Andrea Gibson, DeVotchka and “How it Ends”

Spoken Word Artist Andrea Gibson Performs
Spoken Word Artist Andrea Gibson Performs (Photo credit: Campus Progress)

So I said that I was going to bring you a couple of Slam/Spoken Word pieces. Here is the second. There were mixed reviews on Eric Darby’s piece, particularly because of the differences between his style and the traditional way that poems are read out loud. But one of my themes here of late has been that of bringing poetry back to the masses, getting it out of the classroom and back into bars and clubs, onto the street, and hopefully being a significant part of people’s lives. One could argue that the the Slam/Spoken word movement has made a lot of headway doing just that. And in the case of Eric’s poem, the metaphor, the rhythm, the magic were all there as well.

Sometimes we get scared of being too personal, or too political, even though if we were honest, instead of careful, we might agree with a basic tenant of the feminist movement which states that the personal is political. Not everyone writes about these topics, but I cannot tell you how often I am disappointed to find a talented writer who avoids controversy in hopes of popularity, trying to play it safe.

Andrea Gibson was the winner of the 2008 Women of the World Poetry Slam in Detroit. 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 speaks very forthrightly on on social issues–war, homosexuality, religion. Maybe you’ll think she is too raw, but I must admit, I find it refreshing. I warn you, the poem below is not appropriate for child audiences. But work like this has its place, and it hits something deep in the gut for many. From Whitman to Sharon Olds, both style and subject matter have stretched the boundaries of what poetry was thought to be. I don’t think we can afford to ignore that, not if the goal is for poetry to be among the common man woman again.

The song below the poem is from the group DeVotchka. It’s the song that inspired her piece. Though she does mention it in her introduction, I wanted to provide it for context, that and the fact that I just think it’s a damn good song.

12 Comments Add yours

    1. sonofwalt says:

      I think so too. Glad you liked it, Ian.


  1. Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

    This is excellent. I like the fact that you are discussing the issue of frankness in poetry. I am a very political person but I come from a family that has many political tripwires which taught me to be quite careful. I want to bring this out in my poetry but I have a little voice in there somewhere telling me not to be “preachy” (whatever that means). Thank you for posting this, it gives me much to think about.


    1. sonofwalt says:

      Well, the thing that is important I think, is sincerity, and not overdoing the emotion, but having just the appropriate amount perhaps. I am not sure either, but I know when it feels right. For many of us the personal issues, whether they be sexuality, religion or leaving a healthy earth for our grand children, are where the politics come from. It’s not just because we want to spout off a theory or an opinion. And it’s maybe easy to tell if the sentiment is genuine, and if it is supported by the form and craft of the poem as well. This is also something I am striving for.


  2. These poets are hardcore. You don’t want to mess with them or you’ll get slammed.


    1. sonofwalt says:

      Haha, true enough. They are not mild mannered reporters like Clark Kent. Heck I don’t even think superman wants to mess with them.


  3. John says:

    I like this one much better than the other — both the content, and the delivery in this are very, very good.


    1. sonofwalt says:

      Glad you liked it. I’ll get back to posting in a day or so now. I had a communications break down of sorts. New internet connection starting tomorrow. 🙂


  4. David,
    I like this one as well. I really enjoy how she builds it and seems to pour a little more passion in with every line. I always appreciate knowing the background to poems that are inspired by other forms of art. I have been inspired to write poetry by a lot of music, photos and paintings (most are posted).
    I also enjoy all the references to nature.. it provides SO much for a poet to pull from.

    btw, here’s another idea for us to try in the future… Pick a song, give folks a couple of days and then post poems inspired by the song, or painting.. etc.
    We still need to do the other idea… one poem, several readings prior to hearing anyone elses…




    1. sonofwalt says:

      Yes, I agree! Whenever one art influences or integrates another it generates an exciting cycle of inspiration. I like this idea, and you are right, we do need to coordinate these ideas. I’ve been on a bit of an internet hiatus for the last ten days, but I’m gearing up for more.


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