Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson

BandSpoken WordComedy

Winner of the Women of The World Poetry Slam in 2008 and the #3 Spoken Word performer in the country. Andrea Gibson's performances deconstruct the foundations of the current political machine, highlighting issues such as patriarchy, gender norms, white-supremacy, and capitalist culture.

Biography

Andrea Gibson is not gentle with her truths. It is this raw fearlessness that has made her a kind of rockstar of the poetry world – a four time Denver Grand Champion who has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on politics, global justice and gender issues. Now, on her fourth full-length album Yellowbird, Gibson’s truths are more intimate and reflective. However, instead of softening her words, she buttresses them with piano, global drums, dobro and violin and accompanies them with music from songwriters Kim Taylor and Chris Pureka, and music inspired by Devotchka.

A powerful live performer, Gibson was the winner of the 2008 Women of The World Poetry Slam (Detroit), and has placed 3rd in the world for the last 3 years by the iWPS. She won a DIY Poetry Book of the Year and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her first book, “Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns.” She has been showcased on Free Speech TV, the documentary Slam Planet, NPR, Air America and Independent Radio Stations nationwide. Now, Gibson is distinguishing herself amongst the other performance poets by bringing her love of music into her current work.

Putting the music together for Yellowbird came naturally. “I always write to music. And nearly every time I read a poem on stage I have the song I wrote the poem to humming in my chest. So for this album, I took the time to record that humming,” shares Gibson. But not every poem is scored. “One of the powerful things about spoken word is you only have your voice and the poem. I don't want to lose that – so I have some pieces of just me and a mic. But I do like mixing things up- and I love the collaboration that bringing music into my pieces requires. I am thrilled with the music and musicians who lent a hand on this on this record.”

In “Ashes,” nationally touring songwriter Chris Pureka’s lends a score that keeps a haunting pace despite the growing velocity of Gibson’s words. Ohio-based singer/songwriter Kim Taylor contributed a sample on, “Maybe I Need You,” a poem inspired by Taylor’s hit song, “Baby I need You.” And on, “How It Ends” a local Denver band performed a Devotchka-inspired tune of the same name.

Gibson’ work on Yellowbird illuminates that the personal is also global, and for a longtime social activist it is impossible for her to separate the two. The poems are no less political or powerful as her most popular piece, “For Eli.” Instead, they are born from a different insight. “There is more introspection than righteous screaming,” explains Gibson. “The politics come with more questions than answers. But this year I started pulling apart the fibers of how we got to where we are and started looking closely how we might move differently- and in doing that, my writing changed.”

“The Pursuit of Happiness” is one such poem, asking, “Have you ever heard your skull crack on a kitchen sink? Have you ever tried to blink the light back? Do you know the man who beat her had been ordered to fit five Afghani children in a single body bag? Is this your pursuit of happiness?” The softness of Gibson’s tone is sadly reverent and underscored by piano.

But elsewhere, she pulls out truths from intimately dark places. “A year ago a fellow poet challenged me to start writing the poems I have been afraid to write. “From that point on, with every poem I’ve written I've asked myself what I’m hiding and why,” says Gibson. “Many of them push me to edge of what feels comfortable to say out loud and to make public. But I think the truth is healing. I know the truth is healing.”

Gibson, who tours over 180 dates per year, will be taking Yellowbird and it’s recorded music on the road -- with summer, fall and spring dates already announced (see attachment.) Seeing Gibson live is an experience like no other, bringing audiences to their feet.

