Tag Archives: Michigan authors

2013 Michigan Notable Books Announced!

Michigan Notable Book SealThe much anticipated 2013 Michigan Notable Books list has been announced and the titles are fantastic!

The Library of Michigan annually decides on 20 of the most notable books that “are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience” as well as featuring “high-quality titles with wide public appeal.” (via)

This year’s select list features fiction, nonfiction, picture and children’s books alike and were penned by a Michigan resident or written about a subject related to the Great Lakes region.

Michigan now holds some of the country’s hottest authors in its mittened hand. After authors are notified of their awards, they make themselves available to Michigan readers through library tours, appearances and literary engagements.

“In the spring, selected authors will visit 50 libraries across the state from the Upper Peninsula to Detroit,” states the Free Press. A keynote event known as the Night for Notables takes place in late April and honors all the selections.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

State of the Book Literary Symposium Not to be Missed!

The State of the Book: A Celebration of Michigan Writers and Writing*

On Saturday, October 6thFiction Writers Review and the University of Michigan’s MFA Program in Creative Writing will co-host a day-long literary symposium in Rackham Auditorium on the University of Michigan campus to celebrate Michigan’s great writers and the state’s enduring literary traditions by declaring Michigan “The State of the Book.”

The State of the Book symposium will offer a range of free programming throughout the day that is focused on Michigan writers and the craft of writing—please click the “Schedule” tab above for more details. The day’s events will conclude with an on-stage keynote conversation featuring Charles Baxter, an award-winning fiction writer and novelist, and Philip Levine, a former Poet Laureate of the United States.

This day-long series of public events will showcase the state’s leading literary stars, in partnership with several of the state’s leading non-profit literary organizations: 826michiganDzanc BooksInsideOut Literary Arts ProjectThe National Writers Series, and The Neutral Zone. The events will also feature the work of the next generation of writers that these organizations serve and support.

* Information taken directly from stateofthebook.com

For all symposium information including schedule of events, directions, and FAQ’s, link over to State of the Book.

– Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

– Post by Megan Shaffer

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Baldwin Public Library Presents ‘Greetings from Michigan’

     Book Beat and the Baldwin Public Library present Greetings from Michigan, an afternoon with four Michigan authors of young adult literature.  Amy AckleyTracey BilenBeth Neffand Lara Zielin will be at the Baldwin Public Library (300 W. Merrill Street, Birmingham, MI 48009) from 1:30 to 3:30 pm  on Tuesday, July 24.  Combat any summer doldrums with an opportunity to meet four fresh new faces in the world of young adult fiction. Three of these new books take place in Michigan! For More Information: click here

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Information taken from the Book Beat Summer Newsletter and posted by Megan Shaffer

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Michigan’s Literary Stars to Shine on Saturday Night

Michigan’s finest authors will be stepping out Saturday night for a few hors d’oeuvres, some fine Michigan wines, and a swell of well-deserved recognition for their award-winning contributions to the 2012 Michigan Notable Books.

The Library of Michigan’s annual Night for Notables is an event designed to pay tribute to those authors who have written works that offer high-quality titles with wide public appeal and are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience.

This year’s featured speakers are 2010 and 2011 National Book Award Winners for Fiction, Jesmyn Ward (Salvage the Bones) and Jaimy Gordon (Lord of Misrule). The evening’s moderator is both a National Book Award Finalist and one of my favorite authors, Bonnie Jo Campbell (American Salvage and Once Upon a River).

Authors to be honored at the Night for Notables this year include such names as Michael Moore, Jack Dempsey, Steve Hamilton, and Jim Harrison among others. Many of this year’s contributors will be on hand to sign and discuss copies of their award-winning books.

What are the Michigan Notable Books? Each year, the Library of Michigan selects up to 20 published titles over the last year that celebrate Michigan people, places, or events. Stretching back to 1991, the Michigan Notable Books began as the “Read Michigan” program but switched its name in 2004.

Anywhere between 250 to 400 Michigan-related titles are reviewed each year. Book selections are highly competitive and are reviewed by a board of 10-16 members who come from various literary backgrounds. The program is supported by sponsors and grants handled by the Library of Michigan Foundation.

