The chatter of excited audience members fills the auditorium as an upbeat track list welcomes guests into the show. The stage is set for multiple performers, though only one will headline.
Upon introduction by Danielle McClelland, the Buskirk-Chumley Theater’s executive director, the opening act took the stage. The trio of musicians and poets warmed up the stage before headliner Andrea Gibson performed.
Gibson is one of the most celebrated poets in the field, according to the Buskirk-Chumley website.
Gibson came to Bloomington to perform a selection of poems that covered a range of topics and emotions. Catering toward an audience of Hoosiers, Gibson started the show by cracking jokes about Indiana basketball.
Besides the poet, the focal point on stage seemed to be the three glowing orbs hanging behind the poet that changed color throughout the performance. At first glowing a deep red-pink, the orbs began to change with the progression of the show.
The orbs burned yellow as Gibson addressed the crowd with a poem about catcalling. Gibson poetically discussed the onslaught of men and oppression faced by the words they deliver. Like this one, Gibson, who uses the pronoun 'they,' said every one of their earlier poems used to be a rant.
The orbs glowed pink as Gibson recited a poem about love. Specifically, a poem about being the own love of your life. As they gracefully glided through each line and phrase, one line stood out among the rest.
“You are the best thing that has ever happened to you,” they said.
All three orbs were a bright shade of blue as Gibson dove into a poem that addresses their experience following the election of President Trump. Gibson told the audience they tried to focus their attention on beauty following the election, but also further discussed white privilege they faced.
“I only trust my skin when it is red with rage,” they said.
The stage was shaded green as Gibson moved through a pain-ridden poem about those who died by suicide.
Purple set the tone for a poem about the Pulse nightclub massacre. Before beginning, Gibson took a moment before telling the crowd about it.
“If you feel too much you can’t talk," they said.
The poet, having spoken to survivors of the massacre, went into a detailed reflection of the facts from that night, comparing tears to dried sweat from dancers, and describing police looking for any survivors by show of hands.
“Hardly anyone put their hand up,” they said.
Red & Pink
One of Gibson’s last poems, called “Fighting for Love,” was a love letter to their girlfriend. More specifically, a love poem about their arguments. The audience laughed along as Gibson recounted arguments they’ve had, from past relationships to the editing of Gibson’s book.
To finish off the night, Gibson brought their dog on stage, performing a love poem to the dog exploring the human condition. Addressing the hatred of mailmen and vacuums, the kindness of the furry creature and the lesson that a good nap is the best therapy, Gibson stated they’ve never had a better teacher than their dog. The passion for this poem and each one before it is evident on stage, making it a captivating performance for the audience to take in.
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