Friday, September 2, 2011 | By: Brianna

Poetry Friday -- Pole Dancer

This Poetry Friday I’m going to be looking at Andrea Gibson’s “Pole Dancer.”  Mostly because it was suggested that I look up Andrea Gibson’s poetry, and also because I feel like listening to poems rather than reading them today.  Strangely enough, after listening to a couple of Gibson’s poems, I realized that I had heard them before.  Which was silly because I’ve never seen Andrea Gibson perform, I’m pretty sure I would remember.  And then I realized that it’s because some of her poems are in this book of slam poetry I have called Junkyard Ghost Revival.  So it’s the best of both worlds today because I get to listen to “Pole Dancer” and also refer to it in this book.  Occasionally I’m clever like that.

First thing I’d like to compliment about this poem is the voice.  Andrea Gibson has the unique ability to combine contemporary imagery with meaningful sentiment and humor.  It’s truly amazing how Gibson manages to say so much and mean even more in this poem.

I LOVE the stanza about crocheting a scarf and pinning a note to it, mostly because of Andrea’s spot on delivery.  You could not add more humor to that collection of lines if you tried.

Her use of story is interesting because she tells little snippets rather than plowing right through a single storyline.  She explains about crocheting the scarf, counting freckles, and now that I look at it, those are the only two snapshots that I can find, but both focus on the body in a truly romantic way.  Plus both are laden with Gibson’s spectacular imagery.

Gibson also uses triples to her advantage.  Not always for comedic effect, but most of the time to emphasize or round out imagery that would be strange if there was only one part to them.  The one that sticks out most to me is the triple that includes comparisons to “popcorn at a drive-in movie,” “Batman and Robin,” and “Pac man in the eighties.”  I especially appreciate the pop culture references, and how can I say no to popcorn?  So great.

Closer to the end, she says “Lover, this is not just another poem” which I love because 1) it’s borderline metafictional, 2) it’s direct address, and 3) because she uses the word “lover” with such power, it hits me like a block of cement to the sternum.  This is just one example of how Gibson uses words.  Yeah, that’s right, I made that observation.  Gibson is a poet who doesn’t just build up her poem, she makes every single word count.  EVERY word in this poem is imbued with the strength of the poet and enhances the overall poem.  Just wow.

Favorite image that I just found again:  “I have been painting the night sky upon the inside of doorframes / so only moonshine will fall on your head in the earthquake.”  AH!  Okay, not only am I a sucker for imagery that takes the night sky into consideration, but the night sky has such a danger of turning cliché, but by grounding the image in the doorframe, Gibson allows the night sky to become something more solid, something that’s within reach.  Plus I love an image that makes me think “Wow, that’s really cool” and this is one of those.  I can just imagine Gibson painting little pinprick stars around every side of the doorframe and then sending her lover to stand there in an earthquake.  And the house that holds it has fallen, but the doorframe stays standing, beaming moonshine.  AH, so good.

I also enjoy the multiple uses of the word “break,” but that’s just a sidenote.

Finally, wow, ending image/comment.  Just wow.  “…how they never speak guardrail, / how they only say fall.”  Just wow.  I’m leaving it there.

1. Use the night sky.  Don’t let it be cliché.  If you’re going to use a flowery description of stars and romanticize about how far the cosmos is from your fingertips, please skip this prompt.
2. Write a pop culture triple.  Because you know you want to.
3. Tell a story in snapshots.  Or tell snippets of a life.
4. Write a poem.  Go back and cut all superfluous words.  Use words sparingly and inject them with your own unique power.
5. Write a poem to be performed.  And go out and do it!


On a note slightly (okay, maybe very) related to poetry, I was walking home from a meeting with my friend...

Katie: Have you heard about that challenge where you write a poem a day for a month?
Brianna: Yeah, that sounds crazy.
Katie: Yeah.
Brianna: It's September 1st...wanna do it?
Katie: Yeah!  We can exchange poems and then we'll have mail every day!
(and this is the point in this script where if this were a movie we would jump into the air and high five)

I'm REALLY excited about this project because I've been feeling really poetic lately, and if I commit to writing a poem every day, then maybe I'll actually get things written.  I've already spent my last couple of business classes scribbling out lines of poetry, and though it's not a habit I should be encouraging in myself, it feels good to write some poetry for once.  And of course I'm super out of practice so I would have to apologize for any poem I ever wrote...but we're dispensing with apologies for now because they're drafts.  All drafts.  And by the end of this month, I'll have drafts of 30 poems to show for it.  Let's do this.


Post a Comment