2021 40 Under 40 award recipient: Ericka Thompson

Ericka Thompson. Courtesy 616 Media

Ericka Thompson, 34

Poet Laureate, artist, teacher

Kyd Kane Poetry LLC

Ericka Thompson uses her words to paint stories that have lured audiences near and far, and her gift of creativity has not gone unnoticed. 

The Grand Rapids Public Library crowned her Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids this year after performing at numerous venues including SiTE:LAB, Fountain Street Church, Amway Grand Plaza, DeVos Place, Grand Rapids Pride Festival, Intersection, Masonic Temple, Trinity United Methodist Church, Michigan State Capitol Building, Creston Brewery, South East Market and GLC Live at 20 Monroe, among other places.

During her three-year term as Poet Laureate, she is charged with being an ambassador of poetry and engaging Grand Rapidians of all ages and walks of life in creative projects and programs. However, for Thompson, the role is not anything new to her.

She has been a part of The Diatribe, which is a group of nontraditional teaching artists who facilitate after-school programs, assemblies and writing workshops that are rooted in poetry. This year, however, she is doing it a little bit differently.

“I’ve been learning and teaching their content,” she said. “This summer they trusted me and allowed me to start teaching my own content. As a child, my dream was to teach, and when life didn’t afford me with the capacity or the financial access to further my education, I had to drop out. I followed my heart and passion, and with that I get the opportunity to love on the young people in my community with poetry, mindfulness and intentionality.”

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