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; email@example.com or cwpoetrycircle.tumblr.com.
We welcome Benedek Totth as part of our ongoing Fiction at Literati series, in support of his debut Dead Heat. Book signing to follow. Free and open to the public.
About the book: In a nameless Hungarian town, teenagers on a competitive swim team occupy their after-training hours with hard drinking and fast cars, hash cigarettes and marathons of Grand Theft Auto, the meaningless sex and late-night exploits of a world defined by self-gratification and all its attendant recklessness. Invisible to their parents and subject to the whims of an abusive coach, the crucible of competition pushes them again and again into dangerous choices. When a deadly accident leaves them second-guessing one another, they’re driven even deeper into violence.
Brilliantly translated into breakneck English by Ildikó Noémi Nagy, Dead Heat is a blistering debut and an unforgettable story about young men coming of age in an abandoned generation.
Born in Hungary in 1977, Benedek Totth studied American literature and now works as an editor and translator in Budapest. His translations into Hungarian include works by Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Hunter S. Thompson and William S. Burroughs. Dead Heat, his first novel, caused a sensation in Hungary, where it won the Margó Prize for best first novel of the year. It has been published in translation in France and Slovakia.
We welcome award-winning author Ayelet Tsabari in support of her acclaimed memoir, The Art of Leaving. A book signing will follow. The event is free and open to the public.
About the book: An intimate memoir in essays by an award-winning Israeli writer who travels the world, from New York to India, searching for love, belonging, and an escape from grief following the death of her father when she was a young girl.
This searching collection opens with the death of Ayelet Tsabari’s father when she was just nine years old. His passing left her feeling rootless, devastated, and driven to question her complex identity as an Israeli of Yemeni descent in a country that suppressed and devalued her ancestors’ traditions.
In The Art of Leaving, Tsabari tells her story, from her early love of writing and words, to her rebellion during her mandatory service in the Israeli army. She travels from Israel to New York, Canada, Thailand, and India, falling in and out of love with countries, men and women, drugs and alcohol, running away from responsibilities and refusing to settle in one place. She recounts her first marriage, her struggle to define herself as a writer in a new language, her decision to become a mother, and finally her rediscovery and embrace of her family history–a history marked by generations of headstrong women who struggled to choose between their hearts and their homes. Eventually, she realizes that she must reconcile the memories of her father and the sadness of her past if she is ever going to come to terms with herself.
With fierce, emotional prose, Ayelet Tsabari crafts a beautiful meditation about the lengths we will travel to try to escape our grief, the universal search to find a place where we belong, and the sense of home we eventually find within ourselves.
Ayelet Tsabari was born in Israel to a large family of Yemeni descent. After serving in the Israeli army, she traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia and North America, and now lives in Tel Aviv. She teaches creative writing at the University of King’s College’s MFA Program in Creative Nonfiction and at Tel Aviv University. Tsabari’s first book, The Best Place on Earth, won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for Jewish Fiction, and was nominated for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. It was also a New York Times Editors’ Choice pick and included in Kirkus Reviews‘ Best Debut Fiction of 2016. Essays from this book have also won several awards, including a National Magazine Award. In addition to writing, Tsabari has worked as a photographer and a journalist.
We welcome poet and Ford School of Public Policy professor Molly Spencer in support of her collection, If the house, winner of the 2019 Brittingham Prize judged by Carl Philips. A book signing will follow. The event is free and open to the public.
Molly Spencer‘s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Copper Nickel, FIELD, The Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and other journals. Her critical writing has appeared at Colorado Review, Kenyon Review Online, Tupelo Quarterly, and The Rumpus. She holds an MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop, and is a Poetry Editor at The Rumpus. Her collection, If the house, won the 2019 Brittingham Prize judged by Carl Phillips, and is forthcoming from the University of Wisconsin Press in October of 2019. A second collection, Relic and the Plum, won the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition judged by Allison Joseph, and will be out in September of 2020. Molly teaches at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
One MFA student of fiction and one of poetry, each introduced by a peer, will read their work. The Mark Webster Reading Series presents emerging writers in a warm and relaxed setting. We encourage you to bring your friends – a Webster reading makes for an enjoyable and enlightening Friday evening.
This week’s reading features Annesha Sengupta and Bryan Byrdlong.
Annesha Sengupta is a writer from Richmond, VA.
Bryan Byrdlong is a Haitian/African-American writer from Chicago, Illinois. He recently graduated from Venderbilt University where he received an undergraduate English/Creative Writing degree. He currently studies and teaches English at the University of Michigan.
We welcome New York Times bestselling author Tim Johnston in support of his new novel The Current. Free and open to the public, book signing to follow.
About the book: In the dead of winter, outside a small Minnesota town, state troopers pull two young women and their car from the icy Black Root River. One is found downriver, drowned, while the other is found at the scene—half frozen but alive.
What happened was no accident, and news of the crime awakens the community’s memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may still live among them.
Determined to find answers, the surviving young woman soon realizes that she’s connected to the earlier unsolved case by more than just a river, and the deeper she plunges into her own investigation, the closer she comes to dangerous truths, and to the violence that simmers just below the surface of her hometown.
Grief, suspicion, the innocent and the guilty—all stir to life in this cold northern town where a young woman can come home, but still not be safe. Brilliantly plotted and unrelentingly propulsive, The Current is a beautifully realized story about the fragility of life, the power of the past, and the need, always, to fight back.
