What We Accidentally Learned with Guante
Written by Ndemazea Fonkem
Published April 2, 2018
Guante, or when he’s off-stage, Kyle Tran Myhre, is a poet, author, educator, and activist based out of Minneapolis, and he brings his art all over the country.
He started writing his poetry in elementary school but in his late teens, Guante began performing. From there, he was drawn to the stage, continually sharpening his craft, meeting other creators and workshopping his ideas, and repeating the process until it became what it is today.
Myhre likes to credit a community of creativity for his continued ventures into poetry, and credits this as his biggest inspiration, although he sees it as more of a process. The feedback he received from those around him was integral to his successes, but Guante recognizes that outside opinions on your art can be difficult to swallow, especially at the beginning.
The internet has really factored into the way Guante works. It acts as an extension of his environment, and his writing stems from the world around him. His process doesn’t start with him sitting down and staring at a blank page; instead he gets engaged. He reads the news and goes out into his community and explores and learns, and Myhre acknowledges this as a fundamental part of his process.
For him, poetry is not just pages of soliloquies and superfluous hyperboles. “It's about how we can use relatively straightforward, clear language to explore complex, nuanced ideas. It's how we translate abstract into concrete, in order for us to more fully understand/internalize ideas.”
As a poet, there’s an expectation that Guante would be a wordsmith. That would be correct. His book, A Love Song, A Death Rattle, A Battle Cry, holds not only his most popular poems that have taken him across the country, but thought-provoking essays on the state of everything around us.
This book was long in the making and comes well into Myhre’s career, and he’s thankful for it. Upon reflection, he says his earlier works weren’t the best, that he rushed into things to put his stuff out there without the proper editing and workshopping it needed. Yet, he doesn’t regret it. “I think it's healthy to work on your craft without necessarily releasing "product" (whether books or albums or whatever) for quite a while. You only get one ‘debut’ project, and taking the earlier part of your career to focus more on process than product will most likely be a good move.”
Everyone who has ever seen Guante perform knows that his words stick with you. His poems are more than just words; they’re calls to action. He takes the biggest issues facing all of us, whether it be police brutality, sexual assault, or toxic masculinity, and creates digestible content that makes others aware of the issues and equips them with the tools to solve them. He encourages everyone to do what they can, to start small and local, and to watch out for metaphorical quicksand.
To read the rest of our exclusive interview with Guante, get your copy of issue two today!