Matching poetry, music for new sound

M.L. Liebler - Living Writer's
Photo taken by Jessica Bagdovitz | The Oswegonian

A poet brought his unique sense of writing and reading poetry to Oswego State on Monday as part of the Living Writers Series.

M.L. Liebler, a teacher in the English department at Wayne State University and author of more than a dozen books, visited students at Oswego State and performed poetry from his new book, “Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the James,” as well as “Wide Awake in Someone Else’s Dream.”

But his poetry reading is different from what many might expect to hear from a poet. He incorporates various styles of music into his poetry and sings his works. He uses songs from artists like Jimi Hendrix, Ratatat and others as his back-round music, while he performs one of his poems that match the tone of the song.

He also has his own band, M.L. Liebler and the Magic Poetry Band, where he creates his own sounds and rhythm to go along with his works. Liebler said there is no one way he decides what songs go with which poem; either he will come up with a poem and tell the band what ideas he has for it or the band will approach him with ideas and he comes up with a combination that he feels will work best together.

“I just put all of my loose ideas in the back of my head together like a poem and then put them out there,” Liebler said.

Liebler claims that he came up with the idea to mix music with poetry in college to find another way of catching people’s attention. He wanted to write poems with sounds and not words, which makes it so that there is no real meaning behind them, Liebler stated.

“I don’t really know what my poems mean,” Liebler said. “I leave it up to the reader to decide what they perceive the meaning of my poems to be.”

Since he has spent most of his life in Detroit, Mich., Liebler thinks of himself as a working-class person and these topics also appear in his poetry when he talks about hard times in Detroit.

Liebler has also traveled all over the world, from Israel to Germany, performing his poetry for all varieties of people and said that everything he has heard, felt or saw in these places are events he makes a note of for subject matter as a new poem.

This is demonstrated in “Wide Awake in Someone Else’s Dream,” where he divided his poems into different sections of where the poem was written or idea came from.

“I’m just living my life, taking everything in for my poetry and filtering it out,” Liebler said.