Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns; Also, It’s Cold

20 Dec

Snow is everything.  I guess that’s okay.

Before that happened Abby cut my hair in her kitchen.   I said I liked the striped apron on her wall and she played this.

I’d never heard of Andrea Gibson.  Her voice = church hand chimes.  Abby lent me her book Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns, which I’ve just now gotten around to reading because you know, things, but I remember reading the first poem,“Pole Dancer,” and hearing instruments more than seeing words.  A little like this:

It was a strange, 100% positive thing that what words and how words made me forget there were words at all, instead of trumpet blare glow.  With good writing, I usually want to kiss words on the mouth, not forget them; poetry usually makes me uber-aware of language and stay right there with it.  But music like Sigur Ros does something similar to “Pole Dancer” and some other pieces in Pole Dancing: creates a place that almost makes you forget you’re in a song, though that place wouldn’t be there without it.

As I read, I’m noticing one line is YES ABSOLUTELY and the next is THIS IS GETTING A LITTLE HALLMARK, so I’ve been pulling Gibson’s performances up on Youtube to compare seeing to hearing.  It is spoken word poetry after all, which I only recently realized is kind of a dirty word, I guess?  I’ve been asked what I think of spoken word, and I think like everything ever it can be HO YES or MY BAD – depends.  I’ve just heard people talk about all uneasy like there’s an asterisk floating next to it, like not “real” poetry or something etc. etc. etc.

I think I understand some of that sentiment in that what Gibson does feels like a different category of aesthetic whatever than “normal” poetry (I’M JUST GONNA GO AHEAD AND APOLOGIZE FOR THAT INSUFFICIENT BUT I-HOPE-YOU-KNOW-WHAT-I-MEAN-THERE LABELING), but its relationship to music/sound makes it such a different experience than reading this or this that a direct comparison doesn’t seem fair.  I’m not sure yet how I feel about her language, because not only is hearing her like instruments, but her words live somewhere between poetry and lyrics, which get me to a place of aesthetic YES in different ways.  Lyrics on a page can have line breaks that would seem simplistic/rigid/overwrought for poetry, but result in words placed on top of a chord progression in a way that creates emotional depth/meaning/etc. etc. etc., which is fascinating and good to me, that accompanying media let us experience the same text in ways that feel vastly different.

What I mean is, I’m figuring out how my respective ways of perceiving oohs-and-aahs in poetry and music can blend to best appreciate a spoken word artist/poet like Gibson.  I know I’ve rambled all-aesthetic and haven’t said a thing about the historical/political/moral content of her work, which is a whole nother monster.  I might try to wrestle it at some point; it seems worth doing.

hot chocolate + kahlua.


2 Responses to “Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns; Also, It’s Cold”

  1. leeraloo December 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    I just discovered Andrea Gibson’s spoken word poetry on YouTube and I love it. The only downside is that I get depressed because I will NEVER write like that (and LORD KNOWS, I will never read like that). It’s like, the style of writing that I covet so very much, but my writing is sooooo different and it makes me feel inadequate.

  2. amhines December 21, 2010 at 2:05 am #

    Layne, I know exactly what you mean about the relationship between her voice and written words. I like reading Andrea Gibson’s poems on paper, but it’s when she reads them aloud that they come alive.

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