Who are the people behind Literary Detroit?

There are more than forty people in our planning circle, with about fifteen people who are particularly active leaders. We are readers first. We are also writers, musicians, artists, designers, academics, students, non-profit organizers, teachers, advocates, and journalists. We welcome all those who would like to join us in our work. Contact literarydetroit@gmail.com for more information.

What do you do?

We put on distinctive and participatory literary events, including author events, book swaps, and ghost libraries at locations around the city. We also host the Motor Signal Reading Series.

We are available to partner with publishers, publicists, and national authors as a host for local events: amplifying the event through media coverage, connecting to a great venue, providing transportation throughout the city, and planning a unique interactive event that goes beyond the typical ‘read and answer questions’ format, Contact literarydetroit@gmail.com for more information.

What authors have you featured in your events?

Here’s a snapshot of writers we have hosted

Bill Ayers
Lauren Beukes
Marie Buck
Jennifer Chang (photos)
Bridgett M. Davis
Tarfia Faizullah (photos)
Samuel G. Freedman (photos)
Roxane Gay
Percy Janes (photos)
A. Van Jordan (photos)
Sean Kilpatrick
Airea D. Matthews (photos)
Jamaal May (photos)
Raymond McDaniel (photos)
Monica McFawn
Chace “Mic Write” Morris (photos)
Matthew Olzmann (photos)
Deonte Osayande
The Rust Belt Rising crew (photos)
Jeremy Schmall
Cassandra Troyan

Our author events are uniquely developed to match the style and interests of the writer. So, for example, we might pair improv comedy or film with poetry, or a trivia game or live music with a nonfiction writer.

Where did you come from? And why?

Anna Clark, a Detroit writer, loves living in the city. But arriving here in 2007, after living in Boston and Ann Arbor, she missed being in cities with a palpable literary life. As many wonderful literary agitators and talented writers as there are in the city, there were a lot of gaps. Passionate readers don’t always have a way in. The public conversation about literature in Detroit simply is not comparable to where the dialogue about music and visual arts is.

Anna also interviewed Jeffrey Eugenides after his novel The Marriage Plot came out, and asked why — despite his well-funded national tour, his roots in Detroit, and the fact that he’d written about our area in The Virgin Suicides and the Pulitzer-winning Middlesex — he did not stop in Detroit after his new book’s release. Eugenides told her it was because there was no clear idea of who could host him. This echoed what Anna heard from her friends in publishing: without any destination that is obvious to those who are not from here — no major general-interest bookstore, no university creative writing program — publishers don’t know where to go, even when they do want to send authors to Detroit. Those events that do happen tend to be done on an ad hoc basis. But, largely, we are skipped over. The large and diverse community of readers here misses out.

The thing to do was to step up, and to create a group dedicated to facilitating an extraordinary series of literary events in the city that connect readers with writers. Anna put out an open call, and our group first met at Motor City Brewing Works on December 5, 2012. The ideas generated from group members have since gone far beyond a standard reading series. We are interested in nothing less than cultivating Detroit as a literary city, while engaging readers here with national and international readers, authors, thinkers, makers, and storytellers.

Are you a nonprofit?

Not in the legal sense. But we welcome your pass-the-hat donations — especially now, as we woErk to make the matching grant generously provided by the Knight Foundation as part of the Knight Arts Challenge program. very bit of it will support our work in building an extraordinary literary culture in Detroit, helping us materially create exciting and inclusive on-the-ground events that are of high quality.

Who designed your logo?

Jacob Corvidae.

Who took the photos I see on this site and your Facebook page?

They are each tagged individually, but most of the photos come from Owen Was Here, and some are by Anna Clark.

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