Thursday’s event, co-sponsored by Tennessee Tech University’s Tree House and Center Stage, is a performance. Bringing poetry together with 1960s underground rock ’n’ roll, the event’s aim is to open students’ eyes to modern American poetry.
“We’re trying to bring poetry to life by performing it and injecting it with pop culture,” said Andy Smith, TTU English professor and faculty head of the Tree House learning village. “We want to bring new life into what most people think of as a dead art because the authors are dead and the words only sit on the page.”
Detroit poet M. L. Liebler and Peter Lewis, guitarist from the 1960s band Moby Grape, will perform popular songs and some of Liebler’s poems. His common poetic inspirations are social justice, peace and labor issues. Before the duo go on, students from Smith’s American literature course will perform their own work at a poetry slam competition beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, in the Backdoor Playhouse. The Backdoor Playhouse is in the Jere Whitson building on the TTU campus.
Liebler is a professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, where Smith earned his bachelor’s degree in English in 1994. Liebler has written 13 books of poetry and has performed around the world, including in Israel, Finland, Turkey and China.
“His live poetry readings are really charismatic and exciting,” Smith said. “Thanks to Center Stage support, this event will put culture right in our faces.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.