Paul Jaussen

Detroit poetries: Field notes

Unsettled voices

Image courtesy of Modern American Poetry (

Philip Levines passing last week brought renewed attention to Detroit poetry in the national press.

A list, not a map

A list from Georges Perec's Life: A User's Manual

Whenever I move to a new place, I find that getting lost is essential. I’ve never been very good at top-down, abstract forms of orientation. I have to feel my way around. I drive, walk, take a bus. Certain locations become reference points, often unusual ones. I remember a street because of a particular laundromat or the bright purple paint job on a house. 

That subject-position of being disoriented, uncertain, and unacclimated will be my approach to this series of commentaries, wherein I explore Detroit poetry as a complete outsider, a new-comer, a non-expert.