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.