Grand Rapids Public Library appoints Ericka Thompson as poet laureate of Grand Rapids

Ericka “Kyd Kane” Thompson Courtesy Grand Rapids Public Library

The Grand Rapids Public Library named Ericka “Kyd Kane” Thompson as poet laureate of the greater Grand Rapids area for a three-year term.

She will succeed Marcel “Fable the Poet” Price, who has been poet laureate since 2017.

Thompson was selected by the Grand Rapids Poet Laureate Selection Committee. Past poet laureates include L.S. Klatt, Linda Nemec Foster, Patricia Clark, Rodney Torreson and David Cope.

She will begin her term in January. In her new role, Thompson will be an ambassador for poetry, creating programs and projects to foster the writing and reading of poetry by the public.

“Years ago, when I first learned that this city appointed a poet laureate every three years, I couldn’t have imagined that one day, it would be me. Growing up on the southeast side of Grand Rapids, arts and culture wasn’t something I got to experience much and when I did, I never saw many people that were a reflection of me or my experiences.

“When there’s a lack of representation, it tends to cloud the vision of what we view as possible or attainable. I am the first Black woman and also the first openly queer person to hold this position. I set the intention for my role as laureate to open up new windows of possibility and allow people to imagine themselves in positions that they may have never seen themselves in historically. I’m excited for all the ways I’ll use the art of poetry to build community, and I look forward to changing the way poetry is experienced in our city for years to come.”

Thompson’s work has covered a variety of issues, including poverty, privilege, gentrification, resilience and identity through community conversation, poetry, installation pieces, video and photography.

She has performed at the Detroit Masonic Temple; the Michigan State Capitol building; Kalamazoo Institute of Art; Unity Center of Peace in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts; and SiTE:LAB, among others.

Her voice has been featured on NPR, WYCE Electric Poetry, TEDx and on the intros, interludes and outros of various musical artists from all over the country.

In addition to her new role, Thompson serves as the co-host of Creston Vibes, a themed open mic series; is active with the “Challenge Privilege” movement; and is a teaching artist with arts and culture nonprofit organization The Diatribe Inc.

The Grand Rapids poet laureate is a program of the Grand Rapids Public Library and is funded through a grant from the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation, Dyer-Ives Foundation Poetry Fund.

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