Student looks to change opinions through the power of poetry

One South Dakota State University student has been writing poetry since fifth grade. Now, as a freshman in college, he has published his first book.

“No Tears,” a compilation of poems that address social injustice, heartbreak, love and overcoming obstacles was published last week by Kendrick Walton.

But the publishing process was not an easy one. A company was interested in doing it for him, but wanted most of the profit. So instead, he turned to The Book Patch. The website takes a smaller percentage for each book published and the publishing rights fee was far less.

Several friends from Walton’s high school creative writing club pushed him to publish his poetry.

“I would always be the one to break the ice in meetings by sharing my poems,” Walton said.

Walton wrote his first poem when he was 11 years old. Inspired by a close friend at the time, he said he included that poem in the book for her.

All poems in the book are influenced by people in Walton’s life. Though there’s only two specific dedications, Walton said every poem is about someone who has affected him, including his father.

Walton’s father, Kurt, introduced him to spoken word poetry by buying him a book by Tupac Shakur, a rap artist killed in the late 1990s. 

“I still have it today,” Walton said. “I’ve read it over and over and it’s been a huge influence with my writing.”

What is so great about Tupac’s poetry, Walton said, is his ability to make it relatable. That is why Walton decided not to publish in October so he could make more revisions to the book before releasing.

“One aspect of the book I struggled with was making it readable,” he said.

Walton said many poems in the book were meant to be spoken, so he worried some people would not understand or enjoy his writing. But through vigorous editing, he now says he is proud of the work he has produced.

“Kendrick offers insight and perspective on the cultural issues of our times through his spoken word poetry,” said Andrea Carlile, the SDSU director of speech and debate. “As a student, speaker and poet he strives to create discourse on the issues most important to us as humans.”

The young poet is already working on another book which will address more social justice issues and obtaining a degree in history to become a teacher. Walton said he wants to be a positive influence on children in the inner cities and hopes to empower them to work hard for their dreams like he has.

“There are few male teachers of color in this area,” Walton said. “I want to be a person that these kids can relate to and look up to.”

Walton’s book is available on www.thebookpatch.com for $10. Some of the money made from the book will be going toward writing workshops for inner city kids where Walton grew up.