The Jane Kenyon Prize for UM undergraduates serves two primary purposes: to create a space for UM undergrads to publish their work to a larger audience and to facilitate dialogue between the different spheres of writers in Ann Arbor. This year’s prize is the inaugural
In Ann Arbor, I’d been known as “the Alaska guy,” which now felt like a pose. Feeling too Alaska for the MFA book-world had supplanted how much of my life I’d felt too book for Alaska. Maybe that was why I’d been unable to progress on my novel. I’d left this place, after all. Had I ever really loved it, or just the way it let me represent myself?
The ultimate journey that any writer takes is an emotional one, and that is what informs the geographical and professional passages you undergo, the moral development you attempt, the intellectual maturity you reach for. Being a writer is exhilarating, demanding, fascinating; it is the most wonderful life, but it can be terribly lonely. In fact, I am still surprised each time by how singular and private the experience of writing is—how this big conversation the writer conducts, and this desire to gobble up the world comes down, finally, to a quiet moment alone.
Like most creative writers (especially us wayward poets), I don’t relish being told what to do. Perhaps this is why I bristle when I hear the dictum write every day. To me, writing every day doesn’t sound appetizing: it sounds like a dry piece of rye toast with no butter. It sounds Machiavellian. It sounds like a chore, replete with brooms and mops and green jars of Comet. As it is, my To Do List is already chock-full of this and that and a little more of this.
Believing as we do that Michigan is a state where literature matters, we’d love to invite you, wherever you are, to visit our fine state this month to celebrate the written word. We’re hosting a day-long symposium, called The State of the Book, and drawing a crowd of writers and readers from around the world to talk books in Ann Arbor.