We’re pleased to welcome the beloved author of The Undertaking in support of his latest, The Depositions: New and Selected Essays on Being and Ceasing to Be. The author will be in conversation with poet Keith Taylor. Signing to follow. Free and open to the public.
About the book:
For nearly four decades, poet, essayist, and small-town funeral director Thomas Lynch has probed relations between the literary and mortuary arts. His life’s work with the dead and the bereaved has informed four previous collections of nonfiction, each exploring identity and humanity with Lynch’s signature blend of memoir, meditation, gallows humor, and poetic precision.
The Depositions provides an essential selection from these masterful collections—essays on fatherhood, Irish heritage, funeral rites, and the perils of bodiless obsequies—as well as new essays in which the space between Lynch’s hyphenated identities—as an Irish American, undertaker-poet—is narrowed by the deaths of poets, the funerals of friends, the loss of neighbors, intimate estrangements, and the slow demise of a beloved dog.
As Alan Ball writes in a penetrating foreword, Lynch’s work allows us “to see both the absurdity and the beauty of death, sometimes simultaneously.” With this landmark collection, he continues to illuminate not only how we die, but also how we live.
Thomas Lynch has authored five collections of poetry, one of stories, and four books of essays. His first, The Undertaking, won the Heartland Prize for Non-Fiction and the American Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. His writing has appeared in the Atlantic, Granta, Harper’s Magazine, and the New York Times, among other publications. He works as a funeral director in Milford, Michigan, and teaches at the Bear River Writer’s Conference.
We welcome former TIME correspondent, founder of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships and Livingston Awards at the University of Michigan, Charles R. Eisendrath, in support of his collection Downstream from Here: A Big Life in a Small Place. Book signing to follow. Free and open to the public.
About the book:
“Why not learn how to learn by doing? Why not go backwards and forwards at the same time, intro-prospecting what’s gone into our gene pool by letting it come out as the future unfolded? Each of us is a family album that few of us take the time to reference. The trick is learning how to read the pages while making new ones at the same time. The turning part happens by itself — you just need to pay attention.”
Charles R. Eisendrath, in this series of essays spanning four decades, explores the things that grow lives of their own when left undisturbed at a second home — things like an “ancestor room,” a storm-struck forest, a player piano and a childhood fear of wild dogs. These essays are about the loves of a place inhabited temporarily, but which shape a person permanently.
These essays range from Anatolia to Argentina, from FDR’s secret wartime fishing trip to a plane crash in Costa Rica. The margin notes of academic articles lead to a grill admired by James Beard and a Saudi prince. Tenure at the University of Michigan inspires a cherry orchard and bulldozers invite ghosts. Serious, hilarious, inquisitive, spontaneous, Eisendrath introduces us to the people and places, the life, death and afterlife that goes on nonstop, all around us, all by itself.
RC Creative Writing alumna Carmen Bugan is a poet and author of the critically acclaimed memoir Burying the Typewriter. She visits in support of her collection of new and selected poems, Lilies from America. Book signing to follow. Free and open to the public.
About the collection: This selection of Carmen Bugan’s poems offers readers an experience with all the surprise and continuity of a long, complex novel. Childhood, youth, the move from a traditional rural world, dominated by lovingly described grandparents, to exile, urban life, parents aging, children growing – all the private normalities which are so often the material of poetry are here. But, from the striking opening, where the poet’s parents work secretly on a typewriter, buried and dug up after the children are in bed, on Samizdat protests against the government of Romania, normality collides with history. A reality of state surveillance, abuse and incarceration fills the poems with urgency, even as memories are revisited and sometimes revised.
Carmen Bugan’s books include the memoir Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police (Picador), which has received international critical praise, the Bread Loaf Conference Bakeless Prize for Nonfiction, and was a finalist in the George Orwell Prize for Political Writing, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her collections of poems are Releasing the Porcelain Birds and The House of Straw (both with Shearsman Books), and Crossing the Carpathians(Carcanet Press). She is also the author of a critical study on Seamus Heaney and East European Poetry in Translation: Poetics of Exile. Her work has been translated into several languages and she is a regular reviewer for Harvard Review Online. Bugan was awarded a large grant from the Arts Council of England, was a Creative Arts Fellow in Literature at Wolfson College, Oxford University, was a Hawthornden Fellow, the 2018 Helen DeRoy Professor in Honors at the University of Michigan, and is a George Orwell Prize Fellow. She has a doctorate in English literature from Balliol College, Oxford University. She now lives in the USA with her husband and children.