'Anthem': A Poem by Lecturer Heather June Gibbons

Monday, January 07, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- Few poets make their readers want to dance, but the rhythms in Heather June Gibbons’ “Anthem” achieve that goal. The poem’s authority partially comes from the way in which Gibbons has crafted her lines — very few of them end with punctuation, so they accelerate and gather power as we read along. Also, the poem is written in one sinuous sentence energized by a surplus of action verbs (dancing, singing, bobbing, vogueing, etc.). In addition to these pulsing rhythms, Gibbons’ poem makes the convincing argument that our bodies need music — even pithy pop music — to feel alive: “surge of blood / away from the brain … where we can have all the feelings.”

Gibbons is the author of Her Mouth as Souvenir, winner of the 2017 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize. She teaches at San Francisco State University, the Writing Salon and Performing Arts Workshop. She lives in San Francisco.