If you haven’t realized by now, I use this space and the social media shares that follow to shout from the pretend rooftops about whichever Grand Rapidian is the most recent object of my obsession. Every once in a while, I get the privilege (and insurmountable task) of writing about my friends. Typically, I’d feel terribly pressured to make this the best thing I ever wrote, but one of these lovely friend people immortalized me in his recently-released poetry album “thank yous” by only saying how hot my sister is. So I feel ok about letting myself off the hook a little.
These friends I’m speaking about are The Diatribe, of course. A poetry collective that boasts some of the sexiest and most talented spoken wordsmiths in the city. They’ve been around in some form or another for about three years, but have recently started kicking some major booty and really developing their place in the community. Their work within local high schools would make Michelle Pfeiffer say a two-syllable damn while nostalgically listening to “Gangsta’s Paradise”. They perform, they teach, they inspire, and they’re well on their way to making a living without the hassle of day jobs. In short, they’re pretty effing impressive as a whole. I can’t even manage to do laundry more than once a month, and they’re literally changing the lives of troubled teens.
They perform, they teach, they inspire, and they’re well on their way to making a living without the hassle of day jobs. In short, they’re pretty effing impressive as a whole.
The Diatribe, affectionately known as “The Tribe”, is Marcel “Fable” Price, Foster a.k.a. “Autopilot”, Rachel F*cking Gleason, and Kelsey “Mayday” May. There are other members, (most notably, new dad, Shawn Moore) but these four are our rock stars making a difference in schools and on stages right now. It’s not all flowing tears and uplifting assemblies for these ruffians, even though they have confirmed that they’ll be working with upwards of ten schools by April of 2016. Fable, Foster, and Rachel are the co-hosts of The Drunken Retort, which means when they’re not teaching teens that they have a voice and that self-expression can often be lifesaving, they’re shouting expletives and hyping up drunken hipsters in the back room of Stella’s every Monday night. In effect, teaching us old people the same lessons. With a tequila chaser.
when they’re not teaching teens that they have a voice and that self-expression can often be lifesaving, they’re shouting expletives and hyping up drunken hipsters in the back room of Stella’s every Monday night.
The Diatribe is powerful as a collective, but they definitely Spice Girls the situation and each bring something special to the table, covering all hot-button topics. Fable’s canon includes themes of mental health and mixed race issues while Rachel speaks mostly about struggles with religion and relates to members of the LGBTQ community. Foster’s work meanders along the theme of the importance of family and Kelsey May speaks out about sexual violence and rape culture. This is not to say, of course, that these poets are limited to their particular Spice Girl. They know how to strike when the inspiration iron is hot.
With the potential for big new partnerships in the coming months, there are only giant steps in store for The Diatribe and for the kids they help to explore their own creativity. I know I look to them as inspiration, even though all but one of them violate the rule that someone can be either better than me at something or younger than me, but not both. And they’re grooming an even younger group of people to be even more talented. At least Foster is old like me. That’s literally the only thing that stops me from drowning my clear inferiority in tumblers of tequila every time I’m lucky enough to hear their work. But for the less bitter and self-pitying among you, I’m sure you’ll just enjoy them. Catch them on Mondays at Stella’s for The Drunken Retort and in the hearts of children and educators alike.
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Written by Kaira Williams