Poet brings their biggest tour to the Englert


“Fight For Love,” spoken-word artist Andrea Gibson’s favorite piece to perform, begins with a partner suggesting they get her dog groomed after rolling in horse poop and ends with a proposal. Like many of the other pieces on the album, it takes a hard but humorous look at something important.

The newest album, HEY GALAXY, has pieces ranging from “Letter to White Queers” to “Photoshopping My Sister’s Mugshot.” Gibson will perform at the Englert at 8 p.m. today, accompanied by music, either live or recorded.

Gibson is on a U.S. tour, the biggest yet for the performer. Gibson’s career got started after visiting a poetry slam in Denver in 2000, while the performer-to-be was studying creative writing in college. Originally wanting to write an album about love, Gibson said, the 2016 election required a change in course to write something more political.

“I had so much on my mind, so much that I wanted to speak to socially and politically that I just changed gears really quickly in what I was creating and writing about at that time,” Gibson said.

In the beginning years, much of the inspiration came from being queer, Gibson said. At shows, Gibson wanted queer people to have a couple of hours in which they felt safe and celebrated. Gibson hopes the work inspires action but also lets the audience ease back and laugh. “If I weren’t queer,” Gibson said, “I don’t think I would have ever started in spoken word.”

“I had so much that I wanted to say on the topic, and I had a difficult coming-out experience,” Gibson said. “I was going to a Catholic college and grew up in a pretty conservative place. I had so much bottled up inside of me that it was most of what I was writing about the first couple of years.”

Nolan Petersen of the Englert box office staff said the theater doesn’t host spoken-word events often. He said Gibson is known for drawing a lot of walk-ups, and the Englert will probably sell a lot of tickets on the day of the show.

“Spoken word and poetry kind of have a niche audience,” Petersen said. “But I find that the audiences that do come are incredibly passionate, so even though they’re smaller audiences, you often don’t notice that because the audience is just so engaged with the performer on stage.”

The show will be opened by Liv Carrow, a singer-songwriter and folk musician. Carrow began her career as a bassist in a folk band in college and spent time in the open-mic scene of New York’s Lower East Side, she said in an email to The Daily Iowan.

“These days and for the past several years, my songs are really heavily influenced by environment,” Carrow said. “Natural and man-made features of the landscape, ambient sounds, and the intangible characteristics of a place tend to be what I’m after and what usually gets me in the chair writing.”

Both Carrow and Gibson have the same goal for the audience members: to make them feel something.

“My other favorite thing to hear is that folks have really strong emotions come up,” Carrow said. “It’s rare to play a show where someone doesn’t come by afterwards to tell me they cried, which I have started to accept as part of the larger work I’m here to do on the planet — like, making people uncomfortable or upset in a gentle, unexpected way that brings them closer to their truth.”

Who: Andrea Gibson, supported by Liv Carrow

Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington

When: 8 p.m. today

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