Andrea Gibson is one of the most stirring and influential spoken word artists of our time. Best known for their live performances, in which they regularly sell out large capacity rock clubs and concert halls, Gibson has changed the landscape of what it means to attend a “poetry show” altogether. Gibson’s poems center around LGBTQ issues, gender, feminism, and mental health, as well as gun reform and the dismantling of oppressive social systems. Their live shows, in which they are often accompanied by musicians, have become these loving and supportive ecosystems for audiences to feel seen, heard, and held through Gibson’s art.
Gibson is the author of six books, including Lord of the Butterflies (https://amzn.to/33CzaGc), which won the Independent Publisher’s Award in 2019 as well as a Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist. Take Me With You, an illustrated collection of Gibson’s most memorable quotes, was also a Goodreads Finalist. In 2019, they co-authored their first-ever non-fiction book, How Poetry Can Change Your Heart.
In addition to their publishing accolades, Andrea has released seven full-length albums, combining their socially active spoken word with musical collaborations. They are the winner of the first-ever Women’s World Poetry Slam Championship (2008) and frequent World Poetry Slam Finalist.
You can find Andrea Gibson at:
Website : http://andreagibson.org/
Instagram : http://instagram.com/andrewgibby
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Andrea Gibson is one of the most during an influential spoken word: orders of our time, there's no
for their live performances, which they regularly sell out large capacity rock clubs and concert halls, at least in you, know, before times, gibson
change, the landscape, of what it means to attend. A quote: poetry show altogether
poems centre around eligibility, q issues, gender feminism, mental health, as well
as changing of social systems. Their lives shows in which their often accompanied by musicians have become his loving and supportive and musical and immersive of ecosystems
audiences to feel seen heard and held through gibsons. Are we talking
These shows and what goes into creating them the decision
to weave music, often live music into spoken word, which, for some in that space, is actually seen as heresy.
and how they navigating
choices and craft the experiences they create. We also
about their early years growing up in a small town
and how they really identified differently
the earliest times, and we talk about this
as well on the evolution to that place and how it weaves into their own personal story, narrative and artistry
stay, navigate contribution to the world.
andrea is also the author of six books, including lord of the butterfly s, which one d, independent publishers, warden. Twenty nineteen take me with you, which was
have a good reads finalized and they also co authored first ever nonfiction book. How poetry can change of heart
and really seven full length album
combining socially active spoken word with musical.
Collaboration, hundreds or
so the winner of the first ever women's world, poetry, slam championship and a frequent world poetry slant finalize so excited to share this conversation with you jump in fields, and this is good life project
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there's a rumour floating around the internet too. I don't know something age twenty years ago, or something like that. You actually took this stage and performed it
billy emotional spoken word: peace dressed as a cow
Where did you read that? Does it isn't? This is why I don't ever look myself up on life. That's true, though it's true, I gotta get me a little context here. Yeah. I was doing I just gotten into spoken word and also vagueness and at the same time- and I was part of this performance with a group called vocs feminists, so which was this radical political artistic group of accidents we put on, shows, and I dressed up as a cow and read it had to give us his ten minute power.
about the play of the cow
in the dairy industry. Actually I remember I was so moved by it at the time of the year with the only time,
maybe I ever full out- cried in the middle of one of my own palms and I was dressed as a cow, so is quite correct,
I can't believe that's up on the internet now art our tracks.
Research staff. Here every week we find just about everything.
I need as unjust picturing it now on stage performing in a cow outfit. Trying it very people, but that must have,
have been really early in your career.
yeah. I mean I, I don't think it was a clear at
point I had no
the idea that somebody can make a career out of spoken word for sure there was- and I you know, I think I knew one person who was doing it at the time as so. It was a dream, so big, I I don't think I had stepped into daring to dream it yet but yeah at the very beginning. I I I discovered spoken word, and
ninety ninety nine, I think- and it was still a lot of people- never
heard of it and
so it definitely right at the beginning. So I started off right by by being a cow,
I said I should return back their sunday
right, you can only do so like a twentieth year anniversary
so you have over the last couple of decades built this amazing presence and body of work, and I want to dive into a whole bunch of that and then invite you to share some of it as well. But taking us
back in time I mean your group and from what I know a pretty tiny town in man I grew up in.
callous main saddened, spout like the calais in france. That said, like the thing on the bottom of your foot and its fitting
really small town in the middle of the woods, a raid on the canadian border, so almost as east as you can get, and the united states, and almost as north really can
urban have little town, which I didn't even think of it as conservative at the time, because I didn't know what a world that wasn't conservative looked like that
It was a lovely in many ways, an and hard as a quick
kid and a lot of ways. You know closeted queer kid, but there was a lot beautiful about it. I spent most of my childhood.
Just running through the woods, and it certainly provided
a lot of beauty in that way, yeah was,
mean as it sounds like you're almost living. Surely this duelist presents ordinary.
he had running through the word small town, classic men, upbringing and
shared closeted queer kid did you have a sense of that, even at the
stage or because I know also part of europe brain as you you're. I guess your folks were baptist and then you and
when a college at Saint Joseph, which I think is a catholic college or a faith based college. He it's a catholic college which really disappointed my back
grandmother at the time, but I I was a basque
bob player- and it was one of you- know that
as basketball schools in the state and one I had always hoped to go to when I was younger, and so we I was really excited to go there, so lots of
lots of Jesus and my early life yeah, I mean it. It sounds like also I mean if your growing up in that tradition and
have a sense of being different from us.
