‘Lit Walk by the Lake’ returns with hybrid event in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 23, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — In 2019, authors and patrons came together in an event to bring the written word outdoors during the first St. Clair Shores Lit Walk.

“It was a great success — a lot of people came,” said M.L. Liebler, of St. Clair Shores. “It was nice, it was sunny, but it wasn’t humid that day.”

It was so popular that Liebler and other organizers were looking forward to the second annual event in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic moved that event online. While it was still well-attended, Liebler said he’s hoping to reach a bigger audience this year.

The 2021 event is a hybrid of the two formats.

Liebler said they’re trying to bridge the gap by having an in-person event for those who are vaccinated and still providing an online option for those who are uncomfortable going out in public.

“I imagine more people will come out this year, (but) I wanted to still keep it so people could see it, so we’ll set up a camera and stream it,” he said.

The third annual St. Clair Shores Lit Walk by the Lake will be held at Blossom Heath Park, 24800 Jefferson Ave., from 12 to 3 p.m. June 26, and it will be livestreamed at the same time at facebook.com/mlliebler.

Along with poetry, this year’s event will include authors of fiction and creative nonfiction, said Liebler.

Liebler, a published author, musician and an organizer of the walk, is also St. Clair Shores’ Poet Laureate and a professor at Wayne State University.

“I try to book stuff for the Shores one that’s accessible to a general audience,” he said.

Each segment will be like a “Whitman’s Sampler,” he said, referring to a box of mixed chocolates. Several authors will partake in each segment for up to 12-15 minutes each, ending about 15 minutes before the end of the hour to give those in attendance time to relax before heading to the next spot on the walk, with the entire event centered around the Blossom Heath Beach House. There will be free water and snacks, as well.

The noon set will feature Black Hat with Caroline Maun and Frankie the K; Westland poet Denise Sedman; Harrison Township poet K. Michelle Moran; and metro Detroit poet and writer Jenifer DeBellis. Set two, at 1 p.m. features Harrison Township poet and writer Writer L. Bush; Royal Oak writer David Hardin, a poet from the St. Clair Shores workshop; and award-winning metro Detroit poet Diane DeCillis.

Liebler has run a writer’s workshop in St. Clair Shores since 1991; that’s where he has met some of the authors participating in the Lit Walk.

“K. Michelle ... She’s really good, and she can be really funny in her reading. She’s very clever. It’s kind of satirical,” he said.

The event wraps up with a third set at 2 p.m. featuring St. Clair Shores singer/songwriter Ted Nagy; Grand Rapids poet Linda Nemec Foster; and award-winning bestselling Detroit novelist Stephen Mack Jones.

“Stephen has been a really well-known detective novelist. He’s a great guy. Linda has a new book,” he said. “I just wanted to get people that were accessible and, also, were popular enough to bring people out and mix them with some of the lesser-known writers from St. Clair Shores here.”

The event is sponsored by the St. Clair Shores Tax-Increment Finance Authority, the St. Clair Shores Cultural Committee, St. Clair Shores Public Library and the Detroit Writers’ Guild.

Rosemary Orlando, library director and staff liaison to the St. Clair Shores Cultural Committee, said they are thrilled to work with TIFA and the Detroit Writers’ Guild for the event.

“What a perfect way to serve the community, by bringing this literary event to this wonderful outdoor venue,” she said. “Cultural events help to foster social inclusiveness and community involvement by bringing people together through a shared experience.”

Liebler has put on a literary walk in midtown Detroit for 10 years and also has a long-running event in Chelsea, Michigan.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie attended in 2019. She said she appreciated the casual atmosphere.

“The authors ... read their work, and you can respond to it. It’s just a really nice day out,” she said at the June 7 City Council meeting. “You get exposed to a lot of different types of writing. You can attend as much, or as little, as you can.”

RELATED: For more summer events, check out our Summertime Fun page, sponsored by Macomb Center for the Performing Arts.