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Reader Spotlight 

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Donny at the Theodore Roethke House  reading a selections from Carbon Footprint in August.

Every month we'll highlight a reader in the Great Lakes Bay region and learn more about them, their work, and their reading life. We'll also promote books and share a conversation related to a seasonal theme.


This month we're fortunate to learn about Donny Winter, who shares his love of and talent for writing as an instructor of English and through his poetry collections, which focus on life in the LGBTQ community. Timing for this interview purposefully falls in October - LGBTQ+ History month and National Coming Out Day occurs on the 11th.

Join Donny and two other writers at the Leopard Print Books Poetry & Prose event on Sunday, October 24th at 3:03 p.m. - The Sunshine Shoppe.

What role has writing played in your life? Writing has been an escape and a catharsis. I like to use the word catharsis as much I can. At times when I’ve been very vulnerable, writing has been my go-to given me an opportunity to exist in a space that is safe. And, now that I have developed this experience in writing and seen success, my goal is to model that to my students to show them that if they remain vigilant, they can reach their dreams.

What is the first book that you remember having a big impact on you? The first book to have a big impact was The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien because it introduced me to world building and poetry.

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Does your roll as professor fill your cup? If so, how?  Being a professor fills my cup because I love to see the excitement in my students' eyes. When they discover that writing isn’t a grueling chore and discover it is a tool and an extension of themselves. Additionally, teaching allows me to help students think about their creative futures and serves as my opportunity to help them unlearn all of the negative things they’ve learn about writing as career.

You’ve written two collections of poetry, Carbon Footprint, with the second book Feats of Alchemy, which is coming out in October. Why was it important to you to write these two books? Putting these two collections together has been important to me because I want to illustrate my experience as a gay man, leading up to coming out and post coming out to show people what we need to go through and how I’ve needed to navigate [the various obstacles thrown at many in the LGBTQ+ community].

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How has sharing your poetry with the world impacted you? And others? Sharing my poetry has been the next step of the healing process that I’ve been on recovering from trauma. From what I’ve been told, being able to see my healing process take place in a book, has made it more approachable for others and for people to think about healing in their own minds.

What’s your favorite genre/book? Why? My favorite is confessional poetry but I also have a significant obsession with sci-fi poetry as well. Essentially anything that can weave in pop-culture elements and nature wins for me. My favorite collection is the book The Last Psalm at Sea Level by Meg Day. It was published several years ago. I fixate on books for a long time before move on to the next one.

Evanescence is my favorite band.

My next collection is cyber punk, which is considered a dead genre but I don't believe that the genre ever died. My upcoming book is the angsty goth child of what my collection will be.

What words of wisdom would you give to someone who is considering sharing their writing and getting it published? My biggest piece of advice for writers is to never stop doing it regardless of how many people my try to discourage you, keep doing it.

Where did you get the inspiration for your stories? I started my writing career through writing Godzilla fan fiction. When I put together a collection of poems, I think of them telling a story through the progression of the poems. My inspiration comes from a variety of different location whether it is as simple as pop culture moments, personal experiences, or current events. Ultimately though, nature is my biggest inspiration.


Were you inspired by storms of late? Yes, I watched a storm roll in over the Mackinac Straights and wrote a poem called Storms Over Mackinac.

What is one unique fact about you? I am very obsessed with junk journaling as a hobby to the extent to where I will horde stickers knick knacks and various office things so I can tinker around with journals. I really want to get into book binding and work toward getting into that.

What book recommendations do you have? I’d be negligent if I didn’t recommend The Last Psalm at Sea Level and the book Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, which is really good for people in and outside the LGBTQ community to read.

For more information about, Donny and his writing, visit:

Don't miss Donny and other local authors at the Leopard Print Books Poetry & Prose event on Sunday, October 24th at 3:03 p.m. at The Sunshine Shoppe in Bay City. 
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