From a drive along Trumbull Avenue in 1981, to a despairing young mother in the depths of the Depression, to the backyard ice rink of a boyhood home.
These are just a few of the stories that poet Michael Lauchlan explores in his new collection, Trumbull Ave. (Wayne State University Press).
Lauchlan brings a wide range of work and life experiences to his writing. He has lived in and around Detroit, he’s been a builder, he’s helped staff a non-profit, and he’s currently an English teacher at University of Detroit Jesuit High School.
Trumbull Avenue, the place, Lauchlan said, was the “core” of his life in the 1980s. The Day House, a shelter for women in Detroit, is found on this avenue. The spirit of the Catholic worker, who helped inspire the opening of the shelter, is found on this avenue. It was on this avenue that Lauchlan and others did all of their community work, he said.
For these reasons, Trumbull Avenue permeates his poetry.
“I think my preoccupation is with the lives of a place and I think the job of a poet is to let a place speak,” he said. “And I think it’s been that way for thousands of years, so that’s my preoccupation.”
Lauchlan’s earlier collections of poetry include Sudden Parade and The Mind Goes to Pieces. These collections also tell stories about Detroit and its people. This latest Trumbull Ave. collection continues the work of those two former collections, he said.
Some of the poems were written as far back as a couple decades ago. This collection has therefore taken some time to write.
“Time itself is really one of the major themes of the book,” he said. “The kind of mysterious nature of it, the way that a poem brings it together in a moment but actually draws together many eras.”
The first poem of the book Trumbull Ave., in fact, pivots on a time in history – the year 1981. Listen above to hear Lauchlan’s reading.