For NLR coverage of a few of this year’s titles, you can link here. For a detailed piece on the upcoming event, link to this wonderful City Pulse piece by fellow friend and Mittenlit blogger Bill Castanier.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jaimy Gordon

Precision Powers Terry Blackhawk’s ‘The Light Between’

The Light Between by Terry M. Blackhawk

– Review by writer and blogger Maggie Lane

Most books of poetry are like shuffled playlists:  where you begin and where you end are beside the point. But anyone reading Terry Blackhawk’s latest collection at random will miss one of the many pleasures of the book.  The intricate order of the poems in The Light Between unfolds a progression of healing as intimate as any memoir.

Blackhawk’s divorce after a 30-year partnership sets the book in motion, or rather deposits Blackhawk in one of those “in between” times so unnerving in a culture that marks time with status updates. In between jobs, in between symptom and diagnosis, in between youth and old age, and in this collection, in between losing love and finding it again, are uncomfortable spaces but spaces ripe for discovery and for poetry.  The in-between is where Blackhawk eventually finds the light in the collection’s title.

The book begins with an empty bed and an unrequited desire for the lover who vacated it.  Desire turns to rage in “Medea—Garland of Fire,” a searing re-telling of the Greek sorceress’ revenge on the man who abandoned her for a younger woman.  Hell-hath-no-fury finds a fresh voice in Blackhawk’s hands:

These days I think emptiness

enrages most, flesh that cannot forget

its hunger turned to anger, blown

useless petals.  Among my people

women have ways of remaining 

supple with desire. Why do you scoff

at these offerings?

A cultural distaste for sexual passion in “women of a certain age” bestows on Medea a useful invisibility in her plot to murder Jason’s young bride:

I will put on a shawl

of smoke and haze.  Drape myself

in the gray peace of the dove.

I will be, quietly, like ashes

concealing fire.

But Fatal Attraction this is not. Sadness, not rage, is the weightiest emotion of the book’s early poems.  Everything reminds Blackhawk of her loss, of the years/he tossed like fish, back into the water:  the pulling down of her old roof (Who’d have thought a slow rot/ would have such fervor to it), a hearing loss, empty cicada shells, even household bills (the mute/ mail you forward, terse notes of interest to be paid).

Her sadness never turns mawkish or self-indulgent.  Bitterness is not her stock in trade.  She observes her own emotions as she observes the birds that animate the poems (Blackhawk is a birdwatcher):  patiently, precisely, with wonder and a poet’s relish of the extraordinary.

Her progression towards healing unfolds seamlessly, naturally.  In “The Eggplant” she sweeps a shriveled eggplant from behind a cabinet and sees in it a mirror of her own circumstance:

It had transformed

Silently, and without obvious flourish,

Until I poked around and found the beauty of it.

Blackhawk sequences her poems with the care of a master gardener, positioning poems to foil and highlight each other.  The eggplant poem is followed by “I Think of My Ex Husband Standing in the Sunlight” in which a frozen tree frog she keeps on her desk becomes a stand-in for her ex.  (A novel technique for dealing with those who hurt us.)  The juxtaposition of the two poems says what she will not:  she has evolved, but he’s frozen in time, unable to change.

The Light Between closes with a reversal of the empty bed that began it.  In the playful “Imagining Billy,” an unlikely sex object lounges in her bed:  poet Billy Collins in flannel pajamas.  Collins is too busy writing poems to engage her desire.  But this poem is followed by the full-fledged erotic coupling of “Into the Canopy” and a sweet love poem, “Not Wafting but Dofting,” light as the air that flows through it.

The movement from pain to healing forms the arc that structures the book, but The Light Between is more than a recovery memoir to be gifted to the newly divorced.  Vivid, precise language, not divorce, powers the book; and more so than lost love, birds populate its pages.  In fact, she can’t seem to keep birds and all manner of flying things—angels, skywriting planes–out of her poems.  The freedom of bird flight, the art of bird song, the beauty and variation of bird species all captivate her imagination and give occasion to many beautiful images. But it’s the elusiveness of birds that figures most in this collection.  Birds come and birds go, like love, like the muse itself.

Award-winning Terry Blackhawk lives and writes in Detroit.  She is the founder and director of Inside/Out, a writer-in-residence program in the Detroit school system.  The Light Between is her sixth book of poetry.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-The Light Between was published by Wayne State University Press

– Please link here for more from writer Maggie Lane

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Nicola’s Books Stacks Stellar Appearances This Week

Dust to DustNicola’s Books in Ann Arbor has plenty on tap for local readers this week.

