Andrea Gibson is the author of several books of poetry, including You Better Be Lightning (Button Poetry, 2021). But they are perhaps most celebrated for their live performances, often in collaboration with musicians, touring extensively and releasing seven spoken word albums. As a nonbinary and queer activist, Gibson has empowered a large community through their work. Since receiving a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, Gibson has performed numerous pieces about their experiences in treatment, focusing not just on the effects on their body but, more significantly, on the transformation of their spiritual and emotional life in a profound reckoning with mortality, describing a sense of increased peacefulness and acceptance since diagnosis. Their poem “Maga Hat in the Chemo Room” addresses these issues, as does the poem “In the chemo room, I wear mittens made of ice so I don’t lose my fingernails. But I took a risk today to write this down.”
Andrea Gibson, Maga Hat in the Chemo Room, NPR Tiny Desk Contest 2023.
About This Site
A Picture of Health: Jo Spence, a Politics of Disability and Illness is a multi-pronged project curated by Kenny Fries and Elisabeth Frost.
In 1986 the British artist, educator, and activist Jo Spence (1934-1992) described the question fundamental to her work: “how to represent a body in crisis.” Spence’s work reveals powerful political and artistic responses to the experience of inhabiting such a body and is as timely as ever. This website places her work in the context of the lived experience of chronic illness and of contemporary Disability Arts.