A&E: Poet Gabrielle Civil Comes to KU

Gabrielle Civil Performs “The Déjà Vu” at the University of Kansas for Black History Month on Feb. 13


Geneva Sabatini

Poet and artist Gabrielle Civil recites part of her book at her performance on Feb. 13

Conrad Hill

Black feminist writer, performer, teacher and activist Gabrielle Civil came to University of Kansas [KU] on Feb 13. to perform a new piece titled “The Déjà Vu”. The piece is specifically an autobiography, performance art collection about topics including body positivity, self acceptance and black feminist perspectives.

“‘The Déjà Vu’ describes her defying all at once the limitations opposed by more conventional approaches to genre,” author and reviewer Alexis De Veaux said in a review of the book. “Civil has crafted a pedagogical model for writing performance art.”

Civil has performed over 40 times, is currently teaching at the California Institute of Arts and has released six books.

“The aim of my work is to open up space,” Civil said on her website. “I find or create environments, enter them, and make things happen-with objects, language, often other people and always, always my body.”

During her performance at KU she projected images as she read, passed around a candle across the audience, played audio recordings and danced while it played. Additionally, she interacted with audience members physically and verbally.

“Civil’s poetry, performance and scholarship open up space for dreaming liberatory futures, re-visioning the past and seeing ourselves anew” event organizer Megan Kaaminski said.

At the end of her performance Civil asked the audience members to participate in dancing with her in the aisles, saying her dream is for everyone to put aside differences and dance.

“I have a dream, my dream is for everyone, everyone of difference, everyone of similarities, to dance,” Civil said.