With co-panelists Kelly Fordon (Garden of the Blind) and Andrew Mozina (Contrary Motion), Desiree Cooper (Know the Mother) will discuss the "Quest for Identity." The panel will be moderated by author Donald Lystra (Something That Feels Like Truth).
Desiree Cooper: In Know the Mother, author Desiree Cooper explores the complex archetype of the mother in all of her incarnations. In a collage of meditative stories, women—both black and white—find themselves wedged between their own yearnings and their roles as daughters, sisters, grandmothers, and wives.
A 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, Cooper is a former attorney, Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist, and Detroit community activist. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Callaloo, Detroit Noir, Best African American Fiction 2010, and Tidal Basin Review, among other online and print publications. Cooper was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for emerging black poets, and she is a Kimbilio fellow, a national residency for African American fiction writers.
Kelly Fordon: In Kelly Fordon’s Garden for the Blind, trouble lurks just outside the door for diverse yet interdependent characters. As a young girl growing up in an affluent suburb bordering Detroit, Alice Townley and her friend Mike decide to pin a crime on another student at their exclusive high school, the consequences will reverberate for years to come. Set between 1974 and 2012, Fordon’s intricately woven stories follow Alice and Mike through high school, college, and into middle age, but also skillfully incorporate stories of their friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who are touched by the same themes of privilege, folly, neglect, and resilience.
Prior to writing fiction and poetry, Kelly Fordon worked at the NPR member station in Detroit and for National Geographic magazine. Her fiction, poetry, and book reviews have appeared in The Boston Review, The Florida Review, Flashquake, The Kenyon Review, and various other journals. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, On the Street Where We Live, which won the 2011 Standing Rock Chapbook Contest, and Tell Me When It Starts to Hurt, which was published by Kattywompus Press in 2013. She received her MFA in fiction writing from Queens University of Charlotte and works for InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit as a writer-in-residence.
Andy Mozina: Funny, poignant, and thoroughly engaging, Contrary Motion is a journey deep inside a male mind as it searches—desperately—for a way to balance life, love, and a harp. When his father dies unexpectedly (while listening to a meditation tape), Matthew Grzbc’s life begins to come untethered. In quick succession his ex-wife gets engaged, his girlfriend begins to pull away, and his daughter starts acting out. With a potentially life-changing audition rapidly approaching, Matt is paralyzed by panic—why can’t he hold it together and follow his dream? And what does that even mean, if you’re not sure what it is you really want?
Andy Mozina is a professor of English at Kalamazoo College and the author of the short story collections The Women Were Leaving the Men, which won the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and Quality Snacks, which was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Prize. His fiction has also appeared in numerous magazines, including Tin House and McSweeney’s. He lives in Michigan with his wife and daughter.