Poetry as an outlet


Evan Halpop

Poet Kyla Lacey performs her work on Feb. 22 at the Down Under in the University Center.

Brenda Echeverria, Arts & Rec Editor

Some topics are hard to talk about, but as poet Kyla Lacey says, “the conversation may stop, but the racism continues.”

This was one of the ideas behind her poem titled “White Privilege,” which she performed for a small, intimate crowd of listeners Feb. 22 in the UC Down Under.

Lacey was born in Chicago and grew up in Orlando, but she currently resides in Atlanta. She says is a proud “cat mom,” had her first poem copy-written at the age 10 and has performed at over 200 colleges.

“I kind of have always been a writer,” said Lacey, who recalled writing her poem at 10-years-old. “I just wrote it one day and it was called ‘The World.’ It was about the world and ‘all the confusion, all the neglect, all the hatred and disrespect.’”

Lacey joked about being an ‘intense kid’ who also wanted to be a vegetarian and was very ‘existential.’

But, as she grew older, she would write a little in high school, but poetry wasn’t a real outlet. It wasn’t until her 20s when she began to consider performing her poetry.

She wrote a lot of love poems. One of the first poems she performed was for an ex-boyfriend, but her writing style has evolved, and she now tackles a variety of  topics.

“I have always been controversial I guess, but I grew up in Seminole County, Florida – and for reference, it’s where Trayvon Martin was murdered – and it was the first big headline-catching murder of its kind. It was really interesting to see the reactions from people I have been friends with to George Zimmerman’s acquittal,” Lacey said.

She also remembers growing up in Seminole County and always “being the exception.” Lacey scored “really high” on the ACT and consistently did well in school. However, she often found herself being devalued by some teachers.

All of this made her see and think of things differently and her poem “White Privilege” is a product of this.

“I was never the rule, I was always the exception growing up. I was always prospering despite being a minority it seemed,” Lacey said. “I think in school, teachers always were under the expectation that I was accidentally intelligent and didn’t have a parent at home that was heavily invested in my education and growth, but that just wasn’t the case.”

Not everything Lacey writes is based on socio-political problems, although some may be quick to see her that way based on her powerful poem “White Privilege.”

“I’ve written a lot of love poems, I’ve definitely written a lot of love poems,” Lacey said. “As I’ve gotten older I kind of want to stream into different things. My tastes have definitely changed as well, but sometimes I still have someone I love on occasion and will write a love poem.”

She performed several of her love poems in the Down Under along with other powerful poems on topics ranging from women’s issues to domestic violence, and relationships.

For now, Lacey thinks this will be her last year on tour performing her poetry. She is currently in the process of writing two books and hopes to release them by summer. She can be followed through her social media which is @kylaJLacey.