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« Wendy Cope: "The Waste Land" as 5 limericks | Main | Lyn Hejinian, 1941-2024 »

February 25, 2024


The art matches the poem exactly. Turmoil and motion. But something good rises in both. Strong.

Lovely poem for Detroit, the city also beloved by my late dear friend poet Robert Warren AKA Whitey X. Thanks!

I have a fondness for "poems of place" and this is a really wonderful one. I love the couplets (I have a fondness for couplets too) interspersed with one-liners. I like the tone of this poem and all the interesting, well-crafted details. I was in Detroit a few times when I was young and my brother was going to law school there. And I agree with Ms. Cavalieri that the artwork is perfect for this poem. I enjoyed reading this, Alise.

Gives me the feel of being taken inside a surreal eye that sees unsparingly keen into an ironically real manufactured into the essence of this city.

unexpectedly compelling

I love the confident sound and power of this poem.

Alise's use of repetition is almost incantatory, opening up new landscapes both hilarious and spooky. Loved it - thanks, Terence!

I love the poem and the artwork.

Everything in this high hymn is precise and unpredictable and thrilling. It just keeps climbing into the sky over the speaker's city. I love the "For" in "For in Detroit there is a secret highway," as if it's the highway that gives cause for everything else she points us to and describes. I could read pages and pages of this reminiscence. Thank you Alise for the great force of your vision and language, and Terence, thanks for wisely choosing this poem to show us.

Don: thank you, my friend, for the comment.

David: thanks for the comment.

Pretty great love poem to a city. I've been to Detroit. I get it. Thanks.

Delightfully harsh and spunky choice, Terry. Love the poem and the art. I know the city a bit, and a number of Detroiters. Five bucks says no signs are posted and it’s not the same 15 minutes every other day. Thanks, I needed this.


Love LOVE this poem. Having lived in Cleveland and Youngstown, I relate.

It's been decades since I traveled to Detroit from Ann Arbor. I don't remember if Detroit is a Sin City or a Cynic City. This poem makes me wonder if it's both. R

Except for a single sentence, “Once an entire family was killed in a stampede,” this poem of “Reminiscence” is written entirely in the present tense. That lends an immediacy of palpable impact throughout the poem. It peers back at the Detroit of 1998, just 31 years after what has been described as the worst civil unrest in U.S. history. The “Detroit riots” of July 23-27, 1967, left 43 people dead, 342 injured, and nearly 1,400 buildings burned. Summoned to this scene were 7,000 National Guard and U.S. Army troops to quell the upheaval. In her poem Alousi examines the lingering outside-of-Detroit impression of Detroit in 1998 through sundering language and imagery: “We eat with our eyes”; “The incinerator wears a surgical mask”; “Our factories sleep with one eye open.” These minatory scenes are limned matter-of-factly. Alousi inverts any expectation of a fond or cozy recollection implied by the titular words “A Reminiscence.” And yet the poem retains what might be called the civic pride of the author, whose last two sentences suggest reclamation and perhaps rescue if only through urban horticulture: “In Detroit we cover our houses with fine mesh and ivy. Wild roses grow everywhere.” (The “textual collage” and “serial essay” techniques discussed in THE NEW YORKER article on Eliot Weinberger apply here.) We tend to forget that Detroit was nicknamed “The Motor City” for a reason. Ford, General Motors, and other major U.S. car and truck manufacturers were based there, providing thousands of jobs not only for Detroit denizens but also for the great northern migration from the south. (Terence Winch’s apt pick of Diego Rivera’s painting reminds us of this erstwhile industrial vitality.) Alise Alousi’s “Detroit 1998, a Reminiscence” is something of a miracle: she challenges us by her vivid, counter-intuitive descriptions while luring us uncannily to the Detroit alive in her generative art and imagination. What a triumph!

Thanks, Earle, for another nuanced & insightful reading of a poem. 

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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