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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV Department of Writing holds annual poetry night

GVL / Bethann Long

Grand Valley State University hosted renowned poet and author Kimiko Hahn at the Wealthy Street Theatre for the Department of Writing’s annual poetry night on Thursday, Oct. 5.  The event featured readings and a question and answer portion about Hahn’s upcoming book, “The Ghost Forest.”

Hahn is an award-winning poet, and a recent recipient of the Ruth Lilly Award, which “honors a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition.” Hahn has written ten poetry books and is currently working on her eleventh book titled “The Ghost Forest.” The poetry night offered the audience a unique look into Hahn’s new book. 

Themes in Hahn’s poetry span from death and desire to conflicting identities. Hahn said she uses many different forms for her poetry, often drawing on other authors’ works to help her imagine her own. 

The event began with a live narration from Hahn of poems she selected. The messages differed depending on the poem, but Hahn said many were created for laughter. Before reading, Hahn reminded the audience “It’s okay to laugh,” encouraging joy in her poetry.

She read numerous poems, which many students and attendees felt were thought-provoking and unique. The first poem of “Ghost Forest” uses both repetition and rhyme giving it a unique bounce. Additionally, Hahn said the opening of the work “largely uses given forms as prompts, then either staying or straying from the form.”

 Todd Kaneko, a writing professor at GVSU, led a one-on-one Q&A with Hahn after the reading. Through the question segment, Kaneko praised Hahn, thanking her for bringing her work to GVSU.

“Exquisite poems,” Kaneko said. “Thank you, Kimiko, for bringing together these poems that challenge us, and make us think intellectually.”

For the final question of the segment, Kaneko asked Hahn the secret to her poetic success and where she finds inspiration for her work.

“I don’t have in my imagination to write anything else, it’s (poetry is) what I do,” Hahn said. “I mean I don’t drink enough water, I don’t hydrate enough, but I do write poetry.”

Following the segment, the floor was opened up for questions from audience members. The questions ranged from serious to humorous, surrounding how Hahn became the writer she is today. Hahn said her love of poetry began with her interest in organizing words.

“Words are just funny, and sometimes you can just feel them in your mouth, like things, having fun with words, that’s when it (love of poetry) started,” Hahn said.

Students from multiple colleges and community members were in attendance.

“Whenever there’s a visiting author or writer I just wanna hear from them because I’m inspired by their process,” Hope College student Anna Snader said. “I wanna know how I can learn from them.” 

Hahn’s books were sold at the event through representatives of Books and Mortar Bookstore. After the presentation was finished, guests were offered desserts and invited to mingle while Hahn signed books.

The Poetry Night event highlighted Hahn’s work and allowed supporters, aspiring writers and poetry enthusiasts to learn how Hahn became the artist she is today. 

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