To the uninitiated, the Grand Rapids poetry and spoken word scene may still appear to be an underground movement. But to those in the know, it is exploding in popularity with regular events happening at a myriad of venues across the city.
The continued vitality of the community in part may be owed to those like Azizi Jasper, who played a role in ushering the scene from the raucous era of the late 90s and early aughts to the new generation of wordsmith culture. In 2012, Rapid Growth Media covered Azizi, his poetry and the decades-old history of spoken word in Grand Rapids. His influence is still palpable.
I spoke with a few of the current movers and shakers who are actively pumping lifeblood into the scene to see what kind of words are being slung these days, and why it matters.