Books

Students of children’s literature creating books of their own

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The spirit of Dr. Seuss and other masters of the picture book was alive in the Bowling Green State University’s Technology and Resource Center in the Education Building. The students in the Literature for Young Children course taught by Elizabeth Zemanski and Amanda Rzicznek were busy writing, cutting, and drawing as they created their own picture books. They draw inspiration from the needs of the children they’ll be teaching, from their own favorite books, and from a talk given by published children’s author Lindsay Ward. The goal is to give them insight into the way picture books come to be. Their work will be exhibited for all to see at the Picture Book Showcase Thursday, Nov. 29 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Pallister Room of the Jerome Library. Samantha Aukerman, an early childhood major, was a little nervous about the prospect of having her work on display. Still the project was fun, she said. Her book is about a shy cactus’ efforts to find a friend. Because of the cactus’ limited mobility, that’s difficult, until he meets a hedgehog. All this stems from the landscape of Aukerman’s life. She has cacti in her room, and her roommate collects stuffed hedgehogs. That was one of the lessons students took away from a talk in October from  Ward. She spoke about all the odd places she found inspiration for her books. Her series on the neurotic dinosaur named Dexter came from her husband’s discovery of a toy dinosaur abandoned in a doctor’s office. In her talk Ward quipped that speaking to the college students was a rare treat. She usually didn’t speak to audiences who were her size and who could read their own books. Aukerman is also drawing Ward’s attention to material. Ward, who works in cut paper, talked about collecting various types paper. For “Please Bring Balloons” she used vintage paper that had discolored around the edges because of oxidation  to create the landscape of New York City. Aukerman is using sponged paints for her minor characters and the landscape, but is using cut paper for the cactus, Calvin, and his hedgehog friend. The art is in service of her message, Aukerman said. “What people say about you really changes how you think about yourself,” she said. That sense of self-image is not talked about, she said. And it should be.  Rebecca Armstrong, also…

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BGSU Arts Events through Sept. 29

Sept. 5-29 – BGSU is part of the collaborative “ScupltureX – Igniting Change: Teaching Artists and Social Practice” with the University of Toledo, Owens Community College, Toledo Museum of Art, and Contemporary Art Toledo. The BGSU exhibition, sponsored by David and Myrna Bryan and curated by Saul Ostrow, features the work of regional sculpture faculty. BGSU also will host a series of presentations, including talks by Ostrow and Mel Chin, on campus Sept. 29.  Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Sept. 5 – The Faculty Artist Series presents Charles Saenz on trumpet. As a professor and coordinator of the College of Musical Arts’ brass area, Saenz has performed with numerous ensembles, released a solo recording, “Eloquentia,” in 2015 and is a member of the Tower Brass Quintet. His recital starts at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. The performance will also be livestreamed at https://www.youtube.com/user/bgsumusic/live. Free Sept. 6 – The Prout Chapel Reading Series, hosted by the BGSU Creative Writing program, presents poet Tony Lograsso, a teaching associate in the Department of English, and fiction writer Anne Carney. The readings will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Sept. 11 – Tuesdays at the Gish presents “The Glass Castle” (2017, U.S., 127 minutes, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton), with an introduction by Mariia Spirina (cq), doctoral student in American culture studies. The film follows Jeannette (Brie Larson) and her wildly eccentric parents (Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts). Based on journalist Jeannette Wall’s bestselling memoir, the film intertwines events from her unpredictable nomadic childhood with scenes of Wall as a young writer who comes to terms with her parents. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. in 206 Bowen-Thompson Student Union (Theater). Free Sept. 11 – The Guest Artist Series presents pianist Heather Lanners. Lanners, a Canadian pianist, has performed extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe as an active soloist and chamber musician. Her recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Sept. 12 – The Faculty Artist Series presents horn soloist Andrew Pelletier. Pelletier is a brass/percussion professor, a Grammy Award-winning chamber musician and president of the International Horn Society. His recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Sept. 12 – “So Much More: Ohio’s African-American…


