Andrea Gibson
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Andrea Gibson


Band Spoken Word Comedy


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"Feminist Review"

If you love poetry—scratch that--if you love powerfully articulate, passionate prose meant to stir up your inner emotions and inspire you to stand up and create change, then you’ll love the brilliance that queer poet/activist Andrea Gibson serves up aplenty in Swarm.

Primarily recorded in a bedroom, Swarm also contains a handful of live tracks that allow the listener to taste the raw energy of her live performance.

The self-released album came out in 2004, yet the poignant words, occasionally accompanied by a backdrop of acoustic guitar, cut into you like knives and remain just as relevant today—particularly today. Gibson takes it all on—patriarchy, ignorance (the angry, powerful “Wal-Mart”), gender norms (the comedic “Sidewalk Chalk”)—without a bat of the eye, and takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions in just one piece.

Check it out, if not just for the jaw-dropping live track, “Dive,” a brutally honest peek at life and what Gibson pens “the most honest poem I’ve ever spoken in my life.” She speaks passionately of the horrors of life—the stuff that doesn’t make sense, “doesn’t rhyme”—from patriarchy and hate to anti-gay violence. Another gem is “Blue Blanket,” a fierce portrait of patriarchy: “I am generations of daughters, sisters, mother/our bodies battlefields/war grounds/beneath the weapons of your brother’s hands.”

This album will not disappoint. It will change your life. - The Feminist Review

"Book Review"

If you walk in on Andrea Gibson while she's writing a poem, you will probably think she's lost her mind.

The Boulder woman paces. She screams at the walls. She jumps up and down. She never writes while sitting still. Gibson's body is constantly moving, like she wants her words to be. She writes:

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 24 and I've never seen eyes

further away from childhood than his,

eyes old with a wisdom

he knows I'd rather not have.

Gibson doesn't write a word on paper until she has said it aloud it first. She calls this style "spoken word." She performs her poems on stage, much like a song with meters but no notes.

Eli's mother traces a teddy bear onto the inside of my arm

and says, "Not all casualties come home in body bags."

When writers of spoken word hit the stage to compete, it's called a poetry slam. Audience members are the judges.

Gibson is known around the globe for her slam poetry competitions. This year, she won the first ever Women of the World Poetry Slam. She has also won Denver's Grand Slam contest four times and ranks in multiple national and international slams.

This week she released her first book, "Pole dancing to gospel hymns." Within the next few weeks, it will be available on her Web site, and the site for her publishing company, It hits bookstores and online retailers, such as, in July.

This is Gibson's first published book, a compilation of her favorite poems and some new ones. She writes about capitalism, white supremacy, politics and gender norms. She writes some poems in 15 minutes. Others take months.

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 tunnel

I'd write nothing but white flags.

When she performs her poems, her style is raw. Her words often bring audience members to their feet. But she says she feels like a big pile of nerves and guts frantically trying to scream her heart into something that can be heard and understood.

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 Michael 19...Steven 21...John 33.

How ironic that their deaths sound like bible verses.

Gibson used to have terrible stage fright. In 2000, she gathered the nerve to perform at the open mic at Boulder's former Penny Lane Coffee House. One week later, she went to her first slam at the Mercury Cafe in Denver. She says she fell in love with the energy in the room, the passion of the performances. It took her another month to get brave enough to slam. But when she did, she was hooked.

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 pane.

But how can we forget what we never knew?

Gibson began touring and performing four years ago. She used to teach at a Montessori preschool in Boulder. Now, she says, she is an activist. All art is activism, she says.

"The act of creating is revolutionary," she says. "It breaks us out of the cage."

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.

Gibson says she wants her words to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. That's the motto of Vox Feminista, a Boulder-based group of radical vaudevillians that Gibson has been involved with for seven years. The group inspires her, she says. In fact, many of her writings over the past few years were born at a Vox gathering.

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 whose son needed money for college

and she swears she can feel his photograph burn.

Gibson says she wants her writing to give solace to people who are exhausted and feeling hopeless about change, but also set a fire beneath the feet that "have gotten maybe a little too comfortable in their Crocs," she says.

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 3-year old girl

to . . .

"welcome to McDonald's, can I take your order?"

The mortar of sanity crumbling,

stumbling back home to a home that will never be home again.

Powerful poetry is sincere and fear - The Daily Camera

"University or Arkansas Review"

"Andrea Gibson's poetry is not only beautiful, but is touching and grasps your soul, as well. When she performs, you don't just hear it, but you feel it as well. Any opportunity to have her perform at the University of Arkansas would be one of the best we could dream of!"

--Michelle Miesse
UP Coffeehouse Chair
- UP Coffeehouse


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

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



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.”