Marcel Price, better known as Fable the Poet, understands how powerful words can be. When strung together, they can be hurtful, he acknowledges, but they can also be liberating.
“Recently, I was working with students [at a local high school] and we were talking about domestic violence and this boy in the class offered to share up one of his poems,” said Fable the Poet, who is one of the founding members of the local spoken work poet group The Diatribe. The Diatribe will be at the KDL Kentwood (Richard L. Root) branch April 21. “I was like, ‘OK, everybody, let’s clap him up, he is going to share with us.”
As the young man stood there telling his story, and tears, about knowing and facing domestic violence, the room became quiet.
“Afterwards, students came up and gave him a hug and that in the end is what it is about,” Fable the Poet said. “It is teaching that there are a lot of issues but that many are facing the same issues and through those issues there is a feeling of unity.”
For the past several years, The Diatribe, which includes Fable the Poet, Kelsey May, Rachel Gleason, Shawn Moore and G Foster II, have been working with area high schools and students, showing them how spoken word poetry can be used as a catalyst to talk about the issues going on in a person’s life.
“We focus on trust,” Fable the Poet said about getting students to standup and openly share their poetry with a group of their peers. “We tell them that we are going to be vulnerable with them and that they need to be vulnerable with us. We make sure they understand that everything we do is transparent.”
The spoken word poetry movement has certainly taken a foothold within the United States punctuated by Sarah Kay’s “If I Should Have A Daughter” at a 2011 TEDx. The spoken word art form can include hip-hop, jazz poetry, poetry slams, traditional poetry readings, some comedy routines and prose monologues.
Because of its popularity, the Kent District Library added a spoken word component to its annual teen poetry contest. Students in grades 6 -12 can enter up to three poems by April 30. Judges will select 10 winners with all entrants eligible for the spoken word competition on May 17 at the KDL Kentwood Branch, 4950 Breton Rd. SE. Ten winners will be selected from the spoken word competition with all winners receiving a $50 gift card from Schuler Books & Music. For complete details, click here.
As part of the spoken word contest, The Diabrite has partnered up with KDL, hosting workshops in about 12 to 14 area schools which included Kentwood’s Pinewood Elementary School and Kelloggsville Discovery Alternative High School. The partnership culminates with the KDL Reads: Spring into Poetry with The Diatribe Thursday, April 21 from 7 – 8 p.m. at the KDL Kentwood (Richard L. Root) branch, 4950 Breton SE.
“This is the first time we have partnered with KDL,” Fable the Poet said, adding that the collaboration has been amazing with hopes of expanding the project to more schools next year.
For more about the KDL’s 2016 Find Your Voice Teen Poetry Contest and Spoken Word Competition, visit KDL’s website. The April 21 event with The Diatribe is free and open to the public.