the gender spectrum

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Under the Trump administration, you may wonder where does poetry fit in between resistance and survival. Fortunately, award-winning poet and activist Andrea Gibson would be the first person to show you how. 

Gibson has been prolific with her work with the release of several poetry books and spoken word albums that address love and war, gender and class, and sexuality and spirituality.

Andrea Gibson: Feeling genderqueer

Born August 13, 1975, Gibson came from Calais, Maine but currently lives in Boulder, Colorado since 1999. She was raised in a Baptist home and attended local schools, later going on to Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

Speaking to Seventeen, she said: “When I was a kid I never felt like a boy or a girl, but I never knew I had permission to feel that way.” 

“‘Tomboy’ was the closest word to what I felt like I was, and then I identified as a butch dyke when I came out, but I never really felt that butch,” she added.

She said: “And then maybe twelve years ago someone said the word ‘genderqueer.’ I had never heard that word, but as soon as I did, I felt like I knew myself in a way that I hadn’t before.” 

Talking to Interview, she said: “I don’t necessarily identify within a gender binary. I’ve never in my life really felt like a woman and I’ve certainly never felt like a man.” 

“I look at gender on a spectrum and I feel somewhere on that spectrum that’s not landing on either side of that,” she said.

Andrea Gibson: Finding the words

Gibson’s first experience with poetry was when she first attended her first open-mic in Denver, and this inspired her to become a spoken word artist. 

Speaking on her first experience to go before the mic, Gibson said: “The first time I got on the mic was when I got my heart broken.” 

“I went to a poetry reading and I was so devastated I didn’t even care, I didn’t have anything else to lose, so I got up and read a poem. The paper was shaking so hard in my hands you could hardly hear my voice over it,” she said.

Since then, she’s been a four-time Denver Grand Slam Champion and she finished fourth at the 2004 National Poetry Slam. She likewise attained third place at both the 2006 and 2007 Individual World Poetry Slam. 

In 2008, she was the first poet to win the Women of the World Poetry Slam. 

Talking about her poetry, she told the Washington Post: “Poetry has been one of the ways that I’ve unpacked and discovered and created my own gender.” 

She added: “Writing is the process of uncovering more and more of who I am.”

Andrea Gibson: Truth to power

Gibson also uses her poetry to create social and political commentary on gender and LGBTQ issues. She’s performed at Take Back the Night events, as well as participated in LGBTQ and Pride events. 

She’s also performed with Vox Feminista, a “performance tribe of radical feminists.”

When Trump was elected, Gibson said that she was thinking of the word ‘apocalypse.’ 

“It just kept coming to me in this sort of terrifying way. And then somebody told me recently that one of the definitions of apocalypse is a time when things get revealed,” she said.

She added that the ugliness, bigotry, ignorance, hatred of Trump reveals that this is part of the country and “one thing that he’s doing is he’s saying yeah, this is absolutely here, there’s no denial of it.” 

She further said that poetry is also about politics: “Putting your own story into the world is a radical act.” 

“The experience of sitting in a room and being a quiet witness to other people’s stories is something that can change the world, and so the whole nature of the poetry slam is political even if the poem is about pudding,” she noted.

Check out one of Gibson’s poems in this video below:



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