Teen Poets on 1967: “I taste fire in these streets.”

Teenage Citywide Poets perform original work about Detroit and 1967.

As Detroit wraps up this week commemorating the events of 1967, WDET wanted to bring you the voices of some youth poets.

These Detroit students are with the Inside Out Literary Arts Citywide Poets program, and they came to WDET earlier this year to share some of their work.

Click to hear  A’Janae’s poem called “1701.” She had to do some research before writing that poem because she wasn’t very familiar with what happened in Detroit during July 1967.

“I honestly didn’t know that much about 1967. I just really never really paid attention to it in class. I never thought it was that important until I looked at the play Detroit 1967 and seen how much it mean to me. Me being a poet, I write about society so that was something I felt like I needed to write about,” she says. “So my poem comes from the idea of what happened right before 19967. Everything that led up to the events to 1967. The event about Addie Mai Collins, that led up to it, and all the slavery, and us fighting for us equality, our equal rights. Not our equal rights, everybody’s equal rights. That’s what my poem stands for.”

Click to hear YaKuZa’s poem called “12th.” He says he did a lot of research before writing that poem including talking a lot to his grandfather who in 1967 was in Detroit and around 25 years old.

“He just told me it was chaos in the streets but he also told me that he also found some type of solace because it wasn’t the dull murmur of just machines and people droning to work every day. It was like people felt alive in the chaos or in the ruin or whatever, and he said he found some type of strange solace in that.”

Both poets were on WDET in March when they competed in the 2017 Detroit Youth Poetry Grand Slam in March.

Click here to find more of their work.

Sandra Svoboda/WDET



  • Sandra Svoboda
    Recovering Bankruptcy Reporter/Blogger looking forward to chronicling regional revitalization on-air, digitally and through community engagement.