On Tuesday evening, actor and author Benjamin Busch will be appearing at Nicola’s Books for a discussion and signing of his memoir, Dust to Dust. Busch, who currently lives in Reed City, Michigan, was born in Manhattan and grew up in upstate New York. He is an actor, photographer, film director, and a United States Marine Corps Infantry Officer who served two tours of combat duty in Iraq. In addition, he has appeared in the HBO series The Wire, Homicide, The West Wing, and Generation Kill.

Acting aside, Busch’s memoir is a heavy, thoughtful read that utilizes the elemental (water, metal stone, blood, etc) as device for examining the brevity of our existence.

Dust to Dust will hit stores this Tuesday, which happily coincides with Busch’s appearance at Nicola’s. The discussion and signing will take place on March 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm. For more on Benjamin and Dust to Dust, try this recent piece in the Detroit Free Press.

The Boiling Season: A Novel

Also appearing this week at Nicola’s Books is author and debut novelist Christopher Hebert. Hebert is a graduate of Antioch College and earned his MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, and was awarded its prestigious Hopwood Award for Fiction. Currently, he teachers at the University of Tennessee and lives in Knoxville with his wife and son.

The Boiling Season, Hebert’s debut novel, is a stunner thus far (I’m halfway through), and I’m quite shocked Hebert isn’t getting more airtime for this richly detailed and beautifully written work.

Hebert’s discussion and signing of The Boiling Season will take place Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm. For more with Christopher Hebert you can link to this Metro Pulse interview.

Nicola’s Books is located in the Westgate Shopping Center at 2513 Jackson Avenue in Ann Arbor. As always, events are subject to change so please call first before heading out the door (734.662.0600).

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

– Post by Megan Shaffer

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors

Women’s National Book Association Hosts Hot Authors Bonnie Jo Campbell and Samuel Park at BPL

Cover ImageFans of fiction opted out of the beautiful sunshine this past weekend to head indoors instead. Why? Authors Bonnie Jo Campbell and Samuel Park were in town for a reading and signing of their latest books as part of the Women’s National Book Association 2011 National Reading Group Month.

Baldwin Public Library played host to both authors Sunday in celebration of the WNBA Detroit Chapter’s October programming. Bonnie Jo Campbell and Samuel Park, who recently released Once Upon A River and This Burns My Heart respectively, read to an appreciative audience followed by a discussion and Q&A session regarding their latest novels.

Michigan author Bonnie Jo Campbell has received numerous awards and was a finalist  for the 2009 National Book Award for fiction. Once Upon A River, Campbell’s fourth published book, is an absolute stunner and tells the troubled story of sixteen-year-old Margo Crane.

Cover Image“I wanted to write the most American book I could,” said Campbell of Once Upon A River. Campbell’s main character Margo invokes the spirit of Annie Oakley, and hones her skills as a sharpshooter to navigate the ebb and flow of her hardscrabble life. Like Margo, Campbell grew up along the rivers of Michigan and used her intimate knowledge of river life to flesh out her story.

Samuel Park, who is an assistant professor of English at Columbia College, flew in from Chicago to discuss his debut novel This Burns My Heart. Based on stories from his mother’s life, This Burns My Heart is set in South Korea in the 1960’s and centers on the young woman Soo-Ja Choi who is bound by both marriage and culture.

“This book is about permanence of choice,” said Park of his post-Korean War novel. After Park’s own mother told him she turned down a promising suitor the very day before her wedding, Park became intrigued with the idea of choice and how many possibilities life can hold based on the decisions we make.

Both Campbell and Park are easy at the mic and were incredibly engaging. Plenty of laughs were shared as the authors took ample time to field personal questions and speak sincerely about the challenges of publishing, the pressures of writing and the painstaking wait for those early reviews.

Naturally, copies of Once Upon A River and This Burns My Heart were available for sale from Colleen Kammer of Book Beat Bookstore. It is certainly of note that Kammer is the recipient of the 2011 Detroit WNBA Bookwoman Award.

This Baldwin Public Library event was taped and will be made available on the BPL site in the near future.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Bonnie Jo Campbell