Sexuality and agenda our standpoint that that could be a tough enough
yeah. Well, you know, I think I knew my gender long before even knew my sexuality. I always look like this as a kid and I I always wanted my hair short and wanted to wear boys clothes and that didn't even feel very complex for me. Until I got
two, I think later on a middle school in high school, when it you know, I started getting bullied
for it, but
How was it was was a
the not really being sure of who I was but being sure in some ways and and then having all these dreams that I didn't know why they were my dreams, like I thought. Okay, I'm not going to get married, but I'm going to live in a loft in new york city. I was going to live in a loft in new york city, but didn't know why I didn't want to get married. When I first started saying I don't wanna get married, I didn't know it was because
I didn't know, is an option to marry woman. So marriage was sort of off the table
just because I assumed it would have to be with a man,
I know a lot of the young.
The early writing, for you also was really like that
don't make an assumption cause. I know one.
he started really folks hand that college and create a ready and then poetry
and then you're out in the world. The seems like a lot of the focus of that writing weaves in these things of exploring identity and gender and sexuality and faith altogether, and often the tension that you have
on them. But I know you are writing a lot earlier than that in your life and curious, whether those different things
we're expressing themselves in your writing earlier on too. I remember writing a lot about masks. I even up to college. You know when I was still was an out in my writing in college, but I
Wait for some of those years knew what those masks were representing. I remember being in fifth and sixth grade, writing a lot about hiding and masks, but I still wasn't
when I was hiding. My early writing remember.
mother, I'm just being devastated by how sad everything was she just. So how could she wanted me to write something happy
badly, and I also was true and painted a love to a large part of my life and on show
he's trying to steer me away from my brain. She wondered if she wanted me.
That writing was
sad she's, like your I remember when I was little, should always call me her deep thinker.
And wish that I wasn't her deep, thank her, because she, I think, was watching that thinking
be sorted pained and my body
are they so interesting? So she saw there was a process going on it. You are feeling certain things, but it's almost eight. Her approach was well the brow
one is less. The genesis and more at the expression is what causing the pain and maybe, if you stopped expressing at the suffering
What's up, and I don't even know if it was exactly that she just also I was
I had so many things that I was interested in and I loved being in my
body, like I loved climbing treason, sports of every kind and an eye,
that she saw me happier in those places and what's why,
now is that I do almost all of my writing running around, so I hardly ever sit in front of the computer, I'm just pacing joy
the thing you know, there's a bat in this room, I'm in right now our guest room, where I often right, jumping on the bed, whispering to the halls like
dancing with the chair. So I started
and my later life of intermingled those things. I always wonder how people right
when they're sitting still exists,
it's never worked for me.
it's so interesting. You say that I learn when
standing or acting or moving and I've tried,
to actually right, while doing
if the same thing you're almost like speaking it out and then transcribing it and then sing, and I can't get the same
the thing, but I know when I have to learn really intensively like I have a past life as a lawyer and when I study for the bar, I would just hold
in in my hand and pace outside for hours while while I was like
through a trailer reviewing and trying to synthesize, because it just found my brain worked on a whole different way. When my
Physical body was in movement here. You know my one of my housemaids as a second grade teacher- and I think
took her a few years to learn that she had to
a number of her students stand up and move around while she was teaching a lesson or they wouldn't get it. So it sort
Sweden, away that we all we all learning and were also different, and I love
idea. I don't know, take
in things and through our body.
Our brains, are, you know, from our temples tour, told so yeah. It's
I'm kind of fascinating, I the head
Your friend was
aware enough to really realise that some of the students needed to two physical wisely
experience to be able to integrate it.
See I she's an amazing teacher. We actually met because we are both
sitting in a montessori kindergarten together- and you know I was there just because I love the kids,
much they were actually so much my inspiration for writing for so many years that when I stopped teaching to do poetry full time
I didn't write for a year because they were so much my muse, but I remember watching her just you know, and she was very young at the time we've been friends for a long time, but she was just twenty and watching the the scale.
of learning how to teach individuals and chooses to master added tat, so cool.
It makes me wonder, given the time
that right now are so much a school education has gone remote and allow
people are lamenting the loss of he know, impersonated interaction and the ability to teach that way. I am
I wonder if those kids who etching need to create-
and non traditional learn.
Environment or situation or physical lies it or giving them. So
it's the freedom to do that. Now that they're doing it in their own environment. I wonder if that would might be a really interesting benefit that comes out of it yeah.
I could see you. I can see that being the case, you know one thing
I've noticed, because this is the first time in my life had done the unum sort of anything on unsuitable such watched. You know the zoom shows of other people, and you know how you can turn off your screen, so they
can't see you but you're still watching, and I realize in my own enjoyment of
music or a lecture,
or something and watching online, and almost always moving or doing something. Weird, and I dont think before this time. I would have known that: that's how
best taken there
you know how I listened the best of the fur
time I started doing online concerts when the pandemic began.
We're getting a flood of calls for my my manager during the thing is
you have to start moving. We can't hear anything but the desk, but the das shaking the fourth floor around
things I'm I'm trying to do very.
As still is now over recording
but I mean how, how is that for you, because I know I would
imagine him. I wonder if that changes then
nature of what comes out in a meaningful way. I know when I'm interview when I'm on the other side of the mike I went out and purchased a broadcast quality headset with a ten foot cord and
I almost always say like no video, and it was because I know I have to be moving and walking around and granted ass.
on video, but I know about myself that cause. I know that if I do the exact same thing, but I'm setting constrained in a chair it somehow it feels like it
comes out different, I wonder if you feel that way
actually comes out of. You is different when you're sure constrained by a chair versus when you're moving, oh yeah,
I think I definitely do and you know I was listening to one of your pockets. The other day by m gay hundred,
and his wife katy hendricks, does a lot of teaching about working with your emotions through body, and
I've seen it I've done it a few of her talks, and I I think that is.
