Notable Michigan author to speak Monday at Adrian’s District Library

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ADRIAN – The 2022 Michigan Notable Book Authors Tour is stopping in Adrian and will be held at the Adrian District Library in downtown Adrian at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 2.

The library, 143 E. Maumee St., will host notable Michigan author John Smolens, who will present on his 2022 Michigan Notable Books winner, “Day of Days,” a fictionalized account of the school bombing of 1927 in Bath, Michigan. According to a press release from the library, Smolens examines in his book how such trauma ends up marking his life “after the dead are laid to rest,” and how a devastated but resilient American village copes with tragedy.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase. Cash and checks will be the only means of payment accepted. Smolens will also sign purchased copies.

The discussion is offered free of charge and is open to the community. An Adrian’s District Library card is not required to attend. Registration is not compulsory.

Smolens’ visit to the library is made possible by the Library of Michigan and Michigan Humanities, which is affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“We are thrilled to welcome Professor Smolens as part of Michigan’s Notable Book Authors Tour,” Adult and Teen Services Librarian Jennifer Noble said in the statement. “It’s always a privilege to have authors come to discuss their works, but it’s especially gratifying that the Michigan Library scheduled John for our visit, given that community’s interest in Michigan history.”

Smolens is professor emeritus at Northern Michigan University, where he taught in the English department and served as director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. He has published 12 works of fiction, 11 novels and a collection of short stories, according to the release. His novel ‘Wolf’s Mouth’ was selected as a 2017 Library of Michigan Notable Book. Some of his earlier works including ‘Cold’, ‘Fire Point’, ‘The Invisible World’, ‘The Anarchist’, ‘The Schoolmaster’s Daughter” and “Quarantine” have been reissued in paperback and eBook form by Michigan State University Press.

He was educated at Boston College, the University of New Hampshire and the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. In addition to his studies at Northern Michigan University, Smolens has taught at Michigan State University and Western Michigan University. In 2010, he received the Michigan Author of the Year Award from the Michigan Library Association. He lives in Marquette.

According to a description of Smolens’ book provided by the Michigan State University Press, “Day of Days” examines the school bombing through the lens of several Bath schoolchildren. One survivor, Beatrice Turcot, remembers the spring of 1927 and how this “haunting experience led her to the conviction that you cannot survive the present without reconciling the hard truths of the past”.

In the spring of 1927, former Tecumseh resident Andrew Kehoe, the Bath School Board treasurer, spent weeks rigging the public school, as well as his farm, with hundreds of pounds of dynamite. The explosions on May 18 – the day before the school’s graduation – killed and maimed dozens of children, as well as teachers, administrators and villagers, including Kehoe’s wife, Nellie. Kehoe himself died setting fire to his truck loaded with boxes of explosives and scrap metal.

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