RC Robertson Lecture: Nancy Blum: Not Separate from the Street @ Keene Theater, East Quad
Oct 19 @ 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm

The Robertson Lecture is an endowed annual event of the LSA Residential College, and is a lasting gift of the first Dean of the RC, James Robertson. The lecturer is traditionally a notable alumna/us of the RC, someone impacting their chosen field(s) in ways congruent with the philosophy of the College. The 2018 Robertson Lecture will be delivered at the Keene Theater in East Quadrangle on October 19th by Nancy Blum, class of ’85, a Brooklyn-based artist who is known for her public art commissions and works on paper. In addition to graduating from the RC with majors in Psychology and Women’s Studies, she received an MSW from the U-M School of Social work and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her current work is installed primarily out of the gallery, not separated from the street but integrated into it, with a particular interest in sites of transit in cities and within hospital settings. Her recent commissions include medicinal wildflower windows at the San Francisco General Hospital acute care unit; large, graceful birds in flights of migration/immigration integrated into three light-rail stations in Minneapolis/St. Paul; and over-sized yellow flower sculptures sprouting from a rainwater filtration green space at a bus loop outside Philadelphia.

In her Robertson lecture, Nancy will share anecdotes about these and other works, and take us behind the scenes of her in-progress installation at the 28th Street 6 Train station in NYC. She’ll explore how her multiple interests take root in public art, and she’ll give us a sense for how she forged her own path as an artist – a journey, she says, that began at the Residential College, notably thanks to mentoring from her ceramics professor, Susan Crowell.

Following the Lecture, please join us for a reception for the artist at the RC Art Gallery, located on the first floor of East Quadrangle. Refreshments will be served. An exhibit of Nancy’s drawings will be on display at the same gallery through November 9th, (M-F 10am-5pm, free admission).

Poetry at Literati: Phillip Crymble and Sarah Messer @ Literati
Oct 23 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Literati is thrilled to welcome poets Phillip Crymble and Sarah Messer who will be sharing with us some of their latest work.

About Not Even Laughter:
A clearance bin of corner-cut records, remaindered paperbacks, and canisters of faded film, Phillip Crymble’s first full-length collection strives to rescue, celebrate, and preserve the works and sensibilities of those whose ideas and visions and have been long overlooked by posterity. Crymble’s technical acumen, ear for music, and emotional sincerity are the adhesive agents that bring the vernacular ethnographies, high-brow ekphrastics, tender elegies, forlorn love lyrics, and acutely observed accounts of plain and seemingly unremarkable domestic experience together in this formidable debut.

Phillip Crymble is a disabled writer and scholar living in Atlantic Canada. A SSHRC doctoral fellow at UNB Fredericton, he holds a MFA from the University of Michigan and has published poems in The New York Quarterly, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Hollins Critic, The Literary Review of Canada, Poetry Ireland Review, The Forward Book of Poetry 2017, and elsewhere. In 2016, Not Even Laughter, his first full-length collection, was a finalist for both the New Brunswick Book Award and the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia’s J.M. Abraham Prize.

Poet and Nonfiction writer, Sarah Messer, has received fellowships and grants from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the NEA, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the Mellon Foundation. In 2008-2009 she was a fellow in poetry at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Bunting) at Harvard. She 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). Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, the Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, and Ploughshares, among othersFor many years she taught as an Associate Professor in the MFA/BFA program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  In 2010, Messer co-founded One Pause Poetry, an on-line audio archive and reading series in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Currently she teaches Creative Writing in the Residential College at the University of Michigan, and is a cheese maker at White Lotus Farms.

Meghan O’Bleblyn: Interior States @ Literati
Oct 29 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Literati is thrilled to welcome author Meghan O’Gieblyn who will sharing her new essay collection Interior States. She will joined for a discussion about her work by writer and Literati bookseller Young Eun Yook.

About Interior States:
A fresh, acute, and even profound collection that centers around two core (and related) issues of American identity: faith, in general and the specific forms Christianity takes in particular; and the challenges of living in the Midwest when culture is felt to be elsewhere.

What does it mean to be a believing Christian and a Midwesterner in an increasingly secular America where the cultural capital is retreating to both coasts? The critic and essayist Meghan O’Gieblyn was born into an evangelical family, attended the famed Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for a time before she had a crisis of belief, and still lives in the Midwest, aka “Flyover Country.” She writes of her “existential dizziness, a sense that the rest of the world is moving while you remain still,” and that rich sense of ambivalence and internal division inform the fifteen superbly thoughtful and ironic essays in this collection. The subjects of these essays range from the rebranding (as it were) of Hell in contemporary Christian culture (“Hell”), a theme park devoted to the concept of intelligent design (“Species of Origin”), the paradoxes of Christian Rock (“Sniffing Glue”), Henry Ford’s reconstructed pioneer town of Greenfield Village and its mixed messages (“Midwest World”), and the strange convergences of Christian eschatology and the digital so-called Singularity (“Ghosts in the Cloud”). Meghan O’Gieblyn stands in relation to her native Midwest as Joan Didion stands in relation to California – which is to say a whole-hearted lover, albeit one riven with ambivalence at the same time.

