Last fall I was asked to host the San Diego Poetry Slam, featuring Gigi Bella. I remember meeting Gigi for the first time. Her outfit on point, radiating with joy, smiling like we had known each other for years. It was mid-way through the slam, I invited Gigi to the mic and her ability to welcome an audience into her art was beautiful. Between poems, warm conversation, laughter, and playing guitar, Gigi that evening, was the medicine we didn’t know we needed.
Now,with the global pandemic at hand, I can’t help but think about our transforming role as artists. How does someone like Gigi, who is called to bring so much light to the world, remain bright during these dire times.
Read Gigi’s interview for answers and how we can continue to support her!
Spit Journal: After the arrival of COVID-19, how have you adjusted your life as an artist? Where do you find joy? How do you stay connected with your community?
Gigi: So right before COVID-19 hit, I had more shows lined up than ever. I was ready to tour with my love and be close to small momentary financial stability (!!) coming out of homelessness, this felt huge. I finally climbed back up. Naturally, this was devastating but in a way, it’s causing me to really start from scratch. I wrote a poem I was really happy with the other day. I bake twice a week. My practice for joy looks different but causes me to be more intentional and that is very important to me. I have also been so grateful for the community that have held me up, written with me, and have shared my book during this time
Spit Journal: I’m sorry to hear that the release and celebration of your debut collection has been put to a pause due to the global pandemic. Can you still tell us a bit about your book and where we can pre-order?
Gigi: In a way I’m reframing things like there are 2 releases! Virtual & in-person. My book is called Big Feelings and is a collection of poems surrounding two major relationships in my life along with surrounding pop culture, a little on my family and overall the things that I have big big feelings about. Pre-order is now live at gameoverbooks.com
Spit Journal: I saw on your Instagram that you made your first makeup tutorial. How does sharing your makeup process on YouTube play a similar role as a poet?
Gigi: One of the first “real” performance pieces I wrote about is on makeup and the power it holds. Makeup is the realm where I feel most femme, most myself. It was so daunting at first but I love learning new things and trying new looks. It causes me to really spend time with myself and my face. To be in my body. As a poet, I think it is a constant reminder of what my voice sounds like and how it can shapeshift and all the glitter it can be. My poet friend George Abraham and I were talking about how the things outside of poetry make us better poets and I think that applies here.
Spit Journal: Gigi, I love your energy and the messages behind your poems. What can we do as a community to support you as an artist?
Gigi: Karla, you are so kind. I am so grateful for your warmth and your work and all the light you hold. The things that would help me most: pre-order my book! Or help me clean out the last of my handmade chapbooks before they are no longer available (these are sliding scale!) Order my book at your local library (they will buy it and then your library will have it!) I will also be making masks and sending them out with orders upon request. Whether you get one from me or elsewhere, please wear one! Follow the rules. I will be posting lots of content leading up to the release. Stay tuned and remember that there are lots of other artists out there like me who could also really use your help in all of these ways too.
FOLLOW AND SUPPORT GIGI @gigibellag on Instagram
Gigi Bella // has been ranked the tenth woman poet in the world, the two time Project X Bronx Poetry Champion as well as a literal mermaid. She is also a Pink Door Fellow, a National Poetry Slam Champion, Semifinalist and ranked within the top 25 teams in the nation at the 2018 National Poetry Slam as part of the first ever all Latinx Project X Bronx Slam Team. She has been featured on stages with Andrea Gibson, Clementine Von Radics, Sabrina Benaim, Lauren Zuniga, Olivia Gatwood and many others. Her chapbook, weird things, was featured on the instagram of pop singer/songwriter, Sara Bareilles (“Love Song,” “Brave,” Waitress the Musical). Her other work is featured on Button Poetry, Slamfind and in What Are Birds? and is forthcoming in Maps for Teeth and Knight’s Library. Her book, big feelings, will be released with Game Over Books, Spring 2020.