About

Read. Write. Live.

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Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters (GLCL) is a nonprofit organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was started by a small group of enthusiastic people with a passion for literature and a background in bookselling. In creating the nonprofit, the group hoped to satisfy a simple, but vital, mission: to encourage, promote, and celebrate the literary endeavors of writers within the Great Lakes region.   

 

It is our belief that literature is of immeasurable creative and practical importance to a community. While a written work may simply offer pleasure and entertainment, it can also preserve the ideas of a people, document our common yet varied history, explore human ethics and knowledge, provide inspiration and influence behavior, validate the importance of time and place, and contemplate the beauty of nature. In addition, it is a medium that allows for exploration (as well as celebration) of ethnic, economic, and cultural diversity of both readers and writers. As we enter an ever-progressive technological age, the individual and societal benefits of literature become increasing important. Yet, at the same time, the availability and exposure of written works to members of our communities is limited by the failure of the traditional bookstore business model, closure of library branches, decreased funding in schools, and the economic repercussions of a shift toward digital formats in the world of publishing. GLCL strives to move past these barriers in order to foster the work of writers in our region while providing opportunities to connect them with their readers. All fundraising efforts for GLCL will be performed on behalf of our mission and in keeping with these organizational values.

 


It was, and still is, crucial to GLCL's mission that they not duplicate any of the wonderful offerings made available to the community by independent booksellers or public libraries. Thus, GLCL strives to fill the gaps:  an inexpensive but beautiful venue for regional author events, a growing collection of select but focused Great Lakes inventory, The Writer's Hub which is a perfect space to work on your craft, a central calendar of literary-related events, writing contests and workshops with regional authors, an innovative Writer Squared series, and more.

 

 

 

GLCL BOARD OF DIRECTORS

RONI K. DEVLIN 

Roni is an infectious disease physician with a particular passion for reading and writing.  Though she still works full-time as a doctor, she is also the President and Treasurer of GLCL.  She is the owner of Literary Life Bookstore & More, and has served as a book reviewer for Shelf Awareness for Readers and Food for Thought Magazine.  Roni is the author of the book Influenza, as well as numerous scholarly articles and abstracts.  She splits her time between Grand Rapids and Muskegon.  You can reach Roni here.

 

LISA H. MCNEILLEY, PH.D

Lisa is GLCL's Vice President.  She earned her degree in English from Wayne State University; she also has a business degree (BBA Marketing) from the University of Michigan.  Lisa has taught college courses from basic writing to business and technical writing for over 15 years.  She is the owner of Writer's Alley, which offers tutorials and workshops for writers.  The Cascade Writers' Group (CWG) was established by Lisa, and she continues to facilitate this group.  The CWG created Imagine This! An ArtPrize Anthology in 2013; Lisa is an editor for this publication, which will be continued in cooperation with GLCL for future editions.  Lisa can be reached here.

 

W. TODD KANEKO

W. Todd Kaneko is the author of the Dead Wrestler Elegies (Curbside Splendor, 2014).  His prose and poems have appeared in Bellingham Review, Los Angeles Review, Barrelhouse, the Normal School, the Collagist and many other journals and anthologies.  He has received fellowships from Kundiman and the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he teaches at Grand Valley State University.  Visit him at www.toddkaneko.com, or you can reach Todd here.

 

JOHN GUERTIN

John Guertin was employed by the Grand Rapids Press for fourteen years as a designer of print advertising and as Tour Coordinator at the Walker Press facility.  For five years, John lectured at Kendall College of Art & Design, leading workshops in Writing for Film and Digital Media. He also writes stories for animated films.  More recently, he has served as Art Director and Promotions Liaison for Imagine This!  An ArtPrize Anthology.  John is also a naturalist and has a small business committed to the environment (Heart & Eagle Company), through which he re-purposes barn materials to make museum-quality nature products.  You can see John's creations at www.barnsintobirdhouses.com, or you can email him here.

 

CLARICE DREW

Clarice Drew has lived in Grand Rapids since 1988.  Originally from Philadelphia, Clarice is a graduate of Howard University; she completed post-graduate work at Winsalm College in Winston-Salem, NC, where she also was a teacher.  She was previously the contributing fashion writer for Grand Rapids Magazine and the fashion feature writer for the Grand Rapids Press.  Clarice has also hosted her own radio talk show, and is the founder and president of Image Counts, an image consulting company; she served as writer, producer, and former host of a television show by the same name.  You can email Clarice here

 

JENNIFER SORENSEN

Jennifer grew up in a house where books occupied every room (including the dining room).  As the daughter of a librarian and educator, she's filled her life with books, too, and is excited to be part of an organization that can help writers (a notoriously lonely occupation) form a community and provide a space where they can create worlds.  Jennifer is the chatelaine of GLCL; you can email her here

 

GLCL WEBSITE STAFF

TYLER STEIMLE

Tyler is GLCL’s web developer. He writes in all kinds of ways, makes music, raises two little girls, and stays up as late as he possibly can, for the quiet. He has an A.A.S. from Grand Rapids Community College, a B.A. in English (minors in Writing & Russian Studies) from Grand Valley State University, and obsesses over computers and technology.

  

JONATHAN CLAY

Jonathan Clay is a professional freelance photographer.  He helped to photograph Tyler's 1935 Corona Standard Typewriter for this website design.  You can view his other work at jonclayphoto.com.