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The Brunswickan, 17.11.2009

Andrea Gibson’s slam poetry benefits RAWA

There were smiles, tears and laughter on the faces in the crowd throughout the performance.

Hilary Paige Smith

Politics. Love. Sexuality. Oppression. These were the recurring themes in Andrea Gibson’s slam poetry performance last Thursday evening.


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Gibson is one of the world’s most well-known slam poets. The poet/activist won the 2008 Women of the World Poetry Slam competition, as well as the Do It Yourself Poetry Book of the Year with her first book, Pole Dancing Gospel Hymns.

Slam poetry is a variation on spoken word poetry. The poet employs techniques like shifts in tone, emotion and volume to get their point across. The poet can also integrate background music, instruments and choreography to convey their meaning.

Her performance, played before a nearly full house, was a benefit event for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). RAWA is an independent political and social organization of Afghans devoted to achieving peace, freedom and democracy. All of the ticket sales and donations from the evening supported RAWA.

The evening’s event was coordinated by the Fredericton Peace Coalition, the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, the NB rebELLEs, the New Brunswick Public Interest Research Group, the University Women’s Centre, the UNB Sexuality Centre and Broken Jaw Press.

The evening opened with an elaborate gumbooting dance performance by the New Brunswick rebELLEe’s gumbooting troupe. Kaylee Hopkins, a singer and songwriter based out of Fredericton, was the second opening act, sharing her own brand of acoustic covers and original songs. The evening was MC’d by Jenn Gorham, program coordinator of at the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre.

“Andrea has travelled from Boulder, Colorado to be with us tonight and I did want to mention that she has waived her honorarium and has travelled here out of pocket,” Jenn Gorham said to the crowd. Her statement was met by thunderous applause.

“I think if you really pay attention to her poetry this evening and to her words you’ll see her passion for activist work.”

The performance was Gibson’s first in Atlantic Canada and coincidentally the closest she has performed to the town of her childhood, Calais, Maine. Gibson, now based out of Colorado, was continuing on to a performance in Halifax following the benefit.

“I have been looking forward to this show for months. Tracy Glynn (of the Fredericton Peace Coalition) was contacting my manager about this show and all of the energy coming our way from you all here in Fredericton, I am just so excited to be here,” Gibson opened.

The poet spoke personably to the crowd, jokingly warning the crowd after a mellow opening poem that it would likely be the last poem in which she doesn’t scream. Gibson’s poetry covered a range of topics, everything from the war in Iraq to the issue of “queer marriage,” as Gibson prefers to call it.

“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,” Gibson read passionately from her anti-war poem “For Eli.”

The crowd was enthusiastic, enraptured by Gibson as she “slammed” and erupting into applause at the close of each poem. There were smiles, tears and laughter on the faces in the crowd throughout the performance.

“When you’re performing with an audience, it’s like the audience does half the work for you by the energy they give, so thank you so much,” Gibson said to the crowd, adding a special thank you to Tracy Glynn who took on the arrangements for Gibson’s appearance.

To check out Andrea Gibson’s poetry visit http://www.andreagibson.org



Category: English, English Media