Young Writer Wins Free House And Finds Creative Haven In Detroit

By Patricia Montemurri
Detroit Free Press.

DETROIT

As winter’s ice begins to melt, Detroit is unveiling itself to transplanted poet Casey Rocheteau.

The 29-year-old, first from Cape Cod, Mass., Boston, Providence, R.I., and, most recently, Brooklyn, N.Y., moved to Detroit in November because she won a house, beating out about 350 literary artists in the first Write A House competition designed to address what bedevils the city and to showcase the creativity that may rejuvenate it.

“Overall, the transition from Brooklyn to Detroit has been personally revelatory for me,” she wrote in her Write A House blog. “I find myself far less tense, moving with less urgency and having time and space to dream and create. I am also in awe of the amount of gorgeous visual art around the city, from landmarks such as the Heidelberg Project and the Detroit Institute of Art, to neighborhood murals and graffiti writing.”

She is, she wrote, “constantly enchanted.”

For one thing, there’s grass under the snow in her backyard, a lawn of one’s own is often a rarity in high-priced New York City. There are kindred spirits nearby, locals and newcomers who thrive as wordsmiths, painters, sculptors and performance artists. There’s a glorious array of fruits, foods and spices at the neighborhood markets operated by Bangladeshi and Yemeni immigrants, and the local Polish pierogi are the best she has ever had.
There’s even the possibility of Detroit-made maple syrup.

“Do you mind if I tap into your maple tree?” asked Jeffrey Thomas, 31, who’s rehabbing the house across the street from Rocheteau. Thomas is collecting sap from neighborhood trees to boil down into syrup.

“Sure,” said Rocheteau, who, when she moved into the house in November, didn’t know the leafless tree out front was maple, let alone conceiving it as a source of syrup. “Didn’t think of that.”

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