Obamas host Skillman grantee for ‘Evening of Poetry’

Ten local high school youths will participate in an exclusive event Wednesday at the White House to celebrate poetry and prose.

The students who participate in Detroit’s InsideOut Literary Arts Project were chosen from a dozen invited organizations throughout America to join author Rita Dove, R&B singer Jill Scott and rapper Common for “An Evening of Poetry,” where guests will “read, sing and showcase the impact of poetry on American culture.”

First Lady Michelle Obama will host an afternoon workshop for the students who will discuss and explore creative writing with the evening’s celebrity performers. Later, the youth will attend the scheduled program in the White House’s East Room.

Wednesday's event marks InsideOut’s second trip to the White House since 2009, when the organization won the national “Coming Up Taller Award” for exemplary after-school arts programs.

“We’re thrilled to have students back at the White House for a second time,” says InsideOut’s founder Dr. Terry Blackhawk. “It says a lot about the value that the Obamas place on reading and writing, as well as about the excellence of students in our program.”

Founded in 1995, InsideOut has served 40,000 youths through writer-in-residence programs in classrooms throughout the city, workshops and special events, including the recent “Who Understands Me But Me?” writers conference that attracted high school students from six Detroit Public Schools.

A grant from the Skillman Foundation helped support InsideOut’s participation in “An Evening of Poetry.”