Poetry galore marks performance

Newswire photo by Sydney Sanders | After her performance Tuesday night, copies of Olivia Gatwood’s New American Best Friend were sold to audience members. The spoken word artist presented some of her poetry and discussed her work.


“‘Ode to My Bitch Face.’ I thought we’d start off with something light this evening,” Olivia Gatwood chuckled into the mic, projecting her voice to a full theater.

Xavier University hosted Olivia Gatwood, a well-known slam poet, on Tuesday night. Famous for videos of her performances that have attracted more than 30 million combined views, Gatwood is one of the co-founders of Speak Like a Girl, a one-hour interactive feminist poetry show that utilizes spoken word to educate, entertain and inspire audiences.

She has toured across the country, visiting more than 70 colleges and 30 high schools while performing poetry and teaching workshops that focus on sexual assault and recovery through poetry, spoken word and free expression in safe spaces.

In addition, Gatwood is the author of the chapbook Drunk Sugar and a sex and relationships writer for Bustle Magazine. She was also featured on HBO’s Brave New Voices and is a recent graduate of Pratt Institute.

Gatwood’s visit to Xavier yesterday came in two parts. In the afternoon, she held a workshop in the Gallagher Student Center (GSC) Theater in conjunction with the Title IX office. During the workshop Gatwood and participants discussed topics ranging from misogyny to gender rights to sexual assault.

One of the main topics of conversation during the workshop was recognizing the presence of misogyny in daily life as well as its impact.

“(The purpose of the workshop was) recognizing the battle you have to fight every day and the toxic people surrounding you and the relationships that can be ruined by this realization, but also consciously placing people in your life who support and bring strength into your life,” Gatwood said.

In the evening Gatwood performed for Xavier students in the GSC Theater. She opened the night with “Ode to My Bitch Face,” which garnered laughter and appreciative applause from the audience.

Between poems Gatwood provided some background on her own life as well as the work she’s involved with.

“Much of my work deals with shame — how we carry shame, how we deal with shame and how we can unpack it and move on from our shame,” Gatwood said.

Following that theme, she told the audience that her goal for the evening was to help everyone feel lighter and relieved of the shame we carry with us.

Following “Ode to My Bitch Face,” Gatwood performed “Ode to my Period Underwear,” “Manic Pixie Dream Girls Says,” “The Ritual” and “Ode to My Lover’s Left Hand.” She concluded the show with “Ode to the Women of Long Island.”

Each poem highlighted different shames and struggles that people face in today’s society.

From feeling shame over natural bodily functions to shame of being — or not being — the ideal woman for a stereotypical man, Gatwood expertly executed a performance that left the audience laughing, nodding in agreement and snapping along to her pointed remarks on society.

After the performance, copies of Gatwood’s debut book, New American Best Friend, were available for purchase.


By: Abrena Rowe ~Opinions & Editorials Editor~

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