"When it comes to art and culture the first order of business is bringing people together—people enjoy other people’s company especially when there's an art component to it."

This year’s Motor Signal Reading Series kicked off with performances by Mic Phelps and Casey Rocheteau on Feb. 16, and performances will continue at Signal Return in Eastern Market every third Thursday through May.

The Motor Signal Reading Series is a literary showcase sponsored and curated by Literary Detroit and the Knight Foundation. The goal of the series is to expose patrons to local artists and to break down the barrier between poet and audience. The readings include an interactive portion during which audience members get the chance to co-create with each other and share literary works.

Brent Smith, a Wayne State alumnus who is also the curator and co-host of the series, said, "When it comes to art and culture the first order of business is bringing people together—people enjoy other people’s company especially when there's an art component to it."

"There's a long history of poets, authors and writers who catered and delivered to the audiences of Detroit and Metro Detroit,” he said. “Here we are in 2017 wanting to do that same thing: foster and support talent here in Detroit, because there's so much of it.”

Mic Phelps, the first of two performers at Thursday night's kick off, is a Detroit rapper and poet.

"I think [The Motor Signal Reading Series] is dope,” said Phelps. “I think it's something that's needed in the city that's a more intimate way for artists to sit down with a crowd and get the message across."

Casey Rocheteau, the second performer of the night, is a poet and writer in residence at InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit.

"I love this series because it brings together a really interesting audience every time," Rocheteau said.

"Art and poetry and music have always been deeply entrenched in the culture of Detroit, and I think that sometimes people forget about things that are not just the music,” Rocheteau said. “I think that what's cool about this space and a lot of other spaces around the city is being able to showcase multiple artforms at once.”

The next reading will take place at Signal Return in Eastern Market on March 16 and feature artists Nandi Comer and Rola Nashef.

According to the event page, Comer is a Detroit poet and essayist, whose work will appear in the project “To Light a Fire: 20 Years with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, A Detroit Anthology.”

Nashef is a director, producer and screenwriter who “uses her experience in the arts and involvement in Detroit’s diverse communities as a catalyst for creative expression and social movement.”

For more information about the series and upcoming events visit the website or Facebook page.

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