PREVIEW: C. Dale Young Reading & Booksigning

This week’s guest of the Zell Visiting Writers Series is C. Dale Young. Mr. Young is not only the author of numerous books and the recipient of numerous literary prizes and fellowships, but also a fully licensed physician.

I invite you to his web site to view a sample of his poetry, or here to read a sample of his prose.

Much of his work revolves around love and nature, and each poem of his that I have read is simple, yet pleasant and enriching.

Thursday, October 13th

5:30 PM in Helmut Stern Auditorium (basement of UMMA)


REVIEW: LHSP Pop-Up Luminary Parade

Students of Lloyd Hall Scholars Program’s art instructor, Mark Tucker, may theorize from past experience that rain often comes with luminary showcases. This year’s pop-up parade in Grand Rapids proved that theory wrong.

These students are LHSP student assistants and some Ypsilanti high schoolers who devoted the past month to creating luminary puppets: three-dimensional wire sculptures wrapped in papier-mâché with lights strung inside. The theme this year intersected space with sea – Emily Miu’s blowfish comet and Anna Minnebo’s full-body NASA/sea explorer costume were among whales and jellyfish, for examples.

Emily Miu's blowfish/comet luminary in lower right
Emily Miu’s blowfish comet luminary in lower right corner

On Saturday, October 8th, these students and some LHSP alumni (including yours truly) took a trip to Grand Rapids’ Art Prize to enjoy the public art and to create a pop-up parade of these luminaries at sunset around the city’s center. Last year’s debut parade day was rainy, which made for a very small audience and short-lived march. Last Saturday was graciously clear as the students prepared to carry their month’s worth of work around the busy downtown at night. The current LHSP student assistants carried their new puppets and others either carried older works brought along for the ride or drummed on metal and plastic buckets to draw more attention. Being a pop-up parade, nobody other than us from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti knew what this was. As hoped for, this only made for a more intrigued audience.

We marched around the city center as sunlight dissipated, across bridges with lit-up puppets, eccentric drum rhythms, and excited energy. Passersby on foot and in cars looked on in awe (and some confusion), shouting and honking their approval toward us. It went on for about an hour with high energy building and lasting throughout. It was a great opportunity to surprise an artful city with even more art from across the state, making its people smile and wonder what prompted it all.

The next time you’re in Alice Lloyd Residence Hall, take a look in the art studio to see what wild art they’re creating next. Maybe you’ll be the next member of a surprise audience.

Waiting for the sun to set; students getting ready to march
Waiting for the sun to set; students getting ready to march

REVIEW: Penny Stamps Speaker Series — Performance Animation

One of the many wonderful things about new technology is that it can lead to entirely new genres of art. Performance animation is one of those genres.

First, we were introduced to two blank screens. Then, a flash of light and color as animated landscapes splashed across the screens. A silhouette stepped into view, and we watched it interact with the buildings and plants and animals that appeared. At times the message was a clear narrative, while at others it was more of a series of dreams transposed on top of one another. If that makes the show sound trippy in any way, then good, because it absolutely was trippy.

Miwa Matreyek is a multi-talented artist currently on tour performing the two pieces that formed this week’s Penny Stamps event. “This World Made Itself” seemed to be more of a love story, although love was by no means the only theme. The juxtaposition of her gigantic form with a city skyline, and her interaction with a tiny animated figure, had strong allusions to King Kong.


Her second piece, “Myth + Infrastructure,” dealt with the biggest themes possible: the birth and death of the world, modernization, death, life, and the interaction of mankind with the natural world.



Time and again we watched Miwa swirl through bodies of water, capture and free flying insects, blend in and become one with the Earth.

Several times it was like a magic show. The audience and I reacted with awe when Miwa sprouted wings out of thin air and her arm melted away into a swarm of white petals. “How did she do that?!” the people next to me exclaimed as they recorded the performance for their Snapchat stories. I wondered the same thing as I too recorded a clip for my story.

Shows like this are rare opportunities, and I strongly encourage you to see the show in Ypsilanti on Friday, October 7 if you can.

