August 20, 2013
For Immediate Release

The State of the Book: A Celebration of Michigan Writers and Writing

Once again, Fiction Writers Review, the University of Michigan’s Department of English Language & Literature, and the Zell Visiting Writers Series will celebrate Michigan’s great writers and the state’s enduring literary traditions with a second annual State of the Book symposium on Saturday, September 28. The day’s public events in Rackham Auditorium on the University of Michigan campus will include:

826michigan OMNIBUS Anthology Release and Reading: Elementary school writers affiliated with 826michigan read in conjunction with the release of their annual OMNIBUS anthology.

Youth and Collegiate Poetry Performance: Award-winning poets from the Neutral Zone’s VOLUME Youth Poetry Project, the University of Michigan’s MSlam Poetry team, and InsideOut Literary Arts Project perform original work.

The Art of Fact: Essayists Jonathan Cohn, Janet Kauffman, and Christine Montross talk with Eileen Pollack about crafting nonfiction that inspirits as it illuminates.

Way up North in Michigan: novelists Ellen Airgood and Steve Hamilton join poet and essayist Anne-Marie Oomen in addressing the particular pleasures and challenges of writing about Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, in conversation with Keith Taylor.

The Haunted Past, The Strange Future: Rob Russell, editor of Midwestern Gothic, will moderate a discussion on writing historical and speculative writing with novelist Ariel Djanikian, playwright, poet, and novelist Bill Harris, and poet Gerry LaFemina.

Keynote: The day’s events will conclude with a keynote conversation featuring Carolyn Forché. Born in Detroit in 1950, poet, activist, translator, and teacher Carolyn Forché has witnessed, thought about, and put into poetry some of the most devastating events of twentieth-century world history. An articulate defender of her own aims as well as the larger goals of poetry, Forché is perhaps best-known for coining the term “poetry of witness.” She has won numerous grants and awards, including fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1997, she was presented with the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation Award for using her poetry as a “means to attain understanding, reconciliation, and peace within communities and between communities.”

Throughout the day there will also be a book fair with presses and literary journals from across the state of Michigan, including Dzanc Books, Hobart, Michigan Quarterly Review, Midwestern Gothic, Unsaid, SplitLevel, the University Viagra of Michigan Press, New Issues, Zingerman’s Press, and Wayne State University Press. The book fair will be held in the lobby of Rackham Auditorium. Book signings will also follow each panel, with book sales provided by Nicola’s Books.

Declaring Michigan The State of the Book not only celebrates its many talented writers, but also recognizes the numerous literary organizations that foster the next generation of Michigan authors. This year’s partner organizations each serve different populations. Collectively, these Michigan non-profits support each stage of a writer’s development, from elementary school to published author:

  • 826michigan improves both school-aged students’ writing ability and their attitudes about writing through broad-based programs at their center as well as in under-resourced public school classrooms, libraries, low-income housing sites, and other community partner locations
  • InsideOut Literary Arts Project serves 5,000 students in over 30 Detroit schools through year-long classroom residencies with professional writers who inspire youth to think broadly and create bravely and then, through publications and performances, celebrate their voices with the wider world
  • The Neutral Zone is a diverse, youth-driven teen center dedicated to promoting personal growth through artistic expression, community leadership, and the exchange of ideas
  • The National Writers Series seeks to spark students’ writing excellence through its Front Street Writers program, an accredited, tuition-free creative writing program, and by awarding college scholarships to talented students who wish to study writing in college, as well as serving as a resource to writers and readers by hosting a year-round book festival dedicated to great conversations with America’s best writers
  • Fiction Writers Review promotes and supports the work of emerging writers, serving as a bridge from the college classroom to the professional world of publishing, and highlighting the importance of fiction in the cultural landscape
  • Dzanc Books publishes works of literary fiction in both print and eBook format, as well as sponsoring educational programs and providing financial support to authors whose interests extend to writing and community service

Along with the Zell Visiting Writers Series, the English Department, and Fiction Writers Review, State of the Book is sponsored by the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, Institute for the Humanities, Rackham Graduate School, Office of the Vice President for Research, the Michigan Quarterly Review, the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, MLibrary, and the Hopwood Program.

Jeremiah Chamberlin, Editor-in-Chief
Fiction Writers Review

Megan Levad, Assistant Director
Helen Zell Writers’ Program