Literati Bookstore is a general interest, independent, brick and mortar bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor, opened in the spring of 2013 by Hilary and Mike Gustafson. Literati seeks to add to, and enhance, Ann Arbor's historically rich literary arts culture and serve as a community space centered around the appreciation of the physical book. Literati hosts readings, special events, and book clubs throughout the year, both in-store and throughout southeast Michigan—often partnering with other local businesses, university departments and programs, and community endeavors.
Literati & HZWP
Students in their Zell Fellowship year have the opportunity to interact with visiting writers coming to Literati on their book tours in one of several ways: as an opening act, reading 5-10 minutes of their own work; introducing the author by giving a 2-3 minute exploration fo the book at hand; joining the author for a post-reading conversation and moderating the Q&A to follow. Zell Fellows and alums are also invited to contribute to The Ribbon, Literati's long-form web publication.
Even beyond these more official points of contact, our partnership with Literati Bookstore is woven into the day to day operations of the Helen Zell Writers' Program. Literati manages all book sales for our Zell Visiting Writers Series, for example—and Wolverine Press, another one of our program partners, and one staffed entirely by HZWP students, prints cards for inclusion in Literati Cultura, Literati's monthly subscription of signed first editions. And then, of course, there's the fact that since its opening, Literati has always had at least two (and sometimes as many as five!) recent HZWP alums on staff, working both as booksellers and as event coordinators.
I've been a bookseller since I was seventeen. Outside of my MFA years and some stretches at writing residencies, bookstores alone have paid my bills, fed my body, and put a roof over my silly writer head. But even if you aren't collecting a paycheck from them, independent bookstores will take care of you.
When you need to be reminded why you got into this maddening business in the first place, you can visit Literati, pull titles you've been eying from the shelves, smuggle them down to the comfy chairs in the basement, and fall in love with another person's sentences.
When you feel like just another cog in the deafening MFA machine, you can come to a reading on Literati's light-soaked upper level, let yourself by charmed by a writer to whom you owe no favors, and sit quietly next to people who love books just as much as you do without any interest in writing them. (It's true! Such wondrous beings exist.)
And when it happens--your book is finished, your book is published--and it's yoursentences sitting on Literati's shelves, your voice filling that sunny space, Literati's booksellers will push your work on everyone they know. They will brag about you to random strangers. They will keep your book on display months longer than it has any right to be. No one, not even your mom, will be so proud.
— Mairead Small Staid MFA '14
Indeed, for many at HZWP, Literati Bookstore has become a vital site of intersection between our own small community—which, like all such contained ecosystems, can start to feel a bit insular at times—and the larger literary world. Whether it's having HZWP students volunteer to be part of Anne Carson's latest performance-based event, or inviting a Zell Fellow to run a public Q&A with an emerging author on their very first book tour, Literati has become a space where what we (strive to) do takes on a life beyond the bubble.