Great Lakes Poetry Prize deadline extended until March 31

Stolen_imageThe deadline for the Great Lakes Poetry Prize has been extended until March 31.

Here are the details:

1)  Three Great Lakes Poetry Prizes will be awarded each to a single poem written about the Great Lakes region or written by a poet from the Great Lakes region: First Place will receive $500; Second Place $250; and Third Place $100. All three poems will be published in the spring 2015 issue of the Great Lakes Review.

2)  Deadline for submissions here at Submittable is March 31, 2015.

3)  We tend to consider the “Great Lakes region” to mean the Canadian-American vicinity including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ontario, but we’re prepared to be convinced otherwise.

4)  Send up to three poems per entry, each poem beginning on a new page. All lengths, styles, and forms are welcome. Multiple entries by a single poet are accepted, but each group of three poems must be treated as a separate entry with its own $10.00 entry fee.

5)  All entries to the Great Lakes Poetry Prize will be considered for publication at Great Lakes Review.

6)  All poems submitted for consideration must be previously unpublished. Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but please notify Great Lakes Review immediately should any poems be accepted elsewhere.

7)  Please include all pertinent contact information in the cover letter you submit here at Submittable and remove any identifying information from the poems that you submit.

8)  Final judge is poet and literary critic Robert Archambeau, whose works include Citation SuiteHome and VariationsLaureates and Heretics, and The Poet Resigns: Poetry in a Difficult World, in addition to a number of edited collections




The Lake in Winter 010 (1)


This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

A brisk wind stings my face as I get out of the car. Blowing snow shears across the dunes and swirls around the parking lot. I tuck my chin inside my scarf and start walking. When I reach the top of the ridge, I stop to look, expecting to see the lake. But there is no lake, only a frozen landscape of jagged ridges and snow-covered valleys do I see. Waves caught in the freeze-frame of February resemble the arctic tundra, not my lake.

I wrap my scarf tightly over my mouth and head for the breakwater. Nobody walks on the breakwater in February, but I want to get closer. I have to get closer. To better see what I can’t believe I’m seeing.

At first glance the entire expanse appeared frozen solid, but with a closer look the undulating movement of the surface in sync with the swells of the inland sea becomes apparent. It is not solid but shiftless, like the sands of Dune. The whole thing is heaving with the power of what lies beneath.

I walk out on the wooden planks and watch the wave action, for that is what it is, though there is no water, no crashing surf. The lake breathes like a ventilator but silently. So silent. There are no shore birds, no tourists, no power boats or lake freighters. I hunch my shoulders against the wind and look to the horizon, a distance of twenty-six miles. There is open water out there and jagged ice floes peak the sky like sailboats. This monster of a lake with the reach of an ocean has a changeable face. And I see I am not alone.

An ice fisherman walks the shore with his backpack and his pail and walking stick. He tramps carefully in cleated boots. He is prepared, bundled up like a Sherpa guide.  I am not. I don’t have gloves, I don’t have my long underwear, and I don’t have my boots. What I have is a new haircut with caramel highlights still damp from the salon, hidden by the scarf now wound tight around my head for this impromptu walk on the breakwater.

When I realized I was only three miles from the lake, I knew I would keep going. From earliest memory, my siblings and I strained for that first glimpse of blue through the trees on Sunday outings in our father’s station wagon.

I walk along the railing of the breakwater until the drifted sand turns to ice and the railing ends. With no railing, I stop. I’m afraid to go further, afraid I’ll slip, or my scarf will blow away and I’ll be tempted to chase it, afraid I’ll fall off the edge onto the shifting ice. All my life I’ve been drawn to this water, yet I fear it.

His name is Fred Bear. It said so on the back window of the pickup truck I parked alongside. Ours are the only two vehicles in the parking lot. Just drill that hole his bumper sticker said. Ice fishing is popular. It doesn’t cost anything to bring dinner home. He has this stretch of shore to himself. I’m not in his way. He doesn’t even see me.

I like a man bullish on winter, one who can bring dinner home. There are only the two of us out here. If I get in trouble, will he save me? If I get frostbit, will he unthaw me?

I start back to the car. I can’t keep up with him. He’s going where I’m not prepared to go. I walk past park benches and frozen fountains. I walk past the restaurant that used to be the summer hot spot. The view was destroyed when they built the marina and extended the breakwater and now it’s shuttered, like the dancehall and the roller rink. Only the lake is still here.

