The Social Gap Experiment Announces New Anthology of Writing & Art

Photo of flowers with the words: Bridging the Gap of Social Distancing
Social Gap Experiment:
Summer Launch Party
2 p.m., June 12, 2020
Moore’s Park, Lansing, Michigan

News Releases

Live Book Launch Brings Writers and Artists to Lansing Park in Public Performance

LANSING, MI — After a social media experiment brought together more than 40 writers and artists during the pandemic, the authors and artists of the Social Gap Experiment will celebrate the publication of their new anthology in a public event at Historic Moore’s Park.

The Summer Book Launch for the Social Gap Experiment Anthology will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 12 at the Moore’s Park Pavilion in Lansing, Michigan. The free event will feature a memorial, performances by the artists and authors, and book signings, while raising money to benefit those in need.

The anthology features poetry, fiction, prose, illustrations and photography by many Michigan residents and MSU alumni, as well as creators from four other states including Illinois, Minnesota, Texas and Florida. The pieces published cover a wide range of topics, from identity, loneliness, grief and social justice issues, to fantasy, humor, politics and satire.

Copies of the anthology will be available for purchase, and several authors and artists will be available to sign the book. All proceeds from the book will be donated to support those who have lost income due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

To protect everyone’s safety, masks will be required when guests are not seated or speaking at the microphone. Social distancing measures will also be taken, and vaccinations are encouraged.

To RSVP, visit:

For more information, email Editor Melissa F. Kaelin at:

Community Project Raises Funds to Support Those Affected by Global Pandemic

LANSING, MI — A new anthology features the work of more than 40 poets, writers and artists, as part of a creative project called the Social Gap Experiment. The project raises funds to support those who have lost income or suffered other hardships in the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am excited to participate in this project because creativity and literacy are antidotes to hate, suffering, exclusion, and social injustice,” said Melissa Grunow, who writes fiction and nonfiction in East Peoria, Ill. “I decided to submit a short story to this collection because it has an underlying theme of hope and confronts unexpected hardships and change.”

The Social Gap Experiment is a project that aims to bridge the gap of social distancing, forging connections on social media where people can share their creativity. The project was created by Melissa F. Kaelin, an author who currently resides in Lansing, Mich.

Since moving to Michigan in September 2018, Kaelin has become active in many writing groups and performance events including The Poetry Room, Fiction 440, The Artist’s Umbrella, the Lansing Poetry Club, and the REO Town Reading Series. She has watched many talented creators perform their work on stage and at the mic, developing a great appreciation for the talent in Michigan’s Capital City and beyond.

After the spread of COVID-19 forced people to stay home or practice social distancing, Kaelin wanted to find a way to do something positive during the global pandemic and to feature the work of artists on social media and in print. She hosted a series of Facebook Live Videos for artists to perform virtually during the summer of 2020, and she volunteered her time to publish a collection of creative work.

“I believe we as the human family need each other and must find new ways to stay connected in this fragile world,” said Sarah Murphy Smith, a playwright in Lansing, Mich., who had a poem published in the anthology. Moved by the desire for connection and justice, she authored a piece entitled “Mama,” a resonant poem that recalls the tragic death of George Floyd to police brutality.

The Social Gap Experiment anthology features many talented authors and artists, both published and unpublished, who create poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art and photography. All proceeds from book sales will be donated to support those who have lost wages or faced other hardships in the global pandemic. Additional donations may be made online at:

“I became interested in the project when I heard that proceeds would be going to charity,” said Donald Tredinnick, who owns Frozen Hiker Photography in Savage, Minn. His photograph “Wigwan Hotel” was published in the anthology. “Especially during this pandemic, donations across the board are down as many people are struggling due to lost jobs, reduced wages, and general uncertainty. This is a great way for the arts community to give back.”

Submissions were collected using social media, drawing pieces from creators residing in five states, including Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas and Florida.

Names of the contributors include:

Fiction & Nonfiction

  • Norrlyn-Michael Allen
  • Bryan Bills
  • C. Francis Boes
  • Tom Cantrell
  • Mattias Carosella
  • Robin Emmons
  • Melissa Grunow
  • Melissa F. Kaelin
  • K. B. Langdon
  • Robert Nelson
  • Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
  • J. R. Rauschert
  • G. S. Scott
  • Dwayne Sortor (1968 – 2020)
  • Carolyn Tody
  • Angela Wall

Poetry & Lyrics

  • Clyde Baldwin
  • Bill Blanchard
  • Cheryl Caesar
  • janet ehrlich colson
  • Kylie Baxter Erhardt
  • Kaitlyn Fay
  • Mary Fox
  • Janet Ruth Heller
  • Jeremy Hurt
  • Mary Anna Kruch
  • Kwaj
  • Morgan Madden
  • Casey McVay
  • Sam Mills
  • Stevie Pipis
  • Sarah Murphy Smith
  • Sare M Vedolich
  • Emily Louisa Wilson Bowers

Photography, Comics & Art

  • Tomas Alvarez
  • Matt Freechack
  • Sharife Gacel
  • Lavin Mansukhani
  • Amber Nichols
  • Scott Rockvam
  • Sarah Sanders, Cover Artist
  • Donald Tredinnick
  • Erin Wasinger

One honor in publishing the anthology is the privilege to feature the work of Dwayne Sortor, a Lansing writer who passed away in April. Sortor was known for his colorful writing, which he often shared at the Michigan performance event called Fiction 440. The event invites guests to write and perform flash fiction, or short stories of no more than 440 words, using three keywords that are announced in advance. Sortor’s flash fiction is included in the collection.

Since its publication, contributor Sam Mills also passed away. A prolific poet who was previously unpublished, Sam Mills created a legacy by performing at Michigan open mics for decades. He penned a Poem a Day during April 2020, to keep creativity flowing while people were separated by the global pandemic. Both Sortor and Mills performed until their final days, taking center stage at events in Greater Lansing and Detroit.

Nearly a dozen alumni of Michigan State University are published in the collection, including an associate professor in the College of Arts and Letters. In addition, Sortor worked in infrastructure planning and development at Michigan State University.

Edited by Melissa F. Kaelin, the Social Gap Experiment Anthology was release on Amazon on December 5, 2020. Copies may be purchased at the book launch or online in a print or digital format. To view the book, visit:

To celebrate the anthology, a live Summer Book Launch will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 12 at Moore’s Park in Lansing, Michigan. This socially distanced event will bring the authors and artists together in person, after the virtual launch party was held on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020.

The Summer Book Launch will feature performances, a memorial and book signings, while raising funds for those in need. It is free and open to the public. RSVP on Facebook:

For more information, visit: 

“I think that a project like this is necessary for the times that we are in because it shows that even though we may be spread out and isolated due to the pandemic and its unique challenges, we can come together to produce good works of art for the community.”

Photographer Matt Freechack, MSU Alumnus
Vadnais Heights, Minnesota