Also presents to mean more too
the ways that are moving. What that is encouraging me to feel her allowing me to feel and there's so much. You know a sort of restricting
they still in some ways, and I think, even if you know what
my friends, they just have one finger that are constantly moving. You know it is out of your own body that I think, for sure,
and then noticing, where, where particular
emotions live in our body, you know they anger in our jain begin of fear
in our belly, saddened center chest. Often so
I think that I'm writing is something in its furious and are moving around, but I feel that the words are a more living in my chest. You know, listen,
To that end, the sort of thing
King aside route back to
or a more direct route to the sadness instead of staying with the anger further because you know
clear the feeling that were feeling usually there's a feeling underneath at that
more true failing that, we're not yeah
of the visual also of sir
feeling settling into different parts of your body and almost sake
moving those parts of your body to get access to release them and the stories that live in different parts of our body sooner yeah? I have this
anger that I broken a basketball game. When I was eighteen and and
still sort of his aqueous sometimes, and I can feel it and be right back on this court.
in bangor maine, where I
I have to say that we want the see turkey. I cannot say it.
did you get it? I mean
While right here yeah I got one and stephen king was in the audience. You know it was Maine he's a basque. It was a big night yeah
and it's all memorialize in that little face forever-
so you are coming out out of college, and so writing is already already big piece of you create. A writing. Poetry is totally blossom, but I know:
Early days and encourage weathered still up a part of you see idea, then
going from okay, I'm going to write things because I have all these things. Spinning in my head that I need to get out and and synthesize, but going from there to stepping on stage is a whole different proposition
I mean it is for anyone, I think, and for me it was absolutely terrifying, because
I had been known or identified myself. Some
my whole life as somebody that was more afraid of public speaking than any anyone. I knew that guy would rather somebody rapid, boa constrict around my neck than talk in public and that still but and strange to say, but
yeah to graduate college. I had to read one poem, two, my class and my teacher
actually allowed me to get drunk to do it, because I could not that they could not do it.
I don't get I'm in trouble, but I could not do it without that, but then
I moved to colorado? I went to my first poetry slam and I remember walking into the room that night and I the first time that, as soon as this, a guy, actually
a friend of mine now named in started, reading his poem, he was probably twenty seconds into it, and I just knew I had to do that and I knew what was going to terrify media entire time that it probably would never stop tearing terrifying me. But I was
so in love with your form, I was just so love or with the energy of the room. The connection, I think the thing that drew me the most was how much it
like the audience was. Reading the poem for him because of the energy was so electric at almost felt like this crowd of people were just pull,
get out of it, and I just fell in love with the whole thing and so the next week I went back to the salmon. I read for the first time and everybody was having a hard time staying in the room. Now, because
It was so hard to watch me shake that much. I think
This day. If I see somebody performing anden, reading a poem and shaking and in the papers is rattling in their hands, it's just one of the most beautiful things to watch because it
the image of watching somebody? Do
fight of, but they love it too much. Not to their
What was what was
The feeling like for you of that first moment and beyond the physical reaction,
do you have any recollection of it was at a blur to you? Was it the same where he is just certain like it? It pastor. Do you
Any memory is up what actually felt like to be
there in a moment for the first time, not only sharing your words but also knowing that people
are witnessing you physically shaking in front of them.
You know I was. I was so proud of myself banana, whether we typically use the word proud. I felt
this sort of solid love for myself having nothing to do with the poetry but with knowing I had done something that I never ever thought I could do and not
lay that, but that it was
embarrassing sing in some ways, and then I saw the joy was so much bigger than the shame that I could almost feel it in my body. You know dissolving, and I knew I wasn't gonna stop doing- that it would
a giant part of my life. What
as the shame about shaking
out of the attic nervously. I was watching my friends worry about me, you know, lego,
watching your friends there's something about that. You know it's. They should come up with a word for that emotion, but when you're watching your loved ones, worrying
you that is. I mean I'm here
into it now, and it feels like this. It's a sadness, sort of mixed with love and gratitude, but
also it's it's a hard thing to hold in certain moments,
you bet she recently wrote a short said.
turkey that really landed with me. You wrote the worst thing that ever
happened to me was not the worst thing that ever happened to me. Hating myself for one year, which can of speaks to this to a certain. Definitely I mean that certainly wasn't the worst thing that ever happened to me. The happened that night that yeah
it some it's like
the traumas and our lives, we carry them.
is this? Are you know me
europe has actually going never ever manage to
go through a day without quoting, but my therapist, you, no one talks about. Shame is kind of this gift were trying to give ourselves because, by feeling, shame we're trying to tell ourselves.
If we had done something different, that thing would have happened,
that's where we say it's our fault and that's what we keep hating ourselves for it
because then we have something.
and power over nothing ever happening to us. If only I had not done this, you know
this thing. This is my fault and it will never happen again because I have control, so
Shame is also a sword
the sweetness we're trying to offer ourselves, but there are lots of better routes. I think
GAD such an interesting frame. It's almost like it's a grasping to certainty like it's. A tie
ourselves that we have some level of not just you
instability but control over at the eye
more than we more than
anything. We want control, and I think I don't know if it's its cultural or not, but I think that were growing to want control more than we want
a joy in love can a heartbreaking,
Don't disagree with that and I feel I can get and given the debt, certainly nature of just the world we live in these days at em were feeling that
more than ever, like the more groundless things get around us, I feel like the more we seek certainty
control, but it mean
you step into a mike. Is you saying I am surrendering a certain amount of control because there is just you can prep
all you want. You can spend
vast amounts of ours writing and then practising. I don't know if you, if you do that, but the moment that you stepped onto a stage in front of a microphone with alive audience plan is
here. It is in its also exciting that it's over
you know, it's never stopped being less terrifying. For me, I tried to tell people that they don't believe me, but really
never stop being terrifying, and one thing that I have since then:
pandemic started and in all my tourist got cancelled, I
realize before this time. The how closely connected our joy is to our fear, that fear had some sort of a likeness, and there are a lot of politeness and for me and also, I think that there is a close connection sometime.
between excitement and fear. It's hard to tell the difference again. My therapist would say that lake, you know. The only difference between fear and excitement is that fear
his excitement without the breath. So if you breathe through the fear than you can turn it into excitement, daddy
the fear and excitement being really close to each other, also
is fascinating to me, a kind of
yet it as physiology,
create a nearly identical response in the body. There both enter
victoria emotions, but one is anticipating dread and the other is anticipating, possibility
yeah, that's a great way to look at it. It reminds me of
I was seeing this this panic attack specialists for my panic attacks, and he was talking about something like that.
