Detroit’s vibrant, grass-roots poetry community continues to bring the best of poetry from Detroit and beyond through series like the Woodward Line, held at the historic Scarab Club and organized by Kim Hunter, James Hart III, and Frances Barber. The lower floor houses an art gallery, so that poets and audience are surrounded by a compelling visual feast, which heightens the effect of the poetry.
Detroit is also home to Quill Puddle
, a hand-made poetry magazine edited by James Hart III and Frances Barber. The evening of April 18 marked the launch of two double-issues of Quill Puddle
(3-4 and 5-6), featuring poets Will Alexander, Kim Hunter, Rob Lipton, Ken Mikolowski, Christine Monhollen, Julie Patton, Chris Tysh, Dennis Teichman, Matvei Yankelevich, Barbara Henning, and myself.
Following a mesmerizing set by The Doll Hairs (James Hart III, guitar and vocals, and Frances Barber, vocals), Julie Patton gave an extended and stunning performance, accompanied by Will Alexander (keyboard), James Hart II (percussion), and Paul Van Curen (guitar). It was magical. I hope the recording came out well, because it would be a shame not to be able to revisit that dynamic performance.
The next day, I had the pleasure of visiting the Eastern Market, a large market area composed of many buildings, one of which is Salt & Cedar, a letterpress studio. New York poet and co-publisher of Ugly Duckling Presse Matvei Yankelevich arranged to convert the letterpress printing space into a bookstore and poetry reading venue for three months. It was a delight to meet and get to know Matvei, who is devoting his time in Detroit to enriching the already rich poetry scene there.
Thanks to Matvei, Salt & Cedar is (for the time being, at least) bookstore heaven, stocked by titles from Ugly Duckling Presse, Small Press Distribution, and others, including several Canadian titles – I noticed books by Sina Queyras and Nicole Brossard, among others. I purchased books by Clark Coolidge (88 Sonnets
), Tomaz Salamun (On the Tracks of Wild Game
– part of Matvei’s Eastern European Series within UDP), Swedish poet Fredrik Nyberg (A Different Practice
), Matvei Yankelevich (Alpha Donuts
), and Russian Absurdist Alexander Vvedensky (An Invitation for Me to Think
). The last title was suggested to me by Matvei when I told him of my affinity for the work of Daniil Kharms, another Russian absurdist who, along with Vvedensky, tragically died in their thirties as a result of Stalin’s harsh persecution of writers.
People, Detroit is a happening mecca for poets and an open community for poetry in all its manifestations, written and performed!