2018 Detroit Youth Poet Laureate Imani Nichel Performing in 2018. // Photograph Courtesy of Xavier Cuevas
Metro Detroiters can soon gather at the College for Creative Studies to support a local nonprofit dedicated to engaging with the city’s youth through the art of poetry and creative writing. InsideOut Literary Arts Project’s second annual fundraiser, Share the Light, will take place on Aug. 9. Held at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, guests can enjoy appetizers and drinks while listening to poetry and presentations by seven speakers and learning more about the organization.
Founded in 1995 by Dr. Terry Blackhawk, InsideOut works with students age 6 to 19 in schools around metro Detroit. Its core program is a 25-week residency that places professional writers in schools to conduct creative writing workshops with children. In 23 years, InsideOut has worked with over 50,000 students. The organization also provides after-school programs and conferences.
“We meet every student where they are and provide impactful programming regardless of what their need is,” says Suma Rosen, InsideOut’s executive director and creator of Share the Light. “Everyone has their own voice. We help [young people] find it, amplify it, and share it.”
For Rosen, Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley exemplifies sharing one’s voice and championing community conversations. Riley, along with 2018 Detroit Youth Poet Laureate Imani Nichele, are the evening’s special guests. Nichele, 17, uses her own experiences from InsideOut to cultivate events and creative writing workshops for children around the city. Damon Hogan, a Wayne State University student, will perform a group poem with Nichele.
Tickets start at $100, with packages and deals available. With a goal of raising $25,000, the event’s proceeds will go back to InsideOut to continue providing its in-school programs for metro Detroit students. Local organizations that encourage reading and writing skills are needed now more than ever, especially with Judge Stephen Murphy III’s dismissal of a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Snyder and other state officials accused of depriving Detroit students’ of their right to literacy in late June.
“I cannot imagine a world where we do not expect students to come out of school literate,” Rosen says, commenting on the judge’s decision. “I hope that people walk out of the event just madly in love with InsideOut Literary Arts, and the work that we’re doing. This event is all about building love.”
Visit insideoutdetroit.org for more information.