Writers of Ypsilanti

  • 2019 Writers of Ypsilanti

    We're featuring 10 local writers in our fist ever Writers of Ypsilanti Series. If you know a local writer who deserved to be featured, nominate them at [email protected]

    10 images of the Writers of Ypsilanti arranged in a collage style.

  •  Rodolfo Alvarado
    Rodolfo smiles into the camera with a greenery background.
     Rodolfo Alvarado
    Rodolfo smiles into the camera with a greenery background.

     Rodolfo Alvarado

    Rodolfo Alvarado lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with his wife, children, and adopted cat, Stuffy. He holds a Fine Arts Ph.D. and MFA in Playwriting from Texas Tech University, and an MA in History from Eastern Michigan University. View Rodolfo's feature poster [PDF].

    What do you write?

    “I write fiction and nonfiction stories for all ages that touch me deeply and then do my best to write those stories in a way that touches others deeply as well.”

    Why do you write?

    “First, because a story comes to me, and it will not leave me until I write it down. Secondly, because it brings value to my life; [it] makes me feel like I am still making my mother proud. Finally, because I want people to see each other as one human family. If we considered ourselves as one, maybe we’d be living among the stars, not fighting to save the world on which we live.”

    What is the most memorable thing you have written?

    “There have been many, but I guess the most memorable to me is the biography I wrote about Joe Hernandez. If you’ve ever heard about the racehorse Seabiscuit and watched a video of the horse racing, Joe’s is the voice you hear describing the race. It took six years to write that book. I got to meet Joe’s son, Father Frank Hernandez, a Jesuit priest, as well as a plethora of horse racing personalities. The book ended up winning the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award.”

  •  Jessica French
    Jessica French sits outside at a table. She is smiling at the camera.
     Jessica French
    Jessica French sits outside at a table. She is smiling at the camera.

     Jessica French

    Jessica French is a co-owner of The Sidetrack Bar & Grill, a staple of Depot Town in Ypsilanti. View Jessica's feature poster [PDF].

    What do you write?

    “Currently, I write a lot of technical [communications] for my job. I get to write missives to my friends who live across the country, and those tend to get more creative. I also write a newsletter for Sidetrack, and I have a partner who helps with that. We’ve been doing it for about a decade. At this point, it goes out to 17,000 people a month. It’s a daunting ‘send.’”

    Why do you write?

    “I’m definitely a better writer than I am a communicator through speech. I think writing gives you a chance to be really purposeful in the words you use and the ways in which you’re structuring what you want to say. Writing is a way for me to make sense of my thoughts in a way people can understand. It’s a therapeutic task. I also write because words are absolutely awesome. There’s not much more interesting than the English language.”

    What is the most memorable thing you have written?

    “When I was a senior in high school, I wrote a slam poem that qualified me for the National Youth Slam Poetry team. I think that was a more memorable moment because it became public. My wedding vows would be an equally important and memorable experience. I don’t think I’ve ever struggled with something in the way I struggled to write my vows. It wasn’t about being concise or proving my point or persuading the reader. It was solely about communicating the way I felt about someone.”

  • Janet Goldwasser
    Janet smiles at the camera in front of a bookshelf full of books and she holds up a book.
     Janet Goldwasser
    Janet smiles at the camera in front of a bookshelf full of books and she holds up a book.

     Janet Goldwasser

    Janet Goldwasser is a published author and 826michigan volunteer. View Janet's feature poster [PDF]

    Why do you write?

    “I originally volunteered with 826michigan thinking I would help with math, but I discovered I can help with writing as well (I come from a family of English teachers)! The creativity comes from the students, but helping them organize their thoughts [and having] gentle conversations about conventions after they get their thoughts out is something I can help with. It’s so hard to teach a group, so working one-on-one with students fills a real gap. I’ve tutored about four years, and one thing I like about working with students on their writing [is] I don’t know what’s going to happen. It keeps me on my toes!”

    What is the most memorable thing you have written?

    “My husband and I wrote a book together about going to China in 1972. The book, Huan-Ying: Workers’ China, [was] published in 1975. We wrote it to combat misinformation. China had a different way of setting priorities in terms of healthcare and working conditions, so we intended to get information [to] readers who weren’t able to visit themselves. It took over two years to write and a lot of editing.”

