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February 19, 2009 - Image 9

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-19

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weekend
essentials
Feb. 19 to Feb. 22

S
D
- Z
m
r c s4 k G7
q
Y {' 3 F 5'3.; '. l j F h S .
scene

TV
This Friday an era ends
on NBC at 12:35 a.m.
(OK, so it's actually Sat-
urday). Conan O'Brien
does his last "Late Night"
before his big move to
L.A. to take Jay Leno's
place as host of the
"Tonight Show." Loved
for his semi-erotic dance
moves and Irish pale-
ness, it's possible Conan
will have to tone down
his antics for an older
crowd once he moves
to an earlier time slot
- so catch him at his
best while you still can.
FILM
Admit it: You've never
heard of some of this
year's Oscar nominees.
So before the golden guy
gets handed out on Sun-
day night, visit your local
video store and have
yourself an award-movie
marathon. Start with the
poignant immigration
drama "Frozen River" (up
for Actress and Original
Screenplay), move on
to "The Visitor" (Actor)
and finish with the one-
two documentary punch
of "Man on Wire" and
"Encounters at the End of
the World." Then spend
the ceremony complain-
ing about how "The Dark
Knight" was robbed.
CONCERT
This Saturday at the
Blind Pig, defibrillate your
spring break with all the
unrefined pleasures of
the Von Bondies and their
raucous brand of ripped-
jeans garage rock. One of
the bigger acts to come
out of Detroit this side of
The White Stripes, the
Bondies have plenty of
fresh setlist fodder with
the recently released
Love Hate And Then
There's You. Opening for
them will be like-minded
trio Nico Vega and local
indie-pop outfit Light-
ning Love. Tickets are
$10 ($5 in advance) and
doors are at 9:30 p.m.

Ann Arbor's
vibrant literary
scene helps
aspiring authors
find both an
outlet for their
creative talents
and a willing
audience
BY MAUREEN SULLIVAN
Daily Arts Writer

n the freezingtemperatures ofa
January evening, about 50 Ann
Arborites crowded in a small
nook in State Street's Shaman
Drum to listen to Michael Shil-
ling read the first chapter of his novel.
His book, titled "Rock Bottom," is a sharp
and biting mock-autobiography about
a touring rock band. Sipping a bottle of
beer as he read and performed the voices
of his grungy jaded rocker protagonist,
Shilling - a recent Master of Fine Arts
graduate and now Sweetland lecturer -
performed with the gusto of a seasoned
frontman.
Events like this are not uncommon in
Ann Arbor. While the city is known for
sports venues like Michigan Stadium and
music venues like Hill Auditorium, there
is still another very overlooked culture
that pervades the town - a writing cul-
ture.
The literary scene that exists in Ann
Arbor is vibrant. More than just a scene,
individual writers living and working
in Ann Arbor have formed a commu-
nity. While the modern concept of social
networking conjures the image of Face-
book's home page, concerts, plays and
book readings exist as a form of social
networking where people can physically
come together over common interests.
These communities encourage individu-
als to collaborate and share their art and
their ideas.
"By definition, community is a collec-

tive," said English Prof. Nicholas Del-
banco, director of the Hopwood Awards.
"It's true in this community of individu-
als. Readings, workshops and bookstores
like Shaman Drum are places where peo-
ple congregate. However, community is
a multi-pronged instrument that doesn't
exist in only one place."
Fueled by the abundance of talent
attracted to the university's writing pro-
gram, Ann Arbor is a haven for writers.
As a result, they have formed a network
that is visible and accessible. This net-
work is made up of writers and readers,
students and professors. From social
chatter at Hopwood tea gatherings on
Thursday afternoons in Angell Hall to
experimental readings at Crazy Wisdom
Bookstore and Tea Room on Main Street,
it's evident that this community is thriv-
ing.
Delbanco compared teaching at the
University of Michigan to his experience
working as a professor in New York City
at Columbia University. He stressed the
role that physical distance plays in com-
munity - rather than commuting via
public transit in New York City, writers
in Ann Arbor live within close proxim-
ity of the campus. This factors into the
fact that writers in Ann Arbor simply see
each other more often.
Book readings in particular are one
way that new and seasoned writers con-
nect not only with one another but also
with their audience. While reading and

writing are often individual practices,
these events spur thoughts about them
being living physical processes and invite
the students and Ann Arbor citizens to
be a part of an active community.
The Zell Visiting Writers Series, spon-
sored by the University's EnglishDepart-
ment and the Office of the Provost,
brings writers from the national literary
scene to the small stage at campus ven-
ues including Rackham Amphitheatre
and the Residential College Auditorium.
This pastyearbrought celebrated writers
including British poet Simon Armitage,
short-story writer Deborah Eisenberg
and short-story writer Amy Hempel.
. The readings are plentiful and ongo-
ing: Today Israeli poet Hamutal Bar
Yosef will read at the Thayer Building.
This past week two writers were sched-
uled to read at 'Shaman Drum. This
past Tuesday, Josie Kearns read from
a recently published volume of poetry
titled "The Theory of Everything." Four
separate book readings are scheduled at
the independent shop for the first week
of March alone. These events are ever-
present and provide an opportunity for
readers and listeners to experience writ-
ing in another dimension through oral
storytelling.
Outside the world of published writ-
ing, the University's MFA program
sponsors three separate series: the
Zell Visiting Writers Series, the Mark
See BOOKS, Page 4B
For me, the
invitation to
come and teach
at Ann Arbor had
less to do with
the dosh than
it did with the
community of
writers there ...
- THOMAS LYNCH
AUTHOR AND
GUEST LECTURER

READING
This Thursday, Jewish
poet Hamutal Bar-Yosef
will enact what may
be the most exotic and
artistically full poetry
reading of the year. Yosef
is the award-winning
poet of nine collections
and several academic
books and one of the
most visible and cel-
ebrated Israeli poets of-
our age. The reading will
be held at 202 S. Thayer,
across from the MLB,
at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

ANNA BAKEMAN/Da

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