Literati is honored to host Sid Smith who will be sharing her husband’s book Canio’s Secret: A Memoir of Ethnicity, Electricity, and my Immigrant Grandfather’s Wisdom about the life of his grandfather Canio Grieco
About Canio’s Secret:
In 1950s Chicago, a young boy hides in his bedroom closet to escape a father’s habitual rage. There he conjures up another paternal figure in his artistic Italian grandfather, Canio Grieco, his glimpse into happiness. With his wondrous tricks and stories of “Italy,” his library and drawings, his baseball and opera, Canio becomes the model of creativity for the lonely, introverted grandson.
Surviving through ingenuity and imagination, young Greg is fascinated by electricity and the world of men: he sticks his fingers in Christmas light sockets, finds unexpected mentors in a washing machine repair shop, fantasizes about the fate of missing fathers, and eventually betrays his grandfather at the billiard table.
Canio’s Secret is a coming-of-age story chronicling a boy’s poignant struggle to find consolation in his mother’s Catholicism and to break free of his father’s anger. Told through intimate portraits of parents and grandparents, nuns and janitors, friends and local characters, and their unsettling – often humorous – encounters, it is also the vibrant portrait of a multi-ethnic neighborhood soon to be scattered by white flight. And, as the older writer ponders his grandfather’s influence, the memoir becomes a meditation on Canio’s enigmatic advice, offered in the summer of 1953: “Happiness is all that’s required.”
Hannah Ensor, a poet living in Ypsilanti, RC alum, and assistant director the Hopwood Program, has published on topics of pop culture, sports, and mass media. She co-wrote the chapbook, at the intersection of 3, and was associate editor of Bodies Built for Game, an anthology of contemporary sports literature. Love Dream With Television is her first book of poems.
Suzi F. Garcia is an editor at Noemi Press and a representative for the Latinx Caucus. She is also a CantoMundo Fellow and a Macondista. Her writing has been featured in or is forthcoming from the Offing, Vinyl, Barrelhouse Magazine, Fence Magazine, and more. She can be found at: www.suzifgarcia.com.
All writers welcome to read their own or other favorite poetry or short fiction afterward at open mic. Hosted by Joe Kelty, Ed Morin, and Dave Jibson
see our blog at Facebook/Crazy Wisdom Poetry Series.
Crazy Wisdomn Bookstore and Tea Room, 114 S. Main St. Free. email@example.com www.crazywisdom.net
Transformation, Aesthetics, and Beauty: Translating Zen Master Ikkyu and Classical Chinese Poetry
Translators Sarah Messer and Kidder Smith will introduce Zen Master Ikkyu, an unconventional 14th century enlightened Zen Master who wrote poems in Classical Chinese, upended gender roles, and transformed the aesthetics of medieval Japan. They will also discuss how they translated Ikkyu’s poetry since Sarah didn’t know any Chinese at the start. All of us together will then translate a poem from Chinese into English, using the same method that Sarah and Kidder employed. We will conclude by enjoying some cheese from White Lotus Farms (where Sarah works), understanding that cheesemaking also involves transformation, aesthetics, mindfulness, and beauty.
RC alumna Sarah Messer is the author of four books, a hybrid history/memoir, Red House (Viking), a book of translations, Having Once Paused: Poems of Zen Master Ikkyu (University of Michigan Press) and two poetry books Bandit Letters (New Issues), and Dress Made of Mice (Black Lawrence Press). Messer co-founded One Pause Poetry and teaches Creative Writing at the RC and is a cheesemaker at White Lotus Farms.
For many years Kidder Smith taught Chinese history at Bowdoin College in Maine, where he also chaired the Asian Studies Program. He is the lead translator of Sun Tzu—the Art of War (Shambhala), and (with Sarah Messer), Having Once Paused: Poems of Zen Master Ikkyu (University of Michigan Press).
Literati is excited to host this special panel discussion with contributors from the new book Elemental: A Collection of Creative Nonfiction
About Elemental: A Collection of Creative Nonfiction:
Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction comes to us from twenty-three of Michigan’s most well-known essayists. A celebration of the elements, this collection is both the storm and the shelter. In her introduction, editor Anne-Marie Oomen recalls the “ritual dousing” of her storytelling group’s bonfire: “wind, earth, fire, water-all of it simultaneous in that one gesture. . . . In that moment we are bound together with these elements and with this place, the circle around the fire on the shores of a Great Lake closes, complete.”
