I still remember as a child, my mother telling me that “a lot of people didn’t think we would make it to 1999, and we don’t know what’s going to happen with Y2K!” Twenty years later, we now know the panic of Y2K was an unnecessary hype and the world survived and, if anything, expanded. This, of course, includes the literary world.
I didn’t discover the literary world that thrives in Detroit until 2008, but upon that introduction was quickly pointed toward those who preceded me. I discovered names like francine j. harris and Vievee Francis, and venues such as Cliff Bell’s and Liv Bistro Lounge. These were the people and places that produced the mentors I was introduced to in my high school years, and are the same people and places that helped mold me into the poet I am today.
With that, I simply want to use this blog as an opportunity to give a huge thank you to all of the writers, venues, hosts, and audiences that embraced and gave rise to not only me, but the current generation of Detroit artists—literary and otherwise—over this past decade. I wouldn’t be here without the wise teachings and mentorship of Nandi Comer, Jamaal May, and Aricka Foreman. I wouldn’t have found them without the English teachers that encouraged me to continue exploring writing and the art teachers who made me feel like my creativity was valid.
I am very excited about what 2020 has to hold for the community. I see us growing and shifting and learning, and I am happy to be along for the ride.Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.