Today I had the pleasure of interviewing LHSP student Dylan Gilbert, who spoke about her work as a poet and student at the University of Michigan. Dylan’s poetry was recently published in her book “Joy, despite” with Kyndall Flowers and Zaphra Stupple. Excerpts from the book were read at Literati Bookstore on February 10, 2017. Dylan will share some of her work at the upcoming LHSP All-Community Meeting on Wednesday, March 14 at 7pm.

Dylan grew up in Ann Arbor Michigan and started writing “bad angsty poetry” in middle school. She later became involved with the Ann Arbor Poetry Slam Team led by Pioneer High School’s creative writing teacher Jeff Kass. Since then Dylan has been serving as a Coach of the team for the past two years. Her accomplishments are already numerous- she has presented work at the international youth poetry slam, Brave New Voices. In 2017 she was a runner up for the Ann Arbor Youth Poet Laureate. She is also a recipient of Michigan’s Hopwood Underclassmen poetry award. Aspiring to be a writer and high school teacher in the future, Dylan describes how rewarding coaching students on the slam team can be; “I was sobbing with pride at their poetry night performance,” she says, “I was so proud of my students.” Adding to her list of local involvement is her work as a Literary Arts intern at the Ann Arbor Neutral Zone, where she was involved as a teenager for several years.

When asked what made her decide to apply to LHSP, Dylan describes her initial plan to major in Political Science at the University of Michigan. “I joined LHSP to keep writing, because I didn’t think I would be in a major that was creative.” Since then she has changed her mind to pursue a Creative Writing major, which seems like an obvious direction for someone who clearly sees writing as a big part of her life. Dylan is currently taking a Poetry 320 course with poet and Professor Tarfia Faizullah, which she describes as an amazing opportunity to be taught by someone she admires. She is also taking LHSP Director & Professor Carol Tell’s course, The Children’s Story: Re-envisioning Children’s Literature, for which she’s been working on writing a fiction story for young adults. Her involvement with the LHSP Poetry Club run by student leaders Mitchel Dipzinski and Dominique Witten has given her the space and time to set aside for writing.

Some of Dylan’s favorite writers include Angel Nafis (also an Ann Arbor native), Danez Smith, Franny Choi, and Safia Elhillo. The things that are most important to her are family, faith, and activism (women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and the Black Lives Matter movement). While it’s somewhat difficult to know where she will be in five years, she envisions herself in a bigger city close to family, such as Chicago or New Orleans (and possibly both of those places at one point). Dylan continues to write and perform her work, with an upcoming performance with the Michigan Slam Team at CUPSI in Philadelphia in the beginning of April 2018. I think it’s fair to say that Dylan is doing some incredible things and we’re so lucky to have her as part of our community at LHSP!