Jeff Kass – poet / storyteller
Jack Ridl is ill so Jeff will be presenting.
“Kass’s remarkable stories are honest, observant, utterly believable with the weight of fable. Poignant and funny, the stories pull the reader into their vortex, where the light is pleasingly bright and disorienting at the same time…”
-National Book Critic Circle Award Winner Laura Kasischke
Jeff Kass is a teacher, writer, literary arts organizer, parent and sometimes baseball coach based in Ann Arbor, MI. He is the author of Knuckleheads, Independent Publishing’s Gold-Medal winning Best Short Fiction of 2011. In addition, Knuckleheads was awarded E-Lit’s Silver Medal for Best Short Fiction E-book Collection of 2011 and was a finalist for Foreword Reviews Best Short Fiction Collection of 2011. His most recent book is his debut full-length poetry collection My Beautiful Hook-nosed Beauty Queen Strut Wave, published by Dzanc Books fall of 2014.
Kass holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine and teaches Creative Writing and Tenth Grade English at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor MI. He also directs the Literary Arts Program at Ann Arbor’s Teen Center, The Neutral Zone, where he founded and continues to direct The VOLUME Youth Poetry Project; The VOLUME Summer Institute; The Ann Arbor Youth Poetry Slam; Poetry Night in Ann Arbor; Red Beard Press; and the performance poetry troupe Ann Arbor Wordworks. He was the Ann Arbor Grand Slam Poetry Champion in 1999 and 2000 and the runner-up in 2001 as well as the Champion at the inaugural Ann Arbor Book Festival Poetry Slam in 2004. He has taught Creative Writing at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti MI and worked as the Poet-in-Residence for Ann Arbor Public Schools where he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for Ann Arbor District employees for his teaching and organizing of poetry programs. He was also named the 1995-96 California Education Placement Association’s New Teacher of the Year for Northern California Secondary Schools and in April of 2007, he was recognized by the American Civil Liberties Union as Michigan’s Wendy Joyrich Teacher of the Year. April 29, 2009, was proclaimed Jeff Kass Day in the City of Ann Arbor in recognition of his work with young writers.
He was selected by readers of Current Magazine as the runner-up for 2006 Best Poet of Washtenaw County and also by readers of The Ann Arbor News as the runner-up for Best Poet of Ann Arbor for 2006. His poems, stories and essays have been published in numerous literary reviews, newspapers, magazines and anthologies including The Ann Arbor News, The Ann Arbor Chronicle, The Ann Arbor Observer, The Georgetown Review, The Wayne Literary Review, Anderbo, Hobart, Blood Lotus, Defenestration, Barnwood, Stone’s Throw, The Smoking Poet, Amarillo Bay, Bull Men’s Fiction, Writecorner, Nebo, Third Wednesdays, Midwestern Gothic, The Museum of Americana and The Spoken Word Revolution Redux. He was also the winner of the 2005 Current Fiction Contest and the 2007 Current Fiction Contest, a runner-up in the 2006 Georgetown Review Fiction Contest, and a finalist for both the 2008 E.M. Koeppel Short Fiction Award and 2007 Teacher’s & Writer’s Collaborative Bechtel Prize in creative non-fiction. He was the Poetry Director in the acclaimed theatrical production Lay Your Comfort Down and co-edited the anthology Unsquared: Ann Arbor Writers Unleash Their Edgiest Stories and Poems. He served for a decade as a member of the Board of Directors for the Ann Arbor Book Festival and recently was awarded the Ann Arbor Book Festival’s Leader in the Literary Arts Award. His one-man performance poetry show Wrestle the Great Fear debuted in April, 2009. Invisible Staircase, a chapbook of poems, won the Winged City Press Chapbook Contest in 2009 and his collection of essays From the Front of the Room won the Teacher’s Voice Chapbook contest in 2010.