When Poetry Meets Music

Friday, December 16 from 6-7pm @ The Wealthy Theatre Annex (1110 Wealthy St. SE)

The CYC has been at it again, writing great pieces we can’t wait to share with all of you–so we will. On Friday, December 16, the CYC will host a spoken word poetry reading in collaboration with Triumph Music Academy in which the two young groups of artists will combine their talents to create one moving performance.

Often referred to as “slam poetry,” spoken word is a form that emerged from the Black Arts Movement in association with the Civil Rights Movement. It’s meant to be performed out loud, unlike the on-page version many students learn in school.

“Spoken word takes what we often think of as words on a page and turns it into an auditory experience,” says Brianne Carpenter, the CYC’s Program Manager. “Poems aren’t only meant to be read–they’re meant to be heard.”

The CYC has been discussing spoken word in the context of its roots in social justice, so many of the students’ poems will touch on these important issues. Still, the CYC encourages students to write about whatever they want, so it’s likely a handful of poems addressing cupcakes and marshmallows may fall into the mix.

Our young writers have been working on their pieces for weeks in preparation for the event. In addition, well-known spoken word poets from the community have generously donated their time to guide students in the craft of spoken word performances. One of the guest poets is a member of the Grand Rapids National Slam Poetry team. So, yeah, we have some stellar poems coming your way. Accompanied by original music composed by students of the Triumph Music Academy–music, might we add, inspired by the writings of the CYC students–the event promises to entertain and inspire.

“This is the first time CYC students have collaborated with students from anywhere else,” says Brianne. “I’m excited to see what it will be like when two groups of young people come together to make art that is bigger than they could create on their own.”

Each “set” in the performance will consist of a poem performed by CYC students followed by a musical piece that somehow corresponds in feeling to the poem.

“We’re putting two art forms together and seeing what happens when they speak to each other,” Brianne says.

And that’s a conversation we don’t want to miss. Save the date on your calendars for this FREE musical, poetic performance!

Friday, December 16 from 6-7pm @ The Wealthy Theatre Annex (1110 Wealthy St. SE)

Meet Captain Tommy!


Captain Tommy (not to be confused with the elusive Captain Tanny) is one of the new faces of the CYC this year. As the CYC’s social media operator, blogger, and miscellaneous task-accomplisher, he faces his most challenging mission yet: interviewing himself for the sake of an informative blogpost.

May I say you look dazzling today, Tommy?

You may–if I can say the same to you.

Let’s get down to business; the people are dying to know: What motivates you to work at the CYC?

When I was in fourth grade, I did not spend my recess time like most students–playing tag, basketball, hopscotch. I spent those fifteen minutes attempting to write my first novel. My teacher noticed what I was up to and asked me to show her my writing. Throughout that year she continued to encourage me. She even gave me my first writing journal to work in. I never did finish that novel, and I’ve spent the last thirteen years trying to write my first novel. But the point is that I had someone there for me, encouraging my artistic pursuits–I was not alone.

So when I discovered the CYC, I thought, What! There’s a place where kids can go to develop their creativity and writing skills? The CYC is just the kind of sanctuary I wish I had as a kid. And now, as a volunteer/intern, I hope I can pass that gift on to others.

What was your favorite book as a kid?

I couldn’t get enough Harry Potter in my life. In my free time I’d write my own fan-fiction stories about Harry going on all sorts of adventures outside of J.K. Rowling’s whims. But isn’t that an obvious book choice? A more nuanced answer would be The New Adventures series of fantasy books. Lots of dragons and goblins.

I already know this one–what is your favorite place to go on adventures?

I spent the summer working as a chef on a dude ranch in Wyoming. Surrounded by the mountains, the trout-filled rivers, and that vast western sky–I’d say Wyoming is my favorite place for exploration. Just watch out for those grizzly bears.

So you’re not in school?

Not at the moment, Tommy. I graduated from Hope College in May. I’m looking into MFA programs (that’s Masters of Fine Arts programs for creative writing) and, yes, I’m looking forward to more schooling. I miss having peers reading and critiquing my work. (Maybe I need to find a CYC for adults!)

Miranda had some stellar favorite quotes in her interview, T. What do you have for us?

Martin Amis said, “I think all writers are Martians. They come and say, You haven’t been seeing this place right.”

I like this quote for two reasons: 1) I believe in extraterrestrial life and any reference to them gives me an awesome burst of goosebumps, and 2) It shows that everyone has her own lens through which she views the world; everyone has his own experiences that have led him to see everything in a unique, nuanced light, and writing allows these views the freedom of expression.

This has been the best interview ever.

Well, I had a good interviewer.


There you go making things corny again, Tommy.