As it turned out, driving north into high winds and rains for four hours was time well spent after all. The National Writers Series of Traverse City banged out another successful evening of laughs and literary insights at the City Opera House Thursday night as they played host to four authors from the Wayne State University Press “Made in Michigan” series.
If you think the art of the written word in Michigan is rusting away due to our bleak economy, you’d better think again. An opera house full of lit lovers both young and old turned out to hear authors Michael Delp, Jack Driscoll, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and Michael Zadoorian open up about the writing process and their work.
NWS founder and Traverse City native Doug Stanton honored local student scholarship recipients before turning the mic over to author Michael Delp, who then presided over the evening’s laid-back program. Lending an air of humor and levity that would woo anyone to the midwest, Delp offered up a few self-disparaging narratives to lighten the mood before posing the heavier, more introspective questions to the panel.
The casually clad Campbell, Zadoorian, and Driscoll easily took the stage and answered Delp’s questions with earnest, lyrical answers befitting both their roots and their craft. It was agreed by all that Michigan as “place” plays an integral role in their individual writing process, and regardless of “where” the authors physically do their writing, it’s the people and places of their upbringing that ink the soul, pen, and page. As Driscoll beautifully noted, “We are the aggregate of everything that surrounds us.”
The aggregate on this particular night was a layered assemblage of Michigan voice and perspective from urban, rural, and northern exposures. From Detroit’s edgy Zadoorian to Comstock’s cadenced Campbell, to northern Michigan’s ever-measured Driscoll, each writer brought forth a unique passion for the writing process as well as a nod to the state that breathes such life and rugged beauty into their work.
“Art has no function if it doesn’t transfer,” stated Driscoll, and I firmly agree. Though he was speaking about individual interpretation, many deft hands play a part in the actual artistic transfer that lands such fine literary events into our laps.
Delp applauded Wayne State University Press for giving “a voice to authors in Michigan” and honored their integrity in risk-taking and honest publishing. And of the National Writers Series? Impressive is a word that simply falls far too short in describing the passion and sincere intention of Doug Stanton and the NWS to keep the written word alive and well in Michigan.
For literary lovers and aspiring writers, the series is not to be missed. For a full schedule of events, click here.
*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.
-Post by Megan Shaffer
On the Side
“Shnovel” is apparently a new term in the writing game. The merging of “short story” and “novel” may or may not be the creation of poet/novelist Jack Driscoll.