Selectors: Judith Arnold and Diane Sybeldon
Guide Page: Diane Sybeldon and Lisa Phillips
The poetry books selected for the display include works by Detroit poets, WSU faculty, and friends of the Detroit poetry community, with an emphasis on established poets of the 1960s to 1980s.
From the introduction to Abandon Automobile: Detroit City Poetry 2001, edited by Melba Joyce Boyd and M. L. Liebler (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001), pages 23-28
“…The unique contribution of Detroit poetry to American literature is as distinct as the city’s historical contribution to the Industrial Revolution. Before Henry Ford induced thousands to work in his factories for five dollars a day, Detroit was largely regarded as a port city..."
This essay has been used with permission from Wayne State University Press. To read the rest of the essay, click on the document link below:
These essays were written by WSU students in ENG 5480, a literature course taught by Dr. Todd Duncan.
The first essay, by Edward Baranek, discusses the intersection of Detroit poetry and music. He offers examples of the work of John Lee Hooker,
Etheridge Knight, M.L. Liebler, the poets and jazz musicians of the Detroit Artists Workshop, etc.
The second essay, by Sarah Pokornicki, chronicles the work of U.S. Poet Laureate and Detroit native, Philip Levine, and the changing perceptions of Detroit.
Melba Joyce Boyd - Speaking about Detroit writers and being black in Detroit at the WSU Fall Humanities Symposium 2011
Dudley Randall - A reading of 5 of his poems and a brief biography
Bibliography of Detroit Literature: Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Creative Nonfiction - From Marygrove College in Detroit, and compiled by Frank D. Rashid (Professor of English at Marygrove),Thomas A. Klug, Jamie Babcock, Cassie Atkinson, and Laurie LePain Kopack
A comprehensive list of works by and about Detroiters.
The Poetry Foundation contains material on Ann and Ken Mikolowski's seminal publishing venture, including:
"We burn this city every day" -Philip Levine
Prominent poets with Detroit roots include:
Roberty Hayden was named the first African American Poet Laureate of the United States, in 1976. (At that time, it was called the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress). He grew up in Detroit's Paradise Valley, and attended the City College of Detroit, which later became Wayne State University.
Philip Levine was the United States Poet Laureate in 2011. He grew up in Detroit, and was heavily influenced by working in its auto factories and his study of poetry at Wayne University (now WSU).
Dudley Randall became the city of Detroit's Poet Laureate in 1981.
Naomi Long Madgett began publishing poetry at seventeen, founded the Lotus Press, as a high school English teacher taught the first course in African American literature in Detroit Public Schools, and went on to teach at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. She was named the City of Detroit's Poet Laureate in 2001, and is the winner of the 2012 Kresge Foundation Eminent Artist Award.
Try these WSU licensed article databases. Full text articles are accessible by WSU affiliates only.
Print Collections in the Wayne State University Libraries:
At the University of Detroit-Mercy:
Significant Local Publishers
"Poem" drawing by Brenda Goodman
Melba Joyce Boyd's words in memory of Mick Vranich aptly describe the world of the Cass Corridor poets, who...
"could rock a poem
about hard knocks
like a siren protesting
(from Crystallizing the Moon, 2011)
The following poets have been interviewed for the "Detroit City Poets Oral History Project" by Canadian researcher and documentarian, Monika Berenyi. The materials have been donated to the WSU Libraries and are available for checkout from the Undergraduate Library.