They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing includes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as hybridized forms that push the boundaries of concepts like “genre” and “author.” Contributors include: Kelli Russell Agodon, Maureen Alsop, Kimberly Quiogue Andrews, Nin Andrews, Jennifer Atkinson, Mary Biddinger, CL Bledsoe, Mel Bosworth, John F. Buckley, Kai Carlson-Wee, Ben Clark, Michael Collins, Juliet Cook, Kristina Marie Darling, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Natalie Diaz, Tyler Flynn Dorholt, Jacqueline Doyle, Denise Duhamel, Ross Gay, Jennifer Givhan, Peter Grandbois, Carol Guess, Rebecca Hazelton, Dana Levin, Ada Limon, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Martin Ott, Maureen Seaton, Faizan Syed, Jill Talbot, William Wadsworth, G C Waldrep, and more.
Organized around the Catholic canonical prayer hours, beginning in the evening and moving into morning (vespers, compline, vigils, lauds), and set in an ethereal South Texas landscape, the poems in John Fry’s debut collection, With the Dogstar as My Witness, wrestle with theological and deeply personal concerns in language that is wrenched almost to breaking, but which holds after all and forms a tapestry of (sometimes tortured) prayer.
These poems balance between the harrowing and the beautiful, hovering at the precipice where women are both horseback riding heroines and battered mothers striving to protect their homes, their children, their identities. These poems are knives thrown with precision, fairytales rendered real through the grit and dirt of the natural world surrounding their imperfect speakers. Transformations abound in this collection, though not by any conventional fairytale means, as Shaindel Beers with her knife-sharp wit and even sharper intuition unveils the nuance within the nuance of any situation. These poems don’t just seek escape—they create their own worlds within the escape hatches and (re)build from there.
Peter Grandbois’s essay collection, Kissing the Lobster, uses the ancient samurai code of Bushido (Justice, Courage, Mercy, Courtesy, Honesty, Honor, Loyalty, and Character), then throws in a few of his own, as a lens through which to interrogate authenticity in a culture obsessed with surface and youth. The book is an ode to failure, a rallying cry for the inevitability of pain and the acceptance of loss. It is a reminder that in hiding from pain, in shying away from failure, we forget what is most essential in ourselves.
What forges the unique human personality? In Island in the City, Micah McCrary, taking his genetic inheritance as immutable, considers the role geography has played in shaping who he is. Place often leaves indelible marks which we carry with us. Each place has the power to form or revise our personhood. McCrary considers three places he has called home (Normal, Illinois; Chicago; and Prague) and reflects on how these surroundings have shaped him. His sharp-eyed, charming memoir-in-essays contemplates how aspects of his identity, such as being black, male, middle-class, queer, and American, have developed and been influenced by where he hangs his hat.
Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction features twenty-three of Michigan’s most well-known essayists. A celebration of the elements, this collection approaches Michigan at the atomic level. This is a place where weather patterns and ecology matter. Farmers, miners, shippers, and loggers have built (or lost) their livelihood on Michigan’s nature—what could and could not be made of our elements. From freshwater lakes that have shaped the ground beneath us to the industrial ebb and flow of iron ore and wind power—ours is a state of survival and transformation. Elemental’s strength lies in its ability to learn from the past in the hope of defining a wiser future.
Adam Greenfield’s Circa is a dark comedy featuring Henry Colmes, a high school sophomore trying to find his place in school and life. In alternating chapters, it is also the story of Henry as a thirty-something cub reporter trying to track down an elusive cult leader to interview him for the man’s own obituary. Circa offers an examination of our collective desperation for meaningful context in which to place and rationalize the actions we take. At once heartfelt, tragic, and surreal, Circa looks at the pivotal moments in a person’s life that lead them to make the decisions they can never take back and, ultimately, never forget.
Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction, Ed. Anne-Marie Oomen, Wayne State University Press
They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing, Ed. Simone Muench & Dean Rader, Black Lawrence Press
At the Far End of Nowhere, Christine Davis Merriman, Green Writers Press
Circa, Adam Greenfield, Pelekinesis
Farewell, My Orange, Iwaki Kei, Europa Editions
I Got to Keep Moving, Bill Harris, Wayne State University Press
The Lucky Ones Get To Be People, Rachel Haley Himmelheber, Noemi Press
Oily, Angus Woodward, Spaceboy Books
Stories for People Who Watch TV, Timmy Waldron, New Meridian Arts
Then Again, Ben Berman, Vine Leaves Press
The Wounded Muse, Robert F. Delaney, Mosaic Press
Blood in the Asphalt: Prayers from the Highway, Jesse Sensibar, Tolsun Books
Drunk in the Woods, Tony Whedon, Green Writers Press
Forgotten Women: The Artists, Zing Tsjeng, Octopus Publishing Group/Ilex Press
Forgotten Women: The Writers, Zing Tsjeng, Octopus Publishing Group/Ilex Press
I Don't Belong Here, Melissa Grunow, New Meridian Arts
Island in the City, Micah McCrary, University of Nebraska Press
Kissing the Lobster, Peter Grandbois, Spuyten Duyvil
Lesser Lights, Sandy McIntosh, Marsh Hawk Press
Since When: A Memoir in Pieces, Bill Berkson, Coffee House Press