On Wednesday, March 21, students gathered in the Culp Ballroom to hear world famous spoken word artist Andrea Gibson perform several of their poems.

Gibson’s work covers a range of topics, and as a gender nonconforming individual many of those topics focus on LGBTQ+ issues.

Gibson opened their performance with a love poem and said, “It’s heartbreaking that love is ever political.”

With that, the show began. Gibson covered many important topics from self-love to suicide to anxiety to racism to the Pulse nightclub shooting. There were no dry eyes in the room.

Gibson noted that her poems are very politically engaged and feminist friendly.

“I’m arguing with my set list already – it’s never feminist enough,” said Gibson.

At one point, Gibson invited their girlfriend Megan Falley to the stage to present two of her own poems. They dealt with the topic of technology and, you guessed it, feminism. At the end of the performance, Gibson brought their dog, Squash, onstage. The audience was delighted with Squash and many took pictures of her wearing her adorable flannel shirt.

After the performance was over, Gibson opened the floor for questions from the audience. One audience member thanked Gibson for influencing them to write their own poetry and asked if Gibson had any advice for young, queer poets.

“Coming out was excruciating for me, but its part of why I got into spoken word. I was able to use it as an outlet,” said Gibson.

“You have to write what you are terrified to write and don’t let anyone censor you. Be willing to make art that no one else likes.”

Another student asked “What does spoken word mean to you?” to which Gibson responded, “I have intense stage fright but I love the form. It’s sort of a conversation with the audience that happens to include memorization. I don’t think people realize how much of the poem the audience pulls out of the poet.”

Everyone clearly enjoyed the emotional and moving performance, including Gibson.

“I love touring in the South,” said Gibson.

“People don’t usually expect queer artists to perform here, so the audience is a lot more invested.”

After the Q&A Gibson took pictures and signed autographs for attendees. To learn more about upcoming events like this visit https://www.etsu.edu/students/mcc/programs/lgbtq/.