Literati is pleased to welcome Keith Lesmeister in support of his debut short story collection, We Could’ve Been Happy Here. Keith will be joined in reading by Markin Jenkins, a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program, and Alexander Weinstein, author of Children of the New World.
In his first collection of short fiction, Keith Lesmeister plows out a distinctive vision of the contemporary Midwest. These stories peer into the lives of those at the margins-the broken, the resigned, the misunderstood. Hopeful and humorous, tender and tragic, these stories illuminate how we are shaped and buoyed by our intimate connections.
Keith Lesmeister was born in North Carolina, raised in Iowa, and received his M.F.A. from the Bennington Writing Seminars. His fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, Slice, Meridian, Redivider, Gettysburg Review, and many other print and online publications. His nonfiction has appeared in Tin House Open Bar, River Teeth, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He currently lives in northeast Iowa where he teaches at Northeast Iowa Community College. We Could’ve Been Happy Here is his first book.
Alexander Weinstein is the Director of The Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and the author of the short story collection Children of the New World (Picador 2016). His fiction and translations have appeared in Cream City Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Notre-Dame Review, Pleiades, PRISM International, World Literature Today, and other journals. He is the recipient of a Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, and his fiction has been awarded the Lamar York, Gail Crump, Hamlin Garland, and New Millennium Prize. His stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, and appear in the anthologies 2013 New Stories from the Midwest, and the 2014 & 2015 Lascaux Prize Stories. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing and a freelance editor, and leads fiction workshops in the United States and Europe.
Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit. A poetry graduate from University of Michigan’s MFA program, his work has been given homes by The Collagist, The Offing, The Journal, and Bennington Review, among others. He has worked with students in Detroit Public Schools through the Inside Out Literary Arts program and received a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. He is also a runner and a dancer.
Literati is pleased to welcome Rebecca J. Kinney and Stephen M. Ward for a discussion of their recent books about Detroit and the people who form its heart.
What is the “new Detroit” that everyone keeps talking about? In Beautiful Wasteland: The Rise of Detroit as America’s Postindustrial Frontier, Rebecca J. Kinney reveals that the contemporary story of Detroit’s rebirth is an upcycled version of the American Dream, which has long imagined access to work, home, and upward mobility as race-neutral projects. She tackles key questions about the future of postindustrial America, and shows how the narratives of Detroit’s history are deeply steeped in material and ideological investments in whiteness.
Rebecca J. Kinney, who grew up in metropolitan Detroit, is assistant professor in the School of Cultural and Critical Studies at Bowling Green State University.
In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs details both the personal and the political dimensions of the Boggses’ lives, highlighting the vital contributions these two figures made to black activist thinking. At once a dual biography of two crucial figures and a vivid portrait of Detroit as a center of activism, Ward’s book restores the Boggses, and the intellectual strain of black radicalism they shaped, to their rightful place in postwar American history.
Stephen Ward is associate professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) and the Residential College at the University of Michigan. He is also a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership in Detroit.
Creative Writing Faculty read from their works:
Lolita Hernandez, Lecturer, RC Creative Writing and Literature
Laura Kasischke, RC ’84, Lecturer, RC Creative Writing and Literature Christopher Matthews, Lecturer, RC Creative Writing and Literature
Ken Mikolowski, Lecturer Emeritus, RC Creative Writing and Literature
Laura Thomas, RC ’88, Lecturer and Program Head, RC Creative Writing and Literature
Literati is thrilled to partner with Current Magazine for an evening of Poetry and Fiction!
Come celebrate the submissions and winners of Current Magazine’s Poetry and Fiction contest.
Meet Current’s editor and contributors, and hear readings from the winners. Special guests Molly Raynor and Anthony Zick will be reading their work as well. If time permits there will be an open mic at the end.
Literati is thrilled to welcome poet Diane Seuss who will be reading from her new collection Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl. Diane will be joined by fellow poet Laura Kasischke for conversation after the reading.
About Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl:
Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl takes its title from Rembrandt’s painting, a dark emblem of femininity, violence, and the viewer’s own troubled gaze. In Diane Seuss’s new collection, the notion of the still life is shattered and Rembrandt’s painting is presented across the book in pieces–details that hide more than they reveal until they’re assembled into a whole. With invention and irreverence, these poems escape gilded frames and overturn traditional representations of gender, class, and luxury. Instead, Seuss invites in the alienated, the washed-up, the ugly, and the freakish–the overlooked many of us who might more often stand in a Walmart parking lot than before the canvases of Pollock, O’Keeffe, and Rothko. Rendered with precision and profound empathy, this extraordinary gallery of lives in shards shows us that “our memories are local, acute, and unrelenting.”
Diane Seuss is the author of three previous poetry collections, including Four-Legged Girl, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open, winner of the Juniper Prize. She lives in Michigan.
Laura Kasischke is a poet and novelist whose fiction has been made into several feature-length films. Her book of poems, Space, in Chains, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. She currently teaches at the University of Michigan and lives in Chelsea, Michigan.
Join us for a celebration of authors, books, art, and bratwurst.
Booktoberfest will feature industry experts from around the country, offering advice and insight for authors, as well as fun and educational activities for the whole family.
Authors can even pitch their books to a panel of experts for a chance to win a publishing package from Thomson-Shore! (Must sign up for the pitch contest ahead of time by visiting thomsonshore.com/booktoberfest.)
Enjoy a day of music, food, and fun, while learning about the ever-changing world of publishing and bookmaking. A portion of proceeds will benefit 826 Michigan.
Literati is exited to host poet Elizabeth Schmuhl, an RC Creative Writing alum, who will be reading from her new collection Premonitions. Keith Taylor will give an introduction to the reading and lead a Q&A discussion aftewards.
Visceral and brimming with vitality, the poems in Premonitions reverberate with the voice of a woman on a secluded farm, confronting her emotional and physical isolation. Drawing on her own experience as a daughter of a third-generation fruit farmer, Elizabeth Schmuhl gives readers a fresh and powerful perspective on what it means to be alive.
Layering one upon another, the poems blur boundaries and create a volatile state out of which the remarkable and unexpected occur. Embracing chaos, change, and unpredictability, these poems are energetically charged and infused with succinct, imagistic language. They reach beyond the constraints assigned to the female form and examine a place where time, the body, sexuality, and the natural world are not fixed. At times surreal, at others painfully real, the poems in Premonitions are the expression of a human life that merges and melds with the world around it, acting and reacting, loving and despairing, disintegrating and rebuilding. The speaker travels fluidly between strata of the natural world and her own body. Adding to the complexity of her poems, Schmuhl creates additional layers of meaning as the poems and their titles relate to the author’s synesthesia, a sensory phenomenon through which letters and numbers are experienced as colors and emotions.
Premonitions will turn the reader inward, encouraging the examination of the small details of life and a growing acceptance of the perpetual turmoil and uncertainty of existence despite our own desire to find a firm footing. This volume will be prized by lovers of contemporary poetry and literature alike.
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.
7 p.m., Literati, 124 E. Washington. Free. 585-5567
This local poet reads from Love Dream with Television, her debut collection, written in Tucson, Arizona, that “wonders through the ways in which television, film, advertising, sporting events, and celebrity culture weave their ways into our lived experiences,” says Ensor. “Tucson and its queers have pushed me to be more in my body, more in conversation with place and spirit and alchemy.” Signing.
7 p.m., Literati, 124 E. Washington. Free. 585-5567
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 others. For 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.
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