I walk past his truck with the bumper sticker and climb in my car and turn on the heat. I take off the scarf and shake out my hair. The damp tendrils at my neck are frozen stiff, proof of my walk on the breakwater. But I feel like a mere spectator, having done nothing to effect change, a fisherman with no bait. I couldn’t bring dinner home.

Yvonne Osborne lives and writes in the Thumb of Michigan. She has an organic vegetable business in the summer and writes in the winter. She has been published in numerous literary reviews, most recently in Steam Ticket, Third Coast Review and Pure Francis and her short stories have appeared in several anthologies. The Great Lakes region plays a prominent role in her writing, whether it be fiction (embedded in the psyche of her characters), creative nonfiction, or poetry. She is currently working on a memoir.

Tagged , , ,

Michigan Bestseller list for December 2014

HoweFor December 2014, the largest rise on the Michigan Bestseller List was Impemba’s If These Walls Could Talk.  Susan Thoms’ Twelve Days of Christmas in Michigan, Gordie Howe’s Mr. Hockey, Stephen Terry’s Michigan Agricultural College Campus Life 1900-1925, Mardi Link’s Wicked Takes the Witness Stand, Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call from Heaven, and Michael Emmerich’s 100 Things Michigan State Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die all have their second consecutive month on the Michigan Bestseller List top 10.  The list is compiled by Ron Riekki, editor of Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (upcoming May 2015 on Michigan State University Press).

1) Mario Impemba—If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Tigers (Triumph Books)

2) Mardi Link—Wicked Takes the Witness Stand: A Tale of Murder and Twisted Deceit in Northern Michigan (University of Michigan Press) [last month #8]

3) Gordie Howe—Mr. Hockey: My Story (Putnam Adult) [last month #4]

4) Chris Van Allsburg—The Polar Express (Houghton Mifflin)

5) Kevin Allen—100 Things Red Wings Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Triumph Books)

6) Mitch Albom—The First Phone Call from Heaven (Harper) [last month #9]

7) Michael Emmerich—100 Things Michigan State Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Triumph Books) [last month #10]

8) Stephen Terry—Michigan Agricultural College Campus Life 1900-1925: A Postcard Tour (Thunder Bay Press) [last month #7]

9) Chris Van Allsburg—The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie (HMH Books for Young Readers)

10) Susan Collins Thoms—Twelve Days of Christmas in Michigan (Sterling) [last month #2]

11) John Green—Paper Towns (Speak) [last month #5]

12) Kate Bassett—Words & their Meanings (Flux) [last month #14]

13) Jerry Dennis—The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas (St. Martin’s Griffin)

14) W. Bruce Cameron—The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man (Macmillan/Tor/Forge Books) [last month #3]

15) Derek Jeter—The Contract (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)

The Michigan Bestseller List includes 14 participating bookstores: Bay Leaf Used & Rare Books (79 State Rd, Newaygo;, Between the Covers (106 E. Main St., Harbor Springs,, Bookbug (3019 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo;, Book World Marquette (136 W Washington St., Marquette;, Falling Rock Café & Bookstore (104 E Munising Ave, Munising;, Kazoo Books (407 N Clarendon St., Kalamazoo; 2413 Parkview, Kalamazoo;, Nicola’s Books (2513 Jackson Ave, Ann Arbor;, North Wind Books (601 Quincy St, Hancock;, Saturn Booksellers (133 W Main St, Gaylord;, Schuler Books & Music (1982 W Grand River Ave, Okemos; 2660 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids; 2820 Towne Center Blvd, Lansing;, and Up North Books (3362 Interstate 75 Business Spur, Sault Ste. Marie;


1) Charlie LeDuff—Detroit: An American Autopsy (Penguin Books) [sixth month at the #1 spot]

2) Sonny Longtine–Murder in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (The History Press) [last month #4]

3) Joseph Heywood–Killing a Cold One (Lyons Press) [last month #5]

4) Robert F. Jones–Run to Gitche Gumee (Skyhorse Publishing) [last month #7]

5) Steve Hamilton–Misery Bay: An Alex McKnight Novel (Minotaur Books)

6) Ellen Airgood–South of Superior (Riverhead Trade) [last month #2]

6) Jennifer Billock – Keweenaw County (Arcadia Publishing)

6) John Haeussler – Hancock (Arcadia Publishing) [last month #6]

9) Robert Archibald–Northern Border: History and Lore of the Upper Peninsula and Beyond (NMU Press) [last month #2]

9) Auvo Kostiainen (EDT) – Finns in the United States: A History of Settlement, Dissent, and Integration (Michigan State University Press)

The Upper Peninsula Bestseller List for December 2014 includes 4 participating bookstores: Book World Marquette (136 W Washington St., Marquette;, Falling Rock Café & Bookstore (104 E Munising Ave, Munising;, North Wind Books (601 Quincy St, Hancock;, and Up North Books (3362 Interstate 75 Business Spur, Sault Ste. Marie;

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio: On a bend in the Cuyahoga River near Red Lock


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

On the last warm day of October, I sit on a muddy cutbank, feet hanging over a horseshoe bend in the Cuyahoga.

