Like Lit? Come to K …

Dean of Kalamazoo area poets Con Hilberry

Con Hilberry, dean of Kalamazoo area poets, during a recent reading and celebration of his latest collection of poetry in the College’s Olmsted Room. Photo by Ly Nguyen ’14.

… would be the advice of an article by Anna Clark titled “Kalamazoo quietly emerging as a literary hot spot” that appeared in the Detroit Free Press and Lansing State Journal. Of course, K stands for Kalamazoo (the city) but certainly includes Kalamazoo College. The article quotes Bonnie Jo Campbell (author of American Salvage and Once Upon a River, among others) extensively, and Campbell has taught creative writing at K, and she has served as the College’s 2012 Summer Common Reading author. Literary prizes abound for Kalamazoo-area-related authors (Campbell has been a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award; David Small is a National Book Award finalist for his graphic memoir Stitches (and a former faculty member in K’s art department); and Western Michigan University’s Jaimy Gordon is the 2010 National Book Award Winner (Lord of Misrule). Kalamazoo College connections abound, as well. Campbell was a frequent member of  a Monday night poetry class taught by Professor Emeritus of English and poet Con Hilberry (11 books, including, most recently, the highly acclaimed Until the Full Moon Has its Say). Campbell’s poems have appeared in Encore Magazine. Other former students of Con include published poets (and Kalamazoo residents and alumnae) Susan (Blackwell) Ramsey ’72 (A Mind Like This) and Gail (McMurray) Martin ’74 (Begin Empty Handed and The Hourglass Heart). Kalamazoo College Writer in Residence (and Kalamazoo resident and alumna) Diane Seuss ’78 will soon publish Four Legged Girl, which follows her two previous volumes of poetry (It Blows You Hollow and Wolf Lake White Gown Blown Open). Fiction writer and Professor of English Andy Mozina has published The Women Were Leaving the Men, and his new collection of short stories, Quality Snacks, is forthcoming. Professor of English Bruce Mills is currently on sabbatical promoting his new memoir An Archeology of Yearning. Mozina and Mills both reside in Kalamazoo. Professor Emeritus of English Gail Griffin (another Kalamazoo resident) is using her retirement to work on her next work. She is the author of the breathtaking “The Events of October”: Murder-Suicide on a Small Campus. Gail is also a published poet, and she has written a number of essay collections, including Calling: Essays on Teaching in the Mother Tongue and Season of the Witch: Border Lines, Marginal Notes. Yes, Kalamazoo College is the right place for literature. There may be no other place where it’s likely to go better.