The Detroit City Poets Oral History Project

The Detroit City Poets Oral History Project is a non-profit community oral history project which was established to address the history of the poets and independent print culture that proliferated in the city of Detroit throughout the 1960s and 1970s. At the intersection of the Civil Rights Movement, Black Arts Movement, and a collapsing automobile industry, a dynamic community of individuals contributed to and sustained the development of one of the most extraordinarily fascinating records in American literary history. Research and production of the project began in 2008, in the city of Detroit, engaging individuals who actively contributed to the formation of the literary record and the operation of the independent presses. The project has resulted in a series of successes, most importantly- the broad documentation of the history and memories of the poets who contributed to the major presses: Broadside Press, Lotus Press, Artists Workshop, and Alternative Press. Materials collected include: digital oral histories, biographical files, photographs, print matter, and ephemera. All content collected was donated to Wayne State University Undergraduate Library in 2011- which resulted in the stabilization of a digital video oral history archive, now available to researchers, students and the public. The project has been officially recognized by the Mid-America College Art Association and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Content from the project has been applied in university courses in the state of Michigan, and forms an especially critical aspect to Wayne State University’s Motown Literature curriculum.

Wayne State University Undergraduate Library Collection, The Detroit City Poets Oral History Project
Cass Corridor Culture: In and Around Wayne State, 1960s-1980s, Art, Poetry, Music, Community, and Politics