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by Meaghan Igel LIT LIFE


Humorist and Memoirist Wade Rouse Helps Writers Overcome Fear


every circumstance and with every new life experience, Rouse turns to two things: writing and humor. “I consider myself to be a humorist first and foremost,”


B Poetry Reading with Patricia Clark and Keith


Taylor Literary Life Bookstore, Grand Rapids Dec. 2, 7 p.m.


FREE! literarylifebookstore.com, (616) 458-8418


Following in their tradition of booking excellent poetry readings, Literary Life Bookstore will host Keith Taylor and Grand Valley State University’s poet-in- residence Patricia Clark on Dec. 2. Both are collegiate educators and poets with an impressive list of credentials. Clark is a professor at GVSU’s Department of Writing and has most recently authored She Walks into the Sea. Taylor is the coordinator of the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan, author of Marginalia for a Natural History and the poetry editor for Michigan Quarterly Review. If you consider yourself a poet or a lover of poetry, this event should be at the top of your to-do list.


64 | REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2011


Rouse said. “Humor is the best uniting factor. I try to raise awareness by laughter; I believe that if I get people laughing, then they’re more ready to hear a more poignant message or lesson.” Rouse has significant experience finding and writing


about humor in mundane situations. His latest solo work, It’s All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine (A Memoir) chronicles the gritty details of something we can all relate to: crazy families, holiday get-togethers gone awry and the scarring-yet-treasured memories they yield, such as digging for Easter eggs that your engineer father has buried. “I thought this was normal until I was talking to some


friends about it and they were like, ‘he buried your Easter eggs? That is JACKED UP,’” Rouse said. It’s with this mentality of finding humor in the ordinary


that Rouse leads his workshops and writers’ retreats. In essence, he aims to be an encouraging voice, an attaboy or a pat on the back for any and every writer too daunted to write.


“Too many American


WRITERS WORKSHOP WITH AUTHOR AND HUMORIST WADE ROUSE Schuler Books & Music, 28th Street location Dec. 10, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $165 per person schulerbooks.com, (616) 942-2561


writers come to the laptop saddled with fear, scared of what they want to write and scared of what they’ll hear and how they’ll be received,” Rouse said. “As a society, we’re scared to do what we’re passionate about because we’re afraid it’s not right.


“After I wrote my first memoir, America’s Boy, I got hun- Other Literary Events | by Meaghan Igel America’s Senator: The Unexpected Odyssey of


Arthur Vandenberg Grand Rapids Public Library Main Branch Dec. 12, 7 p.m.


FREE! grpl.org, (616) 988-5400


Arthur H. Vandenberg of Grand Rapids was a U.S. Senator at a turbulent time in our country’s history. Amid the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II, and the genesis of the United Nations, Vandenberg served proudly from 1928 until his death in 1951. This documentary draws from archival footage and pictures as well as interviews with figures such as Gore Vidal, David M. Kennedy and more. The film’s executive producer, writer and consultant will be present for discussion after the film.


dreds of questions through my website and my e-mail from aspiring writers about writing and how to get published,” Rouse added. “A running theme was frustration; these writers felt like there was some sort of secret or golden key to getting published. I wanted to make them know that that sort of goal is obtainable, but it takes talent and a hell of a lot of hard work.” To make the workshop seem less daunting, Rouse breaks


them down into two parts: the first for instruction and inspi- ration in writing, and the second in practical guidance and publishing skills such as how to write a query letter or secure an agent. “A writer nowadays has to be a good marketer, a good


PR person, a good social networking guy, a good interpretive dancer, a good everything,” Rouse said. “It takes incredible talent, but it also takes incredible drive.” At the end of the day, however, Rouse conducts these


workshops because he believes in one creative truth: no matter how many prompts they follow, how many workshops they attend or how long they slave over typewriters and computer screens, all writers essentially need the same thing: to be told “that it’s OK to write.” n


ESTSELLING HUMORIST AND memoirist Wade Rouse knows what it’s like to be a struggling writer. He also knows what it’s like to be a boy growing up gay in the Ozarks, a private school mommy wrangler and a casualty of countless disastrous family holidays, among other things. In


SCHEDULE | DINING |SIGHTS


SOUNDS | SCENE


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