By Rose Miller, Staff Writer
Visiting spoken word poet Kyla Lacey kept a group of over 40 UMF students on their toes Wednesday night as her hour long performance alternated between moments of intense emotion and comedic banter. Lacey’s poetry and interspersed commentary discussed issues of great relevance to the student population including domestic abuse, the complexity of friendship, and the rights of the LBGTQ community.
While some of the monologues between poems were clearly planned and more serious, there was plenty of ad-libbing and conversation with the audience, who remained talkative with Lacey most of the evening, except of course when they were encouraged to ask questions at the end. In an interview following the show she told the Farmington Flyer that the majority of her work is inspired by personal experience.
The evening finally began when icy roads delayed Lacey’s arrival, pushing the show back 45 minutes. Despite the setback very few, if any, students walked out after the delay was announced and she arrived at the Landing undeterred and with an easy stage presence. Foregoing a lengthy introduction, Lacey opted for a little light heckling of some snack-bar stragglers to warm up the crowd.
More than once Lacey used a personal experience to address a broader social issue. One of these included a piece discussing her own experience with domestic violence. Prefacing the poem Lacey said, “It’s really important for me to make sure that people understand that it’s not like you wake up one day and somebody is hitting you, it’s a gradual reduction of who you are as a person.”
Audience members gave generally positive reviews but indicated some of the material was heavier than anticipated. Freshman Leah Boucher told the Flyer, “It was more emotional than I expected….She really tried to communicate on an emotional level.” Boucher also remarked that Lacey “didn’t sugar coat anything,” referring to the occasionally bold language used to address issues typically treated with caution.
Sophomore Kayla Elliott commented on Lacey’s easy transition between sincerity and wittiness, describing the ability as speaking with a “certain grace.” Both girls agreed that they enjoyed the performance but were they to attend another, they’d want to see “more variety” in the subject matter.
Following the set, Lacey elaborated for the Flyer on how she got started, why she does what she does, and where she plans on going. Lacey explained that it was a friend, now ex-boyfriend, who originally encouraged her to perform her poetry. “I was super afraid to perform…and I finally just did it….I was in drama in high school, so that came in handy for sure.” And over time as Lacey became more comfortable performing she developed the ability to really connect with her audience, she said, “Initially I definitely had a dissociation with the audience and then I became very comfortable with interacting with the audience.”
Wednesday marked Lacey’s first visit to the pine tree state, but UMF is hardly her first stop at a college campus as she’s visited universities in over 30 states in the past few years. Lacey said one of the reasons she’s doing this college tour is because she believes that the subject matter of her work is particularly relatable to young adults. She said, “I think college students can relate to a lot of the things that I say, so I think it’s a pretty fair job.”
Performing on college campuses also gives her the opportunity to interact with her audience more directly, she said, “Generally when I go to schools and I meet people, the students are generally very nice and you make a connection with them.”
While she may be hitting campuses state to state for now, Lacey does envision her poetry and performance skills taking her further. When asked what her next goal might be she said, “So I’ve been told that I really need my own show,” she laughed. “So I think I’m going to start investing in doing my own blog, you know video blog, and/or shows, skits, stuff like that.”