The poetry in 'Abandon Automobile' is beautifully visceral. There are no "thou"s or sappy sonnets about flowers in this book. It may seem simple and plain to people more accustomed to coffeeshop poetry, but it isn't once you let the words meld together. Much like Detroit is defined by what many people have done as a collective rather than what any particular individuals have done, these words together form Detroit. ~Glen Sooter
Most people think cars when you say Detroit. But Detroiters know we have a rich and diverse arts community. Detroit is teeming with literary artists including poets, Def Jam Poetry Slam Champion, Jessica Care Moore, Leslie Reese and Terry Blackhawk.
Writers have lived and written here, too. Joyce Carol Oates taught at University of Detroit and one of her novels, Them is set in Detroit. Writer, Harriet Arnow's The Dollmaker is about a family that migrates to Detroit in the thirties. Celebrated writer and playwright, Pearl Cleage is from Detroit and a couple of her plays and stories include Detroit as a setting or a hub.
I could write pages about our artists but I'll close with one, Dudley Randall. Randall founded Broadside Press in 1965, the black publishing house that help launched the careers of black writers when major houses would not look at them. Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde and Sonia Sanchez found support in Detroit's black owned publishing house. To learn more about Randall, read long-time colleague and assistant, poet and professor, Melba Joyce Boyd's Wrestling With the Muse: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press.
January 14, 1914-August 5, 2000
Randall's entire career was dedicated to poetry and poets. Through the Broadside Press, he provided black poets with a way to have their poems published at a time when it was very difficult for them to get their works in print. In addition, he edited anthologies of black poetry and was an accomplished poet in his own right. He attended literary conferences, met and encouraged other black writers, contributed articles and poems to black journals, and organized poetry readings. Randall also taught black literature at the university level and was poet-in-residence for a time at the University of Detroit.
If cars and Motown are your first images of our city, revisit us. We have a rich and diverse community of writers who have contributed significantly to the literary arts. To read more responses to this week's assignment visit Weekly Geeks.