There is an island in the river, smothered in a thicket of Japanese Knotweed. The woody stems stick up like wiry red hair. Nothing eats it. It spreads like cancer.  Cut it down, and two bushes grow back. Dig it up, and the slivers will root downstream.

The limbs of dying ash trees reach up out of the floodplain, raking the blue sky. Girdled by Emerald Ash Borer, crown cut off from the roots, the ash trees will all be gone soon.

The plump creamy grubs of these Asian wood-boring beetles have fueled a population explosion of woodpeckers across the Upper Midwest. A brief flourish of birdsong in the woods marks the loss of forest diversity.

I have complex feelings about this place. Part of me wants to try to fix these things, to tear up invasive plants by the roots, to inject each ash tree with insecticides. I think I can stop the world from slipping through my fingers.

Some other influence urges me to accept things as they are.

All around me, tall weeds with dried husks rustle in the breeze.  Gone to seed — the phrase connotes shabbiness, an unkempt quality –but in these plants, withered but still supporting their progeny, it is completion, success.

“Every generation has to die in order that the next generation can come,” said Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth. “As soon as you beget or give birth to a child, you are the dead one.”

My middle son sleeps in a stroller I’ve pushed to the edge of the river, wind playing on his closely cropped hair. Shadows flicker across his innocent face in the breeze. The price for his life is paid in sleep, cognition, concentration, the ability to do a single thing for more than ten minutes uninterrupted.

I stop here often to look at this moving water. It reminds me of Oregon, the place my wife and I lived before having children.

Every October, I would wade in a river where the tides licked the roots of an ancient rainforest, wait for salmon to swim up from the beach, to climb into the hills to the clear water where they were born. Females swept shallow gravel beds to lay their eggs. The males turned dark, grew fangs and fought like dogs. As soon as the salmon entered their natal rivers, they started dying.

Now I’ve returned as well, born in Akron where the Cuyahoga makes its U-turn and runs toward Lake Erie. I have come home to raise my sons downstream from the old Jaite Paper Mill, where the pickle liquor flowed, and the river ran foul.

Forty years ago, the National Park Service adopted this valley. The water looks clean and the landscape has grown over most of the scars from the river’s industrial past, 33,000 acres carved out of the mass of unbroken suburbs from Cleveland to Akron. There could be more forest, more fish, and more deer thriving in the Cuyahoga Watershed today than in any other time in the last half-century.

And yet, Aldo Leopold writes in The Sand County Almanac, “The autumn landscape in the north woods is the land, plus a red maple, plus a ruffed grouse. In terms of conventional physics, the grouse represents only a millionth of either the mass or the energy of an acre. Yet subtract the grouse and the whole thing is dead.”

The grouse is unmade, wild. The deer feel like cattle, thriving in the environments we have created. We have this godlike ability to shape the landscape, but no way to breathe wildness back into the wilderness we resurrect.

The boy who took apart his father’s watch can’t find all the pieces to put it back together.

When I lived in Oregon, the act of fishing became a ritual, heavy with meaning and spiritual resonance. As if in some cosmic joke, Steelhead that evolved in the Pacific Ocean swim past my backyard in the Cleveland suburbs, up the Cuyahoga River each winter. Throughout the Great Lakes, wildlife agencies stock Pacific Salmonids in tributaries where they do not belong. In some areas of the Upper-Midwest with cleaner, colder water, the fish have naturalized. No feral breeding populations occur in Ohio, and none are planted in the Cuyahoga. But their tendency to wander compels Lake Erie-run rainbow trout to swim to Akron.

I do not find any connection to my version of God chasing lost Steelhead around the Midwest.  Instead, I spend my days looking for glimpses of wilder animals, trying to create a relationship with this place. I’m searching for a story to tell my sons about what lives in these woods.

There will be times in the coming months when the sky will look like wet newspaper, and the deadened landscape like strips of corrugated cardboard, cinders sticking to every frozen thing. I’ll look through the leafless trees and see a line of cars passing on the road and I’ll think that it is too much effort, too much self-delusion to focus on the fragments of living wild beauty here.

