Jan 3 U Detroit Mercy in The Chronicle, AJCU Conversations, and in Jamaal May’s poetry

Wednesday,   January 3

Yesterday, the Chronicle of Higher Education led its 1st 2018 number with Lee Garner’s feature about our university and Wayne State, our neighbor c. 6 miles to the south.  A lot of us like “How to Market a College in a Troubled Locale.”  Lee Gardner features many of our university practices that make me proud, make lots of my university peers proud too.  Part of what we do here is to treat Detroit as a city in rebirth and doing what universities should do, engaging our city.   Turns out, also, that the national Jesuit AJCU Journal, “Conversations in Higher Ed” came out yesterday with it’s on-line Spring Edition featuring our campus against the background of the city’s downtown skyline.  You’ll find it below Jamaal May’s poem.

Before inviting you to read the Chronicle piece, though, I want to remind you of one of our city’s strong, recent poet voices.   Readers will remember this compelling poem, “There are Birds Here.”  Yes for sure;  best to read his poem out loud with pauses.

Blessings on this Wednesday, mid-way through the first work week of the new year.

john sj


By Jamaal May

For Detroit

There are birds here,
so many birds here
is what I was trying to say
when they said those birds were metaphors
for what is trapped
between buildings
and buildings. No.
The birds are here
to root around for bread
the girl’s hands tear
and toss like confetti. No,
I don’t mean the bread is torn like cotton,
I said confetti, and no
not the confetti
a tank can make of a building.
I mean the confetti
a boy can’t stop smiling about
and no his smile isn’t much
like a skeleton at all. And no
his neighborhood is not like a war zone.
I am trying to say
his neighborhood
is as tattered and feathered
as anything else,
as shadow pierced by sun
and light parted
by shadow-dance as anything else,
but they won’t stop saying
how lovely the ruins,
how ruined the lovely
children must be in that birdless city.


Jamaal May, “There Are Birds Here” from The Big Book of Exit Strategies.

Copyright © 2016 by Jamaal May. Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books.

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