Kinetic Affect unafraid to take on tough personal topics

Author: Elizabeth Clark; Special to the Gazette
Section: A&E

Article Text: 
Poets Gabriel Giron and Kirk Latimer of Kinetic Affect finish each other’s sentences fluidly and speak together with great synchronicity.

More, even, than the identical twins who lived next door to me my whole childhood, whom my mother could never tell apart despite seeing them every day for more than a dozen years.

Latimer insists his Kinetic Affect partner sees him more than his wife does and urges the crowd not to read anything into that. Their rapport would seem merely a party trick if the performance-poet duo didn’t have such substantial things to say.

The pair debuted their nearly two-hour show, “Word Weavers,” on Thursday and have their finale at 8 tonight at the Wellspring Theater in the Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall.

The poets’ collaborations with guitarist Levi Strickland of Blue Dahlia fame, singer Jamal Larkins and modern dancer Michael Miller of Wellspring, added tremendous texture to the group’s debut as well.

While the show tackles many tough topics, including Portage Northern High School English teacher Latimer’s gut-wrenching homage to two students who suffered through war in Rwanda, its bookends impart hope and urge attendees to appreciate the “Little Things,” the title of the show’s first piece and one of several co-written by both poets. (The “Rwandan Shell” piece refers to a shell literally lodged in one student’s knee, and not, as Latimer had first assumed, the sort from the sea shore.)

The style of speech — typical of performance poets and akin to a fervent preacher who believes in his bones that his words can save souls — isn’t overdone and its passion instead drives home that the little things on which we should focus aren’t when our roommate leaves us only enough milk for “a shot glass of cereal,” but the way thousands of grains of sand combine to create a beautiful beach.

For Giron, his appreciation of the small things arose from surviving one of the biggest blights on mankind: cancer. One of the show’s most moving moments was his “Survivor,” detailing his battle with a softball-sized tumor as a young m! an overseas in the armed forces.

Latimer, too, offered one solo work, “Letters to a Fighter,” which documents his journey from a boxer as a youth to a one-man army fighting for his students for whom every bell that rings through the school halls reminds him how crucial the cause is for which he fights today. Among the duo’s co-written pieces, “What Began as a Poem About God” and “What if It’s Not Worth It” amounted to two of the show’s most touching works.

“We’re creating something more powerful than either of us, than I, ever expected,” Latimer said at the show’s onset.

“We used to compete against one another,” Giron said. “When you compete, you’re not listening to someone else’s voice, you’re thinking of how you can make yours better.”

Better indeed, to discover the Kinetic Affect that these two powerful voices form together.

Copyright 2007, Kalamazoo Gazette, All Rights Reserved.
Record Number: 11B06CD1D036B9F0

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