July 22 2010 12:00 AM

Capitol performers take a stand against violence


If anyone wonders whether there’s any young talent left in the state of Michigan, New Citizens Press publisher and former Lansing City Council candidate Rina Risper has an answer: a big, resounding ‘yes.’

Her annual Poetry in the City event makes its way to the Capitol steps Thursday, as a slew of young poets and performers give artists a chance to have their voices heard.

It’s all part of Risper’s plan.

“I started Poetry in the City because I recognized that there was so much untapped talent in the community,” she explains. “It should not cost an arm and a leg to promote local talent.”

In this case, it will cost performers and attendees nothing.

Local teens Brayla Garrett and Shawnniece Dedrick will perform, as well as Michigan State University student Aseel Macho.

Shanton Andrews, winner of the Soaring Eagle Casino SuperStar contest, will sing the national anthem to kick things off.

But perhaps the most compelling performance will come from Hakim Crampton, a motivational speaker and mentor for atrisk youth in mid-Michigan.

Crampton, a graduate of the Pontiac Business Institute, as well as an author and academic tutor, turned his life around after serving 15 years of a 45-year sentence for a murder he was tied to, but did not commit.

He’s a perfect example of the message Risper is trying to promote: the prevention of violence.

Spurred on by recent Lansing homicides, Risper and One Love Global President Angela Austin began holding a series of events called Peace & Prosperity, aimed at reducing violence among youth. They’ve held several events to both raise awareness and help families affected by violent crime.

“I realized that violence impacts the extended family and friends structure,” Risper explains. “We wanted to provide them with resources and also have other events available for the families.”

Though Poetry in the City will not raise money, Risper believes that the stories told through poetry will inspire change, while allowing aspiring poets and other performers a chance to show off their talents and perhaps gain a creative mentor.

“The focus is on providing support to younger poets by allowing them to perform with more established poets,” Risper says. “They will only learn how to be better by watching and learning from more established poets and performers.”

Poetry in the City will also feature an open mic session.

To sign up, e-mail rina@oneloveglobal.org, or call (517) 372-8466.

Poetry in the City

7 p.m. Thursday, July 22 On the steps of the Capitol Building, downtown Lansing Free (517) 372-8466