2:30pm | Luis J. Rodriguez | Chelsea Depot

By |2020-02-11T17:20:42-05:00February 11th, 2020|

125 Jackson St, Chelsea, MI 48118

Luis J. Rodriguez is an award-winning poet, children’s book author, memoirist, youth & arts advocate, community activist, and 2014 Los Angeles Poet Laureate. He was born in El Paso, Texas, the son of Mexican Immigrants. He faced racism, poverty, and discrimination throughout his adolescent life that would lead first to involvement with gangs and drug abuse, and later inspire his writing and social activism. Rodriguez has authored 15 books in various genres, including collections of poetry such as My Nature is Hunger: New and Selected Poems 1989-2004 and Borrowed Bones: New Poems from the Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. He has won a Poetry Center Book Award, Paterson Poetry Prize, and PEN/Josephine Miles Literary Award, and was honored with a Lannan Fellowship for Poetry. In addition to his other accolades, Rodriguez is a National Book Critics Award nominee, and the recipient of the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature, Lila Wallace- Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, a California Arts Council fellowship, and several Illinois Arts Council fellowships. He was one of 50 leaders worldwide awarded the title “Unsung Heroes of Compassion,” presented by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. In an interview in Rolling Stone, Bruce Springsteen praised Rodriguez as one of those “people who give me optimism. They’re relentlessly hopeful, and they face it all on the front lines on a daily basis.”

Rodriguez has also been honored for his work as a journalist with the Dorothea Lang-Paul Taylor Prize in Journalism, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, U.S. News & World Report, The Guardian (UK), Grand Street, American Poetry Review, Fox News Latino, Huffington Post, and elsewhere. He is also a script consultant for the FX series, Snowfall.

Rodriguez helped found a number of organizations—such as Chicago’s Guild Complex, Rock a Mole Productions, Youth Struggling for Survival, Tia Chucha Press, and Tia Chucha’s Café and Centro Cultural—a bookstore, coffee shop, art gallery, performance space, and workshop center in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. He is (also) on the steering committees of the Poor People(‘)s Campaign and the US Justice Party.

Rodriguez’s national bestselling memoir, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. is a New York Times notable book and recipient of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award. The memoir explores gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that haunts its participants. Jonathan Kozol called Always Running “an absolutely unique work: richly literary and poetic, yet urgent and politically explosive at the same time… A permanent testament to human courage and transcendence.” The New York Times Book Review journalist Gary Soto praised the memoir as “vivid, raw… fierce, and fearless… Here’s truth no television set, burning night and day, could ever begin to offer.”

Luis J. Rodriguez’s visit is made possible through the generous support of the Chelsea Community Foundation and the Friends of CDL.

1:00pm | Min Jin Lee | Main Street Church

By |2019-03-14T19:19:24-04:00January 23rd, 2019|

320 N Main St, Chelsea, MI 48118

2019 Midwest Literary Walk author Min Jin Lee is a National Book Award Finalist, recipient of Fellowships in Fiction from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard, and a New York Times bestselling author. She was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to Queens, New York as a child in 1976.  Lee graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and was inducted into the Bronx Science Hall of Fame. While studying at Yale College, she majored in History and was awarded the Henry Wright Prize for Nonfiction and the James Ashmun Veech Prize for Fiction. She attended law school at Georgetown University and worked as a lawyer for several years in New York prior to writing full time. Lee wrote her New York Times bestselling novel Pachinko while living in Tokyo, where she resided  from 2007 to 2011. She is currently based in Boston, where she will be working on her third novel, American Hagwon. From 2019-2022, she will be a Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College.

Among her other accolades, Lee was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Monmouth College. In 2018 Lee was named an Adweek Creative 100 for being one of the “10 Writers and Editors Who are Changing the National Conversation,” and a Frederick Douglass 200 for her work as an author.

Her novel Pachinko (2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and a New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017. A New York Times bestseller, Pachinko was also one of the Top 10 Books of the Year in 2017 selected by BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the New York Public Library. Pachinko was one of the selections for “Now Read This,” a book club organized  by PBS NewsHour and The New York Times. The novel was listed on over 75 best books of the year lists, including NPR, PBS, and CNN. An international success, Pachinko will be translated into 27 languages.

Pachinko tells the story of a young Korean woman who emigrated to Japan, where she and her family struggle through war and hard times all while experiencing life’s joys, friendships, and heartbreaks. Library Journal dubbed the novel a “gripping multigenerational story with plenty of surprising turns,” and praises Lee for her “skillful development of her characters and story lines [that] draw readers into a delicate and accurate portrait of Korean life in Japan in the mid-to-late 20th century.” Pachinko earned a Kirkus Star, with reviewers toting the novel as an “epic whose simple, captivating storytelling delivers both wisdom and truth.” NPR lauded the novel for its “honest writing, fiction that looks squarely at what is, both terrible and wonderful and occasionally as bracing as a jar of Sunja’s best kimchi.”

4:00pm | Anissa Gray | Chelsea First Congregational Church

By |2019-03-15T11:49:12-04:00January 23rd, 2019|

121 E. Middle Street, Chelsea, MI 48118

Anissa Gray is an Emmy and duPont-Columbia award-winning journalist and a debut novelist. She grew up in a small western Michigan town, graduated from Western Michigan University, and earned a Masters in English from New York University. Gray began her career as a reporter at Reuters in Manhattan, and then worked for CNN as a broadcast journalist. She is currently a Senior Editor for CNN Worldwide in Atlanta, GA, where she lives with her wife. Her first novel, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, debuted in 2019 to wide critical acclaim, and was a 2019 LibraryReads pick for spring and an Indie Next pick.

Gray’s novel The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, is a gripping family saga told through the alternating voices of three sisters struggling with familial loyalty and love during a criminal trial that will decide the fate of the oldest sister, Althea, a formerly well-respected community member who is unexpectedly incarcerated along with her husband. Entertainment Weekly, the Washington Post, and Vogue think readers who are fans of Tamayri Jones or Celeste Ng will enjoy the new voice of Annisa Gray.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls was a Barnes and Noble Discover selection, praised by the Washington Post as “an absorbing commentary on love, family, and forgiveness,” and by Bustle as a “stark, emotional story you don’t want to miss.” Delia Owens, the author of Where the Crawdad’s Sing, describes the novel as “a powerfully written story story that guides us through a deep darkness toward a faint whisper of light seeping from beneath a closet door. A light that shows how love and forgiveness can come from unexpected places and triumph over more than we ever imagine.”

Additional praise for The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls:

“A sharp family saga …. [the author’s] very personal connection coupled with Gray’s ability to translate hard emotion into straightforward prose make for a gripping read.”—Vanity Fair

“Gray manages a large cast of characters with ease … A deep dive into the shifting alliances and betrayals among siblings.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[A] moving debut…This is perfect for fans of Brit Bennett’s The Mothers; readers will be deeply affected by this story of a family wrestling to support itself.”—Publishers Weekly

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