Andrea Gibson, an American performance poet and the first person ever to win the Women’s World Poetry Slam, is now a voice known around the world. She is a prominent figure in the art of spoken word. Her work has been featured on the BBC, Free Speech TV, C-SPAN, and Air America. To date she has produced five albums of spoken word and three books of poetry. In her album of spoken word poetry, Flower Boy, Gibson continues to leave the listener dumbfounded and inspired.
In her fifteen tracks Gibson explores progressive and modern themes such as bullying, gender expression, sexual exploration, LGBT rights, veteran rights, the hypocrisy of religion, and racism just to name a few. Notable titles include Letter to the Playground Bully, I sing the Body Electric Especially when my Power is Out, The Madness Vase and Leprechaun. Her performance skill alone is enough to give this album good marks, but it is heightened by the instrumental music used as a backdrop for her words. Her inflection and tonality carries the piece easily like a song. She demands your attention with her voice.
Gibson’s poetry is so poignant because she gives a voice to groups that do not have one of their own. Her work speaks for minorities, for the underdogs, for the downtrodden and ignored. She forces the reader to examine themselves, their preconceptions about life, and to see from a new perspective. Through her remarkable sympathetic capabilities, and her unyielding love and faith in humanity, Gibson can string words together in a way that forces us to look at and understand one another in a way we never would have considered otherwise. One always comes away feeling awed, humbled, and with a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.
The fault in the album rests in the recorded nature of it. In certain cases the poems lack the emotional complexity of live performance that is so inherent in the genre. Additionally, for those new to the genre of performance poetry, Gibson’s work may be unsettling. The nature of her work is to disturb. By making the listener uncomfortable they are pushed to think. The listener must be actively engaged in critical thought to fully appreciate Gibson’s work. Her goal is impact her audience in a way that will make them re-evaluate themselves. This form of introspection may not be the type of experience everyone is looking for. Gibson’s work is filled with raw, unfiltered content. She holds nothing back. Therefore Flower Boy is demanding of a more mature audience.
Andrea Gibson is a forerunner of her genre and has contributed a memorable addition to the field of performance poetry. Flower Boy is yet another example of the power her work holds. Top scores go to this album, a ten out of ten. Gibson is a true powerhouse of the spoken word movement, and Flower Boy is a true testimonial to the human spirit.