Writer, poet, and spoken word performer Anis Gisele came to Hemmingson Auditorium Tuesday night to share her stories and poems about her life and everything she has endured. The queer immigrant speaker from Manila, Philippines, came to Gonzaga to share aspects of her life that have formed her into the person she is today.
In a crowd made up of mostly females, Gisele began by talking about how the land we currently live on is stolen land, and how we must remind ourselves of that situation. Next, she recited multiple poems that were portrayals of her mother, sharing the struggles she faced with her mother.
“She is the reason I long to look at a beautiful woman,” Gisele said.
Gisele also shared how her mother was a victim of abuse, specifically to white men, and how this had a tremendous impact on her life in her future. Gisele also mentioned how her mother being a minority and facing racist remarks and actions also had an impact on her mother’s life.
“My mom is abusive because the world the world was abusive to her,” Gisele said.
Gisele’s theme of talking about authentic family experiences allowed the audience to feel truly invested with the stories and experiences Gisele shared, allowing for a newfound perspective on what it means to be a queer immigrant living in the United States.
Between some of the poems Gisele read she would sing a few lines in Tagale, reminding herself of where she came from and always holding that piece of her life close to her. Whether it be talking about what Gisele referred to as a “mother sister” or her siblings, the way in which Gisele used metaphors and language to tell her stories about her family made her more authentic than ever.
“I have learned to perform wellness,” Gisele said when talking about her siblings. “In our smiles there is a junkyard left for us.”
One of Gisele’s biggest influences in her life was poet Morgan Parker, saying that one of her lines motivated Gisele to make her own poem based on the line, which is “What this country does for me.”
“This country thinks I’m white when it’s convenient,” Gisele said.
Gisele ended her time at GU by talking about her own personal experiences of abuse, being a victim of sexual misconduct and how her past partners took advantage of her. Gisele’s openness and vulnerability allowed for the audience to truly listen to her story and her story in a way that allows the audience to become more aware of different aspects of society.
“I have the power that my mother would give her left eye up for,” Gisele said.