Not only is the State of Michigan full of majestic beauty, an abundance of wildlife and deep woods, and glittering lakes and rivers, it is also home to outstanding, admirable, and talented writers, from the Northern tips of the State to its Southern borders. This list honors the State of Michigan's literary heritage, many titles taken from the Library of Michigan's "Michigan Notable Books" lists as well as books taking place in and about Michigan regions and citiies, as well as some notable people throughout the state.
A collection from celebrated Michigan nature writer Jerry Dennis captures its author’s lifelong journey to better know the place he calls home, Northern Michigan, by exploring it in every season, in every kind of weather, on foot, on bicycle, in canoes and cars. The essays in this book are more than an homage to a particular region, its people, and its natural wonders. They are a reflection on the Up North that can only be experienced through your feet and fingertips, through your ears, mouth, and nose.
It's the beginning of trout fishing season and Josh Greenberg, proprietor of one of the nation’s most famous fishing outfitters on Michigan's most iconic trout-fishing stream, the Au Sable River, is standing in the river at dusk when he gets the call that a dear fishing buddy has died. The solace he takes from fishing — from reading the movement of the river water, studying the play of the light, and relying on his knowledge of insect and fish life — prompts him to reflect on the impact of the natural world on his life in his fisherman’s journal.
Ann Arbor poet Keith Taylor's chapbook Let Them Be Left is a collection of intimate observations of what he finds in his immersion in the wildness of Michigan's Northern Isle Royale and what he feels upon reemergence into “Twenty-first Century Wild.”
Michigan poet Linda Gregerson’s long-awaited new collection is a tour de force, a compendium of lives touched by the radical fragility of the planet and, ultimately, the endless astonishment and paradox of being human within the larger ecosystem, “in a world where every breath I take is luck.”
The New Yorker has written, “Gregerson’s rich aesthetic allows her best poems to resonate metaphysically.” In this new volume, Linda Gregerson makes clearer than ever her passionate premise that the metaphysical only and always derives from our profound embeddedness in physical reality."
Without necessarily tackling the topics head-on, Ann Arbor poet, Alison Swan's A Fine Canopy evokes the devastation of climate change and the destruction of natural resources. This book engages deeply with the other-than-human to express and investigate alarm, dismay, anger, admiration, adoration in what feels like the end of the world unless we begin to think outside the box. These poems will carry weight with all readers of poetry, especially those who are interested in ecopoetry and connecting with the world around them.
Stephen Leggett grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan in Manistee, Michigan, a region with a geography of snow, wind, and waves that has continually informed his writing. After earning a degree in Anthropology and Literature, he returned to his landscape in northern Michigan, living for many years in a remote cabin in the Udell Hills region of the Manistee National Forest. When he moved to southern Michigan, he worked in bookshops, music stores, and then for many years as a music reviewer. This is chapbook collection is produced by Ann Arbor publisher Alice Greene & Co.
Twenty-three of Michigan's most well-known essayists celebrate the elements, both the storm and the shelter. In her introduction, editor Anne-Marie Oomen recalls the "ritual dousing" of her storytelling group's bonfire: "wind, earth, fire, water-all of it simultaneous in that one gesture. . . . In that moment we are bound together with these elements and with this place, the circle around the fire on the shores of a Great Lake closes, complete." With contributions by Jerry Dennis, Alison Swan, Keith Taylor, Mardi Jo Link, Jessica Mesman, among others.
Weaving throughout the nearly 1,000 pages are Michigan writer Jim Harrison’s legendary passions and appetites, his love songs and lamentations, and a call to pay attention to the life you are actually living. Publishers Weekly called him, “an untrammeled renegade genius… a poet talking to you instead of around himself, while doing absolutely brilliant and outrageous things with language."
The Summer/Fall 2019 issue of Dunes Review, Northern Michigan's leading literary magazine.
The Fall/Winter 2021 issue of Dunes Review, Northern Michigan's leading literary magazine.
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Jeff Kass, Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School English and Creative Writing teacher, works as the Poet-in-Residence for Ann Arbor Public Schools.Teacher/Pizza Guy is a collection of autobiographical poems from the 2016-2017 school year in which he worked as a full-time teacher, a part-time director of Ann Arbor's Neutral Zone's literary program — and still had to supplement his income by delivering pizzas a few nights a week. In the collection, Kass is unapologetically political without distracting from the poems themselves but rather adds layers and nuances to the fight for the middle class and for educators as a profession.
