Aug. 20 2013 12:00 AM

Book tour brings Upper Peninsula authors and stories to Lansing


Tuesday, Aug. 20 — It’s high summer in Michigan, but author and editor Ron Riekki isn’t out to promote the log-cabin, blue-water tourist-brochure view of the Upper Peninsula. 

Riekki and some of Michigan’s top fiction and poetry writers head into Schuler Books at 1982 W. Grand River Ave. in Okemos at 6:30 p.m. today to read excerpts from a new book of stories and poems about Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Riekki is the editor of “The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works” (Wayne State University Press, 2013), a broad mosaic of U.P. life with 40 poems and 20 stories, none of them published before, of varied scope and length.

Riekki sometimes takes a little heat for acknowledging that high unemployment, dangerous work in the mines (if you can get it), ennui and alcoholism go along with the old-growth pines and stunning vistas.

The anthology covers a lot of places and experiences, from the powerful powwow in Baraga of April Lindala's “For the Healing of All Women” to a sex-charged happening in a hotel basement in Chad Faries’s “Hotel Stambaugh: Michigan, 1977” to the splendor between Newberry and Paradise in Joseph D. Haske’s “Tahquamenon.”

Headlined by Riekki and Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of “American Salvage” and “Once Upon a River,” the tour features a variety of Michigan’s best fiction and poetry writers who have contributed to Riekki’s anthology.

In addition to Riekki, three other authors are scheduled to appear at the Okemos Schuler today. Eric Gadzinski is a poet from Sault Ste. Marie who excels at weaving naturalistic details and big existential questions in this wise: “Let not the wolves of my past overtake me, or the crow of the future fly out of sight over the spruce tops.” He also got a tattoo when he was past 50 and couldn’t resist writing a poem about it.

Lansing-born Sue Harrison has written six novels about life in Alaska, including 1990’s “Mother Earth Father Sky,” which won a slew of state awards. Poet and novelist Mary McMyne teaches writing at Lake Superior State University and co-edits the journal Border Crossing. Janice Repka writes mainly for children and teens, with titles like “The Clueless Girl’s Guide to Being a Genius,” but also writes adult short stories and poetry for a variety of journals and reviews.

The talk and schmooze at Schuler doesn’t have to be all literature all the time. After the reading, you can hit the authors up for tips on places to go and things to eat in the U.P. They all have their hotly held opinions.