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What The Current Detroit Poetry Scene Looks Like To Me. Pt. 1

April 25, 2011

The Detroit Poetry Scene has become a cliquish group with gang like tendencies. I know there will be many who wince at this comparison and yet even more still who will take offense. However, this is how I see the current scene and I feel that what I have observed over the years warrants this opinion.

Let me preface this blog with the recognition that it is not only the poetry scene that has taken on these characteristics. I also believe fraternities and sororities share in this sort of “groupism” that in it’s effort to offer a shared space for bonding and brother/sisterhood instead end up feeding actions of divisiveness and attitudes of elitism. At least though, for the sake of argument, fraternities and sororities can speak about their service to others on a regular basis through community work and scholarship awards.

“But local poets do community work too!”  What I can say is…I haven’t seen it.Wait, that’s not true. I just haven’t seen a significant amount worth mentioning. When I do see local poetry artists “giving back” by working with youth, they are either getting paid, or working with youth who do…wait for it…poetry. Go figure. So other youth couldn’t benefit from volunteer work from poets? Or do you just not care about what happens to youth who don’t do poetry? Other than some canned food drives, I can honestly say I don’t see local poets giving back much outside of the realm of poetry.

Separatism is prominent in the Detroit poetry scene. It also seems to me that if you aren’t considered to be a poet, you might as well be a pile of hot shit for all some of them care. I mean, seriously, I have seen people actually get treated differently simply because they are known to be a poet when they walk into the spot. They get spoken to differently, looked at differently, etc. Sometimes they don’t have to pay to get in. All of a sudden, you become the greatest human in the world, because you are a poet! All of this simply because you can throw together some great metaphor and crack some highly intellectual jokes. You would think, as much as these spots struggle  financially to stay open, they wouldn’t be letting anybody in free!

Come on people, that was a funny. Why so serious?

But wait, don’t be a poet nobody knows yet, because you will be treated just as shitty as the fans are sometimes. Just try to get on the open mic list at a prime spot. Good luck having anyone see you when your name gets called at 1:00am, if it gets called at all.

No. Instead they will move up people who do the same poems over and over again, five days a week, at five open mics.

Just saying. Maybe if the locals didn’t treat the fans like they were somehow beneath them, things would be better for all involved. Perhaps your audience wouldn’t be at least 50% fellow poets that you are already friends with.

Maybe, just maybe the dwindling of the poetry scene is actually in large part, fault of the poets themselves.

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From → detroit

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