A one-day public program that begins in Detroit and finishes in Toledo will explore the impact of the African American Great Migration on literary and musical expression in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
The program, “I Got a Lust for Life: The Unique Words and Sounds of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan,” will include panel discussions, poetry readings and musical performances on Saturday, Jan. 20, in Detroit at Wayne State University and in Toledo at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library and Toledo Museum of Art. Buses will shuttle audience members between the events in the two cities.
The program begins in Detroit with a 10 a.m. panel discussion at Wayne State’s Schaver Music Recital Hall. The panel will include Ben Blackwell, co-founder of Third Man Records and official archivist for the White Stripes; John Gibbs Rockwood, Toledo author of the 2014 book “Can I Get a Witness” that features his photographs of iconic rock, pop, blues and folk musicians performing in the region during the early 1970s through the 2000s; Ramona Collins, Toledo-based popular jazz singer; and Oliver Ragsdale Jr., president of the Carr Center, a community hub for African-American artistic expression in Detroit.
The discussion, which will be moderated by Dr. Kimberly Mack, assistant professor of African-American literature at The University of Toledo, and Dr. Joshua S. Duchan, associate professor of music at Wayne State University, will be followed by a musical performance and Q&A.
“I Got a Lust for Life” will then move to Toledo where Tyehimba Jess will perform a poetry reading and hold a book signing at 2:30 p.m. in the McMaster Center of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Jess is a 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning poet from Detroit whose work has focused on music, biography and African-American history. He will read from “Olio,” his award-winning collection of poetry that weaves together sonnet, song and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded, African-American performers from the Civil War to World War I.
The program concludes with a 6 p.m. panel discussion in the Glass Pavilion of the Toledo Museum of Art with Jess; M.L. Liebler, a Detroit-based, award-winning poet and editor of the anthology “Heaven Was Detroit: From Jazz to Hip-Hop and Beyond”; Frances Brockington, classical volcalist and associate professor of voice at Wayne State University; and Dr. Lee Ellen Martin, jazz vocalist and Jon Hendricks scholar. Mack and Duchan will moderate the discussion, which also will be followed by a musical performance and Q&A session.
“I Got a Lust for Life: The Unique Words and Sounds of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan” is sponsored by the Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities at The University of Toledo, which advocates for and supports the study of human culture — from a great variety of fields — at all levels of learning and scholarship. Additional support for the program is provided by UT, WSU, the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Toledo.com and the Toledo Museum of Art.
The events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit utoledo.edu/al/humanities_institute.