Top Reads: 5 local authors opening our eyes this year – Model D


Metro Detroit’s literature scene was a rich one this year, with talented local authors taking us into communities and dream worlds that explore equity, friendship, and solidarity with our cities. Here are five writers who are inspiring us. 

John Jeffire: “A Temple for Tomorrows” (Willow Books)

John Jeffire is a Detroit Rust Belt writer if there ever was one. Jeffire grew up in Detroit and Dearborn, and his father and grandfather were both assembly line workers. His latest collection of poems “A Temple for Tomorrows” continues his raw and gritty approach as he wrestles with Detroit’s yesteryear and today.  

“It’s about survival,” he says. “How to summon the will to push through one more day. We live in a city that shapes hard people, people of all colors and backgrounds who must tap their instincts to journey forward in a world that is often oblivious to their very existence. But, as a result, we’ve got real hearts. As Detroiters, we are all from the same tribe, and the city is our teacher, our parent, and its lessons are often rooted in tough love.”

The poems in “Temple for Tomorrows” are abrasive, but beautiful. They’re stitched tightly with no words wasted. But for Jeffire, the passion that comes with fighting for your own humanity is what he wants you to take away from this collection. “Fight. Always, everywhere. For every inch of your living. Against anyone and anything that tries to make you less than. You will be afraid and hope will often leave you stranded at the station with no fare, but fight anyway. Your life — your living — depends on it,” he says.

Kelsey Ronan: “Chevy in the Hole” (Henry Holt and Co.)

Kelsey Ronan’s novel “Chevy in the Hole” takes place in Flint, Michigan. It delves into the inter-racial romance between Gus, a restaurant worker who’s fighting for sobriety, and his love interest Mone, an urban farmer trying to breathe life into land others have given up on. In between the love story the book explores the Flint water crisis and the political and social landscape changes that have transpired in Flint since the mid-1930s.  

“On a personal level the main character is very much based on my ex, who passed away about 10 years ago, he died of a drug overdose,” says Ronan. “It was like a really long process to work through my grief for him and my frustrations about the water crisis and all the systemic issues that’s been going on for a long time in Flint.”

Although “Chevy in the Hole” is a work of fiction, it serves as an ode to Flint and dedication to the residents who love the city and are constantly fighting for its reputation.



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