Fourth-annual Wellspring Literary Series kicks off tonight



Fleda Brown hosts her own radio show, but that’s not why she’s coming to Mount Pleasant tonight.

Brown will travel from Traverse City to kick off the fourth-annual Wellspring Literary Series at 7 p.m. at Art Reach, 111 E. Broadway St.

Associate Professor of English Language and Literature Robert Fanning said he expects a full house.

“Her work is engaging, philosophical and moving, without being flashy,” Fanning said. “Her poems are good models that there can be great profundity in language that is simple, direct and clear.”

Brown writes about anything around her, but it’s how she looks at life that makes her work profound, Fanning said.

“She could be writing a poem about walking through airport security in which the speaker removes her own flesh, and we begin to question what is identity,” Fanning said. “She could be writing a poem about canoeing on a river, which becomes a meditation on what poetry is.”

Brown will be accompanied by music professor Joanna White and CMU alum Joe Hertler will keep his tradition of opening the series.

“It has a statewide reputation,” Fanning said. “I am starting to get requests from poets around the state who want come and read here.”

The monthly series happens on Monday evenings and features prominent writers and poets from across the state. Each reading features a visiting writer, along with a reading by a student from the CMU creative writing department and a performance by a local singer/songwriter or performer from the CMU school of music.

“It makes for a great cultural experience,” Fanning said. “Her poems are direct and plain-spoken, but deeply moving. I found her work this summer online, and was extremely excited knowing she'd be another great poet to bring to Wellspring. When I invited her, she responded enthusiastically. “

In the past three years, the series has featured writers from Detroit, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Traverse City and East Lansing.

This year's series will feature visits by more of Michigan's premiere poets and writers, including Fleda Brown, Anne-Marie Oomen, Jamie Thomas, Glenn Shaheen and CMU student Courtney Kalmbach.

“Robert arranges the speakers and musicians, while Art Reach provides the space, marketing and financial support via a grant from the Russ Herron Poetry Fund of the Mount Pleasant Area Community Foundation,” said Kathy Hill, executive director of Art Reach.

Hill said she is especially pleased that the series has developed a loyal audience of community members and students alike.

“Each poet is unique, and most readings are gripping and personal,” Hill said.

All readings are free and open to the public and refreshments are provided by Max and Emily’s, 125 E. Broadway St.

“My hopes for this year are that the series continues to draw strong audiences and to inspire creativity,” Hill said.

Brown was the poet laureate of Delaware from 2007 to 2009 and taught for 27 years and directed the poets in the schools program at the University of Delaware.

She is the recipient of the Felix Pollak Prize, a Pushcart Prize, the Phillip Levine Prize, the Great Lakes Colleges New Writer’s Award and her work has been a finalist twice in the National Poetry Series.

“I expect another great year,” Fanning said. “This is the first time I don’t know any of the poets and hopefully it will draw more faculty and students who have never been here before.”

 


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