In November, I watched the National Book Awards ceremony via an online broadcast. A U of Michigan alum of 05′, Jesmyn Ward, was nominated for her novel Salvage The Bones , and if she won, I wanted to witness it. Of course, my impulse to watch the awards was a self-involved, highly illogical one: that if I am a U of Michigan MFA Fiction student and she is an alum of this same program, then I might be able to produce a work of similar notability and talent. When she won, I was surprisingly elated. As if I had won too. I bought her books, the hour after, not yet critical of why it hadn’t occurred to me to buy them before. Later, I realized I’ve become a complacent reader.
Elizabeth Alexander on black experimental poetry, Marian Crotty on the borderline lover, Ilan Stavans on immigration and authenticity, James Morrison on Jonathan Strong, Laurence Goldstein on Philip Levine
Fiction by Peter Ho Davies, Massa Makan Diabaté, Janis Hubschman, Lia Silver, Jonathan Strong
Poetry by Randy Blasing, Todd Boss, Martha Collins, Rick Hilles, Patricia Hooper, Joe Wilkins
Perhaps because he had no singing voice, Pop leaned forward to twist the dial when Nelson Eddy came on to do “Song of the Vagabonds.” “What, Saul,” my mother called from the doorway, giving a wiggle of her hips, “you got something against a little music?” but my father shushed her so sharply I looked up from my books. He was bent close to the radio, his eyes on us, but wide and unseeing.
October’s the thick, sticky middle of my stuff season. I long to see the leaves flaming and falling on the Leelanau Peninsula; In the mornings I want sour cherry preserves on my toast and in the evening, after dinner and a walk in the brisk, fragrant airs, I want donuts from the Franklin Mill.
THE GREAT LAKES: LOVE SONG AND LAMENT, our special issue on the Great Lakes. Essays by Jerry Dennis, Anna Vodicka, Keith Taylor, John Knott, Alison Swan, Tiya Miles, Devin Murphy, Julia Gibson; Poetry by Albert Goldbarth, Margaret Noori, Holly Wren Spaulding, Ruth Joynton, M. Bartley Seigel, Terry Blackhawk, John Repp; Fiction by Steve Amick; Color portfolio: full-color photos of the Great Lakes basin selected from the exhibition “The Primacy of Water” curated by the River Gallery of Chelsea, Michigan.