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an essentially also said
is never left you the anxiety around getting on stage, and yet, as we sit here having this conversation, your
for a multi time. I think for time, denver grand slam winner and winner of the women of the world, poetry slam your before yo in before times.
Quickly travelling nonstop and stepping on stage is all over the place to which interesting to me is that this field-
In that you have every time you do, it has never gone away. Maybe it's diminished or even had a hornets hated it, but it's never gone away, and yet
it also hasn't stopped you from both device.
two point where you're standing at your craft and it doesnt overtake the joy that you feel
I mean sometimes it does, but it also you knew it add so much presents because in the beginning you know was incorrect.
beginning. I think about five years, and I really
is that when I was shaking and in
for the first ten years that I was performing everywhere? I went somebody with a con.
Time how every pull my rather was gasping for air. You gonna give up his son nervous and still when I performed people expect me to. I dont think I do that anymore, but people are still so the
Ass thing has gone away a little bit, but sometimes it's there, but those
figured out that
in those moments where I'm really terrified. I search for, I said
For the other feelings in my body, and really let them be,
It really moves me through it and gets me back to a place of joys are often when I'm feeling terrified of really notice others there
a lot of sadness and if I let myself in the middle of the palm, feel the sadness than something kind of breaks open like saying yes to it, but also
Fear and stage creates these are authentic moments, where
I just never know, what's gonna happen and I never go on stage feeling like I
what's going to happen, and I think
any shall I have ever done. People have commented that their favorite parts are at the moment.
Between the poems, when I'm just sort of stumbling around up there and
commenting on whatever
in both his running through my body at that moment,
I mean it's amazing to be able to of like I only wani, I was going to say push through it, but it's really not pushing through it. It's working with it.
yeah and then also welcome it.
Welcoming it actually is a tool of
You know, because I struggled with panic attacks and that has been
guess healing thing of fur panic,
tax for me is that when
fear, comes on
What I say to the fear is make this figure like give me all the fear. You can give me an there's something about the lack of resistance that just chose out of fear
if I'm welcoming new financing come on, then
fears like oh ok and then I noticed it's kind of that wall than my body that breaks down and was you know, holding in the future,
None of them makes sense, but surrendering essential him
as that actually happened, while you were on stage in the middle of performing or is it usually before, sir?
the key in I've. Had a few panic attacks on stage I'll have and learning the difference
winning society attacks and panic attacks. I have a lot of anxiety, attacks, onstage and sometimes it it can come on by something that's happening in the audience or something that is historically happen in the audience like one time I was doing a show in denver and in the middle
the poem, this man sort of charging down the central screaming faggot at me and now at a show, if
Ever somebody gets up in their sea in the middle of a poem else I'll to have an anxiety tack and have to work within a bit so too.
some sort of-
something in my memory. That's registering a pass thing, and sometimes it could actually be the poem itself flag. My mind when I'm reading the poem it's like I'm watching a movie of my life and it always knew even the poem, even though the poem is saying the same but I'll just start
watching all of what I'm talking
about happen again and if it's a hard day
that I'm writing about than that can also bring it on
that so interesting on the one hand, and a lot of people
would look at the process.
Of writing a poem about something that was may be hard for you in your life, as
was to cathartic and helping on processing level, but then the performance of that palm, because the way that it
perform is to essentially stepped back into it and almost reliving a multi sensory way can itself become re acquainting with that same state.
Yeah and it's it's sort of rare for me for that to happen, like typically, it is, I would say, ninety five percent of the time or ninety eight percent of the time it is healing it feels like medicine to speak, actually speak something out of my body. It does feel
stored up, dark energy, most of the time and then some moments. Typically, I think, if I'm not listening to myself well enough for it before I read the poem on whether or not that's a good day for me to read it but
I sat list just because you know come.
But the tentative one, but then I'll keep looking down at it to see. If I can read that particular palm author,
quickly and also in a way that will be support.
of my own wellness before I read it,
that's so interesting. So it's almost like you have all the set pieces in your mind, blood
Never. Actually it's almost figure, choosing the sad in real time, azure performing based on both what's happening in turn,
actively between you and those there, and also just what's happening with you internally and how you feel, like you beat with that yeah because spoken word, you know, I love the art form and also I really
hate, it is the poet is not.