Tim Johnston, a native of Iowa City, is the author of The Current and the New York Times bestseller Descent, as well as a young adult novel, Never So Green, and the story collection Irish Girl, winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction.
We welcome acclaimed writer Mark Z. Danielewski in support of The Little Blue Kite, as part of our ongoing Fiction at Literati Series. A book signing will follow. Free and open to the public.
About the book: We all have fears, but if we can’t face the small ones how will we face the big ones? Kai is afraid to fly a little blue kite. But Kai is also very, very brave, and overcoming this small fear will lead him on a great adventure.
Remember: all great adventures start with one little moment. You know the one. It’s like a gentle breeze whispering in your ear what you already know by heart: not even the sky is the limit . . .
Mark Danielewski is the author of some pretty complicated books. The Little Blue Kite, though, is pretty simple. And, sure, maybe there is more here than just big beautiful skies, but who are we to start babbling about the virtues of letting go, especially in a bio, which is really where we should just say the author lives in California with his wife, daughter, and two cats, Archimedes and Meifumado, all of whom know that the wonderful thing about flying a kite is that in the end you don’t even need a kite.
Anelise Chen is the author of So Many Olympic Exertions (Kaya Press 2017), an experimental novel that blends elements of sportswriting, memoir, and self-help. A finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, the novel challenges modes of contemporary mythmaking and the validity and usefulness of our current narratives of success.
Chen’s essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, such as the NY Times, New Republic, Village Voice, and BOMB Magazine. She has received residencies and fellowships from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Blue Mountain Center, Banff Centre, the Wurlitzer Foundation, and she is currently a 2019-2020 Literature Fellow at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Columbia University.
Chen is currently at work on a hybrid memoir, Clam Down (One World Random House), based on her mollusk column for the Paris Review. Bringing to mind Helen MacDonald, Rebecca Solnit, and Maggie Nelson, Chen transforms the ordinary clam into an unlikely metaphor for deep self-examination—how the specific shells we build for ourselves reflect our experiences of grief, assimilation, and connection.
This event is free and open to the public. Onsite book sales will be provided by Literati Bookstore.
The Zell Visiting Writers Series brings outstanding writers to campus each semester. UMMA is pleased to be the site for most of these events. The Series is made possible through a generous gift from U-M alumna Helen Zell (BA ’64, LLDHon ’13). For more information, please visit the Zell Visiting Writers Program webpage: https://lsa.umich.edu/writers
We welcome law professor Joshua A. Douglas in support of his book, Vote for Us: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting. A book signing will follow. The event is free and open to the public.
About the book: In contrast to the anxiety surrounding our voting system, with stories about voter suppression and manipulation, there are actually quite a few positive initiatives toward voting rights reform. Professor Joshua A. Douglas, an expert on our electoral system, examines these encouraging developments in this inspiring book about how regular Americans are working to take back their democracy, one community at a time. Told through the narratives of those working on positive voting rights reforms, Douglas includes chapters on expanding voter eligibility, easing voter registration rules, making voting more convenient, enhancing accessibility at the polls, providing voters with more choices, finding ways to comply with voter ID rules, giving redistricting back to the voters, pushing back on big money through local and state efforts, using journalism to make the system more accountable, and improving civics education. At the end, the book includes an appendix that lists organizations all over the country working on these efforts. Unusually accessible for a lay audience and thoroughly researched, this book gives anyone fed up with our current political environment the ideas and tools necessary to affect change in their own communities.
Joshua A. Douglas is a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law. His most recent scholarship focuses on the constitutional right to vote, with an emphasis on state constitutions, as well as the various laws, rules, and judicial decisions impacting election administration. He has also written extensively on election law procedure. He is a coauthor of an election-law case book and a coeditor of Election Law Stories, which tells the behind-the-scenes stories of the major cases in the field. In addition, his media commentaries have appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, CNN, Reuters, the Washington Post, Politico, the Atlantic, Huffington Post, and Slate, among other outlets, and he has been quoted in major newspapers such as the New York Times and theWashington Post. He appeared live on CNN on Election Day 2016.
The theatre company Apollo’s Troupe, will stage the theatre adaptation of the critically-acclaimed epic poem, The Parliament of Poets, written by Michigan poet Frederick Glaysher and published in 2012 by Earthrise Press. Fresh from performing in May at Wayne State University’s Studio Theatre, this stage adaptation of Mr. Glaysher’s epic work in verse keeps intact much of the beautiful poetry that exemplifies this spectacular book while seeking to reach a new audience with its message of how poetry and artistry from all times and cultures can elevate the world and redefine our lives for the better.
Glaysher studied with Robert Hayden during the last year of his life, worked for him as a secretary, and edited his Collected Prose for the University of Michigan Press and his Collected Poems for Liveright. Glaysher holds two degrees from U of M, the latter a Master’s in English. When it came time for writing his epic poem, Glaysher knew he had to include Robert Hayden to try to honor his former teacher, mentor, and friend.
Taking place on the moon at the Apollo 11 landing site, a lone poet finds himself charged by Don Quixote and “The Parliament of Poets” to spread a new message of beauty, unity, and love to all nations of our fractured modern world. He is then sent to meet with the great poets, myths, and characters from history, East and West, to be mentored on his quest towards enlightenment and understanding.