I’ve stepped up my reading game. I blame narrative non-fiction.
It started a couple of years ago when I read The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan’s National Book Award winner about the families that remained in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas during the Dust Bowl. It was the first time I’d read non-fiction outside of a college course setting, and it was so exhilarating that we took a road trip that passed through locations mentioned in the book.
Now I’m devouring as much quality non-fiction as I can, and I’m sharing the decent ones with you. If you’re in need of a good book to read, check out my reading list. I’ll be keeping it updated as I finish more books.
Moving to Detroit is like jumping into the middle of a thousand-page novel without any Cliffs Notes.
Earth-shaking plot points have passed and the characters’ bias is well-formed. Trying to insert yourself into that story is a challenge. Fortunately, you have a guide in Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit: An American Autopsy.
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It’s embarrassing to admit as a poet, but I hadn’t read a lot of Philip Levine’s poetry before moving to the Detroit area. And even then, I discovered it incidentally. Yet Philip Levine’s poetry about Detroit proved welcome reading to a newcomer trying to uncover what this scarred and divided city is all about.
Levine wrote the style of poetry that I aspire to. His poetry is visceral. It provides a glimpse into the heart of a working-class Detroiter, and gives us a tremendous understanding of what sense of place. His poetry transports you to a moment in time, generally a moment in time somewhere in Detroit. I invite you to read a few of these poems from Philip Levine from The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry:
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Well over a year ago, while showing my now fiance around the campus at my alma mater, we met up with Dr. Sherry Cook Stanforth for lunch. Before we left, Sherry made a very bold and oddly specific prediction.
She said, “I think you’re going to start a literary journal.”
At first the notion floated in my personal sea of “sounds good” ideas that often don’t materialize. But in the summer of 2014 I decided to go for it. Karen George, my aunt, joined as the fiction editor, and Crystal took on the role of art editor.
Publication was a long road, and I’m still putting some thoughts together to describe what I’ve learned from launching a journal (there were a lot of lessons).
While you’re waiting for that, I encourage you to stop by Waypoints for some fine stories, poems, art and photos. I’m very proud of our little journal, and all the work within. I think you’ll like it.