I became a writer when I joined spoken word scenes, and participated in high school poetry slams almost 6 years ago. I used to love memorizing a poem so well that I could finally let it out of my whole body, and not just my mouth. I remember reading a poem close to 300 times, aloud in a McDonald's parking lot, before I finally felt ready for it to spill out of me. I remember jumping out of the car and shouting it out by the dumpsters, and walking up and down Stadium Avenue just trying to feel it out.
On August 28th, 2015 we partnered with Michigan United's Fair Chance 4 All campaign for a creative and powerful storytelling event. We celebrated the end of our 8-week writing series while our Core Impact Team members performed, alongside local artists Denise Miller, Yolonda Yogi Lavendar & Marcel "Fable the Poet" Price.
It was gorgeous to see stories take up space.
[I am from the city of three]
a poem by Jamaal Black
Where teens party, get drunk and walk in the street
Might catch someone beating up a potted tree
Everyone know everybody, including the police
Country rides to purgatory smoking blunts of green
Bonfires with kegs snuggled up with your squeeze
All was well until that one day with those things
Never ending cycles became addicting
Friend betrayed friend, all to be King
One by one they disappeared, sent to prison or OD’d
Some just moved away never to be seen
I was lucky, I got out, but nowhere near clean
I long to go home but that place is in a dream
My city has been taken over, Meth is now King.
Above is a poem from a creative writing workshop held at a local probation and parollee facility. It illustrates gorgeously the city and region's struggle against Meth. I've casually heard of Kalamazoo referred to as "the Meth capital of Michigan," and research on meth busts concurs.
a blog/video post by Allison
All right, I admit, the title's just for click-bait. And, in both art and community organizing work, it is important to address the "mutual interest" of everyone engaging in the work. In particular, I've found it necessary for folks like myself, who are not directly impacted by incarceration, to map our "buy-in," and name what is our stake in resisting incarceration. How did we end up here? What is at stake for us if we are are complicit in creating a society run on shame and explicit racism? Without digging into these questions, I fear those of us doing work in solidarity with families and communities most impacted by incarceration risk running on ultimately oppressive sources of energy: white guilt, anxiety, "ministry" or charity. Those run out soon.
This is a piece I performed alongside our other team members during our first collaborative performance, What's Next? How Do We Become Human Again? on February 20th, 2015.
a poem by Melissa Lesky
I am from the Metal Box
I am from Sickness
I am from a under developed fetus
I am from Nightmares I can't remember
I am from the Pitch Black
I am from monster you can't see
I am from Screams and Mute ears
I am from Somewhere No One Cares
I am from my cold directed stares
I am from being left on a ghetto street
I am from no food to eat
I am from Adult Ed Getting My GED
I am from a life filled with hurt
I am from a place where no family waits
I am from a place that holds hope today