I was recently interviewed by Brandon Bye of the Ann Arbor Current, a local arts/life publication, about the upcoming 2015 Voices of the Middle West festival, Midwest literature, and more:
Is there a Midwest Lit renaissance happening right now?
Yes, absolutely. People are seeing these stories about the “ugly” side of life, stories about the everyday, about struggling folks, and they’re embracing them. Never before have I been prouder to be a Midwesterner, and never before have I seen so much of us out there in the literary consciousness.
Thanks to Brandon for talking with me.
My upcoming chapbook Don’t Ask Me to Spell It Out is due out this April, and the publishers at WhiskeyPaper Press asked me to put a playlist together (they dig music + writing, and so do I), which you can listen to now over on Spotify.
Here’s the tracklist:
1. “Montana” by Youth Lagoon
2. “Oblivion” by Grimes
3. “True Loves” by Hooray for Earth
4. “Comeback Kid” by Sleigh Bells
5. “Playground Love” by Air
6. “I’m Not the One” by The Black Keys
7. “Myth” by Beach House
8. “Ces Bottes Sont Faites Pour Marcher” by Eileen
9. “Sooner Than Now” by Sin Cos Tan
10. “Retrograde” by James Blake
11. “Golden Light” by Twin Shadow
12. “Calling in the Name of Love” by Active Child
And here’s more info about the book.
Here’s a thing I recently picked up—after wanting to read for years—and it’s dazzling wonderful:
Geof Darrow’s The Shaolin Cowboy was collected in a new edition in December and it’s a crazy, hyper-violent, beautifully drawn post-Apocalyptic East-meets-West fairy tale. Holy lord the line work and colors and writing are all incredible,. Just gorgeous from start to finish, the art, the writing…so inspired by this bad boy.
I was honored to be asked to present two workshops at the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters (GLCL), which is
a nonprofit organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was started by a small group of enthusiastic people with a passion for literature and a background in bookselling. In creating the nonprofit, the group hoped to satisfy a simple, but vital, mission: to encourage, promote, and celebrate the literary endeavors of writers within the Great Lakes region.
I’ll be leading two workshops. Details are below. There can only be 12 participants per, and there is a fee, so if you’re interested, check it out as soon as you can. So excited for this, to be doing some literary work in my hometown, and to partner with the wonderful GLCL. Should be a blast.
Workshop 1: Art of the Flash: Telling a Story In a Limited Space
When: May 3, from 3-5 PM.
About: A misconception that writers often adhere to is that stories must be densely-packed, long-winded affairs in order to be wholly effective. However, brief stories can be just as successful in creating lasting characters and emotional responses, utilizing every word to its fullest potential. This class will explore the art of flash-fiction writing, creating a compact story without losing the meaning. We’ll peel back superfluous storytelling methods in order to get back to the basics, and in doing so, we’ll explore ways in which to create pieces of maximum impact using minimal space.
Workshop 2: Worth the Fighting For: Utilizing Place and Environment In Your Writing
When: June 14, from 3-5 PM.
About: Sometimes, the concept of place in storytelling can become an inadvertent hindrance to the story itself. Misplacement of characters in environments that hinder their development or fail to reflect the greater ideas presented in the story can create jarring inconsistencies. How can environment used in storytelling be utilized effectively without going too far and ultimately detracting from plot and character? This class will delve into the concept of “place” in storytelling, provide strategies for making appropriate choices, and illustrate methods for successful use of environment in your writing.
I’m officially in love with the cover to my upcoming chapbook (read: short collection) Don’t Ask Me to Spell It Out, due out in April from WhiskeyPaper Press.
Check out the WhiskeyPaper site to see the back cover (also very nifty with a WP seal on every copy!) plus all of the advanced praise and whatnot I’m so grateful to have received.
And here’s the synopsis: A great storm and its effect on a young family; a woman with a rifle in a barren landscape; boys discovering the world of possibility in online sexuality; a couple at a scenic overlook, their relationship at the verge of dissolution. Each story in Don’t Ask Me to Spell It Out is a sliver of time pulled from the life of a young man, each a fragment of feeling, each a pivotal intersection of relationships. They are stories about the desperation of trying to fit in and find a kindred, to understand the elusive essence of love in all forms, to fill a void of solitude that only seems to grow as we do. They navigate the mysteries of relationships between men and women, of family and geography, and find a recurring theme of abject longing throughout.
I’m humbled and honored to be a Fellow at this year’s New Harmony Writers Workshop, June 21-27.
I’m in awe of the company I’m in (Rebecca Gayle Howell and Stuart Dybek and Andrew Meredith and Ada Limón and Ross Gay), and it’s looking to be a tremendous week, so come on out, we’ll get together, have a few laughs.*
*I”m always looking for excuses to quote Die Hard.
I was recently interviewed by the online magazine Concentrate about the state of the the publishing industry in Ann Arbor, Michigan (hint: it’s great).
I’m only in it briefly (at the end!), but there’s some really great stuff in here by the folks at Dzanc, Splitlevel Texts, and others. Do check it out.
So very excited to have my very first article “Hidden History: Alley Bar” in the Ann Arbor Current:
No pictures are known to exist of Charles Binder. Yet, you can just picture him leaning against the pine bar top that stretches nearly half the length of the building at 112 W. Liberty St, dispassionately browsing through advertisements in the now-defunct Ann Arbor Argus—Hangsterfer’s French hand-made bonbons, Clark’s Mile-End Spool Cotton, and Eisenbarth Liver Pills meant to “stimulate a sluggish system.”
I’m stoked for a couple of reasons: First, I love history, and this gave me a chance to really dig into the goings-on of Ann Arbor. But also, this is my absolutely favorite bar in town, so getting to write about a place I love with so much history was a win-win. I should also mention this is my first time writing an essay/article like this, and I had a blast. So that’s something, I guess.
And if you live in/around Ann Arbor, you can also pick up a copy of this month’s Current that features the story, too.
I’m absolutely delighted and honored that two of my stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2014:
“An Immense Desert” / Mojave River Review
“The Rough and Tumble Sort” / Joyland
I’m grateful to Michael and Anna—really means a lot.
Leesa Cross-Smith asked me seven questions over at WhiskeyPaper to run along with the announcement of my new collection Don’t Ask Me to Spell It Out that’s due out from WhiskeyPaper Press in 2015:
You travel a lot. Tell us about one of your favorite places in the world. Okay, so this is tough. I usually reference Paris in some form, since it’s my most favorite city, but I’ve been thinking about Up North—that’s what we refer to the great swathe of green that makes up most of the upper portion of Michigan’s lower peninsula. Specifically, the Traverse City area, dense green potted with the bluest lakes you’ve ever seen, each only a stone’s throw, winding roads that zip you across Lake Michigan’s gorgeous shoreline, through three story-tall sand dunes. I’m thinking, specifically, of these little beach towns in the early summer months, ever so quiet (before the tourists flood in), how at peace I feel up there, among all that green, all that natural life. It’s a wonderful place in the world that I (try to) visit often—and wish I was there now.
Thanks to Leesa and Loren for everything. A fun set of questions, for sure. And read more about my collection here.