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Made in Michigan Writers Series

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Strange Love

Stories by Lisa Lenzo

The nine stories of Strange Love center on Annie Zito, a smart-but-not-always-wise divorced mother, and Marly, her strong yet vulnerable daughter, as they seek and stumble upon an odd cast of boys and men. All the stories are linked and alternate between mother and daughter; and while each tale stands alone, together they make up a larger whole. The first story begins when Annie is thirty-one years old and Marly is eight and they live in a tiny apartment overlooking a marsh near Lake Michigan, and the last story ends a decade and a half later with both women on the cusp of new adventures. Throughout these years, mother and daughter struggle with male characters: the hot-headed teenager next door, a therapist with a faulty heart, a homeless man who occupies the daughter’s porch, a divorced professor trying his wings, a flatterer who becomes abusive, a brilliant and neurotic doctor, a schizophrenic photographer, an engineer in love with comedy. Yet the women also clash with each other as Annie tries to protect her child and find a lasting relationship with a man, and Marly learns how to navigate and survive the romantic and sexual arena and find her place in the larger world. Annie’s deceased firstborn baby daughter is a darker thread woven through these stories, a subtle influence who is never seen but not forgotten. And in the background as well as the foreground is Annie’s beloved Lake Michigan, into whose deep waters she swims to remind herself that the world is beautiful and large and on whose frozen ice she kneels, as these pages end, in a moment that is both surprising and sublime. By turns comical and poignant, lyrical and incisive, Strange Love displays Lenzo’s storytelling gifts at their finest. These stories will appeal to all readers of fiction.

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Strings Attached

Poems by Diane DeCillis

In Strings Attached, poet Diane DeCillis takes inspiration from the story of the elephant calf with a thin rope tied to its leg. Even when it grows into a massive animal, the elephant thinks the same string still restrains it and never attempts to break free. This powerful, funny, and sometimes self-deprecating collection considers all the ways that strings bind us in relationships and explores their constant tightening and loosening. Although we may never sever the strings attached to our wounds, DeCillis shows that when given enough slack we can create the illusion of having been set free. The poems in Strings Attached consider tension in a variety of relationships. The short string of an American girl raised in Detroit by a resentful Lebanese grandmother whose culture values boys over girls. The attachment to a strong mother who exemplifies feminism but who is mostly absent in order to support the family. The cosmopolitan father who abandons but captivates, and the strings of relationships with older men, built on longing for the missing father. The long strings of a secret life that teach you to be distant. The strings that cuff you to your home, and the triumph of loosening them after years of agoraphobia. The frayed strings that come from being too American in a Lebanese culture. The strings of food and tradition that connect to family and friends. DeCillis’s verse reflects an insistent search for identity and the happy discovery that outsider status can be a good thing, a kind of earned badge that provides new ways of seeing. All poetry readers will relate to the personal and perceptive verse of this debut collection.

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Survivors and Exiles

Yiddish Culture after the Holocaust

Jan Schwarz

After the Holocaust’s near complete destruction of European Yiddish cultural centers, the Yiddish language was largely viewed as a remnant of the past, tragically eradicated in its prime. In Survivors and Exiles: Yiddish Culture after the Holocaust, Jan Schwarz reveals that, on the contrary, Yiddish culture in the two and a half decades after the Holocaust was in dynamic flux. Yiddish writers and cultural organizations maintained a staggering level of activity in fostering publications and performances, collecting archival and historical materials, and launching young literary talents. Schwarz traces the transition from the Old World to the New through the works of seven major Yiddish writers—including well-known figures (Isaac Bashevis Singer, Avrom Sutzkever, Yankev Glatshteyn, and Chaim Grade) and some who are less well known (Leib Rochman, Aaron Zeitlin, and Chava Rosenfarb). The first section, Ground Zero, presents writings forged by the crucible of ghettos and concentration camps in Vilna, Lodz, and Minsk-Mazowiecki. Subsequent sections, Transnational Ashkenaz and Yiddish Letters in New York, examine Yiddish culture behind the Iron Curtain, in Israel and the Americas. Two appendixes list Yiddish publications in the book series Dos poylishe yidntum (published in Buenos Aires, 1946–66) and offer transliterations of Yiddish quotes. Survivors and Exiles charts a transnational post-Holocaust network in which the conflicting trends of fragmentation and globalization provided a context for Yiddish literature and artworks of great originality. Schwarz includes a wealth of examples and illustrations from the works under discussion, as well as photographs of creators, making this volume not only a critical commentary on Yiddish culture but also an anthology of sorts. Readers interested in Yiddish studies, Holocaust studies, and modern Jewish studies will find Survivors and Exiles a compelling contribution to these fields.

