Dove Dupree adopted his stage name only within the last few years, but he began his music/poetry/theater career in fourth grade at Elwood Elementary School in Philadelphia.
“I did a rap in front of my school assembly called ‘Don’t Do Drugs,’ and, like, I was mumbling and I don’t think anybody understood a word that I said,” the 29-year-old multi-artist recalls. “When you’re 7, you’re rapping about crayons and cartoons. It’s nothing great, but I never stopped.”
These days, Dupree’s a rising force in Greenville’s literary and performing-arts scene, especially in spoken-word poetry. He found opportunity and community in Greenville after graduating from Gardner-Webb University, a Christian university in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, where he earned a degree in theater and communications in 2013. In Greenville, he worked for about five years as a substitute teacher and in the library at East North Elementary School.
Now he’s a “lyricist, poet and educator,” as Wit’s End Poetry describes him. As a member of the Say What?! Greenville poetry-slam team, he earned finalist and semifinalist spots in the Southern Fried and National Poetry Slam competitions, respectively.
Last summer, Dupree threw himself full-time into writing, music and performing. He beams about a recent week that saw him filming a commercial in Greensboro; working on a new song in a recording studio and on a film in Columbia; and teaching poetry at a middle school.
He also runs social-media marketing and video services and teaches poetry and acting through the Metropolitan Arts Council’s SmartARTS program.
“It has been inspiring to watch Dove’s transformation from an emerging poet into one of the top lyricists in the Southeast,” says Kimberly Simms Gibbs, Wit’s End Poetry’s founder and executive director, who also works at the arts council. “With his level of talent and his commitment to mentoring youth, Dove Dupree has big things on the horizon.”
Likewise, award-winning poet Moody Black effuses about the young man he calls “my little brother.”
“I love him to death. He’s such a talented individual, a high-spirited person, just a good guy,” says Black, who was featured in the Greenville Journal in 2017 as one the city’s “hidden gems.” “It’s really rare to say that about a lot of people, but he is just an all-around good guy — like, he aspires to be good in everything he does.”
Black describes Dupree’s poetry much the same way the artist himself does.
“Healing, growth, everything he does — all his work exemplifies that. A lot of his poems are from the perspective of telling someone else’s journey, how they’re trying to overcome something or grow from something.”
Dupree shies away from dwelling on African-American issues in his work, be it rap or straight-ahead poetry.
“You see me, I wake up black, obviously, but, no, I just want to make sure that I’m just doing the right thing. There are issues to address as a black person, as a male, as a believer, but I think the thing that ultimately shapes my life, more than anything, has been my faith.”
Says Black, “His story’s from our plight, much as he may not admit it, but he has a lot of tales from the African diaspora. Even his own personal struggles reflect a lot of our struggles, but once you break it all down, we all have the same basic struggles — seeking love, seeking healing.”
Ultimately, that’s what Dupree says he wants: to make art that makes an impact. That, and marrying his fiancée, Kristan Alewine, an administrator at Tanglewood Elementary School, and starting a family one day and opening his own rec center where he can teach and work on all of his art.
“The thing I want to do is, I want to make an impact in a positive way — every song, every poem that I do.”
Poems by Dove Dupree
family just point them out. Now his reasoning behind limiting our celebrations was…This isn’t a soccer goal or a touch down, this is a
. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls we have to keep our dignity
Im sorry but if you are the last hope in your family to get a degree, nobody is thinking about dignity. Dignity is on vacation. See statistics tried to add their say so, But I don’t have to listen to what they say so, I didn’t but I guess in some circles that wheel is fortunate.
But for others that were counted out before counted in,
count to ten but now they have to re tally the statistics because I made it through, I’m sorry, Dignity ain’t here right now,
See when you are the only one who shows up that day to tell yourself congratulations, screaming your name. And everyone is staring in your face like who do you think you are.
dignity tomorrow. I didn’t invest 5 years
pull all nighters for a moment of dignity. This poem is my dignity.
I’m done, I expect you to clap like you lost your mind. This is what my undignified, class of the future, Bachelor of arts, 2.65 GPA, never should a made it but I made it dignity looks like.
