The Detroit Festival of the Arts

Eric C. Novack


For a city with more than its fair share of problems, the Detroit Festival of the Arts is a refreshing reminder of just how culturally vital Detroit can be. Each year the blockaded streets around Wayne State University in the Cultural Center come alive with a wide variety of artists, lively music, and plenty of food.

It is the "festival of the arts", which means a celebration of all forms of art, including photography, painting, ceramics, and clothing. Birmingham, Alabama artist Maurice Cook provided a highlight as he created original oil paintings with a southern influence on the spot.

The music was actually the only problem with the festival, as it ended up being a distraction from all the other things going on. I was so taken by one group of musicians - collectively known as "Blair and His Band," that I ended up buying a CD by band member, trumpeter J. Scott Franklin, "Chain of Words."

As for the food, while it certainly looked mouthwatering, to tell you the truth I didn't eat anything at the festival. (My managing editor said that it wasn't in our budget!) But that didn't stop me from drooling over every one else's plate.

This is but a taste of what goes on at this annual festival, but let me not forget to mention the reason I was in attendance: the Literary Arts Festival presented by Springfed Arts - Metro Detroit Writers and featured poets from the metropolitan Detroit area and around the world.

Located just north of Warren and Cass Ave., the literature tent was nearly filled to capacity on the Saturday that I attended. InsideOut Literary Project's Dr. Terry Blackhawk (also April's…lit selection) and internationally known poet and WSU professor of English, M.L. Liebler were on hand to emcee the event. From noon till five energetic poets graced the stage to read their works against a backdrop of music. There were crowd favorites like Wardel Montgomery and Michael Jones (Detroit's "Dancing Poet"). Jon Broadnax, a first time reader, confessed that he was a little nervous reading his piece "Untie my hands", but when his turn came, he knocked it down with absolute confidence. KT Lowe, with her fiery red hair, embodied her piece "The Perils of Literary Decadence". During Loretta Hill's reading of "Jersey" a heavy rain came down and the drops hitting the top of the tent threatened to drown out her performance. Undaunted, Ms. Hill didn't miss a beat by elevating her voice she finished to a grand round of applause.

All and all the Detroit Festival of the Arts is an incredible event for the city, bringing young and old, locals and out of towners, all together on the city's streets. No matter what your particular cultural interest might be, this has something for you to see, to hear, to taste, to touch, or to do. This festival truly points out all that we have to offer, and a taste of what else is going on in our great city. See you there next year!

© 2002