Grand Rapids Poet Laureate kicks off ‘A Space to Speak’ poetry project

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Grand Rapids Poet Laureate Ericka “Kyd Kane” Thompson is creating a space to speak for poets and artists of all ages.

The Postcard Poetry Project, “A Space to Speak” is Kane’s second project since being named to the position in 2021.

Between now and April 30, participants in the free project can pick up a postcard at any Grand Rapids Public Library location, fill it with poetry and art, and return it to be featured in an exhibit this summer, according to a Tuesday, March 15 library press release.

“When I started in tenure as poet laureate, one of the concerns I had was how we could share poetry in a time where it’s not completely safe for us to gather,” Kane said. “So, I came up with this project, the Poetry Postcard project, which is an intimate way for us to share poetry, and we’ll put the best of the postcards in a rotating exhibition.”

In February 2021, Kane was named the seventh poet laureate for the city of Grand Rapids. The first project launched was Elevated Love Language, which was a collection of eight billboards to showcase language centered around love. People saw it lit up on screens across Grand Rapids during the pandemic.

Kane is “a self-taught, multi-disciplined visual artist, poet and, most importantly, beacon of peace and love;” born and raised on the city’s Southeast Side, the release said.

As a curator who molds her poetry into different mediums like photography, video and installations, Kane is excited to see what the community shares with this latest project.

“So often poetry can get left behind, words can get left behind when we write books,” Kane said. “But creating experiences for people to remember is a part of the core way that I create and push things out into the world.

Not everyone realizes that each event or thing that I heal comes from some expression that I have written in a poem. Even with the Poetry Postcard Project, I have talked about in a poem how important it’s been to have a ‘space to speak.’ It’s all connected for me, even if it doesn’t for everybody else. I can see the web.”

The completed postcards will be part of an exhibit that travels between all Grand Rapids Public Library locations starting in May, officials say. There will also be a digital exhibit that can be viewed on the library’s website.

“It’s been super exciting for me to be in a position as the first Black, queer, person of color poet laureate of Grand Rapids,” Kane said. “It gave me an expanded scope of possibility for the things that we can do with this artform to shift community, bring peace and give people who may not have considered speaking up; a space to speak.”

The poet laureate is an ambassador of poetry for the city of Grand Rapids, creating programs and projects to foster the writing and reading of poetry by the public, the release said. During the three-year term, the poet laureate engages the community through three distinct projects.

The Poet Laureate Program is funded by the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation and the Dyer-Ives Foundation Poetry Fund. For more information about the Postcard Poetry Project call (616) 988-5400 or visit the website here.

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