By immersing students in the joy and power of poetry and literary self-expression, InsideOut inspires them to think broadly, create bravely and share their voices with the wider world. Guided by professional writers and celebrated by publications and performances, youth learn that their stories and ideas matter and that their pens can launch them off the page into extraordinary lives.


Experiencing the passion and transforming power of the written word will become an essential part of every child’s education.


Core beliefs and convictions:

  • The teaching of self-expression through poetry empowers and transforms people’s lives.
  • Creativity exists in every individual and every individual’s story deserves to be told.
  • Nurturing an individual’s creativity benefits society as a whole.
  • Exposure to poetry and creative writing inspires broader intellectual curiosity.
  • Every student is worthy of experiencing self-expression through the literary arts.
  • Participation in the literary arts gives students a voice that transcends geographic and socioeconomic barriers.
  • When students’ creativity is publicly celebrated, their self-esteem and confidence are greatly enhanced.
  • Participation in a writing class helps students learn to know and appreciate one another’s differences and similarities.

Within the classroom, the children:

  • Enjoy the power of reading and writing
  • Learn basic literacy skills
  • Enhance critical and analytical abilities
  • Exercise their creativity, imagination, and originality
  • Engage in an individual dialogue with the writer-in-residence
  • Become active members of a community of writers
  • Revise and edit their stories and poems in preparation for publication
  • Evaluate and celebrate their accomplishments over the course of the 25-week residency

Through this program, the teachers:

  • Expand their approaches to teaching writing through observing and participating in InsideOut classroom activities
  • Gain confidence as writers themselves
  • Gain personal understanding of the subtleties of writing and being a sponsoring teacher through Teacher Writing Workshops
  • Form strong ties to like-minded teachers to provide support and share discoveries.

Letter from the Director

Letter from the Director

December 1, 2010

Dear friends,

On October 28, in a sparkling “Star by Star” gala fund-raiser at Detroit’s historic Gem Theatre, InsideOut honored Detroit’s Poet Laureate Naomi Long Madgett with the first InsideOut Literary Legacy Award. We extend thanks to our presenting sponsor Daimler Financial Services, to our volunteers and to all of our benefactors, patrons and friends who helped to make the evening such a success.

Not only did we raise much-needed dollars, but we also experienced the warm, loving presence of many Detroiters and other friends who understand the crucial necessity of helping young writers to discover their voices and express their world. As filmmaker and professor Ronald Primeau wrote: Your event Thursday was the best planned and most dynamic such tribute and celebration I have ever seen…. There was so much talent and love and appreciation for what you have done and for what Naomi has achieved oozing from everyone!!

Ms. Madgett founded Lotus Press in 1971 in order to support and provide a home for the work of African American poets. Over the years, Lotus Press has published many poetic stars, such as Detroit’s own Toi Derricotte, Bill Harris, Nubia Kai and Crystal Williams, and our literary culture here and across the nation is the richer for it.

Among the many festivities, “Star by Star” featured Citywide Poet Joseph Verge, winner of the 2010 Lotus Press High School Poetry Prize, granted to an InsideOut student by Ms. Madgett every year since 2001. Her vision feeds the InsideOut legacy forward, by recognizing the voices of youth. We are grateful to Ms. Madgett for helping us to award excellence as we encourage young writers to believe that their voices matter and that they, too, may shine.

With thanks again to everyone, and warmest wishes to all,


Staff & Board


Terry M. Blackhawk, Ph.D
Founder & Executive Director

Alise Alousi
Associate Director

Peter Markus
Senior Writer

Aricka Foreman
Community Projects Coordinator
aricka.foreman@gmail.com or citywidepoetsdetroit@gmail.com

Carol Snodgrass

Lori Volante
Office Manager

Claire D’Aoust
Graphic Designer

Board of Directors

The Hon. Denise Page Hood
Judge, United States District Court,
Eastern District of Michigan
InsideOut Board Chair

Phil Schloop
Business manager,
I.U.O.E. Local 547 (retired)
InsideOut Board Vice-Chair

Desiree Cooper
City Connect Detroit

Victor Green
Wayne State University

Dwight Levens
Children Matter Forever

Heidi Mucherie
Community Legal Resources
InsideOut Board Treasurer

Steve Palackdharry
Communications Manager, Southwest Solutions

Bunice Robinson
DPS Teacher (retired)