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To Light a Fire

20 Years with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project

Edited by Terry Blackhawk and Peter Markus

The InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO) began in 1995 in five Detroit high schools, with weekly classroom visits by a writer-in-residence, the publication of a literary journal for each school, and the mission of encouraging students to use poetry to "think broadly, create bravely, and share their voices with the wider world." Twenty years later, the program serves some five thousand K-12 students per year, has received national exposure and accolades (including a recent visit to the White House), and has seen numerous student writers recognized for their creativity and performance. In To Light a Fire: 20 Years with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, founding director Terry Blackhawk and senior writer Peter Markus collect the experiences of writers who have participated in InsideOut over the years to give readers an inside look at the urban classroom and the creative spark of Detroit's students.

In short and insightful essays, contributors discuss how iO's creative magic happened during the course of their work in Detroit schools. Poets such as Jamaal May, John Rybicki, Robert Fanning, and francine j. harris describe the many ways that poetry can be used as a tool to reach others, and how poetic work shaped them as teachers in return. Contributors describe nurturing a love of language, guiding excursions into imagination, and helping students find their own voices. They also describe the difficulties of getting through to kids, the challenges of oversized classrooms, and of working with children who seem to have been forgotten. Despite their own frequent angst and personal uncertainties about doing the right thing, they describe the joys and rewards that come from believing in students and supporting the risks that they take as writers.

To Light a Fire captures the story-one poet, poem, and poetic moment at a time-of helping students to discover they can imagine, dream, and speak in a way that will make people listen. Fellow educators, poets, and creative writers will be moved and inspired by this collection.

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Trumbull Ave.

Poems by Michael Lauchlan

The well-crafted lines in Michael Lauchlan’s Trumbull Ave. are peopled by welders, bricklayers, gas meter readers, nurses, teachers, cement masons, and street kids. Taken together, they evoke a place—Detroit—in its bustling working-class past and changeable present moment. Lauchlan works in the narrative tradition of Robert Frost and Edwin Arlington Robinson but takes more recent influence from Philip Levine, Thomas Lux, and Ellen Voigt in presenting first- and third-person meditations on work, mortality, romance, childish exuberance, and the realities of time. Lauchlan presents snapshots from the past—a widowed mother bakes bread during the Depression, a welder sends his son to war in the 1940s, a bounding dog runs into a chaotic street in 1981, and a narrator visits a decaying Victorian house in 1993—with an impressive raw simplicity of language and a regular, unrhymed meter. Lauchlan pays close attention to work in many settings, including his own classroom, a plumber’s damp cellar, a nurse’s hospital ward, and a waitress’s Chinese restaurant dining room. He also astutely observes the natural world alongside the built environment, bringing city pheasants, elm trees, buzzing cicadas, starry skies, and long grass into conversation with his narrators’ interior and exterior landscapes. Lauchlan’s poems reveal the layered complexity of human experiences in vivid, relatable characters and recurrent themes that feel both familiar and serious. All readers of poetry will enjoy the musical and vivid verse in Trumbull Ave.

