The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jul 27, 2012

Heavy Feather Review brings "Big Smoke" to Leopold's Books

Posted by jschmall

On Wednesday, July 25, Heavy Feather Review brought a literary reading featuring both poets and novelists to Leopold’s Books. The standing room-only event, called “Big Smoke,” featured nine area readers, including Heather Abner, Matt Bell, Russell Brakefield, Francine J Harris, Sean Kilpatrick, Tom McCartan, Robert James Russell, Jeremy Schmall (the author of this post) and Jennifer Trudeau. Jason Teal, a co-founding editor of Heavy Feather Review, introduced each reader using their response to this writing prompt: “A screenwriter, you have been tasked with designing/writing a fabulous penultimate illusion for the plot of a Hollywood film, Big Smoke, involving a down-on-his-luck illusionist (James Franco). Tell us what that illusion is. Plot synopsis and spoilers are welcome.” The prompt was a nice touch, providing humor and common ground for each of the readers to start from.

A poster promoting the show.

There’s really no better place to hold a reading than Leopold’s Books, an independently-owned bookstore just steps from the Detroit Institute of Art (a Knight Arts grantee) in the Park Shelton building. The store’s book selection is exquisitely curated by Greg and Sarah Lenhoff, whose enthusiasm for all things book-related — including literature, art monographs, graphic novels, locally-produced zines and more — is apparent through every square inch of their space. Throughout the event, as the evening light filtered into the store, the sun setting somewhere beyond Woodward Avenue and beyond Detroit, I felt immensely grateful to be a part of Detroit — whatever small part that is — and happy to be surrounded by so many creative and talented writers committed to getting their idiosyncratic energies and ideas into the world.

Detroit-native Francine J. Harris reads from her book, "Allegiance."


Sean Kilpatrick, a local poet, reads some poems.

Heavy Feather Review is an independent, biannual electronic journal that publishes a broad spectrum of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and whatever strange combinations of those things writers might turn out. Leopold’s Books: The Park Shelton; 15 E Kirby St., Detroit; 313-875-4677 or;

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