Diverse Word, established in September 2006, stands as the longest-running open mic in Orlando, offering a platform for local artists to showcase their talents. At the heart of this artistic haven is Shawn Welcome, founder and long-time host, who has been a critical figure in nurturing the city’s creative spirit.

Diverse Word has become a cultural cornerstone for Orlando’s artistic community. Held at Downtown Credo – North Quarter, 885 N. Orange Ave., the Tuesday night event welcomes performers and spectators alike from 7:30 pm to 10 pm. The open mic encompasses a wide range of artistic expressions, mostly poetry, but also singing, comedy, and rap, reflecting the diverse talents present in the city.

Shawn Welcome, a long-time Orlando resident and University of Central Florida graduate, has been a driving force behind Diverse Word. From its inception, Shawn has cultivated an inclusive space that fosters artistic growth. In 2021, he was honored as the city’s poet laureate, a testament to his significant impact on Orlando’s creative landscape.

The Diverse Word baton passing ceremony on December 5th, 2023, signified the transition from Shawn Welcome to the new host, Marquis Lee. Shawn’s legacy as the host of Diverse Word is the end of an era, welcoming a new chapter under Marquis’s guidance. The ceremony highlighted the continuity of artistic expression in Orlando, ensuring that DiverseWord remains a vibrant hub for the city’s creative minds.

Hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Marquis Lee brings a unique perspective and a wealth of experience in fostering creativity within communities.  Inspiring artistic freedom, Marquis has vowed to seamlessly carry the torch from his predecessor, Shawn Welcome, and is ready to continue the legacy of Diverse Word.

Lee spends his time mentoring with Exodus United Inc., a local non-profit geared toward inspiring at-risk youth in central Florida. You can often find him at Lake Eola on the weekends with his partner, creating and performing original poems.

As Diverse Word undergoes this transition, the baton passing ceremony on December 5th, 2023, served as a momentous occasion, reflecting on the rich history of Orlando’s longest-running open mic. With the legacy of Shawn Welcome and the fresh perspective of Marquis Lee, Diverse Word remains a vital platform for artistic expression, uniting the community through the power of words and creativity.


Follow Diverse Word on Instagram at @DiverseWord and Facebook under the same name!

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