From Poetry to Community, Kristin Brace Oozes Passion

Kristin Brace, winner of the 2018 Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize for Emerging Authors.

A lifelong dream and years of hard work are coming to fruition for author and poet Kristin Brace.

At the top of her long list of accomplishments sits Brace’s newest recognition: Winner of the 2018 Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize for Emerging Authors. 

Brace is grateful for her recent success. “It feels hugely rewarding. I knew when I was 5 that I wanted to be a published author and have worked really hard honing my craft. As with most writers, the demands of reality require that I spend much of my time not writing, so the minutes or hours I do get to spend at my desk are carved out and fiercely guarded against every other aspect of life. I am truly grateful to have been selected for this prize and to have found a good home for my work,” she said.

Throughout her career, Brace has spent time writing in numerous styles. 

I write across multiple creative genres, but so far I’ve published mostly in poetry. In August 2018, my poetry chapbook Fence, Patio, Blessed Virgin will be released from Finishing Line Press. Next summer, the same press will publish the poetry chapbook Each Darkness Inside.”

Her award-winning work Toward the Wild Abundance, will be published by the MSU Press in 2019.

She describes this collection as finding “inspiration in nature, art, and the easily overlooked moments of every day, drawing on themes of connection and disconnection, frailty and strength, fierce love and intense isolation. The poems move through landscapes of memory, dreams, and the imagination, exploring the fragments and shifting perspectives that shape experience and identity.” 

Students reading their work during a Creative Youth Center event.
Students reading their work during a Creative Youth Center event.

Brace’s passion for writing does not end with her own work. She also serves as the executive director for the Creative Youth Center (CYC) in Grand Rapids.

“At the Creative Youth Center, I serve as executive director, which is code for ‘wearer of 17 hats.’ I get to work with a dynamic staff and committed board to carry out our mission of preparing kids for life’s adventures by supporting their writing and amplifying their voices,” she said. 

Brace has worked for a number of years with the organization and has seen immense growth throughout her time there. 

“I started at the CYC in December 2014. Since then, my team and I have been working hard to improve our afterschool creative writing programs, grow our budget and diversify our income and better integrate practices of equity and inclusion into all levels of the organization. Since our inception in 2010, we’ve published the writing of nearly 700 student authors aged 6-18. Our programs have been waitlisted for the past two years,” Brace explained.  

Creative Youth Center volunteer working with a young writer.
Creative Youth Center volunteer working with a young writer.

She is passionate about her work at the CYC and wants people to know there are numerous ways to get involved through volunteering, enrolling in programs or giving support financially.

Brace is an inspiration, from her written word to her enthusiasm and determination to help those around her. Her hard work is more than deserving of the award she recently received.

On Sept. 26, Brace will be reading from her first chapbook at Books & Mortar.

*Photos courtesy of Creative Youth Center and Kristin Brace

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