Akropolis Reed Quintet debuts its latest web series with a world premiere


The local ensemble Akropolis Reed Quintet made waves nationally in 2014 when the group won the prestigious Fischoff Gold Medal, the first group of its kind to win the award. Tim Gocklin (oboe), Kari Landry (clarinet), Matt Landry (saxophone), Andrew Koeppe (bass clarinet), and Ryan Reynolds (bassoon) founded Akropolis at the University of Michigan in 2009. The reed quintet has been extremely prolific from the start, including releasing albums, streaming concerts online, and conducting educational programs locally, nationally, and internationally (when I reached out to the group, they were in Abu Dhabi).

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, Akropolis will relaunch its web series on akropolisquintet.com and youtube.com/akropolis5tet: "In 2011, we created our YouTube Web Premiere Series as a platform to showcase new works for reed quintet online, around the world," the group wrote on the Facebook event page for its latest, which will feature a live studio recording of Gregory Wanamaker's new arrangement of "Elegy" from his Duo Sonata written specifically for Akropolis. "This series has over 31,000 views, 522 subscribers, and features 13 online premieres, 9 of which are from American composers!"

I caught up with ensemble member saxophonist Matt Landry to chat about the group’s latest album, The Space Between Us (“pure gold” according to the San Francisco Chronicle), classical music and popular culture, and what’s next for the group.

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Journalism advocate Wallace House expands programming to engage the public

Wallace House, Lynette Clemetson, Lydia Polgreen, David Fahrenthold, Alec MacGillis

Clockwise from left: Wallace House director Lynette Clemetson, Huffington Post editor Lydia Polgreen, Washington Post journalist David Fahrenthold, and ProPublica's Alec MacGillis.

Wallace House at the University of Michigan features two major programs that recognize the work of early career and mid-career journalists.

"The Knight-Wallace Fellowships for journalists is a residential program here at the University of Michigan," said Lynette Clemetson, director of Wallace House. "We bring roughly 20 mid-career journalists to the university every year for an academic year of immersive study related to their work as journalists. Our other program is The Livingston Awards, which is an awards program recognizing excellence in journalism by journalists under 35."

Wallace House was a gift from 60 Minutes's Mike Wallace and his wife, Mary, but its offerings aren't strictly for journalists and the organization is expanding its public programming. On Thursday, September 14, award-winning political reporter Alec MacGillis will give the 32nd Hovey Lecture, and he'll cover income inequality in the U.S. and the perilous implications of winner-take-all cities and left-behind places. The additional talks feature the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold (October 26), who was awarded a Pulitzer for his reporting on the Donald J. Trump Foundation, and Lydia Polgreen (January 16), editor of The Huffington Post.

We chatted with Clemetson about these upcoming events, demystifying journalism, and its vital role in a functioning democracy.

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Oliver Uberti launches "Where the Animals Go" at Literati -- where it all began

Oliver Uberti, Where the Animals Go

Oliver Uberti's new book, Where the Animals Go, was conceived in Ann Arbor.

On Tuesday, September 12, designer and author Oliver Uberti returns to Ann Arbor to launch the Where the Animals Go at Literati. It's a full-circle journey for the book and Uberti.

"I discovered graphic design as a student at the University of Michigan. I drafted many sections of Where the Animals Go in Literati’s cafe," Uberti said. "I found the book’s epigraphs on Literati’s shelves. Quite literally, Ann Arbor is where this book originated. I’m very excited to come back to say thank you."

Where the Animals Go is the first book to offer a comprehensive, data-driven portrait of how creatures like ants, otters, owls, turtles, and sharks navigate the world. Uberti teamed up with James Cheshire, whose award-winning maps have appeared in publications like the Financial Times and The Guardian, to create this collection of charts and maps that tell fascinating stories of animal behavior through an intersection of technology and design.

"James and I are not biologists. He’s a geographer; I’m a designer," Uberti said. "That’s the beauty of the animal-tracking revolution. The convergence of ecology and technology invites more people from more disciplines into the conservation conversation. We hope this book will inspire readers to get involved in any way they can."

The book has already earned incredible praise, including from legend Jane Goodall, who called Where the Animals Go “beautiful as well as informative and inspiring.” We chatted with Uberti ahead of his visit.

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Zilka Joseph will lead a panel of musing poets at Kerrytown BookFest

Zilka Joseph, Sharp Blue Search of Flame

Zilka Joseph (upper left) will moderate a panel with Michigan poets (clockwise from upper right) Keith Taylor, Z.G. Tomaszewski, Cindy Hunter Morgan, and Robert Fanning at the 15th annual Kerrytown BookFest.

On Sunday, September 10, the 15th annual Kerrytown BookFest takes over the Farmer’s Market and Concert House for a full day of book arts demonstrations, author signings -- see the full list here -- and panel discussions, such as "Short Stories From 'Bob Seger's House'" with Ellen Airgood, Loren D. Estelman, Gordon Henry, and Michael Zadoorian moderated by M.L. Liebler. (AADL card holders can download the book they're discussing here.)

It's truly a celebration of this region's rich literary scene, all neatly packed into one of Ann Arbor's most beloved neighborhoods. (See our full preview of the festival here.)

Ann Arbor poet, editor, and educator Zilka Joseph will moderate a 4 pm panel at Kerrytown BookFest called “Poetic Musings” with Robert Fanning, Cindy Hunter Morgan, Keith Taylor, and Z.G. Tomaszewski. Joseph’s most recent collection is Sharp Blue Search of Flame, published by Wayne State University Press in 2016. We chatted with her about Michigan poets, favorite Ann Arbor literary haunts, and being a citizen of the world.

