A poetic hour

Michigan native inspires at poetry event

GRCC professor Katie Kalisz connected with students and aspiring poets during her poetry reading Monday, Oct. 2 in IRC 120. Photo by: Sam Cavotta | Torch Photographer

“Writing poems is my way of making sense of everyday collisions, confusion that would otherwise isolate me from the world,” guest poet Katie Kalisz said on her website, themichiganpoet.com/portfolio/katie-kalisz/. 

If the goal of this event was entertainment, then according to the audience, the poet achieved her goal. 

“As Coordinator of the program, I am on a constant lookout for authors who may be interested in visiting Ferris and sharing their work and expertise with our students,” Ferris poetry professor Deirdre Fagan said. “Katie’s poem, “‘Pregnant at a Funeral,’ appeared on a Michigan Poet broadside that appeared in numerous Michigan businesses.” 

Kalisz is a professor at Grand Rapids Community College who was part of the Literature in Person series that took place on Oct. 2. 

“I first encountered the poem at a local dry cleaners while doing an ordinary task—dropping off my own dry cleaning. I was so moved reading the poem, I could hardly complete the transaction. It made me want to read more of her work. Upon doing so, I just knew her poetry could capture students the way her work had captured me,” Fagan said. 

While Fagan is a poet herself who attended many poetry readings and festivals, one of Fagan’s favorite lines is from Kalisz’s poem “Pregnant at a Funeral.” 

Among Kalisz’s ability to incorporate playfulness and humor in her poems, Fagan knows why she admires this poet. 

“The emotional intensity and depth of thought that Kalisz brings to her poetry draws me to it. In Kalisz’s own words, she writes about moments that ‘stop [her] in [her] tracks.’ When she conveys honest emotions with startling scenes and language and also stops her readers in their tracks, she is at her best. Although, I also love the poems where she makes readers and listeners laugh out loud,” Fagan said. 

Ferris elementary education freshman Rachel Thompson was one student who enjoyed the event for more than the extra credit that was given for attending. 

“Throughout my education I have enjoyed poetry. I love to see how people convey themselves when they read poetry,” Thompson said. 

While Thompson has had experience with past poetry readings, Ferris health care systems administration freshman Cloe Winnie attended the event because of her previous knowledge of the guest poet. 

“Originally, I attended as a way to get an extra credit point for my English 150 class. But as I started to read more of her poems before the presentation, I went to the reading to hear her talk about them,” Winnie said. “I didn’t really know what to expect because I have never been to a poetry reading before. However, I think I will go to another reading in the future because I really enjoyed listening to her speak.”