Andrea Gibson speaks their mind

Emma Cooper

Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder and squished into any available seat, Whitman students gathered to listen to poet Andrea Gibson share their provoking and emotional poems.

In Reid Coffeehouse Basement on Friday, December 5, The night began with Whitman students Paige Dempsey and Shireen Nori reading their spoken-word poems about both personal experiences and social problems.

The 10th annual Equality Coffeehouse this year was hosted by co-presidents of FACE (Feminists Advocating Change and Empowerment) Junior Ione Fullerton and Sophomore Megumi Rierson, who worked hard to bring Gibson to campus.

“FACE decided to bring Andrea Gibson because they share with such vulnerability. Their vulnerability, their openness on identity, white privilege, sexuality, gender, is striking. We hope that Equality Coffeehouse is a space where people can let themselves be stricken by Andrea’s poems,” said Fullerton.

Andrea Gibson’s poems covered such topics as gentrification, racism, homophobia, sexism, and explaining the human condition to her dog Squash.

Gibson’s conviction while performing was felt throughout the entire room. Gibson left the audience riveted, provoked, inspired, and, maybe even a little disturbed.

The feminist poetry group Gibson worked with inspires each of their performances.

“I used to work with a group called Vox Feminista and their motto was to ‘Comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable,’ ” so I think of that every time I go on stage,” Gibson told The Pioneer.

During the show, Gibson rearranged the set list to personalize her experience at Whitman.

“That happens every show, but not as much as it did tonight. Tonight, I got on stage and basically without a set list at all. I just had a bunch of poems out that I might read and I did that because I thought it would help me be more present, and it did help that.”

The truth and personal history that weaved throughout Gibson’s poems were accessible to any listener, calling to action the audience out of silence, whether it be applause or in response to the social issues they addressed.

Megan Falley, who is a poet as well as Gibson’s girlfriend, also performed some of her poems during the night. Falley’s poems addressed the issue of societal pressure put on female bodies.

“I’m part of a feminist spoken word duo, and usually our goal is learning about consent and giving language around rape culture and being able to identify it and fight against it and sort of comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable, and rally people for change. I guess when I’m doing personal shows: just the power of truth and that your truth is the best poem,” said Falley.

The truth in both Gibson and Falley’s poems acted as gateways for the audience to explore other social and political truths.