GRCC professor awarded first place in local poetry contest



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications



GRCC professor awarded first place in local poetry contest

July 2, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Her innate compassion is reflected in an associate professor's work which led her to win a first-place poem in the 45th annual Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Contest.

Katrina “Katie” Kalisz, an associate professor of English at Grand Rapids Community College, was honored for her piece “Viewing at the 14-Year-Old Girl’s Wake.” It reflects her experiences when attending a teenager’s wake with her husband and infant daughter.

“I find it fascinating how having children means taking them along most places and being present to the world around them,” said Ms. Kalisz, who is a mother to three. “Being a parent has shown me a different awareness of how life and death, joy and tragedy, collide at odd moments.”

Her colleagues note that it is the attention to detail that makes her work stand out.

“Katie has always shown a deep appreciation for choosing the exact right word — le mot juste — and her attention to craft is impeccable,” said GRCC professor David Cope, Grand Rapids Poet Laureate. "Perhaps more importantly, she also chooses subject matter that is significant, as in the discomfort and loss for words at the 14-year-old’s rosary, even as mourners turned to the living 4-month-old whose breath was ‘their gasp, each blink a bridge.’

“One major hallmark of her work is compassion for those who are suffering. Over the years that I’ve known her, I’ve seen that capacity grow with her confidence. I firmly believe she will do even greater things in years to come.”

Ms. Kalisz, who started with GRCC in 2004, received a Master’s in Fine Arts specializing in poetry last winter from Queens University of Charlotte, N.C. Her work has appeared in the literary journals Drafthorse and Dunes Review, and in Big Scream magazine. She will have a poem featured in Plainsongs Poetry Magazine and recently was interviewed on WYCE’s “Electric Poetry” program. This interview is available online at

For students of GRCC interested in taking any of Ms. Kalisz’s classes, she will be teaching English Composition 1, English Composition 2, Poetry, and Creative Writing 1 during the Fall 2013 Semester.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.