Arts & Culture » Culture

Your word’s worth


It’s one of life’s real pleasures to see a creative, nurturing program — that’s all about introducing the introspective joys of writing to kids – become successful and grow. That’s InsideOut for you, the literary arts project directed by poet and educator Terry Blackhawk since 1995. Each year InsideOut sends poets and other creative writers into the Detroit public schools as resident mentors in imaginative wordcraft. And every spring the results get printed up as a series of awesome literary and art reviews, one from each school in the program.

2002, that palindrome of the new century, finds 23 participating elementary, middle and high schools kicking out as many anthologies of cool, crazy and collected literary mindstorms, photographs and drawings (pictured is this year’s AfterThoughts, the Davis Aerospace Technical High School publication, with cover art by student Zerri Williams). The general public (that’s us) gets to purchase one or more of these at an annual gala celebrating the harvest, an evening augmented by awards and students performing their writings. The site of the 8th Annual Spring Gala on Thursday, May 16 (5-8 p.m.) will be the urbane, lushly glamorous Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle.

And if the location alone isn’t enough to get the more readerly among us to motor on over, here’s just a sample of the excellent adventures in wordyhood in store for the adventurous:


In the Library

On the table
an eraser mark
of someone’s mistake
for me to discover,
so I know that I am not
always right,
so I know when I mess up
I can rub it away
and keep on writing.

—Kimberly Walker. Coffey Middle School

And then there’s:


We’re mad
And enjoy
Being destructive
Feel sorry for ourselves

—Caitlin Brown, Cass Technical High School

You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll sit and wonder why — why doesn’t every school, public or private, turn itself inside out for poetry? So come get the words: Call 313-965-5332 for reservations and dress-code details ASAP, ’cause space is at a premium.

Messages from home

Among the many fine literary mags that the Motor City has spawned over the decades, few have lasted long enough to reach a fifth issue. But here’s an encouraging volume five of DISPATCH Detroit, a journal out of Doorjamb Press that brings together writings from Detroit and wherever else poet and editor Christine Monhollen discovers them. (This issue includes work from Beau Beausoleil of San Francisco, Andrei Codrescu of Louisiana, Miriam Jones of California and Alice Notley of Paris, France.)

DISPATCH, which always arrives beautifully designed and printed, also continues to make the poet-painter connection by publishing drawings, collages and other visual productions of Detroit artists — number five features a bracing series of pen and ink drawings from the 1988-89 sketchbook of the late Bradley Jones. And the mag’s visual art-writing liaison only gets enhanced by the input of contributing editor Ken Mikolowski, a poet with a supremely visual awareness.

Among the highlights this time out are two primal poems by InsideOut’s Terry Blackhawk, Detroit poet Alise Alousi’s lovely suite in memory of painter Ann Mikolowski, Notley’s amazingly lyrical prose pieces, Leslie Reese’s dramatic visions and this gem from the darkly ebullient Codrescu:


God saith
people are typos
no proofreader
on Sunday.

Past issues of DISPATCH Detroit are available from PO Box 1296, Royal Oak 48068-1296 (one issue, $10; two, $18; three, $26; four, $34 — make checks payable to DISPATCH Detroit). See for contents pages and Door Jamb books.

George Tysh is arts editor of Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]

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