We caught up with performance poet Andrea Gibson in the midst of her recent UK tour.
What was it like being back in London to play so many years since you were last here?
It was amazing, possibly one of my favorite shows ever. The city is electric, and the audience at the show was one of the most open-hearted groups of people I’ve ever performed for. It was a magical night.
Do you notice differences between crowds when you go to different places?
Yes. I perform in libraries and music venues and theaters and coffee shops and bookstores so the crowds and energies at each of those places will be very different. And of course, it’s different by state, or country as well. The first time I performed in London it was a really polite audience, very quiet. This last time people were rowdy and vocal and really energetic and that was amazing.
Your poetry is hugely personal a lot of the time. Do you struggle with putting a lot of that in the public domain?
I suppose I struggle in the sense that I feel protective of the people I’m writing about. For example, I can’t help but write about my family and friends and the people I’m dating and I’m always concerned about revealing too much about them. But in terms of struggling with how much I’m revealing about myself, no, not really. People create their own personal safety in different ways. I’d feel more unsafe if I wasn’t talking about the things I’m talking about.
Do you worry there aren’t enough queer role models for young people, in particular girls/non binary people?
I don’t know if I worry about it per se, but i do know that queer artists were incredibly important in my coming out process and that without them I’m not positive I would have made it through that time.
Some of your poems were written quite a long time ago now, how does it feel to still be performing them a lot of the time? Do you sometimes wish you didn’t have to revisit those experiences?
I only perform poems that currently feel relevant to my life, poems that resonate with what I’m currently feeling, so if I’m reading an older poem on any given night it’s because it’s something that still stirs a charge in me.
Can we expect any new poems soon?
Yes, absolutely. I have a new book coming out in February and it will be full of new poems.
Who are your favourite spoken word artists at the moment? Who would you recommend?
Currently really loving the work of Megan Falley and Danez Smith.