Prize-winning writers to visit Gathering Volumes

From GATHERING VOLUMES Three Award-Winning Authors will be visiting Gathering Volumes in Perrysburg on Friday, September 21 at 6 p.m. Brad Felver is a fiction writer, essayist, and teacher of writing. His honors include the O. Henry Award, a Pushcart Prize special mention, and the Zone 3 Fiction Prize. Currently he serves as Lecturer and Associate Chair of the English Department at Bowling Green State University. Felver’s short story collection, The Dogs of Detroit, which releases on Tuesday, September 4, was recently in the news for winning the 2018 Drue Heinz Literature Prize for short fiction. Each of the collection’s 14 stories focuses on grief and its many permutations. “This grief alternately devolves into violence, silence, solitude, and utter isolation. In some cases, grief drives the stories as a strong, reactionary force, and yet in other stories, that grief evolves quietly over long stretches of time,” Mr. Felver said in a statement. Michael A. Ferro has been awarded an Honorable Mention by Glimmer Train for their New Writers Award, received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award for Fiction, and been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Michael graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Michigan State University. In addition to his fiction and humor publications, Michael is also a Sportswriter and a Features Writer for CBS Detroit. Ferro will be visiting with his debut novel, Title 13. A darkly comic, cautionary tale of mental illness and unconventional love, Title 13 deftly blends satirical comedy aimed at the hot-button issues of modern society with the gut-wrenching reality of an intensely personal descent into addiction. When asked what compels him to write, Mr. Ferro said, “I think what compels me to write stories is the simple act of getting them out of my head. In an effort to become better people, we’re always trying to make sense of our past or some trauma that we suffered through, and for many, we use art and creativity to do this. Musicians create songs, painters paint paintings, and writers write stories.” Lillian Li is the recipient of a Hopwood Award in Short Fiction, as well as Glimmer Train’s New Writer Award. Her debut novel, Number One Chinese Restaurant, was named a Summer Must-Read by TIME, Buzzfeed, The Wall Street Journal, Star Tribune, Fast Company, The Village Voice, Toronto Star, Fortune Magazine, InStyle, and O, The Oprah Magazine. When asked why she wrote a book set in…


Wendell Mayo explores ‘the mind of doom’ in new story collection

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Fiction writer Wendell Mayo is a child of the Cold War. He grew up on intimate terms with the power of the atom. His father was a nuclear scientist who worked not far from home at the NASA Center in Cleveland. He worked on space applications and nuclear power, which he saw as a boon for the world, his son said. But the atom’s apocalyptic threat cast a long shadow. Mayo has dealt with the ramifications in  short stories inspired by horror movies and others by his stay in Lithuania after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now in his fifth collection of stories “Survival House” (Stephen Austin University Press)  he brings those concerns home. “I wasn’t interested in writing about the Cold War per se so much as writing about the kind of the lingering psychological effect it has on my characters,” Mayo, 65, said. “I was a Cold War kid. More than ever I’ve started to feel the same awful feelings again. So I decided to start writing about it.” Some of the stories take place in the 1960s in Cleveland, where Mayo grew up. Others take place in contemporary  in Northwest Ohio where Mayo now lives. Some explicitly make reference to the Cold War. In “Commie Christmas,” a boy tries to convince his brother that Santa is a Communist. The opening story “Doom Town” imagines a festival in Luckey that celebrates the possibility of nuclear holocaust. It concludes with barbecuing a pig, the same breed as those used to study the impact of an atomic blast on human flesh. Mayo also imagines in “The Trans-Siberian Railroad Comes to Whitehouse,” a restaurant that has a Soviet-era theme with a toy train that delivers the food.  In both those stories, Mayo grounds the tales, as fanciful as they are, in local communities. The idea, he said, comes from the news reporting practice of writing articles on local people who have connections, often very tenuous, to global events. Other stories have less direct connection. Mayo is fascinated by the concept of “the mind of doom” where someone believes that “by making one little misstep it can cause a chain of events that’s cataclysmic.” That’s true of the character in “Cherry Pie,” which Mayo said is his favorite story in the collection. In the story, the main character, an older male, offers two poor kids in…


Teresa Milbrodt finds inspiration for works of fiction in other folks’ jobs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Teresa Milbrodt has never been a fire eater… or a circus clown for that matter. One look at her slender frame and it’s clear she’s not an aspiring sumo wrestler. She’s never trained Siberian cats as a sled team, or even sold shoes. Teresa Milbrodt is a writer. As a writer she gets to inhabit characters who do those jobs, at least for the length of time it takes to craft one her tight, wry, quirky short stories. Work and relationships, with people and pets, are the focus of her book, “Work Opportunities” (Portage Press). The Bowling Green native will read for the collection of short stories Friday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. This is the latest book by self-described “fictioneer.” As with her other work, the stories are at once grounded in everyday life – the job and love struggles of her characters ring true – yet they unfold in an atmosphere of fantasy. It’s as if the people sitting around her while she’s being interviewed in Grounds for Thought were plopped into a fairy tale. Except these tales serve up a moral at the end. The happily-ever-after is elusive. Nor do they snap shut like a traditional short story. Contemporary readers, Milbrodt said, distrust endings that come “tied up with a bow.” They seem false. “We don’t think it reflects life.” Instead she brings her characters to the brink, when they decide to finally take action. What’s beyond the story’s final period is a precipice. Even Milbrodt may not know what lies ahead. We don’t know what will happen if the young would-be female sumo wrestler steps in the dohyo, the wrestling ring, the violating ancient tradition. Or when a teen character’s father returns to find Aaron Burr’s foot is gone. Or whether those Siberian cats will ever get to show their abilities pulling a sled. The stories, Milbrodt said, were written over the past decade. A few years ago, Milbrodt said, “I realized all the stories had something to do with work and a lot of them with economics and with people who were somehow making ends meet.” She likes her short story collections to have a central core. In “Work Opportunities” it is how a job or occupation can become a passion and shape a person’s life. None of these…


