Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Colin Smith Staff Writer
As the lights waned and the doors closed, Chelsey Shannon K’15 and Katie Ring K’10 welcomed the internationally recognized spoken word poet Andrea Gibson to Dalton Theater. She looked up to a large audience on a Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend. Despite an early morning of work shopping with the Poetry Collective, Gibson illuminated the dimmed room with her energy.
She tells the audience her first poem is a love poem about her body when she had issues accepting it, which she recommends for everyone to do for a new perspective. She enunciated the title, “I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power’s Out,” and as Gibson moved through another stanza, an acoustic guitar swept through the sound system to match with the rhythm of the loose meters.
Gibson brightened faces with lines like, “I said to the the sun, ‘tell me about the Big Bang.’ The sun said ‘it hurts to become.’” She released concrete images in rapid succession, as she filled the time between each image with a quick breath. It became difficult to keep up with her energy, but then a line would resonate, like “but remember: Pride, that’s my parade.”
“The thing about art that I like is that we can reshape ourselves,” Gibson said, “we can rewrite history.” Gibson uses poetry as an outlet for her activism, as she spoke about a myriad of issues including race, gender, bullying, and war.
Ring and Shannon first planned the event in October. They emailed her manager and received an estimate on how much the cost, and what her requirements would be for performing. After fundraising, their vision became a reality.
Ring remarked after the performance, “I found myself ‘thawing outside the lines’ as Andrea says. We heard fantastic comments from the audience about how much they have a new favorite spoken word artist.” She continued, “the support of our entire community left me just as speechless as Andrea herself did, and I am so thankful to attend such a magnificent school.”
Before reciting one of her last poems, Gibson reminded students that “we have to create, it’s the only thing louder than destruction.”