Today the warm wind could buoy me up, and I could soar on an updraft and see the whole valley like a Red-tailed Hawk.

But who would watch my son when he woke on the riverbank? Who would keep him from being swept into the current?

My son wakes as I push his stroller back onto the trail.  I point to a Red-bellied Woodpecker scolding us overhead, and start to tell him a story about this red and white bird circling the dead ash trunk.

Matt Stansberry is a Cleveland-based nature writer with three kids and a day job. He used to fly fish. Follow him on Twitter@LakeErieFlyFish.

Tagged , ,

Erie, Pennsylvania: Presque Isle – The gem of Lake Erie


This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

Erie_Stormy sunset on Lake Erie - Beach 10All I long for I have found by its waters.

The journey of my life maps to every curve of its thirteen miles, created 11,000 years ago by the melting of a continental glacier and curving gently out into the deep blue expanse of Lake Erie. From its multipurpose recreation trail, to each of its eleven sandy brown beaches, to its inlets and ponds, its stately trees and weathered monument I can find pieces of myself.

Visitors know Presque Isle – so named by the French in the 1700s and meaning “almost an island” – as a 3200-acre sandy peninsula that is a National Natural Landmark and much-treasured state park run and cared for by Pennsylvania. But if you grew up in Erie, as I did, you know it as, simply, “the peninsula” or “the beach”. No matter where I travel in the world or where I choose to live, I can close my eyes and in a moment I’m sitting on the warm brown sands of Beach #10 as waves gently roll in and white sails dot the horizon. It’s the place my soul calls home and I carry it with me always.

My father placed me on his hand in these salt-less blue waters at the age of two, teaching me the front crawl until, like a small, round, chubby fish, I swam away from him and on into the waves on my own – frightened, exhilarated, one with the water. As I grew older, my brothers and I came to the beach with our parents, with our cousins, with our friends to swim and warm ourselves after the long, cold winter. We came in cool, dusky mornings before dawn for sunrise breakfasts on the beach, inhaling the smell of frying bacon, eggs and potatoes with the scent of pine and water, as we watched the sun’s orange and yellow tentacles emerge and rise slowly into the sky.  We came on hot August afternoons when the air hung heavy and thick with humidity, our bodies coated in sweat, ready to jump the waves then dive deep below the water’s surface to cool ourselves. What relief there was to be had on those torpid, long days was only available by walking out into the lake itself.

Long before it was cool to be green, we learned to respect the environment at our beach.  We learned to love the preservation the state provided by making it a protected area and to realize that it wasn’t always bad to pay taxes when the money kept our beach intact and our lake pollution free. We scorned the “visitors” who came from out of town and littered their trash on our beaches without feeling or thought. It was our beach, our treasure, and we expected everyone to show as much consideration for it as we felt ourselves. And as we got older, we came out to the peninsula for our high school biology class to wade through the lagoons and low lying marshes, collecting specimens and finding out that our beach was a haven for many plant and animal species, some rare and protected, just as it was for us. We learned to share the land and admire the balance of all things.

The minute I received my first 10-speed bike I was on the hunt for friends with bikes to ride to the beach with me. I wasn’t old enough to drive but, finally, I had a regular means of transportation if I could manage the nearly hour-long trek to get there. I baked in the sun in my first bikini, sat on driftwood and wrote my first poems, and kissed my first boyfriend on those beaches, looking up at softly moving clouds or facing some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

Eventually, I left home for college and horizons beyond the small city I’d grown up in. Yet, whenever I found myself landlocked, I longed for my peninsula – for the waters of my soul. I would gravitate to the nearest ocean or lake – even a river might do – to quench the need inside me.

In the early 1990s, I came home for what I thought would be a year and stayed for twelve. Every winter, after the first snowfall, I’d drive around the peninsula slowly, savoring the hush and the pristine whiteness not yet marred by automobile exhaust and road salt. The stately trees, heavy laden with snow, arched forward overhead to give the sense of driving through an ancient cathedral; it’s only visitors the random deer or rabbit peeking out to watch me pass. Waves halted, frozen in mid-stride along the way while the water lay still beneath a coat of ice.

In the summers, I learned every inch of the multi-purpose trails on my roller blades, my bike, or sometimes just hiking it on foot.  And I learned the beauty of sitting on a boat out on the lake, surveying the beach from afar, watching the Flagship Niagara go by, laughing with friends, marveling at the carpet of stars overhead by night and the stretch of blue above and below by day. With great joy, I took my nephews to the beach to skip stones when they came for a visit.

