A tall, black woman with beautiful brown curls stood in front of an audience drinking a glass of Coca Cola and reciting memories of trauma and relationships in the form of poetry. This is Kyla Lacey, a poet.
Lacey had just flown in to New York City from Texas and drove up to perform at New Paltz for her second time on Friday, Feb. 10. Lacey grew up in Orlando, Florida and has performed at more than 150 colleges and venues in over 20 states.
From the age of 10, Lacey was interested in writing and how language worked. She had even written and copyrighted her own poetry and tried making up her own language at a young age.
Domestic violence, relationships, growing up with a single mom, drama and black rights are just a few of the real life experiences her poetry is based on. Lacey enjoys telling her story of triumphing over tragedy. She is proud of how far she’s come and is comfortable enough to speak and laugh about it.
“It’s not African-American History Month, it’s Black History Month. Thank you, Donald Trump,” she yelled into the mic.
In between each recitation, Lacey interacted with the audience and gave some background information about why she wrote her poems.
“See, my curls used to be shy / They had to lie in middle school just to feel accepted and I curse the day they were ever made to feel they were not beautiful enough / Because my curls are untouchable / … / My curls are feminists / … / They violate dress codes / … / They are activists …”
Lacey likes to recite her poetry about relationships to college students, knowing that many of them may currently be in one.
“I’m actually a survivor of domestic violence,” Lacey said. “I dated a really horrible person on and off for four years. Interestingly enough, I kind of don’t mind talking about it because I feel like it might help somebody else.”
It took her until the point of realizing that her abuser would kill her for her to leave. It takes a person seven times to leave a domestic violence relationship before they do and the most dangerous time to be in a relationship is the two weeks after the person has left, she explained.
“What I learned from that situation is that you cannot love somebody into being a better person,” Lacey said.
“I thought I loved him completely, but the only time I would feel his love is when he would beat me / Because his passion wasn’t his rage and nurtures when he was trying to play doctor and rearrange my face / … / That I flew over the couch and my face landed in the glass coffee table …”
Her bubbly personality and poetry has earned her compliments and awards from the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA) Poet of the Year and Campus Activities Magazine’s Best Female Artist.
“I’m glad I can take a horrible situation and be able to laugh at it,” Lacey said. “That’s what I think people can relate to is my openness and my ability to expose myself.”