Monday, January 5, 2015

Michigander Monday: Eric Gadzinski

I'm pleased to welcome Eric Gadzinski to Michigander Monday!  Eric is one of the nominees for the U.P. Poet Laureate position (for more info, click here).  I'll be talking with many of the nominees over the coming weeks.

Debbie:  Eric, please tell us a little about yourself.

Eric:  I was born in Vermont and until 40 lived in various places along the Northeast corridor (Boston-Philadelphia), with two notable exceptions in Mexico and North Carolina.  This year will be 20 in the UP, specifically the Sault and thereabouts.  Ph.D in leterchur from Temple University.  Was taking a cross country trip and stopped to get gas at the international bridge, looked up, and said "I'll be damned, there's a university here."  The rest is history.  

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your books.

Eric:  I've published in ones, twos and threes in a lot of print and electronic journals.  My book, Tattoo, is published by Finishing Line Press.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Eric:  I have another book, Road's End, in circulation, and am slowly preparing two more (or one, we'll see).  I am also in the process of translating two Ojibway language poems by the early 19th C. author Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (from the Sault), in a manner that attempts to better capture the sound and sense than the hackneyed rhyming pentameter translations her husband made at the time. Way on the back burner is a paper about literary imposters, specifically two cases where poets have claimed to be (and write as) Vietnam veterans when they were not.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Eric:  Today I plan to appear at the Goodwill store to look for a sweater or book (I've had some good luck there recently with books).  Later I'll be appearing at Super Value to get something for supper.  Starting January 12 I will be appearing at various locations on the Lake Superior State University campus holding forth on various subjects in literature and composition.  You mean poetry readings?  None scheduled at the moment, although I think LSSU's English dept. might have something planned for April, poetry month, that may require something out loud from me.  Summer before last I participated in the UP Writers series.  I really liked reading for people in some of the small crossroad towns and woods villages up here.  People actually showed up for advertised poetry readings, which I thought was pretty remarkable.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?  And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Eric:  Snowbound Books in Marquette is a nifty shop.  Peter White library, also Marquette, has been kind to me.  There used to be a fascinating used bookstore in Munising, since closed.  As I mentioned, I recently have had some pretty good luck at Goodwill in the Sault and you can't beat the prices.  We have a large used bookstore, UP North Books, in the Sault, that carries mostly romances and mysteries.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Eric:  Over thisaway, on the Bay Mills reservation, there's a place called Mission Hill with a local cemetery that also offers a spectacular overlook across the woods and Monacle Lake to the mouth of Lake Superior.  My wife and I used to go there before we were married, and go there still.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Eric:  I get a kick out of going to any small place up here that has a Polish festival.  First one I went to here was one held in Strongs at the Crosscut Bar.  Soul food, polkas, beer.  People come for a good time whether or not their name ends in ski.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Eric:  Jillena Rose, of Sault Sainte Marie, is a laureate finalist who is native to the UP and writes exquisitely.  George Denger, LSSU professor of communication, outdoorsman, boxing afficionado, and hall of fame winner of an NCAA forensics pentathalon, is one of the most remarkable people I've met.  Carolyn Dale, assistant superintendent of the J.K.L. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnaable School in the Sault, is fast becoming nationally recognized for both Native American education and educational administration in general.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Eric:  Once you're a hundred miles north of Detroit you're pretty much on your own.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Eric:  Going to have to abstain on this.  My wife is a member of the Sault Tribe, Anishnaabe, the people, the first people.  The rest of us are Chmooks, which comes from the word for long knives (swords), and sounds a lot like the Yiddish "schmuck", but means white guys, honkys, crackers, them.  Don't care what kind of ander/anian you are, unless your bones go back thousands of years, we're all just tourists.

Debbie:  Eric, sounds like we need a new column for the tally!  Thank you so much for joining us today.

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