Pure Poetry Week:
#1 – 2/23/2011 – Intro & Def Poetry Jam, by Riese
#2 – 2/23/2011 – Eileen Myles, by Carmen
#3 – 2/23/2011 – Anis Mojgani, by Crystal
#4 – 2/24/2011 – Andrea Gibson, by Carmen & Katrina/KC Danger
We know you’re gay and you like Andrea Gibson. In fact, you really like her. Maybe you know some of her poems by heart, maybe you watch her videos on YouTube while wearing headphones and in your room. Maybe you met her and cried on her shoulder for an hour and a half after watching her performance at your prestigious all-women’s college. In any case, you know who she is. (We bet you liked her before you were gay, too.) You were just one of those girls…who liked Andrea Gibson.
We don’t need to tell you anything you don’t already know. It’s like saying, “Hey, have you heard of this singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco? You should really check her out.” So in order to include Andrea Gibson in this article, because we know you want us to, we decided to pay homage to her by watching her on YouTube and writing in notebooks.
And VOILA: The Thought Diaries of (Girls Listening to) Andrea Gibson
Poem: “Maybe I Need You”
This poem, especially when Gibson reads it in this video (we thought she was singing at one point, but actually she’s not, though you can keep swooning), makes clear one of the most important parts of her style: its incohesive nature and its dangerous rambling. Gibson writes what she feels – for real. Not from the outside, but from inside of every action she tells stories about.
This song also proves one of her strongest elements as an artist: that Gibson has a voice that is constantly relevant and familiar and always makes you think oh my god this has GOT TO BE about me, fuck all the other poems I have ever read this is the one. Writing love poems is hard and the result is often trite. Unless you like, invented sonnets (bitches love sonnets). Many poets this through vague, involved metaphors and references and, most markedly, a refusal to name the theme itself: love. Andrea Gibson refuses to complicate it. Her metaphors are clever and involved but easy to follow because the feeling is easy to relate to. What’s complicated is the abstractness of the feeling, and so she relays it in a way that we can regard as tangible: a romanticized re-telling of her personal experiences.
An excerpt from Carmen’s diary about this song features this quote:
“i think andrea gibson can only be read by andrea gibson. i think andrea gibson should hold me. i would like to hold andrea gibson back. i think andrea gibson would like to cuddle.”
A note from Katrina on Carmen’s diary says:
“Probably Andrea Gibson would cuddle you by holding you and looking far off into the distance, lamenting over her lost loves and poor choices and already feeling nostalgic about this particular cuddle session. Brooding is so fetch right now.”
This is probably your favorite Andrea Gibson poem. If you felt like Carmen while listening to it, you wrote nothing in your dream journal (Katrina wishes you could see Carmen’s dream journal. It is so full of lesbian wonder). But Carmen does feel like Gibson imagines the world the way it really feels when you can’t articulate it.
Andrea Gibson is a little bit uncomfortable sometimes. This is probably because she delivers much of her poetry through spoken word. You can be alone with a poem, but you can’t be alone with Andrea Gibson reading you a poem in her Andrea Gibson Poetry Voice. Especially, I would imagine, if this was happening in a room full of people. She exposes us to what feels like our own most intimate sentiments, only for us to find that these sentiments are what we have in common.
This poem is the reason we wrote this article, if we can be completely honest. Carmen heard it for the first time in high school and was literally overwhelmed with its honesty and its heartbreaking passion. These are her real uncensored feelings. She still feels this way about the lyrics but we, upon listening to this poem multiple times before, after, and in between parties, have decided it also might do better as one of the Gibson poems you do not hear with a soft, strumming guitar in the background.
What “Photograph” proves is that Gibson makes you so empathetic that you are compelled by her long-winded and poignant feelings, so much so that you can see just how real the emotions underlying them are. She speaks about a person as a home (and did it before Edward Sharpe) To which Katrina of course posed, “are these all about the same person?” We don’t have a definite answer… but we think that it is yes.
But whether or not these are all about the same person is not the point. Gibson, who is often so linear, seems to be obsessing over events in the past while her feelings remain in the present. Yes. We said it: Andrea Gibson transcends the boundaries of time.
It’s true though. Sometimes she’s a bit overwrought, sometimes she’s a bit uncomfortable, sometimes things feel too personal, but come on man, she’s Andrea Fucking Gibson. She says it. She says it out loud. And that’s reason to listen.
Before you go! It takes funding to keep this publication by and for queer women and trans people of all genders running every day. And A+ members keep the majority of our site free for everyone. Still, 99.9% of our readers are not members. A+ membership starts at just $4/month. If you’re able to, will you join A+ and keep Autostraddle here and working for everyone?