June 1 2016 11:40 AM

Two first-time events come to Lansing in one weekend

Debbie Viele, of Dimondale, shows off her handmade journal featuring an embossed cover.
Courtesy Photo
What do you do with a book when it is old, worn out and worthless? Crafty folks fashion old books into tables and playhouses. Others hollow out books to store contraband. Fashion designers have bound old book covers together to create wearable outfits. A local bookseller once found several $50 bills hidden between the pages of books at an estate sale. I have a friend who uses “War and Peace” as a doorstop.

Two Greater Lansing artists, Jane Reiter and Zahrah Resh, are offering another use. The pair, in cooperation with the Friends of Turner-Dodge House, are hosting a book art show and sale on June 12. The show will feature books that are embellished or repurposed as art, as well as handmade books.

Michael Beebe, president of the Friends of Turner- Dodge House, said the idea for the show was presented to the group as a way to bring new visitors to the historic house.

“A book art show is kind of new to this area and could be a very unique show,” Beebe said.

“No one was doing a book art show in Lansing,” Reiter added, “But we wanted to be more creative than just calling it a book art show. We came up with the name ‘Boundless,’ which is literal and not too esoteric.”

The show has few guidelines for participating artists. Actual books can be altered or used in creative ways, or the pages of books can turned into visual art. Artists are welcome to work in any medium, including fabric, clay and textiles.

“The artists can interpret ‘Boundless’ in whatever way they believe is a book,” Reiter said, adding that she’s hoping to have at least 30 entries.

The organizers are still accepting submissions, and they are not sure what to expect.

“We are on a bit of a fishing expedition to see what’s out there,” Reiter said. “There’s a method to our madness.”

There is no entry fee, and prizes in the form of gift cards to local art and hobby stores will be awarded for first, second, third place and honorable mention entries. Local artist Julie Benson will serve as judge. All of the book art is for sale, with 25 percent going to the Friends of Turner-Dodge House. The event also offers free tours of the home and light refreshments.

The same weekend, on June 11, the Library of Michigan will host the first-ever Michigan Romance Writers Forum with guest speaker Beverly Jenkins.

Jenkins has skyrocketed to literary fame since focusing her writing in the romance genre. She has received numerous awards, including five Waldenbooks/ Borders Group best-sellers awards, two career achievement awards from Romantic Times magazine and a Golden Pen award from the Black Writers’ Guild. Jenkins was named one of the top 50 African-American writers of the 20th century by the African American Literature Book Club, the nation's largest online African-American book club. She was recently nominated for the NAACP Image Award in literature.

Jenkins will have two new books out this year, “Forbidden,” which was released in January, and “Stepping to a New Day,” which will hit bookstores later this month.

The event also includes a panel discussion with local romance writers emceed by Lansing journalist Karen Hopper. The panel of authors features Isabelle Drake, Nancy Gideon, Loralee Lillibridge, Alyssa Alexander, Dana Corbit Nussio and Elizabeth Heiter.

Library of Michigan curator Edwina Murphy, who is coordinating the event, said “genre writing” took a long path to acceptance. The first barrier to fall was the genre of science fiction, with fantasy following soon after.

John Cole, founder and director for the Library of Congress’ National Center for the Book, fought diligently to have genre writing included in the National Book Festival lineup. In 2015, after years of discussion, romance novels were finally added to the National Book Festival celebration.


Book art show and sale Noon-5 p.m. Sunday, June 12 FREE Turner-Dodge House 100 E. North St., Lansing For more information or to enter a book, contact: Jane Reiter: (517) 327-0938, janereiter@ sbcglobal.net or Zahrah Resh: zahrahr@ mac.com, (517) 351-8189

Michigan Romance Writers Forum

Panel discussion and author talk 12:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11 FREE Library of Michigan, second floor conference room 702 W. Kalamazoo St., Lansing (517) 373-1300, michigan. gov/libraryofmichigan