Archive August 2019

Inside First Draft Open Mic

A large part of the work that I do for the literary community in Detroit is with the nonprofit organization InsideOut Literary Arts. InsideOut is Detroit’s largest and oldest literary arts nonprofit, placing writers in schools across the city and offering an award-winning after-school program known as Citywide Poets. As the coordinator for Citywide Poets, I have the honor of organizing the after-school activities for the program. We offer weekly writing workshops, a visiting writer series, and my favorite event, First Draft Open Mic.

First Draft began by demand from our students who wanted a space to share their in-progress work. The series has continued to flourish and is now closing its second season. The last event held on August 16 featured poetry and music, and a special performance by the 2019 Detroit Youth Poetry Slam team. It is obvious how the youth of the program have taken full ownership of this event series, from hosting to performing. Events like this, along with the work I do for InsideOut and Poets & Writers, all lines up in a way that reminds me that writing is thriving among new, young artists as well as veteran artists. At First Draft Open Mic, there is more that happens than just sharing first drafts, everyone in the space shares a moment of vulnerability and a community is instantly built.

Detroit Youth Poetry Slam team.
Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Meet Me at the Tuxedo Project

In just under two weeks I will be holding the first of what I hope to be an ongoing event series, the Detroit Writers Circle. On August 30, I am inviting Detroit writers, reading series hosts, and literary event planners to join me at the Tuxedo Project (7124 Tuxedo Street) from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM to write, share, and discuss the mini-grants offered by the Readings & Workshops program. Our writing workshop will focus on poetry, and an open mic will follow. We will close the evening by offering a step-by-step tutorial of the application process for the mini-grants. This will be a great time to ask questions and gain clarity about the guidelines.

We will also open the floor for suggestions on events in the Detroit area, including future workshop leaders, potential featured performers, and available venues. I am hoping to see a number of literary entities on August 30! Can’t wait to build community with you. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at

Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Hot Spots in Detroit

Exploring events in Detroit has been exciting this summer. There are a number of lesser-known venues in the city that have recently started hosting literary events. For those looking for a space to write or build community, the Room Project in the North End has been a go-to location for me. A membership includes use of the workspace, library, and podcast equipment. They also have an event space that hosts artist talks, readings, and writing workshops.

For a change of scenery and an interactive experience, Signal-Return in Eastern Market has hands-on workshops in their letterpress print shop as well as a range of public programming including exhibitions, book release parties, and the Motor Signal Reading Series cohosted by Literary Detroit. The series pairs a local writer with a traveling writer in a double-feature reading that includes an intermission activity with the audience.

Visiting these locations has been a pleasant learning opportunity on how to help build up the literary community across the city. Shout-out to other spots I’ve visited that I encourage all to check out: Artist Village Detroit, Book Suey, the Commons on Mack Avenue, and the Corner Ballpark.

Search the Literary Places and Reading Venues databases for spots to visit near you!

Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.

Greetings From Detroit

Welcome to the United States of Writing Blog! I’m Justin Rogers, and I’ll be reporting from my hometown of Detroit, Michigan. I am a poet—check out my Poets & Writers Directory profile for more on that—and I work as a youth program coordinator at InsideOut Literary Arts organizing after-school creative writing programs and coaching youth teams for regional and national poetry slam competitions.

As a literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers, I’ve been tasked to further engage with the literary community in my city, let folks know about the tools and resources P&W has to offer (and there are so many), and report back about all that’s happening. Already so many faces have brightened up during my conversations with them about the Literary Events Calendar (where anyone can add events for free) and mini-grants offered through the Readings & Workshops program (find out how to apply here).

I’m excited to continue sharing with Detroit the information and opportunities that P&W offers and, on a personal level, to learn more about my city and the literary world at large. Check the blog weekly for my reports from the field. Looking forward to being your guide out in Detroit!

Justin Rogers. (Credit: Lebrun Jackson)
Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.