The future of Detroit hasn’t been written yet, but as the city turns the page on its economic troubles, it might just get a lovely surprise ending. A phoenix is rising as an influx of young entrepreneurs, musicians, visual artists and, of course, hipsters have begun to transform the city.
From award-winning poets and writers to readings, arts programs and books swaps, a vibrant scene is emerging, driven not just by a lower cost of living but by a deep-seated pride in its working-class roots and an appetite to be a part of something new and vital. This scene is helped by organizations such as Write-A-House, which provide houses for writers, or Kresge Arts, which gives $25,000 fellowships to visual and literary artists in Detroit.
Speak to people involved in the Detroit literary scene, and you’ll be struck by their eagerness to heap praise on their colleagues and ensure that the recognition is shared.
”I’ve witnessed a revolution in the last six years or so with what Detroit writers have been doing,” says Jamaal May, a Detroit native who recently won an award for his poetry book Hum. He rattles off a list of Detroit poets, including Vievee Francis, winner of the Cave Canem second book prize, and Francine J. Harris, whose book reached the Number One spot on the national poetry best-seller’s list.
May says a lot of artists who moved away are now returning, often because they see Detroit as an ideal place to work. It’s not just the lower cost of living, although that doesn’t hurt. Housing in Detroit costs 256.5 percent less than New York City, reports AreaVibes. According to the Detroit Regional Chamber, the cost of living there is 3 percent below the national average, while San Francisco is 59 percent more…