You can get a small taste of the performance in this TED video here.

REVIEW: LHSP Literary Journal Release Party

“Dear Friends” as a collective work of art is astounding.  I’ve only been able to skim through a small portion of it so far, but after attending tonight’s launch party I can barely put it down.  It is so inspiring to me simply because it’s a visual representation of a completely diverse group of people coming together to create.  Paul Barron sums that up very well near the end of his introductory note: “Whatever our contributors study or work at, they have made a space in their lives to see closely, to experience deeply, and to show us the world through their eyes.”  That in itself is why “Dear Friends” is so powerful, and the launch party was no different.

Natalie Burr was the first reader, electing to share her piece of fiction called Making Room.  It told a story about how a living person can fade away, leaving their loved ones to grieve about how they used to be.  The imagery in Making Room was so vivid that at one point, the narrator was describing running her tongue around her teeth, and I noticed the person sitting to my right doing the same.

The second reader was Christina Khouri with her poem, Untitled.  It was a short poem about how hardships can make instability seem normal.

Following Khouri, Asritha Vinnakota first read a short story titled Bells Chime.  The story is told throughout the duration of a grandfather clock tolling twelve times.  The narration pauses every now and again to let the reader know that, for instance, the fifth bell is chiming.  She then read her poem called Bullet Freedom.  It seemed to reflect the artfulness of fragmented thoughts.

Next, Sharon Shen read her poem, A Toast.  It was a powerful piece comparing the human mind to a garden, likening intrusive thoughts to weeds overtaking daisies.  The narrator tells an inspiring tale of survival, realizing “how much power courses through these fragile bones.”

Haley Winkle, a Caldwell finalist, then read Don’t Tell Me, a poem criticizing getting drunk at frat parties.  One of the more striking stanzas was: “Don’t tell me how great it is / until he’s getting you to forget / how to spell your own last name”.

After that, Nikole Davtyan read her poem called Used Cars.  It told the story of a girl taught at a young age never to have sex.  Her mother, giving her “the talk,” compared girls who have sex to cars at the junkyard.  The ending of the poem implied the narrator’s resentment towards her mother.

The last reader was Rebecca Polinsky with a nonfiction piece entitled Stinky Feet.  It was a narrative discussing how a friend’s eating disorder impacted Polinsky’s life.  Although at times horrific, the essay ended with the narrator realizing she was losing her identity as a confident woman by allowing herself to be so negatively influenced.  Despite the overall theme of the piece, Polinsky’s conclusions were empowering in the sense that she rediscovered her confidence.

In the words of Megan Knittel, the Editor-in-Chief of “Dear Friends”, “…the core of LHSP philosophy [is] that creative expression can connect us and teach us about ourselves.  This year’s journal is about discovering ourselves through others.”  I am proud to have a poem included in this amazing collection, and to have been a part of LHSP last year.  “Dear Friends” is a magazine containing boundless ideas, limitless new perspectives, and incredible artwork.

“Dear Friends” cover by Katherine Qiao

PREVIEW: LHSP Literary Journal Release Party

As a former member of the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, tomorrow night’s launch party for the 2015-2016 literary journal is an exciting event.  LHSP is a living community that offers courses in the arts.  It’s also an amazing way to meet fellow artists or art enthusiasts.  The staff puts together a literary magazine featuring student artwork every year.

This year’s collection is called “Dear Friends” and is a culmination of the best artwork from LHSP alumni.  It features poetry, prose, and visual artwork.  The party begins on Wednesday at 7pm at the Vicky Barner Lounge in Alice Lloyd Hall.  Admission is free, and everyone is invited to stop by and listen to some poetry and prose while perusing select artworks.

LHSP "Dear Friends"

PREVIEW: Penny Stamps Speaker Series — Performance Animation


What: The Penny Stamps Speaker Series Presents Miwa Matreyek’s Dreaming With Your Shadow, a piece that blends animation with a live stage performance. If the image above doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

When: October 6th at 5:10 PM

Where: Michigan Theater

Price: FREE. This is one of the many wonderful opportunities you can and should take advantage of at U of M!