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Poetry Flash: Melba Joyce Boyd, M.L. Liebler, + Brian Jabas Smith
August 24, 2017 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Poet, editor, and professor Melba Joyce Boyd’s book, Wrestling with the Muse: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press, is a tribute to Dudley Randall (1914-2000) with whom she worked as an editor at Broadside Press and whose authorized biographer she became. Randall was poet laureate of Detroit, a civil rights activist, and a force in the Black Arts Movement. Two of his poems, one for the four little girls killed in the Alabama church bombing in Birmingham, one for the assassination of President Kennedy, were set to music by folk singer Jerry Moore in 1965. Randall published them as broadsides, so the press, publishing chapbooks that opened out the work of African American writers into the canon of American literature, was born. Boyd’s book, connecting politics and art with the wider struggles of black America in that era, is also a dialogue between poets and includes extensive interviews. She, herself, has published six books of poetry, edited an anthology of Detroit poetry, written scholarly books, and produced and directed a documentary film on Randall and the press.
M.L. Liebler is a celebrated poet, literary arts activist, and professor. Most recent of his many books of poetry is I Want to Be Once; others include The Moon a Box and Written in Rain: New and Selected Poems, 1985-2000. He’s edited many books, ranging across labor politics, music, and poetry, and his brand new one is Heaven Was Detroit: From Jazz to Hip-Hop and Beyond, with a wide range of contributors, including Greil Marcus and Al Young.
Brian Jabas Smith’s debut book of fiction is Spent Saints & Other Stories. Jim Daniels says, “In these fine stories, Brian Smith’s direct, natural, story-telling voice rocks with the authority and grit of someone who’s been there and come back to tell the tale.” Smith is an award-winning journalist, first as a staff writer and columnist for the Phoenix New Times and then as an editor for the Detroit Metro Times. His earlier career was as a songwriter who fronted rock’n’roll bands. He’s written for many performers, including Alice Cooper.