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October 12, 1989 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-12

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ARTS
Thursday, October 12,1989

The Michigan Daily

Page 7

Corridors tells untold stories

BY DONNA IADIPAOLO

----------------------------------------

NOT everyone reads book reviews. Not everyone
reads a lot of books. Then again, not everyone can
read.
But one community has surpassed this warped
stereotype which often plagues urban areas like
Detroit. For some 30 fifth through seventh grade
inner city Detroit Public School students, reading
and writing has gone further then diagramming
sentences and Red Badge of Courage book reports.
Corridors: Stories from Inner-City Detroit is a

nationally and statewide. Like Corridors, similar
books in New York and Chicago as well as within
Michigan (The Bridge, a compilation from
Saginaw high school students, and From Our
Perspective, written by Detroit high school
students) have showcased readings and continue to
gain public awareness. In essence, these books'
philosophy of writing for the writer's sake is
taking the form of a new literary movement. Alice
Walker once said, "If art doesn't make us better
then what on earth is it for?" This is literary art,
and it indeed makes us feel better.
But perhaps what is so remarkable about these
books is their vitality. While we may be
accustomed to intellectuals and academics
routinely speaking and writing in terms of
complicated abstractions, these young writers
confront the concrete. Through their pens, prose
and protagonists, these writers enhance their day-
to-day descriptions and thoughts to a compelling
level.
The authors of Corridors, for instance,
embrace rich metaphors and parables, shaping the
English language into something very tangible
and real for themselves. Through the poems'
densely weighted words as well as through the
short stories' character dialogue, these young
authors profoundly define themselves and their
community.
"Miss Rose Bell," a short story by Julie
Porter, begins, "Stepping outside of that taxi cab,
I finally realized. This was real. This baby inside
of me is real. The fact that my mamma threw me
out is real." Porter works within the framework of
her own language to communicate complex
problems even though her vocabulary is perhaps
unready to directly translate the images. The words
she uses are uncomplicated, yet her story is not by
any stretch of the imagination "a simple work."
Woven with multiple voices and anecdotes,

Porter, like many of the other writers in
Corridors, writes to preserve the voices through
which she tells her story. She writes about a
young woman who becomes pregnant during high
school, she writes about life in the projects, she
writes so that others close to her may hear these
stories and understand:
"It was dark when I got to the Jeffries and very
late. I didn't want to disturb anybody but I wasn't
about to wander around the projects as night. I
knew from experience that that could be
dangerous. Sometimes fatal. But, even in the dark,
I could see how clean and beautiful these projects
were: There were colorful flowers and a sign on
the lawn that said, NO WORK: NO EAT. I
decided to knock on the door that the sign was in
front of since that's where the eats probably were
and I was more than willing to work."
Without question Corridors, as well as the
other youth compilation books, are filled with
innocence and experience. From the verses of 6th-
grader Ifeoma Okafor, "I am kitty with a purring
sound/ I am a slanted highway to heaven/ I am
fabric soft as silk..." to "My Rap" by Hayat M.
Ali, "My name is Hayat/ I am on the mike/ I am
one M.C./ You're gonna like..." we are forced to
regard these works as something more then cute
phrases haphazardly juxtaposed. Rather, their
writing forces each of us to accept their inherent
trustworthiness and blatant honesty. Lacking
cynicism, these authors hold ideals that we should
aspire to. Each has a sincere artistic voice, even
though they are seldom heard. These voices ring
loud through forums like Corridors.
CORRIDORS is available at Borders and Shaman
Drum bookstores.

compilation of poems, short stories, and essays
written by shining new writers involved in the
Dewey Center Community Writing Project of
Detroit. Their works are simply beautiful.
Through their writings the reader is exposed to
the rarely seen vim of youth and candid expression
within great literature. And very special writers
they are. The writings in Corridors took place at
the west end of the Cass Corridor, an injured,
recovering, and somewhat notorious neighborhood
in Detroit. Many of the works deal with individual
day to day existence as well as the history of their
community as a whole. Nowhere else can such
inspirational and earnest prose be found but
through these students' own writing.
And people are taking notice. Youth
compilation writing is being given a second
glance as an up-and-coming art form, both

Corridors, an anthology of Detroit students' poems and prose, is
representative of new kind of writers' forum being used across the
country. The Daily's Fred Zinn created the book's cover, above.

Upstart Atlanta
Symphony arrives

J

BY SHERRILL BENNETT

IT was only a matter of time: the
time it took to transform a
fledgling youth symphony into a
professional orchestra capable of
exuberant musical heights. The
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
made this transformation during
their short 44-year history. De-
spite their quick maturation, the
orchestra has gained prominence
unmatched by other symphonies
of similar age. Just in the past
decade, ASO has completed their
first European tour, earned 11
Grammy awards, and made their
debut on both radio and television.
Witnessing the rise to fame of
a professional orchestra is a rare
opportunity, considering that
most major orchestras have been
established for decades and are al-
ready on their umpteenth music
director. ASO has only had two
conductors, each serving ambi-
tious 20-year tenures. That's quite
a legacy to latch onto, one that
competent new music director
Yoel Levi can definitely handle.
This former resident conductor of
the Cleveland Orchestra has trav-
eled extensively, guest conducting
major orchestras in both the U.S
and in Europe. He brings to the
ASO a broad repertoire and a tran-

scendent style all his own. "The
best thing about Yoel Levi is that
he seems a completely natural
musician, without affectation, and
on a direct line of communication
with the music, and spinning it
out through the orchestra to the
audience," says the Boston Globe.
What more to ask from a conduc-
tor? For tonight's performance at
Hill Auditorium, Levi will lead
two orchestral suites: Tchai-
kovsky's Suite No. 3 and a suite
from The Miraculous Mandarine
of Bela Bart6k.
ASO and Levi team up with
the poised young violinist Joshua
Bell tonight. At the tender age of
22, Bell has under his belt per-
formances all over the world with
prestigious orchestras, eminent
conductors, and on top of that, an
exclusive recording contract with
London Records (so much for the
image of the starving musician).
Bell will take on the passionate
Violin Concerto by Sibelius, a
piece demanding both technical
prowess and artistic sensitivity.
T71E ATLANTA SYMPHONY
ORCHESTRA with violinist
JOSHUA BELL will perform
tonight at 8 p.m. in Hill Audito-
rium.

The Visiting Writers Series,
sponsored by the English Depart-
ment is featuring a poetry reading by
Forrest Gander and C.D. Wright.
Wright, author of Further Adven-
tures With You, and Gander, whose
latest book is titled Rush to the
Lake, will read today at 5 p.m. in
the Rackham West Conference
Room. Judging from the quality of
the Series' previous presentations,
this reading should be worth looking
into.

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Weekend
MAGAZINE

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The Personal Column
MICHIGAN DALY CLASSIFIED ADS

PRELAW*
DAY.

A
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If you are a gra
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Visit with admissions officers
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duating senior with a degree in
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ls interested in the area of
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