“I think it’s important to tell Detroit’s stories. To push different narratives, because a lot of them aren’t at the forefront. Poetry puts them front and center. It’s in your face. It’s hard to ignore.”
Imani Nichele is our 2018 Detroit Youth Poet Laureate and was a member of the 2018 Detroit Youth Poetry Slam Team. She sat down with Avalon to talk about how honing her craft through InsideOut programs help her to tell stories that need telling.
Citywide Poets brings in established writers from all over to do workshops with Detroit’s youth and gives us opportunities to be published and become more established as artists.
It means a lot to me to attempt to articulate the things that go on inside of my head. There’s not a lot of time for that in the real world. You kind of just accept that something is bad. But writing forces yourself to consider ‘why.’ You take a step back and look at everything. I think poetry is the best way to understand what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it… Or at least have it make sense to me. I’m just beginning to break down those barriers of self-exploration. I think it’s a way to explore yourself in your head in a way you wouldn’t normally.
I think it’s important to tell Detroit’s stories. To push different narratives, because a lot of them aren’t at the forefront. Poetry puts them front and center. It’s in your face. It’s hard to ignore.
There’s so much kickback when you hear the word ‘Detroit’ wherever you go. Everyone questions where you’re from. It gives me a sense that I have to tell my story to add to the narrative behind what Detroit is. Or where Detroit is. What you feel about Detroit. I feel like when I write a poem, it’s what Detroit sounds like.
I Am a Blue Flame
I am a blue flame
that writes your name inside
of smoke clouds. And I keep burning.
Even after my eyes well
into that lonely body of water:
rippling kind of the color
You left me
full of life,
but not breathing.
Much like the oceans.
And I am on fire,