Library trustees updated on fundraiser, gas line & carpet

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The board meeting room in the Wood County District Public Library “looks like a department store exploded in there,” Library Director Michael Penrod told trustees Monday. By the end of the week, though, all should be returning to normal, after the Library Foundation’s fundraiser at Schedel Gardens. Penrod reported that the 100 tickets, which are $100 each, sold out as of Sunday. That’s the first time in the event’s 10-year history that it sold out so soon. The Foundation board, he said, has opted not to create a waiting list. The foundation set a goal of $75,000 for the fundraiser though it has raised more than that the last few years. Money raised goes to purchased books in all formats for the library. Penrod said last month that the money supplements the library’s book budget and does not replace money from the state or from the local levy. That was not the only bit of good financial news. Linda Joseph, the library’s finance officer, reported the library received a $5,000 rebate from the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. That money will be listed as “other income” in the library’s budget. Penrod reported that he is adamant that Columbia Gas line work now underway downtown will not disrupt the community Christmas tree that was just planted last year. The library will have a new gas line and meter installed, and it will enter at the southeast corner of the building. There are three burning bushes that were planted in 1974 when the library was built near the spot the line will run through. It’s possible one may have to be taken out, Penrod said, but Columbia Gas is committed to replacing an landscaping it disrupts. Also, Penrod reported that the replacement of the carpeting on the steps has been delayed because the interior designer he is working with is on medical leave. Work selecting carpeting continues. He said the stairway carpeting will be selected with the intent of replacing the carpeting in the circulation area as well as the back hallway. He said the library will also replace the walk-off flooring in the entryways. This is made of tougher stuff – like Brillo pads, Penrod said – but new designs will allow it to be more carpet-like. This area should be about 20-feet long to catch dirt, sand, and salt so most of it doesn’t…


Cousins team up to tell story of family life in the inner city

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Usually book signings don’t include blood pressure tests. Antrone “Juice” Williams, though, always includes the health screening at events he’s involved in. Since he almost died from a stroke while working out back in 2012 he’s been an advocate for stroke awareness. That was the focus of the first book he wrote with his cousin Damien Womack. “A Walking Testimony Stroke Survivor: My Second Chance” was about his recovery, an ongoing process, from his near-death experience. It was meant to be an inspiration and encouragement for others facing this situation, and a warning about the necessity of monitoring blood pressure and other health indicators. The former semi-professional and college basketball player has devoted his life to raising awareness of the dangers of strokes and helping youth. Now Williams and Womack have written a second book “The P.I.L.L.A.R.S.” Originally, Womack said, this was supposed to be part of the first book, the story of how Williams arrived at the gym in Augusta, Maine, where he was felled by a stroke. But the publisher decided, Womack said, it was better to keep the book focused on the inspirational story. “The P.I.L.L.A.R.S.” – that stands for The People I Love, Last and Remain Sacred” – reflects on the families that raised the cousins. While it’s told with love, “it’s more in your face,” Womack said. “It means you’re going to run the gamut of emotions.” The book takes the reader to the inner city streets of Chicago, where Williams grew up, and Detroit, where Womack grew until moving to rural Ohio to be with his father. Each had their strengths. Williams thrived on the neighborhood basketball courts playing street ball. Womack did his best in the classroom. Neither had an easy childhood, coming from working poor families in tough neighborhoods with gangs always off in the wings. Their families were loving, but many of them tried to salve the pains of life with alcohol leading to arguments and break-ups. And, Williams said, there was the shadow of chronic illness that no one wanted to talk about. Williams suffered from a sense of abandonment when his father left his mother, who then had to work long hours to support him. That left him in the care of his grandmother, and feeling his mother had abandoned him as well. Womack’s father had to follow his job to Cambridge, Ohio,…