October 29, 2021
Saginaw Valley State University has awarded the 2021-2022 Stuart D. and Vernice M. Gross Award for Literature to author T. Marie Bertineau for her debut memoir, “The Mason House.” The award is part of SVSU’s community-minded commitment to recognize exceptional writing within Michigan.
Described as “an elegy for lost loved ones and a tale of growing up amid hardship and hope,” “The Mason House” has been praised by reviewer M. Bartley Seigel as “a graceful and moving memoir . . . [that] paints an intimate and complicated portrait of life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”
Bertineau will visit SVSU in spring 2022, when she will accept the award as well as visit classes and student groups on campus. She will also receive a $1,000 prize.
Born amidst the copper mining ruins of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula of Ojibwe-Anishinaabe and French Canadian/Cornish descent, Bertineau is a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of the L’Anse Reservation, migizi odoodeman. She has published her work in the annual journal “U.P. Reader” and “Mino Miikana,” a publication of the Native Justice Coalition. Bertineau’s quarterly column, “Hankies in My Pocket: Tender Thoughts from the Keweenaw,” can be found on carrotranch.com, home of Carrot Ranch Literary Community. She also has contributed work to Minnesota’s Carver County Arts Consortium.
Established by the late Stuart D. Gross and his wife, Vernice, the Gross Award for Literature is administered by SVSU. It is granted to published works in regional history or historical fiction/drama. Preference is given to Michigan subject matter or strong Michigan connections on the part of the author.
Winners are selected by a panel of judges from SVSU’s faculty and staff. Judges this year were Matthew Buckley, research and collection development librarian; M. Patricia Cavanaugh, professor of English; Jules Gehrke, associate professor of history; Carlos Ramet, associate dean of the College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences; and Michelle Strasz, research and online course support librarian.
Employed for many years as a journalist with the Saginaw News, Gross was an early member of SVSU’s staff and served in a variety of public affairs roles. He was recognized as a regional historian and published several books. Among his writings are “Saginaw: A History of the Land and the City,” “When Timber was King” and “Where There is a Will.” Following his retirement from SVSU, Gross wrote and produced a play, “Let’s Have Lunch Sometime.” He died in 1996; Mrs. Gross in 2001.