Grand Rapids names first Black woman poet laureate

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids native Kyd Kane lives for poetry. 

“Every single day of my life is centered around a poetry-related thing,” the spoken word poet, whose legal name is Ericka Thompson, said.

She was recently named Grand Rapids’ poet laureate. She’s the first Black woman to hold the position, which she said is “huge.”

“Time to elevate all the voices that have been silenced before,” she said.

She saw National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, who is also Black, elevate those voices at President Joe Biden’s inauguration earlier this week. Gorman’s performance was widely praised and pushed her books immediately to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list.

“Immensely proud,” Kyd Kane said. “I teared up seeing it.”

She fell in love with spoken word poetry coming up as a young child on the city’s Southeast side, drawn in by “rhythmic rhyme, flavorful expression, body language and the tone.”

In recent years, she has earned acclaim at ArtPrize. She was a Final 20 artist in 2017 and collaborated on a Project 1 event in 2019.

Her term as poet laureate will run three years. One of her first projects is to spread a message of love throughout Grand Rapids.

“A project called Elevated Love Language,” she explained. “I’ll be elevating poetic love language across the city on billboards, posters, screens.”

Her poetic messages will be displayed in February. 

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