May 12, 2022

A poetry project gives the community an opportunity to express themselves and create art

Grand Rapids Poet Laureate, Erika “Kyd Kane” Thompsonlaunched the second creative project of his mandate, The postcard project: a space to talk. As the Poetry Ambassador for the city, the Poet Laureate is responsible for creating three projects over a three-year term that engage the community in reading and writing poetry.

“I started writing poetry when I was a child. I love the language [and] I have an extreme love for words and I use words to express myself – to manifest my wildest dreams, to set intentions, to affirm,” says Kane. “I have seen how self-expression has the ability to change lives.” The self-taught multidisciplinary visual artist, poet and native of Grand Rapids, applied to the program and was named the seventh Poet laureate in February 2021, in the midst of COVID-19.

“I changed my proposal a bit, changed my ideas to engage the community with projects that can keep them safe, while still being able to explore and enjoy the art of poetry,” says Kane. .

“Normally, my peers [and I] are so used to opening mics, cafes, giving speaking engagements, but because we were in a pandemic, we kind of lost the ability to do that. I always wanted to be able to involve the community in this work. So I had to think outside the box to figure out how to engage them safely,” says Kane.

For his first project, Elevated Love Language, Kane worked with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) to engage the community through a series of billboards and screens across the city using poetic love language.

Credit: Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Twitter

With the desire to get more people writing and the need to engage people of all ages and demographics, she came up with her second project, which uses several branches of GRPL. People are encouraged to pick up a postcard from any location in the GRPL, fill it with poetry and art, and then return it to the library. For those who need some creative inspiration, there are also prompts to get you started, like writing a ekphrastic poem about a photograph or a letter poem to a fictional character or someone in the story. At the end, the best postcards will be selected and placed in a rotating exhibition that will visit each of the eight GRPL branches, in addition to being displayed digitally on Instagram. Kane will also host a closing celebration at the Main Library.

Kane also shares her passion for poetry, creativity and community as a lead teacher at The Diatribe, a non-profit organization that empowers youth through art. “I understand how important it is for us, not just for young people, but for everyone, to have a space to express themselves, to get things out. I saw how it changed and changed my life so much,” says Kane. “Being able to bring poetry, creative expression and writing, in general, to young people through this organization I work with, allows me to come full circle as to why I do it and why it has been so imperative in my life.”

Learn more about The Postcard Project: A space to talk here, including the dates of the traveling exhibition and the celebration. The Poet Laureate program is funded by the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation and the Dyer-Ives Foundation Poetry Fund.