“B is for Bankruptcy” [POEM with VIDEO and AUDIO]

Detroit’s youth poets perform original work, telling the audience “Breakthrough bankruptcy to the other side.”

“Oh Media … Catch our good side…Our Eastside…Our Westside…Good Side”




Sharing a stage with Michigan’s governor, Detroit’s mayor, the city’s bankruptcy judge and journalists, six teen poets from Cody-Detroit Institute of Technology College Prep High School performed an original poem about bankruptcy at Wayne State University tonight.

Sandra Svoboda

The students represented the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, a nonprofit that works with teen writers throughout the city and in the suburbs.The students learned about the city’s bankruptcy case at workshops presented by WDET as part of the station’s work with the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

Click here to see a video about their project.

The result? A poem about Detroit performed at the “Detroit Bankruptcy: One Year Later” event by the poets: Asia Harris, Alisha Reeves, Justin Keller Rhodes, Jemilla Siggers, DaVaughn Smith and Savannah Zellous. They worked with InsideOut Writer In Residence Mahogany Jones.

Here is their poem, with links to Detroit Journalism Cooperative work illustrating their verse:

Listen to the poem


The state of Michigan once had 296,000 manufacturing jobs, but now only has 27,000.

Where have all our jobs gone?


Sandra Svoboda

An astounding 47% of the residents of the city Detroit are now functionally illiterate.

Why are all our schools being shut down?


When you call the police or ambulance in Detroit it takes an average of 58 minutes to respond.

A lot can happen in an hour

A violent crime occurs every 25.3 seconds

Somewhere in America a woman is getting raped every 2 minutes

Little Caesar’s can have a “Hot and Ready” delivered to my doorstep in less than 30 minutes


Maybe we should train Little Caesar’s to be emergency responders.


78,000 of our homes and property have been abandoned

Scared of haunted houses?

What about haunted blocks?

You gotta watch your surroundings
Because you could get snatched up


I hear things are getting dark
Even the street lights have started to go out
That just means it’s our time to bring out
Our inner light




A legal procedure involving people and businesses and debt.

What about cities?

The state of being completely lacking in a particular quality or value.

like money


well it’s complicated

Like a divorce
With a crappy settlement

Like “it’s not you… It’s me”

Like how no matter how hard they try they always lose


Like think about it like this
At least now we’re not 20 billion in debt now it’s only 11 billion

Like I’ll trade you my peanut butter and jelly and pudding for your celery sticks

or like the Joe Louis Arena or the riverfront property

Sandra Svoboda


Losing our landmarks doesn’t feel like absolving debt but death.

After 25 years of service having your pensions cut must feel like a bomb dropping on you unexpectedly.

Dropping down anchors in a bottomless ocean saving already sinking ships?


Every war worth winning has a fallen solider on the front line.

We were made to prepare for the unexpected

In 1960 we had the highest income per capita of the entire nation

But this was unexpected

But we are


Though our economy collapsed

Though the world thinks


We Can.

We Will.

Oh Media
Catch our good side

Our Eastside
Our Westside
Our Good Side

Our renovated schools
Our declining drop out rates
Our inclining graduation rates
Our occupied homes
Our city full of occupied hopes
The revitalization of our parks and neighborhoods
Our innovative entrepreneurs
Our brilliant artists
Our brilliant poets
Our vibrant urban farms
Our hustling and bustling downtown

Sandra Svoboda

Our Detroit Spirit
Our Iron Fist fight back

Don’t call it a comeback cause we never left

Breakthrough bankruptcy
To the other side

From what I know we are rich.

Sandra Svoboda

Listen to the conclusion A comeback?
We can
We will

We are


Matt Morley