Confronting Resistance and Change Through Poetry





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Jan 21, 2020
by Soila Kenya
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Confronting Resistance and Change Through Poetry

Salzburg Global Fellow Sanja Grozdanic engages with Detroit creative scene through travel scholarship A front view of the zine Sanja Grozdanic created with contributions from Detriot writers on the theme "My Last Day on Earth."

Would your last day on earth be ecstasy or grief? Sanja Grozdanic, a writer and editor from Adelaide, Australia, traveled to Detroit in the United States to explore the theme “My Last Day on Earth.”

Through a scholarship from the Kresge Foundation, she met up with Maia Asshaq, both of whom attended the third program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016.

Together, they organized a reading and poetry night on December 10, 2019, at the Room Project to provoke thoughts about the current socio-political anxieties in the world. “It encouraged writers to think about resistance as a daily practice – what we might take into the new decade, and what we must leave behind,” said Grozdanic.

During the evening, Detroit writers Scott Northrup and Cy Tulip performed original new works in response to the theme, along with performances from Grozdanic and Asshaq. Attendees were also invited to present their own contributions.

“It was a great turn out, ending with a beautiful durational performance by Cy Tulip,” said Grozdanic.

She added, “The Detroit artistic community was welcoming, open and receptive to the evening and theme.”

A zine that included several other responses on the theme was published by Grozdanic and made available for free during the event. On this accomplishment, she said, “I took the project much wider than I had originally planned, as I was very happy with the theme we chose. I am glad that a piece of the evening will continue to live on in this way.”

In the days following the event, the two Salzburg Global Fellows spent time exploring the creative scene in Detroit. “We went to a reading and screening at the Arab American Museum, where Maia also performed, to galleries, bookshops, and met with Leslie Perlman, who was one of the founders of the legendary Detroit Printing Co-op,” said Grozdanic.

Grozdanic is the co-founder of KRASS Journal, an independent arts and culture publication based in Adelaide but distributed internationally.

Based on the success of the event, she looks forward to bringing similar events to other cities. “When I return to my YCI Hub of Adelaide, I would be thrilled to host a poetry night on the same theme, with the zines available as well.”

She added, “I hope Maia and myself will continue to collaborate on projects large and small. I am aiming to re-print the publication I created for the event, for posterity, and because the work was of such a stellar standard.”

For Grozdanic, her participation in the YCI Travel Scheme provided the opportunity to connect with the Detroit creative community. “I was humbled and inspired by the ingenuity and experimentation I witnessed in Detroit. I have been reflecting on this since my return to Berlin.”

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in “hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.