ESCANABA - This Friday, the Escanaba Public Library will host the U.P. Book Tour 2012. Authors will share their works, and there will be a book sale and signing after the event.
"We will probably open the doors around 7:30," said Carolyn Stacey, Escanaba Public Library director. The event will begin at 8 a.m. in the city council chambers.
"The whole entire book tour is about sharing and celebrating Michigan and the wonderful writers we have here," said author and project director Ron Riekki. "I've felt like it's been very important to showcase the talent of this area."
The book tour started three years ago.
"It went from two people, to the next year - 60 authors," said Riekki. This year's tour features 40 writers who write poetry, novels and plays.
This year, the tour has been supported by the work of the Peter White Library and a $15,000 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council. Riekki feels this grant is important because of the demographics of the Upper Peninsula. "There are 21 cities in the tour; 18 are in the top 25 poorest per capita income or highest in unemployment or both," he said.
"In some ways I like to think of it as bringing the biggest literary event they've ever had to some of those small cities, and that's no small thing," said Riekki.
The Escanaba branch of the tour will feature authors Beverly Matherne, Ron Riekki, Russell Thorburn, and Cameron Witbeck.
Beverly Matherne is an award winning author and poet who writes her poetry in both English and French. She has traveled the United States and Europe reading her poetry and has read on the NPR program, "The Poet and the Poem." Her most recent published collection of poetry is "Lamothe-Cadillac: Sa jeunesse en France / Lamothe-Cadillac: His Early Life in France" from publisher Les Editions Tintamarre.
Ron Riekki, has been with the tour since its inception. A novelist and playwright, Riekki's works often have the Upper Peninsula as a focus. His book "U.P." is currently being worked into a film. His most recent book, "She Took God: a memoir in 34 poems" was released in March by Gypsy Daughter Chapbooks.
Russell Thorburn is a poet and professor at Northern Michigan University. His most recent book of poetry is "MIsfit Hearts" which was published in April by Rocky Shore Books. His radio play, "Happy Birthday James Joyce" has been aired three times on WNMU F.M.
Cameron Witbeck is a graduate student at Northern Michigan University. His work has or will appear in literary publications including "Rosebud," "Cream City Review," "Controlled Burn," and "Strongverse."
Also featured will be a reading of Catie Rosemurgy's play, "The History of Fire in Our Beloved Community," by the Players de Noc. Rosemurgy is an Escanaba native who wrote the play specifically for the Players. She has also written two poetry collections, her latest being "The Stranger Manual" which was published in 2010 by Graywolf Press.
"This is like the premiere reading of Catie Rosemurgy's play," said Riekki.
Next year the tour is tentatively planned for one week in August. "It looks like we will have Steve Hamilton and Bonnie Jo Campbell traveling across the U.P. together," said Riekki. "They can both pack the house by themselves."