Feeling what they're saying, and so it is always important to me to be able to read something
perform, something that feels honest that day and
Sometimes I get really bothered by the confines of that authenticity
as sometimes I means I read a poem that I dont respect the writing up as much. You know, there's this other poem, whether writings way better and there's this right
I love in the audience and I have to read the good and I just can't do it, because if I don't read it authentically suck yeah
is about this
I know with a lot of bang yeah you go to see, a band has been around for a long time or singer or song, or has been around for a long time. Who has you know they have their favor
she had the audience favorites at every single time, the audience
to hear it. I dont know whether it's the same was spoken word answers if it is like an eel
not feeling it that night, like what do you do yeah? I know it's really sad. If I'm not feeling it and there will be a lot of you know I'll, try I'll actually take a moment onstage. If somebody hollers out a poem and see if I could, if I could do it and you know sometimes I can and some sometimes I can't and then you know some
if it is
some of it is just like hush. Maybe the poem is about somebody. I am currently in an argument which- and you know what happens- we're commonly
because so much of my writing is about social justice and my politics and have changed so much like they change constantly, and so I get a lot of requests for poems that
I no longer identify with the politics of that peace or there is something in that peace that I feel is hurtful or I've been too,
This hurtful- and I mean
so the time in my life, if somebody is called me out on upon being hurtful, I can think of one instance where I disagree it almost always. Somebody is just learn something
a faster than me and has been kind enough to teach it. So I get a lot of requests for poems that
I no longer are right
late with the the message of cat
happens where you ve come to apply where you understand okay, so now
with hindsight and with a lot more growth and learning and conversation yellow guy. I understand why doesn't feel right to perform any more.
you ever share that that
framing or that process with people who are asking about it. Or do you just like a passer by
Yeah, I almost always discuss why, on the mic, for example, I have this very old opponent's. One of my first spoken word poems that I ever did. That, I believe, is the language I use in the poem is racist and I didn't know that at the time that I was writing it, but I know it now and also I paint my parents in a light that I am no longer comfortable with it's one of the one
the poems I've ever written, where I wrote nad an ice.
aid mad and I let that poem be in the world and
it's just not how I view the here
experience anymore. In regard to this report,
these are good and so others break all that down on stage. Typically tat
that's amazing, so is sort of like you turn it into a learning experience for everybody as well, and also I mean it's real.
Powerful modeling, I feel, like fur people
up and coming and an almost feel like
you know like you are a create. Europe
create a person in the world. You are an artist performer that year, your body of work is your body of work, and it should stand to be public
regardless of you, what harm,
understand. It may cause now, with the benefit of really changing and evolving and deep,
understanding, and it
thing is fascinating, marline disable! No! Actually, here like them through,
I need to grow with the times and certain things are not appropriate to be out there anymore, because when they are, they continue to do harm and- and I never intended harm another and I was doing arm
I had to do something about it, and maybe you think we can all look at the work that were doing in that way
yeah, and it's a I think it's I mean
I've come to call it a blessing of being in the public
I a little bit aware if you're going to do something. If you do something that hurts someone like you know, you're not gonna, go without knowing it. Somebody will. You know somebody will tell you they're far smarter people than me reading my poems and- and I learn and I learn a lot from them and so yeah, that's the that's a good
I guess too to know that if you do something on somebody who is going to tell you yeah,
and especially because you know so much of real work really is focused around gender norms. Social reform of diabetes, q issues, compassion, and so you are speaking to the the
weights of intersection our life, where we feel at the most clear and very- and these days sadly tend to be most polar-
eyes as society, and I feel like a lot of I'm curious about it.
If you like, when I, when I hear you perform
I hear the words and the, but under
Neither words what I feel is a call for compassion and
recognition of shared humanity almost across any of what the words are. Thank you for saying I ve always felt lake in outside for a
It appears that the words spoken word are not the most important thing I don't know.
what you're saying, but it seems like it's, the energy with which you are approaching something, and
I think I've failed a lot with my words and hopeful
even in those failures showed up in some way with my heart, and hopefully that can be heard by folks.
You have made
a really interesting decision. Also, I don't know when it was, I know, is at least a chunk of years back to take pure spoken word
and start to blend music with it often live music and perform the same.
I'm I'm wondering
whether, when you started doing that,
There was a push back.
I wonder whether in the culture spoken word, their short of an ethos. It says if it's gotta be based on the pure,
if the words and one person and a microphone verses in
having this fuller experience, sonic experience around it, the other was pushed back
from lots of people, I think a lot.
spoken word artists hated it
For myself, I think that there were times that I also
constantly arguing with it. You know,
I go in here. Poet of this is gonna
do not do much good for me.
career to say the sun here. But if I go in here a poet, I want to hear them without visa now, but I it is what I have the most fun with it
you know, and I started tourism clubs. Instead of the owners of the place, they had no idea what they were bucking likely that they will be
in comedy innovation.
weren't used to having a poet, and so I was often they'd, insist that you know there be a musical opener, so I started making tons of friends
who were musicians- and I just love to make art with other people and collaborate ends,
and that's how I got started on the go for both can be on the stage. Let's do something together: unpick yeah, there's a pc. I may show today that I would not.
written that peace. If I thought that it was going to live on its own, it was written to live with music and I've got.
I loved making art with other people, but sure yeah, I don't think
everybody loves and then I think some other people prefer it because they get. I don't know. Maybe there
it's not big poetry, fans and I'm not sure, but it also. If you do it right now, I've done it wrong a lot. But if you do it right, it can really add the emotion of of the peace,
It meets fascinated me. I have always
little decisions when you decide to add something into something. What some people would consider what this is pure form of the art? And when you add this in you know, does it
If a fire does it, does it give something new and better, or does it in some way bastardized in in a very past life, I was actually a yoga teacher, and I was
one of certainly the early people in new york city who started bringing music into my losses and
while some people got it and enjoyed it,
The people are like, while this is the whole court, a hybrid, yet
like yoga teaching things really bastard arising what it's about an hour,
then we'll, yes, and you know, if you hold, it,
that it's gotta be only about your silence and the words I
understand that, and I respect that and at the same time, if you look at every healing tradition in the history of humankind,
all involve both incantation and rhythm.
