Monday, January 12, 2015

Michigander Monday: Janeen Rastall

I'm pleased to welcome Janeen Rastall to Michigander Monday! Janeen is one of ten poets who were recently nominated for the U.P. Poet Laureate position.

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

Janeen:  I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan across from Lake Superior with my husband, Richard Rastall. I am a big geek, a retired computer analyst. I write poems that I hope are accessible and honest.

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

Janeen:  My chapbook, In the Yellowed House, was published by dancing girl press in 2014. My poetry has appeared in several publications including: The Midwest Quarterly, the museum of americana, Midwestern Gothic and The Michigan Poet. I was nominated by Wayne State University Press (2013) and Border Crossing (2014) for a Pushcart Prize.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Janeen:  My manuscript From The Night Museum received an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Two of Cups Press Chapbook Competition. I have two other manuscripts in various stages of revision.

In 2014, I wrote, produced and acted in a 2 person play with my husband. We hope to do an encore production this year.

I am very excited to be a part of Here, Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, an anthology by Michigan State University Press in May, 2015.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Janeen:  On April 16th, I will be reading at Bayliss Library in Sault Ste Marie and May 13th at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College. I post my readings at my website:

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

Janeen:  Book World and Snowbound Books are very supportive of Michigan authors. I love Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore in Munising and Barnes and Noble in Lansing.

We are blessed with fabulous libraries in the U.P.: Peter White Library in Marquette, Bayliss Library in Sault Ste Marie, Tahquamenon Area Library in Newberry and Escanaba Public Library are fantastic libraries with many exciting programs.

I have a special place in my heart for the Capital Area District Libraries. I worked as an Assistant at the Haslett Public Library. Their outreach with programs, bookmobiles and books by mail bring their branches out into neighborhoods.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Janeen:  I am madly in love with the U.P. Its rugged beauty is breathtaking. In the winter, I can cross country ski or snowshoe from my back door on great trails and the rest of the year I can bike all the way to Marquette. There are many places to kayak. Waterfalls and lighthouses are waiting to be explored. Marquette has a wonderful arts community with music and art festivals all summer, a Halloween festival with dragon costumes and parades. Yoopers are friendly and warm-hearted. I guess that is how we survive our long winters.

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

Janeen:  The Children’s Book Festival at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie is a great event for families as well as authors. Student dress as book characters and have fun booths for children. I went to some great workshops by children’s authors on writing and publishing techniques there.

I love the Poetry Society of Michigan meetings with readings by Jack Ridl, John Rybicki and Milton Bates and the opportunity to meet poets from across the state.

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

Janeen:  Some of my favorite Michigan authors are Julie Brooks Barbour, Sally Brunk, Jen Howard, Amorak Huey, April Lindala, Mary McMyne, Jack Ridl and Keith Taylor.

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

Janeen:  Michigan is the home of the great saltless sea, Superior. Lake Superior is so clear and constantly changing. Some days surfers can ride the waves, other days it is calm with eagles fishing across its face (while I was typing, a bald eagle was sitting in a tree right across the street). Bears and wolves roam in the forest. You can wander the beaches and rarely see another person.

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?

Janeen:  Oh, I am a gander, a Michigander ;)

Debbie:  Janeen, we'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday.

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