I spent the winter of 1998-1999 battling cancer, and when I emerged in the spring, cancer free but exhausted, my friends were there to take me out in their boats, to let me sleep to the gently rocking motion of the waves and heal.

Erie is a tough place to live, with brutal winters and, for me, limited career possibilities. Ironically, I find myself living in the desert now, waiting anxiously for the yearly monsoons, grabbing any opportunity to travel to the Pacific coast.

But I carry the waters of Lake Erie in my DNA and the sands of my peninsula in my heart and soul like a prayer wherever I go.

Janet Roberts is security awareness specialist by day and a writer by night.  Although currently living in in the Arizona desert, she was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, and carries her love of the Great Lakes in her heart. Her work has appeared in the Erie Times News, Erie & Chautauqua Magazine, The Huntsville Morning News, Legal Assistant Today, Law Office Computing, and other trade magazines. She’s currently seeking publication for her first novel, revising her second novel, and marketing several short stories to literary magazines.


Tagged , ,

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: An Ode to Milwaukee

The author and a friend at a Denny's outside of Milwaukee.

The author and a friend at a Denny’s outside of Milwaukee.


This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

O, Milwaukee, we should’ve got out earlier. O, silent L, we tried to make a better poem out of you. O, Lake Michigan, you’re one fat river, and ’Waukee, you’re a godless, Protestant drunk. To us, you were one night and a few blocks’ radius clung to the lip of the lake like a fever blister in summer—the hard slurp of somebody’s tongue that took too long to dry out.

We three came north for a friend we already knew we probably wouldn’t see again. A wedding under a high ceiling. The groom had left our landlocked town—we always knew it was temporary—for law school, Chicago, and a Milwaukee girl. We three, bearing no gifts, we travelers afar. M. and H., complicated Catholics, moved effortlessly through the murmured choreography. I fiddled with the straps of my high heels.

We only knew the groom, and each other. While strangers took pictures, we wandered along the water, which was ninety percent hard wind. We ate cheese because you told us to, Milwaukee. We drank your brand of golden swill; it settled our stomachs.

Maybe we should have left when we started giving our real names. Maybe when we tried to waltz but fell into a windowsill, and H. kissed me on the way down. Or maybe I kissed M. Or M. kissed H. Maybe it was every other way round. Maybe we should have left after H. rhymed labia with Lawrence of Arabia. Maybe, after the second time I failed to flirt a fifth of whiskey to-go! Maybe after the third time M. grumbled fuckin’ sconnie at the flower girl.

Sometime between the father-daughter dance and leap-frogging the parking meter—

Sometime between the red velvet cake and the after-hours polka club—

Sometime between the best man’s toast and the real Germans in the Best Western bar—

Sometime between when the groom asked us to stay and we didn’t—

Sometime between the pretzel salt on my tongue and the white-gravel shoulder where I prayed for puke and deliverance—we should have already been gone.

The next morning, it took us hours to find our way out of Wisconsin. We found Denny’s on the outskirts of the interstate, and a waitress whose nametag read KatieKatieKatie. It was like a tarot card I drew myself in crayon. KatieKatieKatie because I hoped no one north of Madison remembered my name. KatieKatieKatie because last night’s every slur reverbed thrice. And because our waitress kept returning, again and again, to remind me I was both infinite and repeatable as breakwater. M. and H. pledged to start a band called KatieKatieKatie and I wanted it so bad that my head actually felt better, because the greater ache had relocated someplace further south.

There’s nothing new about summer, or the end of it. Nothing new about sing-alongs and highways and knowing something’s over before it is. It remains to be seen whether a poem can be made from this stuff.

Wisconsin, we won’t come back for you. But, O, sweet Denny’s waitress, young woman with hair the color of wheat or chaff or PBR, you who let us nap on the vinyl cushion, who served us scrambled eggs with our chili nachos and didn’t ask questions, you will never see us again. But you were Our Mother of Milwaukee: We burned you down, and we left you your tip in quarters.

Katie Moulton’s prose, poetry, and criticism has appeared in xoJane, the Village Voice, Devil’s Lake, Quarterly West, Ninth Letter, Post Road, among others. Her work has been supported by fellowships from OMI International Arts Center and Indiana University. Born and raised in St. Louis, she lives in Bloomington, Indiana where she works for an historic theater and deejays for indie radio.



Tagged , , ,

Bestseller Spotlight: Joseph Heywood

Joseph_HeywoodJoseph Heywood’s novel, Killing a Cold Oneis currently number 5 on the U.P. Bestseller list.