If you have been enchanted by Jerry Dennis’s earlier work on sailing the Great Lakes, canoeing, angling, and the natural wonders of water and sky—or you have not yet been lucky enough to enjoy his engaging prose—you will want to immerse yourself in his powerful and insightful new book on winter in Michigan's Great Lakes country.
The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas is the definitive book about the history, nature, and science of the remarkable Great Lakes. From the geological forces that formed them and the industrial atrocities that nearly destroyed them, to the greatest environmental success stories of our time, Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario are portrayed in all their complexity.
Michigan poet Peter Markus' debut book of poems tunes his eye and ear toward a world where father is the new brother, a world where the father's slow dying and eventual death leads Markus, the son, to take a walk outside to "meet my shadow in the deepening shade."
For Three Rivers, Michigan writer Tom Springer, the usual four seasons can’t begin to describe the mini-solstices of a Midwestern year: “Does summer really begin on June 21? No, the first ripe Michigan strawberries say summer to me ... just as a sumac that flames crimson in an August fencerow sends up the first semaphore flag of autumn. While these milestones aren’t measured by celestial reckoning, learning to know and observe them can greatly enrich a life.”
In the spring of 1927, Andrew Kehoe, the treasurer for the school board in Bath, Michigan, spent weeks surreptitiously wiring the public school, as well as his farm, with hundreds of pounds of dynamite. The explosions on May 18, the day before graduation, killed and maimed dozens of children, as well as teachers, administrators, and village residents, including Kehoe’s wife, Nellie. A respected member of the community, Kehoe himself died when he ignited his truck, which he had loaded with crates of explosives and scrap metal. Decades later, one survivor, Beatrice Marie Turcott, recalls the spring of 1927 and how this haunting experience leads her to the conviction that one does not survive the present without reconciling hard truths about the past.
U.S. Senator Carl Levin represented Michigan for thirty-six years, the longest-serving senator in Michigan history who was known for his dogged pursuit of the truth, his commitment to holding government accountable, and his basic decency. This book is his story, from his early days in Detroit as the son of a respected lawyer to the capstone of his career as chair of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Levin's career placed him at the center of some of our nation's most critical points in modern times: from the aftermath of the 1967 Detroit riots, to the Clinton impeachment, through 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the 2008 financial crisis. He met with numerous world leaders, including Egypt's Anwar Sadat and China's Jiang Zemin. Getting to the Heart of the Matter recounts Levin's experiences, thoughts, and actions during these historic moments.
America in 1982: Japanese car companies are on the rise and believed to be putting U.S. autoworkers out of their jobs. Anti–Asian American sentiment simmers, especially in Detroit. A bar fight turns fatal, leaving a Chinese American man, Vincent Chin, beaten to death at the hands of two white men, autoworker Ronald Ebens and his stepson, Michael Nitz. Paula Yoo has crafted a searing examination of the killing and the trial and verdicts that followed.
Gerry Crane had hit his stride: a talented Grand Rapids, Michigan high school music teacher, he was loved by students and parents, lauded as one of the best teachers at his school. Gerry had reconciled his conservative religious upbringing with his identity as a gay man, finding an affirming spiritual home in a local church. He enjoyed a close circle of loving friends and had found the love of his life. In October 1995, Gerry and his partner exchanged vows in a private commitment ceremony. By the time Gerry returned to work the following week, word had spread that he had married a man. The once loved teacher was vilified. Parents removed their children from his classes. Most of his colleagues ostracized him. The school board publicly declared that “individuals who espouse homosexuality do not constitute proper role models as teachers” and pledged to investigate and monitor Gerry. Ministers and churches joined the fray, proclaiming contrasting views about Christianity and homosexuality. As these events unfolded under the glare of the local and national media, Gerry’s life became agonizing.
