KFG began writing and performing spoken word poetry one year ago, and since those first steps, they’ve traveled around West Michigan, sharing stories of mental health, identity, sexuality, and spirituality with hundreds of audience members. They placed first in the April Mentally Distilled Poetry Slam, combining passion and energy with tongue-twister, high-diction prose.
Here is an excerpt from one of the poems KFG performed in April, called “To the conservative Christian with the status citing the definitions of “man” and “woman” to make her point OR The Reason I get into pointless Facebook feuds OR To my friend I haven’t seen in four years who doesn’t know I’m gender queer”:
“I just wanted to say
“Hello,” I am a human
like the others you believe lie
about their gender
just to spite your god.
Well, maybe you should let Him know
how damn fine I look
when I double-dutch
with the gender spectrum.”
Anyone who has seen KFG perform knows that these words are delivered with a crisp boldness that tastes both sweet and sour: sweet because it feels so good to hear someone acknowledge these truths and sour because beneath much of their poetry lies the existence of our dystopian social reality.
As previously mentioned, KFG is still quite new to the spoken word scene, having only been writing this genre for a little over a year. “I kind of saw poetry as two different ways: going to school [and] learning about poets [or] me having to go out and find the information [on my own] instead of having it presented to me,” they explained, describing their decision to pursue spoken word through observation and their own reading and research endeavors.
When did they start writing?
As a kid, KFG wrote short stories on a typewriter (yes, really). “I think I did some short story about this university of cats,” she remembered, laughing. “The first poem I wrote [was] for a literary magazine. [It described] my body falling apart, and eventually, my mom just scooped me up and put me in a mason jar.” Those themes of tragedy or desperation still appear in their poetry today. The following passage is from their poem “I Saw God Once”:
“I saw God once
in a flippant news report
on a fourteen-year-old boy
who found an oak…
and hung himself from it.”
Now, KFG is enjoying a period of immense growth, in which they’re learning to be patient with their writing. “I’ve been trying to be more patient with my poems. I hit a wall and normally I just power through it.” Recently, they’ve been allowing poems to sit with them longer before completing them. Sometimes, the content takes time to resolve itself.
For the slam, KFG was very pleased to see their commitment and efforts pay off. “It was really nice because I worked really hard those days before the slam. After coming back from [the Split This Rock conference in] D.C., I had a new reason to be on the team, and that’s meeting passionate people.” With several slams left to go before team members are chosen, KFG is in good standing. “I just think people are poetry, living poetry,” they said.
What are their goals for the next year in her poetry career?
“I’ve been actively doing spoken word for a little over a year now,” they said. “[Originally], I was working with a capitalist mentality. I think now, as I’m reflecting on everything, especially myself, I want to focus on my writing in a different way. It’s possible to do that. I don’t want to force things; I want them to come to me.”
Message them on Facebook at KFG Poetry to pick up a copy of their chapbook The Year of the Bee, and watch them live (and see for yourself why everyone loves KFG’s performances) at open mic nights, the Mentally Distilled Poetry Slam, and summer festivals in West Michigan. I’ll leave you with KFG’s solid advice:
“If you treat every situation like you’re going to learn something, you really will.”