Adams County, Anythink libraries name Poet Laureate

Kerrie Joy to inspire community for next two years

Belen Ward
Posted 9/5/23

Anything Libraries, Adams County Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts bring poetry to the communities. Kerrie Joy was chosen as the inaugural Adams County Poet Laureate "Sincerely," according to a …

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Adams County, Anythink libraries name Poet Laureate

Kerrie Joy to inspire community for next two years


Expect Adams County to be a little more lyrical for the next two years.

In joint effort with Anything Libraries, Adams County Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts named its first poet laureate, Kerrie Joy.

Joy will serve that role during the library's two-year-long program "Sincerely."

"One of the greatest impacts that I hope to have is that individuals fall further in love with themselves through these words and through these communal events," says Joy. "That's always the greatest hope."

With the joint initiative, Joy will perform several events at Anything and Adams County locations, engaging with the community through performance and writing sessions promoting her art through literature as an ambassador for Adams County.

Joy is based in Denver and is a poet, singer-songwriter, storyteller, educator, and revolutionary. She creates poetry through hip-hop, song, graphic design, and fashion.

Stacie Ledden, director of strategic partnerships for Anythink, said Joy's role as Adams County Poet Laureate is designed to find engaging ways to interact with the community through poetry by helping residents of all ages and backgrounds fall in love with the art form and inspire them towards creating original works based on their experiences.

"In this inaugural year, Joy will spark and fuel civic dialogue, amplify voices, break down barriers between the community and poetry as an art form, and enrich the lives of Adams County residents through access to arts and culture. 'Sincerely' will have three main components: a public programming series, commissioned poetry and original works, and public readings," Ledden said.

Shimmering energy

The Adams County Arts & Culture Commission member Evan Siegel said Joy brings shimmering, compassionate energy.

"She will leave you breathless, for her work presents a constant unfolding of ruthless self-revelation with a deep affirmation of her care for all of us, " Siegel said.

"And yet she will also fill you with life; for her poetry, while built on the rhythms of the ages, is grounded in our moment, reaching out to us to show us love and a way of living with nobility," he added.

Ledden said Anthink and the Adams County Arts & Culture Commission are excited to bring "Sincerely" and Joy's unique poetry to the community of Adams County.

 "Joy's passion for poetry, community, and representation will inspire future generations of poets locally. Many people may not yet see poetry as a tool for expression, healing, and cultural understanding – Kerrie is the perfect person to engage in these creative discussions while showcasing her own voice and talent," Ledden said.

"You will want to hear her, you will want to be with her, and you will want to learn from her. It is our wish that the presence of Kerrie Joy will be a great gift for the people of Adams County," Siegel said.

Joy was selected through a competitive process that began with an open call in search of eligible Colorado-based poets connected to Adams County. 

The candidates were required to submit self-published works of art such as reading, spoken word, performance experience, and community project experience.

The Jury Selection Committee was comprised of the Adams County Arts & Culture Commission members and representatives from the Adams County Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts Department, and Anythink Libraries.

King James inspired

Joy was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in upstate New York, Newburgh, and has been in Colorado for about seven years.

Joy said she developed writing poetry when she was about 11 years old.

"I grew up legalistic loving family, my parents are natural-born citizens of Jamaica, so they migrated to Brooklyn about two years before I was born. I grew in a Pentecostal religion, my mother is Pentecostal. It has a strong presence in Jamaica," Joy said.

She started to perform poetry when she was about 21 and has been performing the craft of poetry for over a decade.

"It was the environment that I grew up in, and the church would tend to rule my household more than my mother. So whatever they said, would be applicable to our lives as opposed to whatever rules she personally abided by," she added.

Joy said she grew up attending church five out of seven days each week for different reasons and reading the Bible. That's how her relationship with words began.

"If you know anything about the King James Version in the Bible it's very poetic," Joy said. "In general, there's a lot of parables, there are a lot of books within the Bible that, that are clearly poetic, like Psalms, Songs of Solomon, proverbs, things of that nature of Ecclesiastes," Joy said.

"There's a lot of my favorite works of literature," she said. "In retrospect, considering the fact that I've been able to take the oppressive nature of it and remove that from my personal life, it's where it began and really shaped my understanding of how to use words in the Bible."

Joy said she doesn't have formal training but listens to what is inside and found a way to communicate outside of her and connect to people, which resonated.

"I have a poem that says, 'I speak because I'm spoken to'," Joy said.


Joy said she performs in the spoken word scene more than anything. Written prose was always a part of her life, but she kept her written pieces private.

"I shared getting on stage and performing so I tapped into the spoken word world immediately once I found out when I was about 20, to 21- years old," Joy said.

Joy's goal is to have some written pieces and release a book before the end of her term in Adams County.

"I've been talking with Adams County and Anthink Libraries about a compilation of some sort, reflecting on the two years that we're working together, and hopefully incorporate poetry and other written works from other Adam County residents as part of the process," Joy said.

No matter what, she hopes to continue to challenge herself as a creative person.

"I'm a poet, and I believe everything I do is poetry, no matter how it shows up creatively," she said. "I am a singer; I'm a songwriter, and I am a lover of fashion. I'm an event curator. I want to see how I can find as many ways as possible to bring poetry into the world through every medium I possibly can," Joy said.


Joy said she had ideas about collaborating with other visual artists and using augmented reality to display poetry differently.

"So if that happens during this term, or even after, those are some things I have been kind of chewing and want to see how they have a manifest," Joy said.

Joy said one of the events she plans to put on during this term is a poetic fashion show.

"I create an original piece and work with designers to find somehow incorporating the words into the clothing so as the models are walking on the fashion show, they are living epistles, and it's great," Joy said. 

She's done that once before, to great effect.

"I've gotten a lot of requests to bring that back. It going to be something that I'll be doing again," she added.

Joy said her previous series, called Unstudied, sheds light on many jazz musicians, specifically the musicians, that made up Denver's the Harlem of the West.

"I am working with local artists who are still making sure the music scene is flourishing, blossoming and evolving, but we pay homage to those who paved the way," she said, "It's what unstudied is about. I'll be doing that throughout this program, but have been doing that already."

Event planning and curation has been a part of her life for a few years now, Joy said.

"I have a lot of events at any point in time by meeting someone, and I'd love to collaborate. When I meet people who have ideas, we can figure out ways to work together, and we do.

To learn more about Kerrie Joy, visit:





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