Members of The Diatribe work with high school students throughout Michigan to share their stories through spoken word poetry. For the past several months, The Diatribe was at the Rocket Learning Lab near Grand Rapids. The Learning Lab serves as an alternative High School in Kelloggsville Public Schools.
“We started with a class of 30 some. Half the kids got expelled, went to jail, dropped out. And we only had 15 kids left in the class and then we cut it down to the kids that were really serious which was six, and all six performed.”
Several of the teachers within Kelloggsville High School have also been working with their students to create poetry. Along with the six students from the learning lab, an additional 30 students from the high school performed on March 2nd in front of more than 200 teachers, students, and community members.
“Today went phenomenal; it went even better than expected. 36 kids all sharing vulnerable, beautiful work, in front of all their peers in high school, which is like the hardest time to even act like yourself. So yeah it was beautiful," says Marcus Jacobs, a student from Kelloggsville High School who placed first at the showcase.
Now that he’s gone through the program, Jacobs says he feels like he’s finally found a way to express himself.
“Now that I know that people won’t judge me for [expressing myself] I won’t have to worry about it as much. I used to be like a closed person and not tell a lot of people about stuff, but now I’m like more open too,” he says.
Diatribe member Shawn Moore says he likes helping students come out of their shell.
“To get their voice out and to get their word out, so that people in this community know that you know that even though these kids - some of these kids have issues at home and problems at home - they’re still incredible people. And they have so much to say and so much to give the community,” he says.
Fable says when he works with the students he feels like he’s making a difference in the world.
“There’s just not any better work in the world," he says. "Whether it pays, whether it doesn’t pay, there’s nothing so rewarding. The kids like they treat you like you’re Johnny Cash. They’re so blown away by you, and you’re getting them to share themselves. It’s just like, you’re changing tomorrow, like you feel like you’re actually making a difference.”
Along with the group events, Moore says each individual member of the Diatribe also focuses on a specific facet of the community.
“Fable works with mental disorders mixed race issues because those are things he lives. Whatever we can do to help kids and anybody else of any age that are living what we lived and what we made it through,” says Moore.
Fable travels across Michigan every week and starting May 12th he’ll kick off his nine-state tour called The Cast Away Tour.
“The logo that you’ll see on all of the shirts that I’m bringing throughout my tour is a paper boat being tossed amongst waves," says Fable. "And it’s to really get people in that pay-it-forward mindset of that we all have to deal with life’s waves, and at times we all feel fragile and stranded and alone. And just to keep that in your mind and just really spread that message.”