About Us

Like a good cocktail, there are few sources of inspiration or ingredients that led to the launch of Diverse Word.
1) A desire to diversify the open mic scene. Before Diverse Word, open mics in Orlando, to Shawn Welcome, felt very homogeneous and he was tired of going to several different open mics to get a taste of the different flavors of poetic expression. There was a feeling that this could all be in one place.
2) Seeing the transformative power of poetry through the lives of youth offenders at 33rd St. Jail. This was a program co-founded by Shawn Welcome and Blu Bailey after program director, John Richter, invited them to inspire incarcerated youth. They developed those visits into a 12-week curriculum that concluded with a final poetry presentation for their loved ones. The impact was tangible.
3) Exposure to National Poetry Slam in 2006 which was held in Austin, TX that year. Poets from all of the United States descended on one city to compete for a few days and the caliber of talent and variety of artistic expression branded a new ideal of the kind of creative energy that was possible in Orlando.
After the return from National Poetry Slam 2006, Shawn began to share his desire for starting an open mic night. While at AKA lounge, a former venue downtown, an artist by the name of Holly told him about a new vegan/vegetarian restaurant that just opened called Dandelion Community Cafe and she knows the owner would be thrilled to have something like that there. That night, Shawn rode his motorcycle to the venue and imagined what it could be like. The next day, he met with the owner, Julie Norris at the time, and after describing the vision, she gave him the green light to proceed on September 19, 2006. The rest is history!

The Community

We are creative people who also listen to other creatives. We value community and respect the time others have to speak in exchange for our own. We do our best to support and encourage each other on our personal journeys.

The Founder

Shawn Welcome is a content writer and performance poet who has been an Orlando resident since 1993. He is the Poet Laureate for the City of Orlando, which was made official by Mayor Buddy Dyer and City Council members on October 11, 2021. He is the Founder and CEO of Diverse Word, LLC, a creative arts organization under which falls Diverse Word and other creative arts offerings. He has traveled the U.S. speaking and performing, written NBA commercials for the Orlando Magic, done voice overs ads for colleges and universities, and continues to seek opportunities for artists like himself to get paid. Shawn graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a Master’s Degree in Sociology (Summer ’22).  Shawn’s skill set has been exercised in many area nonprofits and industries that serve the community. The Hope Community Center, Boys & Girls Club, Pg. 15, Professional Opportunities Program for Students (POPS), Oak Ridge High School, Frontline Outreach Community Center, and Polis Institute. Shawn lives with his wife and children in Orlando, enjoys watching documentaries of all sorts, and working out at the gym. 

Connect With Shawn Welcome

Further Information

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