By Jack Hervela
Local poetry collective, The Diatribe will be hosting the inaugural Grand Showcase event from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 at the Fountain Street Church.
Poets Andrea Gibson, T. Miller and Siaara Freeman headline the event as area youth and various local writers are set to perform.
“I believe what the Diatribe has done by making this show is create one of the largest poetry shows in city history, with some of the most popular names in the craft,” said Fable, the Diatribes’ “creative conductor” and Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids.
The event will commence with performances from West Michigan youth, a cornerstone of the Diatribes’ mission. “The work that we do is all about centering and empowering young voices to speak about life experiences along with social issues,” Fable said.
While Miller and Freeman have featured at Diatribe open mics before, booking Gibson for a performance has been nothing short of exciting for the collective.
“Andrea Gibson is someone who we have wanted to bring out for a long time, but is difficult to book because of price and prestige,” said Rachael Gleason, Diatribe “word smith and work-horse.” Considering the aim of Grand Showcase, “we were able to bring them out because they believe in our mission,” Gleason said.
Fountain Street Church has long been an incubator for creative thought and expression, with the sanctuary holding speeches for Malcolm X, Winston Churchill and Amelia Earhart among others over the years.
“What better place to make history with poetry in our city using this beautiful venue to unite the past icons, current icons and the icons of tomorrow all under one roof,” Fable said, also noting the 1,500 person capacity as integral to drawing a larger audience.
Fable is hopeful for longevity in the showcase.
“In the future, we hope this event can turn into a ‘festival’… each year continuing to bring in more and more incredible talent from all over the country while showcasing our students on the same stage as some of the greatest voices of our time,” Fable said.
Tickets are $20 for floor seats and $10 for balcony seats with proceeds helping to expand arts programs in schools that cannot afford such expansion alone.
Students are encouraged to visit 400 College Plaza where the English Department is giving away 20 free tickets to the event on a first come first served basis until Friday Oct. 5.