The Grand Showcase hosts spoken word poets, supports local nonprofit

Courtesy / Marcel Price

Courtesy / Marcel Price

Mary Racette

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The Grand Showcase, organized by The Diatribe, will bring award-winning poets to Grand Rapids to join the community’s talented youth in performing spoken word poems. The event is a fundraiser for the grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to uniting the youth through art, and will take place on Saturday, Oct. 6 at the Fountain Street Church from 1 to 3 p.m.  

Presenting their art and activism to the Grand Rapids Community, Andrea Gibson, Siaara Freeman and T. Miller are nationally recognized poets and “some of the biggest names in contemporary poetry”, according to Executive Director and Founding Member of The Diatribe Marcel Price, also known as Fable the Poet.

Performing at the event alongside the professional poets will be five of west Michigan’s most talented young poets, aged between 13 and 17 years old. These poets are just one way the event will be showcasing the future of the city.

The Diatribe was founded in 2013 with the intention of educating middle and high school aged students from schools in lower income communities to passionately pursue what they love to do, even if it does not include higher education. The Diatribe’s presence in schools not only increases interest and knowledge on spoken word poetry, but Price says it often decreases bullying within the school.

“We started teaching them what we knew best, and that is life experiences,” Price said. “Now the program gets young people to write about issues that they know best.”

The programming provided by the Diatribe aims to boost students’ confidence and encourage them to voice issues that are important to them, said Director of Education of The Diatribe Rachael Gleason. In addition to its programs in the classroom at middle and high schools, The Diatribe held its first nine week summer program this summer.  The program provided resources for students to grow and develop through various workshops, assemblies and network opportunities.  

“We see students go from not being interested in spoken word [poetry] to passionately sharing personal issues,” Gleason said. Throughout The Diatribe’s programs, students produce poems on a wide range of social justice issues that they care about.

The event will be raising funds which will support The Diatribe’s efforts to expand the organization. Their goal is to eventually raise enough money to attain their own space.  They hope to include a youth theater so they can hold their own performances. The Diatribe also plans on using funds to reach out to more schools in lower income areas, who otherwise would not be able to afford programming.

Aside from fundraising, Price said the purpose of The Grand Showcase is to showcase student voices.

“They have something to say, and we are here to listen,” Price said. 

The Grand Showcases calls people of all ages to come and hear the spoken word poetry of west Michigan’s talented youth and marginalized voices while supporting a growing nonprofit organization. As Price said: “the goal is to put on a show for as many people as possible.”