As part of Good Thunder Reading Series, published author Paisley Rekdal, visited the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus this past Thursday.
Students and community members attended the events three parts in hopes of learning more about the craft of writing and Rekdal specific processes.
Good Thunder reading series is a reoccurring event at MNSU with a goal of getting students and community members to interact and learn with published authors. Last week’s author, Paisley Rekdal is the published author of a handful of book-length essays with ranging topics. Her work has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and many other awards. Her newest piece will discuss cultural appropriation and is highly anticipated.
At 10 a.m.Rekdal began her series with a workshop hosted in the Emy Frentz Gallery. There Rekdal presented a mini-lesson on her craft. The workshop was only an hour-long, making it an easy event for individuals to attend if they had a noon class.
The craft talk, the second portion of the event, began at 3 p.m. and was hosted in the Ostrander Auditorium. The craft talk is designed to allow the authors to share their creative process and let those in attendance ask questions. Seats were sporadically filled and those in attendance quietly chatted with their neighbors until a brief introduction was enacted. Rekdal made her way to the stage shortly after.
During the craft talk, Rekdal was honest with the questions she was given, even stating that sometimes she wasn’t always as confident in her writing as it may appear to the reader. During the talk, she explained that everyone’s process is different for creating, the importance of hypotaxis and parataxis, and the creative journey she engaged in while writing her essays.
Perhaps, one of the more amusing moments of the talk was when an audience member complimented Rekdal on how spontaneous one of her writings sounded. Rekdal laughed and explained that was nice, because not one portion of those writings were spontaneous, and they were well thought out and possibly even overthought.
Later in the evening, the main event took place. Rekdal selected three small excerpts from her personal catalog to read aloud to an eager audience.
Stating that her stories were based on real-life experiences she had from her past, the stage was set for some gripping and raw readings. Her first story fell in line with these expectations. The first reading was from her novel “Broken Country”. It follows the point of view of Kelten Barney as he experiences being stabbed by a Vietnamese man. Trying to convey the problems found in post-war Vietnam, this story makes one feel uncomfortable, squeamish, and sad. Rekdal tries to show what it is like for all parties at this point in history, in hopes that we can learn something from them, be it compassion or understanding.
The second reading was a poem called “Assemblage of Ruined Plane Parts’. Focusing on a sculpture built from parts of crashed warplanes, this poem explores what war really entails, and how society often overlooks the more horrid components in favor of “glory”.
Rekdal decided things had gotten quite heavy, so after reading this last poem she chose to break out some of her comedic pieces. Namely “Poems told by May West”, a collection of short, witty poems read in the style of vaudeville actress May West. It’s safe to say these sufficiently lightened the mood. After the poem, Rekdal finished out with a final piece, titled “Mortal Love”, that delves into the idea of mortality and love, and the true meanings of these ideas.
Good Thunder Reading Series was happy to host Redkal and throughout the day many of the occupants of the events left seeming pleased regardless of the heavy topics discussed. Rekdal’s rawness was engaging, her pieces inspiring, and her presence on campus was a welcomed one. The next Good Thunder event will be hosted in January.
Header photo courtesy of the MNSU Department of English.