Poets with WMU ties explore Michigan through verse, discussion

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of a stack of books.

The reading will take place at the Kalamazoo Public Library.

KALAMAZOO—Six Michigan poets with ties to Western Michigan University will read from their work this month and participate in a panel discussion on how living in Michigan has influenced their work.

The event, titled "The Other Michigan: An Exploration, Through Verse, of the Various Degrees of Regional Identity," is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, in the Van Deusen Room of the Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St. It will feature readings and remarks by Dr. Andrea England, Dr. Hedy Habra, Dr. William Arnold "Arnie" Johnston, Dr. Richard Katrovas, Bruce Lack and Judith Rypma. Admission is free and refreshments will be provided.

Andrea England

England, whose poetry collection "Inventory of a Field" appeared recently from Finishing Line Press, holds a master's degree in creative writing from Arizona State University and a doctoral degree in English and creative writing from WMU, where she currently teaches English. She has been the recipient of a Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets Fellowship, an Academy of American Poets Prize and a Gwen Frostic Poetry Prize, among others. Her work has most recently has appeared in Rhino, Harpur Palate, Passages North, Cutthroat Magazine and The Atticus Review.

Hedy Habra

Habra is the author of a poetry collection, "Tea in Heliopolis;" a short story collection, "Flying Carpets," winner of the 2013 Arab American Book Award's Honorable Mention in Fiction; and a book of literary criticism, "Mundos alternos y artísticos en Vargas Llosa." She holds master's and master of fine arts degrees in English and master's and doctoral degrees in Spanish literature, all from WMU, where she currently teaches. Her multilingual work has appeared in more than 40 journals and 12 anthologies, including Blue Fifth Review, Connotation Press, Nimrod, The New York Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Diode, Cutthroat, The Bitter Oleander, Puerto del Sol, Cider Press Review, and Poet Lore.

Arnie Johnston

Johnston joined the WMU faculty in 1966 and officially retired in 2008 with the title of professor and chair emeritus of English, serving as department chair from 1997 to 2007. He was a 1990 recipient of the University's Distinguished Teaching Award. His books include two poetry collections—"What the Earth Taught Us" and "Sonnets: Signs and Portents"—and "The Witching Voice: A Novel from the Life of Robert Burns." His translations of Jacques Brel's songs have appeared in numerous musical revues nationwide and also are featured on his compact disc "Jacques Brel: I'm Here!" He had his wife, Deborah Ann Percy, have collaborated on more than 50 plays, many of which have won production, awards and publication across the United States.

Richard Katrovas

Katrovas, a WMU professor of English, has taught for 20 years, first at the University of New Orleans and, since 2002, at WMU. He is the author of 14 books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, most recently "Scorpio Rising: Selected Poems." His "Raising Girls in Bohemia: Meditations of an American Father," will be published this fall. His poems, stories and essays have appeared in many leading literary journals and anthologies, and he has received numerous grants and awards.

Bruce Lack

Lack, born and raised in Mid-Michigan, served honorably in the United States Marine Corps from 2003-07. He deployed twice, spending 21 months in Fallujah, Iraq. Returning to Michigan in 2007, he found a talent for relating his experiences in war to civilians. He graduated magna cum laude from WMU in 2011 and is currently a Cornwell Fellow in the University of Michigan's MFA Program in Poetry. His poetry won second place in the 2010 Winning Writers War Poetry Contest and has also appeared in the Rufous City Review. He lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Judith Rypma

Rypma, a WMU master faculty specialist in children's literature and creative writing, has taught for more than 20 years at WMU. After a career as a travel journalist, Rypma earned a master's degree in creative writing at WMU. Her poetry and short stories appear frequently in literary journals, and she has published five books of poetry, including "Looking for the Amber Room," "Sewing Lessons," the All Nations Chapbook Contest winner "Rapunzel's Hair" and "Holy Rocks and Mineral Treasures." She has frequently traveled to Russia and the former Soviet republics and is committed to continuing to foster relationships between the two countries through the Kalamazoo-Pushkin Partnership.

For more information, contact Michael Cockrell, director of Adult Programs at the Kalamazoo Public Library, at (269) 553-7841 or Richard Katrovas at (269) 267-5404.