Those young birds in question would be the diamond-in-the-rough denizens — writers of poetry and prose — of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. The performers will take the stage in the Egyptian Ballroom at the Fox Theatre in Midtown April 23 as part of its annual The Power of Words event.
Part of the Marel Brown Creative Writing Program, the evening is billed as a celebration of self-expression and a chance to honor the best of the clubs’ budding artists.
Count 9-year-old poet Milana Porter among them.
“When I write … it helps me brighten my imagination,” said Porter, a student at Parkside Elementary near Grant Park. “It also helps me deal with things … plus, through [the program] I’m getting to meet people on my journey.”
At the Fox, Porter will perform a poem at once remembering and lamenting happier times with her father before her parents’ recent divorce.
That piece is a reflection of the array of often mature subject matter Brown participants touch upon — the harsh realities of their surrounding environments included.
“Some of these poems sort of tear at your soul … when these kids share their lives,” said clubs spokeswoman Melanie Buckmaster. “They look forward to [‘The Power of Words’] … and it’s just fun to see them receiving validation for what they’re doing.”
The clubs serve about 3,500 children at 27 different outposts throughout metro Atlanta.
Selected writing program alumni can also add published author to their individual resumes. Each year a panel of judges wades through several hundred submissions to pick those that will comprise the Marel Brown Creative Writing book.
Kaelin Matthews, 18, has earned that distinction twice. That includes this year’s entry on romantic heartbreak, which he will perform at the Fox.
Matthews, a senior at Carver High in downtown Atlanta, offered a sobering perspective on the event.
“This isn’t some clean-cut show or poetry reading that people might be used to,” he said. “A lot of [the writers] are really digging deep.
“They say the children are supposed to be the future, so if you want to see what your future looks and sounds like, come out to the Fox [tonight].”
Club officials point to outlets like the Brown initiative as a means to an end from an educational standpoint.
With nearly 70 percent of Georgia’s fourth-graders off-track regarding reading proficiency, it is critical to give them programs that make learning interesting and fun, said the clubs’ Arts and Cultural Enrichment Director Rebecca DesMarais.
“Programs like Marel Brown do encourage creative and self-expression. … But it’s also teaching them skills they’re going to need in life — reading, writing and public speaking.”
The performers will host a reception and book signing immediately following their show.
IF YOU GO:
o What: "The Power of Words"
o When: Wednesday (April 23) from 6 to 8 p.m.
o Where: Egyptian Ballroom at the Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St., Midtown
o Information: To RSVP, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org