In 1906 George Shiras III (1859-1942) published a series of remarkable nighttime photographs in National Geographic. Taken with crude equipment, the black-and-white photographs featured leaping whitetail deer, a beaver gnawing on a tree, and a snowy owl perched along the shore of a lake in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The pictures, stunning in detail and composition, celebrated American wildlife at a time when many species were going extinct because of habitat loss and unrestrained hunting. As a congressman and lawyer, Shiras joined forces with his friend Theodore Roosevelt and scientists in Washington, DC, who shaped the conservation movement during the Progressive Era. His legal and legislative efforts culminated with the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Detroit is home to amazing architectural sculpture-a host of gargoyles, grotesques, and other silent guardians that watch over the city from high above its streets and sidewalks, often unnoticed or ignored by the people passing below. Jeff Morrison's Guardians of Detroit: Architectural Sculpture in the Motor City documents these incredible features in a city that began as a small frontier fort and quickly grew to become a major metropolis and industrial titan.
A collection of short essays and “exquisitely chiseled vignettes,” Standpipe: Delivering Water in Flint sets the struggles of a midwestern city in crisis against David Hardin’s narrative of his personal journey as his mother succumbs to dementia and death. Written with a poet’s eye for detail and quiet metaphor, Standpipe offers an intimate look at one man’s engagement with both civic and familial trauma. It’s also a vivid investigation into how we all heal as a community. This book is for readers looking to understand the human experience of the Flint Water Crisis, and as well as “the deplorable conditions in Flint and the injustices that have plagued it for generations.”
Detroit: I Do Mind Dying tracks the extraordinary development of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers as they became two of the landmark political organizations of the 1960s and 1970s. It is widely heralded as one the most important books on the black liberation movement.
Charles Baxter stated that "Joseph Harris has a particular feeling for the Detroit suburbs and the slightly stunted lives of the young people there. . . . You're in the Wrong Place isn't uniformly downbeat-there are all sorts of rays of hope that gleam toward the end."
In the late 1940s, a small pack of wolves crossed the ice of Lake Superior to the island wilderness of Michiigan's Isle Royale, creating a perfect “laboratory” for a long-term study of predators and prey. As the wolves hunted and killed the island’s moose, a young graduate student named Dave Mech began research that would unlock the mystery of one of nature’s most revered (and reviled) animals—and eventually became an internationally renowned and respected wolf expert. This is the story of those early years.
In the summer of 1843, James Strang, a charismatic young lawyer and avowed atheist, vanished from a rural town in New York. Months later he reappeared on the Midwestern frontier and converted to a burgeoning religious movement known as Mormonism. In the wake of the murder of the sect's leader, Joseph Smith, Strang unveiled a letter purportedly from the prophet naming him successor, and persuaded hundreds of fellow converts to follow him to Beaver Island in Northern Lake Michigan, where he declared himself a divine king.
A moving, hopeful, and refreshingly candid memoir by Chasten Glezman Buttigeg, the husband of Pete Buttigieg, about growing up gay in Traverse City, his relationship with Pete, and his hope for America’s future.
From Ty Cobb and Hank Greenberg to the Bad Boys, from Joe Louis and Gordie Howe to the Malice at the Palace, City of Champions explores the history of Detroit through the stories of its most gifted athletes and most celebrated teams, linking iconic events in the history of Motown sports to the city's shifting fortunes.
A People’s Atlas of Detroit weaves together maps, poetry, interviews, photographs, essays, and stories by over fifty residents, activists, and community leaders who offer alternative perspectives on the city’s past, present, and future.
At the height of America's Arts and Crafts movement, Detroit neighbors Horace J. Caulkins and Mary Chase Perry pooled their talents together to found Pewabic Pottery. With modest beginnings in 1903, Pewabic transformed from a rented stable in Brush Park to an English Tudor building on East Jefferson Avenue, where it has operated since 1907. Today, the iconic enterprise continues Perry's dedication to handcrafted ceramics and remains known for its iridescent glaze on everything from vessels and architectural tiles to ecclesiastical installations in churches across the country, including the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Author Cara Catallo illuminates the story behind one of the oldest American handcrafted pottery traditions.
While there have been countless books written about Detroit, none have captured its incredible musical history like this one. This collection of poems and lyrics covers numerous genres including jazz, blues, doo-wop, Motown, classic rock, punk, hip-hop, and techno. Detroit artists have forged the paths in many of these genres, producing waves of creative energy that continue to reverberate across the country and around the world.
