Jack White Pens Detroit A Poesy


Jack White, of the White Stripes and The Raconteurs, has penned a poem for his hometown of Detroit, MI and passed it along to The Detroit Free Press for publication. Over the years, Jack has been an ardent supporter of Detroit Rock City so it should come as no surprise that he would take the time to write such a lovely poem for his hometown. Here is a pic of Jack and Meg White standing in front of the famed Hotel Yorba near downtown Detroit and the full text of his poem entitled Courageous Dream’s Concern:

I have driven slow,
three miles an hour or so,
through Highland Park, Heidelberg, and the
Cass Corridor.
I’ve hopped on the Michigan,
and transferred to the Woodward,
and heard the good word blaring from an
a.m. radio.
I love the worn-through tracks of trolley
trains breaking through their
concrete vaults,
As I ride the Fort Street or the Baker,
just making my way home.

I sneak through an iron gate, and fish
rock bass out of the strait,
watching the mail boat with
its tugboat gait,
hauling words I’ll never know.
The water letter carrier,
bringing prose to lonely sailors,
treading the big lakes with their trailers,
floats in blue green chopping waters,
above long-lost sunken failures,
awaiting exhumation iron whalers,
holding gold we’ll never know.

I’ve slid on Belle Isle,
and rowed inside of it for miles.
Seeing white deer running alongside
While I glide, in a canoe.
I’ve walked down Caniff holding a glass
Atlas root beer bottle in my hands
And I’ve entered closets of coney islands
early in the morning too.
I’ve taken malt from Stroh’s and Sanders,
felt the black powder of abandoned
And smelled the sawdust from wood cut
to rehabilitate the fallen edifice.
I’ve walked to the rhythm of mariachis,
down junctions and back alleys,
Breathing fresh-baked fumes of culture
nurtured of the Latin and the
Middle East.
I’ve fallen down on public ice,
and skated in my own delight,
and slid again on metal crutches
into trafficked avenues.

Three motors moved us forward,
Leaving smaller engines to wither,
the aluminum, and torpedo,
Monuments to unclaimed dreaming.
Foundry’s piston tempest captured,
Forward pushing workers raptured,
Frescoed families strife fractured,
Encased by factory’s glass ceiling.

Detroit, you hold what one’s been seeking,
Holding off the coward-armies weakling,
Always rising from the ashes
not returning to the earth.

I so love your heart that burns
That in your people’s body yearns
To perpetuate,
and permeate,
the lonely dream that does encapsulate,
Your spirit, that God insulates,
With courageous dream’s concern.

Jack tells the Free Press that he wrote the poem to answer his critics who claim he has lost respect for the city. In various interviews, Jack White was quoted as saying some not-so-nice things about the evolution of the music scene in Detroit (interviews he gave after he moved away from Detroit in 2006) which some people took to mean that he had ill-feelings towards the city as a whole. In an effort to express his “feelings about the city itself, and how strong [he] believes it to be”, Jack took pen to paper and composed this poem. Personally, I think it’s an amazing poem which gives the reader a very good feel for the city. Detroiters especially can appreciate all the places that Jack mentions and I’m sure they can identify with his descriptions of those places. I simply had to post this poem so that as many people as possible can read it and hopefully get a better understanding of the city that I love so much. Detroit is my home too and I’m glad that Jack White took the time to tell the world how amazing the city really is … in his own words.


  • czarina

    The poem is quite good, but owes a great deal to Alan Ginsburg!

  • lauren

    Detroit needs all the love it can get! I’m glad you posted it in your blog so that people outside of Detroit get a chance to read it!

    Although…I will never be able to forgive Jack White for buying the photo booth from Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum.

  • garbage

    Isn’t Marvin’s in Farmington, or somewhere around there?
    Personally I don’t find this poem very appealing. It seems more concerned with making sure to include Detroit references rather than the poetry itself, but maybe a few more reads would change my mind. But the city needs more than a poem to cover up its illness.

  • leelya

    so glad you keep me posted on all things jack white. i love beating my boyfriend to most recent white stripes news. thanks!

  • KT

    this is lovely and reminds me a lot of “the virgin suicides” and “middlesex”.. both set in detroit and they have this same atmosphere. sad but wonderful and those from michigan know we need detroit to bounce back.