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Two Books, Two Communities selections made: Walleye, cherry pie, pizza play starring roles

The Two Books, Two Communities program has selected its 2021 community reads. They are “Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie,” edited by Peggy Wolff, and 2021 Michigan Notable Book Award Winner “Teacher/Pizza Guy,” a collection of poems by Jeff Kass. (Photo courtesy of Northern Michigan University)

MARQUETTE — The Two Books, Two Communities program, a partnership between Northern Michigan University and the Marquette and Alger County communities, has selected its 2021 community reads. The titles are “Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie,” edited by Peggy Wolff, and 2021 Michigan Notable Book Award Winner “Teacher/Pizza Guy,” a collection of poems by Jeff Kass.

“Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie” was created by 30 Midwestern writers. In a meditation on comfort food, Elizabeth Berg recalls her aunt’s meatloaf. Stuart Dybek takes readers on a school field trip to a slaughtering house, while Peter Sagal grapples with the ethics of pate. Parsing Cincinnati five-way chili, Robert Olmstead digresses into questions of Aztec culture. Harry Mark Petrakis reflects on owning a South Side Chicago lunchroom, while Bonnie Jo Campbell nurses a sweet tooth through a fudge recipe.

In addition to editing, Wolff wrote an introduction to the book. She has written about food and food culture for publications like the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant and Orlando Sentinel. She is the food editor for REALIZE Magazine.

“Teacher/Pizza Guy” is a collection of autobiographical poems chronicling Kass’s experience teaching, directing, feeding people and treading the delicate balance of holding himself accountable to his wife and kids, his students, his customers, and his own mental and physical health while working three jobs in contemporary America.

He recounts his journey as an Ann Arbor high school teacher and delivery driver. Many of the ideas for the poems were initially scribbled onto the backs of pizza receipts or scratched out during free moments amidst the chaos of the school day.

Kass teaches 10th-grade English and creative writing at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor. He is the founder of the Literary Arts Program at Ann Arbor’s teen center, The Neutral Zone, where he was program director for 20 years. He is also the author of the award-winning short story collection “Knuckleheads,” the poetry collection “My Beautiful Hook-Nosed Beauty Queen” and the thriller “Takedown.”

Two Books, Two Communities will host a number of author events and related programming starting in September. Copies of the books are available for purchase at the NMU bookstore, Snowbound Books in Marquette, Falling Rock Books and Cafe in Munising and other bookstores in Marquette County.

Individuals can download the free Libby or Overdrive app from Google Play, the App Store or Microsoft to access a free eBook version if they you have a library card.

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