MEGHAN O’GIEBLYN is a writer who was raised and still lives in the Midwest. Her essays have appeared in Harper’s Magazinen+1, The PointThe New York TimesThe GuardianThe New YorkerBest American Essays 2017, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She received a B.A. in English from Loyola University, Chicago and an MFA in Fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband.

Young Eun Yook is a singer/writer born in Korea and New Jersey. She is a recipient of the Lucille Clifton memorial scholarship from Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and The Paul Mariani Fellowship at The Glen Workshop. You can find her work in the anthology, Goodbye Mexico: Poems of Remembrance and elsewhere. Young Eun received her MFA from the University of Michigan where she won The Meader Family Award and the Se-AH Haiam Scholarship. She is a Kundiman fellow.

Panel Discussion: Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction @ Literati
Feb 11 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

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.

Lecture: Jill Dougherty: The Truth about Lies in International Relations: Reflections on the Media in Russia and Beyond @ 1010 Weiser Hall
Mar 19 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Jill Dougherty (BA Russian ’70), former foreign affairs correspondent, CNN

Lots of countries lie.

Some call it “winning hearts and minds,” others call it “strategic communications,” still others call it “softening the battlefield.” However it’s described, propaganda is a key component of international relations, a tool employed both by diplomats and warriors. Russia has used propaganda since the 1917 Russian Revolution both to mold the minds of its own citizens and to spread the gospel of Marxism-Leninism around the world. Today’s Russia uses a well-honed media strategy to craft public opinion at home—and to promote the country’s public image abroad.

But the Kremlin also uses propaganda—now turbo-charged by digital advances like artificial intelligence, machine learning and big-data analytics—as a tool of war, a less-costly form of conflict than shedding blood, to undermine and weaken foes.

Jill Dougherty, former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief, examines how Russia uses information, and disinformation, to achieve its strategic objectives.

Jill Dougherty served as CNN correspondent for three decades, reporting from more than 50 countries. She is a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. and a CNN Contributor who provides expert commentary on Russia and the post-Soviet region. Ms. Dougherty joined CNN in 1983, and was appointed Moscow Bureau Chief in 1997. During nearly a decade in that post, she covered the presidencies of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, Russia’s post-Soviet economic transition, terrorist attacks, the conflict in Chechnya, Georgia’s Rose Revolution and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. After a long career with CNN, Ms. Dougherty pursued academic interests, most recently as a Distinguished Visiting Practitioner at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. An alumna of the University of Michigan, she has a B.A. in Slavic languages and literature, a certificate of language study from Leningrad State University, and a master’s degree from Georgetown University. In addition to writing for, her articles on international issues have appeared in the “Washington Post,” “Huffington Post,” and “The Atlantic,” among other publications. Jill Dougherty is also a member of track-two diplomatic initiatives seeking to improve the U.S.-Russia relationship.

Susan Pattie: The Armenian Legionnaires: Sacrifice and Betrayal in World War I @ 555 Weiser Hall
Mar 20 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Following the devastation resulting from the 1915 Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, the survivors of the massacres were dispersed across the Middle East, Europe and North and South America. Not content with watching World War I silently from the sidelines, a large number of Armenian volunteers joined the Légion d’Orient. They were trained in Cyprus and fought courageously in Palestine alongside Allied commander General Allenby, eventually playing a crucial role in defeating the German and Ottoman forces in Palestine at the Battle of Arara in September 1918. The Armenian legionnaires signed up on the understanding that they would be fighting in Syria and Turkey, and, should the Allies be successful, they would be part of an occupying army in their old homelands, laying the foundation for a self-governing Armenian state.

Susan Pattie describes the motivations and dreams of the Armenian Legionnaires and their ultimate betrayal as the French and the British shifted their priorities, leaving their ancestral homelands to the emerging Republic of Turkey. Complete with eyewitness accounts, letters and photographs, this book provides an insight into relations between the Great Powers through the lens of a small, vulnerable people caught in a war that was not their own, but which had already destroyed their known world.

Copies of “The Armenian Legionnaires” will be available for purchase (cash only) at the event.