  • Marc Holland

    Marc smiles at a camera. He is against a bright blue wall.
     Marc Holland
    Marc smiles at a camera. He is against a bright blue wall.

     Marc Holland

    Marc Holland is a comedy playwright and alumnus of EMU. At age 19, he had his first play performed in Roosevelt Hall. While he listened to the play backstage, he realized he had found his calling. View Marc's feature poster [PDF].

    What do you write?

    “Comedy is my vocation. I believe it is a noble calling. When an audience is able to laugh at human foibles on a stage, it makes us realize we are not all that different.”

    Why do you write?

    “It is imperative. I write when I am happy; I write when I am in pain. I write for pleasure, and I write for profit. If you took away every single thing I could record my thoughts with, I would memorize new stories. It is the way I am wired, and I am grateful.”

    What is the most memorable thing you have written?

    “The second time I was produced, it was on the EMU campus. On opening night, standing backstage, listening to other people speak my words, I realized I wanted to be a playwright more than anything else. On closing night, the woman who would become my wife was in the audience. Every good thing that has happened in my adult life is a result of writing.”

  • Carson and Cleveland Jordan-Shields 
    Carson and Cleveland smile at the camera. Carson is sitting and Cleveland stands behind him.
     Carson and Cleveland Jordan-Shields
    Carson and Cleveland smile at the camera. Carson is sitting and Cleveland stands behind him.

     Carson and Cleveland Jordan-Shields

    Carson and Cleveland, eight-year old twins, are already published authors! They have co-authored two books: Breakfast with Grandma and The Missing Ice Cream. View their feature poster [PDF].

    What do you write?

    The twins have published one picture book, written two more, and have plenty of ideas for future books.

    Why do you write?

    “It’s fun and people want to see what we can do!” They say their audience has shown an interest in their lives, and that they would like to write more stories so readers can learn about them.

    What is the most memorable thing you have written?

    Breakfast with Grandma and The Missing Ice Cream

  • Linette Lao
    Linette smiles in front of a greenery background.
     Linette Lao
    Linette smiles in front of a greenery background.

     Linette Lao

    Linette Lao is a graphic designer and lecturer in creative writing at EMU. She co-created a zine called “Crimewave,” and made the zines “Slippery Shanty,” and “Bag of Walleye.” View Linette's feature poster [PDF].

    What do you write?

    “I write poems and I create zines. And sometimes I do a little bit of writing for work. I am a graphic designer, and I think a lot about visual and written language and the space in between. I really love that I write in a bunch of different directions.”

    Why do you write?

    “I write because I love the idea of language as an invention. It’s such an amazing pleasure spending time with language and talking about ideas. Language isn’t contained to a page; it’s a really tactile and visceral thing. When I think about writing, I don’t think only about words. I think about images, sounds, absences–all of that is how we read through our bodies.”

    What is the most memorable thing you have written?

    “One thing that was so satisfying to me was a little comic I made. I did one after my first baby, and then I did one after my second child was born. [Having a baby] was an experience that words fell short of. I was creating impressionistic images, not just pictures of things, and I was able to communicate something that was complicated and bodily and really important. I loved making that comic because it engaged everything that I love about considering language and images.” 

  • Aaron and Tia Logwood
    Aaron and Tia smile at the camera and stand in front of a bookshelf full of books.
     Aaron and Tia Logwood
    Aaron and Tia smile at the camera and stand in front of a bookshelf full of books.

     Aaron and Tia Logwood

    Aaron, 10 years old, and Tia, 8 years old, are students at Ypsilanti International Elementary School. View their feature poster [PDF].

    Why do you write?

     Tia: “I write because I need to have a good future, [and] if you practice a lot you’ll get better at writing.”

    Aaron: “The reason why I write is to express myself, and I want to inform people and show them what I can do. The way I think about my writing is, I know I’m good at art so I combined that with storytelling (it’s in my blood). I want to touch millions of people and get them interested in art and writing.”

     What is the most memorable thing you have written?

    Tia: “I wrote a cover for an animal book called Zookeeper with my friend. It was special because me and my friend made it together and then she moved. It’s about animals that are mixed up together like a wolf and panda (pandawolfin).”

