By Aaron Rhodes
Frank Spayd is an employee at the college who works in document services as a digital technician. Some people, however, may recognize him as the man who will ask to read you a poem in between your classes.
Spayd can often be seen reciting poems to people on campus or via poetry emails he sends out to staff members.
If you’ve heard him recite one of his poems before, you know the poems focus on Christianity, more specifically repentance, hope and mortality. Spayd draws his inspirations from his faith in God and Jesus Christ. His goal through his spontaneous recitals is to “share Jesus’ love” with whomever he can.
“My work time is ten to five, an hour break for lunch. I usually get in early enough that I can take a walk in the morning before I start at ten, and I share some [poems] at that time, and then on my lunch-break walk is also when I share.”
Spayd doesn’t have a predetermined method when choosing whom he shares with. He leaves that up to instinct, supplemented by prayer.
“I usually pray before I start sharing. Some people just look like they — I can’t explain that, I really can’t explain that. I just pray about it and just go from there.”
Spayd has also been sharing his writing with the staff at the college for several years via ListServe messages and has received some positive responses there.
“I shared one the other day titled ‘The Gospels’ and I got two emails back from people I know on that one. On other occasions I’ve had no responses, and some occasions I’ve had several.”
Poetry has been a hobby for Spayd since 2004. He had never taken a class on the subject before or previously had a large amount of interest in it, but decided to give it a shot.
“I may have been bored one day. I may not have had much to do, but I sat down one day, wondering if I could write a poem, and it took me several weeks, but I wrote a poem.”
Spayd has read works from Robert Frost, and says Emily Dickinson is likely his favorite poet. He also subscribes to an emailed newsletter of a new poem every day.
Spayd said although he doesn’t always receive a big response, he has made some connections and met people who ask him for new poems when they see him.
“Last semester [there was] one young lady I shared with, and every time our paths crossed she asked if I had a new poem for her today. So I start to bring in written copies of poems because I only have so many memorized,” Spayd said.
Spayd says he has shared so many poems, he sometimes forgets the people he has shared with previously.
“I don’t keep a count on how many I’ve shared. Sometimes I don’t even remember faces. I’ll ask them again, but most people are reasonable and that’s okay.”
Spayd is in his 11th year working at the college and has been working in printing since he was 16, doing weekend and evening shifts, then going full time after graduating high school. He moved to Kansas City with his family in 1979 and has lived in Overland Park since 2008.