The Denver Westword said, “If slamming were professional boxing, Andrea Gibson would be the light weight you don’t think much of until she’s knocked you flat on your ass.”

www.andreagibson.org
www.myspace.com/andreagibson

Lyrics

For Eli

Written By: Andrea Gibson

Eli came back from Iraq
and tattooed a teddy bear onto the inside of his wrist
above that a medic with an IV bag
above that an angel
but Eli says the teddy bear won't live

and I know I don't know but I say, "I know"
cause Eli's only twenty-four and I've never seen eyes
further away from childhood than his
eyes old with a wisdom
he knows I'd rather not have

Eli's mother traces a teddy bear onto the inside of my arm
and says, "not all casualties come home in body bags"
and I swear
I'd spend the rest of my life writing nothing
but the word light at the end of this tunnel
if I could find the fucking tunnel
I'd write nothing but white flags
somebody pray for the soldiers
somebody pray for what's lost
somebody pray for the mailbox
that holds the official letters
to the mothers,
--------------fathers,
--------------------sisters,

and little brothers
of Micheal 19... Steven 21... John 33
how ironic that their deaths sound like bible verses

the hearse is parked in the halls of the high school
recruiting black, brown and poor
while anti-war activists
outside walter reed army hospital scream

100, 000 slain

as an amputee on the third floor
breathes forget-me-nots onto the window pain

but how can we forget what we never knew

our sky is so perfectly blue it's repulsive
somebody tell me where god lives
cause if god is truth god doesn't live here
our lies have seared the sun too hot to live by
there are ghosts of kids who are still alive
touting M16s with trembling hands
while we dream ourselves stars on Survivor
another missile sets fire to the face in the locket
of a mother who's son needed money for college
and she swears she can feel his photograph burn

how many wars will it take us to learn
that only the dead return
the rest remain forever caught between worlds of

shrapnel shatters body of three year old girl
to
welcome to McDonalds can I take your order?

the mortar of sanity crumbling
stumbling back home to a home that will never be home again
Eli doesn't know if he can ever write a poem again
one third of the homeless men in this country are veterans
and we have the nerve to Support Our Troops
with pretty yellow ribbons
while giving nothing but dirty looks to their outstretched hands

tell me what land of the free
sets free its eighteen-year-old kids into greedy war zones
hones them like missiles
then returns their bones in the middle of the night
so no one can see
each death swept beneath the carpet and hidden like dirt
each life a promise we never kept

Jeff Lucey came back from Iraq
and hung himself in his parents basement with a garden hose
the night before he died he spent forty five minutes on his fathers lap
rocking like a baby
rocking like daddy, save me
and don't think for a minute he too isn't collateral damage
in the mansions of washington they are watching them burn
and hoarding the water
no senators' sons are being sent out to slaughter
no presidents' daughters are licking ashes from their lips
or dreaming up ropes to wrap around their necks
in case they ever make it home alive

our eyes are closed
america
there are souls in
the boots of the soldiers
america
fuck your yellow ribbon
you wanna support our troops
bring them home
and hold them tight when they get here

Blue Blanket

Written By: Andrea Gibson

still

there are days

when there is no way

not even a chance

that i'd dare for even a second
glance at the reflection of my body in the mirror
and she knows why

like i know why
she
only cries
when she feels like she's about to lose control

she knows how much control is worth
knows what a woman can lose
when her power to move

is taken away

by a grip so thick with hate
it could clip the wings of god
leave the next eight generations of your blood shaking

and tonight something inside me is breaking

my heart beating so deep beneath the sheets of her pain
i could give every tear she's crying
a year---a name
and a face i'd forever erase from her mind if i could
just like she would
for me

or you

but how much closer to free would any of us be
if even a few of us forgot
what too many women in this world cannot
and i'm thinking

what the hell would you tell your daughter

your someday daughter
when you'd have to hold her beautiful face
to the beat up face of this place
that hasn't learned the meaning of

stop

what would you tell your daughter
of the womb raped empty
the eyes swollen shut
the gut too frightened to hold food
the thousands upon thousands of bodies used and abused

it was seven minutes of the worst kind of hell
seven

and she stopped believing in heaven
distrust became her law
fear her bible
the only chance of survival

don't trust any of them

bolt the doors to your home
iron gate your windows
walking to your car alone
get the keys in the lock
please please please please open
like already you can feel
that five fingered noose around your neck
two hundred pounds of hatred
digging graves into the sacred soil of your flesh

