This Thursday, Sept. 15, author Diana Spechler will be kicking off the Good Thunder Reading Series for the 2016-2017 school year. She will be one of nine writers this year to visit the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus and the surrounding area for the series. Thursday’s event will be the first of six Good Thunder Reading events to take place this year.
According to a press release, “Spechler will hold a workshop from 10-11 a.m. at the Emy Frentz Gallery, located at 523 S. Second St. in Mankato, and then a “Talk on Craft” from 3-4 p.m. on the Minnesota State Mankato campus in Centennial Student Union’s Ostrander Auditorium.
That evening, Spechler will read from her work from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Centennial Student Union, Room 245. The following day (Sept. 16), Spechler will hold two events at the Arts Center of St. Peter, located at 315 S. Minnesota Ave. in Saint Peter, Minn. She will hold a story-telling workshop from 5-6 p.m. and an open microphone session from 7:30-9 p.m.”
The Good Thunder Reading Series have been hosted by the Minnesota State University, Minnesota campus every year for the past 35 years. According to the Good Thunder website, gt.mnsu.edu, the series began as collaboration between faculty writers at MSU and several other state universities in Minnesota. The events have received great attendance from the public, including students and faculty of MSU. Last year, over 1,700 people attended Good Thunder’s workshops, craft talks, and readings, according to series director Diana Joseph.
The Good Thunder events include workshops, craft talks, Q & A sessions, and/or book signings hosted by the visiting author. The series’ craft talks take place in the Ostrander Auditorium of the CSU, making it convenient for MSU students and faculty to attend. During craft talks, the author speaks about his or her writing style, and how their life experiences and knowledge have impacted their writing. All Good Thunder Reading events are free and open to the public.
The mission of the Good Thunder Reading Series, according to gt.mnsu.edu, is “to promote literature, inspire creativity, and foster lively conversations about why writing matters.” The impact of Good Thunder’s mission, however, extends beyond the readings and talks by the authors. “Good Thunder Presents,” an extension of the series “provides free creative writing workshops and literary events for area community groups” (gt.mnsu.edu). The workshops have brought the reading series to new audiences and have inspired people to write stories and to further appreciate literature.
Diana Joseph, director of the Good Thunder Reading series, has also had a positive experience as a director. When asked what she enjoyed about working with the Good Thunder series, she said, “a lot of it is really fun,” but the best part was, “connecting people from the university and community with different ways of telling stories.” She is a professor of the MSU English department teaching creative writing, and took on Good Thunder in 2014.