After 18 years, Poetry Night in Ann Arbor is getting a makeover. The annual show will with a shift from larger venues, like Rackham Auditorium, to East Quad’s Keene Theater. While prior shows have featured up to 30 youth poets, this year’s edition will showcase 10 performers. In place of nationally renowned poets – folks like Patricia Smith, Martîn Espada, Kim Addonizio and Ross Gay – this year’s special guests will be locally grown, emerging writers Kyndall Flowers, Dylan Gilbert and Zaphra Stupple.
Raynor believes the smaller venue will “create an intimate vibe, and we feel confident we’ll sell out. A packed audience tends to create a sense of excitement and energy.” This year’s show will focus around the theme, “Joy, Despite.”
“The despite is obvious,” Raynor explains. “Despite hate, despite division, despite racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-semitism. Despite natural disasters and manmade disasters. In this show, we will name the ugly but we will also rejoice in the beautiful. We will practice joy together.”
Flowers, whose work has been featured on National Public Radio (and who has written for Current) is a dual-enrollee graduate of Pioneer and Community High Schools and was a two-time member of the Ann Arbor Youth Poetry Slam team. While much of her work focuses on racism, sexism and other social justice issues, she also celebrates music, community and love.
Gilbert, a first-year student at U-M, also a Pioneer graduate, was the 2016 Ann Arbor Youth Poetry Slam Champion. Her work combines a wonderfully playful sense of humor with hard-hitting zingers. She describes her poetry as “a way for me to fight, sway opinions, and force others to think deeply.”
Stupple, still a senior at Pioneer, earned accolades in 2017 as both the Ann Arbor Youth Poetry Slam Champion and the Ann Arbor Youth Poet Laureate. Her deeply personal work examines trauma and the courage necessary to endure it. ”
Poetry Night in Ann Arbor
The Keene Theater in East Quad
701 E. University Ave., Ann Arbor
Saturday, November 11, 7-9pm
Advance tickets only $10 – $20
To purchase tickets or to find out more, visit neutral-zone.org