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Grand Rapids student poets, musicians team up for spoken-word album

Four poets stand behind a mic to record their spoken-word album.
Brianne Carpenter
Creative Youth Center

It's been a relentless news cycle this week, so here's a break for at least a few minutes from politics, national security and healthcare. We turned the mic over to some students way outside the beltway. Middle school poets from the Creative Youth Center in Grand Rapids teamed up with teen musicians from Triumph Music Academy to produce a spoken-word album. 

They spoke with Michigan Radio about the collaboration. An excerpt is below, but this is just one of those stories you'll want to hear, not just read:

My name is Alanna, I go to Public Museum School, I am in the sixth grade and I love writing poems.

What was the first piece you wrote here? First piece was...oh that’s so long ago, that was like four years ago...so...I’ll have to say: Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I love like you like a kid in a candy store. That’s a good first poem. I know! What was it like to hear someone else playing music to your words? It was cool because I really liked the beat they made to "I Am." She had a little ukulele and it was really nice and it was peaceful.

And here's an excerpt from Alanna's poem, "I Am"

I am 244 Union Street Long hair and don’t care Brown skin dancer. // I am Big sis and best friend Not a fighter I am Poet, reader, and Writer // I am 12:30 Wake up I are dinner Eater I am A+er or A top girl // I am willy nilly who Hates lilies I am My mother’s daughter // The first and don’t forget I am tiny but who Cares I am the one Who ate the jelly bean I am my mother’s daughter //

Alanna's poem, along with others from the Creative  Youth Center writing workshop, will be published in an upcoming anthology called Book of Explosions: Collecting Shadows & Light. 

Her poem is one of two dozen included in a new spoken-word and music album, a collaboration between CYC and Triumph Music Academy. The album release party is Monday, May 22 at 7 p.m. at Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids. 

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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