On Tuesday, award winning and critically acclaimed poet Andrea Gibson performed a selection of her poetry at The Cave. Many Carleton students turned out to hear Gibson’s verse that challenged political opinions, gender normative roles in society, and patriarchal values. Her emotionally raw poetry left students clapping and snapping in agreement with her moving message of the need for love, acceptance, and tolerance to triumph over hate in the world.
Gibson started the show by conversing with the crowd, telling stories about her childhood in Maine. She quickly transitioned into her first piece, an all-encompassing social justice manifesto that called out the issues that do not get enough recognition by the general public. “We have thick skin covering nothin’ but wish bones,” Gibson said in reference to society turning a blind eye to the multitude of problems in the world. She spoke of the travesties of sweatshops, the war in Palestine, and religious intolerance. She ended with, “Every second of this life is scripture, and trust me y’all, we don’t need to be born again.”
Her next few poems were about LGBT experiences. In one poem, she specifically spoke of the pain, anger, and frustration at being confused as a guy in a ladies bathroom. “A haircut will never tell anyone’s gender,” said Gibson. “Remember pride; that’s my parade.”
Gibson also performed some pieces about war. One poem, titled “To Eli”, was about a soldier named Elijah who renamed himself “Eli” while in Iraq to keep his war life separate from his home life. The poem highlighted soldiers’ loss of innocence and the corruptive nature of war. “Eli’s only 24 and I can’t see any eyes father away from childhood than his,” said Gibson, her anti-war message coming across.
Another particularly moving poem, titled “Ashes,” told the story of a soldier who was lit on fire and burned to death because he was gay. Gibson wrote the poem in response, encapsulating her message with the line, “They could come 1000 times with their matches and their gasoline… for their God welcomed me to His gate.”
Gibson’s poem about gay marriage, “I Do,” celebrated the relationship of a long term, same-sex couple that never had the chance to make their union official through the government. It tenderly told of how the love two people have for each other was overshadowed by their inability to marry. “I want to walk down the aisle and make the patriarchy smile,” mused Gibson.
The show ended with a poem appropriately titled “How it Ends,” a testimony to the power of love. Gibson smiled as she recounted her first date with a girl and how their relationship developed after that. In the poem, she promised to love the girl forever and that her love would never end. Gibson finished to the enthusiastic crowd’s applause, receiving multitudes of whistles and snaps. Her message clearly touched the hearts of the students: that despite the plethora of negative, disparaging hardships in the world, it can be overcome with the fighting attitude of love to rise above the intolerance.