“Five years ago…” There are unique milestones for every Detroiter to find their own way to track the changes of the city around them. 2011 was significant for myself and many others in the art, music, and poetry scenes marked by the unexpected death of David Blair, commonly known as Blair, who passed only at the age of 43. “Five years ago…” Philip Levine was named the United States Poet Laureate at age 83. These two poets were known for their extensive writing about their experiences working on factory floors in Detroit. Levine worked in factories until he was 25, when he moved away from Detroit, about the same age Blair was when he arrived in Detroit and worked manufacturing jobs while writing and performing his music and poetry.
I am asking friends and colleagues who have recently moved to Detroit to transcribe the two poems “Detroit (While I was Away)” by Blair and Philip Levine’s “What Work Is” in their own handwriting. The physical act of re-writing the poems is a process of taking the words of the poet and moving them through ones own mind and body. Resaying the words as if they were your own, if only temporarily, embodies the poet’s language within the scribe. These transcriptions will be collaged together and scaled up and transferred onto the exterior of the pavilion.
The visitors to POP-X are invited to transcribe the poems within their own handwriting, sign the transcriptions, and pin them to the interior walls of the pavilion.
Andrew Thompson is a sculptor and installation artist, educator, curator, musician, and gardener. Thompson grew up in Kansas City, MO and received his BFA in Sculpture from the Kansas City Art Institute. Thompson moved from Cowtown to Motown to receive his MFA in Sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He has been exhibiting his sculptures and installations throughout Southeast Michigan for over a decade and helps to curate and coordinate shows as an Exhibition Committee member with Detroit Artists Market (DAM) and as a board member of Hatch Art in Hamtramck. Recent curated exhibitions have included “The Scent of Rain on Dry Earth” (2016) at DAM and “Place Names The Place” (2015) at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI. Thompson currently teaches art and design courses part-time at University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design, College for Creative Studies, and Oakland Community College. He resides near Detroit’s Eastern Market and operates his studio in the Corktown neighborhood.