'The Michigan Poem' gets a warm response for Kinetic Affect

A Michigan poem had been on the list of what to write for the spoken word duo Kinetic Affect for a long time. When the W.K. Kellogg Foundation commissioned Gabriel Giron and Kirk Latimer to do a piece the time seemed right.

The two did some research, a lot of listening, reading, watching and talking as they got ready to write. Much of the material also came from simply living in Michigan in a number of cities across the state. Their work for foundations and community-oriented organizations also provided background.

"These experiences also helped fuel the poem and give the words life," Latimer says.

With inspiration from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s theme "We believe in a Michigan where..." the poets took it from there. The Foundation supported the piece, trusted the poets, and did not ask for any revisions, Latimer says.

The poem was unveiled in August at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Michigan Grantee Convening and was received with a standing ovation, as it has been each of the five times Kinetic Affect has performed it since then.

The audience laughs and cheers at certain lines, Latimer says, "because it is a poem from our guts, but not so personal that it loses the universal. It is a poem about us all."

The response to the poem has encouraged the duo. "There is nothing like being able to lift up others with your voice, your words," Latimer says. "And though it could easily make me feel better about myself, I know in truth that this poem is merely a reflection of those around me. It makes me feel honored to be a part of the bigger whole. It has encouraged me to not only continue with my craft, but also inspired others to share their own stories. So, in short, it makes me feel alive."

Kathy Jennings, Second Wave
Source: Kirk Latimer, Kinetic Affect