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Kinetic Affect Looks Forward to Celebration of Success

Kinetic Affect

Kirk Latimer and Gabriel Giron don't mince words. In fact, the spoken word poetry pair known as Kalamazoo-based Kinetic Affect has made a business out of telling it like it is.

The signature Kinetic Affect experience leaves audiences feeling inspired and amused. They perform for schools and businesses throughout the country, and established another nonprofit organization called Speak It Forward, which encourages at-risk youth to express themselves with writing and poetry through a series of workshops and performances.

The conglomeration of Kinetic Affect and Speak it Forward will showcase work by Lakeside Academy students in an event appropriately titled Celebration of Success on May 1, beginning at 7 p.m. at Chenery Auditorium.

Student participants have been preparing passionate and forward-moving poetry and prose to share with the community. Admission is free, but registration is required.

Latimer and Giron refer to themselves as an "unlikely duo." Latimer readily admits he is a survivor of his own destructive past; Giron is a survivor of cancer and an unruly attitude.

After meeting at a slam poetry competition in 2006, they ultimately decided that they were better off as a team than as competitors.

"We discovered, by accident, that although we seemed to come from different walks of life, we carried similarities on the inside, and in our personal stories of change," said Latimer.

Both Western Michigan University alumni freely share that their unlikely business model was born from adversity, which somehow gave way to a clear mission.

They have always known that passion and inspiration is as much a part of people as their bad decisions or experiences. Writing and poetry can tap into the obstacles everyone faces and help it all start to make sense. Then healing can begin.

Finding a way to help others do that, funding it, and sharing the journey along the way, was a dream that Latimer and Giron shared in 2009.

Conveniently, they both lived in Kalamazoo. Giron was here to be near family, and Latimer was a high school English teacher at Portage Northern.

"Kinetic Affect led us to co-found the nonprofit Speak It Forward," said Latimer. "This is now our full-time job."

Latimer left teaching in 2008 and hasn't looked back.

"We don't have a whole lot of support in our society for doing things that we love," said Giron. So when Latimer and Giron launched Kinetic Affect, there was no lack of nay-sayers who felt free to say "ARE YOU CRAZY?"

Clearly they aren't. Like most spoken word poets, they use dynamics like tones, hand gestures, and facial expressions to enhance their message. Like most nonprofit organizations, they depend on grants, sponsorships, and support from businesses, foundations, and private donations.

Perhaps their most well-known work is the Michigan Poem, ( commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which went viral in 2013. In 2014, they made it further on America's Got Talent than any spoken word poetry team in history.

"Our journey landed us here by following our passion. At the time, we really had no idea where this would lead, but we knew it was critical that we listen to and follow our hearts. Our hope is that this leads us to bigger and more diverse audiences across the nation," said Latimer.

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