To Light a Fire tells the story of InsideOut through the eyes and voices of the writers who for 20 years have gone into the classrooms of Detroit to inspire young students to write poetry and to help them realize that their lives are poems in the making. Essays that speak to both the struggles and joys of such experiences paint a bigger story of a city and a city’s school system during a time of much change and transition. In the end, it’s the voices of the children who are the true champions of this work and this book.

To Light a Fire is an inspiration, a blessing, and a necessity. The various essays included serve as a guide, a success report, and a challenge to those who read it to initiate a project like InsideOut in schools throughout the country that have never offered their students the wonderful opportunity of transforming their experiences, imaginary and read, into literary art.
– Naomi Long Madgett
Founder, Lotus Press, 2012 Kresge Eminent Artist Awardee & Detroit Poet Laureate

These truthful, celebratory, inspiring essays show us how the writers and teachers of InsideOut have been creating sparks and lighting fires for young people in Detroit for two decades. The pieces, like the kids themselves, have grit, spirit, resilience, the breath of life.
– Edward Hirsch
poet and President of the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

Throughout To Light a Fire, adult and student writers reverberate as interchangeable mentors and mentees with emotional connections, heartfelt expressions, and emotional and provocative messages. Dr. Terry Blackhawk’s vision for InsideOut and City Wide Poets, along with Peter Markus, writers-in-residence, teachers, and administrators, willingly nurture students’ minds, hearts, and souls.
– Toni S. Walters, Ph.D.,
Professor Emerita of Reading and Language Arts,
Oakland University


To read two excerpts from To Light a Fire click here and here.