Some other form of music and it's pretty modern that we ve separated them. It's it's so easily. I m fascinated by this lens of how people, and also
who were the arbiters of what is he like right or wrong? Are the best way to do it. Yet it's interesting. You bring that up, because my partner is a writer and also yoga teacher and as she has, she plays music in her class and she put so much thought into what is going to play in there, and I will
sit down with her yoga playlists and write to them all day, long and and
and both yoga within without you know, music, and that a firm either different experiences and the, but also
beautiful in their own way, and lately I've been preferring yoga with music
I agree. I think the drifts different. Yet you know I'll go to. I love
sometimes nearly can say, with meditation I'll meditate, just in pure silence, sometimes within sometimes I just kind of want something layered into it and it just it's different. It gives me something different media,
in the suit there are two pieces that you're going to share with us. I believe, if you could set up the first one tell me a little bit about it and then I'd love to talk about little bit more and then we can maybe do the same for the second sure yeah. So this is a poem titled homesick, a plea for
planet and the music with the peace is done by Gregory Alan. I sakharov, who lives
me here in colorado who I've I've toward within the past and when all tourists got cancel data Gregory went back to being a farm,
which he has been throughout his musician life as while. So this is sweet collaboration and I'm gonna play it for you.
the fifth grade. I won the science fair with a project on climate change, the future to paper
shea ozone layer what the giant home to which a paper missed
sun burned. The skin
barbie in a bikini on a lawn chair, glaciers, melting, like ice,
cubes in her lemonade? It was night
eighty seven in a town that could have invented red hats, but the school principle gave me a gold, the ribbon and not a single bit of attitude about my radical political stance, because neither he nor I knew it was a political stance. Science had not yet been fully framed. Leftist propaganda, the president, did not have a twitter feed starving the world of facts. I spent that somehow, as I had every summer before racing,
the forests behind my house down the path. My father called the old logging road to a meadow thick with raspberry bushes, whose thorns where my very first heroes, because they did nothing with their life but protect what was sweet sundays. I went to church but struggle the colored prayer of it didn't leave grass stains on my knees, couldn't college truth if it didn't come with a dare to crawled into the cave by the creek and stay there until somebody counted all the way to one hundred as a kid I thought one hundred was the biggest number there was my mother absolutely blew my mind the day she said one hundred and one one hundred and one billion years.
Never grow out of doing that same math with years can conceive of coming passed. Her own life stands believed the world ends the day they do. Why are the keys to our future in the hands of those who had the longest commutes from their heads to their hearts, whose greed
it's the smog that keeps us from seeing our own nature and the sweetness we are here to protect. Do you know sometimes when gathering nectar bees fell asleep and flowers? Do you know fish are so sensitive, snowflakes sound like fireworks when they land on the water? Do you know whales will follow their injured friends to shore up and taking their own lives, so do not let their loved ones be alone when they die. None of this is poetry. It is just the earth being who she is in spite of us putting barcodes on the sea, in spite of us, acting like edison invented, daylight dawn, presses. Her blushing, face to my window asks me. If I know the records in my record, collection looks like the insides of trees. Yes, I said there was nothing he worth the effort groan that isn't music. You were the bamboo in coltrane's, saxophone read the mulberries. That said the silkworms that made the slippers for the ballet the pine
with the loom. That was the hemp for frida kahlo's canvas the roses that tied her paint, hoping her brush could bleed for her body who more than the earth has bled for us. How do we not move the hearts after the first spruce tree who raised her hand and begged to be cut into piano keys, so the elephants could keep their tusks. The earth is the right side of history. Is the canyon my friend ran to when no one else he knew would echo his chosen name back to him. Is the wind that wailed through nineteen fifty six alabama into the poplar tree carved itself into DR king's pulpit? Is the volcano, the port, the merch?
three into the thermometer held under the tongue of ITALY, though she knew our fever was why her canals were finally running clear. She took our temperature told us. We were too hot, even after we spent decades claiming she was not our hands held were burning, forehead means,
did she was fine when wildfires turn redwoods to toothpicks readying the teeth of the apocalypse, she sent a smoke signal all the way from california to new york. City ash fell from the sky. Do you know the mountains of california used to look like they'd been set on fire because they were so covered in monarch, butterflies, monarch, butterflies, migrate, three thousand miles three thousand miles using only the fuel, they stories added pillars in the so we need so much less than we take. We owe so much more than we give squirrels plant thousands of trees every here just from they where they left their. We aim. If we aim to be just as one of the earth's mistakes, we could turn so much around our living would be see the future would have routes. We would cast nothing from the garden of itself and we would make the thorny problem.
When did life, start getting so complicated, buying a home, complicated home finances, certainly not a walk in the park. Raising kids, she hath it's a lot, then
there's insurance. What if my policy does not cover this or what? If I have to make a claim in the middle of the night, good news.
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I want to stand up and applause that'll be nicer. I hope I get to see some applause sometime in the next two bits of brass and such a sweet communal thing. I thought that I love it.
and I mean how badly poet
Now that the reason that you can as because job
in our planet, which are changing things which are keeping a separate which isolating us, but the bigger picture.
When you write a piece like that, which is
deeply compelling deeply moving very focus in the meshes that ascending I'm cool,
is whether you
or intentional about being completely honestly
flow through. You writing something that feels real and raw and pure to yourself and at the same time, wanting to invite the greatest number of people into they come
perception, so that because this is the point that is also a call to action
I'm an and the more people you can have feel it respond to it
beyond the impersonally move. He ate them the more
likely, they are to act on it
yeah, that's a! I think, that's the value of art that you know. I don't think people's minds change very quickly, but people's hearts can change in an instant, and I think that's what the I love about spoken word, but all art. It can change your heart in an instant. Then you mind catches up over time, but I don't think I've had a a poem that I've written so directly and a long time and have been
lot of I've done a lot for lack of will
afterward, the dancing in my poems lately were deal here
The next poem my share its
nothing so, like you said directly
then, with this, I really wrote it
being that it would do something like hoping that folks who hadn't,
previously. Had a relationship with the earth could see how the earth is everywhere. You know I have a lot of friends who live in the city and they have a far different relationship with the author or even thoughts about the earth than I do, and I was writing that you note or wanting to reach them, because
spoke folks, you know some of the great
activists I know doing so much and you know, sir writing in the direction of of their hearts.
