Friday, 10 February 2006 04:10
Editor's Note: Celebrating Detroit
City Arts Quarterly
By John Sinclair
Welcome to the long-awaited Spring/Summer/Fall 1989 issue--take your pick--of City Arts Quarterly. We've been held up for several months by forces beyond our control, but finally we're out again with this mammoth Special Issue which contains material collected over the past eight or nine months since the publication of our Writing In the City issue last February.
While we started without a particular theme for this issue, so much of the material that came in was focused on the city itself that the title Celebrating Detroit suddenly appeared at the top of one of the many drafts of the Table of Contents which guide us through the course of preparing an issue for publication.
Incidentally, much of this material was unsolicited--it came in through the mail or was dropped off at the front desk. William Shelly's "Memories of Detroit," the poems from Down By LAW, Dennis Shea, Marc Sanchez, Pat. Medicine, Robert L. Purdue, and the contributions by old friends David Swain and Jim Gallert were pleasant surprises indeed, and they fell right into place with what was already happening.
Of course, it is our intention with every issue to celebrate Detroit by showcasing our resident artists and their creative activities, including the best writing we can garner from Detroit's vast community of accomplished poets, fiction writers and journalists. Our city is alive with creativity in every shape and form, now more than ever, and our mission at City Arts Quarterly is to bring the work of Detroit's finest painters, sculptors, poets, musicians, dancers, photographers, actors, playwrights and other active artists to your attention.
Art in Detroit is created and made public only through the most serious sort of struggle--not just the battle to articulate and communicate a personal vision with intelligence and skill which is the burden of every artist everywhere, but the vicissitudes of everyday life in a desperate, out-of-work, post-industrial city which everyone but the people who live and work here has long ago given up on and abandoned.
While the usual practice is to blame the victim for its afflictions, the fact is that Detroit has suffered the loss of more than 200,000 jobs and half its former population of two million people since the dawn of the suburban era. The people whose lives are depicted on television and in our popular culture--you know, regular Americans--left the city for dead 20 years ago and try to go about their business as if the rest of us aren't worth bothering with.
We've been written off the books of the consumer society, but we just won't go away--we only keep digging in deeper and fighting back more vigorously with whatever crude weapons we can get our hands on. That's what makes our art so vital and alive, that it's created out of adversity and pain, shaped by the grinding edge of underclass reality, brought to life in spite of the economic and physical violence which threatens our very survival at every turn.
We continue to celebrate Detroit because this is where we are--this is our home, and we're glad to be here, thank you, still fighting and kicking for life!
(c) 1990, 2006 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.