• Jae

Thank you, Andrea Gibson

Nobody really needs to hear what a shit-show of a year it's been. And yet, now, while it continues to swirl around me, I've become inspired to write once more.

On a whim and at the very last minute, I signed up for a poetry writing workshop (online) with Andrea Gibson which started this past Saturday. It's called "Write Your Heart In". For those of you who might not know them, Andrea is a poet and activist whose mostly spoken-word work focuses on gender norms, politics, social reform, and the struggles LGBTQ people face in today's society. My friend, Anika, introduced me to them back in 2016 at a pub in Santa Cruz, CA. The moment they opened their mouth - I fell into an awestruck love with them and their words. And, I now attend their performances every chance I get.

A snipped of Andrea's work can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GirjS6PuMu8

In the first of four Saturday workshops, expertly run mostly by Andrea's queer-femme partner, Megan Falley - Andrea read their poetry aloud. Theirs was the only camera turned on. I felt like an audience of one. I was transported back to the very first performance I attended. I wanted to just scoop up their words and keep them all to myself.

One of the writing prompts we got came after this poem, "Living Proof" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KADJJ4W9p3c

The prompt that inspired me most was, "Write a poem titled “Dear Stranger, I know you don’t know me, but…” and go! (Look for the ways you are different, and the same –– and keep a “loose grip” on your pen!):

The following is the transformation of my five minutes of free-flow writing to that prompt.

Dear Stranger

I know you don't know me – it is a fact.

And yet it was such a weighted door

You heaved open

Held open

You waited

While I shuffled

Shoulders shuddering

High above the waves

Grief filled

Filled out

Flowing salt

To the saturated sea

You hugged me hard

From the inside out

And held that door

A stranger no more

A stranger no more

(homage to A.G. with the repeated last line :)

It's not the best piece I've written.

Nor the worst.

But it is me on the page.

Thank you, Andrea Gibson (and Megan Falley) for helping me push back the fog, wade through this muck of a year, and to find my voice once more.

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