michigan writers

Joyce Harrington Bahle was Jim Harrison's assistant for over 35 years. Here she's pictured sitting in one of Jim's old chairs.
Dan Wanschura

Well-known Michigan author Jim Harrison passed away last March. If you remember reading about him after his death, a couple things might stick out. First, he wrote a lot – poetry, fiction and essays. And you probably remember hearing how much he loved to eat and drink. Jim Harrison was also a wilderness man. He didn’t like city-living but loved to be surrounded by nature.

An engrossing book, delicious food, and sparkling conversation. Put all that together in Detroit and you've got the Shady Ladies Literary Society.

Group founder and Detroit-based writer Amy Haimerl, author of Detroit Hustle, and Ashley Shelby, whose novel South Pole Station will be featured at the society's upcoming meeting, joined Stateside on Wednesday.

Julie Buntin is a featured author at this year's Harbor Springs Festival of the Book.
Nina Subin

“Marlena” is a novel about two teenage girls and their short but intense friendship.

Cat, the main character in the book has just moved to northern Michigan. She quickly latches on to her neighbor, Marlena, and acquires her habits and friend group.

Anan Ameri has made her mark here in Michigan.  She is the founder of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, an inductee into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, and she is the founder of the Palestine Aid Society of America.

Now, Ameri is making a new mark as an author. Her new memoir is titled, The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus and she joined Stateside to talk about her upbringing. 

Keith Taylor is a naturalist as well as a poet. Every summer, he spends several weeks at the University of Michigan’s Biological Station.

The poems in his newest collection contain a close, almost scientific, attention to detail. This is a collection that delves into the truth of beauty, evanescence and life through communion with the natural world.

He teaches young writers at the University of Michigan, and he practices what he teaches.

Throughout the years, Keith Taylor has published short stories, co-edited volumes of essays and fiction, and written powerful collections of poetry.

Taylor joined Stateside to talk about his newest book of poetry, The Bird-while

The Grand Traverse Commons were once home to the Traverse City State Hospital. A new memoir written by Jack Kerkhoff tells of his 45-day stay inside the hospital in 1952.
Dan Wanschura

Jack Kerkhoff grew up Traverse City. And he remembers walking past the state hospital as a kid.

“How many times I had scampered up that driveway with my gang, fearful yet curious. How many times we had wandered outside the bleak tower-topped buildings that had iron bars at the windows, and shouted at the men and women behind the bars and giggled over the obscenities they tossed back at us.”


Michigan has a rich history of wonderful writers. Among them are more than a few marquee names, but there are so many more whose works have been put on the shelf and are waiting to be rediscovered.

Jack Dempsey and his brother Dave Dempsey are doing their best to call attention to these unheralded Michigan writers with their latest book, Ink Trails II: Michigan's Famous and Forgotten Authors.

The book brings 16 writers' stories to the forefront to help readers rediscover them or discover them for the first time.

Poet and writer Keith Taylor joins us today to offer a quick list of recommendations for some good reading.