please please please please open
already you're choking for your breath

listening for the broken record of the defense
answer the question
answer the question
answer the question miss

why am i on trial for this

would you talk to your daughter
your sister your mother like this
i am generations of daughters sisters mothers
our bodies battlefields
war grounds
beneath the weapons of your brother's hands

do you know they've found land mines
in broken women's souls
black holes in the parts of their hearts
that once sang symphonies of creation
bright as the light on infinity's halo

she says
i remember the way love
used to glow like glitter on my skin
before he made his way in
now every touch feels like a sin
that could crucify medusa kali oshun mary
bury me in a blue blanket
so their god doesn't know i'm a girl
cut off my curls
i want peace when i'm dead

her friend knocks at the door
it's been three weeks
don't you think it's time you got out of bed

no

the ceiling fan still feels like his breath
i think i need just a couple more days of rest

please

bruises on her knees from praying to forget
she's heard stories of vietnam vets
who can still feel the tingling of their amputated limbs
she's wondering how many women are walking around this world
feeling the tingling of their amputated wings
remembering what it was to fly to sing

tonight she's not wondering
what she would tell her daughter

she knows what she would tell her daughter
she'd ask her
what gods do you believe in
i'll build you a temple of mirrors so you can see them!

pick the brightest star you've ever wished on
i'll show you the light in you
that made that wish come true!

tonight she's not asking
you what you would tell your daughter
she's life deep in the hell---the slaughter
has already died a thousand deaths with every unsteady breath
a thousand graves in every pore of her flesh
and she knows the war's not over
knows there's bleeding to come
knows she's far from the only woman or girl
trusting this world no more than the hands
trust rusted barbed wire

she was whole before that night
believed in heaven before that night
and she's not the only one

she knows she won't be the only one
she's not

Profit

Written By: Andrea Gibson

jesus was a revolutionary
a prophet

his mother mary
was a goddess

still neither could have prophesized
the dark that is now upon us
since the christian right
went wrong

now white men drop bombs
in the name of a faith
born from a song of thou shall not kill
left the will of their god unheard
every word ignored in the name of profit

while it was their prophet
breaking bread with the poor
walking on bare feet
now they're talking that path of that god
but they're walking the path of their greed
preaching do unto others
as you would have them do unto you
but they've painted their cross red white
and blew 140,000 japanese people away in one day

see
they will always be their brothers' keepers
as long as their brothers are rich and white
you only have to look at the facts
death row is black
those cloths on american backs sewn by brown hands
in lands they've made theirs for the taking
raping whole cultures
while proclaiming themselves holy
but there are holes in their truth so deep
jesus would weep for his own name
being used and abused like this

christian means christ-like
and christ was neither white nor like this

neither white nor like your so called christian right
there's no such thing as a right wing
wings are made for angels
and i'm yet to see a halo on your head
blasphemy defines the things you've said

quoting scripture amidst your war cry
your belly full and warm
while millions die beneath the weight of your sins
and there are days i'm ashamed
to wear the color of your skin
there are days i'm ashamed
i ever prayed to the same god as you
but really i don't believe i did
i don't believe that's true

because christian means christ-like
and christ was not like you
not like this
wasn't bound to the cross
wearing combat boots and clenched fists

tonight the world wails an unbearable suffering
and you are the thorns and nails
how many more will you crucify with your white lies
deeming yourself supreme and above
when your god's love
is the last thing you've ever lived by

better cross your heart and hope you die a peaceful death
before jesus comes back
finds his way to NBC and CBS
calls you out on all the peace you've been talking
and all the war you've been livin

now that would be some reality tv
worth watching

Discography

Swarm (2004)
Bullets and Wind Chimes (2006)
When The Bough Breaks (2007)
Yellowbird (2009)

BOOK: Pole Dancing To Gospel Hymns (2008 Write Bloody Publishing)

Set List

Can perform for up to 90 minutes. Often performs workshops and/or panel discussions in conjunction with performances.