In the spring of 2020 I completed a master’s of information, with a focus on digital archives, at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. Since 2014 I’ve been collecting and cataloging the archives of Detroit poet Jim Gustafson (1949-1996), who was my uncle. Assembling and sharing Jim’s papers and finding a permanent, institutional home for them at U-M’s Special Collections Research Center led me back to school to study archival methods.
UMSI opened some amazing doors for me to gain professional experience as an assistant at the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry at U-M’s School of Dentistry, where I’m proud that we’ve continued to document dental history on the Sindecuse blog since our shutdown due to the pandemic in March, 2020. I was a summer intern at the Archives of Michigan in 2019, which led to getting to do a little work with MSHRAB, the Michigan State Historical Records Advisory Board. My Capstone Project included writing finding aids for manuscript collections in the archives of the Sloan Museum of Discovery, which led to a temporary research assistant position there in the summer of 2020. I also served as a student officer of our Society of American Archivists group.
In the photograph here, I’m standing at the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Farnsworth Entrance, known to some as the Gustafson Exit after Jim was forcibly ejected through the glass after disrupting an Alternative Press poetry reading. My piece about Jim’s love of baseball ran in the 2017 opening day edition of the Detroit Metro Times, and was shortlisted for the Best American Sports Writing 2018 and I’ve written several stories on Detroit poetry history for them since, one about the 50th anniversary of the Alternative Press and another piece about a Leni Sinclair photograph of poets in Detroit Poets jerseys. A manuscript of Jim’s poetry is also in the works, coedited by Alternative Press founder Ken Mikolowski, Michelle Perron, Andrei Codrescu and myself.
As far as other projects, I’m still writing and editing and proofreading and cartooning and researching and reviewing books. The kids and dogs still listen to me reading sentences over and over until whatever I’m writing sound right. My short stories and essays found a few homes in 2018, and I’m proud that my book reviews continue to appear in great indie magazines like Foreword Reviews and BUST. I’m one of the founding editors of Dead Housekeeping, where we run very short essays about how the dead did things. I’m also a former editor at the Great Lakes Review, a literary journal focusing on writing from and influenced by the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada.
I have a BA and an MFA from the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago, where I studied the Story Workshop™ method with the originator of the method, John Schultz, and with my creative thesis advisor Betty Shiflett. The specialization of my MFA was the teaching of writing, which I’ve done at Columbia College, at Baker College in Cadillac, Michigan, and in a variety of outreach programs.