GV Hosts GR Poet Laureate For Virtual Poetry Night


GVL / Bri Conway

Ayron Rutan, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley Arts Celebration hosted a virtual poetry night Monday, featuring nationally renowned poet Danez Smith, local poet Marcel “Fable The Poet” Price and Grand Rapids Poet Laureate Ericka “Kyd Kane” Thompson. The event was organized by GVSU associate professor Amorak Huey.

Local poet and current Grand Rapids Poet Laureate Kyd Kane was approached by Huey and asked to participate after he saw her perform her work years ago. 

“Amorak actually heard me several years back at the Mentally Distilled Poetry Slam,” Kane said. “He just started following my work and shortly after I was announced as the Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids he invited me to be a part of the event.” 

At the event, Kane shared pieces from her upcoming poetry book entitled “Feel.” Kane described the pieces as being a celebration of self and connection to her work and the world around her. 

“I just recently had a birthday and I thought it was a good time to read work that celebrated me and my journey of healing, growth and my connection to nature,” Kane said. “I use poetry as a means to affirm myself, to set intentions and to manifest different things and that was really the overall theme of my set.” 

Kane’s poetry is also inspired by her being a native of Grand Rapids. To her, the city has been a place that has both challenged her and propelled her to a successful career. 

“I have a lot of different intersections and the city of Grand Rapids has been a place where I’ve had to work really hard to find success,” Kane said. “I’ve had to do a lot to make some movement for myself because it can be a place that’s very difficult for those with marginalized intersections. Dealing with issues of race, being queer and being a woman in this space can be difficult from time to time.”

Kane’s experiences dealing with the struggles that come with having certain intersections is something that she respects and honors in all of her work, not sugarcoating or leaving out any parts of herself in her work. 

“I honor myself to every degree and I don’t leave out any parts of my experience,” Kane said. “I’m in a space where I’m currently focused on bliss and joy and seeing all the beautiful things that this world has to offer when I’ve been in a place where society has given me such a small scope. I believe that all areas of my existence will show up in some way, shape or form in what I write.”

The collaboration with Danez Smith and Marcel Price was something that Kane welcomed and was extremely comfortable with after having worked with Price in the past as a member of the Diatribe, an organization that uses performing arts to empower young people to create positive change in their communities. 

Already familiar with working alongside Price, Kane was excited to be working with Smith, as they’re a poet that Kane has looked up to and been endlessly inspired by. 

“Danez is an artist that I admire, I’ve followed their work and their pathway in poetry for many years,” Kane said. “It was really cool to be in an event with them and really to just be a part of something working with both Danez and Marcel.” 

Kane has just launched her second Poet Laureate project “Postcard Poetry Project: A Space to Speak” with the Grand Rapids Public Library, in which people can customize postcards that are poetry centered in order to share with and inspire others. 

“Because we’re unable to gather like we used to, I wanted to create a safe space for the community to be able to relish in the art of poetry,” Kane said. “I’ve come up with this project so we don’t have to gather to share it with one another.”