Tell us a little about your book and how it came to be?

Mountains of the Misbegotten is the second in a new series intended to explore the early days of professional game wardens in Michigan.  As part of my “Woods Cops” series, set in contemporary times, I have spent about a month a year in trucks on patrol with conservation officers around the state and over that time officers often told me how they wondered what the job was like in “olden times.” This of course set my tiny think-pot to action. The new series begins with Red Jacket (2012), in the summer of 1913 in the Keweenaw during the famous copper strike. Mountains of the Misbegotten (2014) then picks up the same characters in the spring of 1914 when one of them is dispatched to Ontonagon County to try to locate a missing game warden. The stories deal with both the professional and personal aspects of life in those difficult and formative years. My second collection of short stories, all with female protagonists, will be out from Lyons Press March 1, 2015. These stories were written in the summer of 2013 in Deer Park in the U.P. The title of the collection is Harder Ground.

What is your background? Specifically, what are your ties to the Great Lakes region?

USAF brat, lived all over the US and other places. Graduated from Rudyard High School in Chippewa County in 1961. Graduated from MSU (BA Journalism), 1965. Served in the USAF as a KC-135 navigator at  now de-activated K.I.Sawyer AFB south of Marquette, 1965-1970. Studied for MA in English Lit WMU in early 70s. Worked for The Upjohn Company for 30 years. My wife and I summered in Deer Park, 35 miles north of Newberry for five years, and now we spend six months a year in Alberta, eight miles south of L’Anse. My wife is a WMU art grad, Niles-born, an artist, and retired teacher with as big a hankering for wild places and the outdoors as inhabits me.

Describe your writing process?

I read constantly, fiction and nonfiction, poetry, short stories, essays, all genres, varied subjects. (Reading IS part of writing, contrary to some foolish notions.) I  spend a lot of time formulating stories. I write first drafts in longhand and move it to computer within a day or so. I write the story all the way through to a conclusion, then edit and revise. I don’t believe in revising and repainting brick by brick or board by board. I write seven days a week until the first draft is done, then set it aside for periods ranging from one month to a year. The time needed to compose varies. The Snowfly (2000)  was written in 45 days. The Berkut (1987) required 3-4 years of research and a full year of writing. Most novels require about six months of writing time, but by the time I put pen to paper the book is usually quite complete in my head. I am lucky to be a fast writer, perhaps a product of my journalism training in
ancient times. For example, this past summer I wrote 40 short stories, which are collected under the working title of Uncharted Ground.  I hope
to see them in print in the spring of 2016.

Who is your favorite writer from the Great Lakes region? Why?

My fave poet is Mike Delp. His imagery and edge makes me chuckle and think. Bards Jim Armstrong and Ken McConnell are faves too. Ken and I were baseball teammates in the fog-shrouded summers of long, long ago. My fave nonfiction writer hands-down is Jerry Dennis. Great images, interesting backgrounds, his heart and intelligence show through all of his work.  I try to read everything Jerry brings to us. As for fiction, I have two faves, Bonnie Jo Campbell and Ellen Airgood. I also really like the ouvre of Henry Kisor (fiction and nonfiction).  And though he’s written only one novel so far, I think Bob Linsenman is going to bring us some fine work as we stumble into our dotage. I’m proud to call all of these fine writers pals and colleagues. It has always struck me how in some parts of the country there is tremendous petty competition among writers, and by that I mean jealousy and other negative feelings. I never sense that among Great Lakes authors. Among us the prevailing attitude seems to be, the more the merrier. People can never have enough good writers to stroke their emotions and imaginations. I probably see the world through tinted glasses, but so be it. Let me add here I’ve also read everything by Jim Harrison and the late John Voelker (aka Robert Traver) and respect the work of both men– for different reasons. How can anyone pick one favorite anything? Not fair, not fair.

Tagged ,

Michigan Bestseller list for November 2014

SongsOnlyFor November 2014, the largest rise on the Michigan Bestseller List was Kim Harrison’s The Witch with No Name.  Bruce Cameron’s Midnight Plan for the Repo Manhas its second consecutive month in the top ten.  John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has its fifth consecutive month in the top fifteen.