The essays approach Michigan at the atomic level. This is a place where weather patterns and ecology matter. Farmers, miners, shippers, and loggers have built (or lost) their livelihood on Michigan’s nature-what could and could not be made out of our elements. From freshwater lakes that have shaped the ground beneath our feet to the industrial ebb and flow of iron ore and wind power-ours is a state of survival and transformation. In the first section of the book, “Earth,” Jerry Dennis remembers working construction in northern Michigan. “Water” includes a piece from Jessica Mesman, who writes of the appearance of snow in different iterations throughout her life. The section “Wind” houses essays about the ungraspable nature of death from Toi Dericotte and Keith Taylor. “Fire” includes a piece by Mardi Jo Link, who recollects the unfortunate series of circumstances surrounding one of her family members.
Elemental‘s strength lies in its ability to learn from the past in the hope of defining a wiser future. A lot of literature can make this claim, but not all of it comes together so organically. Fans of nonfiction that reads as beautifully as fiction will love this collection.
Anne-Marie Oomen is author of Love, Sex, and 4-H, House of Fields, Pulling Down the Barn, and Uncoded Woman, among others. She teaches at Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College, Interlochen’s College of Creative Arts, and at conferences throughout the country.
James and Grace Lee Boggs left a remarkable legacy through their shared activism, writing, and mentoring. To mark what would be James Boggs’s 100th birthday Spring 2019, the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center in Detroit revisits his writings and activism, exploring the ways his and Grace’s efforts to bring about revolutionary change continue through a powerful lineage of thought and activism in contemporary community work in Detroit.
Stephen Ward is a historian at the University of Michigan who teaches in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) and the Residential College, and he is the faculty director of the Semester in Detroit program. He is also a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership. He is the author of In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs.
Using contemporary plays, together we’ll explore how to read drama and why it’s important. Plays are a powerful tool to ignite conversations about issues that are often challenging to discuss and they give voice to people and experiences that might otherwise be overlooked. We’ll even try our hand at writing them!
Kate Tucker Fahlsing is a Chicago-based playwright, screenwriter, educator and founder of WhizBang Writers Workshop. She holds an MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage from Northwestern University. Her plays have been featured in Chicago and Off-Broadway in New York City. For more visit: www.whizbangwriters.com
Literati is excited to welcome the Creative Writing Sub-concentration seniors in the English Department at the University of Michigan for a night of poetry and prose readings!
Each year the Creative Writing Sub-concentration selects no more than 14 students who spend their senior year working with faculty to complete a creative thesis of poetry or fiction. These collections, the same size as many MFA theses, are first attempts to create book-length manuscripts, and to prepare the writers for their work in the future.
Reema Baydoun transferred to the University of Michigan as a sophomore, and has since spent her time in Ann Arbor studying English and caring for her cat. As an Arab-American poet, she often spends weekends in Dearborn for inspiration and good food.
RC student Ariel Everitt hails from a one-stoplight town in Northeast Michigan and is a junior studying English and Creative Writing at the University of Michigan, where they have been a research assistant in a biogerontology lab, become a peer writing consultant, and won a Hopwood Award. Their fiction tackles the boundaries between people and genres, applying dream logic to science and human connections wherever possible. Ariel plans to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing in the near future.
Madeleine Gaudin is a writer and future Elementary School teacher originally from Austin, Texas. Formerly the Managing Arts Editor at the Michigan Daily, she wrote about movies, music, books and the wonderful hellscape of the Internet for four years before turning her attention to ghost stories and fiction about the apocalypse.
Jenny Hong is a senior studying English with a Sub-concentration in Creative Writing (Poetry). She loves cooking, blogging, and binging TV series on lazy days—and also chatting with people around campus. She is sad that she will no longer be a student in May and enroll in workshops that will give her friendly nudges to write, but she’s also pretty excited for what’s next!
