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1:00pm | Peter Ho Davies | First Congregational Church

121 E. Middle Street, Chelsea, MI 48118

Peter Ho Davies most recent novel, The Fortune, tells the story of four lives—a railroad baron’s valet who unwittingly ignites an explosion in Chinese labor, Hollywood’s first Chinese movie star, a hate-crime victim whose death mobilizes Asian Americans, and a biracial writer visiting China for an adoption. Through these characters,Davies explores the threads of what it means to be both Chinese and American. The son of a Welsh father and Chinese mother, Davies was raised in England and spent his summers in Wales, which certainly influenced his debut novel, The Welsh Girl, in 2007.  Davies now makes his home in Ann Arbor, MI, where he is on the faculty of the Helen Zell MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a winner of the PEN/Malamud Award. In addition to the The Welsh Girl, Davies has written two award-winning story collections.

“Intense and dreamlike . . . filled with quiet resonances across time . . . The Fortunes is powerful […]

1:00pm | Derek Palacio | First Congregational Church

Derek Palacio’s 2016 debut novel The Mortifications was named A New York Times Best Book of 2016. This powerful novel explores how conflicting political ideals, culture clashes, spiritual crises, and divided passions challenge a Cuban-American family over multiple generations at the turn of the twenty-first century. Breathtaking, soulful, and profound, The Mortifications is an intoxicating family saga and a timely, urgent expression of longing for one’s true homeland. Palacio was born in Evanston, IL and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Ohio State University. His work has appeared in Puerto del Sol and The Kenyon Review. His short story “Sugarcane” appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013. He is the co-director, with wife, the novelist and former Midwest Literary Walk participant, Claire Vaye Watkins, of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada. He lives and teaches in Ann Arbor, MI.

“Some books are storms. Others are weather. Derek Palacio’s debut novel, The Mortifications, is very much the latter. It is hot sun and cool rain, morning fog and the hum of a fan in the window. It ranges and roams, […]

2:30pm | Heather Ann Thompson | Chelsea Depot

Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, Detroit native and Professor at the University of Michigan, is an award-winning historian who has written extensively on policing, mass incarceration and the current criminal justice system. Her recent book, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy, was named a finalist for the National Book Award, appears on more than a dozen Best of 2016 lists, and is also included on the list of Best Human Rights Books of 2016. Thirteen years of research in the making, Blood in the Water tells the civil rights story of the Attica Correctional Facility uprising and the thirty-nine prisoners and hostages who died when the state of New York retook the prison by force. Thompson has served as a board member and advisor for a number of organizations such as the Prison Policy Initiative, and has shared her work with government officials at home and abroad including Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, and the UK.

“The power of this superb work of history comes from its methodical mastery of interviews, transcripts, police reports and other documents, covering 35 years, many released only reluctantly by […]

4:00pm | Kwame Alexander | Chelsea Clocktower Commons

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 24 books, including The Crossover,  a  middle grade novel in verse, which received the 2015 Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, and other awards. The Crossover follows the experiences of twin basketball stars who struggle with challenges on and off the court while their father ignores his declining health. His follow-up novel Booked, longlisted for a National Book Award in 2016, similarly follows 12-year-old soccer aficionado Nick who discovers the power of words while wrestling with problems at home.  Alexander’s newest book is The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life.

Kwame believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his Page to Stage Writing and Publishing Program. A regular speaker at schools and conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love: Singapore, Brazil, Italy, France, Shanghai, and recently, Alexander led a delegation of 20 writers and activists to Ghana, […]

4:00pm | Airea D. Matthews | Chelsea Clocktower Commons

Airea D. Matthews first collection of poems, simulacra (2017), is the Winner of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets. The prize, the oldest annual literary award in the United States, is awarded by Yale University Press, and is open to emerging poets who have not previously published a book of poetry and who reside in the United States. Previous winners of the Yale prize include such talents as Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, Jack Gilbert, Jean Valentine and Robert Hass. Critically acclaimed poet Carl Phillips selected Matthews as the winner of the competition, who describes it as “rollicking, destabilizing, at once intellectually sly and piercing and finally poignant”.

Matthews holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at University of Michigan, where she is now the assistant director. Both a Cave Canem Fellow and Kresge Literary Arts Fellow, she also serves as executive editor of The Offering and is the recipient of a 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Her poems have appeared in American Poets, Best American Poetry 2015, The Baffler, Callaloo, Indiana Review, WSQ, Muzzle, Vinyl, Kinfolks and elsewhere. Matthews’ prose has appeared in SLAB, Michigan […]

ML Liebler | Chelsea Alehouse

ML Liebler is an internationally known and widely published Detroit poet, university professor, literary arts activist and arts organizer. He is the author of 13 books including the award winning Wide Awake in Someone Else’s Dream. The Coyote Monk Poetry Band features Grammy winning Eminem producer and bassist Steve King, The Blue Room guitarist Charlie Palazzola , Frankie the K of Black Hat on the keys, and from The Dangerous Diane Band, The Ghost Band, and 54 Sound session, drummer Leonard Johnson.

Bonnie Jo Campbell | Chelsea Alehouse

Bonnie Jo Campbell is the author of the bestselling novel Once Upon a River (July 2011, W.W. Norton) and a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. She was a 2009 National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for her collection of stories, American Salvage. Campbell is also author of the novel Q Road and the story collection Women & Other Animals. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her husband and two donkeys.

Diane Seuss | River Gallery

Diane Seuss’s most recent collection of poems, Four-Legged Girl, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2015. Her second book, Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open (2010), won the Juniper Prize for Poetry. A poem that originally appeared in Blackbird received a Pushcart Prize in 2013, and Seuss’s poem Free Beer was selected by guest editor Terrance Hayes for the 2014 Best American Poetry anthology. Seuss is Writer in Residence at Kalamazoo College.

Mona Jean Cedar | Chelsea District Library

Mona Jean Cedar attended Julliard School for Theatrical Interpreting and the National Theater of the Deaf’s Actors’ Academy and currently lives Los Angeles. She composes poetry with American Sign Language and choreographs with foreign sign languages. She has competed at the 1996 Poetry Slams Nationals; interpreted at the 2003 Nationals Poetry Slams and represented the United States at the 2011 international slam in Paris, France. She is the recipient of the 2013 Spirit of the Slam award.

Matt Bell | River Gallery

Matt Bell’s debut novel In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods was selected as a 2014 Michigan Notable Book and longlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. He is also the author of two previous books, How They Were Found and Cataclysm Baby. He teaches creative writing at Northern Michigan University.

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