Andrea Gibson on Poetry, Pronouns, and an Upcoming Glee Club Nottingham Gig

Interview: Joshua Judson
Saturday 11 May 2019
reading time: min, words

Performance poet Andrea Gibson is currently touring the UK with Buddy Wakefield, and is set to appear at Glee Club Nottingham on Thursday 16 May. We caught up with them ahead of the gig...


Hi Andrea, so you’re touring the UK with Buddy Wakefield. Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to or hoping to take away from your trip? 
The first time Buddy and I toured together was actually in the UK eleven years ago, and as it was one of the best experiences of my life, I'm so thrilled to be returning with him. My hope is to tap into the fullness of connection, to meet a lot of open-hearted people - as I always do in the UK - and to leave with my own heart expanded and inspired.

Full disclosure, I’m stealing this question from the Lunar Poetry Podcast, but here goes... Why poetry?   
I believe in poetry's capacity to tell the truth in a way that touches the parts of us that are eternal, the parts of us that will go on forever. I think, in this culture right now, those parts of us tend to be the most lost, and they are the parts we most need to find to have a chance of shifting our world for the better. 

Where does a poem begin for you? Where do poems come from? 
All of my poems come from, and begin with, a desire to connect. I've never had a definition for god that felt more accurate than "connection" and I feel the same about poetry. 

Are there any poets/artists/musicians whose work you’re particularly enjoying at the minute? 
Too many to count, but right at this moment I'll say: poets Saul Williams, Warsan Shire, Nayyirah Waheed. And for musicians--Gregory Alan Isakov, Perfume Genius, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. I also recently collaborated with Ani DiFranco, which was great.

You identify as gender queer, and use gender neutral "they/them" pronouns. Did claiming this aspect of yourself change or affect your writing in any way? 
I think every time we say "yes" to a part of ourselves, we say "yes" to seeing more of the fullness of the world. So each time in my life I have owned a truth about who I am I have learned a little bit more about everything else too. So the biggest impact I can see is a continuously widening lens, and a continuously growing curiosity about everything. 

It feels like activism is a big part of your work. There’s been a lot of political work happening on the Nottingham poetry and spoken word scene for a while, but it feels like there has definitely been an increase recently. Do you have any advice for poets who want to make activism a part of their work?  
Don't lose site of possibility. Don't lose site of the world you hope to create. Keep your eye on beauty even when writing down the dark. We cannot create a new world that we cannot first imagine.

What can the audience coming to see yourself and Buddy at Nottingham Glee Club expect from the show? 
I expect it to be one of the most exciting shows of my career actually! Buddy is one of the most engaging performers I have ever met, a brilliant mind, an exceptional heart, and his presence always inspires me to show up to my own vibrance each time he takes the stage. All the feelings a human can feel will likely have a a seat at the table that night, and we'll be welcoming them all. My audiences and fans are the best. I’m at the merch' table after each show - I am looking forward to meeting everyone.

Andrea Gibson performs at Glee Club Nottingham on Thursday 16 May

Glee Club Nottingham website

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