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Clutch of Grit: Keith Lesmeister reads from "We Could Have Been Happy Here" at Literati

Keith

In We Could Have Been Happy Here, Keith Lesmeister puts characters in impossible situations to see how they react.

Keith Lesmeister's debut collection, We Could Have Been Happy Here, features a "gritty, emotionally sensitive clutch” of short stories, according to Kirkus Reviews.

That description that can be applied to a lot of Midwestern writers and Lesmeister fits the bill. He grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and currently lives in Decorah, which he describes as “much smaller -- a rural community located in the far northeast corner of the state.” The author's life experiences hum in the background of this collection, but the stories aren't autobiographical. What he learned from diving deeply into Iowa, he said, is how to better connect with people whose experiences are immensely different than his: “I spent a lot of time with characters whose lives are unlike mine in many ways -- I’ve never driven around with my suicidal grandmother; I’ve never experienced a deployed parent; I’ve never felt betrayed by a twin brother; and so on and so forth.”

On June 16, Lesmeister reads from We Could Have Been Happy Here at Literati. We chatted with him about Iowa, what makes a good short story, and more. Spoiler: Lesmeister’s so excited to read in Ann Arbor that he might even bake a cake.

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Radical Collaboration: Allied Media Conference in Detroit


The 19th annual Allied Media Conference happens June 15-18 at Wayne State University in Detroit. The conference draws all types of media makers, with "media" being "anything you use to communicate with the world," so conference participants come from wonderfully diverse backgrounds. The conference is also organized collaboratively, so it’s different from year to year. Participants can expect to attend panels and workshops, but also screenings, tours, arts, and music events, strategy sessions, karaoke, and bowling. There’s a lot to take in, and the scope of the experience is inspiring.

Ahead of this year’s conference, we chatted with Katie Dover-Taylor, Ypsilanti resident and librarian, who has been involved with AMC for several years, about what you can expect from the conference, radical librarianship, and how AMC’s Detroit roots might provide an opportunity to experience conversations about Detroit in a different way.

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Slow Tide of Decline: Lauren Hulthen Thomas reads from her debut at Literati

Lauren

Lauren Hulthen Thomas, States of Motion.

Laura Hulthen Thomas' reading from her debut collection, States of Motion, at Literati on Wednesday, May 17, will be special to her. “I was one of the last authors to read at Shaman Drum, the iconic indie bookstore that was the last downtown seller to shutter," said Thomas, the head of the creative writing and literature program at the University of Michigan’s Residential College.

"Honestly, I didn't think another bookstore would ever take a chance on a Midwestern downtown, even a literary city like Ann Arbor," Thomas said. "Thank goodness [owners] Hilary and Mike [Gustafson] have the vision and passion to make such a success of this marvelous store. And having a beautiful reading space to showcase authors and even host student readings and other community events is just incredible. ... I would love to thank Literati for hosting me, and for being downtown’s literary light and gem."

States of Motion is published by Wayne State University Press, whose press release said, “[T]he stories in Laura Hulthen Thomas’ collection take place against a backdrop of economic turmoil and the domestic cost of the war on terror ... these stories follow blue collars and white, cops and immigrants, and mothers and sons as they defend a world that is quickly vanishing.”

Thomas is thrilled that Wayne State University Press (WSUP) released her book and "for publishing and supporting so many Michigan authors through the Made in Michigan series. We're able to talk about regional literature and Michigan's place in it because of the work WSUP is doing to bring our state's literature to readers."

We chatted with Thomas about how Michigan is reflected in her stories, how that’s shifted in the recent political climate, the Midwestern voices that have inspired her writing, and more.

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The "Great Lakes Review" celebrates its best-of 2016 issue at Literati

John

Editor John Counts stakes out the territory for the Great Lakes Review.

Despite the journal's name, Great Lakes Review editor John Counts is "wary of getting too deep into whether our region has its own distinct regional voice akin to American Southern literature," he said. "That question is probably best dealt with in academic dissertations. But I will say we believe great writing is something that rises above its setting."

On April 28 at Literati Bookstore, Great Lakes Review will host an event that celebrates the release of a printed collection of 2016 stories and poems that rose above their settings.

Michigan short story writer Philip Sterling), Ohio poet Justin Longacre), and Illinois poet Jessica Walsh will join Counts for an evening of readings and discussions.

We talked to Counts about how independent journals champion “riskier” writing, that elusive Midwest voice, and the role of Great Lakes-area writers during a political climate that could threaten the region's ecosystem.

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Roxane Gay returns to Ann Arbor for her new book, "Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body"


Roxane

Roxane Gay's new book is a memoir that was difficult to write.

Prolific author Roxane Gay returns to Ann Arbor with a Literati Bookstore-hosted event on June 16 at Hill Auditorium. Tickets were just announced in the Literati newsletter, and the seats are likely to fill up fast. If you're wondering why, here's a quick overview of Gay.

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Contemporary Music at Literati, Starring the Typewriter (and Composer Garrett Schumann)


Literati Bookstore

Typewriter.

The Literati Bookstore typewriter is home to patrons’ left-behind thoughts, many of which are touching, profound, or funny.

On Thursday, April 13 at 7 pm, Ypsilanti-based composer Garrett Schumann’s new work based on these typewriter musings will be premiered Literati as part of an evening of contemporary music presented by ÆPEX Contemporary Performance.

We talked to Schumann about how he came up with the idea for the piece, his favorite books related to music and composing, and what else you can look forward to from ÆPEX Contemporary Performance in the coming months.

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