If I wanna go moonwalk across the stage just to
I clipped my finger nails just for this handshake.
been practicing my 7 steps across stage since enrollment.
Step 1. Having enough confidence in myself that I could even attempt secondary education.
I did those odds a favor
Step 2 and 3 – remembering everyone and everything
Step 4 and 5 – forgetting everyone that doubted or hindered my hopes for it happening
Shake hands and walk away like I got an arm worth a million, this moment is mine
I put my signature on this stage while y’all were still reading the program. I cashed Diploma
for 5 years, 144 credits, 70,000 in Sallie Maes,
is nothing you can tell me. This is solo thats Demallo this is all by my selfie,
So if they told you what they told me, you can stand to your feet we can have a big dignity right now cuz when I’m done I expect u to clap, like you lost your mind Unless of course… you are too dignified to do so
LEAVE IT BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT
Life can be really messy sometimes
Luckily I was always taught, to clean up after myself
Darelle you better get these dishes. Out. My. Sink before I get back!!!
Booooy if you don’t get your underwear OUT of the middle of the floor Imma smack the-
But more importantly.
I was always taught to leave a place better than I found it.
But I’m like NOOO! Why do I gotta clean this mess? I didn’t do it!!!?
So you telling me if THEY make a mess I’m supposed to clean it up?!
THEIR dirt. THEIR dishes, THEIR floor
Why do I have to clean up BEHIND someone else?
She said DON’T you live here too?
I said yes mam, but it’s not my fault I shouldn’t have to
She said, it doesn’t have to be your FAULT…NOW… it’s your responsibility
Even if you didn’t do it, you have to leave this place better than you found it
And y’all the older I got, the more I realized. She wasn’t just talking about places. She was talking about people…
Leaving people better than you found them
One day you might walk into a room full of broken people. Even though you did not break them, you might have to fix them.
More often than not, you will have to sanitize a man’s view on how to respect a woman.
You might have to Windex the lies she tells herself. Tell her you can see right through her
Even push broom a father back into his kid’s life
But sometimes, it just gets so exhausting cleaning behind other people.
Eventually you get tired of the Clorox on your palms and you want to say
I DIDN’T DO IT! …..He broke her heart, why do I have to fix it?!
It’s not my fault!
Well It might not have been your fault. But now it is your responsibility
To leave this world, better than you found it.
Now we may never end up being perfectly spotless
But we can still ask ourselves…did we leave someone else better than we found them?
With a smile, a laugh, some good thoughts, something?
Because if not, then I declare this poem our spring cleaning
Because I wanna be spit shine your shoe
No, I wanna be Pine Sol to your soul
I wanna be what happens when captain planet gives Mr. Clean a pep talk
And there are somedays …my inner janitor doesn’t want to show up to work.
And I’ll need you to help me mop the tears from my eyes.
Recycle them, so they can rinse away the negative thoughts from my mind
Teach me how to forgive myself for my past mistakes.
Y’all, can you Imagine
If you went the extra mile to improve someone’s life that you might never see again?
Now isn’t that what life is about?
Making sure your NEXT generation is greater than this one right now?
There’s a saying that goes… you are sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
So when are we going stop leaving messes, and start leaving seeds?
I mean we litter so many bad thoughts anyway because we convinced ourselves someone else is going to clean up after us.
But what if they don’t? What if they think just like her. Or him. Or Me….or you?
And we keep leaving this world a mess like we are expecting a maid
WE ARE THE HOUSE KEEPING!
We need to realize we only have 1 world.
And If you leave your mark on it…and it never comes off,
Did you leave this place better than you found it?
Or just a bigger mess for someone else to clean up?
If you see a chance to clean up this world, take it.
It doesn’t have to be your FAULT…But now it’s your responsibility.
Even if you didn’t do it, you have to leave this place better than you found it.
Because after all, don’t you live here too?
Why you always aggressive?
We are doing the world favor
That’s the same phobia that squashed Phillando Castile
We don’t need another misunderstanding