I think it also brings up the one
things that is truly unique about poetry in the context of poetry. That
has a bigger message that is speaking to issues of the day and night.
Is that when you are also effectively building a case with a palm we're an inviting people,
to do something about it and when you contrast
doing that drew powerfully written
worse, verses, laying out grass and charge
It lands. It's almost like. You know when you start to quantify the arguments
As for some people, the rational brains is ok, I get it, but for a lot of people, they egg
defensive and then be started.
Ok, so here specific things that I can find counter evidence to review, but when you
liver, the same thing in verse and it speaks to say,
This is an emotion and story. It's like a bypass,
this is all of that and just land so deeply in a person's soul that the impulse to just immediately controvert it in some way
feel like it bypasses that I wonder if you feel something similar, I do
and I think that's a lot of
my draw to the art form, and I remember learning this lesson a lot.
at the beginning of the iraq war. I had a friend in the war and
member reading, all these statistics and then trying to write poems that you know to do something that were full of statistics and understood
the six were a heart revenge
an overwhelming and disgusting, but I learned in that process lahti
years ago. Now that too
how the story of one person would often reach people more
you tell the story of you know
the soldier who had come back from iraq, and
he had been wearing the dog,
eggs of the lack of the brenner were like of
soldiers that he was fighting against and his family had thought he was wearing his own dog tags, but he had been wearing the dog tags of someone he had killed,
and ended up killing himself. Then
that soria. I remember thinking god we could say numbers forever and
there's so much there that is now. I can't I can't talk about it.
Right now without getting upset so yeah.
you you can't argue, with the story of somebody's life. You can't argue that you know
these fall asleep in flower a slip of ever since I read that fact day. It doesn't.
It doesn't leave me I'm just this
Weakness is overwhelming you,
second peace today as well- and this is another very different but equally powerful.
Set up for us here when I recorded this in my basement, getting other pandemic and
and the music for this piece is done by an artist named Chris Prager, who is a close friend
mind ends and I wrote,
there is actually about a dear friend of mine. Embody. Wakefield, too, is of one of my favorite poets on earth and he's one of my best friends
He freely made me angry one day I got in this way. I was so man, I don't know. I've ever been more angry at a friend
and in the middle of that anger
I decided to start writing, which I never do. I got this advice in college that you should never right in the end
You have some distance from the things you can see it clearly, but I
I began writing with the intention of of shifting my anger to a place of gratitude, and I got about a few lines into this poem and
loved him so much. I could not believe how quickly my
shifted to appreciation, so it's cool,
well the year of no grudges. I think almost everyone tries hard to do good and just find out too late. They should have tried softer I've, never in my whole life and then level headed but the older. I get the more level hard and I think we make gods who look like us for a reason. I think, in spite of it all, we trust we can be believed and when I don't believe in myself, I try to remember. I have walked on water like seven hundred times in maine, in the dead of winter, where I come from, you can drive a pickup truck from one side of the lake to the other. People have an unusually large amount of missing teeth and fingers, but you can still seldom whitening strips and wedding rings like crazy, because, where I come from muting me eye of anyone who sees what's missing can't stop pointing
one. Still there there s, no definition for love, you and, I think, that's a good one. A binding, the sun updated me wrong, I'm just a half a second outside the furnace of my rage and are trying to focus my attention on the team. You still have stemmed the ones I know you'd have knocked out yourself.
If it would keep you from biting anyone again and that other stakes work at eleven, the right kind of game- and you are the right kind of
woman- he walked on water. So many times you know grace slippery and there's literally nothing. Anyone is more likely to fall for some sound advice. I give myself like twice a second wear knee pads on the way to your ego. Andrea being right is,
rightness comforts, only the tiniest parts of us when it comes to hearts. I want always to be assessed,
I was crying cause. That's how I found you lifting the spirits of everyone around you, like hot air balloons, just from the waiting burn to be a better person today.
than he had been the deva burning to be better is my favorite quality anyone you are fire like a game and squire singing the half time show a football game. I've been dancing in the end zone since the day you taught me how to break
covering almost I've made. My pain taught me by will never never mean bigger than I am
goodness friend, you mean champion the boeing, yes dandelion refusing to be picked for the balkans
five minutes into our first conversation. I could take a punch better than I can take a cab
and you talk to me about the ones in them- I was to gossip. There were gone rumours lying around my suddenly. I love you because you never had a mirror space, because the truth is nothing you could ever try to think. So. Sometimes you look like a human scribble like a three year old is coloured. You win, you got
too many feelings to stay inside the lines in your own skin, but that friend that is the masterpiece. I love you because we both showed up to kindness triumphs with notes from the school nurse.
if you were hurting to participate. Are we to learn how wrong we were the best days when we learned how wrong we were so got to grow into our goodness, the splits of our own selves in the garden to gross sweetness sugar? Me I'd pick you to be the captain
was a family tree. I take you to throw the party when I leave this
well knowing I'm gonna run like a stop sign and meaning going. I take you to finish all my half written
even though your terrible writing, poetry, you finish this one,
this list of compliments media tanks taking before I remember,
I am not
Only human, the whole planet knows what I mean
when I say god I mean everyone down here who understands that when I get to Heaven, I will refuse to call it. Having put me through hell, then
What goes through. You win,
we hear yourself before necklace canna, watching your face as you are listening
was actually feeling what was a feeling. I was.
