Tag Archives: Michael Eric Dyson

Midwest Literary Walk 2018

8 May

This is my third year going to the Midwest Literary Walk and it was also the 10th Anniversary of the event. I was a bit confused at first because usually there are two authors at one or two of the three stops. This year, each stop had only one author. After going to the event, I think they spent more money per author to get such high-quality speakers. Usually, the authors have some connection to Michigan but this year, none of them did.

The first stop was Will Schwalbe. He was the only one I’d heard of prior to the Walk. My book club read his book, The End Of Your Life Book Club (and discussion) back in 2014 and he’d fallen off my radar since then. Schwalbe was an amazing speaker and he’s a huge crusader for reading. His new book, Books for Living, talks about the role books and reading have played in his life. I bought a copy and added it to my ever-growing shelf.

Will Schwalbe at the Midwest Literary Walk

Schwalbe talked about how books help people. In a world where we’re overconnected, books readjust us. It gives us a single sense of focus. When his mother was going through chemo, books gave them something to talk about that wasn’t her illness. Schwalbe talked about the art of reading; when you’re so engrossed in a world that you don’t even realize you’re turning pages and holding a book. He touted the excellent marriage of reading and napping, of falling asleep mid-book and spending extra time running around the book in your dreams.

The second stop was poet Ada Limón. Normally, I kind of daydream during the poet at these events. I’m not a big fan of poetry because I read too fast to enjoy it. However, Limón had me hooked. She spoke about her life and how it tied into her poetry and how she was able to explore how her emotions affected her work and how her writing changed her emotions. She was very eloquent. My favorite thing she said was that a different person writes the poems and reads the poems. People are always changing and you can’t expect the person who writes the words to be the same one who reads them. She talked about realizing what a poem was really about only when she read it in front of an audience. She reads them to herself when writing because she wants the poems to have the right sound, but she doesn’t read them aloud until they’re finished.

Limón talked a lot about female feelings. She said many writers mistakenly think that no one has felt the way they feel about something and how wrong that is because poetry draws from life. We’re all living and Limón was very open about her life and the things she’d experienced. I was happy to run into her as she was putting her mic away and shake her hand, telling her I’d enjoyed her presentation. Her latest book is Bright Dead Things and she has another coming out this year.

The final stop was another unknown to me, Michael Eric Dyson. He’s written a number of books about race in America and his latest book, Tears We Cannot Stop, has the subtitle ‘A sermon to white America.’ Sermon is an appropriate word! What an amazing speaker. I felt like I was hearing a preacher instead of a Sociology professor. I took very few notes because I was so wrapped up in Dyson’s speech. He had attended the previous two speakers and drew things they’d said in his sermon and used them to emphasize his points. He tailored what he had to say to the (largely white) audience and talked about how we need safe spaces to talk about what it means to be white and how we have to untangle that from what it means to be American. I’d go on, but I’d do a discredit to his message I’m sure.

Overall, it was a great walk. My friend Amy and I finished it up with some good BBQ. I think the only thing lacking for me was a fiction writer. I love hearing about the fiction writing process and that wasn’t there this year. I’m looking forward to going again next year, this event has always blown me away.

Until next time, write on.

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