Snap, don’t clap. Performance poetry group, TrueVoices, celebrated their four year anniversary this Saturday in the Bronx with their event Progress: The Narrative. The collaboration of singer-songwriter performances, painters, and vibrant slam poetry electrified audiences leaving a long-lasting impact with those watching.
Miguel Rodriguez, from the Bronx, is the director of the New York City chapter where young adults workshop their poetry along with receiving personalized training. However, Miguel expresses his work goes beyond planning events.
“I’m your guy’s biggest fan. I’ve memorized most of your poems.” Miguel, 24, tells the team prior to the performance as they gather for a fan Q&A.
Eloquently performed, the poems possessed collective themes of the Black Lives Matter Movement, racial inequality, and a demand for change. Their message of progress was charged with hope, and included stories of both trial and triumph. Not only did TV’s New York poets perform, also alumni and artists from Chicago’s and Philadelphia’s chapters traveled to join the stage.
Prior to the event, I spoke to poet Michael Brantley of the Bronx. In preparing for an event of this scale, he says the most important thing is prayer.
“It’s for the glory of God and to serve others. You humble yourself to pray and you really get into the mindset that this is not about me. otherwise I would be performing to myself in the mirror.”
-Michael Brantley, 29
This same thought was echoed in other performers, including Sammie King of Brooklyn, who was the youngest performer of the group. To spiritually prepare for Progress, Sammie talked about fasting in the days prior. He spoke with wisdom beyond his years when speaking about humbling himself before going on stage.
“Remembering that God didn’t make me to be the star, He put me amongst the stars just to point to Him.”
-Sammie King, 18
Now four years old, TV is a national organization that combines ministry with art. Founded by Pastor Jonathan Escobar of the Bronx in 2012, TV now has chapters in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
What’s next for TV? They plan to expand their ministry into a church where artists and poets alike can gather in community and faith. Although their events attract believers as well as nonbelievers, they hope to make an impact in both the faith and artistic realm of New York City and cities along the East Coast.
Are you a performing poet and want to be a part of True Voices? They have an application process that poets can share their work to be considered for entry. Delsey Alvarez, co-director of the NYC chapter says that the most important thing during this process is for the leadership to know your story and build a relationship. “It kinda feels like family” she says, “we’ll always keep in contact with each other.”
To apply, click here.
To learn about more events around New York City, follow them on all social media platforms using @truevoicestv