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Poetry for the People

In January 2020, InsideOut Literary Arts entered its 25th year of service to our community. Since 1995 over 60,000 youth, in and out of school, have benefitted from our programs, and we’ve seen both the impact and the need, grow. To celebrate this milestone year, and with generous support from Knight Arts Challenge Detroit, InsideOut will widen our reach and connect people of all ages to the power and pleasure of the written and spoken throughout the year.

Poetry for the People will activate our mission in the wider community through poetry workshops, installations, and performances offered both in partnership with non-profit community organizations, businesses, and events, as well as through signature InsideOut poetry happenings.

Poetry for the People will tailor writing sessions and performances to dovetail with the distinct missions of our partners. From workshops for volunteers in a community garden, to a poetry slam at the Brilliant Detroit House in Cody/Rouge, Poetry for the People will deepen connections to writing for each audience. Some of the partners already onboard include: Keep Growing Detroit, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Racquet Up Detroit, Dlectricity, Sidewalk/Eliza Howell Park, Brilliant Detroit, Alternatives for Girls, Science of Grief, and others.

InsideOut will also host its own unique events, including a late-summer Sunset Poetry Party on the Detroit Riverfront, featuring spoken word, musical performances, and hands-on opportunities to explore poetry for people of all ages. (Want to be the first to know about these events, join our email list!)

Our goal isn’t simply to increase the number of people InsideOut reaches, but rather to connect, or reconnect, participants to the ways that writing, and/or experiencing poetry, can enrich their daily lives. Creating the space for that to happen in their own communities through sessions led by our skilled Writers-in-Residence, will help ensure that participants have the same high-quality opportunities as InsideOut students.

One overarching goal of Poetry for the People is to demystify poetry. This seems like a hard- to- measure, almost indescribable, task. For me it brings to mind a favorite poem by the Syrian poet, Adonis:

Live and be radiant.

Create a poem and go away.

Increase the expanse of the earth.

What does it mean to demystify anything, but to have a closer look, to experience something in a way that matters to you, or perhaps to even forget all you know about it, and start again?

Our hope is that Poetry for the People will help redefine poetry and all its radiant possibilities, and that by demystifying it for a wide range of Detroiters, we will create pathways for continued literary engagement.

Alise Alousi

Inside Out Poetry Program Poet Leaders

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