Motor Signal Reading Series

Motor Signal Reading Series

The Motor Signal Reading Series jolts the literary reading out of its conventional form. It launched in 2014, curated by Literary Detroit and Signal-Return, a letterpress studio in Detroit’s Eastern Market. Each year, Motor Signal invites writers to share their work at a series of extraordinary events. But we go beyond the typical reading series by asking the writers to bring an interactive element into the evening: a way of involving the audience in an activity of literary co-creation. Motor Signal breaks down barriers between poet and audience. It creates a community that is welcoming of the audience, including attendees for whom the reading might be their first encounter with literature since English class. Attendees can expect to be surprised, unsettled, and delighted by Motor Signal’s experience.

We also celebrate the physicality of text: an artist at Signal-Return makes a unique hand-set broadside featuring the writers’ words, a limited edition beauty that all can take home with them.

We prioritize inclusiveness. We count it as a success that our writers and audience are inter-generational, inter-racial, and in some cases multi-lingual. Our community brings a diversity of ideas, genre, and background into the room. Our doors are also always open: there is no fee to attend Motor Signal.

And we also pointedly support writers in a practical way: we pay them for their time and talent. It’s fundamental to our mission.

Here’s what others have to say:

Stay tuned to our forthcoming Motor Signal by following us on Facebook here.


Motor Signal

Ashley Calhoun is deeply involved in social, political and artistic organizations throughout Metro Detroit. As a board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, she leads an educational program for young nonprofit development professionals. Ashley currently works at InsideOut Literary Arts and is invested in empowering people through their desire to support and strengthen their communities. She has previously worked for CultureSource, United Way for Southeastern Michigan and Michigan Primary Care Association. She received her degree in art history from Tufts University.

Anna Clark is a journalist in Detroit. She’s the author of The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy, named one of best books of the year by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus, the New York Public Library, and others. It is the winner of the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism, and a Michigan Notable Book. Anna’s articles have appeared in Elle, the New York Times, Politico, the Columbia Journalism Review, Next City, and other places. She edited A Detroit Anthology. and also wrote a book about the literary culture of the Great Lakes State. Anna has been a Fulbright fellow in Kenya, and a Knight-Wallace journalism fellow at the University of Michigan.

Co-curators Emeritus: Motor Signal 3 copy
Ashley and Anna have been with Motor Signal from the beginning, but honor those who took the lead in curating and hosting the Motor Signal program for its first four years: Cornetta Lane, Brent Smith, Muna Danish, Theo Hummer, Rachel Hyman. We love you all!

Motor Signal Alum

Season Six


Imani Mixon
Aisha Sabatini Sloan

Elizabeth Schmuhl
Kelly Fordon

Amy Elliott Bragg
Akil Kumarasamy

Oneita Jackson
Ber-Henda Williams

Season Five

IMG_3126 2

Saladin Ahmed
Stephen Mack Jones

Amy Haimerl
J.M. Leija

Benjamin Alfaro
Megan Stockton

Liana Aghajanian
Serena Maria Daniels

Season Four

Danielle McGuire
Zilka Joseph

Deonte Osayande
Jack Cheng

Jan Worth-Nelson
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty

Nandi Comer
Rola Nashef

Mic Phelps
Casey Rocheteau

Season Three


Desiree Cooper
Anne Elizabeth Moore

Sherina Rodriguez-Sharpe
RV Mendoza

Billy Mark
Aaron Foley

Satori Shakoor
Phreddy Washington

Siaara Freeman
Scheherazade Washington Parrish.

Season Two


T Miller
Ben Will

Tariq Luthun
Chad Rochkind

adreinne maree brown
Sherina Rodriguez-Sharpe
Live painting by Ashley McFadden

Ronica Dhar
Chace Morris

Casey Rocheteau
Randal Jacobs
Live painting by Ashley McFadden

Passalacqua – Brent Smith + Bryan Lackner

Season One


Sean Kilpatrick
Deonte Osayande

Cassandra Troyan
Marie Buck

Jeremy Schmall
Ann Marie Thornburg

Perry Janes
Chace Morris

Airea Dee Matthews
Raymond McDaniel

Jamaal May
Tarfia Faizullah


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