Gaylee Rubin

Marc Shaye

Linda Spight
Detroit Public Schools (retired)
InsideOut Board Secretary


Check out InsideOut’s 2011 Writers-in-Residence:

Dr. Terry Blackhawk (www.terrymblackhawk.com) is the author of five collections of poems, including Body & Field, Escape Artist, and The Dropped Hand (winner of the 2002 John Ciardi Prize) and has poems and essays in numerous journals and anthologies. She taught creative writing for many years in Detroit high schools and founded InsideOut in order to spread the pleasure and power of language to more schools and students. Her honors include the 1990 Foley Poetry Award, the Michigan Governors’ Award for Arts Education, five Pushcart Prize nominations, grants from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Artist-in-Residence and the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Detroit Metro Time Progressive Hero Award. She received the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize from Nimrod International in 2010.

Jide Adebayo-Begun has an undergraduate degree in Dramatic Arts from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and is currently studying for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He started writing at the age of sixteen, and since then, has written many poems, plays and stories, some of which have appeared in magazines and journals like Internazionale, Kwani? and the Caine Prize 2011 Anthology. In the past Jide has worked as a farmer’s apprentice, a teacher and a copywriter and he is currently working on a novel.

Ben Alfaro is a writer, organizer, and educator. An undergraduate student at Wayne State University in Detroit, he is studying Urban & International Planning. His poems have appeared in Unsquared: Ann Arbor Writers Unleash Their Edgiest Stories and Poems (2006), Decibels: An Anthology of the VOLUME Youth Poetry Project (2008), HBO’s original series, Brave New Voices (2008), and Red Cedar Review (2011). He performs with the collegiate poetry troupe Ann Arbor Wordworks and recently co-founded WayneSLAM on the campus of Wayne State University.

Anna Clark is a writer living in Detroit who recently returned from a Fulbright fellowship in Kenya. In Nairobi, she facilitated creative writing and collaborative storytelling workshops throughout the city, and assisted as an editor at Kwani Trust, a Kenyan publisher and literary agitator. Her work has appeared in The American Prospect, Salon, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Grantland, The Detroit Free Press, Midwestern Gothic, Blood Lotus, and other publications. Anna edits the literary blog, Isak (www.isak.typepad.com) and facilitates a theater workshop with incarcerated men through the Prison Creative Arts Project. She has been a fellow with the Peter Jennings Center for Journalists and the Constitution. Anna graduated from the University of Michigan’s Residential College and from Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers.

RaNeeka J. Claxton is a returning Writer-in-Residence to InsideOut Literary Arts Project. A native Detroiter, Claxton received her MFA in Creative Writing – Fiction from the University of California, Riverside – Palm Desert, and her BA in English from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. She is currently a Composition Professor at Baker College, and has a future goal of becoming a Young Adult novelist and fiction professor. Claxton sees the world as her canvas, and she paints with her pen. She is a journalist by trade – having covered fashion trends, travel destinations and community news in newspapers and magazines throughout the Detroit area, the British Virgin Islands Jersey City, New York City, Palm Springs and South Africa . She has been invited to study fiction with writers from around the world through Summer Literary Seminars in Nairobi and Lamu, Kenya.

Sheerah Tan Cole is a former teacher of middle school English. She will be a Writer-in-Residence at Parker Elementary in the 2011-2012 school year and is currently studying for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

With the help of six brothers, Zack Crawford spent most of his childhood pushing back bedtimes with yet another game of capture the flag, whiffle ball, kick the can. He recently graduated from the University of Michigan where his fiction and poetry were awarded multiple Hopwood awards, including an Academy of American Poets Prize, a First Place Undergraduate Poetry Award, and the Marjorie Rapaport Award. Zack is shocked every time he picks up Cummings.

Aricka M. Foreman is a Cave Canem Fellow and educator. A graduate of English at Wayne State University, she was the recipient of the Hatch Award, as well as the Loughead-Eldredge and Burke-Sheill scholarships. Her work has appeared in The Drunken Boat, Torch Poetry: A Journal for African American Women, Minnesota Review, Union Station Magazine, Bestiary Magazine, Vinyl Poetry, and she is a Poetry Editor for Muzzle Magazine. Foreman is a Midwest Regional Slam Champ, coached the 2011 Detroit Brave New Voices Youth Slam Team, and co-chaired the Women of the World Poetry Slam. She has taught poetry workshops through several programs including Prison Creative Arts Project, Y Arts Outreach, and Young Chicago Authors. She is currently employed by InsideOut as the Community Projects Coordinator and a Voices writer at Southeastern HS.

