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Poetry

Poetic spirit

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Published 4/16/2008

Perusing M.L. Liebler's bio is just a tad intimidating for a young writer. The Detroit poet, professor and activist is cut from the same cloth as John Sinclair, the once-manager of the MC5 (notorious for being sentenced to 10 years in prison for possession of two joints). Sinclair, who recently came to the University of Michigan, said of Liebler, "[he] is a tremendous source of poetry energy in the Motor City and beyond."

That energy earned Liebler honors from a local newspaper, which conferred the title of "Best Detroit Poet" upon him in 2004. He led the Poetry Resource Center of Michigan in the late '80s and early '90s, and the National Writer's Voice Project of Detroit from 1994 to 2004, before becoming director of the Springfed Literary Arts of Metro Detroit in 2004. He has read his work in Germany, Russia and Hong Kong, and taught in the English Department at Wayne State University for more than 30 years. Those are just a few of the dozens and dozens of posts, accolades and awards he has earned over his 47-year career. (He says he started writing at age 7, realizing it was poetry at age 10).

The man is inextricably tied to Michigan and has been involved in the Detroit arts scene for more than 35 years. He is an integral figure connecting local histories of punk and free jazz with beat and surrealist poetry. His most recent collection, Wide Awake in Someone Else's Dream (Wayne State University Press, $15.95) reflects on his travels abroad, his ruminations on Michigan and much in between. It is his fourteenth publication.

Or, as the prolific feminist poet and author Alicia Ostriker says, "M.L. Liebler is a piece of the reality poetry. ... He is a beacon shining for the republic (of poetry and love) for which he stands." Support his tireless efforts at any of the following events celebrating his latest publication. —Andrew S. Klein

M.L. Liebler Book Release Party, featuring members of the St. Clair Shores Library Poetry Workshop, is at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 16, at the Mount Clemens Public Library, 150 Cass Ave., Mount Clemens; 586-469-6200. An open mic follows.

Open Mic with M.L. Liebler & the Magic Poetry Band (Faruq Z. Bey, Ron English, Jef Reynolds and Bill Hulet) at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 17, at Music Hall Jazz Café, 350 Madison, Detroit; 313-887-8501.

Wayne State University's Made in Michigan Book Release Party, featuring Janet Kauffman, Conrad Hilberry and M.L. Liebler, with an afterglow concert by M.L. Liebler & the High Strung, Eddie Baranek's Shotgun Wedding and John Sinclair & His Blues Scholars. Event is 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; $5.

An open mic with M.L. Liebler & the ML5 (Avy Schreiber, Junk Baby, Jef Reynolds and Bill Hulet), with special guest, Maryland poet Gerry LaFemina. Event is 7 p.m., Thursday, April 24, at the Music Hall's Jazz Café, 350 Madison, Detroit; 313-887-8501.

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