You could spend a lifetime exploring Michigan and never come close to discovering the wealth of beauty among the 36 million acres of land that make up the state. And you could spend a lifetime exploring the work of authors associated with Michigan and never consume their riches, often buried like treasure.
In this second visit to the dens of storytellers linked with Michigan, my brother and I have learned that the well of Wolverine State literary talent is seemingly inexhaustible. We have tried not to slight the giants like Hemingway while unearthing the works of forgotten women and men who, in their day, made a contribution to letters.
These relative unknowns fascinate me. Some harvested vast sums from their writing, some very little. Some created for four or five decades, while some had a single burst of writing and went silent. What all had in common was a keen personal insight they wanted to share with an audience that loved words and stories as much as each of them did. It should not have surprised me as much as it did that these insights were almost always universal, and are almost always meaningful today. These authors and their works matter.
I learned something else. As someone who loves the natural beauty of Michigan, I have been struck by how many of the authors I encountered were moved by the character of the state’s outdoors. In some way, whether they were conscious of it or not, Michigan was an uncredited coauthor of many of their works.
Michigan is many things, and among them it is a wellspring of literary talent. I hope this second volume of Ink Trails not only inspires readers to track down some of the profiled authors and their past works, but also inspires authors with Michigan connections struggling to bring forth new works. We will be poorer if they do not persevere in turning their singular stories into words.
Ink Trails II will be available from Michigan State University in spring 2016. You can pre-order here.