1) Kim Harrison – Witch with No Name (Harper Voyager) [largest rise]

2) Susan Collins Thoms – Twelve Days of Christmas in Michigan (Sterling)

3) Bruce Cameron – Midnight Plan of the Repo Man (Macmillan/Tor/Forge Books) [last month #9]

4) Gordie Howe—Mr. Hockey: My Story (Putnam Adult)

5) John Green – Paper Towns (Speak)

6) Tom Daldin, Jim Edelman, and Eric Tremonti – Under the Radar Michigan: The First 50 (Scribe Publishing)

7) Stephen Terry – Michigan Agricultural College Campus Life 1900-1925: A Postcard Tour (Thunder Bay Press)

8) Mardi Link – Wicked Takes the Witness Stand: A Tale of Murder and Twisted Deceit in Northern Michigan (University of Michigan Press)

9) Mitch Albom – The First Phone Call from Heaven (Harper)

10) Michael Emmerich – 100 Things Michigan State Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Triumph Books)

11) Chris Van Allsburg – Polar Express (Houghton Mifflin)

12) Chris Van Allsburg – The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie (HMH Books for Young Readers)

13) John Green – The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton Books) [last month #12]

14) Kate Bassett – Words & Their Meanings (Flux) [last month #7]

15) Sean Madigan Hoen – Songs Only You Know: A Memoir (Soho Press)

The Michigan Bestseller List includes 17 participating bookstores: Bay Leaf Used & Rare Books (79 State Rd, Newaygo;, Between the Covers (106 E. Main St., Harbor Springs,, Blue Frog Books (3615 E. Grand River, Howell;, Bookbug (3019 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo;, Book World Marquette (136 W Washington St., Marquette;, Falling Rock Café & Bookstore (104 E Munising Ave, Munising;, Kazoo Books (407 N Clarendon St., Kalamazoo; 2413 Parkview, Kalamazoo;, McLean & Eakin (307 E Lake St, Petoskey,, Nicola’s Books (2513 Jackson Ave, Ann Arbor;, North Wind Books (601 Quincy St, Hancock;, Saturn Booksellers (133 W Main St, Gaylord;, Schuler Books & Music (1982 W Grand River Ave, Okemos; 2660 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids; 2820 Towne Center Blvd, Lansing;, Snowbound Books (118 N 3rd St, Marquette;, and Up North Books (3362 Interstate 75 Business Spur, Sault Ste. Marie;


For November 2014, the largest rise on the Upper Peninsula Bestseller List was Robert F. Jones’ Run to Gitche Gumee.  Ellen Airgood’s South of Superior and Robert Archibald’s Northern Border have their sixth consecutive month on the U.P. Bestseller List.  Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit has its fifth consecutive month as the number one bestselling book for the Upper Peninsula.

1) Charlie LeDuff—Detroit: An American Autopsy (Penguin Books) [fifth month at the #1 spot]

2) Ellen Airgood–South of Superior (Riverhead Trade) [last month #3]

2) Robert Archibald–Northern Border: History and Lore of the Upper Peninsula and Beyond (NMU Press) [last month #6]

4) Sonny Longtine–Murder in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (The History Press) [last month #8]

5) Joseph Heywood–Killing a Cold One (Lyons Press) [last month #4]

6) John Haeussler – Hancock (Arcadia Publishing) [last month #2]

7) Robert F. Jones – Run to Gitche Gumee (Skyhorse Publishing)

8) Michael Carrier–Jack and the New York Death Mask (Greenwich Village Ink)

8) Jim Harrison–Brown Dog (Grove Press) [last month #9]

8) Michael Schumacher–November’s Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913 (University of Minnesota Press) [last month #13]

The Upper Peninsula Bestseller List for November 2014 compiled lists from 5 participating bookstores: Book World Marquette (136 W Washington St., Marquette;, Falling Rock Café & Bookstore (104 E Munising Ave, Munising;, North Wind Books (601 Quincy St, Hancock;, Snowbound Books (118 N 3rd St, Marquette;, and Up North Books (3362 Interstate 75 Business Spur, Sault Ste. Marie;  The lists are compiled by Ron Riekki.

Tagged ,

Harrison, Michigan: Lexicon for a lowercase great lake


The author and her sister.

The author and her sister.

This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

Beach, as we defined it, was a foot-wide strip of mottled sand lining our grandmother’s tiny lot on Budd Lake. Our parents would drag plastic rakes along the length of it, removing clods of asparagus-colored seaweed. We’d sit there until we had octogenarian-wrinkled feet, dribbling dark castles, dodging waves from passing speedboats.

Boat was a tangerine, Seventies pontoon with a sputtering Evinrude. We tried to cram too many people on and it sunk, just a little. The brown, faux leather benches were book-ended by cracked cup-holders that inevitably spent the summer humming with hornet’s nests. One of the boys built a swimming ladder and we bungeed it to the front deck. There are few things higher than the side of a pontoon boat, when you’re standing on the edge and working up the nerve to jump.

