Andrea Gibson’s performance of her poem, “Letter to the Playground Bully, From Andrea, Age 8 ½,” was awe inspiring, extremely self- effacing and brutal in its truthfulness. The overall message seemed to be one of optimism and hope that the bully will one day repent and the eight and a half year old from whose point of view this poem resonates, will be able to sit beside the bully and actually become friends. She leaves the door open for that very relationship to happen by signing her poem with “…so write back soon.”
I identify with this poem on many levels. When I was younger I encountered a bully who spread lies about me, much like the bully spreading lies about young Andrea with regards to the head lice. I, like Andrea, reached out to the bully and tried to make him see the error of his ways. I even asked this bully to sit and talk with me so that we may gauge a better understanding of each other.
Gibson’s use of poetic devices in this poem is what makes it come alive. The imagery is astounding. From “…cartwheels in your mouth” to “…mermaids never miss their legs in water…”, she takes the reader/listener on this journey of one amazing feat after another. Her use of repetition (“so guess what,” “…my mother said…,” and “it is a fact…”) helps get her point across that she will not back down from this bully.
I absolutely loved watching Gibson deliver this poem on the youtube video. Her face showed the expression of an eight and a half year old as did her voice. Her voice took on that high pitched timbre of the young girl whom she was portraying. Her hand gestures went along with the words and imagery being portrayed. The only thing to improve on this particular video would be the actual angle of the camera. I would have preferred a direct shot rather than a shot from below head level. Her actual delivery though is something to not be changed as it was as near to perfect a performance as one could hope for.