Poetry in motion

Considering the richness of Detroit’s arts scene, it’s a fascinating peculiarity that Motown’s literary community is a bit on the thin side. Sure, we’ve got a fair claim on industry, techno, garage rock, white rap and junk art, but the chasm that separates the literati from the glitterati in this town runs deep. In a lot of ways, it’s the perfect metaphor to describe our little urban Land of Lost Toys, and to Christine Monhollen — editor/publisher of the poetry journal Dispatch Detroit — it’s all the more reason to put the pen to paper.

“There’s not much of a writing community in town if you are not associated with a university,” Monhollen says.

Dispatch has been a muse of sorts for Monhollen for seven years now. The first journal was published in 1998 and included the works of local writers such as Glen Mannisto and Norene Cashen; the poetry itself ranged from grief-stricken to vibrantly hopeful, and while the publication was initially limited to local writers, Monhollen now includes contributors from across the country.

“Their purpose now is to publish local writers with nationally known poets like Clark Coolidge. Dispatch gives a lot of priority to the writer,” says contributor and former Metro Times arts editor George Tysh.

This week, Monhollen and friends will launch Vol. 7 of the book. And even though the DIY works have, for the most part, had limited sales, Monhollen is unfazed.

“It gives writers and artists a chance to get their work out; most people in this area make their art not necessarily because it will sell, because it doesn’t sell in Detroit. It comes from real passion.”

Monhollen, who gladly admits that the project is a labor of love — and has actually cost her money in the long run — is no stranger to the concept that you just can’t put a price on creativity. She puts out this book because she wants to.

“I find it necessary. I love the process; art is more about the process than the finished product.”


Publication party at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 15, at Center Galleries, 301 Frederick Douglass, Detroit; 313-664-7800.

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