Hello. Jim Hall, shadow for poet coach John Berkavitch, working with Leicester New College, here are a few words on a poet I’m excited to share with you.
The moment I first heard a poem by U.S poet Andrea Gibson was one of those experiences that will forever stick with me. The kind of discovery where you remember so many specific details you often forget.
Like in my case: how you were in grey Primark pyjama’s, browsing through youtube on a slow-as laptop, halfway through eating a Sainsbury’s southern fried chicken piece, in early July 2011 at around 11.30pm.
That you were feeling a lot of complicated emotions courtesy of that whole first-love/loss thing and as usual, were immersing yourself in art to help work through it.
The poem in question, was Glider Plane. A fragile, haunting piece delivered with so much raw vulnerability and a sense of intimacy I had never known the words capable of creating. I was captured in seconds and had never felt so overwhelmingly alive in my life.
Andrea Gibson, I went on to discover, writes for the celebration and gift of simply being able to feel. She is brave in her revealing. Yet, this isn’t about private journal entries thrown out into the world. It’s important for her to create art that is as rooted in the universal as much as it is deeply personal and the delicate, imagery-packed craft of her poetry is built around a focused ‘write-something-every-day’ devotion.
I think my entire approach to writing changed when discovering this woman’s work. I realised the genuine life-affecting impact words can hold, that you should write hard, with heart and no fear.
Most importantly, she taught me how important it is for art to be rooted in truth and that there should be hope buried somewhere, in whatever it is that you write.
I chose Andrea Gibson as my poetry hero for encouraging me to not be afraid of the hurtling freight train heart I carry behind my outwardly positive and strong surface, learning writing is often the perfect place for the two to collide. That its a beautiful thing, to embrace each of those moments you suddenly realise you are nothing, but human.
Preview of Andrea’s work, the poem Glider plane: