Did you know that Escanaba native Tom Bissell had a Guggenheim fellowship? You’ll be able to catch the author of Chasing the Sea at Negaunee’s Vista Theater on July 14th, and at the Escanaba Public Library on July 16th.
Tom Bissell is just one of more than 60 authors participating in the UP Book Tour which continues through July 23rd and includes more than 20 UP locations and 50 events.
Many of the tours’ participants are UP-based authors like Gretchen Preston, author of Valley Cats, Jerry Harju, well-known humor author, poet Marty Achatz, author of The Mysteries of the Rosary, and Beverly Matherne NMU professor and winner of numerous awards for her poetry that she produces in English and French, including most recently a book about the childhood of the French founder of Detroit, titled Lamothe-Cadillac. I know all of these authors well and have followed their work in some cases for nearly twenty years. I highly recommend each of their books.
Many other authors on the tour may be new names to UP residents. One of NMU’s newest professors, Matthew Gavin Frank, who just moved to Marquette, is ready to meet lovers of poetry, food, and travel books. The author of Barolo, about Frank’s time spent working in the Italian wine country, will be part of an author panel at Peter White Public Library on July 13th. Joining Matthew will be Darrin Doyle, author of The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo. Darrin and I both lived in Kalamazoo and attended Western Michigan University at the same time, so I can’t wait to talk to him about his depiction of Kalamazoo in his writing. Another of my former colleagues from Western Michigan University, Jonathan Johnson, is a well-known poet and the author of Hannah of the Mountains, as well as the son of Ron Johnson, an NMU creative writing professor.
And the tour also offers plenty of variety. Some authors write about the U.P., some about Michigan, some live in Michigan, others are former Yoopers who have returned for the tour. Adam Schuitema’s Freshwater Boys is set around Lake Michigan and was a Michigan Notable Book. Lauri Anderson and Jane Piirto are influenced by their Finnish heritage in their writings, and Saleem Peeradima is a native of India.
The U.P. Book Tour has been organized by Ron Riekki, author of U.P., a book currently in the works to be turned into a film. Riekki has brought together all these authors and seeks to bring them to places not normally on book tours, including places like Palmer and Gwinn in the U.P. His passion for U.P. literature has been apparent in the many interviews he has done, including on Public TV 13′s Media Meet and in Marquette’s Mining Journal. Riekki and all the authors, bookstores, and libraries participating on the tour hope that people will come out to support Michigan and U.P. literature and authors. Who says the only places worth reading about are New York, L.A., or London? We know that Michigan is a wonderful place to live, a place rich in history and storytelling, so it’s time to celebrate it.
For a full schedule of the UP Book Tour and author bios, visit Ron Riekki’s website at http://rariekki.webs.com/apps/blog/
And if I may slightly alter the state motto, “If you seek a great award-winning author, look around you.”