Detroit Youth Poet Laureate to read at InsideOut fundraiser Thursday

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

InsideOut Literary Arts Projects will host a fundraiser on Thursday to supports its poetry and creative writing programs for metro-area yoiuths age 6-19. "Share the Light: An Evening in Celebration of Youth Voice" will be held at the College for Creative Studies' Taubman Center from 6-8 p.m. Tickets are $125,or $200 for two.

Imani Nichele, 18, is the 2018 Detroit Poet Laureate, sponsored by InsideOut Literary Arts Projects.

InsideOut organizes writing workshops in and out of schools, brings in professional writers, and hosts Citywide Poets, an after-school literary community for teens.

The nonprofit also sponsors the Detroit Youth Poet Laureate — this year Imani Nichele from Warren. The Detroit News caught up with the 18-year-old Wednesday. 

How'd you get involved with InsideOut?

I found them through social media and called the office and went to a session at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. 

Where'd you go to high school?

I went to the Creative Learning Center, an alternative school in Warren. 

How long have you been writing poetry?

I've been writing seriously for two years, which is when I started working with InsideOut. 

Were you always interested in poetry?

Well, I always liked writing. And I did poetry in school — Shakespeare and Robert Frost. But when I got to InsideOut, I saw poetry in a more contemporary form and fell in love with that.

Who's your favorite poet? 

Wow, that's a hard one. I'd say my favorite right now is probably Hanif Abdurraqib, an African-American poet who wrote "They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us." 

What's been valuable about InsideOut? 

Where I grew up, nobody's a poet or writer — you just need to get a job. There's no room to be an artist. But this program puts professional artists in front of you — people who are making a living off things you'd think are just a hobby. 

Will you read Thursday evening?

Yes, I'll read a poem of mine, "For When the Boy Asks, 'What Are We?'"

What do you write about?

Everyday, personal narratives. I like to make ordinary situations as elaborate as they are in my head.

Are you headed for college this year?

Not for the moment. I plan on taking the year to work on my artistry.

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy


'Share the Light' fundraiser to benefit InsideOut Literary Arts Program 

6-8 p.m. Thursday

College for Creative Studies 

Taubman Center, 11th floor 

460 W. Baltimore, Detroit

Tickets: $125 per person; $200 for two

To purchase: go to and search for "Share the Light"

(313) 577-4601