Michigan Book Project: December

The Michigan Books Project - The Awesome MittenUpcoming Events:

Nicola’s Books Hosts Local Poet John F. Buckley (January 15th)

Nicola’s Books is the kind of imbued, quintessential bookshop every community needs. Doting a hip blend of contemporary fiction, a focus on Michigan-centric writing, and a staff that indefatigably discusses literature, one cannot imagine such a community cornerstone ever becoming unessential. January 15th, Nicola’s is bringing in Michigan native John F. Buckley for some much needed winter-warming words. Buckley’s recent collaboration with Martin Ott, Poet’s Guide To America, captures a the gritty esotericism of the continental United States, with the images at times give one the feeling of putting the landscape through a sausage grinder. While this metaphor may seem nebulous, I promise a quick read will provide some understanding.

Particularly, the poem “Monsters And Madmen Of The Five Great Lakes” provides a mariner’s perspective of the remarkable bodies of water that surround us. The mariner’s tale has a hazardous, fearful, prophetic quality; stanzas that ramble on with the bibulous drawl of one very much terrified of the depths of Superior and the mythical aquatic beings that could exist below the surface.
Nicola’s Books, January 15th. 7:00 PM!

Ann Arbor Wordworks Presents Homegrown (January 24th)
homegrown
Continuing with poetry, the Ann Arbor Wordworks crew is putting on their ninth annual installment of “Homegrown” an event that showcases tremendous local talent and stokes the community for a new year of wonderful wordsmithing. Featured poet Marshall Thomas was a winner of the Quarto Award at Columbia University often provides an uncanny coalescence of contemporary cultural inquiry with historical analysis. (Think sestinas about Gucci Mane)

Homegrown will take place at Lydia Mendelssohn Theater on January 24th beginning at 7:00 PM. Tickets are $7 for students ($5 in advance) and $10 for adults. ($7 in advance)

Featured Michigan Literature

punchingout
Punching Out, by Paul Clemens

*I’d like to point out quickly that Paul Clemens was recommended to me by a reader of the website. I say this because I haven’t received many emails lately, and I sincerely want this to be a communal experience. Michigan literature is so broad that I cannot tackle it all alone, and there are so many young writers bringing new work to the table consistently. Please, email me about events and books and anything at all, even if it’s just to tell me I left out a comma or something. Thanks to Amanda for the recommendation!

I think many people, not necessarily us Michiganders, but people from afar, associate Detroit factories with dismantlement. The industrial behemoths that created the metropolitan landscape have sadly sunken into a decaying still life, at least so it would appear to the unfocused observer. Most people passing through only see the skeletal remains, carcasses of gigantic, metallic whales, slowly decomposing or becoming no more than a tourist attraction. However, Paul Clemens views things with a differing, tactful perspective in his latest work Punching Out—he reminds us of what these titans looked like in their prime. Where many have learned to see some sort of artistic, robotic, mangled symbols of yesteryear, Clemens becomes a purveyor of the living, transforming the spectral past of the Budd Company stamping plant into a persistent, productive powerhouse. There is no Frankenstein’s monster type metaphor to this story—there is the living and the dead, and analysis of both forms.

Moreover, Clemens provides a geographical focus that is paramount, vividly focusing on the nexus of highways and plants that create the core and appendages of the Detroit area. Clemens thorough knowledge of the landscape tacitly demonstrates his Michigan heritage and shows an astute attention to the urban setting. Clemens is in many ways the Budd Company stamping plant’s coroner, surreptitiously (or flagrantly) showing us a cadaver under investigation, examining the physical, picking at the bones and muscles, and through some great, eerie, judicial privilege, we are allowed to watch.

P.S For those of you who have not checked out the work of Jeffrey Eugenides, give him a read! I just got his new novel, The Marriage Plot , for Christmas, and I’m stoked to read it. He’s a great Michigan writer most known for his sophomore novel, Middlesex.

Aram Mrjoian, Feature Writer