On Saturday, East Quad Residence Hall’s atrium hosted literary journals from across the Midwest for the second annual Voices of the Middle West festival.
Midwestern Gothic, an Ann Arbor-based literary journal, hosted the event in conjunction with the University’s Residential College.
According to Robert Russell, event organizer and co-founder of Midwestern Gothic, the purpose of the festival is to showcase talented writers, independent journals and presses from the Midwest. A book fair allowed participating presses to display works and publications.
“The Midwest is usually considered flyover states,” Russell said. “This is a really cool way to show everyone what great authors we have and how different they are.”
Last year, the event had 23 different presses and journals. This year, the festival was expanded to 36 professional and student publications from Ann Arbor, Michigan and other midwestern states.
Representatives from journals such as the Iowa Review, Pleiades, Southern Indiana Review and cream city review came from Iowa, Missouri, Indiana and Wisconsin, respectively, to join the festival.
“We want to show all the different voices of the Midwest,” Russell said. “It’s so vast. There are so many states and there is so much uniqueness.”
Student publications from the University such as Xylem, Fortnight, RC Review and the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program: Arts and Literary Journal also took part in the event.
LSA junior Kara Mullison, a member of the Residential College’s RC Review, said she was glad the festival took place in East Quad and included student publications.
“It’s nice that the festival is in East Quad where the RC is based,” Mullison said. “Student publications might not seem relevant but you come here and see that they are.”
On top of the book fair, there were also multiple panels throughout the day. The first panel was a faculty and student discussion on the publishing process. In the next panel, writers Melba Boyd, Caitlin Horrocks, C.J. Hribal and Marcus Wicker spoke about the Midwestern landscape.
Other panels included gender in the publishing industry and the use of Midwestern fables and myth. There was also an open mic where community writers could share their work.
The event concluded with a keynote lecture by Stuart Dybek, author of “Ecstatic Cahoots,” a book of short stories. Dybek spoke about how the physical place where literature is produced and the history of the location impacts the writing itself.
“Writers have had this huge magical ability to create our version of how we respond to the places that we live in,” Dybek said.
Recent LSA graduate Sydney Salley said she was impressed by the entire festival.
“It’s incredible how big it is, how many people are coming from all around and how there’s interest from within students and outside,” she said.