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Until the Full Moon Has Its Say

Poems by Conrad Hilberry

The poems in Until the Full Moon Has Its Say were inspired by the loss of poet Conrad Hilberry’s wife of fifty-six years, Marion. While the poems in this volume delve into the initial emptiness and hopelessness of grieving, Hilberry explores elements of music, the natural world, and human connections that bring him back into the present while still acknowledging and honoring the past. The work of a skilled poet with a lifetime of experience, Until the Full Moon Has Its Say displays Hilberry’s mastery of both form—including a variety of stanza structures, a sonnet, and five villanelles—and tone, which is contemplative, tender, and moving. In three sections, the elegant and insightful poems of Until the Full Moon Has Its Say arise from their consideration of ordinary, even humble, subjects—a bowl on a table, a blackout, mosquitoes, garlic mustard, algae on the local pond. Hilberry’s relaxed voice is wise and measured even in the depths of grief, as he muses “April takes down my love— / wrong season for dying” and “How can I draw dead branches / in a poem.” Part of the answer to that question lies in the use of form, which gives shape to experience. In his formal virtuosity, Hilberry even writes a villanelle—a notoriously difficult poetic form—about writing a villanelle. Written by the poet in his eighties, Until the Full Moon Has Its Say is a powerful reflection on mortality and on the art that has been his lifelong practice. All readers of poetry will treasure this powerful volume.

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The Way North

Collected Upper Peninsula New Works

Edited by Ron Riekki

Michigan's Upper Peninsula is distinct from the rest of the state in geography, climate, and culture, including a unique and thriving creative writing community. In The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works, editor Ron Riekki presents poetry, fiction, and non-fiction from memorable, varied voices that are writing from and about Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In all, this unique anthology features new works from forty-two writers, including rising star Ellen Airgood, Edgar Award-winner Steve Hamilton, Rona Jaffe Award-winner Catie Rosemurgy, Jonathan Johnson of Best American Poetry, Michigan Notable Book Award-winner Keith Taylor, and Michigan Author Award-winner John Smolens. In 49 poems and 20 stories-diverse in form, length, and content-readers are introduced to the unmistakable terrain and characters of the U.P. The book not only showcases the snow, small towns, and idiosyncratic characters that readers might expect but also introduces unexpected regions and voices. From the powerful powwow in Baraga of April Lindala's "For the Healing of All Women" to the sex-charged basement in Stambaugh of Chad Faries's "Hotel Stambaugh: Michigan, 1977" to the splendor found between Newberry and Paradise in Joseph D. Haske's "Tahquamenon," readers will delight in discovering the work of both new and established authors. The contributors range widely in age, gender, and background, as The Way North highlights the work of established writers, teachers, students, laborers, fishermen, housewives, and many others. The Way North brings the U.P.'s literary tradition to the awareness of more readers and showcases some of the most compelling work connected to the area. It will be welcomed by readers interested in new fiction and poetry and instructors of courses on Michigan writing.

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Weweni

Poems in Anishinaabemowin and English by Margaret Noodin

Depending on dialect, the Anishinaabemowin word “weweni” expresses thanks, exactitude, ease, and sincerity. In addition, the word for “relatives” is “nindenwemaaganag”: those whose “enewewe,” or voices, sound familiar. In Weweni, poet Margaret Noodin brings all of these meanings to bear in a unique bilingual collection. Noodin’s warm and perceptive poems were written first in the Modern Anishinaabemowin double-vowel orthography and appear translated on facing pages in English. From planetary tracking to political contrasts, stories of ghosts, and messages of trees, the poems in Weweni use many images to speak to the interconnectedness of relationships, moments of difficulty and joy, and dreams and cautions for the future. As poems move from Anishinaabemowin to English, the challenge of translation offers multiple levels of meaning—English meanings found in Anishinaabe words long as rivers and knotted like nets, English approximations that bend the dominant language in new directions, and sets of signs and ideas unable to move from one language to another. In addition to the individual dialogues played out beween Noodin’s poems, the collection as a whole demonstrates a fruitful and respectful dialogue between languages and cultures. Noodin’s poems will be proof to students and speakers of Anishinaabemowin that the language can be a vital space for modern expression and, for those new to the language, a lyric invitation to further exploration. Anyone interested in poetry or linguistics will enjoy this one-of-a-kind volume.

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