Susan Pattie, former Director of the Armenian Institute in London is currently leader of the Pilot Project of the Armenian Diaspora Survey, funded by the Gulbenkian Foundation. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Motor Signal Reading Series: Elizabeth Schmuhl and Kelly Fordon, hosted by Anna Clark @ Signal-Return
Apr 11 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Perfect for this new, fresh, sweet springtime: For the April edition of the Motor Signal Reading Series, two innovative, multi-genre writers are going to crack us open and help us imagine what’s possible.
Motor Signal, now in its sixth season, jolts the typical literary reading out of its traditional form. An activity of co-creation connects the featured writers with the audience in a unique way. In celebration of the beauty of text, an artist at Signal-Return makes a handset, limited-edition broadside of the writers’ work for event attendees. And we proudly pay writers for their time and talent.
Hosted by RC writing alumna Anna Clark.

ELIZABETH SCHMUHL is a multidisciplinary artist–writer, dancer, and painter– and the author of Premonitions (Wayne State University Press). She illustrates essays for The Rumpus, has taught writing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and worked in digital development at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. She is currently Shamel Pitts’ Marketing and Campaign Manager and works at U-M; she is also an RC writing alum.

KELLY FORDON’S work has appeared in The Florida Review, The Kenyon Review (KRO), Rattle and various other journals. Her novel-in-stories, Garden for the Blind, was chosen as a 2016 Michigan Notable Book among other awards. On the Street Where We Live, a one-act play adapted from her poetry was chosen for the 2018 Dream Up Festival in New York. She is the author of three award-winning poetry chapbooks and a full-length poetry collection, Goodbye Toothless House (Kattywompus Press 2019).

Poetry at Literati: Sue William Silverman: If The Girl Never Learns: Poems, with Keith Taylor, Elizabeth Schmuhl, and Marc Sheehan @ Literati
Apr 19 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Literati is excited to welcome poet Sue William Silverman in celebration of her new poetry collection If the Girl Never Learns: Poems. Sue will be joined by fellow poets Keith Taylor, Elizabeth Schumhl, and Marc Sheehan who will be reading from their own work.

About If the Girl Never Learns:
From the opening lines, it’s clear The Girl at the center of these poems is damaged–which is another way to say she’s a survivor. If the Girl Never Learns moves from the personal to the mythic to the apocalyptic, because The Girl would do anything, even go to hell, to save her soul. So, she resists, takes action to overturn society’s suffocating ideal of Good Girldom. The poems’ sense of breathlessness reflects The Girl’s absolute need to control her own destiny, to outrun her past, while at the same time chasing a future she alone has envisioned and embodied. Because The Girl is, above all else, a badass.

Sue William Silverman’s first poetry collection is Hieroglyphics in Neon. She is also the author of four books of creative nonfiction. Her most recent book, The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew, was a finalist in Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award. Her memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, won the AWP Award, and Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction is also a Lifetime TV original movie. Her craft book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir, and she teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

The poet Marc Sheehan is a life-long Michigan resident. He has earned degrees from Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University and the University of Michigan, where he received a Major Hopwood Award in Poetry. His honors also include grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has served as Writer Center Coordinator at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, and has reviewed books for both the Lansing Capital Times and On the Town.

Elizabeth Schmuhl is a multidisciplinary artist whose work appears in Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, Paper Darts, PANK, Hobart, Pinwheel, and elsewhere. She has worked at various nonprofits, including the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and currently works at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Keith Taylor has published many books over the years: collections of poetry, a collection of very short stories, co-edited volumes of essays and fiction, and a volume of poetry translated from Modern Greek.

Poetry and the Written Word: Workshop @ Crazy Wisdom
Jun 12 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Crazy Wisdom Poetry Series hosted by Joe Kelty, Ed Morin, and David Jibson • Second and Fourth Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m. in the Crazy Wisdom Tea Room • Second Wednesdays are poetry workshop nights. All writers welcome to share and discuss their own poetry and short fiction. Sign up for new participants begins at 6:45 p.m.

Fourth Wednesdays have a featured reader for 50 minutes and then open mic for an hour. All writers welcome to share. Sign up begins at 6:45 p.m. Free. Contact Ed at 668-7523; or



Poetry and the Written Word: Ian Haight @ Crazy Wisdom
Jul 24 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Crazy Wisdom Poetry Series hosted by Joe Kelty, Ed Morin, and David Jibson • Second and Fourth Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m. in the Crazy Wisdom Tea Room • Second Wednesdays are poetry workshop nights. All writers welcome to share and discuss their own poetry and short fiction. Sign up for new participants begins at 6:45 p.m.

Fourth Wednesdays have a featured reader for 50 minutes and then open mic for an hour. All writers welcome to share. Sign up begins at 6:45 p.m. Free. Contact Ed at 668-7523; or

July 24 • Ian Haight is an author, translator, and editor who graduated from U-M’s Residential College, worked with the UN, was a tenured professor at a Korean university, and now resides in Germany. His book, Celadon, won the First Book Prize in Poetry from Unicorn Press. He communicates an international, spiritually-minded aesthetic. Visit