by A.D. Matthews
In a September 1961 article in the New York Herald Tribune, John Hutchens wrote, “A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right.” There is certainly some truth in Hutchins’s characterization of the solitary writer’s life where words traipse around in ones’ mind, discontent until a paper or computer lays those thoughts to rest. In the 21st century, this may very well be the case with social standards of computer networking, Internet chats and shopping portals. In this age, what need have artists and writers to leave the comfortable confines of home to create?
In 2005, national slam poet and former Detroit Grand Slam champion, Cassie Poe, recognized the vast degree of disconnectedness that exists in the Detroit poetry community. While Detroit has long had a tradition of artist development, there was no umbrella organization that connected urban word artists. Moreover, for those who make the distinction, there was a growing chasm between the work of the page poet and that of the performance poet.
Poe shared her ideas with Detroit-based Cave Canem Fellow and poetry organizer, Christina Archer, who took the helm. The idea grew from a fledgling network website www.detroitpoetry.com to become The Detroit Poetry Collective (DPC), a non-profit organization formed to cultivate urban artists through creative multi-genre writing and to develop, provide, and support literary programs that foster multicultural literacy & creative critical thinking.
In 2008, the DPC introduced the Write Word, Write Now summer poetry series that showcased emerging and established poets once a month June through September after a warm reception to the Fall/Winter 2007 Snowbound readings. DPC also hosts academic readings, retreats, conferences, guest speakers, workshops and feedback sessions for writers hoping to tighten their work while serving as a resource to help writers identify scholarships, stipends and awards. Archer states, “artists are typically loners but human nature calls us to be part of something bigger than ourselves which the community, the collective provides–we can not disconnect or else we lose the heart of our work.”
The DPC’s swelling ranks with thousands of supporters suggests that writers do enjoy the company of like minds and need the interaction of other artists. In order to ensure that DPC’s work could continue Archer developed a strong board of directors mixed with community leaders, professionals and writers. Archer adds, “in order to advocate for writers, we need the wherewithal to sustain our initiatives and that comes when you have qualified people supporting you.”
In five years, the DPC hopes to be self-sustaining organization that evolves to include even more programming and needs-based services. The earnest hope being that writers and poets will leave their homes and join in a supportive community and, by doing so, take their genius from the pages of a journal to the corners of the world.
For more information about how to get involved with The Detroit Poetry Collective, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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