The first official visual history of the Motown label includes a dazzling array of images, and unprecedented access to the archives of the makers and stars of Detroit's Motown.
From April 1932 through March 1933, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo spent a dramatic and pivotal sojourn in Detroit. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression and amid labor protests in the city, Rivera created his Detroit Industry murals, one of the most important and accomplished works of art made in the United States in the 20th century, for the Detroit Institute of Arts. Kahlo, meanwhile, developed her own artistic identity almost unnoticed, emerging with an oeuvre of extraordinarily expressive work. Mark Rosenthal and a team of scholars have written essays that examine the artists, the city of Detroit in this period, and the commissioning of the murals by Edsel Ford, the patron, and William Valentiner, then director of the museum.
A memoir by T. Marie Bertineau. After her father's untimely death, Theresa faced a rocky and unstable childhood. But there was one place she felt safe: her grandmother's house in Mason, a depressed former copper mining town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Gram's passing leaves Theresa once again at the mercy of the lasting, sometimes destructive grief of her Ojibwe mother and white stepfather. As the family travels back and forth across the country in search of a better life, one thing becomes clear: if they want to find peace, they will need to return to their roots.
Pewabic Pottery is a significant manifestation of the international Arts and Crafts movement in Michigan. As ceramic expert Martin Eidelberg points out in his introductory essay, it was also a striking example of the coterie of talented American female ceramists who broke with traditional norms, seeking to excel both as artists and as entrepreneurs. Founded by Mary Chase Perry and Horace James Caulkins in Detroit at the turn of the twentieth century, Pewabic produced simple objects with unique glazes rooted in ceramic history, yet freshly made their own. Pewabic Pottery still operates in Detroit.
This book will appeal to people who want to learn more about indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes, and to people who care about the environment and socioeconomic equality. Even young readers, especially students of color, will find parts of this book to which they can relate.
Edited by author Cynthia Leitich Smith, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, this collection of intersecting stories by Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. She recounts stories from a high school gym where Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor where people dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage.
With four starred reviews, Angeline Boulley's debut novel taking place in Michigan's Upper Penninusla is a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, perfect for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.
In July 1913, twenty-five-year-old Annie Clements has seen enough of the world to know that it’s unfair. She’s spent her whole life in the mining town of Calumet, Michigan, where men risk their lives for meager salaries—and have barely enough to put food on the table for their families. The women labor in the houses of the elite, and send their husbands and sons deep underground each day, dreading the fateful call of the company man telling them their loved ones aren’t coming home. So, when Annie decides to stand up for the entire town of Calumet, nearly everyone believes she may have taken on more than she is prepared to handle. The rest is history.
A novel in verse loosely based on the author's paternal grandmother. The story follows Mary as the American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants living in Detroit in the 1930s, creating a historically accurate portrayal of life as an immigrant during the Great Depression, hunger strikes, and violent riots.
Jane falls in love with Duncan easily. He is charming, good-natured, and handsome but unfortunately, he has also slept with nearly every woman in Boyne City, Michigan. Jane sees Duncan's old girlfriends everywhere—at restaurants, at the grocery store, even three towns away. While Jane may be able to come to terms with dating the world's most prolific seducer of women, she wishes she did not have to share him quite so widely. His ex-wife, Aggie still has Duncan mow her lawn. His coworker, Jimmy, comes and goes from Duncan's apartment at the most inopportune times. Sometimes Jane wonders if a relationship can even work with three people in it—never mind four. Five if you count Aggie's eccentric husband, Gary. Not to mention all the other residents of Boyne City, who freely share with Jane their opinions of her choices. But any notion Jane had of love and marriage changes with one terrible car crash. Soon Jane's life is permanently intertwined with Duncan's, Aggie's, and Jimmy's, and Jane knows she will never have Duncan to herself. But could it be possible that a deeper kind of happiness is right in front of Jane's eyes?
