Poet. Performer.
Motivational Speaker.


Poet. Performer.
Motivational Speaker.

“I want to scream like Joshua screamed.
I want to be red-faced and holy.
I want to scream until the walls I have built,
unimaginably high, inconceivably thick,
that mortar and brick, begins to crumble split by the
force of my sound.”
-The Other Side of Jericho


Gleason is a Michigan poet and performer, whose sharp tongue and soulful heart educate, encourage, and inspire.

They are the Director of Education of The Diatribe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to uniting, inspiring, and empowering the youth through poetry. Gleason’s work has been commissioned by local and national organizations, including The Hope Network and The National Fair Housing Alliance.

They have represented Grand Rapids in poetry slams on national stages and co-coached The Retort United Slam team from 2017-2019, which took home the third-place trophy for Group Piece Finals at the 2018 National Poetry Slam.

Raised in a fundamental, evangelical church where their faith was often at odds with their soul, Gleason’s art is rooted in the idea and that poetry is a way of seeing the world, a way of seeing god in unexpected places. They believe in pipe dreams and that words have the power to change the world.

They have spoken at TEDX events, education conferences, and universities across the country and their work has been featured by NPR,, Curve Magazine, and DivaMag UK.

“Gleason’s poetry is insightful and powerful. Their public presentations are an inspiration to people of all ages. They are a model for everyone to speak their truth.”

– Leslie Newman
Event Coordinator,
C3 Inclusive Spiritual Connection



Gleason regularly performs and speaks all over West Michigan. 

Along with The Diatribe and The Drunken Retort, also brings poets and speakers from all over the US right here to Grand Rapids.

To see all upcoming events, visit the Facebook page.



“Grand Rapids spoken word poet Gleason performed with ferocity as she told her life story through poems, songs and conversation. Using a prominent theme of strength through vulnerability in their poetry, the poet left a mark on Central Michigan University students who attended the performance.” -CMU Life Magazine

“Gleason has been a guest teacher at Open Circle on several occasions. They are a uniquely gifted communicator who generously and vulnerably offers poems, stories, and wisdom – and most importantly – presence to everyone she encounters. The world needs more Gleason.” – Matt Laidlaw, Spiritual Director, Author



Including poems that pull back the curtain on growing up LGBTQ in an evangelical home, “New Kind of Rebellion” is as refreshing as it is intimate.

Since childhood, Gleason was never taught to see the strength as a woman — something many women struggle with. Their message as an artist is now one of strength through vulnerability.

At just under forty pages, “New Kind of Rebellion” is literally a light summer read, but is also an image-driven journey into the depth of one person’s resolve against societal and religious norms.

“Their words are true, raw, emotional and inspirational. Gleason  shines a light on issues that often stay in the dark. Their words are powerful. This book is empowering. It stirs the spirit and awakens the soul. Their words are of great value. Rachel thank you for your bravery. Thank you for the gift of your words.”
– Sarah P.

“Maybe I should apologize
to all of the small things
that I broke
in order to feel powerful:
Every crayon in the pencil box
when I was three years old
just because I could
and it felt good.
The countless sticks
I cracked against the trunks of towering
silver maples when I wanted to feel
as free as the dancing leaves.
My mother’s heart
when I was nineteen
and I just wanted to be me.”
-On Breaking Clouds


Contact Gleason to inquire about speaking engagements, book performances and connect with one of West Michigan’s most engaging, inspiring activists.