Cindy Frenkel is delighted to be returning for her third year with InsideOut. Her poetry has been featured in such journals as The MacGuffin and Renaissance City (e-zine). Her prose has appeared in numerous publications ranging from Vanity Fair to The New York Observer, where she was a regular columnist. She was the writer/editor of The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) magazine, and wrote three columns for an online magazine, Women’s Wire. She also co-authored the book, 100 Essential Books for Jewish Readers, with Rabbi Daniel B. Syme. She received her M.F.A. from Columbia University’s creative writing program while working on the editorial staff of The New Yorker. She also tutors, and teaches writing at Oakland Community College and Wayne State University.

Leigh Gallagher was born in a small town in the Gold Country of Northern California. She earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and worked, during and after college, at several private elementary schools, a used bookstore, and a fancy bakery. In 2011 she received her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan, as well as a Hopwood Award in short fiction, and a Zell Fellowship for the 2011/12 school year. Her stories have been published in American Short Fiction and Instant City Magazine. In a room in Southwest Detroit, she is currently writing a novel about love.

Heather Abner Harrison (http://habner.org) is a poet and librarian who lives in southeast Michigan and she is excited to be working with InsideOut this year. Heather delights in introducing school children to poetry and thrives on students’ energy and sense of wonder at the world around them. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s MFA program in Creative Writing and received a Hopwood Award while studying there. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Rattle, Nerve Cowboy, and wtf pwm. She recently acquired a letterpress and is learning the art of fine printing.

Peter Markus is the author of the novel, Bob, or Man on Boat along with three books of short fiction, Good, BrotherThe Moon is a LighthouseThe Singing Fish and We Make Mud. His stories have appeared in a wide range of literary journals, including Denver Quarterly, Chicago Review, Massachusetts Review, Black Warrior Review, New Orleans Review, Quarterly West, Northwest Review, Third Coast, Willow Springs, Another Chicago Magazine, Seattle Review, 3rd Bed, Post Road, and Unsaid. His work has also appeared in anthologies brought out by HarperCollins, Norton, St. Martin’s Press, Bloomsbury. He has received grants from ArtServe Michigan, was for six years the writer-in-residence at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and has been a writer with InsideOut since its inception in 1995.

Isaac Miller is a Writer in Residence with InsideOut Literary Arts Project and coordinates InsideOut’s Citywide Agents program. Isaac has participated in the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival for over ten years as a participant and mentor. He co-coached the 2011 Detroit Youth Poetry Slam Team that placed fourth out of fifty teams at Brave New Voices. Isaac graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in Ethnic Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies, and received the Stronach Baccalaureate Prize. His writing has been featured by Turnstyle News, The Progressive, and the Berkeley Poetry Review. His work in organizing against cuts to California public education while a student at UC Berkeley was covered by outlets including The New York Times, TIME Magazine, the New Yorker, and NPR.

Chace “Mic Write” Morris is a poet/emcee heralding from the city of Detroit. In 2010, he impressively earned the titles of Rustbelt Slam Champion (#1 slam poet in Midwest) & Detroit Slam Champion (#1 slam poet in Detroit). He has been a member an integral part of the last three annual Detroit slam teams that competed nationally against the best slam poets in the world. He is currently working on his first published collection of poetry, The Robocop Prologue, and preparing for next year’s National Poetry Slam events.

Corisa Nalls is a short fiction writer and a lifelong Detroit resident. She received her BA in English at Wayne State University with a concentration in creative writing in 2009 and is excited to start her first year with InsideOut! While at Wayne State, she earned several scholarships and writing awards, including the Agnes Bruenton Award, the Hatch Award, the Tompkins Award, the Loughead-Eldredge Scholarship in Creative Writing the Tudor Memorial Scholarship, and the Elizabeth Stone Scholarship in English.

