Spoken word series gives men an emotional outlet

Andrea Daniel
Special to the Detroit News

Let’s face it: Men are not necessarily known for sharing their feelings. But Detroit poet Joel “Fluent” Greene gives a different perception with “A Man Can Change,” his spoken word and music series. It comes to the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts Friday.

“It’s to present men in a very honest, and ego-free way,” says the poet who also hosts the series. “It’s a chance for us to, together, create something fun, and present to the city our talents, our thoughts, what motivates us, and how we look at the world.”

“Fluent,” as Greene is known in the poetry community, knows a thing or two about creating and hosting poetry events. He was the long running host of the Café Mahogany (now closed) popular poetry nights during the late 1990s.

He says he wanted to do something special for the holiday season with “A Man Can Change,” which until last spring was a monthly series. The topic for Friday’s show is “change” with a theme of giving back.

“The poets and singers will speak about change … like what’s going on in Ferguson,” he says. “They’ll talk about what’s going on in the city; about how we need to change ourselves to better change our environment, and things that we feel personally when it comes to change.”

Headlining the show is singer-songwriter Pierre Anthony, whom Greene calls a “jack-of-all-trades.”

“He’s done a lot of my shows before, and I really wanted to give him the spotlight this time. He’s amazing.”

The lineup also includes poet David Muhsin, singer-guitarist Trey Simon, poet Azizi Jasper, rapper/poet Tommy Kraus (aka Tommy Gunz), and saxophonist Mike Monford.

As the musician in the group, Monford says he will tell his own life’s journey through jazz.

“I know one of the things we can focus on is Detroit,” says the saxophonist. “So I’m going to play a tune from one of the Detroit masters like Teddy Harris or Donald Byrd ... and tell a little about myself.”

For Gunz, who has been writing poetry and rapping for the past 11 years, the show is a perfect opportunity to express the changes in his life.

“I’m a recovering addict,” Gunz says. “And music and poetry have taken on a completely different meaning for me.

“And when I make music that other people battling addiction can relate to, it makes me want to change inside and keep working on myself.” He celebrates eight months clean Christmas day.

Even though the show focuses on men, there is a lady’s touch, with Natasha “T” Miller, award-winning slam poet and 2012 Kresge Arts Fellow opening the show, and DJ LaJedi on the turntables.

Greene says he also wants to emphasize the giving back aspect of the show. He has partnered with 20 Books Inc., a nonprofit charity that promotes literacy.

“We’re offering a big discount on tickets at the door if you bring a book of your choice to donate,” he says.

Andrea Daniel is a Detroit-based freelance writer.

A Man Can Change

9 p.m. Friday

Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts

350 Madison, Detroit

Tickets $20 at the door, $15 in advance; $15 at the door with a book donation

(313) 887-8501