Last month, we were happy to virtually host the Poetry Out Loud teacher workshop session with Marcel ‘Fable’ Price and Rachel Gleason from The Diatribe, which facilitates after-school programs, assemblies, and creative writing workshops rooted in poetry in West Michigan. This summer, The Diatribe will offer virtual programming. We recently caught up with Fable and Rachel to ask about their work, The Diatribe, and advice for teachers working with students through the current school environment.

Tell us about the start of The Diatribe and your current work.

A: The Diatribe started as a collective of artists that were passionate about making art more accessible in their community. The Diatribe is now a startup nonprofit organization in its third fiscal year. What started as a career day for students at an alternative school in Grand Rapids, is now a quickly growing non profit centering marginalized voices that works with early 20 schools year providing after school programs, workshops, and assemblies.

What are your past experiences and future plans as poets and educators?

A: We hope to continue to sharpen our sword when it comes to programming. We now have 7 very versatile artists who are comfortable in the class room, that all bring something unique to the table. We hope to reach new ears, hearts, and donors so that we can hire a full time development director. We also hope to one day have a small space that will transform the Urban Core of our city into an artistic oasis.

How has poetry changed for you or what has it meant to you during this crisis?

A: It hasn’t. Poetry is still a megaphone that brings information to the masses in an easy to digest way. As entrepreneurs, well, everything is on fire. Our income has stopped completely as artists, our programming has come to a complete halt, and living in West Michigan there are no artist grants, stipends, or fellowships so we are in limbo when it comes to economic stability.

But creatively, we are still working to bring light to our community and those we serve.

What advice would you give to teachers and students about the role of poetry at this time?

A: Years from now, people will be reading about this moment. So, poets, you are literally writing history. Capture it, and capture it as you see it. Educators, get innovative, have fun, and find new ways to reach young people.

Right now, everyone is in limbo, everyone is learning, and this is new for everyone. So it is up to all of us to reinvent this wheel, and take what works along with us as we see what the “new normal” becomes.

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