Matthew Olzmann’s first book of poems, Mezzanines will be published by Alice James Books in April, 2013. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Kenyon Review, New England Review, Gulf Coast, Failbetter, The Southern Review and elsewhere. He’s received fellowships and scholarships from the Kresge Arts Foundation, Kundiman, and The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He’s currently the poetry editor of The Collagist and the poet-in-residence for the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program at the University of Michigan.

John Rybicki is the author of three previous poetry collections, We Bed Down Into Water, Yellow Haired Girl with Spider, and Traveling at High Speeds. His latest book, When All the World is Old, is forthcoming on Lookout Books, April 2008. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Ecotone, and the Paris Review, among many others, and have been reprinted in Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. His main gig, his missionary work, is teaching poetry writing to Detroit Children through the Insideout Literary Arts Project; he also works with “Wings of Hope” Hospice teaching poetry writing to Children who have been through a trauma or loss.

Widely published poet, Suzanne Scarfone, English Romantic Poetry and Virginia Woolf scholar, is a creative writing teacher with the Afghan Women’s Writing project as well as writer-in-residence with InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit. She earned her Ph.D. in English Literature with cognates in Art History, Russian Art and French Literature and specializations in English Romantic poetry and the Modern British novel. She has produced two music and poetry compact discs, The Poetry Harmonium and Arts at an Exhibition, in collaboration with composer Christian Kreipke. In each of her poems, she paints the domestically surreal moments found in the musicality of everyday experience. Each sensed moment owes its language to a longing for something beyond the moment but born out of the potential beauty of the moment. Links to her work here, here and here.

Tommy Simon is a humorist in Detroit who can be seen regularly on stage at Go Comedy in the Resident Company. He studied creative writing at Michigan State, and is currently working on his M.A. in Performance at Eastern Michigan. He is co-writer of Menllenium, a musical performed at Go Comedy. His sketches were featured in Touch My App by Tiberius and debuted at the Chicago Fringe Festival. And he has been a finalist in several stand-up contests. This is his second year with InsideOut. Finally, Tommy spends too much time creating original scenes for his Youtube page, youtube.com/tommybsimon.

Norene Cashen Smith is a writer-in-residence with InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit. She’s the contributing editor for the journal Dispatch Detroit. Her poems have been published in Exquisite Corpsemarkszine.comMOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit) Journal; the anthology, Abandon Automobile (Wayne State University Press); and various online arts projects promoting the empowerment of women. She’s a former rock ‘n’ roll music journalist, and since the mid-1990s, she’s been a regular contributor to Detroit’s Metro Times, where she still writes about literature and the arts. Her first collection of poems, The Reverse Is also True, was published by Doorjamb Press in 2007.

Scheherazade Washington Parrish is excited to lead her second year as writer in residence with Written In Stone, Inside Out Literary Art Project’s collaboration with Pewabic Pottery.  A writer and certified life coach, she uses techniques for removing blocks that prevent writers from writing, and is thrilled each time a student comes to the realization that their voice matters.  Her poetry has been published online and in Driftwood A Periodic Review of Michigan Writers, #9.  Her other writings can be found on her website www.worthcoach.com.

Anna West earned her Master of Fine Arts from Spalding University’s Brief-Residency Creative Writing Program and her Bachelor of Arts in English with a Writing Emphasis from Hope College, where she received a Distinguished Artist Award for Creative Writing and the Academy of American Poets Award.  Her poems were selected by Naomi Shihab Nye for the collection Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25.  Anna’s other interests include the intersection of the arts, Thomas Hardy, and France. She is currently working on the second draft of a novel and a collection of lyric essays.

Marcus Wicker was born in an Ann Arbor, Michigan. A 2011 Ruth Lilly recipient, he has also held fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Cave Canem and Indiana University, where he received his MFA. His first book, Maybe the Saddest Thing, was selected by DA Powell for the National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from Harper Collins in 2012. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Beloit, jubilat, Ninth Letter and Crab Orchard Review, among other journals.

Funders & Supporters

Funders & Supporters

Funders & Supporters

We thank our recent sponsors:

Holley Foundation

DeRoy Testamentary Fund

Caremark RX

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

Children Matter Forever

Four Friends Foundation

Peck Family Foundation

University of Michigan

InsideOut programming is supported by generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, including programming for a BIG READ.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.