What Detroit Knows [Poetry Friday]

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

Well, I missed the Poetry Princess August posting because I was visiting family in Florida for the first time in almost two years! But I love the form they played with: What _ Knows.

I wrote this one during and after my 2019 voyage on a Great Lakes freighter. It’s called “What Detroit Knows,” because I’ve never been to Detroit and was just enchanted by the sparkling city we saw from the river as we glided by. And by the steel mills and their power and steam!

I’ve written a couple of other What _ Knows poems in the past too (but nothing last month). I hope to share those when I get somewhat caught up! You know, I worked on schedule, full-time, all during the pandemic. My work itself did not change much, though my income and speaking events were definitely impacted. But NOW, as we transition into a new time, with more interaction but still danger, and also with our move this year, I just can’t seem to get it together. Much tougher for me, creativity-wise, than the lockdown pandemic was!

Anyway, here’s my poem, and it’s helping me relive my amazing trip on the Tregurtha (thank you, Interlake!). A picture book based on that trip will be coming out in the next few years, and I can’t wait to share that!

Of course, my Poetry Sisters wrote beautiful poems for this challenge.

Kelly finds the inner wisdom of crust, crow, and Hamlet

Liz explored the inner lives of pennies and peaches

Sara takes on orange roses and umbrellas (doesn’t that make you think of a wonderful rainy day?) 

Tanita gets to know skin, noses, and breath in her poem about masks

Mary Lee gets into needles, zinnias, and crickets

Andi and Tricia–like me–were away last week!

Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations. 

This month, we’rewriting tankas. Since tankas were originally take-offs on other poets’ haiku, we invite you to dig into the Poetry Friday archive, find any poem you admire (haiku or not), and compose a tanka inspired by it or in conversation with it (obviously given credit where credit’s due). Then post online and tag #PoetryPals!

And for more delicious poetry, check out the Poetry Roundup with Heidi Mordhorst!





16 Responses

  1. This is such a versatile prompt and I really enjoyed your take on it. It’s nice to see a positive light shine on Detroit. By the way, my dad is a huge Detroit Lions and Tigers fan. He’d like to see a few more of those touchdown bites!

  2. Such a beautiful ode to Detroit. (That Motown groove line.????) I’m also loving that it sparked wonderful memories for you. Be gentle with yourself, Laura. Sometimes we just need to step back, grab a breath, energy and inspiration before we wade back into the fray. Take some time to do less, best — and mayhaps rock a little to the Detroit groove.

  3. I’d forgotten about that special trip, remember you posting about it & now the poem. The closest I’ve ever been is a stopover at the airport. That’s it. I imagine it is a wonderful city! I love your poem. All the “What does” poems have been such fun to read. Best wishes for getting it all together. I struggle with a schedule too & wonder if in lockdown we created one, thus now we’re more free & at a loss with the time? Happy weekend!

  4. ooooh! What a great image/poem pairing. I’m delighted to hear of a new PB from you about the ship is coming out. You know, time that is off the regular creativity track…it’s just data collection. Someday soon, you’ll feel a spark of an idea that came from this time. I just know it…like a touchdown bite. It’ll get ya!

  5. Laura, I am glad that you brought your travels into your poem. I have never traveled to Detroit so your poem was filled with wonderful thoughts. I love the facts and the final sparkle along with the beautiful night shot. Congratulations on yet another book coming out. I truly look forward to that one and book review tour. Count me in if you are looking for people to review any of your new books. You know I am a big fan. In fact in my new study, I have a section for your poetry books so my granddaughters and I can be delighted by what you write. I also added my late to the #PoetryPals challenge today.

  6. Oh, wow! You totally captured the essence of Detroit in this poem! Maybe a whole travelogue of poems like this is next?!?

    1. That would be so fun. (Though after all the research and writing I did for my U.S. State Poems collection, which never sold, I’d be very hesitant.) I love the idea of kids researching their own state/city and writing their own (probably non-rhyming) versions. Wouldn’t that be a cool project?

  7. Laura, this is great! I especially like the poem and photo together. Detroit is a city I’ve long wanted to visit, and the Motown Museum will be my first stop! If I could hitch a ride on a freighter, I’d be over the moon. I look forward to your book about that.

  8. I love when a poem and a picture can help you relive an amazing trip, Laura, or in my case, get a taste for a place. I look forward to your forthcoming picture book about this trip, too.
    I am right there with you about this ‘transition into a new time’ — I am having a hard time with my creative mojo, too! Let us both give ourselves grace as we navigate what comes next. 🙂

  9. This is wonderful, Laura. I loved hearing the backstory to this poem as well. Looking forward to the book that was a result of the same trip!

  10. I love the versatility of that prompt! And love your short-and-sweet love song to Detroit.

  11. Good morning–I’m late this weekend due to Good Reasons! Glad you gave me another chance to enjoy this form, Laura. You crammed a lot into your 8 lines, and I guess that’s the beauty of the form–its economy. I also appreciate that you gave us all the positive view of Detroit when it could have gone another way. I’m so fascinated by the idea of a Great Lakes voyage…makes perfect sense now that I think about it, but I never thought about how interesting that would be.

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