2018 Festival


2018 Festival: Celebration of Community Poets

Your Turn Open Mic at Fire

Friday, April 6, 2018 at 6 p.m. at Fire

Afternoon reading from anthology by contributing poets

Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at This is a Book Store

Celebration of Community Poets and Inspiration Fair

Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Anthology reading

Poets read their work from “Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse

With ASL interpretation for the deaf

During the third presidential debate, Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty” woman while she was talking about social security and raising taxes. Women across the United States went on to embrace the title as they resisted misogyny and embraced their power. Poets will present their works from this anthology of poems from women who proudly celebrate their own nastiness and that of other women who have served as nasty role models; poems by and about women defying limitations and lady-like expectations; women refusing to be “nice girls;” women embracing their inner bitch when the situation demands it; women being formidable and funny; women speaking to power and singing for the good of their souls; women being strong, sexy, strident, super-smart, and stupendous; women who want to encourage little girls to keep dreaming.

Celebration of Community Poets

Celebration of Community Poets and Inspiration Fair

6 p.m.

At Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Auditorium, 314 S. Park Street, Kalamazoo

With ASL interpretation for the deaf

This reading celebrates poets known and unknown from across the writing community of Kalamazoo. It also celebrates poets affiliated with many of the organizations whose efforts make Kalamazoo a thriving community. Several will have display tables in the KIA lobby to display information about their work and inspire others to become involved. Last Gasp Collective will provide music. Ed Genesis will emcee.


Ngoc Chen

Robin Church, Friends of Poetry

Erin Brown Conroy

Nathan Dannison, activist, pastor

Kathy Doud, Imagine writers

Melanie Dunbar, Friends of Poetry

Michael Evans, Kalamazoo Literacy Council

Fire youth

Deborah Gang, Friends of Poetry

DC Lavender, Black Arts and Cultural Center

Jess Leach, Speak It Forward

Nancy Nott, The Left Margin writers

Jimmy Welty, KVCC student competition winner

OutFront Kalamazoo

Rumsha Sajid

Hannah Seelman, Western Michigan University

Kathy Rabbers, The Poetic Line

Ginny Shilliday, Imagine writers

Chelsea Whelham

Casey Grooten

The Last Gasp Collective

The compelling collection of artist that is Last Gasp has made waves that would leave the Pacific envious. Sometimes soft or loud, at times smooth and mature, other times youthful and thought provoking, their raw, yet passion-filled performances have intrigued thousands in little over a year at Midwest Fest, Lamplight Festival, Farm Block, Harvest Gathering, and the Black Arts Fest.

The group has shared the stage with acts such as Nappy Roots, Bus  Driver, The Go Rounds, Guilty Simpson, Shamar Alef, J. Robb. Yolonda Lavender and DC of Truth Tone. Last Gasp promotes the collaborative spirit that is shared amongst many artists in Southwest Michigan.

Made up of Western Michigan University music students as well as local musicians, the diverse group has been brought together by a mutual love of art. Their live arrangements are reminiscent of The Internet and Hiatus Kaiyote, where melodic cello or saxophone lines, fuzzed out guitar lead, and gospel piano set a beautiful soundscape underneath the soulful voices and poetic lyricism of Ashley Hicks, Lakeshore Drew, and Jay Jackson. The band compares itself to The Roots and Arrested Development.

Last Gasp is Ashley Hicks, Jon Boyd, Jordan Hamilton, Joel Pixley-Fink, Xavier Bonner, Jay Jackson, Nicholas Baxter, and Terrance Smith.