I look forward to Thursdays for lots of reasons: it’s one day away from the weekend, I get to sleep in on Fridays and stay up later Thursday night, and my evenings are usually filled with events around the city. There is Drinks x Design, a monthly networking event in an open studio, gallery or business around the city; Semester in Detroit featured lectures and panels on Detroit’s history and future visions through University of Michigan; and now with the warmer weather, there is Bikes and Yoga, a weekly bike ride around Belle Isle followed by free yoga on the island.
But of all these and other Thursday events, my favorite has been the Motor Signal Reading Series. Self-described as an event that “jolts the poetry reading out of its conventional form,” the series is curated by Literary Detroit and hosted at Signal-Return. In fact, Challenge Detroit Alumni Fellow, Cornetta Lane, co-curates the event alongside her partner, Muna Danish. Signal Return’s space is warm and nostalgic and with its focus on connecting the community to traditional printing, it’s the perfect place for visitors to develop a stronger connection to the written word. What distinguishes Motor Signal from other reading series is its ways of engaging the audience with the poets and writers through a co-creation activity as part of the event.
By curating events with Kresge artists, national touring artists, art social activists, and even a current Write a House fellow, the series brings accomplished, passionate artists face to face with its audience. When I attend the event, I often feel both challenged and inspired by this. The artists I have heard share works centered on monthly themes such as sexuality, journeys and alternate visions of reality. After writers share, the audience participates together in an activity building on the readings like creating a fictional dating profile, completing a Mad-Lib style rap, and writing short sentences about our recent journeys.
At the series, we come together from our weeks, enter a cozy space, and listen to artists who share parts of their most vulnerable selves: their art. As a group, we respond to that art and consider its impact on ourselves, and our city. In this way, the Motor Signal series feels intuitive to me, and it’s become an essential part of my month. I think we can look to series like this one to build co-creative spaces that elevate and challenge our daily realities and create trust and relationships in our community.
This all being said, the series is just that and will wrap up its six month installment in July. Thankfully, Motor Signal won the Knights Arts Challenge matching grant, though they remain in the fundraising stages. Come and see what this fantastic event is all about at the June and July installments and/or consider making a donation here.