We present, in our fifth issue, voices from the vibrant, steel-shod city of Detroit. Inspired by the writing and social endeavors that we have witnessed emerging in the last couple of years there, while at the same time reading the dire headlines of that city’s cycle of downfall and regeneration, we wanted to hear from the insiders. We wanted their time stamp on what Detroit was—and is—aside from popular media noise.
We began with two venerable literary and artistic bodies. We sought out Jane Hoehner, Director of Wayne State University Press, and Lynne Avadenka, Artistic Director of Signal-Return Letterpress. These institutions are at the core of energy vibrating about this city: WSU Press continues its excellent Made in Michigan Series, and Signal-Return designed and hand set our issue’s logo. Both organizations strive to foster artists and writers, carrying forward the tradition of excellence in craft.
We feature three Kresge Fellows who have taught and written in Detroit for decades. Peter Markus provides us with a reprint of his beautiful ode to the city in prose form that originally appeared in A Detroit Anthology, edited by Anna Clark. Terry Blackhawk, founder and director of InsideOut Literary Arts Project, shares her Magritte-inspired imagery. Poet Dunya Mikhail, awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing, provides us her stark comparison of her Iraqi homeland to Detroit.
We hear from poet Casey Rocheteau, the first recipient of a home from the Write a House program, a non-profit rehabilitating abandoned homes in Detroit and giving them to working writers. We also hear from Detroit-based journalist Aaron Foley about what it meant to grow up there.
Lisa Lenzo, whose book of stories, Strange Love, won the Michigan Notable Book Award 2015, provides us with new fiction, a short story that will set your mind to wrestle between notions of security and decency.
We have endeavored to capture both the insider and outsider viewpoints, as we believe this is how discussion of place becomes fruitful. Matt Gallagher, NYT blogger and author of the Iraq war memoir Kaboom, and Nick Jaina, musician and author of Get it While You Can, journeyed to Detroit to report on what they saw in this city. Both bring insight and observation to bear on portraits of the city in the fall and winter of 2014 that defy stereotypes and uncover the heart and struggle of people living there.
This issue debuts a new content type: video essays, commentary from documentarians that have produced films about issues in Detroit and nearby Flint. Carrie Lezotte points her lens at the success stories in Detroit rising out of the urban blight; Geri Alumit Zeldes follows the Kings as they instill karate and farming values in the young people of Flint. Genevieve Savage tackles the complex funding issues the Detroit Institute of Arts has faced: the threat of the sale of its priceless collections and the innovation of Director Graham Beal’s restructuring of how people access art.
Along with our Detroit content, we feature in this issue a Core Creatives column, or work by writers we’ve featured in the past and hope to keep in our pages. Pedro Ponce gives us the third installment of his dystopian novel, Dreamland. Kevin Draper continues to unpack the Menteur family legacy. Marion McCready provides a gorgeous long poem, and Amy King serves more of her piercing lyricism.
The Satellite Collective seeks to build communities of artists, and we have focused in Detroit, New York, and the Pacific Northwest where we believe strong cultural currents are stirring. The richness of the artistic fabric in Detroit promises many opportunities to highlight Detroit writers and artists in our future issues, dedicating space to their singular voices and visions.