Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Michigan has a rich cache of poets, many from the Upper Peninsula. Read your way into these two collections of contemporary poems by local favorites.

Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry is a beautiful new release from Western Michigan University’s New Issues Poetry & Prose. Edited by William Olsen and Jack Ridl, this book anthologizes about 90 contemporary Michigan poets and 30 artists. The subjects of their poems concern Michigan’s landscapes, waterways, cities, and the emotions and experiences of its people. The settings range from the U.P. to Detroit. U.P. poets include Elinor Benedict (Rapid River); Matthew Gavin Frank and Austin Hummell (NMU); Ander Monson (originally from Houghton); Ron Riekki (originally from Marquette) and Russ Thorburn, the U.P.’s Poet Laureate (Marquette). The stunning art work is worthy of its own show.

The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works, edited by Ron Riekki, was published this past spring by Wayne State University Press. The poems and stories offered here present an intimate look at life in the U.P. They capture its humor and sorrow, fear and joy, people and topography. I have sometimes wondered how pastors are able to endure so much death and grief and discovered an answer in Emily Van Kley’s poem “My Father’s Datebook” in which she writes, “First in are … days of canoes & cranberry bogs & forest service cabins—by which he means to endure … the church members dying….” The poems and stories collected in this anthology help, too. ~Cathy

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