Spoken word artist Andrea Gibson to perform at TTU
In a few days, Tennessee Tech University student Katie Reasonover is going to meet one of her heroes.
Reasonover has led a semester-long effort to get spoken word poet Andrea Gibson to perform and give a workshop at TTU. Gibson has performed across the country and won the first Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2008. She writes about war, class, gender, bullying, white privilege, sexuality, love and spirituality.
“I think in the social climate we’re in right now, it’s really important to be open about these issues and a college campus is the perfect place to start the conversation,” said Reasonover, president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society. “I’ve heard certain pieces 100 times and every time I watch I have to remind myself to calm down.”
“She’s a really moving artist. I can’t imagine that someone could produce that.”
To help organize the event, student organizations Lambda, One World, Power of Putnam and UNCLE, Underrepresented, New and Creative Live Experiences, came together to help the honor society.
Reasonover, who is working on her second degree at TTU, has been a fan of spoken word since high school. A teacher introduced her to the medium as she was honing her writing style. Using social media, she discovered a variety of artists, including Gibson and Anis Mojani, who came to TTU last year.
Reasonover has performed at a variety of open mic nights, including opening for Mojani at TTU. But her first open mic attempt was so terrifying that she and a friend nearly performed in disguise. They performed, as themselves, and have been fixtures at the events ever since.
“It wasn’t a fear of public speaking. It was this is my heart that I’m putting out there,” she said. “When you write performance poetry and you don’t get the response, it almost discredits the work. You still appreciate your work but part of the reason you’re writing it is to share it.”
Gibson’s performance, which is free and open to the public, will be at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, in TTU’s Backdoor Playhouse. Before the performance, she will give a gender theory workshop for TTU students.
“Spoken word is about the experience. Even people I know who don’t like poetry like it,” Reasonover said. “It’s not these heightened Shakespearean sonnets. It’s real life.”
The Backdoor Playhouse is in the Jere Whitson Building, 805 Quadrangle, on the TTU campus.