Mar 012006
Authors: Seth Stewart

Illuminated upon a politically charged platform, poet Andrea Gibson and Canadian singer/songwriter Ember Swift took the stage at the Ramskeller in the Lory Student Center Saturday night at CSU. This was one step toward taking back the night in the name of feminist ideals.

With proceeds going toward Take Back the Night, a rally and march that advocates awareness of rape and sexual abuse against women, the event also featured work of local artist Ayn Toppin.

With poems largely composed of sharp criticisms at established norms, Gibson's poems challenged such topics as gender roles, the war in Iraq, and religious rhetoric versus action and issues of homosexuality. She described her poetry as political as well as loving.

"Political poems are love poems, and then love poems can be political in this society where people can be so separated from each other," said Gibson.

During her reading, the energetic Gibson moved rhythmically from strong and indignant to soft and sympathetic. She said that she has been teaching preschool for the past six years and a lot of her inspiration is derived from that experience, explaining much of the childlike imagery in her work.

"A lot of my inspiration came from the kids," said Gibson. "But then other things; like the news, everything is pretty inspiring these days."

The second half of the show was devoted to the music of Ember Swift. This Canadian musician has been performing music since she was nine and writing since the age of 13.

"I've been pursuing music as a career for 12 years. It's been a long time," said Swift.

Swift's songs cover issues such as genetic mutation in food, docile constituencies and democracy in the West.

"I did start writing about global politics way at the beginning," said Swift. "Songs that are based on having read something and that made me think about the world slightly different. I would write songs based on that new inspiration."

Swift said that anything could inspire her, from a conversation with a stranger to a story in the news. She also noted that a major theme in her work is the need to be honest and open.

"There's just these bounds of superficiality in North America where we are taught to look a certain way and act a certain way and all too often we are just so afraid of who we actually are," Swift said.

The Canadian artist has traveled all over the world playing in Canada and the U.S., as well as venues in Australia. Her style of music can be described as eclectic.

If she had to put her finger on it she would describe it as "a fusion blend of advocacy based music, or something."

Though it would seem such a scattered musical agenda would have a lack of structure, Swift's music is anything but formless. With her bassist/violinist, Swift crafts tight hooks that transcend genres between tracks, not within them.

"Jazz: it's got folk, it's got funk, it's got various international influences…it's also got some pop and rock elements," Swift said.

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