Poet Andrea Gibson performed for a small, intimate crowd at the Hangar Theatre Thursday night. Gibson’s girlfriend, Megan Falley, a queer-femme author of three poetry collections, opened for them. Falley performed for a little over 30 minutes, addressing topics such as the impact of gender and sexuality on her relationship with Gibson, who self-identifies as genderqueer. She read well-known poems such as “Why so Many Penises” and made a reappearence at the end of the show to perform “Fight for Love” with Gibson. Falley’s performance was both funny and incredibly evocative. The pairing of Falley and Gibson certainly made for an enhanced experience. And being able to see both artists perform poems about the other was moving.
Following Falley’s performance and a short intermission, Gibson took the stage. It was clear from the first words that they were going to take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. They somberly walked up to the mic, made a few jokes and commented on the audiences sobriety: “Usually the people at these shows are a little drunker.” They followed this with asking everyone to pretend to be drunk. Gibson’s performance was somber and tear-jerking — performing popular poems such as “Boomerang Valentine” and “After the Breakup.” “To The Men Catcalling My Girlfriend While I’m Walking Beside Her” resonated well with crowd, as well.
Perhaps the most emotional moment from the show was Gibson’s performance of “Orlando,” a poem dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Pulse nightclub shooting, a targeted attack against the LGBT community. The poem was met with a near-standing ovation.
On lighter notes, Gibson as a performer is unmatched by any other spoken-word artists. Their stage presence is heavy and they had several hilarious interactions with the crowd. In one instance, Gibson recounted how early in their career they used to justify every poem before reading it. They recalled years ago being yelled at to “just read the fucking poem.” Later during Thursday’s show, while previewing an upcoming poem, one rowdy audience member shouted: “Just read the fucking poem!”
Andrea Gibson’s shows are must sees. Even after seeing them twice, I can’t wait until they return to Ithaca soon.
Peter Buonanno is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He currently serves as the arts and entertainment editor on The Sun’s editorial board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.