I was feeling sad really but
also of every one of those sad. You know I often have a hard time deciphering in my body between so
listen love for they intermingle too much for me, but
This feeling sad about the universe grudges that
are so easy to hold, and I wrote it
where are the pandemic, but when I decided to share it, you know thinking that this pandemic might last a year, probably will be longer. But the idea of this being a year of no grudges like if you're holding a grudge against somebody right now, it's a really good time to
go not just for their sake. By such a burden. To carry like bitterness is so painful, but
was hitting me and listening to it was just how easy it was. It was so simple to me.
From that anger, a witch
I didn't think I was going to let go of four months in
just a matter of minutes.
two appreciation and down.
yeah I've heard somebody said once like. The only thing we have control over in this life is where we put our attention and
to just shift my attention in that moment was really lovely and released me from you know. Anger is not fun to carry and yeah
I love that did so much and one of my favorite lines of it as your terrible at writing. Poetry, just because he is just such an exceptional poet to speak
in a quick little.
yeah, I mean it
go back to what I shared earlier witches and listening to the words or what I am hearing as Emma is just a feeling has improved.
It is a vibe. An end is the message I get, but it could have just comes in
I know you have them
you said elsewhere, maybe more than a poet, I'm kind of public feeler I just get up. There feel everything all over the sea air there. I wish I was not so much. Sometimes the vienna is to have a few days out so many feelings. Those like a diagnosis, as a kind of two has gave me once like the problem. Is you ve seen too much
and I guess I know that, but I also don't know if I want to get rid of it.
Yeah I mean an and that she is a curiosity. Do you feel like
along with feeling so much and so deeply. You know that, without that there is no work,
no creativity, there's no yeah and- and I guess,
with a deeper clashing when a really trying to ask you is because I've seen so many artists, so many people who were in this serve generative space where something comes out of that
epps of their sole and turns into beautiful painting words, music,
attach themselves to the notion that not just feeling but suffer
We must always be there for them too, to do work at a level that they want to be able to offer
and I wonder how that outlines with you yeah I've,
I've thought about that so much. Firstly, I think there is a difference between a feeling. You know harder feelings like
grief agree if and terror, there's a difference between that and suffering to me. Those are two different things like you can. You can feel sad, but the suffering comes I think with like,
sire to get rid of that sadness? For me at least that's where a lot of them?
ain't comes in a fund like if I just let the sadness, be. It typically moves out of my body more quickly, so allowing it, sir, they exist, helps it move
but as far as the narrative, I think it's something that has permeated spoken word a lot. Is there
You can't write a good poem who lesser suffering
two more or less you're in pain, And- and I Don'T- I don't believe that at all then I wish for artists slick. No poem
Ever know no are ever if it means you get to, you know, have your life full of love and joy and gratitude. So I'd like to do away
without a narrative honestly, because I've seen it impact young people who
I just feel like they dont have permission to be joined,
if their son is created so much art, don't actually think the pain is where art comes from. I think it comes from honesty,
and we may have not created as enough
space to celebrate are that is that is
Let us follow you know, or that it's almost like turning a sock inside out that sadness. The second is that
echoes inside out, and I can't explain. I know that image might not make sense, but
something becomes are then it's it's important to recognise that sometimes it almost immediately turns did you could turn immediately grief to joy, the
I have so many different thoughts about this. But I don't know
everybody knows, but and this
spoken word. You know their lot. It's
very young art form and, in my opinion
we'd love to see more happy poems,
more celebratory, poems and
people wanting to hear those types of homes just because it such you know it's our life too.
And I dont want artist ever feel like they have to you know
their entire lives so miserable
there. I think that is
they pray common experience in spoken, word budgets across nearly every art form,
I agree with you. I think we all have to exist x.
In life, and some of that involves hard things and tough thing since over that involves pain yet, but we don't have to
invited and also I loved the frame that you brought, which is that the suffering
comes from an almost maniacal attempt to rid ourselves of it. Rather
then acknowledging that this is. This is a part of it all, and I didn't ask for it, but it's here so now what what do I do? This headway
b with it in a way that in some way I can find meaning in it.
if it goes away and if there are things I can do to help great but and if not then
second understand it and transmuted into something. Positive yeah, and I also don't ever want to deny like or say, don't feel great fun. We all
I like to be human is to grieve anti. Is you know to love, is to agree events to be joyful. Follow suit,
beside when these figures are all of it exists there. Just
tends to be. Sometimes I think that a lot of what's fuelling are is the grief, and I I just wanna, give forest permission to or a fake
that joy can do it too. You know. Just
because I do know,
when I feel into an assent as hard as its activists as well. Like me,
this community, it is, is
hearts are so heavy rain now were everywhere all over the world and to
for yourself too, to be reminding yourself that you deserve joy.
And to nurture that and to take time to do that, and that is also I will create its own. You know beautiful things. I love that
it feels a good place for us to come full circle as well so sitting here in this container of the good life project. If I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up to live a good life
connected to love to celebrate to feel
deeply into continuously be becoming too welcome that becoming an and the shift that you know. Hopefully,
in our last breath. Seer were
I want to my last breath think, but there is more I wanted to up and then hopefully the others. You know it's like running death like a stop sign and you just keep on going and keep keep becoming. Thank you
thank you so much for having me
The thank you so much for listening and thanks also to our fantastic sponsors who helped make this show possible. You can check them out in the links we have included in today show not stand while you're at it. If you ve ever ask yourself what should I do with my life, we have created a really cool online assessment that will help you discover the source code for the work they are here to do. You can find it at spark a type dot com. That's s, p, r, K e t why p dot com or just click
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Transcript generated on 2023-06-22.