    Aaron: “I like telling stories in my artwork. I painted a creepy creature with different parts [that]was made of three different beings. Carl (who bullies people) and Katie (who is very loving) and a nice, loving, smart character. They never understand the value of each other. If they came together, they could be a really beautiful creature. Later, I really wanted to write about a different character’s life, but I got feedback about including too much about his sad story. So I came up with this line…‘And now the good stuff…’ and that helped me get to the other parts of his life.” 

  • Precious Ward
     
    Precious Ward smiles at the camera. She holds a book up.
     Precious Ward
    Precious Ward smiles at the camera. She holds a book up.

     Precious Ward

    Precious Ward, 8 years old, is a student at Erikson Elementary. View Precious's feature poster [PDF].

    Why do you write?

    “I write because I like writing stories. I like writing because I like sharing my stories out loud. It’s fun! I like to share them with my parents and my friends. I like funny stories and scary stories. I like writing endings of stories that make people happy. I like writing with my friends because I tell them scary stories–they get really scared and they laugh.”

    What is the most memorable thing you have written?

    “When I was writing my story of the three pigs and was reading it out loud for the first time, I was a little bit scared, but I was also happy because I read out loud the first time. People liked my story. Other kids, my friends, and my family who live far away would like to hear my story too. When I wrote the story, I was thinking about what if the wolf was super nice but the pigs were mean. I think it teaches people that you have to be nice and treat them how you want to be treated.”

  • Whittaker Road Works
     
    The six members of Whittaker Road works standing adn sitting, holding up copies of a book. They are all smiling.
     Whittaker Road Works
    The six members of Whittaker Road works standing adn sitting, holding up copies of a book. They are all smiling.

     Whittaker Road Works

    Whittaker Road Works meets at YDL-Whittaker to read and workshop their writing. They have published two anthologies and plan to soon publish a third. The members are Ann-Yvonne Anglin, Charlotte Backey, Laura Champion, Linda Dominik, Bethany Freeland, Susan Middlesworth, Heather Neff, Janet Nord, and Perry Seibert. View Whittaker Road Work's feature poster [PDF].

    What do you write?

    Many of the members of Whittaker Road Works write short fiction stories. In addition to fiction, members of the group also write memoirs, letters, fictionalized autobiographical work, poetry, and movie critiques.

    Why do you write?

    Ann-Yvonne Anglin: “I think for most people who are writers, we have a story to tell. Whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent, it’s in you and you put it on paper and you’ve just got to tell it to someone. You hope there’s someone you can tell it to, and Whittaker Road Works provides that outlet for us.”

    What is the most memorable thing you have written?

    Perry Seibert: “It feels like you’re making me choose my favorite child! I would say, ‘Dinner Date,’ a story in our second compilation. When I wrote it, I didn’t plan on writing it. I thought it was good and brought it here and was relieved to find that yes, it was! It’s a story that I don’t know where it came from. It just happened.”

    Heather Neff: “My answer is simple: Everything I write is always my favorite. I’m always deeply, madly, and completely in love with the characters, and then I move on. Fall out of love and keep going. When you’re in the middle of it, you’re in the middle of it.”

  • Lara Zielin
    Lara Zeilen
     Lara Zielin
    Lara Zeilen

     Lara Zielin

    Lara Zielin is a published author, editor, and founder of Author Your Life, a website by the same name as her novel. View Lara's feature poster [PDF].

    What do you write?

    “All the things! I’m a published young-adult and romance author, and I recently tried my hand at nonfiction. I have a draft of an historical fiction manuscript collecting dust under my bed, and I’d love to revisit that genre. I also do copywriting and communications for my day jobs, so I feel like my pencil is always moving. That’s part of the fun though. I love trying out new things and seeing where the words take me.”

    Why do you write?

    “What we write has power. Putting pen to paper is a transformative exercise. It’s so commonplace that I think we don’t really realize what an impact it has. But writing can fundamentally and tangibly change things.”

    What is the most memorable thing you have written?

    “At the start of 2018, I began an experiment to test whether writing about the life I wanted to have could actually help it come to pass. I began a book I unimaginatively titled Lara’s Life. Every day I wrote about myself like a character in the third person, and I wrote about the things I wanted to have happen to this person. After a year of doing this, my life was markedly different.”

 

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