The prototypical poet is a creature of the dark, naturally to be found haunting lowlight bars and passing days shuttered behind drawn curtains. The prototypical poetry reading is a heavy affair, most usually held in a drinking establishment and lubricated on all sides by “poetry juice.”
There was nothing prototypical about the poetry reading held Thursday, April 26th at Lafayette Greens. The new Compuware-sponsored public garden space, which sprung up from the literal wreckage of the historic Lafayette Building in the middle of downtown Detroit, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is home to 35 raised beds, fruit trees and a children’s garden.
If the surroundings were unfamiliar, the early evening’s readers—a Midwestern sampler including California-to-Detroit transplant Ivan Grass, Ann Arbor’s Aaron Burch (also editor-in-chief of “Hobart” literary journal) and visiting Akron, Ohio poet Nick Sturm—were led bravely into the light by none other than the event’s coordinator and kickoff reader, a.k.a. Knight Arts blogger Jeremy Schmall. The prevailing beverage of choice was coffee purchased two doors down at American Coney Island.
There is a distinct and different vibe to a poetry reading held in bright daylight, in a garden surrounded by towering urbanity, before a crowd just getting off work and not yet into the full swing of nighttime revelry. A reading of “Mad Farmer Liberation Front: A Manifesto” by the nation’s premier farmer-poet, Wendell Berry, was an appropriate and heartfelt introduction to this garden poetry reading—an event made possible by Gwen Meyer, the charming garden manager at Lafayette Greens. (We’ll be keeping you informed of upcoming events in the continuing series of readings at Lafayette Greens, so grab a cup of coffee and come on down!)
Ivan Grass’ chapbook, “Some Poems,” is available from [sic] press.
“Jeremy Schmall & The Cult of Comfort,” a book of poems, is on sale at the MOCAD gift shop.
Lafayette Greens, 142 West Lafayette, Detroit; 313-227-5555