Monday, July 22, 2024

‘Lust for Life’ celebrates regional arts

What does it mean to have a lust for life?

On Saturday, January 20, a free, one-of-a-kind event will answer that question. ‘I Got a Lust for Life’: The Unique Words and Sounds of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan is an exploration of the African American Great Migration, through panel discussion, poetry performance and musical tribute.

Coming together

Kimberly Mack, an associate professor in African American literature at the University of Toledo, was a catalyst behind the event, along with her UT colleague Mysoon Rizk, associate professor of art. Mack explained that the program “comes out of a desire to document and celebrate the synergies between literature and music [ . . . ] and Toledo and Detroit, and the ways in which creative expression in these regions reflect the impact of the African American Great Migration.

“We also want people to see that literature and music made by people in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan share more in common across discipline and space than might be immediately assumed,” Mack said.

The event’s traveling setup and free admission makes for a unique opportunity for attendees.

“We are hopeful that [free admission] will encourage people to move between the two cities and attend both events,” Mack added. “And, taking the long view, perhaps this will encourage people who might not normally move between the cities for arts events, to do so in the future.”

Rizk, who also serves as director for the Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities, said she hopes the event will lead to similar opportunities in the future. “Both Toledo and Detroit are at exciting junctures in their respective histories, each having endured depression, each undergoing cultural revival, and each offering audiences many exciting opportunities for engagement,” she said. “If nothing else, we hope this program provides new opportunities for networking and collaborating among residents of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.”

Register for the free event via Eventbrite (, or via the Facebook event. A separate event is linked for free shuttle bus signups []. Wayne State University Schaver Music Recital Hall, 480 W. Hancock St., Detroit. Toledo-Lucas County Main Library, 325 N. Michigan St. Toledo Museum of Art, 2445 Monroe St.

Sponsored by The Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities and the University of Toledo, the event starts in Detroit and ends in Toledo, with buses shuttling between the cities. Transportation is free, and Toledoans can catch the 8am bus from the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Main Branch (325 N. Michigan St.) to Wayne State. A panel discussion opens the event at 10am on the Wayne State Campus at Schaver Recital Music Hall (480 W. Hancock St., Detroit), and includes Ben Blackwell, Third Man Records co-founder, and jazz singer Ramona Collins.

At 12:30pm a shuttle will depart from Schaver to the Toledo-Lucas County Main Library where author Tyehimba Jess (pictured above) will read from his 2017 Pulitzer-winning work Olio that depicts the lives of black performers in the early 1800s.

At 6pm, the event will move to the Toledo Museum of Art for a panel session that will include Tad Weed, associate professor of jazz piano at the University of Toledo, Detroit-based opera singer Frances Brockington, and award-winning Detroit poet M.L. Lieber. There will also be a musical tribute to Toledo jazz legend Jon Hendricks.

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