Dock was a rotted out wooden mess, boards slippery with algae and stub-toe angled, concluding in a twelve-foot drop-off full of pebble-circled fish beds. There were several modes of travel used to propel oneself into the murky water at the end. First, the old standby, run and jump. Extra points if you were racing somebody else, extra points if you splashed in further out, extra points if you shoved them off the side before they could get there. Then there was the close-your-eyes-and-walk-off, for those of us who liked a little mystery, who liked the feeling of the world disappearing underneath us. There was the spin, the cannonball, the bellyflop, the imaginary-vine-swinging-Tarzan, the shout-a-message-before-you-go-under. I would not recommend the ride-your-bike method, which resulted in a grounding and rust.

Fireworks, at least the good ones, were a crime. We were undeterred. At around 10 p.m. on Independence Day, we’d start competing with the dentist who lived across the way, trying to impress each other with who had been able to sneak back the most dangerous ones from out of state. I learned one of my first lies when the county sheriff’s boat beached silently on our shore: no officer, I think that was somebody else.

Hammock was not only a place to read a good book when the shyer among us were people-tired. No, it was also an open challenge, a place which could be filled with any number of family members, if you worked hard enough. It was a place to see how high you could push a cousin without getting yelled at, a place to see how hard you had to rock to fall out and injure yourself.

Muskie was another name for fear, for shadows that lurked beneath the surface, ancient and big-teethed. I’d see them on the front page of the Clare County Cleaver, heavy in a grinning angler’s arms. I’d think about this while swimming, the fish just beyond my toenails, waiting to chomp me into tiny pieces with his endless teeth.

Parade was two things—the candy-slinging, fire-trucked, horse-led affair on Main Street, and the more important Fourth of July pontoon parade. Most years we watched, but I remember one particular year when we dressed the old orange boat in clashing pink and blue streamers. The aunts made poster board cutouts in the shape of kidney beans and we pinned bedsheets into gigantic diapers over our bathing suits. This was at the height of the Beanie Baby craze, and our family was not one to resist the opportunity for a terrible pun. We won third place and felt cheated for it.

Party was a joint birthday held annually, to celebrate the eight or so of us who were born in late July and early August. We’d circle our lawn chairs and open gifts, all at the same time, shouting thank yous over one another, trying desperately to get the attention of gift-givers. Since time immemorial, we had passed around the same wrapped boxes, reusing them year after year until the wrapping paper ripped or started smelling funny. We each had our own cakes and we lit the candles simultaneously and wished together, then sang: happy birthday Dear Sara-Kristen-Matt-Lauren-Brent-Pam 1-Bob-Pam 2, everyone choose your own order, happy birthday to you.

Toilet, if you were lucky, was smaller than a closet in a parked motor home. You used the bare minimum of tissue and prayed for a working flush. If you were unlucky, it was a trek up a hundred steep stairs, a dash across the road, and a search for a tricky hidden key to our grandparents’ house. If you didn’t make it, or you were drunk/male/lazy the “toilet” was the woods.

Under was quiet, and we would listen to each other speaking, trying to guess which words were said. We would try and try and try, saying it slower, louder, until the listener popped up, triumphant, understanding.

“We” was a word we used when we meant family, when family meant constant and supportive and comforting. “We” was an exclusive club, knit tighter than a potholder, opening only for children and spouses and the occasional trusted friend. “We” does not mean the same thing, not since Alzheimer’s and cancer and geographical distance opened up the seemingly unbreakable knots that held us together. I remember that sometimes, when were out on the lake, we’d forget to put down the anchor. It was not noticeable at first, the drifting, with our eyes closed to the sun or fixed on our bobbers. But then somebody would catch a fish, and we’d realize just how far away we were from where we had intended to be.

Lauren Boulton is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at Bowling Green State University. Her work has appeared in Kenning Journal, Eunoia Review, and Cardinal Sins. 

Tagged ,

Watch a reading of Donna Hoke’s ‘The Spirit of Buffalo’ taped in warmer times

So even though it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, our friends in Buffalo are already buried in a mountain of snow. We here at GLR thought maybe posting a reading from “The Spirit of Buffalo” by Donna Hoke, which was performed in Buffalo during our summer tour (remember summer!), might warm that great city’s spirits.

And for those of you in Buffalo riding out the storms, maybe this will be something to watch to help with the cabin fever.

So without further adieu:

Tagged , , ,