York City government officials, economic-development pros and businesspeople are hoping to reinvent York through the talents of creative people. Allow us to introduce you to the folks who could be the key to unlocking York's future. Using video, photos and text, we're putting together a database of sorts, showcasing local artists of all stripes. Check out the other artists we've tracked down and featured. We call this section "I Art York."

Local poet Montez "Tez Rex" Ritter at Verse, 254 E. King Street. To view more "I Art York" artists go to yorkdispatch.com/iartyork.
Local poet Montez "Tez Rex" Ritter at Verse, 254 E. King Street. To view more "I Art York" artists go to yorkdispatch.com/iartyork. (John A. Pavoncello)

Three years ago, for the first time, Tez Ritter stepped in front of an audience to read a poem he'd penned.

Ritter, 19 at the time, had just discovered poetry as a coping mechanism. Friends who'd gotten a sneak peak at his work encouraged him to perform at an open mic hosted by the Philadelphia shelter for homeless youth where he was living.

"When they heard me perform, everyone's jaw dropped," Ritter said. "Somebody started crying."

Now 22, Ritter is a poet who commits inspired thoughts to paper almost every day. He's also a fixture of York City's local arts scene and a resident of Verse 254, a gallery and performance venue that doubles as an apartment for creative types.

His neighbors include another poet, a painter and two musicians.

"It's really a good way to find inspiration for your art, as well as delving into other art forms," he said.

Ritter, a graduate of William Penn Senior High School, said he returned to York to be closer to family. What he found is an arts scene that's kept him firmly grounded in his hometown.

As he hones his craft, Ritter said he's begun to develop a rhyming style. Most of his poems are a reflection of "what's actually happened in my life," he said.

Ritter said he'd like to make a career out of poetry. He's also interested in helping students discover their own love of the written word.

Poetry remains a coping mechanism, Ritter said.

"I sit down, and I write, and I just get that release," he said.

HOW HE WOULD IMPROVE YORK'S ART SCENE: "I think it needs a little bit more youth outreach," especially among city kids, Ritter said.

WHERE TO FIND HIM: Ritter said he regularly performs at The Parliament at 116 E. King St. and the King's Courtyard at 124 E. King St. Also, you can occasionally catch him at downtown open mics, including Bistro 19, 19 N. George St., and the First Capital Dispensing Co., 57 N. Pershing Ave.

HOW TO CONTACT HIM: Find Ritter online at www.facebook.com/TezRexthepoet.