Authentico Foods Inc. has been a part of Detroit’s Mexicantown for over thirty years, grown from a home kitchen business to a city block–long facility that supplies Mexican tortillas to restaurants throughout the Midwest. In this novel, Detroit ex-cop and Mexicantown native August Snow has been invited for a business meeting at Authentico Foods. Its owner, Ronaldo Ochoa, is dying, and is being blackmailed into selling the company to an anonymous entity. Worried about his employees, Ochoa wants August to buy it. August has no interest in running a tortilla empire, but he does want to know who’s threatening his neighborhood. Quickly, his investigation takes a devastating turn and he and his loved ones find themselves ensnared in a dangerous net of ruthless billionaire developers. August Snow must fight not only for his life, but for the soul of Mexicantown itself.
Twelve-year-old Suzy Bowles is tired of summers filled with chores on her family farm in Burr Oak, Michigan, and desperate to see the world. When her wayward uncle moves back home to the farm, only to skip his chores every morning for mysterious reasons, Suzy decides to find out what he's up to once and for all. And that's when she meets legendary former circus queen Madame Marantette and her ostriches. Before long, Suzy finds herself caught-up in the fast-paced, hilarious world of ostrich riding, a rollicking adventure that just might be her ticket out of Burr Oak in this delightful YA book.
From the Great Depression through the post-World War II years, Joseph “Ziggy” Johnson, has been the pulse of Detroit’s famous Black Bottom. A celebrated gossip columnist for the city’s African-American newspaper, the Michigan Chronicle, he is also the emcee of one of the hottest night clubs, where he’s rubbed elbows with the legendary black artists of the era, including Ethel Waters, Billy Eckstein, and Count Basie. Ziggy is also the founder and dean of the Ziggy Johnson School of Theater. But now the doyen of Black Bottom is ready to hang up his many dapper hats.
In 1914 crew members of the lighthouse tender Hyacinth rescued a stray puppy from the Milwaukee River and named him Sport. For the next twelve years, this charming Newfoundland-retriever mix lived the life of a ship dog, helping the Hyacinth crew as they carried supplies to lighthouses and maintained the buoys and other safety features around Lake Michigan. Sport quickly became a valued companion to his crew and a recognizable mascot of the lake—making friends in every port. In this beautifully illustrated children’s book based on historical documents and photographs, readers share in Sport’s adventures while discovering the various ways lighthouse tender ships helped keep the lake safe for others. Helpful diagrams, a map, and a historical note supplement this engaging story for young readers.
In this YA novel, 12-year-old Georgia Johnson is sure she can win the “Spirit of Detroit Poetry Contest,” judged by her idol, Gwendolyn Brooks. After moving from her beloved Detroit neighborhood to an unfamiliar suburb, Georgia lies to prevent becoming disqualified from the contest (which is for Detroit residents only) by using her aunt Birdie’s address. With her older brother deployed to Vietnam, and her family worried about when—or if—he’ll make it home, Georgia tries to settle into her new life. She wonders if she’ll ever make new friends or feel like she belongs. To make matters worse, she must also find a way to intercept the contest finalist announcement that will be mailed to Aunt Birdie’s mailbox before her family uncovers her deception. During that summer, Georgia discovers her own resiliency in the face of upheaval and the power of truth when lies ring hollow.
In this powerful story about forgiveness and love, 18-year-old Meg Hennessey travels north to Michigan's Upper Peninsula in order to meet the family she never knew existed to find answers — and instead falls for Micah Allen, who is dealing with his own traumatic past.
Laurel Hill and her precocious daughter Skye have always been each other's everything. The pair live on Lake Superior, where the local school has classes of just four children, and the nearest hospital is a helicopter ride away. Though they live frugally, eking out a living with Laurel's patchwork of jobs, their deep love for each other feels like it can warm them even on the coldest of nights. What more do they need? An uplifting, profoundly moving story about a mother and daughter fighting for each other, against all odds, as they learn to build community and foster the resilience that will keep them alive.
Jim Harrison's epic novel that pits a son against the legacy of his family's desecration of the earth, and his own father's more personal violations. The scion of a family of wealthy timber barons, David Burkett has grown up with a father who is a malevolent force and a mother made vague and numb by alcohol and pills. He and his sister Cynthia, a firecracker who scandalizes the family at fourteen by taking up with the son of their Finnish-Native American gardener, are mostly left to make their own way. As David comes to adulthood, often guided and enlightened by the unforgettable, intractable, courageous women he loves, he realizes he must come to terms with his forefathers' rapacious destruction of the woods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, as well as the working people who made their wealth possible.