Lets Hear it for Some Queer Poets: Alix Olson, Andrea Gibson and Staceyann Chin

I am a poet and a lesbian, so naturally I am drawn to queer spoken word artists. These three artists have not only taught me more about the craft (while I’ve been a poet for a long time, I’m very new to spoken word), but they also taught me a lot about life, the subjects that anger and impassion me, and how to be brave enough to write about the things I care about. Let’s hear it for these fabulous poets.

Alix Olson

Alix Olson is one incredibly badass, feminist, queer spoken word artist. (She also edited a spoken word anthology called Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution which changed my life, so if that’s your thing you should totally check it out!). You probably don’t want to listen to her without headphones at, say, work or your grandmother’s house. Unless you are hardcore like that; then, by all means, go ahead.

Anyway, her poems are focused on capitalism, feminism, queer issues, and are sharp and unapologetic, clever, and get my fingers snapping like they are possessed by the poetry devil. Hell, she may be the poetry devil (in a good way). The poem below is called “Gender Game.”

Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson may be my favorite spoken word poet of all time. If you want to make me cry, just sit me down, give me a CD of Andrea Gibson and watch my tears flow because Gibson’s poetry is beautiful, heart-wrenching, raw, honest, and unbelievably well-written and performed. Anytime I need inspiration for writing better prose I listen to her work and am completely inspired. I was lucky enough to see Andrea Gibson perform last year and you should too if you ever get the chance. In the meantime, here’s a video of Andrea Gibson’s “Honey”:

Staceyann Chin

Last year I got to see Staceyann Chin and holy crap was she amazing. I was a fan before I went to go see her, of course, but everything about her show was amazing, from the excerpts from her book The Other Side of Paradise (read it!), to her poems to her personality (she is so kind and humble and ridiculously cool, oh my goodness!). Staceyann Chin is a gem. Now, after reading The Other Side of Paradise, which is her memoir about growing up in Jamaica and exploring her identity as a half-Chinese, Jamaican lesbian poet, I am completely in awe of all she has done. I am so thankful that I know about her! Here’s “Not My Fault”:

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