Kate Velguth is a senior studying English. She’s received four Hopwood Awards, and her fiction has appeared in The Washington Square Review, Pleiades, and elsewhere.” Her thesis, a collection of short stories, is entitled The World of Hidden Things. She hopes to teach English in South Korea next year.
Maxim Vinogradov is a local playwright, Michigan student, and is very excited to be reading at Literati! You may have seen his work in productions at Theatre Nova, Slipstream Theatre Initiative, Basement Arts, Outvisible Theatre Company, and others in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. He has had the pleasure of receiving two Hopwood Awards in Drama, two Wilde Awards, the National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Award from The Kennedy Center, and has spent this past summer in internships and residences with The Public Theater and O’Neill Theater Center. He’d love to thank the University of Michigan and Literati for this privilege, and hopes you enjoy his goofy writing!
Ellison Zak is a senior transfer student at the University of Michigan studying English, creative writing, and linguistics. Her thesis grapples with the secrets we all keep and the toll they can take on ourselves and our relationships. She spends her summers between school road tripping across the country and camping at national parks. More than anything else, she hopes to find employment after graduation.
With the young republic in crisis, President Washington chose as general an aging brigadier whose private life was mired in scandal. Follow the story of General Anthony Wayne, drawn from his own passionate letters where he vividly confessed his deepest thoughts. Writer and historian Mary Stockwell was an Earhart Foundation Fellow at the Clements Library. Her book “Unlikely General: ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America” was published by Yale University Press in 2018. She has a B.A. in history from Mary Manse College and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Toledo. Register online.
DR. CHLOE PREEDY, UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
Hosted by the Animal Studies & Environmental Humanities RIW. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Literati is excited to welcome author and physician Anthony DeBenedet to discuss his book Playful Intelligence.
About Playful Intelligence:
As adults, we have more responsibilities than we could have ever imagined growing up. Learning the work of marriage. Navigating the bumpy terrain of parenting. Maintaining social relationships. Facing grave hardship. Finding contentment in our career.
As the years pass by, we sense how the good things in life are so often eclipsed by stress. We find ourselves doing everything we can just to endure adulthood, all the while wondering whether we are actually enjoying it. This is exactly why Dr. Anthony T. DeBenedet decided to write Playful Intelligence: The Power of Living Lightly in a Serious World, to show readers how playfulness helps us counterbalance the seriousness of adulthood.
“Five years ago, my life was becoming more intense and stressful,” DeBenedet says. “My relationships, clinical work as a physician, and basic interactions with the world were blurring into a frazzled mosaic. Going through the motions became my norm, and every day brought busyness and exhaustion. I thought about whether I was depressed. I didn’t think I was. Anxious? Sure, but aren’t we all anxious on some level? I also thought about the lifestyle factors that could be making me feel this way. Was I getting enough sleep? Was I exercising regularly? Was I eating healthy? Was I playing and remembering to be playful?”
Today, we live in a taxing world. The endless pressure to keep up with our responsibilities and the daily headlines swarming around us can be overwhelming. DeBenedet’s work comes at a time when stress, uncertainty, and intensity levels are high. Playful Intelligence shows adults that there is a way to live lighter–and smarter–as we navigate the seriousness of adulthood. It’s not about taking life less seriously; it’s about taking ourselves less seriously.
The book’s core chapters are devoted to exploring the effects and benefits of five playful qualities: imagination, sociability, humor, spontaneity, and wonder. By examining playfulness as a sum of its parts, readers will gain a working awareness of its power and be able to apply playful principles to their own lives, bringing the magic of childhood back into their day-to-day existence. The book also offers practical suggestions on how to make life more playful in nature.
Anthony T. DeBenedet, M.D. is a practicing physician and behavioral-science enthusiast. His interviews and writings have run in various media outlets, including the New York Times, the Today show, the Washington Post, and TIME Ideas. He also co-authored The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It (Quirk Books, 2011), a parenting book about the importance of parent-child physical play. DeBenedet has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Duke University Pratt School of Engineering, a Master of Science Degree in Health and Healthcare Research from the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School, and a Doctor of Medicine Degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Michigan Health System. DeBenedet lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he enjoys spending time with his family, connecting with friends, and playing a little basketball.